Memorial Day 2016. I chose to remember our fallen Imperial Guards by playing a solo game of Cyborg! Cyborg is a sci-fi/fantasy low-complexity wargame. One player is Gloriana, heir to the throne, and her forces of good; the other player is Aemulatio, evil aunt of Gloriana, and her forces of evil. The players might also be called green and red.
Gloriana has cyborgs (can withstand multiple hits), amazons (specialize in killing gargoyles), imperial guards (cannon fodder), villagers (even worse cannon fodder) and guardians (entirely ineffective spell casters). Her goal is to cross the board from northeast to southwest in order to be crowned queen of whatever.
Aemulatio has gargoyles (flying meanies), mutants (cannon fodder), and necromancers (only slightly more effective than the guardians). Her goal is to capture Gloriana and throw her in a volcano. That's what bratty nieces deserve!
To play solo, I simply took both sides and played as well as I could. No real problem there since there are is no hidden information in the game.
Setup begins with a ton of chits. Approximately 100 bits are scattered about, including many on "Start" in the upper right corner. Fortunately for players, the game prohibits stacking (EXC: first turn) and combat is typically lethal. The chit density therefore reduces quite quickly, even though about 50 or 60 more pieces come on in later turns.
Because of the large number of forces on both sides, the general ease of movement (even terrain that hinders progress is easily circumvented), and the overall game narrative of "important piece needs to move across the board," the game looks a bit like small children playing soccer. You know, before the idea or ability to pass the ball has entered their tiny minds. The game is a red and green scrum slowly moving across the board centered around Gloriana, trudging nobly towards her destiny.
Flavor in the game is mostly provided by the CRT, which I chose not to examine carefully before playing. As I found out shortly, Aemulatio herself is an unstoppable killing machine; she can be harmed only by the unique Cyborg Captain unit. Amazons are gargoyle slayers. Villagers suck at everything. And no chit type is particularly good at killing cyborgs, but everybody has a chance.
The evil side is mostly made up of mutants, which spawn in radiation zones dotting the landscape. These zones are cleverly placed along the main paths Gloriana and her retinue would like to trek. Fortunately for the mutants, units within radiation zones cannot be attacked. This gives a slightly interesting twist, in which the mutants have a safe haven that they can flood out of.
In my play, I chose to take Gloriana on the most southern route, hoping to quickly link up with the airships. (Yes, airships; there are also a couple boats that can travel the rivers.) The first few turns saw massive villager and mutant slaughter. The mutants largely return as later reinforcements; the villagers do not. (Which actually makes for a sad overall theme to the game. By the end of the game, regardless of which member of the royal family has assumed control, most or all of the villagers will be dead, their fields untended, their livestock wandering, their children starving.) The tide turned on Gloriana, however, after the gargoyles hatched in greater numbers. (Each of the first 5 turns sees a greater number enter the board.) With fortunate dice rolling by Aemulatio, all the cyborgs were slain! This advanced tech may now be lost for all time. Although Gloriana did board an airship, as was her plan, a gargoyle captured her before she left the ground. With too few forces left in Gloriana's defense, the gargoyle flew away with the princess, never to be heard of or read about again.
The end. All hail Aemulatio.
Summary: the game was significantly more fun than I thought it would be. The CRT encourages some strategic unit matchups, even if what little chrome is in the game is pretty much useless. (Snake Pits of Lacnar? Piranha infested Caribe River? I'd wager that these have NEVER come into play during a game of Cyborg.) Other than that, though, the strategy on Gloriana's side seems to be "move as quickly as possible and roll well." And Aemulatio's side seems to be "surround the green pieces and roll well." At least the game plays quickly. Although the map looks pretty good for its time, the chits are badly done. I do not intend to play again solo, but I could see myself trying it out with a friend for a silly couple hours. Not as bad as I thought!