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Subject: A War Won Too Quickly, A Poorly Played Solo Game Session rss

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Steven Dolges
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In this thread I will be narrating the saga of a game of Washington's War using StukaJoe's fantastic Solo CDG Method. I have played one of these once before and it worked pretty well and was a lot of fun so I figured I would do another only this time record it and post it after all the action has been completed.

So if you are reading this, it should be complete (though perhaps separated into multiple comments in the same thread). I fear taking many low quality camera pictures would ruin the narrative, so I will do my best to describe the actual card play in addition to the narrative the game will take.

Each turn and impulse will include a a listing of card positions on the Solo CDG Display, as well as the nominated cards and the actual played cards based on the dice rolls. Afterwards, in italics, I will describe in a pseudo-documentary/book-style.



February to July, 1775


Massachusetts is in a state of rebellion. After a “shot heard round the world” colonial militia find themselves engaged in a battle with British Army regulars. Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, commander of British forces, is soon bottled up in the city of Boston with Revolutionaries controlling the surrounding countryside. In June, British General Howe arrives in Boston with 4,500 men, taking control of the situation from Gage. By July, newly appointed General George Washington arrives outside of Boston, taking command of the newly organized Continental Army. Nathaniel Greene is made Brigadier General of the Continental Army in Rhode Island and forms another threat to the British in Boston. The Continental Congress, principally operating in Philadelphia, soon find themselves seeking independence for the colonies. Prime Minister Frederick North hopes to crush the rebellion and restore peace to the British colonies. The American Revolutionary War of Independence has begun.

Set Up: Committees of Correspondence

PCs placed in: Savannah, GA; Cheraw, SC; Wake (Raleigh), NC; Richmond, VA; Baltimore, MD; Wilmington, DE; Pittsburgh, PA; New Brunswick, NJ; New York, NY; New Haven, CT; Barnstable, MA; Norwich, NH.

My choices were centered around slowing the creep of British PC markers from the coast. I am no expert so this could have maybe been better.

Leading up to the outbreak of armed conflict, committees of correspondence acted as shadow governments within the colonies. These committees sought to replace royal officials and were a source of support for the growing Patriot cause. In each colony, a hub of activity formed and gave rise to organized militias. Savannah, Cheraw, Raleigh, and Richmond formed the core of Patriot support in the South. Baltimore, Wimington, Pittsburgh, and New Brunswick were the centers in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Finally, in New England the Patriot cause found a home in New York, New Haven, Newport, Barnstable, and Norwich.


Set Up: For the King


PCs placed in: Ticonderoga, NY; Petersburg, VA; Camden, SC.

While Patriot colonists began to organize, British loyalists in Peterburg and Camden declared for the King. The ephemeral battle for the 'hearts and minds' of America was growing. In New York state, British loyalists insured control of Fort Ticonderoga remained with the British, giving Governor General Guy Carleton a safe and supplied avenue to advance from the North if desired.


Turn 1 – Remainder of 1775
The British pull a Minor Campaign in their opening hand (Position C), and would like to play it. I roll a die to see if they can seize the initiative, which succeeds on a roll of 3 (needed 1-5).

British Impulse 1
A: 1 ops; B: Nathaniel Hale American Martyr; C: Minor Campaign; D: 3 ops; E: 3 ops;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

Minor Campaign card played, Carleton and Howe activated, as they are the only generals available. Howe moves first, attacking Washington in Lexington/Concord. Greene attempts to intercept, rolling a 5 (failure). Washington attempts retreat, rolling a 4 (success). He retreats to Springfield. Howe must stop his movement. Carleton moves to Norwich, NE. Cards are shifted down and two new face down cards are in Positions A and B.

Rather than remain reactive to the danger of the Continental Army, Howe prosecuted the beginning of the New England Campaign, heading to battle Washington to the West. General Greene, in Rhode Island and upon hearing of Howe's plans from spies, wanted to head to Washington to turn the British back but could not get his forces moving in time and so remained where he was. Washington, wanting to draw Howe away from the coast, slipped away to Springfield. Carleton in Quebec, meanwhile, began a march South, occupying Norwich. He hoped to stamp out Patriot support there before moving further.


American Impulse 1

A: Thomas Paine Publishes Pamphlets; B: 2ops; C: Pennsylvania an New Jersey Line Mutinies; D: Minor Campaign; E: British Light Infantry;

Nominated card: D
Played card: D

Minor Campaign card played (starting out loud!). I see an opportunity to crush Howe so here we go. Washington and Greene activated. Green moves to Boston. Washington moves to Lexington/Concord to battle Howe. Both Generals are having a 'good day' and will have their full battle rating. Both sides roll to see if they can discard an opponent event for a +1 drm. Both succeed, Nathan Hale in Position D for the British and Line Mutinies in Position C for the Americans. Total drms, +12 for Americans (one of which is for Militia), +13 or British. British roll a total of 15, but the Americans roll 17! Howe loses 2 Cus from the battle while Washington loses 1. Howe has no legal retreat path, loses his 3 other Cus and is captured! British lose Regular advantage and French Alliance track goes up by 3, 1 for the victory and 2 more for the Regular loss. I have to say, I nearly want to reverse this. I wonder if my American bias subliminally influenced my decision to attack with the British last impluse, putting Howe in a dangerous position. They had the better odds though, so... oh well. Cards are shifted on both displays.

With it appearing that the British have underestimated the Continental Army, Washington tried for a daring gambit. With militia left behind in Newport, Greene was ordered to take his soldiers and move behind Howe's forces to occupy Boston and cutoff British supplies. With further militia support, General Washington advanced with the main army to challenge Howe on his own terms. Both Washington and Howe conducted the battle well, but the day belonged to the Patriots. While taking some losses, resolve was held while British morale broke. In their retreat to Boston Howe's forces found themselves looking down the wrong end of the rifles belonging to Greene's troops. The remaining British forces surrendered with General Howe being accorded his rights as an enemy officer. This battle was a watershed moment in the war. British regulars had been beaten, the illusion of their invincibility destroyed. France, looking on in interest, took note of the Patriot victory and the early gains of the rebellion. The idea of diplomatic talks was entertained, though it would require more before King Louis would throw in with the rebels.


British Impulse 2

A: 3 ops; B: 1 ops; C: 2 ops; D: 1 ops; E: 3 ops;

Nominated card: B
Played card: C

With Howe gone, the British need to get units on the board and cause the Patriots some pain. I wanted to use a 1 op to bring in reinforcements, but a 2 ops will have to do, if a bit of a waste. 2 os played for reinforcements, Cornwallis and 3 CUs land in Alexandria. Card shifted as always.

Charles Cornwallis, traveling as reinforcements, arrived in Alexandria, VA as a force meant to capture Philadelphia and the so-called Continental Congress. Cornwallis was shocked to learn of Howe's surrender at Lexington and aimed to move quickly in order to secure the city. He would have to rely on Carleton to maintain the Northern advance while he moved from the South.

American Impulse 2
A: 1 ops; B: Admiral Suffren Wins a Naval Victory; C: Henry Knox Continental Artillery Commander; D: Thomas Paine; E: 2 ops;

Nominated card: E
Played card: E

I would have liked to play Thomas Paine but Philly is in danger. I was going to lose the 2 ops card regardless, so I went with it instead of the Position A 1 op. Washington activated and moved from Lexington/Concord to New Brunswick.

Word reached Washington that British forces had landed in Virginia. Aware that Philadelphia, both a politically and tactically important location was at risk, began a swift march South. Greene was to stay in Boston to win over the colonists there.

British Impulse 3
A: Jane McCrea; B: Benjamin Franklin Minister to France; C: 3 ops; D: 1 ops; E: 1 ops;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

Dang. Franklin on the scene already? Puts British in a pickle. How I handle mandatory events with the CDG Solo Method and this game is that the events can be nominated and played, but if they were ever in Position E they MUST then be played for the current impulse and are never shifted off. Fortunately we can activate Cornwallis to go after Philly, but Washington might intercept. Cornwallis has done his job, made the Patriots react. Instead we place PC markers. Norwich is flipped. Alexandria flipped. One placed on Lynch's Ferry.

Amidst rumors of a diplomatic conversation developing between the rebels and France, Cornwallis rejected his original plan to attack Philadelphia. He would not be surrounded like Howe. Instead, he focused on influencing the citizens of Alexandria to the loyalist cause. Reports of support in Lynch's Ferry, Virginia was welcome news. Virginia was a powerful colony and so far was largely for the King. Similarly in the North, Carleton had cemented loyalist support in Norwich, removing an important foothold of Patriot influence.

American Impulse 3
A: The War Ends in 1781; B: 1 ops; C: Admiral Suffren; D: Henry Knox; E: Thomas Paine;

Nominated card: E
Played card: A

Ouch. Wanted to get Thomas Paine out while he was around. First real time a nomination failed. The End of War card is played...

The Patriots held fast, planning their next move. In London, there were tremors of doubt cast upon Lord North's government. The rebels had performed well and defeated Howe. If Lord North could not prosecute the ending of the rebellion, perhaps a new Prime Minister could.

British Impulse 4
A: Iroquois Uprising ; B: 2 ops; C: Jane McCrea; D: Benjamin Franklin Minister to France; E: 1 ops;

Nominated card: D
Played card: C

Hmm. I wanted to get Franklin out of the way, but it seems I'll be forced to do it next time anyway. Jane McCrea is played for an ops action. PC marker placed in Frederick Town, MD. Maryland is uncontrolled.

Loyalist attitudes and a minor military presence spreads to Frederick Town, Maryland. The South is mostly loyalist at this point in the war, many trusting that the Northern rebels will be brought to heel and no more lives will have to be spent. Looking for allies against the rebels, British envoys communicating with Indian tribes hope to open a new front of the war in the Western Frontier.


American Impulse 4

A: D'Estaing Sails for the Caribbean; B: Light Horse Harry Lee; C: 1 ops; D: Admiral Suffren; E: Henry Knox;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

Sitting on a couple combat cards, makes sense to try to use them. Washington is activated and attacks Cornwallis at Alexandria from Baltimore. It wouldn't be worth the risk of attacking from Frederick Town because Cornwallis can retreat by sea instead of being surrounded and forced to surrender. Besides, American generals can't attack on a 5th move, only a 4th. Washington is ahving a good day, Cornwallis is caught with his pants down. George gets his full battle rating while Cornwallis only gets half (2). Americans try to use a battle card, so roll for the chance (position track). A roll of 3 for position E is successful and the Americans get the bonus +2 drm. British don't have an available face-up opponent event card to discard nor a battle card. Total American drms are +11. British drms are +7. Finals rolls are Americans 13 and British 13! If this were any other game the British would win, but in Washington's War attacker wins ties. 2 British CUs are lost and Cornwallis and his 1 remaining CU retreat to Montreal by sea. Americans lose no unis. French Alliance marker moved up 1.

With Cornwallis content to sit in Alexandria, Washington decides to once again take the initiative. A lightning quick march is conducted South, with Cornwallis caught flat-footed. His forces are unable to form up properly and ends up retreating through the streets of the port town. British ships allow the General to make a hasty retreat by sea, headed North in hopes of regrouping in Canada. Henry Knox gains honors in the battle for his astute command of Continental artillery. With loss of Continental forces minor, Washington has established a foothold in the loyalist South. Meanwhile, diplomatic feelers with France gains ground and the Congress decides an official Minister should be sent to France to negotiate...


British Impulse 5

A: Benedict Arnold's Treason Undermines the Patriot Cause; B: 3 ops; C: Iroquois Uprising; D: 2 ops; E: Benjamin Franklin Minister to France;

Nominated card: No choice.
Played card: E

Well at least we get a chance to remove Arnold soon. The mandatory event is played, French alliance jumps to 8.

Benjamin Frankling is selected to travel to France and negotiate a treaty of alliance. The war, with a only the passing of a few months, has attracted the eye of King Louis and preparation are made to involve the French in the war for independence...

American Impulse 5
A: 1 ops; B: 3 ops; C: D'Estaing Sails for the Caribbean; D: Light Horse Harry Lee; E: Admiral Suffren;

Nominated card: A
Played card: E

Wanted to activate Greene and make use of the combat card. Might've secured French Alliance. In any case, if Admiral Suffren were played, it normally reduces the number of cards in the British hand. With the solo CDG method as I am implementing it, it would reduce the number of British card plays this turn. However, one of the card requirements is that he French alliance is in effect, which it is not. Instead it is discarded for a ops play. Long Island, NY has a PC marker placed on it. New York is American controlled.

While dreaming of an American navy to battle the British, Patriot militias in New York complete their seizure of Long Island. By taking important ports in the Northeast, there is less danger of British ships dropping off redcoats. The Continental Congress remains safe while British efforts to stamp out the rebellion are failing on almost all fronts.


British Impulse 6

A: 3 ops; B: Benedict Arnold's Treason Undermines the Patriot Cause; C: 3 ops; D: Iroquois Uprising; E: 2 ops;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

Benedict Arnold card is only playable with a battle and Iroquois Uprising won't really help me much at the moment. Better to lay down some control and hope I can hang on until next turn so I can bring more reinforcements. PC markers placed in Concord, NH, Saratoga, NY, and Salem, NC. Salem to start to create isolated PC markers in the South while expanding in the North and keeping NH from flipping easily.


Though the British had been failing militarily, it was slowly spreading loyalist propaganda. Pockets of Patriot support in the South began to feel threatened by lack protection. Requests for more reinforcements were received in London, but it would be many months before more soldiers could be delivered to Cornwallis's eager hands.


American Impulse 6
A: John Paul Jones' Shipping Raids; B: 1 ops; C: 3 ops; D: D'Estaing Sails for the Caribbean; E: Light Horse Harry Lee;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

I could try to attack Carleton but would likely lose Arnold. I lose the combat card but I'll get the winter offensive later, which is just as good anyways. Better to get some PCs out there. PCs placed in Albany, NY, Brattleboro, NH, and Falmouth, MA.

Rabble rousing and aspirations for Liberty brings critical Northern regions under control of Patriot colonists. Albany, a critical city on the way to Canada, serves as a block to the tendril of loyalist military paving a way. A contingent of Greene's soldiers head North and secure the port of Falmouth. The only Northern ports accessible to British shipping are now in cold Canada.

British Impulse 7
A: 2 ops; B: Minor Campaign; C: 3 ops; D: Benedict Arnold's Treason Undermines the Patriot Cause; E: Iroquois Uprising;

Nominated card: C
Played card: C

Got some good draws, but will have to make use of them next turn. I may be able to knock the Patriots down a peg before winter. Carleton is activated and moves to attack Boston from Falmouth. Greene opts to stay and fight. He didn't intercept because doing so would have provided a retreat space. This may be risky, as there will be no retreat space, but I can potentially remove one of the better Patriot generals from the game. Unfortunately Carleton rolls poorly for his battle rating while Greene rolls well. However, the roll for the Arnold card is successful and the American roll of discarding an opponent event fails. British drms +6. American drms +7. Final rolls, British 10 and Americans 11. Ouch, so close and one off. Carleton captured, units eliminated. Greene loses one CU. French Alliance marker to 9. French naval marker placed in the Quebec/Montreal Blockade Zone. Rochambeau and 5 French combat units placed in Savannah, GA. And.... Automatic Vicory as there are no British Combat Units in the colonies and when the European War takes effect at the end of the turn, 2 units must be removed, eliminating even the 1 unit Montreal. Yeesh. I think losing Howe early ruined this game. I'll write the finale narrative and do a post-mortem...

Wanting to turn the tide of the war, Governor General Carleton hoped to secure a victory by retaking Boston before Winter set in. He would reclaim lost glory and project himself as the capable leader of British forces in North America. In addition, he has secured the aid of Benedict Arnold, a Patriot commander disillusioned by the Patriot cause since he was not granted a major command position. All of that could not change the fate of the British in the Battle for Boston. Carleton marched headlong into Massachusetts without proper supply and General Greene was happy to crush the British army. A perfect storm against the British followed. An alliance was formed officially between the new American government and France, with French General Rochambeau arriving in Savannah, GA. This force was meant to secure the South but this proved unneeded. The French navy, after dropping Rochambeau off, had headed North to blockade Quebec. With a general European war breaking out and virtually no British regulars capable of fighting left in the colonies, a peace treaty was signed during the Winter months of 1775. Lord North resigned in disgrace, having lost North America in just half a year.

Postmortem

Geez. I screwed up big time with Howe in the beginning. I have never had a game go that way, with two minor campaigns at the start. I should've waited in Boston as I usually do when playing other people. I was tempted by the ability to smash Washington and Greene and have most of New England in British hands early. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Quite an anti-climatic and quick AAR. I will endeavor to record another solo game soon. I do not believe it was an issue with using the Solo CDG system, just my own bad playing. By my own admission I have never played as the British in a 2 player game, so I was blindsided by the vulnerability of Howe if he leaves the coast.

Anyways, thank you for reading. I hope to have another AAR sometime soon.
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Mark Herman
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Great AAR...

I would not beat yourself up too much as you sometimes have to play the hand you are dealt. If you play the game the same way each time you don't discover new strategies.

Anyway, I look forward to your next chronicle.

Mark
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Neil Mooney
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Haven't tried StukaJoe's method yet, but I've really enjoyed soloing this game "hot seat." I also have succumbed to the temptation to get aggressive with Howe early, with similar results. Relocating to NYC is the better option - it's cool how the game encourages historic actions.

Nice write-up. thumbsup
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Robert Factor
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Excellent write-up! I'm stoked to see a well-detailed CDG playthrough using StukaJoe's system. I've been using it for months on WW as well as other similar CDGs (currently using it withi Shifting Sands). Love it and I think it breathes new life into solo-ing.

I agree with you that plans simply went awry, but there was plenty of exciting narrative. Don't you find that the extra tiny bit of randomness provided by Joe's system helps the solo player play each side to the best of his/her ability? I find that the chance of a planned card play going awry is inversely proportional to how much I want it. StukaJoe's method adds a vulnerability to cardplay choices. Great for achieving some extra solo angst.

Again, great write-up. If you play any other games with SJ's method, I'd love to see your write-up. Great detail and I was able to see it all happening before my eyes.

Incidentally, if you're so inclined, Doug Cooley added some interesting variations to SJ's method that I've employed on occasion. You might want to take a look at them if you're thinking of diving deeper into the method.
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Steven Dolges
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Thanks Mark and Neil, appreciate it. I haven't written many session reports but it is a fun process.

How most games I've played in goes is that the Americans sometimes go first on turn 1 and hazard an attack on Howe or stay in position. While the British, if going first, try to get reinforcements going by dropping Cornwallis near Philly to distract. I still tried to do that this game, but the reinforcements came too late after the fumbled minor campaign.
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Steven Dolges
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The Bobby Factor wrote:
Excellent write-up! I'm stoked to see a well-detailed CDG playthrough using StukaJoe's system. I've been using it for months on WW as well as other similar CDGs (currently using it withi Shifting Sands). Love it and I think it breathes new life into solo-ing.

I agree with you that plans simply went awry, but there was plenty of exciting narrative. Don't you find that the extra tiny bit of randomness provided by Joe's system helps the solo player play each side to the best of his/her ability? I find that the chance of a planned card play going awry is inversely proportional to how much I want it. StukaJoe's method adds a vulnerability to cardplay choices. Great for achieving some extra solo angst.

Again, great write-up. If you play any other games with SJ's method, I'd love to see your write-up. Great detail and I was able to see it all happening before my eyes.

Incidentally, if you're so inclined, Doug Cooley added some interesting variations to SJ's method that I've employed on occasion. You might want to take a look at them if you're thinking of diving deeper into the method.


Thanks Robert! I look forward to using the system with other games as well. For the People might be an interesting exercise.

The Solo CDG method is indeed great for giving unexpected results. Sure, I want that 3 ops card, but if I get a 1 ops that changes my gameplan for sure.

I'll probably try to do another Washington's War report before trying others. WW plays fast but writing all this down takes some time. Plus I want to give a more epic telling, than this one turn blitz.

I'll give Doug's variations a look, too. Thanks!


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Jim Williams
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Thanks for the session report, in particular the narrative, which tells a great story!
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Eddy del Rio
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DerTroof wrote:
Haven't tried StukaJoe's method yet, but I've really enjoyed soloing this game "hot seat." I also have succumbed to the temptation to get aggressive with Howe early, with similar results. Relocating to NYC is the better option - it's cool how the game encourages historic actions.

Nice write-up. thumbsup

I long for some WW game-specific instructions for SJ's solo method.
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Robert Factor
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edelrio wrote:
I long for some WW game-specific instructions for SJ's solo method.


Well.. they're not exactly a full set of instructions, but you can peruse my notes on the method being used with Washington's War here (note that you might have to scroll down the page, but it's a long-ish comment so you won't miss it). It might be enough to kickstart your own play with WW.
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Steven Dolges
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edelrio wrote:

I long for some WW game-specific instructions for SJ's solo method.


Well, you could always do what I did and just wing it, while coming up with your own rules/guidance when you come to a situation unexpected. Not much to over-engineer.

My main new instructions were:

1. If start of new turn and British have a Campaign card, they can roll the white die (ranged die) to see if they can go first.

2. Combat cards, if desired to be played, must succeed on a white die roll.

3. Mandatory event cards can be nominated to be played, but once in Position E they MUST be played.

4. Catch-all, any time there is a reactive card play, roll a white die to determine if it can be played.

5. Any events that force a discard to the opponent reduces their available card players per turn by 1. The normal number is 7.

WW is a relatively simple CDG, I don't think you need more than this to rock and roll. I can't think of anything else that needs rules wrapped around it.
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Eddy del Rio
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Thank you gentlemen!
 
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Jerry McVicker
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So why are you only drawing five cards per turn instead of seven? Is that something in the solo rules? I couldn't find a link to them.
 
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