Saturday 20 April 2024

That Book Again

Well, it is still a while until publication, but someone on the Lone Warrior site has asked about the content of the book. Well, not exactly asked, but grumbled there was no list of chapters and doubted that there would be anything new.

Fair enough. If you put a book out there you can expect grumbles and criticism, although it might be a tad unfair before the book and its content have been revealed. Authors have feelings too!

Still, it is probably a good idea to reveal, even slightly, what is in the book, and, possibly, whether there is anything new. That, of course, is rather subjective. None of it is new to me, naturally, because I wrote it. On the other hand, it was submitted to the publisher last June (or thereabouts) and my memory of the details is getting a little shaky. There may be things in it that will surprise even me.

Still, with little further ado, here is a list of the chapters and some idea of what the content consists of.

Chapter 1: Why Solo Wargame

Naturally, the book starts with a discussion of solo wargaming and why it is a reasonable proposition. It is a bit of a surprise to find people around who still denigrate solo wargaming, but they do. So a bit of justification might be considered to be required, although I’m not really sure it is necessary. Anyway, the answer to ‘why wargame solo?’ is ‘why not?’ of course. There are advantages and disadvantages, but that is life, and I try to discuss them.

Chapter 2: Battles

By a ‘battle’ I mean, here, of course, a wargame. The chapter covers setting up a one-off wargame, choosing a historical period and size of the game from role-playing to large-scale actions. There is also a consideration of how to generate terrain, and two incompatible systems are suggested. That might give the reader a bit of a warning that the book is not a consistent set of rules for solo wargaming. It is, more, a compendium of ideas for the wargamer to take and use to their own ends.

The chapter also contains a discussion of how (and whether) to general both sides – dubbed the divided general and the automated general, and finishes with a discussion of bias and how to detect and correct it.

Chapter 3: Campaigns

Campaigns are, of course, sets of wargames strung together, but how they are strung together is the backbone of this chapter. Various historical periods are considered, as are the assorted scales that can be used. The use (or not) of maps is included, as is my ‘campaign in a day’ system, which some readers of the blog might recall. There are discussions of map moves, reconnaissance, communications, and getting from the map to the tabletop and back. Finally, there is a discussion of recording your campaign and mixing scales.

Chapter 4: Personalities, Logistics and Randomization

It might possibly be thought that the content of this chapter is a bit of a rag-bag of stuff that wouldn’t fit in chapter 3, and to some extent, you would be right. However, a couple of systems of character-creation are described (compatible ones, this time), and then some suggestions for how to use personalities in campaigns. Next, unit histories are suggested – units have personalities too. This is, admittedly, an old idea but worth reviving, I think, if only for the entertainment of the solo wargamer.

Next up, logistics, that topic most wargamers shy away from, is considered, with a couple of ways of dealing with it which, hopefully, will mitigate the pain. On the other hand, I did land up looking up the payload of a Dakota while writing it. The scars still show….

Finance, recruitment, and diplomacy are also thought about in this chapter. There are, of course, a number of ways of dealing with this and it depends on your campaign and its scale; an imagi-nation will have to consider it, a simple theatre game not so much. Still, it is quite interesting to ponder, and I make a few suggestions how to handle such matters.

Random events of various kinds are suggested, ranging from high command demanding half your units to the weather grounding the enemy air force. All sorts of things can and did happen in warfare; I think all you need is a table and a bit of imagination, and I make some suggestions.

Chapter 6: Siege, Naval and Air Wargames

Those slight prima-donnas of wargaming are then discussed. Every time I say that, actually, I am bombarded with examples of siege, naval, and air wargames, but really I think most wargamers are interested in land warfare. Sieges in a campaign can be thought of as a slight inconvenience or as a potential set of wargames, and ways of dealing with both are suggested. Naval wargames are also discussed with thoughts about scope and scale. It is inevitable that these are different from land wargames, of course. It is similar to air games, and there are a variety of ways of dealing with it, again. There is also an example here of what you can do as an air campaign, which is interesting (I think – I lost Malta when I tried).

Chapter 6: Advancing

This, the final chapter (who cheered?) discusses how to keep going. I consider sources of inspiration – books, films, magazines, and even an opera. I ponder why reading military history can be less useful than expected. There is also some discussion of taste in wargaming, although I refrained from a full-blown examination of wargame ethics. I also explain what I had to miss out of the book and reiterate the purpose of writing it.

So, there you are. That is what is in it. Does it contain anything new? The footnotes will indicate from where I have obtained ideas and suggestions, so I will grant that not everything is new. There are also one or two bits from the blog included, but I do deprecate self-plagiarism. A lot of it is, in my view, fairly new or ideas that really should be looked at again.

There are no photographs of nicely painted soldiers in the book. Firstly, that would have massively increased the price point and, secondly, I would have had to find out how to take nice photographs and how to paint wargame figures nicely. I know my limitations. It is much more a book for ideas of how to wargame solo, rather than show off my wargames. There might be a place for both in the wargame canon, but pretty pictures are not me, as a quick review of blog posts here will reveal.

So, there you have it: a bit more than the publisher’s blurb, but a bit less than the actual content (you’ll have to buy the thing for that, I’m afraid). I should imagine that the website also takes cancellations of pre-orders if you are put off by the above.

If you have questions, please comment. You can check on progress (what progress?) toward publication, and what else I’m doing, on Facebook.


  1. Well, I, for one, am looking forward to your book! Most of my wargaming the last 40 years has been solo (by choice), so I am always eager to learn and integrate new ideas into the pursuit.

    Kind Regards,


    1. Thank you. You've been a by choice solo wargamer for as long as I have. I'm hoping to learn something new from it too....

  2. Thanks for the overview. Your book will definitely be on my to buy list.


  3. My wife has pre-ordered it on Amazon for our wedding anniversary. I expect it is for me.

    1. You will have to react with joy and delight, then. Your wedding anniversary must be roughly coincident with mine.

    2. 4th July. I wanted the US to celebrate with me (and serve as a reminder).

    3. Fair enough. My sister got married on her husband's birthday, just so he wouldn't forget their anniversary.

  4. All the solo books I have read seem to be a compendium and you pick what works for you and a given wargaming situation. Looking forward to the release of your book.

    1. Thank you. I think that is a fair comment. Solo wargamers can bend and blend what they like to fit taste and context.

  5. You can “count me in” for a copy too. Looking at other peoples ways of solo wargaming is always good, whether it confirms your own thoughts and processes or even if it is just to show another, different way to do something.
    There’s no “right” way to game solo (thus there’s no wrong way either) - there are many ways to achieve what we’re looking for. Plus we’re not all looking for the exactly the same thing anyway.
    Good luck with the book.

    1. Thank you. Agreed, looking at other people's games, often non-solo as well as solo, can spark some creativity. The whole point is to enjoy it - as the Estimable Mrs P has sometimes to remind me: 'It is a hobby, you know'.