11 April 2016

Great Solo Wargames

Amongst my other gaming meanderings over the years, I have played a number of solo boardgames.  This came up in the context of some other chatting but I thought it might be worth mentioning a few of my favourites here and seeking recommendations from others for new ones.
In no particular order:

B-17 Queen of the Skies.  A classic AH game.  Despite many a wound, crash landing and dreaded BIP (AA burst in plane, usually with fatal consequences), I don't believe I have ever finished 25 missions in the same plane or with anyone left from the original crew.  A great game, after a dozen missions or so it can however feel like there is too much chart filling and 'lap of the gods' destiny rolls.

BTW here are a range of great expansions for this game, for playing out of Italy or flying an RAF Lancaster in Bomber Command.  It also spawned a sequel game many years late B-29 Superfortress.  I helped play test that but it dodgiest have the same tension and excitement of the original game.

One of my 'bucket list' gaming activities is to be in one of those massed convention games where everyone plays bombers on the same mission together.

EDIT - looks like B-17 QotS has been updated as Target for Today by Legion Wargames here: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_TFT.html

Ambush!  (and its sequels Move Out, Purple Heart, Silver Star).  A wonderfully narrative campaign system in which you command a squad of GIs through the latter stages of W2 in the ETO.  Strongly recommended but you'll need a bit of time to do this one right.

Patton's Best
Command a Sherman Tank in Patton's Third Army from Operation Cobra onwards.  Great mechanic for Tiger Fear - where any unidentified German tank/gun effects you as it it was a Tiger/88mm until you ID it otherwise.  Really drives scouting and pushing forward to recon properly and quickly ID new contacts.  Would love to see this game refreshed with a new version.

The was an expansion for driving a Sherman of the Canadian Amy and a home-brewed variant for commanding Panzers on the Russian front during the Fall of the Reich era that I haven't played but look rather good.


The Hunters and Silent Victory
My solo submarine games of choice that I've been blogging about lately. Love these.

Thunderbolt/Apache Leader
I know DVG did a refresh on this a few years back, but I still prefer my original GMT version.  Lots of other sequel games on this game mechanic too, though most seem rather lacklustre and less successful.

Nemo's War
Play Captain Nemo and drive the Nautilus around the seven seas on your variable missions.  Discover Atlantis, defend yourself from the navies of the world's Great Powers and fight the giant squid! A new second edition was recently funded via KS and looks fantastic.

Wings over France
Command an RAF Squadron France during the Bloody April campaign of 1917.  Not for the faint of heart.  Duels, death spirals and getting jumped by Richthofen and his Aces in Jasta 11.  An excellent set of mechanics make up for the graphically dull game components and make for some exciting adventures over the trenches.

Command your own airship of the Imperial German Navy or Army during WW1.  Like Wings over France this is not a graphically impressive game but the game design and mechanics are well researched and captivating.

Toe-to-Toe Nu'klr Combat with the Rooskies
A quick to play delightful game, this is a real hoot.  Definitely in the beer and pretzels category, its themed on the classic movie Dr Strangelove.  If you liked that then you will have a blast with this game.  And if you loved that movie then you are going to really love this game!  I'm definitely in the latter category so check the blog for more gaming notes and AARs here:

In fact I love this game so much that I designed a follow up game to bomb Commie targets in other places too, but it never got up.  Fun though :-)

There are many others but these ones have been my favourites over the years.  There is a definite platform simulation trend to this collection too, which reflects my RPG/immersion preference for solo gaming.

I'm sure I missed many other favs, but I would welcome recommendations to expand my retinue


  1. "One of my 'bucket list' gaming activities is to say in one of those massed convention games where everyone plays bombers on the same mission together. "

    We did this back when the game was first released - four of us ran two bombers each. Not at a convention, it's true; we ran it *after* we got back from the pub one night on a friend's living-room floor, and played all night until dawn broke. I think only three bombers reached the target, and only one got any of its load even close; 20% as I recall. So not a successful mission. We randomly determined the order of the eight bombers at the start of the mission, so one would be lead bomber and another the tail. Obviously as bombers were shot down or (as most actually did) fled for home, the lead and tail positions changed hands.

    All in all it was great fun. If you ever run it at a convention, count me in!

  2. I haven't seen one of the big B-17 events at a convention for a long time. A friend of mine used to run them at Genghis Con, it was one of the most popular events at the convention consistently filling in all 36 bomber slots.

  3. Replies
    1. Written with you in mind Barks!
      I'd love to try that Falklands game you have one day too.

  4. I have B-29. It's a fun game, lots of charts and dice like you said. Nothing like making it to the target only to be blown out of the sky by AA. Haven't come close to completing a tour! Perhaps one day.

    1. Absolutely! It was good, but the operational context just wasn't as much fun as B-17 overall.
      I always wanted an He-111 variant for the early war period. THAT would be so cool.

  5. As a side note to B-17, my great uncle was a bombardier in one during WWII. His group has a museum in Arizona and you can access all of the crews records on their website. During his 30 mission tour (primarily in B-17Gs) he flew in 14 different bombers (Dec 43 - April 44). Of the 30 missions only once was anyone wounded that happened on the 30th mission, when my uncle and the tail gunner were wounded.

  6. Loved B-17, haven't played any of the other ones. I well remember the relief that came with a short mission like to Calais and the dread that came with rolling up something deep into the Reich.