Monday, 31 October 2011

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot!

Well, no gunpowder, but plenty of the other stuff.

Behold the kingdom of Novembre!
Novembre was a stable prosperous island nation with good relations with its nearest neighbours. It is divided into three main regions: the Northern Marches, the Midlands and the Southern Plains. The current capital is Unaville, founded named by the late King after his daughter. Unfortunately the king had no male heir and so Queen Una is the current ruler. She has so far refused to take a husband, leaving the kingdom without an heir. This state of affairs also contradicts one of the primary edicts of the Church of the Nine, Novembre's state religion. This puts Archbishop Trente, head of the church, in the position of Una's most prominent critic and opponent.

Things reached a crisis point last year, when the Archbishop made the long journey from his mountaintop abbey at Heaven's Gate to the capitol, where he hoped to plead with the Queen to bow to convention and choose a spouse. The two did meet, but tempers flared and all diplomacy failed. The Queen issued an edict pronouncing Archbishop Trente a traitor to the crown, while the Archbishop spent his entire journey home preaching at every church and temple, loudly condemning the "Red Witch of the South" in what became popularly known as The Trail of Lamentations.

Summer passed into a winter of discontent, as the kingdom's divisions continued to simmer under the surface. But when spring arrived, nobles up and down the kingdom found themselves rallying to one side or the other. Archbishop Trente led the so called "Pilgrimage of Hope" south, with the aim of once more confronting the Queen. This time however, the so-called pilgrimage consisted of a body of well armed temple troops backed by local levies.

When Trente found his path blocked at Middleburn by a body of men led by the Duke of Medwinde, it set the scene for the first battle of the Novembre Civil War.

So if you haven't already worked this out, this is the setup for my planned solo medieval campaign for Solo Wargaming Appreciation Month. The challenge was to do some big solitaire game, above and beyond your normal gaming efforts. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, inspiration struck when I found a box containing my old fantasy/medieval human army, plenty of elements for a couple of DBA sized armies with some variations.

Here's how things are going to play out. Each real-time week I'm going to fight a minimum of one battle from each of the three regions (North, Midlands, South). Starting out in the central town, the winning side pushes the opponent back one space up the road. If a force is defeated in its home space (i.e. the end of the line) then the cause is lost in that region, which declares for the other side. The battles themselves are going to be semi-randomly picked scenarios from the three Charles S Grant scenario books ("Scenarios for Wargamers", "Programmed Scenarios" and "Scenarios for All Ages")

There's one minor change from the original plan. DBx was always notorious for not doing a good job of handling medieval battles, so I'm going to try out "Rally Round the King" from 2Hr Wargames. I've long been a big fan of 2HW's various skirmish rulesets, but this is the first time I'll be trying one of their big battle rules.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a battlefield to lay out. November, and the war, starts tomorrow!


  1. Sounds like a cool campaign you have planned. Looking forward to reading about it.

  2. Sounds interesting. I have only occasionally played solo as such, and then only to test out some mechanic in a new rule sets I am getting to grips with.
    I cant understand how you could play a full game, as you always know what you are going to do, and same when ordering the opposite forces...?

  3. Very interesting! I will follow this blog and particularly this campaign.

    You have created a good-looking map, with an interesting back-story. And I have been looking at "Rally Round the King" for a while, and is curious how it plays solo. And thanks for pointing out the Charles S Grant scenario books, have not heard of them before.

    Best regards,

  4. I could argue that most of the time I don't have the foggiest idea what I'm going to do, whichever side I'm playing, but that would be facetious :-)

    There are plenty of mechanisms out there for injecting the unexpected into a solo game. Ask a dozen solo gamers how they do it, you'll probably get two dozen answers back. Personally I like to play one side as a player with the other side semi-automated by some rules mechanism. Others take a step back entirely from the game and act as impartial adjudicators with both sides automated. Yet others like to actively play both sides and somehow compartmentalise their knowledge.

    As it happens the first scenario I'm playing is from Programmed Scenarios, which means it includes scenario-specific rules to determine deployment and tactics for one or both sides. When that's not available, it's fairly easy to pick out key decision points and randomise the enemy's choice, with situational modifiers. When I write up the battle reports for this campaign, I'll try to include details of what mechanics I use when I do this sort of thing.

    Bottom line is that solo wargaming is less about "Will I win this battle?" and more about "What's going to happen in this battle?" It's a subtly different experience.

  5. Very true - winning is of minor importance when playing solo, at least for me. Creating the stories are the fun part.

    I'm like you, I like to have the other side (the opponent when playing solo) automated by using some kind of simple logic.

  6. Sounds interesting, maybe I should try it - I don't actually get a lot of games in against opponents, spending most of my hobby time painting ad modelling. I may get a few more actual games this way...

  7. Indeed not. What you have to remember is (a) this was thrown together in half an hour and (b) it isn't a map. It's a decorated swingometer showing three different values. It could just as well be represented as


    Whether or not a river appears on the battlefield/tabletop depends on the scenario, most of which come with a map of a suggested terrain layout.

    So there's no point spending time designing rivers for Novembre when their presence/absence will be ignored/overridden by the scenario.