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Subject: The Great Game walkthrough rss

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Richard Hecker
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In anticipation of the publication of The Great Game, I offer a solo play though and look to add a new decade every day or so.

I'm using the playtests Vassal module and rules close to published, but there may be some very minor differences when the published game arrives. At least for the first couple of rounds I'll be a little overelaborate with the rules.

The British plan is simple. First, ensure the two states adjacent to the Raj are under control, ideally diplomatically but a military option is fine. Attack into southern Afghanistan to induce the Afghans to respond, then take Kabul. The Russians will look to move into Khokand and take Bokhara. However if diplomacy allows a relationship with the Turcomans and a way to move Russian imperial forces into Persia, that will be preferred.



1830s

Britain drew 2x Campaign (4), Flashman (3), Gunboat Diplomacy (3), Rebellion (3), Emissary (1), Spoiler (0). All fine cards with a great number of actions. I'll keep all cards. This is the ideal hand for a military push into Baluchistan and the Punjab, and make a stab at Afghanistan.

Russia drew Martini-Henry Rifles (3), Hero (3), Pen Mightier than Sword (2), Informant (2), 2x Emissiary (1), Spoiler (0). The British do not have a great lead in the numbers of officers, so they may not risk playing Shooting Leave (presuming they have that spy card), which makes holding Informant as a counter not too useful. Discarded this, and drew Rebellion (3). That’s useful especially if the British do take a military option and leave disgruntled vassal states. Otherwise this hand will force a more diplomatic focus and assembling Imperial forces for the 1840s.

Round 1 BR choose Flashman (3), RU choose Emissary (1). RU have initiative as their card has the lower number of action. From here on, I'll have the side with initiative first.

RU play Emissary for event first. Vitkevich (diplomacy 2) moves from Tehran to Geok Tepe (Turcomans). British consider countering with Spoiler, but this decade has too few officers to risk on a state that is within the ‘natural’ bounds of Russian influence, and decline the play. RU rolls a 6 + 2 DRM for diplomacy, exceeding the target of 5 and the Turkomans align with Russia. Excellent! This opens an easy path to Persia and Bokhara – although the Karakum Desert still poses a problem. With the card’s 1 action, 5 SP move from Orenburg into the now-friendly Slavers/Turcomans. For this desert crossing the 2d6 (-1 DRM for a yellow desert line) attrition roll is comes to 7, and all 5 SPs are safe.

BR play Flashman for the event, and Flashy pops up in the Raj. Flashman is a rare appearance, and coupled with the strong British hand the first decade is looking good for Victoria's lads. For the 3 actions Pottinger takes 9 SP and travels from Delhi through Sind to the fortress at Baluchi. Entering Sind is formally an invasion of Baluchistan but the Baluchis have no forces to repel the invasion. At Baluchi, Pottinger (tactics 3) attacks the 10 SP Fort. Imperial forces will roll 1d6 and the Baluchis, as an unread state, roll 3d6 and therefore roll second. Imperials roll 6 - 3 DRM for tactics, and the roll of 3 versus their force of 9 SP means 6 SP damage is done to the Fort, which reduces from 10 to 4 SP. Baluchis roll 9, versus their 4 SP, and do no damage whatsoever to the British. The Fort stands, and the British withdraw to Sind. With this outcome there is no further movement for Pottinger’s column. They roll 2d6 (+2 DMR for green line) for attrition, and the roll 7 is modified to 9, and all 9 SPs of Pottinger's column survive. Unled mudbrick Forts are not a great problem for Imperial forces; the problem is choosing how much effort to put in to reducing a Fort. For the final action, 2 SP of British forces move to Bombay, as a threat to Persia.

Round 2 RU choose Martini-Henry (3). BR choose Campaign (4).

RU play Martini-Henry for Reinforcement, and add 3 SP of Russian Imperial forces to Orenburg. No other actions are possible with a Reinforcement action.

BR also take the pause and play their Campaign for Reinforecement, adding 4 SP to Delhi.

Round 3 BR choose Emissary (1). RU choose Pen Mightier than Sword (2).

BR use the single action first and send Pottinger’s column to finish the job in Baluchistan. Pottinger rolls 1, modified to -2 for tactics, versus 9 SP and does 11 SP to the Fort. The Fort collapses and Baluchistan becomes a Vassal state – although discontented. There are no further actions available so Pottinger can travel no further. Attrition roll is 8, modifed to 10 and the column again suffers no attrition. For the event, Burnes (diplomacy 2) is despatched to Lahore. Russia chooses to play Spoiler, as the free path to Kabul would be unacceptable and despatches Vitkevich (diplomacy 2). Burnes rolls 4, +2 DRM for Burnes -2 DRM for Vitkevich. Burnes is found displeasing to the Maharaja, who imprisons him – although with a lovely view over the Kashmir valley. An unlovely fate, but better than poor Alexander Burnes in reality.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Burnes

RU play Pen Mightier, and with their actions move the 5 SP column from Slavers to Krasnovodsk. The attrition roll 5 is modified to 4 for the desert crossing and and 1 SP of the column is lost. The 4 SPs then move on to Geok Tepe and the attrition roll of 7 modified to 6 allows a safe passage. A column of any real military use is just eaten by the desert crossings.

Round 4 RU choose Emissary (1). BR choose Gunboard Diplomacy (3).

RU target Persia, following success in Turcoman and with forces neatly arrayed outside the country, and use Simonich (diplomacy 1, but treated as 3 for the Russians in Persia). BR play Spoiler and use Stoddart (diplomacy 1). Not the ideal candidate but they don’t want to risk Flashman. Simonich rolls 3, modified to 5 (+3 Simonich, -1 Stoddart) and Persia falls to the Russian orbit – and the story goes that Stoddart is expelled in disgrace. The Russians now have the rights to the 20 Persian SPs and allocate as 6 SP to Bushire - in case of overland marches from Baluchistan - and 14 to Khorasan (ready to threaten Afghanistan with Russian-led Persians). For a weaker hand, the Russian fortunes have been excellent.

BR can only play Gunboat Diplomacy for reinforcement, due to Pen Mightier than the Sword, and add 3 SP to Delhi.

Round 5 RU choose Rebellion (3). BR choose Campaign (4).

RU use the actions first and move Simonich to Khorasun (1 action), move 2 RU IP to Khorasun (1 action), then a stack of Simonich (tactics 1), 1 RU IP and 9 Persian SP move to Herat for the final action. The Russian-led Persia stack rolls on 1d6, the Heratis 3d6 and roll second. Simonich rolls 5 (-1 DRM for tactics) and inflicts (10 SP – roll 4 =) 6 SP and reduce the Fort from 15 to 9 SP. The Heratis roll 8, and inflict 1 SP, nobly taken by the Persian SPs, reducing the stack to 8 SP Persia and 1 SP Russia. The stack withdraws back to Khorasun, and attrition roll of 6 (modified to 8) erodes one more Persian SP. The Rebellion targets Baluchistan, but a roll of 2 means it is effectively suppressed before it begins. No effect.

BR play Campaign for four actions. First action is to move Flashman (tactics 2) and 8 SP to Lahore and the usual 1d6 vs 3d6 roll. Flashman rolls 1, modifed to -1 and inflict 9 SP damage on the Fort, reducing it from 15 to 6 SP. The Lahore Fort rolls 10 and Flashman withdraws back to the Raj. Attrition roll of 7 +2 DRM, and all 9 SP return safely. Second and third actions move Pottinger and 8 SP (leaving 1 SP to garrison Baluchi) through Sind and to Khandahar. This triggers an Afghan response and the Russian player places all 10 SPs of Afghan forces in Kandahar. The Afghans have no officers so it is an all-too-familiar 1d6 vs 3d6 roll. Pottinger rolls first again, rolling 6 - 3 DRM tactics, and the 8 British SPs inflict 5 SP damage on the Afghans. The remaining 5 SPs of Afghans roll 10 and do nothing to Pottinger, and instead retreat into the Fort of Ghazni, which is now quite a nut to crack. For the fourth action Pottinger chases the Afghans to Ghazni, a 10 SP Fort. Roll of 3 modified to 0 does 8 SP damage to the Afghans and their Fort, destroying the remaining 5 SP Afghan army and 3 SP to the Fort, reducing it to 7 SP. The Afghans roll 9, and Pottinger withdraws back to Khandahar. An unfortunate attrition roll of 5 (+2 DRM) results in the loss of 1 SP of British forces – a minor, o so minor, penalty for destruction of the Afghan forces.

End of the decade
Vitkevich is summoned back to St Petersburg, while both Pottinger and Flashman are permitted to continue their good works.

Russia controls 7 spaces (3 Russia, 4 Turcoman) and Britain control 8 (4 Raj, 3 Baluchistan, Khandahar). Note Persia does not count for control.



A surprising turn of events for Russia who have had the widest streak of good fortune. Had Burnes pushed though Lahore, Kabul would have been open and with that the country falls. Now Persia threatens. Persian Persuasion can turn this, but it costs time and forces. The Russians still have the problem of too few Imperial forces in play. And then, there is Flashman. Flash by name, Flash by nature, and here in the 1840s, a usual high water decade for the British. Woof!
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Nice work. thumbsup
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Richard Hecker
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1840s

New officers arrive. Britain places Keane (tactics 2 / diplomacy 1) in Bombay and Abbott (1/1) in Baluchi. Connelly (1./1) joins Pottinger in Kandahar and Shakespear (1/2) arrives in Dehli. Russia places Perovsky (1/1) in Orenburg.

Britian drew Campaign (4), Gunboat Diplomacy (3), Hero (3), Military Surveyors (2), Imperial Commitments (2), Pen Mightier than Sword (2), Emissary (1). Military Surveyors, a Russian High Asia card is no use so discarded and replaced with Martini-Henry Rifles (3). This event is not playable in the 1840s but the increased actions are welcome. Gunboat Diplomacy will be useful to get forces into Persia but unfortunately there is no Persian Persuasion to seal the deal. A few forces despatched from Bombay will at least give the Russians pause.

Russia drew Gunboat Diplomacy (3) x2, Crimean War (2), Pundits (2), Pen Mighter than Sword (2), Persian Persuasion (2), Spoiler (0). Two Gunboats Diplomacy will allow crossing the Caspian Sea and bypassing the Karakum crossing, which is perhaps more useful now than an Aral Sea crossing to take Khiva – with only two spaces a diplomatic option is not permitted. The Crimean War is a one-off, and its value is knowing the British don’t have it. Pundits, a British High Asia card, and Persian Persuasion are useless, so these are traded for Emissary (1) and Kossaks (2). Great outcome.

Round 1 BR chooses Martini-Henry (3), RU chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3). Die roll gives Britian the initiative.

BR plays Martini-Henry for reinforcement and 3 SPs added to Delhi.

Russia plays Gunboat Diplomacy and moves 3 SPs from Orenburg to Gurvey. Desert attrition roll of 7 is fine. Next two actions move the 3 SP to Baku then Tehran. Attrition roll 9 again ensures the column is preserved.

Round 2 RU chooses Emissary (1). BR chooses Campaign (4),

RU plays Emissary for event and sends Perovsky (diplomacy 1) to Tashkent/Kokand. BR declines to Spoil. The roll of 1 is a failure but with no countering Spoiler Perosvky finds his head safely on his shoulders – for the moment. For the single action 3 SPs in Tehran move south to Isfahan. If the landing spaces on the Persian Gulf can be occupied, the British cannot take two Persian spaces, the precondition for Persian Persuasion to induce Persian neutrality, and loss of all those Persian SPs.

BR plays Campaign. First action moves 2 SP to Bombay (no attrition possible) to create a 4 SP column under Keane - let the Russians think I hold Persian Persuasion. Second action has Flashman (tactics 2), accompanied by Shakespear, and 9 SPs move to Lahore Fort, currently 6 SP strength. Roll of 5 by Flashman inflicts (9 SP – (5 roll - 2 tactics)) 6 SP on the Fort, which collapses and the Punjab becomes a (discontented) vassal of the British. Flashman leaves 3 SPs behind to garrison Lahore, then the rest of the column move onwards through Peshawar to Kabul. As the Afghans have no ability now to resist, the capital is conquered and Flashman is the victor of Afghanistan. As a bonus, the Fort at Ghazni is reduced. The British now have both entry points to the Raj sealed. Unfortunately all of the local states are Discontented and prone to Rebellion. One does what one can – and the lands beyond, Bokhara and Khokand, perhaps even Khiva, are no guarantees to fall to the Tsar.

Round 3 BR chooses Imperial Commitments (2). RU chooses Kossacks (2). Die roll gives Russia the initative.

RU uses the first action to move 2 SPs from Isfahan to Kharg Island. Attition roll 5 (-1 DRM) permits safe passage. Second action had Simonich, 2 SP of Russian forces and 8 SP of Persian forces to move from Khorasan to Herat, a Fort currently at 9 SP. British notice the Hero card in their hand, and as Herat is within 3 spaces of the Raj, Pottinger races to the rescue. The Heratis are now led and will roll 2d6; still, the Russians will roll 1d6 and go first. Simonich rolls a 4 and inflicts (10 SP - (4 roll - 1 tactics) 7 SP damage to the Fort, which holds. Pottinger stiffens the Heratis and returns to the Russo-Persians (2 SP - (4 - 3 tactics) 1 SP damage, taken again by the noble Persians. The Russo-Persian forces are repelled back to Khorasan, and the attrition roll is a disastrous 2 (+2 DRM). Just 2 SP of Russian and 2 SP of Persians limp back from what should have been a certain victory. The Tsar, if not the Shah, will not be pleased, not at all. The Kossacks event complete one of the steps to opening High Asia, and softens the bitter pill slightly.

BR senses a quickening of the pace and elects Imperial Commitments event to trigger first. Russia has Imperial troops outside of Russia in Kharg Island (2 SP), Isafahan (1 SP), Khorasan (2 SP), Geok Tepe (2 SP). Half of 7 SP is rounded up to 4 SP. One SP from each space returns to Orenburg, and half again of that deployed to the Caucasus to deal with Imam Shamil rise in Daghestan. Of the actions, the first is for Flashman to move his 6 SP column to Termez / Bokhara, who cannot resist, and the 4 SP column from Kandahar into Herat and join Pottinger. The Heratis are shocked that their hero would betray them, but so runs the demands of Imperium. The British roll 1d6, Heratis 3d6. Pottigner’s luck rolls a 1, to inflicts 6 SP on the battered 2 SP Fort. Herat becomes one more British vassal state.

Round 4 BR chooses Emissary (1), Russia chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3)

BR sees its lead in officers and sends Shakespeare (diplomacy 2) to Tehran. Russia un/fortunately has a Spoiler and Perovsky (diplomacy 1 treated as 3 for Persia) races in to hold the collapsing Russian fortunes. The roll of 5 (+2 & -3 DMRs) leads to failure. The Shar keeps his friends close and nothing more is heard of Shakespear. The single action has Abbott and his 2 SP move from Baluchi to Bampur. This formally is an invasion but the Persian resistance has been already deployed, so there is no reaction.

RU plays Gunboat Diplomacy for Reinforcement, and 3 SPs return to Orenburg.

Round 5 RU chooses Crimean War (2), BR chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3)

RU is not in a position to effectively punch through the British lines with the one-off Crimean War event, so Russia declines the opportunity. The two actions will be to move forces. 1 SP moves from Geok Tepe to Merv to stop Pottinger advancing on Bokhara; no attrition possible. The second action has the 6 SPs move from Orenburg to Kazala / Khazaks, who cannot resist. The attrition roll of 7 (-1 DRM) permits all forces to move safely.

BR moves Keane and his 4 SP from Bombay to Bushire, currently occupied by 6 SP of Persians, permitted by Gunboat Diplomacy. While Imperial forces cannot directly comflict, there is no issue with local forces. Keane rolls 1d6, the unled Persians 3d6. Keane rolls 2 and inflicts (4 SP - (2 roll - 2 tactics) 4 SP damage. The remaining 2 SP of Persians will be unable to harm Keane’s column, and so retreat along the Gulf to Kharg Island where Russian Imperial forces hold. Keane determines there is no point advancing further, and stops. The British attrition roll of 10 poses no problem. For the next two actions. the 3 SP garrisoning Lahore move to Kabul. Again, attrition poses no problem.

End of the decade
Perovsky is recalled from the theatre; clearly someone in high places approves of Simonich. Pottinger, hero and betrayer of the Heratis, is given a title and lands in Scotland, while Connolly and Keane have other services elsewhere to offer Her Majesty. Lastly – and overlooked last turn – the Emir of Bokhara remains.

Russia controls 8 spaces (3 Russia, 4 Turcoman, 1 Khazak) and Britain controls 16 (4 Raj, 3 Baluchistan, 4 Punjab, 3 Afghanistan, Herat, Termez).



The British are certainly strong in the 1840s with their good officers, plus Flashman is no detriment, but the collapse of the Russian position is startling. The 1850s see a flood of Russian officers, albeit mediocre, which will be helpful.

In this solo play though I make no pretence to quality play - the Russian column racing south was expensive in actions and provided no real benefit, and the volatile British states need garrisons in case of Rebellion. Still, as a solo game it creates wonderful stories, and we'll see what the next decade offers as Alexander II and Lord Palmerston continue in this, the first Cold War.
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John Gorkowski
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Richard

Great write up. You're really capturing the drama, like this.

"The Russo-Persian forces are repelled back to Khorasan, and the attrition roll is a disastrous 2 (+2 DRM). Just 2 SP of Russian and 2 SP of Persians limp back from what should have been a certain victory. The Tsar, if not the Shah, will not be pleased, not at all. The Kossacks event complete one of the steps to opening High Asia, and softens the bitter pill slightly."

Glad to see all these different elements of play coming together, and with such flare!

Thanks
John
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Richard Hecker
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Hi John - it's been a little while since the playtest sessions, and with the game's imminent publication I thought one more solo play would be fun. I'd forgotten just how much fun this is to solo. With a limited range of cards there is a reasonable scope to set a plan... but the occasional reverses add a spot of unpredictable drama. Pity our Heratis; bastard move Pottinger!
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Rich Horton
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Thanks for posting this, though I was SUPPOSED to get my copy today before the USPS dropped the ball.... now I will just curse them all the more... until tomorrow when all will be forgiven.

Can't wait to get this to the table.
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Richard Hecker
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1850s

New officers
Russia places Ignatiev (1/1) in Kharg Island, Kanikov (1/1) in Kazala and Duhamel (1/1) in Merv. None of these officers are spectacular, but each column now has a leader.

Russian strategy is clearly to shore up the lines. The deserts of Persia, the Emir of Bokhara and the hidden route over the Pamirs will buy some time to bring the remaining neutrals on board. For this decade the Russian officer number betters the British – likely more so next decade – so the risks in Spoilers are much reduced. Britain sees the window of opportinity to push forward lies in Bokhara, but the Emir and the 15 SP fort will make a military option hard without moving more forces forward, and the alternative of Persia is only slighly less attractive. If Persia is reverted to netural, certainly the Russians will make a diplomatic effort and regenerate the Persian army – not a great outcome.



Britain draws Campaign (4), Emir’s Daughter (3), Rebellion (3), Hero (3), Persian Persuasion (2), Shooting Leave (2), Emissary (1).
Really would like some Emissary or Imperial Commitments, so will discard Shooting Leave and Emir’s Daughter. Drew as replacements Pundits (2) and Emissary (1). That’ll do nicely.

Russia draws Campaign (4), Gunboat Diplomacy (3), Persian Persuasion (2), Pen Mightier than Sword (2), Emissary (1) x2, Spoiler (0).
Persuasion is no use and I suspect the British will be reinforcing this turn, so Pen is not useful either. Discard both and drew Rebellion (3) and Gunboat Diplomacy (3). Excellent, move some forces into Orenberg then two Gunboats this will make the path to Khiva a possibility. Note that with two spaces Khiva cannot be taken with Emissary cards.

Round 1 BR chooses Campaign (4), RU chooses Campaign (4). Die roll gives Russia the initiative.

Russia plays Campaign for initiative and 4 SP are added to Orenburg.

Britiain plays Campaign for initiative and 4 SP are added to Dehli.

Round 2 BR chooses Hero, RU chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3). Die roll gives Russia the initiative.

Russia plays Gunboat Diplomacy and the 4 IP cross the difficult Kazahk Steppe to Kazala, an easy passage with an attrition roll of 11. For the second action, aAt Kazala 9 SP of Russian forces sail down the Aral to Khiva and the 15 SP fort. An excellent roll of 1 inflicts (9 – (1 roll – 1 tactics)) 9 SP on the fort. The defenders roll 15 and the Russians withdraw. An attrition roll of 10 makes a flawless attack. The final action has Ignatiev pull his small Russo-Persian force to Isfahan to block any British shenanigans, and again attrition poses no problem.

Britain plays Hero for Reinforcement. 3 SP are added to Dehli.

Round 3 BR chooses Pundits (2). RU chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3).

BR plays the event to complete one half of the High Asia problem. For the actions the column in Dehli moves to Lahore, and all bar 1 SP move to Peshawar. No issues with attrition. Clearly the climate in the early 1850s is balmy.

RU moves Khanikov’s 9 SP column . again across the Aral. The poorer roll of 6 is enough to collapse the Fort and Khiva is a Russian vassal. Without pause Khanikov takes his column to Petro Alexandrovsk. The third action has the 1 SP in Kazala advance to Turkestan.

This is the smoothest taking of Khiva I’ve ever seen. Usually Khiva is simply awkward with desert attrition limiting any force that can be brought to bear.

Round 4 BR chooses Rebellion (3). RU chooses Emissary (1).

RU moves Duhamel to Bokhara and a roll of 2 fails to convince the Emir. Russia notes with delight that the British did not try to counter. For the action, Khanikov and 6 SP cross the Kizikum desert and assualt the 10 SP Fort at Tashkent. A roll of 4 influcts a puny 2 SP to the Fort, and with a roll of 6 the Fort does the same back to the Russians, who return unmolested across the desert.

BR play Rebellion on the Turcomans, who take the British money and guns. However, just three Rebels appear in Merv, facing an unled 1 SP Russian. Both the Imperial troops and first round Rebels roll 1d6. Rebels roll 5, Russians 3. Neither do any damage and the Rebels, as the intruder, retreat to Geok Tepe. The Rebels are completed for this turn, and unfortunately will battle at 3d6 hereafter. With the remaining two actions, the forces in Peshawar join Flashman. 12 SP of British troops do rather signal intentions.

Note in review: The Turcomans were not conquered – they came across with diplomacy - so this is formally an illegal play. I must be distracted with the heat; as I write this it is 40 C outside, just like a Central Asian summer – but I’m not schlepping 19th century equipment across hostile territory. Makes for a good story, so we'll move on…

Round 5 BR chooses Emissary (1), RU chooses Emissary (1). Die roll has Britiain go first.

BR despatches Abbott to Bokhara, however Duhamel looks to Spoil. A roll of 5 and Duhamel finds himself in a subterranean pit in the town square for some days before his eventual beheading before a delighted crowd. Barely able to believe this luck, Flashman moves his 9 SP into Bokhara although attrition nibbles 1 SP away.

RU sends Ignatiev to counter what Abbott offered, and the fickle Emir listens. Bokhara reverts to neutrality. However Flashman’s column is now formally an invader. Bokhara with a 15 SP fort and the Emir (tactics 2) will roll on 2d6, the British on 1d6. Flashman rolls 2 and reduces the Fort to 6 SP. The Emir rolls 5 and inflicts 3 SP damage to the British column. Flashman and his 5 SP retreat back to Termez. With the single action, Khanikov sees an opportunity to match the betrayal of the Heratis, and enters Bokhara. No attrition to the 7 SP Russian column and a lucky roll of 2 led by Khanikov (tactics 1) suffices. Bokhara becomes a Russian vassal, and the Emir, learning all too late that friendship with an Imperial power is a dangerous gift, comes to an ignoble end.

End of the decade

The Tsar is pleased with the turn of events and all Russian officers remain. Abbott’s career in remains, but Flashman takes the offer to train the next generation of School Bullies at Eton and Rugby. Or maybe it was the offer in Calcutta. Rumours had him on the goldfields of Victoria – or was it the Witswaterrand? Maybe the story of the Emir’s daughter held a kernel of truth. Whatever the truth of the matter, and the truth is lost to history, Flashman was never again seen

Russia controls 8 spaces (3 Russia, 3 Turcoman, 2 Khiva, 2 Bokhara, Turkestan) and Britain controls 16 (4 Raj, 3 Baluchistan, 4 Punjab, 3 Afghanistan, Herat, Termez).



What a see-saw turn. Had the Rebellion liberated Merv, the British could have raced forces up and punctured the Russian lines. Had the last dash diplomacy at Bokhara failed, Flashman’s column was open to Khokand, and permanently lock out High Asia. There are still one High Asia card each, and the Crimean War lingers. The 1860s will be interesting.
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John Gorkowski
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Richard

This stuff is fun to read. One of my favs...

"RU sends Ignatiev to counter what Abbott offered, and the fickle Emir listens. Bokhara reverts to neutrality. However Flashman’s column is now formally an invader. Bokhara with a 15 SP fort and the Emir (tactics 2) will roll on 2d6, the British on 1d6. Flashman rolls 2 and reduces the Fort to 6 SP. The Emir rolls 5 and inflicts 3 SP damage to the British column. Flashman and his 5 SP retreat back to Termez. With the single action, Khanikov sees an opportunity to match the betrayal of the Heratis, and enters Bokhara. No attrition to the 7 SP Russian column and a lucky roll of 2 led by Khanikov (tactics 1) suffices. Bokhara becomes a Russian vassal, and the Emir, learning all too late that friendship with an Imperial power is a dangerous gift, comes to an ignoble end."

Keep up the good work!

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Richard Hecker
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1860s

New officers
Russia places the magnificent Chernaev (4/1) in Khorasan.

With the Persians on their last legs, and the British positions providing a cogent argument for Persian neutrality, Chernaev has a slight chance to break through Herat and push the British back. Securing alliances with Tashkent and the Kazakhs to play off the back foot is now less pressing with Bokhara blocked.
The British cannot move forward, short of a war, to punch a hole in the Russian line, and have too few officers to risk on diplomatic overtures. The best idea will be to induce Imperial Commitments and Rebellion to create headaches for the Tsar. If the cards permit, of course.

Britain draws Gunboat Diplomacy (3), Flashman (3), Persian Persuasion (2), Pen Mightier than Sword (2), Spoiler (0) x3.
With a hand of three Spoilers, there is a good chance the Russians will have few or none. Two can be discarded. Drew as replacements Emissary (1) x2. This certainly shifts focus to holding the line, using Persian Persusasion and Flashman as Emissary to create diplomatic havok in the Russian camp. The lack of officers to effect a quality diplomatic effect will cost.

Russia draws Campaign (4), Rebellion (3), Martini-Henry Rifles (3), Shooting Leave (2), Crimean War (2), Persian Persuasion (2), Spoiler (0). Certainly the British will see where Chernaev stands, and will try to neutralise Persia or stiffen Herat, so the first action must be the advance. A 1 action card would likely guarantee preempting any British action. A rebellion in Afghanistan followed by the Crimean War may actually bring Russian forces to the borders of Baluchistan. So long as the line can be held elsewhere all should be well.

Round 1 BR chooses Persian Persuasion (2), RU chooses Persian Persuasion (2). Die roll gives Russia the initiative.

Russia plays Persian Persuasion but does not activate the event. First action has Chernaev and 6 SP of Persian troops enter Herat and the 4 SP British garrison; unfortunately the Imperial Russian troops must remain behind. The defending British will roll first on 1d6 and the Russian-led Persians on 2d6. British roll 3 and reduce the Persians to 5 SP. Russians roll 5 and do (5 – (5 roll – 4 tactics) 4 SP to the British. The destruction of the garrison and the few survivors fleeing back to the safety of Afghanistan was a feature of the London Illustrated News during 1861. The second action has the residual force in Khorasan depart Persia and join Chernaev to prevent a British counterattack.

Britain plays Persian Persuasion, noting to the Shah that the Russians allow his people to take the risk to advance the Russian cause – as do the two British columns on the Persian Gulf. Persia shifts to neutral. The much depleted Persian forces in Herat and Isfahan disband, and the 6 SP British forces are relocated back to Bombay (2 SP) and Dehli (4 SP). Simonich is expelled back to Orenburg. The 1 SP in Isfahan is now in a pickle.

I note here I am working from a playtest version of the rules, and not the final published version. If matters seem odd, bear with me. Or just shrug and enjoy the story. The rules on political shifts are tight but, like Simmons' Napoleon's Triumph, can require careful parsing.

The Isfahan garrison presence triggers the Persian army to treat the Russians as an invasion, and the renewed 20 SP Persian amy will be now directed by the British! The Persians are not a proxy to the British however, and no British SP can enter Persia without being an invader. The British see sensible Russian play will try to disband the garrison next turn, perhaps through a futile attack on Tehran and thereby dissolve the Persian forces back to neutrality. With the clock ticking, the first action is clearly to assemble a 20 SP force in Khorasan and use an action to attack Russian positions outside of Persia. The British assemble the 20 SP Persian army in Khorasan and move 13 SPs to Herat – big enough to damage the Russians, small enough to limit attrition, and a sizeable reseve in case of surprises. For the first action the 13 SP Persian force enters Herat, where Chernaev and the 1 SP garrison roll an unfortunate 6. The Persian hordes roll 10, destroying the garrison and Chernaev flees back to Orenburg. The government of Herat, now allied to neither Imperial camp, also everts to neutral. For the second action the Persians proceed on to Merv and demolish the 1 SP Russian garrison there. Finally, the attrition roll erodes 3 SP off the Persians. The British look on, rather pleased, have punctured the Russian lines without the mess of a formal war.

Round 2 BR chooses Pen Mighter than Sword (2), RU chooses Rebellion (3)

Britain sees there is one more turn to use the Persians offensively, so Abbott moves from Bokhara to Merv to join the Persian forces then leads the 10 SP force onto the Russians in Bokhara. The 7 SP Russian column, led by Khanikov, rolls a 2 and inflicts 6 SP damage on the Persians. The Persians, even led by Abbott roll 9 and are repelled without loss. It was a gamble that, unfortunately for the British, failed to pay off. The event will passivate the Russians for the next round.

Russia plays Rebellion, and their cultivation of the Afghan leader Akbar is successful. The first of three actions incites a fearsome force of 10 SP Afghan rebels, led by Akbar (3/0) to appear in Khandahar. The battle against the 3 SP British garrison is simultaneous and bloody, with the Afghans rolling a 2 to utterly destroy the British, while the British roll of 3 leaving the Afghans unaffected. The second action has the Russian garrison at Isfahan move on Tehran in a suicidal attack – and thereby passivating the Persians back to neutrality. The Persian army dissolves, to leave Abbott as a guy going for a walk. The third and final Russian action has a 1 SP column under Ignatiev move from Bohkara to Merv. While the ideal would be to move to further to garrison Herat, the presence of the Afghan rebels will block the British to the south for some time.

Round 3 RU chooses Shooting Leave (2), BR chooses Flashman (3)

Russia is forced to Reinforce and 2 SPs appear in Orenburg.

Britain plays Flashman, and a young chap with outlandish claims arrives in Termez. Old hands note a certain familiar poise, and nod knowingly as the rumours about the daughter of the Maharajah of the Punjab - or was it the daughter of the Emir of Bokhara? Rumours, rumours - turn out to be all too true. A force of 6 SP move from Termez via Herat to join Abbott in Merv, and the 4 SP in Delhi march out to Sind. The Afghan rebels will be crushed in due course...

Round 4 BR chooses Emissary (1), RU chooses Campaign (4)

Britain sees that bringing Bokhara or Khokand into the British orbit will be indefensible, and the few officers present makes a tilt on Persia too much of a risk should the Russians have a Spoiler, so they pass on the event. Abbott and the 6 SP column march on Geok Tepe. Attrition is no issue, and the Fort is reduced from 15 to 13 SP, while Abbott withdraws without loss. Grinding down the Fort may yet open a back door.

Russia uses Campaign to make a desperate march for Chernaev, Simonich, and the 2 SP from Orenburg across the two deserts, through Khiva to Bokhara. Three (!) desert attrition rolls pass and the force arrives weary but intact.

Round 5 RU chooses Crimean War (2), BR chooses Gunboat Diplomacy (3)

Russia leaves Simonich and 1 SP in Bokhara and advances Chernaev, assisted by Khanikov, and a 7 SP column into Termez, to face Flashman and his 2 SP. The clash of the two Imperial forces in the valleys of the Pamirs in what will one day be Uzbekistan is short. Both the Russians and British roll 4 to destroy the British garrison and leaving the Russians unharmed. Flashman and his adjutants withdraw to Kabul and the 3 SP garrison there. For a second action Chernaev leaves a 1 SP garrison under Khanikov in Termez and pursues Flashman across the mountains and into Kabul. The Russians roll 6 to inflict 4 SP on the British, while the British roll 3 to inflict 2 SP on the Russians. Flashman Junior lacks the luck of his father and retreats again to Peshawar, and Afghanistan is formally conquered for the Tsar. Of course, the Afghan rebels are equally peeved and fall to British guidance, but one can’t have everything.

Britain, shellshocked, with this disaster are on the back foot. 1 SP advances from Lahore to Peshawar to stop any further Russian advance, Abbott sends 1 SP back to Herat to hold the line, and, almost pitifully, tries again on Geok Tepe with his 5 SP column. Luck has fully turned, with Turcoman raiders doing for 2 SP even before he reaches the fort, and Abbot makes no impact whatsoever on the Fort.

End of the decade
For reasons of politics it seems, Abbott remains and Flashman dismissed. While the 600 rode through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Russians successes in this easternmost theatre demanded a scapegoat, and one was found in this strange chap holding a familiar name. Khanikov too departs our story, and Akbar, seeing an unpleasant future fro his rebellion retires from the field.

Control: Russia controls 14 spaces (3 Russia, 3 Turcoman, 3 Bokhara, 2 Khiva, 2 Afghanistan, Tashkent) and Britain controls 13 (4 Raj, 4 Punjab, 3 Baluchistan, Merv, Herat).



The Russians hold the whip hand. The new line is at the border of the Punjab, and the Russians can afford to take time to lock down the remaining two independent states in the north, or move forcefully along the spine of Afghanistan and threaten the British core. Persia is quiet and a useful threat. The risk and opportunity offered by the Crimean War is off the table, so Britain will be praying for the Royal Geographic Society to provide an opening. Also can the Afghan rebels be persuaded to move to Ghazni, or even Kabul, and open the line to retrieve Abbott’s patrol, isolated beyond the far horizons.
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1870s

New officers
Britain places the buff Roberts (3/0) to lead the 4 SPs in Sind and Cavalgari (1/1) to build a last, best hope in Peshawar. Russia places Skobelev (3/0) to form a good sized column to lead across the deserts. Kaufmann (2/1) heads to Tashkent, and Stolietov (2/1) to Bokhara. Russia now has a ridiculous surplus of officers.

Britain draws Campaign (4) x3, Emissary (1), Spoiler (0) x3
A strange and unlikely hand. Early in the game this would be wonderful, but now Britain needs Rebellions and Imperial Commitments to push the Russians back. Two Spoilers are thrown back, to draw Rebellion (3) and, somewhat astonishingly, Flashman (3).

Russia draws Campaign (4), Hero (3), Persian Persuasion (2) x2, Imperial Commitments (2), Pen Mightier than the Sword (2), and Spoiler (0).
Nothing there to bring the unaligned states on board, so both of the Persian Persuasions are discarded, to return Informant (2) and Emissary (1).

Round 1 Russian plays Hero (3), Britain plays Campaign (4).

Both Russia and Britain Reinforce, with 3 SP and 4 SP respectively added to Orenburg and Dehli.

Round 2 Britain plays Flashman (3), Russia plays Campaign (4).

Flashman's ability to weasel out of any situation comes to the fore, and here he is again in Dehli. Perhaps less grit for the Benjamin Disraeli gears? Three actions bring 4 SP and Flashman to Lahore, 2 SP from Bombay to Baluchistan and 4 SP with Roberts to Khandahar. (Let them think we have High Asia and Persian Persuasion in hand!) Roberts battles the 10 SP of aging Rebels in Khandahar, inflicting 4 SP with no loss, before returning back to Sind. Attrition on these small force movements poses no risk.

Russia reinforces again. Yes, the British are clearly Up To Mischief, but space for time is a fair exchange and a sensible Russian precedent, and time is running out for the British.

Round 3 Russia plays Pen Mightier than the Sword (2), Britain plays Rebellion (3).

Russia moves the 8 SP column under Skobelev across the desert line to Kazala without loss, then on to Turkestan.

Britain chooses Afghanistan for the Rebellion, and rolls a 5 for a successful Rebellion of 7 SPs and the services of Ayub (3/0). As the Rebels in the south are under British control, the new Rebels will arise in Kabul. (While bringing the 10 SP of British-aligned Rebels in Khandahar is attractive, there won’t be sufficient actions to allow Cavligiari to enter if the native peoples expel the Russians.) First action brings the Rebels on board in Kabul. The 4 SPs of Russian troops under Chernaev and Rebels will both roll 1d6. Chernaev rolls a 5 and inflict 3 SP to the Rebels, the Rebels roll 3 and inflict 7 SP on the Russians. This destroys the Russians – and as the column was eliminated through rebellion, Chernaev’s limbs are distributed to the farthest parts of the land. Afghanistan is liberated from the Imperial Powers and with that, all of rebels disperse.


Gaze upon that a moment friends – an Afghanistan at peace and able to persue its own independent interests.

The plan worked almost too well, and an independent Afghanistan is unthinkable. Britain has to race in. With the remaining two actions Flashman and 4 SP leave Lahore, collect the 1 SP and Cavligari from Peshawar and invade Afghanistan. The Russians have but one chance and deploy the 10 SP Afghan army in Kabul. Flashman’s roll of 5 will inflict 2 SP damage on the Afghans, and the Afghans, rolling 3d6, at least pinch a single SP from the British. The 8 SP Afghans pull back to their ruined Fort of Ghazni. Afghanistan, battleground of the powers, has been returned to British arms.

Our relations with Afghanistan in the forty years between 1838 and 1878 were successively those of blundering interference and of unmasterly inactivity
- Lord Curzon, future Viceroy of India, 1889

Round 4 Russia plays Imperial Commitments (2), Britain plays Campaign (4).

Russian plays Imperial Commitments. The news of the success in Afghanistan is clearly read as job complete in London. Britain has 15 SP in the field, so 8 SP need to be recalled. Baluchistan reduces from 2 to 1 SP in Baluchistan, 4 to 1 SP in Sind, 3 to 2 SP in Merv, and 5 to 2 SP in Kabul, and of the recalled a further 4 SP depart the theatre to head off to South Africa. With the two actions Skobelev’s 8 SP column enters Tashkent, and the roll of 5 reduces the 8 SP Fort to just 2 SP. The Russians pass on any further action.

Britain is forced to Reinforce, and Dehli recalls 4 SPs.

Round 5 Britain plays Emissary (1), Russia plays Emissary (1). Die roll gives Britain the initiative.

Britain sends Flashman to Geok Tepe; Russia Spoils with Ignatiev. A fortunate roll of 6 and the Turkomen shrug off the Russians to return to neutrality – and the story of Ignatiev and the camel’s foal was still circulating even when the 1914 war broke out. The one action has 4 SP from Dehli join Roberts in Sind.

Russia sends its best diplomat Simonich to Geok Tepe, but unfortunately the British were forewarned and Flashman remains to Spoil. Count Simonich, a fifty-year veteran of the region, comes to an end, although the Emir permits Simonich a more gentle departure back to his home, albeit his white whiskers shorn in disgrace. Skobelev balances the books by moving a 7 SP column and kicking the living stuffing out of Tashkent.

End of the decade
The breakaway Turkomans and loss of Afghanistan seems to have led the new Tsar Nicolai II to a tantrum, and all three remaining officers, Skobelev, Kaufmann, and Stolietov, are recalled. Victoria, perhaps for Reasons of State as advised by Prime Minister Gladstone, makes a similar gesture and pulls out Flashman, Cavligari, and Roberts, yet that blank cyper and now ancient James Abbott remains.

Control: Russia controls 11 spaces (3 Russia, 3 Bokhara, 3 Kokhand, 2 Khiva) and Britain controls 15 (4 Raj, 4 Punjab, 3 Baluchistan, 2 Afghanistan, Merv, Herat).

For a decade in which Russia could sit and consolidate its gains, the Russian position has suddenly become very much weaker. And on to the last decade of the Great Game. High Asia is uncertain, and the Russians can push to the northern grasslands and re-invoking the assistance of Persia. But that whip hand of a few years past is gone, gone, gone.
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1880s

New officers
Britain places Elias (0/1) in Sind and Russia the flexible Alikhanov (3/2) in Tashkent.

Britain draws Rebellion (3), Persian Persuasion (2), Imperial Commitments (2), Pen Mightier than the Sword (2) x2, Emissary (2) x2. At this late stage Imperial Commitment followed by Rebellion could work a nice breakthrough and one Pen Mightier is useful in so far as it stops Russians taking action but two are too many. A discard of a Pen Mightier and Persian Persuasion – although that runs the risk of the Russians working on Tehran. The slight lead in officers makes the Emissary a useful card. Britain draws Campaign (4) x2. That’s a fair sign that some luck with the Persians or a Rebellion might do the job on Bokhara and the edge in the game.

Russia draws Rebellion (3) x2, Gunboat Diplomacy (3), Martini-Henry Rifles / Krupp Guns (3), Shooting Leave (2) x2, Spoiler (0). Gunboat time has passed, and one Shooting Leave suffices. Russia draws as replacement Informant (2) and Military Surveyors (2). The road to High Asia will be opened. Between the concentration of forces in Tashkent and the Krupp guns, good fortune has just dropped a great, shining one on the Russian lap.

Round 1 Russia plays Shooting Leave (2), Britain plays Rebellion (3

Russia risks despatching Alikhanov to the British lines, but as Britain has no Informant the success is easy. Imperial Commitments is the one card that could scuttle plans, so that card is gladly taken. For the two actions, a 1 SP detachment departs Tashkent for Khiva, sending the message the race for the Turcomans is on.

Britain plays Rebellion but the dissatisfied in Bokhara fail to bite. For the three actions 3 SP from Dehli join Elias’ forces in Sind then all move to Herat to form a 9 SP focus there, whittled down to 7 SP following attrition. The race of the Turcomans is matched.

Round 2 Britain plays Emissary (1), Russia plays Military Surveyors (2).

Britain despatches Elias to Geok Tepe. While Russia could spoil, Alikhanov is more useful for Kashgar and so declines to act. A roll of 1 and Elias flubs it. For the action 6 SP move from Herat to Merv.

Colonel Prejevalsky and Captain Gromchevsky report a reliable route thrugh the Pamirs, skirting the Taklamaka Desert and to the Tibetan Plateau. With this geographic clarification, Alikhanov chooses the military option and takes 6 SP to Kashgar. A roll of 4 does 5 SP and reduces the Fort to 10 SP, however the natives are not to be taken lightly and reduce the Russian force to a rump of just 2 SP. This savage reversal may be the kiss of death to any effort in High Asia this late.

Round 3 Britain plays Pen Mighter than the Sword (2), Russia Rebellion (3).

Abbott and 7 SP move to Geok Tepe and the 13 SP Fort softens to 7 SP. Unfortunately Abbott has poor luck and 3 SP are lost in the assault. There is no time to reinforce, so taking the Turcomans may also be a lost cause. The 1 SP in Dehli move up to Lahore in case the Russians break through across High Asia.

Russia attempts to trigger a Rebellion in Afghanistan, but without success. For the three actions, the first has the 7 SP Afghan army moves on Kabul for an ineffective skirmish with the 2 SP British garrison, the second has the 1 SP in Khiva heads west to the Turcomans to block any British advance, and third has the 1 SP in Turmenestan head to Tashkent.

Round 4 Britain plays Emissary (1), Russia plays Informant (2)

Britain plays the action to send Abbott and his 4 SP against Geok Tepe again as a last ditch effort. Another good roll reduces the 7 SP fort to 3 SP. Elias is sent to the Khazaks. By this stage, Russia again risks not to Spoil. The Khazaks know whose armies are closer and ignore Elias.

Russia plays Informant for Reinforcement and add 2 SP to Orenburg.

Round 5 Russia plays Rebellion (3), Britain plays Campaign (4).

Russia foments Rebellion in Lahore, but just 3 Sikh Rebels arise. The Rebellion is too small even for the weak 1 SP garrison, and they are bounced out to Multan. Second action has the 7 SP Afghan army in Ghazni move on Kabul and the 2 SP garrison there, and again the skirmishing is ineffective. For the third action the 2 SP in Orenburg move on the Khazaks capital, such as it is, and bring them, unwillingly, into the Russian fold.

Britain rolls last in the Great Game for two actions the 1 SP from Herat join Abbott in the move on Geok Tepe. Alas for the roll of 4 for the 5 SP led by Abbott. The Fort of the Turcomen holds. For the next two actions the 1 SP garrison at Baluchistan moves through Sind to Multan but cannot dislodge the Rebels.

End of the Great Game

Control: Russia controls 15 spaces (Orenburg, Guryev, Baku; Bokhara, Samarkand, Termez; Turkestan, Tashkent, Osh; Kazala, Khazaks, Altai; Khiva, Petro Alexandrovsk; Slavers) and Britain controls 16 (Dehli, Bombay, Simla, Leh; Lahore, Peshawar, Srinagar; Baluchi, Karachi, Sind; Kabul, Khandahar; Merv; Herat).

By the waferiest of thin margins, it is Britain.

The early Russian good fortune of the fall of Khiva and diplomatic success against the Turcomans gave the Russians a kick start of perhaps two decades over a ‘normal’ game. The British deactivation of the Persians was timely but there was nothing of quality in the play, with hand after hand squandered. There is no need to overstate the good fortune the Russians had with their card draws. The loss of so many officers going into the 1880s, as well as both sides permitting the forces to dwindle so low left the final decade to the viccitudes of fortune. Had the first assault on Kashgar or Geok Tepe not been so costly, or the Sikh rebellion a little larger, the shape of the final decade, and the game, would have been vastly different.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. Always a fun game to play though.
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Richard

Thanks for this epic contribution to war gaming lore. You are a bard of the hobby.

Thanks
John

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Jerry Hall
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Great run thru, I plan to recreate it using my game to help learn the rules. Is the Vassal module available yet? I just checked and can't find it.

Thanks!
 
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Rick Thomas
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Re: The Great Game walkthrough
Excellent walkthrough! Thanks very much for posting. I believe the Russian leader Perovsky in round 4 (1840's turn) should have only been treated as a diplomacy 1 as the spoiler does not grant an automatic 3 to any Russian officer (text on the card).

Also, if the Crimean War card is used for action (not reinforcement)it is removed from the deck (even if the player did not implement the card's text-4.3). (You didn't mention if you removed the card or not, so I wasn't sure).

Note: I could be totally wrong on these, but I bring them up to make sure I'M playing correctly









Posted Today 5:12 pm
 
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Jeff Fike
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Is there actual solo AI in this game? Or are you just playing both sides?
 
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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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schmoo34 wrote:
Is there actual solo AI in this game? Or are you just playing both sides?


There are specific solitaire rules for two scenarios, one where you play the British and another the Russians.

But the campaign game is IMO pretty easily played solo by playing both sides.
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Jeff Fike
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wifwendell wrote:
schmoo34 wrote:
Is there actual solo AI in this game? Or are you just playing both sides?


There are specific solitaire rules for two scenarios, one where you play the British and another the Russians.

But the campaign game is IMO pretty easily played solo by playing both sides.


Thanks, I get no enjoyment out of playing both sides. I want an opponent so there are at least two scenarios that allow for it but no campaign. I will need to do more research.
 
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wifwendell wrote:
schmoo34 wrote:
Is there actual solo AI in this game? Or are you just playing both sides?


There are specific solitaire rules for two scenarios, one where you play the British and another the Russians.

But the campaign game is IMO pretty easily played solo by playing both sides.


Very Flashy
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