Here it is then folks, my number 1 solitaire game in the list of 100. Let me tell you where I started in gaming. I mean serious gaming, not Monopoly, or Ludo, not Snakes & Ladders or Sorry! I started real gaming when I was about 9 years old, and that was with Chess. Chess obsessed me for quite a few years. I found a book in the school library called Chess for Young Beginners (Collins, 1975).
It was full of colourful pictures of knights on horseback, with speach-bubbles shouting out the important rules and tactics. For the first time, an abstract game was something with a meaning, something with a theme. Those weren’t just pieces on a board, they were brave infantrymen and gallant knights, a proud king, and a fearless queen. They could be cunning, they could lay traps, they could use forked attacks and they could tempt their enemy with sacrifices before striking with an unseen blow.
Not until now has a game captured my imagination in the same way, and delivered that same level of abstract tactical play that had me puzzling over a board for hours on end as a child.
I have fond memories of the games of chess I played as a child with my Grandfather, so much more satisfying than with the kids at school or in tournaments. We enjoyed each other’s company, we bonded, and we both looked forward with anticipation to when we might play again. Whilst the mothers were gossiping over cups of tea, we were unleashing armies and out-thinking each other with cunning and guile. Now I’m a father myself, with a busy job and with a lot of time away from home, time out with friends to play games is a very rare opportunity. This is why my top 100 solitaire games exist, and why the game that’s sitting in the number 1 spot has taken a special place on my table. I discuss the growing passion for solo gaming here, so I shalln’t dwell on it any longer. Suffice to say, my number 1 game gives me the same challenge, the same hunger, the same enthusiasm I had as a child with Chess. At its heart it’s an abstract positional game, but each piece has its own stats, its own abilities, its own health and its own place on the battlefield. This time, though, the battlefield is an arena, and the game is……PART 11