It is time to begin explaining my previously hinted at idea.
The board war game genre includes a surprising number of solo games, designed to be played by one person against a cardboard AI. One such game is called Ambush! (and yes, the exclamation point is part of the title).
Ambush! is actually a pretty old game, having come out in 1983. Last year, when I was looking to trade in a pile of games that I no longer wanted, I learned about a store in the States called Noble Knight. They buy and sell used games, and they push to get out of print games. Long story short, I sold them so0me stuff, and I’ve bought stuff multiple times. One of the purchased items was Ambush!
In the game, you assemble a squad and head out on the missions. Maybe you need to patrol a riverbank, or find a bridge crossing, or engage a machine gun nest…I don’t know, because I’ve forced myself not to look ahead. Then you pull out a typical war game hex map and move along. But there’s a twist.
See, you don’t know what you might encounter. Every single time you enter a new hex, you have to run a check on it. The game comes with more than 20 double sided sheets with random letters and numbers…until you insert the proper one in to the cartridge envelope. Now you’ll see certain hexes leading you to certain pages to check in the Paragraph book.
For example, let’s say I’m running through Mission 4, and the current Condition level (basically, German alert level) is 5. Private Dumbass steps in to Hex S2 on the map. I am now directed to check out paragraph 066. It tells me that I have to roll an activation check with Private Dumbass…pretty much, is he likely to notice something or too busy humming a dumbass tune to realize things are happening around him.
If he succeeds, he notices a German soldier activate on the 2nd floor of a building and we begin combat rounds. By passing his check, it means Dumbass can actually react at once. The rest of the squad might be sitting ducks, but he probably won’t be.
If he fails, it brings on a whole new check that can either lead to him stepping on a mine, or a German sniper potentially putting a round through his brain pan.
This book contains 999 entries, and there are check requirements that add more random results. And there really are quite a few sheets to put in the cartridge, too. And that’s why this appeals to me. Sure, you can have a plan. And it’s a perfectly good plan…until a halftrack full of Panzer grenadiers appears out of nowhere and starts laying down suppressive machine gun fire. Or one of your troopers breaks his leg slipping down a ravine. Or your support tank is blasted in to a smoking hulk by a hidden German 88 mm. gun.
Now I’ll be doing this X-Com style and naming the guys in the unit after people I know. If someone buys it and needs replacing, someone else steps in. I may mix in some celebrity types as well (Private Henry Rollins was an angry fellow given to lying to his squad mates…) What will happen? Will any of us live? I have no goddamn idea. If I get the chance, I’ll get the squad ready this weekend and make that the fodder for the first post. Next week I change to a 10 am – 6:30 pm shift, so I’m going to have more evening time for playing this (the game is time intensive), so hopefully I can get cranking out mission posts before too long.
And on the topic of WW2 games, my self birthday present arrived in the mail today…
More on that coming soon…possibly tomorrow.