Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Solo Games: Battle Cards

 It looks very rough. If I get through this one I will be very lucky.”

Major General James Gavin

After last week’s piece on solo games something new came across my gaming radar to remind me of one recent game I’d missed...and an opportunity to get more like it. I spotted Battle Card: Market Garden a few months ago over on’s “Postcards from the Front” game jam. As I’m an aficionado of solo games of all kinds – even wargames – I downloaded it and a few others that seemed to cater to the intersection of my historical interests and rules preferences. Market Garden was the first I tried and I instantly loved the concept. And now I just caught wind the creators are designing five more similar historical solo wargames set in World War II...and I managed to back the project on Kickstarter before the campaign ends on Oct. 1. Five print-and-play solitaire wargames with innovative mechanics and WWII historical themes for $5? An excellent opportunity for anyone interested in any of those elements.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Solo Play: My Own Worst Enemy

I’ve always enjoyed solitaire games since I first discovered the adventure gaming hobby back in 1982. Purely solitaire experiences helped me engage with my gaming interests when other players weren’t available: titles like Avalon Hill’s B-17: Queen of the Skies, solo gamebooks from the Fighting Fantasy series, and, of course, solitaire roleplaying game modules like BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle and XSOLO Lathan’s Gold. I also embarked on other solo endeavors where I played all the sides against myself, usually for board wargames like Kingmaker and occasionally in non-programmed forays into solo roleplaying. I’ve admired and authored solitaire tutorial adventures for roleplaying games as a means of introducing both game mechanics and theme to new players. Over the years more games – primarily board games and wargames – have integrated solitaire play into their rules, especially with the relatively recent development of cooperative games. I’ve indulged in them as much as I’m able. Although these “solo only” games offer exciting experiences crafted for a single player, they’re sometimes more frustrating and less satisfying than busting out an old favorite to play against myself.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Kind People Make Spaces Safe

 I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library.”

Ray Bradbury

The library where I grew up; not my
current public library....
Every few months something inspires me to consider the issue of safe spaces, specifically public libraries as safe spaces. It’s become one of those perennial issues emerging in discussions about our society as a whole and our smaller communities of gamers. Paramount among these prompts was Wil Wheaton’s moving keynote speech at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival, The library is a safe place,” about how books and his local library helped him find his way through his difficult childhood. It’s long but worth reading. Go and read it now...I’ll wait. I gleaned other tidbits from my social media feeds demonstrating how public libraries offer a place where the homeless, out-of-work, and troubled can find refuge, however temporary. The main event, however, was closer to home; this past spring our local public library hosted a convention celebrating graphic novels, movies, even games with fandom followings. After some reflection on all these perspectives I reached a realization. As merely places filled with books and other media to engage our interests and momentarily distract us from our real-life woes, public libraries fulfill only part of their role; what brings the safe place to life is the confluence of the media and caring people in one location. People matter. They make the difference in how we experience places and events...for good or ill. I regret that, while games might serve as one aspect helping to make libraries a refuge, exclusive game spaces do not always make for safe spaces...people, civility, and kindness make the difference.