THINGS TO COME, PART 2 of 3: GOING SOLO (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

There's a growing market for solitaire games, something that was readily apparent to us with the publication of 2016's Agricola, Master of Britain. You would think that in 2017 we would have published a bunch of them, but we only managed to push Charlemagne, Master of Europe out the door. This wasn't for lack of trying; once Agricola turned into a surprise hit, we immediately started seeking out more solitaire games. The thing is, of course, that designing and developing games takes time. And so while work started on some of these titles early this year and late in 2016, they won't be ready for your table until 2018. We think they'll be worth the wait.

Like Hailstones Upon Rooftops

culp's hill

"Scene behind the breastworks on Culps Hill, morning of July 3rd 1863", Edwin Forbes, oil, 1865-1895

Designer Hermann Luttmann is working on a game in the vein of his popular In Magnificent Style, centered on the action at Culp's Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg. We've exchanged several emails over the last year or so trying to determine how the game should look and feel. Some designers are indifferent to presentation, but Hermann has a great deal of interest in making wargames that are palatable to a broader audience, and understands the role that components play in that. Hermann and his developer, Fred Manzo, are putting the game through rigorous testing. Once they hand it off to us, then we've got our own testing to do before moving on to art.

NATO Air Commander


Long-time gamer and first-time designer Brad Smith first approached us with the idea for NATO Air Commander in November of 2016. I've been working very closely with Brad, watching as he's improved upon the design, streamlining it and fine-tuning its difficulty, striking the sometimes tricky balance between strategic depth and accessibility. I'm confident now that if the game isn't in its final form, it's in something that's very close to it. We're hoping to release the game in the first half of 2018.

The game is an entry in the Cold War Goes Hot genre, imagining a 1987 offensive by the Warsaw Pact that will overrun Western Europe if not for the timely intervention and prudent deployment of airpower under your careful, steely eye. A multipurpose deck resolves combat, air missions, and reinforcements with a simple flip of the card, but it's your decisions that matter. That's an important part of any solitaire game that we publish: we don't want the players to be at the mercy of fate. Players should make meaningful, difficult decisions that determine their success or failure: players must earn their victories, and own their mistakes.

Wars of Marcus Aurelius


This game by designer Robert DeLeskie won multiple awards in BGG's Wargame Print and Play Competition. It also won us over. Initially we were a little skeptical of the game when Robert approached us - but once we played it, hoo-boy, were we glad to be wrong. This is a tight and compelling game with lots of card angst and replayability. After working with Robert and drawing on the feedback of our testers, that card angst and the replayability have been considerably heightened. We're finishing up our final round of testing and are hoping to have the game ready in the first quarter of 2018.

Aurelian, Restorer of the World

A silvered antoninianus, valued at 2 denarii, minted during Aurelian's reign, 270-275.

Not to be confused with that Marcus Aurelius game! They're different dudes! This would be the next game to utilize the cup adjustment mechanisms that power our Agricola and Charlemagne titles, and would be centered on the short and eventful reign of Aurelian. The primary design challenge with this one - besides the spotty and not-entirely-reliable historical record - is figuring out the turn structure. Agricola gave the player 38 actions over 8 turns each representing a year. Charlemagne had 12 turns covering about four decades with potentially unlimited actions. Aurelian's rule was shorter than Agricola's, and covered more ground than Charlemagne's. Once I figure that out, boom!, we're off to the races, and we'll be set to release this game late in 2018. If it takes a little longer, though, then this might get pushed into 2019.

… and two more…

We're looking at two more solo games that are likely to see release in 2018, but we're not ready to release too many details as of yet. One is a science fiction game, while the other is kinda-sorta our take on a legacy game (only without destroying or marking up any of the bits). We'll have more details on these as we push into the new year.

Part 1 of 3
Part 3 of 3


  • Really looking forward to NATO Air Commander!!

    Solitaire Air Combat with minimal luck?? I’m in…

    Travis Lethbridge

  • Very interesting update, Tom! That “legacy” game idea has me very intrigued … I have yet to try one so this may be my first. They are obviously very popular. And thanks for the kind remarks – I hope that Culp’s Hill will be a winner for you. I think we’ll be working together quite a bit next year. And thanks Steve – you are a gentleman, a friend and a great designer in your own right. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Hermann Luttmann

  • Yesssss another Cup-driven/agricola-like game! I enjoy ths system a lot and I thought that it could be very relevant in another Roman context… I had thought about the Germanic Wars at the end of Augustus reign (with Varus and the Teutoburg Forest, Germanicus and Tiberus), there is similarities between this contexte and Agricola’s campaign, but on a far bigger scale… Maybe for the next on the series (you should give it a specific name btw)
    Anyway, I can’t wait to hear more about this Aurelian game

    Quentin W.

  • Sounds great, Tom! As a part-time solitaire player and designer, I appreciate the effort that goes into these types of games.

    Especially nice to read that Hermann’s series is finding a new home with Hollandspiele after VPG (once again) dropped the ball. Hermann is a friend and one of the best designers (playability, fun, chaos, etc.) in the business!

    Steve Carey

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