I'm going to try out a post on solo miniature games today. If you enjoy miniature games, Two Hour Wargames puts out some nice stuff that is actually made for solo play. I really enjoy WWII as a miniature games setting, and so have been playing the game Nuts! on and off for a while. Pros and Cons abound, as you can expect in such a game. The biggest pro is that it is made with solo gaming in mind, and as such has your "non player" side very well covered. Also, there's little bookkeeping beyond noting what status a model might be in. On the con side, the rules are disorganized and the reaction system takes a lot of getting used to it before it becomes enjoyable. I also wouldn't call Nuts! a "rules light" system.
Having said all that, I've come to enjoy Nuts! as a solo game. Once you "crack the code" you realize the game isn't all that hard to play and most of the stuff you can keep in your head. Rather than talk on about it, I'll just give you a battle report to review.
This is a Recon Patrol mission, where I have to scout every section of the board. The board is divided into nine equal squares, and I have to move my troops through each one. I'll be playing US Rangers, and the non player (NP) side will be German infantry. The terrain set up is randomly generated. Next I place three Possible Enemy Forces (PEF) at randomly determined spots. These PEFs may or may not turn out to be actual German enemy forces. I will have to roll on a contact table to see if something is really there, and then roll up what it actually is. I make the same rolls for any terrain feature to which I have LOS.
Some things to know about the mission are 1) the Enemy Activity Level (EAL) is 3 (out of six), which means I have a 50/50 chance of finding the enemy when I roll for contact, and, 2) the Support Level (SL) is 1, which means if I get a chance for reinforcements, I have to roll SL or less to have them show up. So the US is highly unlikely to get any help.
Here's the table set up with the PEFs clearly marked and US forces deployed. I'm playing on a 4'x4' board.
It's going to be a hard fight for the US Rangers, as they are in the open and have discovered that they have enemies everywhere! I roll up a "rest of the platoon" result for the PEF, which means since there's nothing yet on the board I will place an entire platoon of infantry where the PEF is. Ouch! The woods reveals that there is an additional squad of Germans hiding there as well. If that's not bad enough, a MMG team is in the church directly across from me. Yikes!
Here are some pictures of the enemy. I couldn't get them all in the picture, there were so many.
The Germans decide to open fire. The first shot rings out and takes the Rep 6 Ranger leader out of the fight! This causes an immediate Leader Lost test. The Rangers only pass one of two dice, and so split both ways looking for cover. One group jumps into the ruined building on the left and the other hides in the woods on the right. I played this whole part wrong, which had profound implications for the game. I should have resolved all German shooting first and then did all the tests. But instead as soon as the leader dropped I did the test. This put everyone into cover. In reality the Rangers should've been blown to bits before they could get anywhere!
Now that all the Rangers had ducked back behind cover, it became harder to hit them. Once you are shot at, either when active or not, you can take reactive fire. Rep figures into this, and at Rep5 and the targets being in the open, the US Rangers were extremely effective in killing the enemy. By the end of the Rangers first round, the Germans were running for cover and dragging their injured with them.
The Germans activated next, and the PEFs had a chance to move. There were only two now, and they activate and move randomly. One stayed in place and another PEF moved from behind the church to join the other PEF at the rear. It was like they knew things weren't going well up front! Germans tried to fire from cover but couldn't bring numbers to bear. Return fire from the Rangers was deadly accurate. I tried to have Germans lob grenades, but they couldn't prepare them in time. They would be killed before the next activation when they could throw them!
This went back and forth, with US Rangers having no trouble preparing grenades and tossing them on the same turn. That's the difference between Rep 5 and Rep 4 models! Because the Germans bunched up trying to find cover, they got plastered in the 5" blast radius. One brave Ranger rushed to the church window and threw in a grenade that blew up the MMG team that had pulled back from it's sniping perch. Here's a shot of it in action.
The Germans for their part were constantly retreating. They never could get a grenade throw without the person holding it being killed first. I've read in another THW game (5150 Star Army) that if a model with a readied grenade is killed before he can toss it, it goes off right then. Had that rule been in place during this game, the Germans would've killed themselves.
So as the Rangers push forward, one Ranger moves up to contact the remnants of a rifle squad that is hunkered down. Being contacted in this state means that the hunkered down models will surrender to enemies who come within 4". So rather than shoot at the team (which actually can't be seen while in this status unless you go prone), it's easier to double move up. One Ranger captured a group of four enemy and took them out of the fight. I use the fiery blast marker to show hunkered down status.
So now only one PEF remains unresolved. Each PEF has its own REP, and this particular one was REP 1. This means it can only activate on an initiative roll of 1; so it didn't move all game. Because I didn't actually know what it was, I hadto approach it carefully. This became the highlight of the game for me. I could be looking at another entire rifle platoon hidden in the corner, kept in reserve until the last minute. I didn't know until one of my men drew LOS. So I gave one soldier the difficult task of checking out what was behind the wall as the rest of the team closed in. I still had Rangers in the church, who would be unable to help if something big popped up.
So that's a game of Nuts! for you. If you enjoy solo games, you should check out this system.