Saturday, 13 February 2016

Solo Memoir '44

As much as I love the two Command and Colours games I own - Memoir '44 and Battle Cry - they are not easy to play solo, as they rely on each player having a hand of cards. Note that when I say solo here I do not mean the 'I take one side and let a system run the other'. I mean just playing the game through, taking both sides and making sensible decisions for them.

Now I could just try and 'forget' which cards each side has, but that's quite hard to do, even honestly. It is much better to have a way of playing the game in some form where there is no hidden information to forget in the first place.

I came across an idea the other day where neither side has a hand of cards, but rolls a dice at the start of their turn,testing against the hand size for the particular scenario and getting to draw either one, two or three cards from the deck. You then choose which card you want to play, and discard the others (if any). I rather liked this, so thought I would give it a go.

I set up the Saverne Gap scenario, and away I went.

It rattled along very nicely. It plays fast because, of course, you don't have a hand to plan around. Obviously this does take an aspect away from the game, but I didn't feel that the game was suffering too badly from it. It still felt like a game of Memoir '44.

In the end the Allies scored the sudden-death victory, as an armoured strike from their left flank captured the town in the German rear.

I set up an played a few other scenarios from the basic rules, and in each one I tweaked and modified the activation. The first thing I wanted to do was avoid using a D6 altogether. The game comes with a perfectly functional set of dice of its own, and I thought that something could be done with those. I switched to the following system:

Each turn a side draws one card. They roll combat dice equal one less than the number of Command Cards the scenario assigns them. For each Star rolled, draw an extra card. Pick one, discard the rest.

This worked OK, but I felt that the odds weren't that good, and on too many turns a side with five or six Command Cards was still only getting to draw one. On the plus side there were turns where you could roll a pile of Stars (a one in six chance per dice), and get loads of cards to choose from.

I switched to this method.

Each turn a side draws one card. They roll combat dice equal one less than the number of Command Cards the scenario assigns them. For pair of symbols rolled, draw an extra card. Pick one, discard the rest.

Using this method gives reasonable odds of getting at least one extra card and, if you start with five or six Command Cards, the possibility of two pairs, giving you a third card to choose from. This is the method I'm working with at the moment.

By this stage I had switched from the scenario book to some I'd downloaded from the 'net. I'd never played this Dunkirk 1940 scenario before, for example, but enjoyed it so much I ran it three times. The British and French must defend a perimeter against considerable numbers of Germans, whilst evacuating non-combatant two-figure infantry units by moving them into the sea. The Allies get medals for every two units that escape (plus medals for German casualties, naturally), whilst the Germans just get medals for casualties. But, of course, those units waiting for evacuation are easy kills, and it's vital the Allies prevent the Germans from breaking through and engaging them.

The first time I played it the Allies put up an amazing defence, holding the Germans in all sectors and evacuating over half of their troops from the beach to win by a decent margin. But they'd obviously got lucky; in the two following games the Germans attacked hard and broke through.One they're on the beaches in numbers, things are very bad for the Allies.

The French, on the Allied right, have quite a decent position, and held out well in all games, although they are vulnerable to being outflanked by German armour if they aren't careful.

This was another scenario with odd rules that I'd downloaded - the German attack on Warsaw in 1939. This doesn't use victory medals; the Germans simply have to capture three of six city hexes before the card deck runs out. The Poles just have to sit tight until the deck runs out. Casualties are immaterial. It makes for a desperate and bloody scenario, as the Poles defend against a hefty German attack, and are constantly plugging gaps and trying to prevent flanking moves.

The Germans came very close, almost clinching victory on a couple of occasions,  but couldn't quite pull it off before the cards ran out. I had to make up rules on the fly for how the deck 'ran out', as you get through it faster using the solo-play method. It seemed to work.

Three things make this solo system a little awkward.

(i) Recon cards allow the player to draw two cards at the end of the turn, and choose one to keep. Obviously with no hand in play this becomes irrelevant. I may simply say that if you play a Recon card then on your next turn you can choose to reroll all of your dice when seeing how many Command Cards you draw. Another, simpler, alternative is to give you one extra dice for determining how many cards you draw on the turn after you play a Recon card..

(ii) I didn't try any scenarios where the Russian Command Rule was in place. This forces to Russians to play their card one turn in advance. I may simply adopt the reverse of the Recon card rule here, and have Russian armies roll one fewer dice when determining how many extra cards they draw.

(iii) Ambush is a tricky card, as you don't play it immediately, and t's actually played as a nasty surprise in your opponent's turn. Drawing it is easy. If you choose to take an Ambush card you have drawn, then put it to one side, and simply draw the next card from the deck and play that, regardless of what it is. Playing Ambush is trickier. If Side A has the Ambush card, then when I play Side B I am going to do so with that knowledge, and be more cautious with my close combats. There needs to be a degree of unpredictability. So, here is the system I am considering at the moment:

When a side has the Ambush card, and the other side declares a close combat, then you choose whether that side with the card will play it, as you would any other in-game decision you make. However roll a combat die. If the die is a Star, then your decision is reversed. So if you choose not to play it, but roll a Star, then it is actually played. If you choose to play it and roll a Star, then it isn't played. So long as a side has the Ambush card, they roll one less dice when determining how many cards they draw.

If I use all of these methods, then the card draws are done as follows:

Draw one card.

Roll combat dice equal to Command Cards - 1
+1 Dice if you played a Recon card last turn 
-1 Dice if affected by the Russian Command rule
-1 Dice if you currently hold the Ambush card.

Each pair of duplicate symbols gives you an extra card draw. Choose one card to play. Discard the rest.

I shall continue to develop these ideas with some more games.

Note: If you are reading this post on then you are reading a stolen version. Please go to 'The Stronghold Rebuiltfor the original posts. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. For C&C solitaire play, I use the normal rules and play both hands, but when a new card(s) is drawn to that hand I don't look at it until it is that sides turn again - it typically adds a 25% to 18% fog of war effect depending how many cards a side is allowed to hold.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...