ones upon a game

I am almost exclusively a solo gamer and look at the gaming scene seen through those eyes. I also literally like alliteration. TWITTER: @onesuponagame

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Labyrinth: The Final Turn

Kevin L. Kitchens
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So I'm approaching the final turn in my first solo game of Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?. I have to say, the AI bot gets pretty easy to run with practice. My options as the US became more clear and apparent as to what they affect on the Jihadists' side. The push and pull was a lot more obvious this time around. Not saying I'm any good at strategy (as the current state of the game indicates), but likewise, I've left myself in a position to pull off a win -- if the dice go my way that is (edit: no I didn't leave myself in a position to win).



I am sure that I've made mistakes in the playing of the bot throughout the game (One Deck). But I'm pretty sure any errors have been mostly in the favor of the AI. If something seems to be too easy for me I recheck the rules many times to make sure I got it right. I know I misused the random country for cell placement early on by limiting it to Muslim countries instead of just letting them pop-up all over the globe. So that was to my benefit until I caught it probably the second time I needed to use it.

I have managed to play Jihadist cards from my hand many times where the event was not playable, so that would negate their impact -- especially on a single pass through the deck. So I'm probably in good shape to pull off a win (I'm losing now) only because those cards won't reappear. Were I doing a 2-3 deck pass, I'd be in more trouble down the line.

Prestige is my major issue right now, it's fallen and it can't get up (sitting on 2). I need to try to pull it up so I'm not penalized in the War of Ideas rolls, or try to get Aid in a country to counteract that -1 penalty. There are no Islamist Rule countries right now, likewise there are no Good countries for the US. There are 13 "Poor/IR" countries, so two more is a auto-win for the Jihadists. My goal is to hammer at the few "Fair" countries I have and try to get one to "Good" status, claiming these resources and ending the game with 2x the IR resource total. Not sure if US wins with 0 resources, since 2x "0" is 0 and the US does have 0, but I'd feel better with at least 1. Afghanistan and Somalia are the two big locations for cells and I have enough troops there that Major Jihad is highly doubtful this turn, so I'm not predicting any conversion to Islamist Rule in this phase. So far the WMDs have been kept out of their hands too.

NOTE AFTER FINISH: Apparently when I read the winning conditions as 2x the Jihadist resources, I missed the minimum requirement also of 6 for a US Victory playing 1 deck. So I really had no chance to win this one whatsoever.

My final hand (fortunately US Heavy) consists of the following cards: Former Soviet Union, Al-Ittihad al-Islami, Amerithrax, Renditions, Sistani, CTR, Predator.



And now... on with the game.

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Mon Jul 6, 2015 7:00 pm
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Navigating the Labyrinth

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? is another one of my boomerang games. I bought it early in my renewed gaming hobby because of the theme, but then got it to the table, was confused by the complexity, and couldn't see myself ever pulling it out again. Of course this was all nine months or so ago, I've matured much since then!

But seriously, after many lighter games (nothing wrong with them) as well as getting my teeth cut a little more on games like Twilight Struggle (I hear it's pretty popular) and Fire in the Lake (bought new, played it, enjoyed? it... but the Vietnam theme wasn't for me), I decided to jump on a chance to get it again via the GeekBay.

(I'd love to get A Distant Plain if I could find it/afford it, but I think running just one AI vs. three is a much better solo experience.)

So as it's sat here a few weeks, I finally brought it out to the table. I determined that I am adult enough to play this one and get through it... and enjoy it!

So a quick refresher (i.e. complete reread) of the rules, a tour of the 1-Player tutorial to make sure I had the flowchart down (hey, I could do the FitL one, I can do this) and I'm off. Playing the full "2001-?" scenario, but only doing the single pass through the cards so I don't bite off more than I can chew. I'm sure I will make mistakes, but like many have said... "Make the mistakes, you'll learn from them." So with nothing to fear but fear itself, I'm diving in.

So far, have completed the first couple of rounds of card play (4 cards each side) and this is the state of the game.



I did see the amazing and Excel-lent Labyrinth: The War on Terror Game Engine, Version 1.6 and hopefully once I get more familiar with the game, I'll be able to play against the AI without the flowchart.

Baby steps.

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Sat Jul 4, 2015 3:58 pm
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Wars, Words, and Warrant Officer Ripley - What I've Been Playing Recently

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Here's what I've been playing recently. Seems I've gotten a lot in of late after Forge War occupied my table for many weeks (including a vacation break).

Tide of Iron (using the Tide of Iron: Next Wave downloaded rules)
I picked this one up a year or so ago when I was on a massive WW2 tactical kick, then realized I had too many that did pretty much the same thing. I got the coffin box version, with two sets of mapboards (the updated Tide of Iron: Map Expansion Pack One), the Tide of Iron: Days of the Fox expansion and the Tide of Iron: Designer Series Vol. 1 book. During a Miniature Market sale, I grabbed Stalingrad and Normandy, then decided I was in too deep.

I had way too many WW2 games and would never play them all. However with the Next Wave release the bottom dropped in the market for the coffin-box version and shipping was too expensive to part with it in a Math Trade. So while I had nothing against the system (just a depth chart thing), I was pretty much stuck with it. Sold the two unwrapped expansions and then rebought Normandy cheaper during a GeekBay auction, since I needed some minis from that to bring the original up to the Next Wave inventory.

Anyway, had played the first tutorial scenario a couple of times before and thought "meh", but in fact that's the way it's supposed to be. Teaching the rules a little at a time. So played the first five missions as scripted, adding the new features as introduced (cheated and played four and five adding suppression and op-fire in the same battle) and then moved on to the first real scenario. Played it twice and the Germans won the first, keeping the US from the objective and the second game the Americans took the objective when the Germans last chance at suppressing the advancing squad failed.

Glad I kept it and stuck with it. Definitely a step up from Memoir '44 in terms of complexity. Hopefully my son and I will play this one sometime.

Length x Wit
This one is still not released, though supposed to be shipping to the KS backers soon. I managed to get one of the holiday copies they had back in November and played another round of my solo variant (Length x Wit - A Solitaire Variant). Still a fun game, but I'm finding the late rounds where the bonus is for 5 and 6 dice to be pretty impossible to make a word with all the dice. May have to revisit this and improve.

In Magnificent Style
Was very happy that when I got this one back out, it was even more fun that I remembered it being. Great little solo, press-your-luck game. Good guys lost after an awesome first three rounds, the wheels just fell off.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
Been really wanting to get this one back out since receiving it in a contest last year. Playing using just a single hand (much preferred to hand juggling). Doing the first movie canned setup and played the researcher first game and lost very quickly. Two Facehuggers in a single turn (Event card produced two strikes, one a cling-on and then an egg in the complex became one as well). I'd not built enough strike in my deck, so there was no way to get rid of them both in the next turn. In the midst of second game now as the Medic and getting junk cards from the deck when possible and favoring strike abilities. Still just a great game and the better of the two (albeit close) Legendary games, just beating out (IMO) Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.

Was not as much into Predator, so not sure if that one will be a must buy or not. As I've mentioned before, I would love to see Legendary Encounters: A Bladerunner Deckbuilding Game. And with the new movie in the works, perhaps we will!
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Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:57 pm
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Friday at the Beach, Playing Friday at the Beach

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Been on vacation in Florida the past week or so (sadly coming to a close in a couple of days). Has been nice and relaxing and unfortunately, complete with a cold that I had at the start and my wife now has. Kleenex should be our sponsor!

I brought with me a box of solo games, thinking I'd have all the time in the world to play. But since I have to work during the weekdays still (no paid time off for me) and the cold drained my energy and forced me to bed early, not too many chances really.

In my box, I brought:

Lord of the Rings: The Adventure Deck Game
Friday
Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp
In Magnificent Style
Pandemic: The Cure
Paperback
Length x Wit

Of these, only Friday and LOTR have actually been on the table.

Lord of the Rings: The Adventure Deck Game, I had had printed during a ArtsCow/CowCow sales at some point and never tried it. But recent reviews brought it back to the fore and figured it would be a good time to get it out. Unfortunately, when I tried to play it the first time, I was tired and my head was still cloudy and strategic thinking was not my thing. So I quit mid-game (or might have lost, I really cannot remember) and put it away for a better time.

I waited a couple more days and broke out Friday again and remembered why I scored this one a 10. Such perfection of a game in a little box. Had not played it in almost six months though but it all came back to me. And I lost.

I don't normally sleeve cards for protection as much as making shuffling stacks easier and Friday is definitely one to benefit from good sleeves. Sad I don't have any. But as I was looking for some to order, I came across the vassal module for the game (Module:Friday).



Fired it up last night and was able to play two quick games (both losses), but the module is very well done and if you like the game and find yourself without the cards or space to play, then give it a shot.

Edit: I know some have had success playing Friday with Card Warden, but unfortunately that doesn't offer the ability to download premade modules (understandably so) and putting one together just seems like so much work, that I've never bothered. I should clarify, you CAN download and import modules, however people cannot legally distribute them without permission since it uses the proprietary artwork. Perhaps if permission is given for Vassal, it would be given for Card Warden too..?
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Fri May 15, 2015 3:06 pm
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Viticulture: At First Blush

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Just finished my first rules butchered solo play of Jamey Stegmaier's worker-placement wine-making wonder that is Viticulture.

I lost. Horribly. 8 points.

There is a lot to like here and like any good "Euro" there are some tough decisions to make. Made tougher against the AI known as "Automa" developed by Morten Monrad Pedersen. This AI deck butts in and takes the spaces I want to take, forcing my well developed strategy to change. Constantly. Seriously though, it's a well thought out AI opponent, that unfortunately plays better as designed with the full Viticulture experience: all the goodness of Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture.

Using only the core game, I utilized the online Automa version (http://viticulture.noesia.net/Automa.html) which works fine except for a couple of minor points. First the online cards aren't marked for actions that are "Tuscany only" like the real cards are supposed to be. Second, I was using in my iPhone browser which was fine until the browser decided it needed to reload the Automa page which wiped out my current draw and began again with a fresh deck.

I toyed with starting the whole game over, but since it was a learning game, I just let it ride. I'd already messed up other things on my own like harvesting a field without the right building for example. But at least I'd realized it first.

To be fair, the online deck is just to give you a taste of what the AI can do and let you try it out. Ideally, you'll buy the Tuscany box which will give you the physical deck and all the different expansions which you get to open and explore in a Risk Legacy manner.



Admittedly the full Viticulture experience doesn't come cheap, but the quality of the game design and components appears to be well worth the cost. I balked at Caverna: The Cave Farmers high price tag for a solo experience, but whereas that game had no randomness at all, the AI in Viticulture presents a realistic challenge like a good opponent would.

I didn't expect to actually have Viticulture yet. I placed an opening bid in a BGG auction, fully expecting it to get blown away. Surprise when I was notified I'd won the game. Anyway, while I'm already regretting not having all the other features Tuscany would bring to the table... I suppose I should stop wine-ing about it and just order the thing.
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Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:08 am
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Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart (or Taking a Leek at the Gates of Loyang)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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As I mentioned previously, near the top of Uwe Rosenberg games for solo players sits At the Gates of Loyang which until a week or so ago, I did not own. However, I managed to strike the right deal in a math trade and voila... to my mailbox it came.

Unlike the other games I have of his, this one (from the Z-Man Games 2010 printing) had rules that were a little less than clear, especially for the solitaire game. (They mention a "Courtyard" for selecting and placing cards, but never what that is. The player boards also have a second side and no indication what they are for.)

Obviously the instructions have improved in later games and normally very clear. So I turned to the forums here and got everything worked out enough to play the game.

And lose on my first attempt with 14 points. I admit early on it seemed getting past 10 was going to be impossible. But as the design of the engine came together in my head, things started to work themselves out and I could see how each of the options tied into one another.

I'm sure with more plays, then certain combinations will become even more evident and the play will get easier. But getting over the very small learning curve, the game is really fun to play.

Lots of nice wooden bits as always, including the aforementioned beans and leeks.

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Fri Apr 3, 2015 8:50 pm
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No Such Thing as a Winnable War? Playing Twilight Struggle Solo

Kevin L. Kitchens
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How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too


"Russians" (1985) by Sting (Gordon Sumner)


What is there to say about Twilight Struggle that hasn't been said before? It's been the #1 game on BGG for many years now (something I find very odd in spite of it being a great game). It's got clever mechanics, an interesting theme, depth of strategy, ease of play... all those things.

Well here's one thing that's been said, but you might not have heard: It plays great solitaire. Say what? That's right, solo comrade!

On a whim, I added this to an online order about a year ago. It was on sale, I'd already hit my free shipping minimum. It was the #1 game, I might actually play it with my son maybe. So I ordered it. And it sat on the shelf, in the shrink, waiting for the day.

For that copy the day never came. It went briefly out of print, demand was high, and GMT Games announced the Kickstarter for the digital version being developed by Playdek. Hot diggity dog! I promptly sold my hot commodity copy, figuring the digital game would be more than enough for me.

By that point I'd played a couple of times with a friend at work and then once online via Vassal (and got creamed early on -- stupid Europe). I really did enjoy everything about the game, though Vassal is, well Vassal and can get in the way of enjoying a game.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago and a BGG user was selling his copy. Sleeved cards, custom dice. Drool. Plus I'd come across this solo variant: SoloPlay_TwilightStruggle_v1.doc by

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So I took the plunge, won the auction, printed the rules, and committed to learning to play this AI.

TS is a long game, made even slightly longer when you are learning a new variant, refreshing yourself on the core rules, and forced to split the game over several sessions. Normally when a game is this long, I get bored by the second or third session and am ready to get something else on the table. Not so with this one. I loved every minute of it.

The SoloPlay AI alters the game only slightly, but keeps the same tension and decision frustration that makes TS such fun. For example, no player holds the scoring cards. They are kept in a separate stack and cycled each round of the turn to provide primary (and possibly secondary) regions of influence each round. The early war (first three turns) will only have one scoring round (an early war scoring card somewhere in the third to sixth round). The mid- and late-war turns will have two scoring rounds each, the third and sixth rounds. So even though you know which rounds will score, you don't know where until that turn.

And it works great.

Each side's hand is built via a balanced draft mechanic whereby you draw a set number of cards (usually six) and split them up between yourself and the AI hand. However your three cards cannot have more ops points than the AI's three... so it forces a single player "I cut, you choose" mechanic. The hands are also peppered each with a random drawn card or two to keep it variable and then the turn begins.

You still play the headline phase. The AI may still play a card for ops or events (there is an appendix with instructions for each card). There are times the AI will play for the space race, rarely for coups, and may even bring the China Card into play. The initial placement of the US and USSR's extra 7/6 influence during setup is addressed as well with a clever variable method.

Amazing.

The only thing I had some trouble deciphering and remembering was all the rules in the placement of AI influence. There are some guidelines for specific event card decisions, but the list of options for where to place got a little muddled. However, I just tried to always do what was best for the AI... (which I think is the intent of the flowchart-like list in the first place).

And I guess it worked as I was obliterated in the second scoring round (round six) of Turn 7. The AI was the USSR and the primary region was Central America, so it would be scored after the cards were played. I thought I was ok as the AI only had two ops points to play, but one into Cuba gave him control and one into Mexico stole my control, giving the USSR dominance and a net total of 5 points to take the score to +20 USSR.



So I lost.
And had a blast doing so.

I am still looking forward to the digital version.

I am still happy that I reacquired TS just to have on hand and maybe be able to play someone face to face.

But I am very happy that this solo variant is available and very deep and preserves all the elements that makes Twilight Struggle the #1 game on the site.

Even if the AI kicks my butt.

If you like TS but cannot always get with someone to play, give this solitaire variant a good look.
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Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:37 am
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Ease on Down, Ease on Down The Glass Road

Kevin L. Kitchens
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I'm a big fan of Uwe Rosenberg. In my relatively short time back into the new physical board gaming hobby, I don't think I've ever encountered a dud of his. There may be some, but I've not experienced it. The biggest disappointment (for me) was Caverna: The Cave Farmers and that was SOLELY because of the invariability and ultimate solveability of the solo game.

I was first exposed to Agricola and Le Havre (The Harbor) on iOS and for solo play, just never bothered to grab their physical versions. Two non-digital titles that always come up highly recommended however were At the Gates of Loyang and Glass Road. While I've not yet acquired Loyang, I did pick up Glass Road a few months ago in a BGG auction and finally was able to get it to the table this week.

I like it. I love a good Euro with lots of options and this one has that for sure. The variety of buildings you can construct, the specialist cards, and the innovative wheel mechanism are all brilliant.



Is it just me or did that wheel seem odd and make no sense until you actually play and see how it functions so beautifully. Well done!

Looking forward to several more plays of this one.

BTW, I scored 19.5 on my first game out, so not sure how that might compare to others, but well short of the 30 target.
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Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:19 pm
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Going Solo With Heroes of Normandie

Kevin L. Kitchens
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When Heroes of Normandie came across my radar, I thought it looked like an awesomely fun game and one that would be easy to play solo (as most wargames can be). I have acquired quite of bit of the various expansions and units (though I'd love the Dust Tactics: Revised Core Set expansion from the Kickstarter, but the only time I find it, it's overseas and shipping kills it (but that's another issue).

HoN includes a couple of mechanics that make pure solo just a tad difficult. Strategy cards, as always, provide an interesting but not insurmountable dilemma. However, the hidden activations are the real bugaboo. Each side gets a certain number of orders each turn and they place these (with normally one decoy) on the counters that could potentially activate for combat during that turn. Each side then activates their #1, #2, etc... until all activations are complete.



Several months ago, I created a set of draw chits for the game. Grey for Germans, White for Allies. Every unit on the board had a number chit placed on them and then each turn, each side selected a number of these to go into their side's draw cup. (Each chit had a corresponding "D" chit for going into the cup.) The number added to the cup was based on the number of orders the side had that turn + one. This kept things uncertain for both sides. Even when the last was to be pulled, you never knew which it was going to be, so had to plan accordingly.




This worked fine for the most part, but I still found myself as one side or the other making decisions because I knew that such and such unit was not even able to be pulled -- either leaving them alone or taking action against them.

So I have now modified my solo variant somewhat to make it more of a solo player versus a 1/2 player-1/2 AI opponent. The player will still need to make some logical decisions for the enemy, but it should still present an exciting challenge.

This probably works better with a enemy defender vs. the side with clearly defined mission objectives. But that depends on your level of comfort making more or less decisions.



I started the first mission of the Heroes of Normandie: D-DAY Scenarios Pack using the straight chit-pull and it looked like a clear Allied victory. I switched the Axis to this revised system and it not only was more exciting and eventful, but the Axis ended up winning the mission.

I'll write something up more formal and submit to the files section, but for now here's a brief overview.

1. Orders are determined as per the rules each turn. Count the number of stars on your recruitment panel and options.
2. AI side gets one extra order each turn. To increase the difficulty, you could give them two extra.
3. Player puts markers on the units he wishes to activate up to his number of orders. No decoys are necessary, but can be used to fool AI target priority.
4. AI puts numbered markers on all his units at the beginning of the game. These numbers stay with the units. Each turn the AI puts the corresponding "D" draw chit into the draw cup for each available unit. Any unit could possibly be drawn during the turn.
5. AI always gets +1 to the hand size. Default is four, AI would have five each turn. If the AI earns a bonus card via gameplay, this would add to the base five hand size.
6. Play AI cards where they make sense. Where a tough opponent would play them.
7. If an AI unit gets killed or activated during the turn and its chit is drawn after, that counts as a valid draw. In a two-player game, the order is lost if a unit activates for Op Fire or is killed, so this keeps that in play.
8. Each side alternates play with the initiative player going first. The player will play their "1" unit, then draw a chit to determine the AI's "1" unit. When the AI unit's activation is complete, you can just flip over the numbered counter on them to show they've been used.
9. After all activations are complete, each side moves its remaining unused units as normal.

When deciding who to attack, the AI should look for what best benefits their side and self preservation. Attacks should be prioritized as follows.

1. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in assault range of AI current unit.
2. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in fire range of AI current unit.
3. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in assault or fire range of another AI unit.
4. Closest and most killable player unit.
5. Closest player unit.

Obviously the player is going to still have to make decisions for the AI in regards to target, movement, etc.... but those are really simple for most players to make in terms of "playing as you would play." Yes, you may know the AI holds an opportunistic fire card, but you have to just play out those scenarios as realistically as possible.



Would love to hear your thoughts on this variant and any suggestion you have to supplement the target decisions, etc. This is not set in stone by any means, but a guideline to allow you to play HoN a little more often with a challenging and variable "opponent".
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Mon Mar 9, 2015 9:09 pm
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The Call of the Whipporwill (an Ambush! story)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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What follows is a short story derived while playing a mission of Ambush!. The narrative this game generates is amazing combining your action choices as well the semi-scripted actions of the enemy. As some of the game is canned, I am being as vague as possible to not spoil anything for anyone who has not played it.

This represents only a small part of the actual mission too. I think generating a story from the entire mission could create a novel... or a screenplay.

I hope you enjoy!

---------------------------------------------

THE STORY BELOW CONTAINS MINIMAL -- IF ANY -- SPOILERS

The Call of the Whipporwill
An Ambush! Story


Things had grown quiet. Too quiet.

There had been sporadic gunfire both ahead of me as well as to my left, across the road. Whose I could not say. I examined the badly wounded soldier lying in the ditch next to me. He looked like I felt. With the guns ahead, I couldn’t risk keeping him with me. He looked like he’d be okay, provided some Gerry patrol didn’t stumble upon him as I had. His right arm dangled useless, so he couldn’t manage a gun. Not that I had one to give him if I wanted to and he’d lost his somewhere in these woods.

Through the trees I could make out a building. Not much details, but there was an unnatural shape the blocked out the blue of the sky. I had to assume the gunfire was coming from there. I could only hope one of my men was on the right side of those guns.

Just then I heard the worst whippoorwill call imaginable. I couldn’t help but smile. Delacroix. Good kid from a farm just outside of Baton Rouge, LA. Just a few weeks ago he was ready to go back home. Then we came across a French farmer with the same last name and he immediately felt a kinship to this place and a revived sense of purpose. The farmer’s son had tried to teach him the call of the local woodlark, but to Delacroix’s tone-deaf ear, it came out the same as his whippoorwill.

The bird call faded to silence. I listened intently, but only heard the sounds of nature: wind through the trees and even real birds calling. Such a beautiful day. Occasionally the smell of smoke from something burning to the south wafted towards us. Not the sweet smell of wood, but sickly manmade oil and gas. And rubber. I hated that smell.

By evading the enemy and trying to get around for a better position, I’d become separated from my men. But they were still in the hands of my seconds Barnes and Cochran, so I knew they’d be on task. Then I’d stumbled across this soldier. He’d mumbled a few things, but not much I could make out. I hadn’t bothered to check his dogs for a name. It didn’t matter. He was one of ours and wounded and I’d help him if I could. I’d dragged him SE to a better position in the woods and…

BOOM!

Ahead of me a rifle reported and a small flock of birds took flight to safer perches.

The whippoorwill called again. It was sounding, looking for some sort of reply. I sought out a reply with my ears, but heard none. Only the same, off-key warbling a la Delacroix. He was getting more frequent.

Impatient.
Nervous.
Afraid.

I started to make a call of my own, to let him know he was not alone when he started one more long call…

CRACK!

The unmistakable sound of a pistol firing to the north and the whippoorwill was cut short. No scream. No fade. Just the echo of silence.

“Stay here,” I said to my charge without thinking. He clearly wasn’t going anywhere on his own. A path ran along the woods toward the building up ahead. I checked my gear and moved quickly into it. I could see the building clearly now. A small stone house. Through the window I couldn’t see anyone, so I moved double time for the shelter of its walls.

As I ran, I expected my view to shift from rural France to Heaven’s gates in an instant, but soon found myself on the dirt right against the cold stone wall. Not my time. Yet. I looked around and saw nothing until my eyes went north. I saw the field my squad was traversing and could see several of men lying prone. Alive or dead I couldn’t tell from here, but like Delacroix felt at the end, I now realized I actually was alone.

Inside the building there was a shuffling as the soldier or soldiers shifted positions, probably looking out the window just a foot or two above me.

“Ich sehe nichts,“ I heard a hushed whisper. I didn’t know what was said, but I knew it wasn’t a shouted order at me. But the language confirmed what I already suspected. “Ruhig, Arschloch!“ barked another, gruffer voice and I knew I had at least two to deal with.

Not wanting to risk a shot when I couldn’t see them, I pulled a grenade from my belt, popped the pin and leapt to my feet. Overeager though I tossed it a little too hard and the pineapple went to the far side of the building. As it went off, I heard screams of panic and both (I could see now it was only two) Germans turned their back to me to face the blast. Of all the rotten... I thought briefly and pulled my last grenade and tossed it in. Again, too eager, but this time it hit the wall and careened back to the soldiers, a lucky strike. But one of the idiots saw it just in time and tossed in out of the building where he thought it’d come from.



I dropped down out of sight, cursing myself for panicking. “When you panic, you stop thinking,“ my dad had always said. He was right. Time to plan this a letter better. No time, you idiot! Kill them! I leapt to my feet again, unslinging my submachine gun and letting go a burst at each of the soldiers. One went down hard with massive leg injuries, the other took a round to his arm and also fell, but was still readying his weapon.

I threw myself through the window to finish him off, but he was too quick and I missed my strike. He lunged at me while I was off-balance and I barely dodged, but he opened a large gash in my forehead just above my left eye. Blood poured down obscuring my vision. I sank to the ground and brought my SMG around, fully expecting a killing blow.

Though the haze I heard as much as saw the soldier stumbling out of the house. I let lose a final blind volley, heard him grunt and crash against a table.

When I came to who knows how long later, I was able to see a little better. The first German was staring at me with open eyes. He was watching me, but not moving as the puddle around his leg continued to grow. The other one who had tried to flee was draped face down with his legs across the table with his torso hanging off the edge. His head was cracked against the hearth of the fireplace. He wasn’t going any further.

But then again, neither was I. This mission was over. I’d failed to secure the objective and lost all my squad in the process. I didn’t know if I’d be able to rescue them all with the Germans still out there. I’d hold out here until dark and see what I could do about any survivors...
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:42 pm
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