2020 Top 10 Countdown of solo skirmish games #1

#1 HORIZON WARS: ZERO DARK

So we come to this: my #1 2020 solo skirmish game. Unlike its close competitor at #2, it's not free but well worth the price. It's minis agnostic but does require a 4'x4' table. The reason why it gets #1 spot is: its near future/sci-fi/cyberpunkish theme and it's built from the ground up to be solo, co-op or even PvP. Awesome sauce!


All you need are some d12's (admittedly not your usual dice type and you need around 6-7 dice each of 2 colours).

What I like about the game is while you can stat up your team, they aren't tied to specific weapons, just weapon types. Like rifles or AOE weapons. Range is theoretically unlimited but the further the target, the more difficult it is to make the shot. The target number is the range + target's defense + environment penalties + cover penalties. Then you roll your d12 dice and if you can at least roll the target number, you've succeeded. Very elegant rule to cover all kinds of contingencies without resorting to exceptions or special rules. The other one is, if you generate more successes than you need to perform your action, you can usually use them for bonus actions.

In practice, this means you'd normally try a cautious move, make a test vs a specified target number and hopefully generate some bonus actions. These can be used to negate the first action of the subsequent AI activation (but not its second action) or fire at a target, move some more, gain a buff etc. Plus I just learned (it's in the rules so put that down as me not understanding what I read) you can even use these bonus actions on your team mates! Not just yourself.

And the best part is, you can do cool things like go on Overwatch, and you can be activated by your own team mate's movement to take a shot at a bogey to take it out so your team mate can continue unmolested. I don't think any other game allows you to do this!

The game is objective based missions with an emphasis on telling stories, and you are encouraged to play a campaign where you can level up your team. There's even a Rescue Mission available for you to go in and rescue a team mate that got left behind in the previous mission! 

One negative of the game is the way the tests for the actons are expressed read like algebra! I know for certain that's turned off at least one person from trying out the game. Trying to work out something like F+n(v): v=range + visibility + target AV/Def + obscured n = +1 support/+1 targeted isn't very intuitive... although paradoxically when you finally do suss it out, it is intuitive.


Something else that's a neutral for me but could be a negative for others is the fact the fluff is pretty generic and light. You're encouraged to use your own, or the provided background fluff. It's not Shakespeare by any means, but it's servicable with a bit of tongue in cheek pokes at today's attitudes. It's nowhere near the breadth and depth of WH40K for sure. I don't think any game is.


And that's it for my list! Let me know what you think and what games could be here for 2021.


Until then, good riddance, 2020! May you have more tabletop gaming in 2021!


Comments

  1. Love this blog! Thanks for these. Had no idea 1player skirmish was a thing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! If it wasn't for the stupid Covid lockdowns, solo gaming wouldn't have had such a prominent place in my blog this year. Hope the list helped!

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