Solitary Enjoyment

So, four years (what!?) after my original post, I am finally getting round to playing some more of this game and adding the information here.

One of the reasons for the passage of time is the combat system. When I first played it, I fairly quickly became disenchanted by how combats are resolved. (By way of reminder, there is no combat results table. You draw chits from a random pool and, depending on whether they match the situation, they inflict hits. For example, a chit might say that at 4:1 odds, the defender suffers two hits and the attacker suffers one. Another chit might say that if the attacker has artillery, the defender suffers one hit, and so on.) What seemed to happen to me was that in too many combats, despite often overwhelming odds, nothing happened. So, I gave up on the game and put it away.

In the current lockdown situation, where we are to stay at home, I decided that I would put a solitaire game on the table. In the intervening years, almost every comment I have seen about the game has been favorable. (And I generally adore John Butterfield’s work.) So, I chose this game and went for the German solo version. I play the Germans, and the system handles the Allies.

I played through the first couple of days and reset because I was making too many mistakes. Now I am having another shot.

In no particular order, here are my comments:

  • I still don’t like the combat system. Let’s say I am enduring it.
  • The solitaire activation system for the Allies is excellent. It’s well crafted, deep, fairly straightforward to implement, and is a real challenge to the opposing live player. It’s not fast, however.
  • Considering the complexity of the processes, the rulebook is pretty damn good. Yes, there is errata, but it’s more than within acceptable limits.
  • As well as a clever solitaire system, the system the active player uses is equally sharp. Essentially you have a set of cards – each, in general, with several options to choose from – and you decide how to use them. You may have to give up a juicy combat tactic for the sake of activating a formation, or bringing in reinforcements. Decisions! Decisions!
  • The downside of all this high level of decision making is that it can cause paralysis analysis. Playing solo, that’s probably to be expected anyway. Just be aware that this is not a beer and pretzels fast blast through the Ardennes.
  • The play aids are excellent.
  • Because of the card activation – on both sides – there’s a lot of replayability.

The game comes with several scenarios. I’m aiming to properly play through the short (three-day) scenario twice to try and become more immersed in the game. Yes, I’ll have to grit my teeth and endure combat resolution. But it should be worth it. Besides, there’s another in the series due out this year, this time set in the Eastern Front. Kharkov. I think. Should be good.

 

On the beach on the table

On the table, I’m on the beach – Omaha Beach on D-Day (6 June 1944) – trying to recreate the successful amphibious invasion against Nazi occupied Europe. The game is John Butterfield’s D-Day at Omaha Beach, published by Decision, and is a solitaire game with the system controlling the German defenders.

Essentially, the action is controlled by a deck of cards which uses a combination of colors (each matching a defending position), fire symbols (each representing different intensities of fire) and counter symbols (determining which units are hit) to give you a tough opponent. As the American player, you are given the historical forces to achieve your goals, but you have to survive the landing operation, brave the fire on the beaches, and get in close to wipe out the well dug in defenders. And all against the clock.

I have played the standard scenario several times and never got close to a victory. The extended scenario adds actions for the German defenders, making it a lot tougher.

Things I like: a genuine solitaire system that you cannot second guess. There are tough decisions to make every turn. The game does a good job of creating the right atmosphere, transporting you to that time and place. You do get a true sense of the bloody slaughter.

Things I don’t like: my success rate…

There are two more games using a similar system but about Pacific battles.

Highly recommended if you like WW2 and want a good solitaire game. Not recommended for novices, unless you have some to show you the ropes.