(ɹnʎʞ)
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Hallo everyone,

I'm an absolute non-wargamer, but still wanted to give the genre a try, so the solitaire-focused Leader series seemed like the best opportunity to me, as my friends are not interested at all in this game genre. After doing some research, most people seemed to agree that Thunderbolt Apache Leader is so far the best game in the whole series, so I bought it.

I finished 2 short campaigns by now: 1x Surge/Iraq and 1x Show of Force/Iraq.

Here are my thoughts so far: the concept is interesting, the rulebook is very well-written, all the printed information on the board is extremely helpful, I like all the options and decisions throughout the game as well as the random map generation and overall dynamic (pop-up counters).
Still, this game feels generally a bit too lengthy to me. Setting up the game takes me over an hour, preparing and flying a single mission another hour -- which is maybe the result of my lack of experience and routine with this game, I'm not sure. The bookkeeping is the biggest pain for me and I really don't like keeping track of all the information on a piece of paper.

My question is: having these problems with the game's length and slow pacing and bookkeeping, would a different game in the Leader series suit me better ? As I said, I actually do like the random map generation and options (selecting aircraft and pilots), but I am also aware that it also adds to the playtime and complexity in comparison to Phantom Leader or Hornet Leader.

I'm not sure, maybe Phantom Leader Deluxe would have been a better first step into the series, although apparently it also requires the same amount of bookkeeping and seems to be quite fiddly too. On the other hand, I don't need to manage pilots and aircraft and flying the missions appears to faster and streamlined, thanks to the static board -- but then again, the most fun I'm having is when I am actually doing missions. I like the planning aspect of the game, but it seems that I don't get the same kick out of it like other players do.

Thoughts ? A different Leader game ? Or just not my genre ?

And althought I would appreciate the gesture, please don't recommend any different wargames which require 2+ players -- it simply won't happen.

Thanks for your input !
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Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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I don't think you'll get more satisfaction from the others, in short.

Paperwork is similar for e.g. Phantom Leader - but the resolution stage is altogether different. I play PL to enjoy the planning, and I think you win or lose the game in the planning. You say that you like the TAL missions - and I like that too, but you are going to lose that if you move to PL/HL.

Set up you will find gets quicker. It should be a few minutes, once you know what you're at - unless you're choosing pilots for a new campaign. You might think about using one of the random generators you can find on BGG to speed up those choices.

As to paperwork, I keep it basic - SOs, VPs, and then for each pilot XP and stress. There's not much more you need.

I try to leave campaigns set up between missions - but if you don't have the space, try snapping a picture of the battalion positions/aircraft damage tokens, to help speed up break down.
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Moe45673
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I made a video overview of the game. In the description, i listed what i consider are essential additions to the game. Included are an electronic log (excel or google sheets), player aids, complete chart of all pilots and abilities (reduce card flipping when selecting, exceptionally huge reduction in time using this), list of battalion special conditions (eg "add 1 to all battalion move rolls") to reduce card flipping, printouts of weapons counters to reduce fiddliness, and possibly some other things. I should probably create a sheet of all the enemy counters in the game and upload it.

Like you, i found the game a lot of work when i first got it. These aids and ignoring the Surge scenario went a long way towards me being able to actually play and explore the game and stop fumbling with the rules and setup.

https://boardgamegeek.com/video/39568/thunderbolt-apache-lea...
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Tom Builder
United States
Redmond
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Moe gave some great advice about player aids. For me the most important is the sheet that lists all of the ordinance available per aircraft. Using that saves a huge amount of time. I also assign pilots randomly although that only happens once per campaign and not every day. Set up takes about ten minutes for me and then a sortie takes about 45 minutes. So the whole episode from box open to close takes about an hour.
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Chris Snyder
United States
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Just taking a look at the other games in you collection, I may have to conclude that this just isn't your genre of game. Certainly it's not the complexity that's hanging you up, since you seem to rate Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island so high.

I went through a similar experience, wanting to branch into solo wargames after being a fan of solo Eurogames and Amerigames for several years. I had similar difficulties as well, slogging through hours of setup, moving chits from the box to Point A to Point B back to the box, and lots of repetitious bookkeeping.

Keep in mind, many people who subscribe to this game page live for this kind of game, but it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Figure out what you really want from a solo gaming experience. I wouldn't be surprised if you found similar issues with Hornet Leader or any of the other Leader games.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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snyderman wrote:
Keep in mind, many people who subscribe to this game page live for this kind of game, but it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Figure out what you really want from a solo gaming experience. I wouldn't be surprised if you found similar issues with Hornet Leader or any of the other Leader games.

I also thought about this. While I can absolutely see many good aspects in this game and understand why it is so popular, it feels to me kind of like work and in the end exhausting -- maybe because it's very focussed on the planning aspect, but also because of the pen & paper bookkeeping and the game's often fiddly nature: Assault Battalion card 1A (Infantry Force) made my roll a die and place a single token 28 times (!) during mission setup. This is probably the extreme example and it's usually an average 10-12, but still, this moment made me realise something.
 
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Brian Uhrig
United States
Brooklyn Center
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I've only played the TAL game and I thoroughly enjoy it. I've played far worse games for setup and play times.

If you want to make a complete departure from the Leader series, I will recommend D-Day at Omaha Beach. Also solo. Designed by John Butterfield who creates a tense card driven game of that beach on June 6, 1944. It uses cards and map symbols to give you combat results. This series of games covers attacks on static defenses.

Once setup I can play a game in about an hour.
 
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Michel D
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I think you'd probably like better Phantom Leader deluxe than TAL.

I play mostly wargames and I own both of these games. I can say that I have a lot of fun playing PL but until now, I don't think TAL is very fun to play.
I first thought that it was because of the theme. I prefer the Vietnam air war than some more tactical "desert" (well, the ground in TAL is...desert) game.
But in fact, for me, it's just too much for a solitaire game to keep track of both planes and pilots.
The squadron is also too small compared to PL. I don't like much to have only 2 or 3 planes/helicopters for each mission.

Another thing, I often play 2 players game, so, I need my table to play every sundays. It's easy to store PL but it's not possible with TAL.

Another point, as someone said in another thread, in TAL, missions are short. I mean, not many days. So, you can't really see your pilots gaining experience.

For the bookkeeping on paper, you'd have the part concerning pilots in PL but not the one concerning damages to plane.
The game is also very fast to install compare to TAL. You select a target, then you randomly take sites, bandits and angles. The set up time is done in 2 minutes. Then, it's only the fun to choose which pilot to fly the mission with what weapons to use.

I'd really recommend PL as you seem to have more or less the same problems as me with TAL.

Or you can try a game from the field commander serie
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Rahul Chandra
Canada
St. John's
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Kyur wrote:
Assault Battalion card 1A (Infantry Force) made my roll a die and place a single token 28 times (!) during mission setup. This is probably the extreme example and it's usually an average 10-12, but still, this moment made me realise something.


A little thing that helped me a lot with this is keeping a bunch of different coloured d10s in the box, so I can often roll more than one at once. For attacks: "red is rocket, others are AGMS". For placing units: roll 6d10, place 6 infantry.
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Jeff Fike
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A late note to add. I think Phantom Leader and Hornet Leader are both way quicker to set up and play. They also have "short" campaigns which, again, make the gameplay quicker.

Tiger Leader and this game are more fiddly because. Here are some comparisons:

Hornet leader:
Set up strike deck, pick your pilots, spend your SO points and go.

This game:
A) You have to build the battalion deck (One time setup. In Hornet leader, you have to set up the strike deck which makes this a wash.

B) You have to find the battalion pieces - not a trivial effort. In Hornet, there is no such thing as this step.

C) When attacking the battalion, you have to fetch all of the pieces within that battalion and then roll a d10 for each piece to put it on the map. In Hornet leader, you throw all the pieces in a cup, and draw and you know exactly where they go every time you draw. Huge time savings for Hornet leader

D) The tiles plus scout rolls and popups, etc. add more time to play (although that is what makes the tension in this game fantastic)

And finally

E) Record keeping. In hornet leader, you just need to manage xp points, SO points, and victory points. Very simple and easy. (Stress is managed via tokens)

In this game, you have to repair equipment and have so much more you need to maintain.

You also have to perform a battalion move in this game...no such equivalent in Hornet leader.

I have no idea if HL or PL will scratch the right itch for you...but I do strongly assert that if you want less fiddly, those are definitely going to give you more of what you are hoping for.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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Thanks Jeff, much appreciated.
 
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For the record: I traded Thunderbolt Apache Leader away and got Phantom Leader Deluxe instead.

Yes, it has less depth and options, but I appreciated its way more streamlined nature and minimised book keeping. It feels more like I am actually playing a game.
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