A long time ago on a blog far far away I wrote a post about solo gaming and the issues of playing non-solo games (Warhammer 40k for example) solo. The main issue I have with solo gaming is not playing the game itself, I’m fairly happy to take on both sides, but it is the time spent having to look up stat lines (speed, melee attack power, range, ranged attack power, defence etc) and rules since you don’t have the added brain power of a second player. To this end over the years I’ve tried out a few different statless systems. The ‘statless’ nature of these games is a little bit of a lie, they aren’t actually games with figures without stats. But what they are is games where the stat line is essentially invisible, where other rules mechanisms carry the weight instead of your memory or time (spent looking things up).
Keeping things simple I picked up a large bag of plastic counters from Amazon and they came in a variety of colours. Using a permanent marker I wrote on each counter the faction and figure in question. For example ‘Orcs’ on one side and ‘Boss’ on the other. The colour of the counter determined the action or stat in question. Green was for movement, red for melee combat, yellow for ranged combat and blue for defence. All the counters for all the figures were put in a bag and drawn at random – green the figure in question moved, red they performed a melee attack. A figure that was fast had more greens in the bag, a figure that was good at shooting had more yellows etc.
Initially I added white counters and here’s where the diceless part comes in. You draw counters until you draw a white, the white counter either initiated a round of melee combat or a round of ranged combat. Then each figure that had had counters drawn for it (after the last white was drawn) would spend them. Each red dealt one point of damage to an enemy in melee. Each yellow an enemy at range. Each blue reduced the amount of damage a figure received. In theory it worked, in practice it was a little dull as you often drew counters and just begged for the next white so something could happen. I also quickly realised that greens couldn’t be the only way a figure moved (initially 3” for a green drawn, and the figure moved immediately) because movement was incredibly slow. So I changed this slightly so a figure moved 4” per green but could spend any other counter to move 2”. Also after the last white was drawn of which there were four all counters were put back into the bag. Each figure has 6 hit points, and that’s it.
Moving forward I think it might be worth removing the whites and having each figure act immediately, allowing greens to be used for defence from attacks so they don’t become useless once you’re locked into combat, but maybe two greens are required to block 1 point of damage (so they’re not obviously better than blue). Or a green allows you to leave a combat but you only move away 1” allowing an enemy to follow up without too much difficulty if you don’t get away first. Also for ranged combat maybe being outside of 12” gets a defender a bonus blue, and/or being in cover. I’ll probably throw one white in that puts all the counters back in the bag for added randomness. Or maybe other white counters for random scenario conditions.
Random blabbing aside I really like the efficiency of this system. By efficiency I mean all your stats, turn structure and combat are folded into a single mechanism. It should be great for beginners and hopefully I can squeeze in enough depth for experienced gamers.
Just thinking out loud. As always comments, questions and suggestions are much appreciated!