Bushido!

2021 Top 10 Solo Skirmish Games Countdown : #10!


2021 is nearly over and with it comes the time for my annual Top 10 Skirmish Games. Lots of changes, a few drop outs and some have managed to keep their slots. 


Even though gaming is returning to some form of normalcy with face to face games being possible again... solo skirmish games are always a nice option if ever another mutated virus worse than Delta hits (please... no!!!) or you just don't have an opponent for the evening but want to just roll some dice.


So without further ado... here goes!


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#10 : CROM - A Skirmish Game Set in the Hyborian Age (henceforth to be known as CROM).


CROM comes in a free and paid for version. The only difference is the paid version has more examples and comes nicely formatted. The free rules are just a wall of text on a web page here.


I really really like this system because it’s so free-flowing. You can literally do anything. The system really reminds me of the Conan boardgames by Monolith where Action crystal determine what and how much you can do.

CROM pre-dates the Monolith board game and uses a dice pool that determines what and how much you can do. For example Conan has 12 dice… lesser heroes get 10. Minions might only get 2 or 3. On your turn, you can allocate your dice for combat, movement or any other special action that the scenario calls for. So you can roll 2 dice for movement (yes, roll to move!)… then realise you fall short of your objective. Roll again until you reach your objective (a group of enemy skeletons). Then you have to decide: use all your dice in an all out attack, hoping to wipe out the enemy… or reserve some for defense? Because if you don’t have any combat dice left, it’s like you made an all out berserker attack, leaving you wide open to counterattacks from the survivors. Or should you reserve some dice for movement so you can retreat after you make your attack?

It’s truly liberating and a refreshing change from the normal “you can do 2 actions on your turn, one of them being movement” of other games.


So why is it at #10?


CROM apparently wasn’t designed as a solo game, although according to the designer it is solo-able. You really need to put a lot of work into designing your own scenarios to make the game work. You need to determine what enemies, events and objects/loot you will encounter, make a random deck for them and place hotspots (this is something that will pop up a lot in other games on the list) that will trigger encounters. And you really need the paid for version to see the game play examples and example scenario that will give you a grasp of what to do. (You could trawl through the web site looking for the specific examples and put them all together, but the PDF is cheap enough that you save a lot of time to make it worth it).


Once you’ve put in all the work though, you can re-use many of the encounter cards (loot, generic enemies and monsters) and you only need to make new cards for new bosses and mini-bosses in future scenarios.


And the game is really fun once all the pieces are in place and you play it out. You really feel like a swashbuckling Cimmerian hero in the Hyborian Age undreamed of.


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HONOURABLE MENTIONS


As always, there are more games than can make it on the list, hence the honourable mentions. Games worth definitely taking a look at, or games I haven't managed to get on the table in 2021.


So in no particular order other than alphabetical...


BATTLESPACE


This sadly remains in the Honourable Mentions list mainly because I’ve not managed to get it to the table yet. And now, there’s an expanded 2nd Ed. that’s going to be available soon.


It's a minis agnostic modern skirmish game. Think of a 4-man squad in Afghanistan or some other modern 21st century conflict... we're certainly not lacking for settings, that's for sure, It has some interesting game concepts and a nice AI activation. It DOES use d20s though so if the extreme swinginess of a d20 isn't for you... avoid.


Foreveryone else, do take a look. YouTube gameplay/tutorial videos are now available compared to this time last year.

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