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BUCK ROGERS FLIES SOLO
Solitairy play for the BUCK ROGERS - Battle for the 25th Century game
by Ed Greenwood.
Published in: Dragon 157 (May 1990): pages 18 + 20
Into every gamer’s life falls a little “alone time,” those frustrating periods when one itches to play a game- and has no one to play against. Every gamer has favorite solitaire games, and there are a few excellent solitaire war games available, but it’s sometimes fun to take a new game (partic- ularly one that doesn’t seem readily adapt- able to solitaire play) and while away a few hours “going it alone.” So here on the games shelves at the cottage, staring me in the face, is a big, colorful game in a huge box: TSR’s BUCK ROGERS™: Battle for the 25th Century game. Why not give it a try?
- First, set up the board and put the markers on the Solar System Display in the usual manner.
- Deal out six Territorial Zone Cards for all six Leaders.
- You play Buck, and you set up your starting army (its composition is given on page 9 of the Basic Game Rules booklet) in the strongest setup you can devise, subject to the standard placement restrictions (also on page 9).
- You can’t change your initial setup after you begin setting up the forces for the other Leaders!
After setting out Bucks forces, distribute the other Leaders’ starting armies in the same way, with the following guidelines:
1. The Leader must be guarded by five friendly units in the same zone, and must be located in a Zone on the largest planet for which the Leader has a card in his hand.
2. In all cases, the “largest” planetary body is the one with the greatest number of Territorial Zones (for counting purposes, include the Space Elevator as one zone, but don’t count Moon Zones or Colonies). Earth is considered larger than Venus.
3. Each Leader unit will be located on the largest Moon if there are no planetary Territorial Zone Cards in that Leader’s hand, on a Colony if no Moon Zone Card is held, or (failing that) on an Asteroid. Luna is considered to be a Moon, not a planetary body.
This quite often leads to all the Leaders being crammed onto Earth, so another rule should be added: If two Leaders (including Buck) are already placed on a planet, additional Leaders should be located on other planets if they have relevant Zone Cards (even if they also hold cards for larger planets).
4. Control Markers should be placed for all forces. A pencil and paper are also necessary for keeping track of turns.
- This solitaire game uses the Basic Game Rules (i.e., no special Leader powers), with the following additions from the Advanced Rules: Pass-Through Fire and Spaceship Movement (both on page 4 of the Advanced/Optional Game Rules booklet), and Control Markers In Combat, with its Advanced CRT (page 5 of that rulebook).
- Except for their first turn of movement, and except for newly produced units (discussed later), no “enemy” Leaders or their ground forces move from zone to zone in the game. Any enemy forces will attack Buck’s (your) forces whenever any of Bucks units end up in the same zone, in their respective turns. If necessary, use the Turn Cards to determine the order in which units of the various enemy Leaders attack.
- All possible attacks including Pass-Through Fire will be made, by all enemy units, on Bucks forces throughout the game: enemy units never break off attacks. Buck’s units can always break off combat and pull back from any combat in which they are losing Enemy spaceship movement takes place throughout the game, in the usual turnphase, always to pursue and attack Buck’s closest forces (if forces are equidistant, roll dice to determine which is attacked).
- Enemy units will ignore units belonging to all other enemy Leaders; no combat or Pass-Through Fire between such units will occur. Movement follows Advanced “Ship Movement” rules.
- Newly produced enemy units (you must always produce the units of which that Leader has the fewest, at his factories) may move in their turn as follows: if a ship, to the nearest Orbital Zone; if a Trooper or Gennie, the unit may move at the usual rate of one zone per turn, subject to the usual rules of combat when entering an occupied hex. A Trooper or Gennie may travel to any Territorial Zone in the same System Display (if a Transport is available) where that Leader’s forces are most in need of reinforcement - usually but not always the Zone where the Leader is located.
- Buck’s forces always move first. At the end of Buck’s moves and attacks (including the resolution of any Pass-Through Fire), each enemy Leader’s forces move (if possible), attack (if possible), and produce units from their factories. The solitaire player then marks off one elapsed turn. Don’t forget to move the markers on the Solar System Display in the usual manner.
- The object of the game is for Buck to eliminate all other Leaders, Wilma Deering last. Leader units stay dead, once killed, but their forces still left on the board fight on.
- Wilma must be captured (on the board, this is the same as “killed”) after all other leaders have been eliminated. Wilma’s forces will fight Buck’s forces throughout the game.
- The level of victory achieved depends upon how quickly all five rival leaders are killed or captured. See the Victory Table for details.
Resounding victory 16 turns or less
Clear victory 17-19 turns
Bare victory 20-21 turns
Skin-of-the-teeth victory 22 turns
Holding one’s own 23 turns
A bad day 24 turns
Defeat 25 turns +, or Buck Rogers killed
1. Initial forces
A Leader plus any 15 units are deployed at the start of the game, for each army. Deploy them according to the guidelines under “Setup” above, but determine the composition of the forces randomly (you can choose Buck’s 15 units freely). The random-system results troll 1d10) are as follows:
1 = Battler
2 = Transport
3 = Fighter
4 = Trooper
5 = Trooper
6 = Trooper
7 = Fighter
8 = Transport
9 = Gennie
10 = Gennie (or roll again twice, ignoring this result hereafter; note that this means a starting force of 16 units, against 15 for other armies)
2. Fast Game
This game ends when the Earth completes one revolution around the Sun (i.e., returns to its marked starting location on the Solar System Display). Determine the game outcome as follows:
Victory: Buck has killed three or more rival Leaders
Break even: Buck has killed two rival Leaders
Defeat: One or no rival Leaders were killed, or Buck was killed
One or two initial factories for each Leader (including Buck) are granted—but no replacement or additional factories can be built. Buck’s factories build whatever the player wants. A rival Leader’s factories will build either Fighters or Troopers (roll even/odd to determine which).
4. No factories
No factories are allowed for anybody in the game. Note: This can make it very difficult for Buck to win in the time limits given above. A two to four- turn extension to the Victory Conditions may be preferred.