Foreword: Although the following article may contain words and sentences like ‘playing against oneself’, ‘playing solo’, or even ‘beating yourself’, there is no pun intended. Really. You might as well stop that giggling you’ve already started. There, now let’s begin.
Playing against one self – why? So, why would you ever set up a table and play against yourself? There are probably more reasons than you first imagine. You might live in a remote location where no one plays, and it’s a 2+ hour drive to the nearest game store. You might work nights, and therefore can’t fit in games in everyone else’s schedules except when the going gets tough on weekend mini-tourneys. Or, you might just want to learn something… Playing against one self, or playing solo, is first and foremost a good way to grasp a game. You set up the pieces needed, and then simply just play the game, with rulebook in hand, taking your time to read passages and try stuff out on the table as you go by. You can note stuff down on a piece of paper as you go, and later look up answers to questions.
However, and what we’re about to explore, playing solo can also be used to actually get better at a game. We all want to excel at the game in one way or the other. Some like to paint, but others like to win games. Yes, they (we) do. Note, that when I say ‘games’, I think of ‘balanced’ games. An uneven match is never fun. If you’re on the receiving end, the game is boring, tedious and needs to be over real quick, preferably in the turn that just passed. Some might like to be at opposite end of the scale, dealing out death and destruction…but for most of us, that’ll become boring as well sooner or later.
A good balanced game is one where nothing is set in stone at the beginning of the game, and it’s up to skill, determination and, not to forget, of course lady luck.
So, how does it work? Well, in order to understand the principles, I recommend you play a solo game of chess first. Get a chessboard, set it up in a location where it can stay for maybe a week or two.
Now, alternate moves between white and black, and try to play your hardest with each color – don’t just fall into your own traps that easily. One important thing to keep in mind is to knock over a model or place a token at which color is in turn. I recommend not moving the board around, but instead make sure there’s room at either side of the board, and moving yourself around instead. The perspective is important in separation one’s thoughts from the other color’s game.
And, most importantly – don’t play several moves in a row, and don’t mirror moves too often, try to get the game going. Wait at least a couple of minutes between each move. Do something else while playing, get your mind off the game while not at it. When you’re at the board, think your moves through in the perspective of the color whose turn is up.
Try this for a few games, see if you like it, and can do it properly.
Finally – the wargame So, you’ve tried it out, learned the process, maybe even beaten yourself (and won!). Now, it’s time for what’s really important (because chess is, well, a bit monochromatic and not nearly as fun as wargaming), namely the game you wanted to play!
As before, set up a table, this time you need more space, and again you need this in a location where you can keep it for more than one day, preferably a week if needed.
Choose your army – most commonly you’ll want to test out a new build of your own against various setups, so picking cookie-cutter builds of opposing forces is a good place to start. Now, the hard part here is that you need to learn the cookie-cutter army as well. And you need to play it, too! See, this will already bring you at a serious advantage the next time you face the list – you have played it yourself! Roll for scenario if you so please, or pick one – maybe you’re not trying out your force against the enemy, but more against the scenario against a common foe?
In any case, proceed as normal. Roll-off for deployment, table side, and starting turn according to your scenario and the game in question.
Take a five minute break between set-ups, so you won’t play into your own traps.
If you are proxying, remember to keep track of this separately.
Now, start the game, play your turn, and then hang back and do something else, just like in the solo chess play. Don’t immediately jump in and do something when you get back to the table, objectively evaluate your options each turn.
And soon, you’re a lot better at not only your own army, but also at scenario play, and the opponent models and lists your might face.
A final word though: Don’t expect this to make you a great wargamer. Expect it to improve your game, but in order to really get good, find evenly-skilled opponents and play them until you win consistently. Then find other opponents and move on up. These solo-playing skills are merely for honing your skills.
You might say that this is just sharpening your blade, while playing for real is the actual duel.
Happy soloing!blog comments powered by Disqus
Hesse > Dark Angels
In great anticipation for the now-often rumoured new Dark Angels Codex, I decided to pick up a couple of Dark Angels sets from the Dark Vengeance starter kit.
I already had some old Imperial and Crimson Fists lying around, pretty much just leftover scraps from when I sold the army, so I already have a sizable force for a pretty low investment.
Hesse > Campaign in my local gaming club
I decided to start a new campaign to celebrate and play some of the new 40K 6th edition goodness.