Board Gaming · Solo Gaming · Solo Month

Mini-Review & Spotlight on Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game (2nd Ed)

I’ve been a Whovian for quite a number of years now. While the 10th Doctor will always be my Doctor of choice, there have been some spectacular episodes of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, there are long months between new seasons of this great show, and sometimes that can lead to some withdrawls of the Doctor. Luckily for us, Simon has worked hard over the years to create a story adventure game that immerses you into the world of Doctor Who.

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My Mini-Review

I had an eye on this game for a long time back when it was in the 1st Edition. It had gone idle, but I kept hearing so many solo gamers rave about the experience. It was something I always intended to dive into but never had the opportunity. Then I heard about 2nd Edition being worked on, and I was excited. New life was being breathed into this game, and I was thrilled to get a chance to dive into a new and improved version of this widely-regarded solo game.

The first thoughts, upon looking into this a little, might be to question whether it truly is a game. You have books. Several books, in fact. Four of them are necessary to start playing the game (rules, adventures, enemies, and events), and you’ll be referencing them frequently because the entire session is navigated through your decisions and where those, along with a die roll, lead you along the way. This may immediately turn off some of you to the game, because you don’t want to read. And flip through pages to find the referenced number. But oh, that would be a mighty big mistake!

Despite the text-heavy interaction, this game provides a thematic experience that is second to none. You feel like the Doctor, making decisions. You find allies along that way that, if you’re lucky, become long-term companions for you as you progress mission after mission in your own little season of Doctor Who. You can be your own new Doctor, or use one of the pre-generated sheets for each of the existing Doctors.

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I made the mistake of playing this game several times with only the rules printed out and having the other books open in PDF form on a screen. Saving paper/ink and all that. Let me just assure you now, you will want these printed out. In color. Shoot, it’d probably be worthwhile to have your local print shop bind these for you, too, so they are readily available and in a nice, fancy format. Because once you’ve played this game, it’ll hook you in with the experience. All of time and space are available for you to explore, and Simon is pumping out mini-expansion content every month to open up each of the past 12 Doctors’ experiences. The Fifth Doctor is dropping today, so fans of the Classic Who can already go and play Doctors 1-4.

This game is best compared to the Choose-Your-Own Adventure books that I loved reading when I was growing up. I loved those to death, reading and rereading them to explore the different branches along the way. To be able to play a game that hearkens back to that experience, and ties in a very thematic Doctor Who experience, is a winner in my books. Once printed out completely, this will be one of my go-to solo games on the nights when I want to play a game but also to experience a unique story in the process. Those nights when everyone else is asleep and so all I need is a pen, paper, a dice-rolling app (to keep things quiet), and these books.

Allons-y!

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A Short Article, written by Simon Cogan (designer of Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game)

‘DWSSG is a FREE print and play solitaire paragraph-booklet adventure game where the player assumes the role of the intrepid Time Lord himself – the Doctor!’

I’ve always been a fan of ‘Doctor Who’ for as long as I can remember. I’ve been watching since the Jon Pertwee days back in the early 1970’s and have never stopped.

I’ve also been a fan of boardgames ever since I was a child – from playing Monopoly and Cluedo with my family, through the roleplaying games of the 1980’s and into the more sophisticated hobby games of today.

‘Doctor Who’ has had its fair share of games of course, some more successful than others and some decidedly, well, crap! There have also been some very laudable role-playing games from FASA back in the 1980’s to Cubicle 7’s today.

But unlike many roleplaying genres which are ‘ensemble shows’ and where no one player dominates, ‘Doctor Who’ as a gaming genre presents problems as one player, the Doctor, dominates the game with massively enhanced knowledge, attributes and skills. As much as gaming companies have tried to get around this, it’s a huge issue. This is why in board games such as the new GF9 ‘Time of the Daleks’, everyone plays a different incarnation of the Doctor!

This is fine of course, but it doesn’t actually represent 98% of what we see on TV, listen to with Big Finish or read about in the various novels. It’s one Doctor plus his Companions, visiting exciting locations throughout time and fighting evil aliens.

Evil is brewing somewhere in the Universe – perhaps an alien force is preparing to invade Earth, or maybe a rogue individual is conducting hideous experiments. In a new regeneration, you stand at the console of your TARDIS as it flies through the Time Vortex.”

So I decided to combine my two greatest passions – ‘Doctor Who’ and board games – and create my own ‘Doctor Who’ game.

Due to the player taking the part of the Doctor, the game became a solo game. I also wanted to give players a real sense of creating their own episodes as if they were seeing them on TV so the game had to have a strong thematic and storytelling element to fulfil this aim

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DWSSG began life in 2008 – almost 10 years ago! I started writing when the 10th Doctor was still in the TARDIS and had just said goodbye to Donna! By the time I had finished the first draft of the game, David Tennant had announced his departure and was adventuring on his own! In creating DWSSG I made the decision to think forwards rather than look back so initially all the content was based on the RTD Era of the show – with a few original bits and pieces from my own imagination. I even created an ‘ending’ for the game where the player would discover war-ravaged Gallifrey…way before ‘End of Time’ aired!

With the support of the BoardGameGeek community, which still hosts the game to this day, DWSSG took off and gained a steady momentum with a firm and faithful following. I am very proud of the fact that on BGG, DWSSG is ranked as the number 1 ‘Doctor Who’ game! For the next 4 years or so, I wrote countless expansions for the game, venturing back into the Classic Era of the show, included Matt Smith’s first 2 seasons, as well as more original material. It was all very well received by the gaming community and for a time it almost became a commercially licensed App, but the BBC turned me down.

After nearly 5 years solidly writing the game, I needed a break and stepped away from the design. DWSSG continued to bubble away gaining more players and fans until last year when, looking back over what I had written, and seeing some fresh interest in the game, I decided to go back and do more. But I didn’t want to just do more ‘add-ons’. If I was going to go back, I was going to go back BIG!

So DWSSG ‘2nd Edition’ was conceived in the summer of 2017 and with the help of some loyal co-workers, we have created something which I think is very special. We have used the experience of writing the original DWSSG to create a more thorough rule set, enhanced and re-written a lot of the old content, expanded existing entries and introduced elements from the 11th and 12th doctors that have never been seen before.

In addition, because we knew we could expand DWSSG2e before designing it, we could make the system far more fluid and cohesive than before. To this end, 2018 sees the release of no less than 12 monthly expansions collectively entitled ‘All of Time and Space’ that will cover all the TV Doctors from 1 to 12. The First Doctor expansion released a couple of weeks ago. The Second and Third Doctor releases are finished and I’m more than halfway through the Fourth Doctor, ready for April. DWSSG certainly does take a lot of my time!

So, what is DWSSG and how do you play it?

This web-published game is played using four booklets: Rules, Adventures, Enemies, and Events. Two normal dice are also required. All the Booklets, a Beginner’s Guide plus expansions and support materials are in the Files section of the game’s BoardGameGeek page:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/233361/doctor-who-solitaire-story-game-second-edition

An Adventure begins when the TARDIS lands at an Adventure, be it modern-day London, the wilds of Sherwood Forest, or the distant planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius. Through Actions such as Explore and Investigate, references in the Adventure book will lead you to paragraphs in the Events book, allowing you to gather Allies and discover the plots that are in progress. Eventually you will reveal the Enemy, each of which has its own 1-page section in the Enemy book explaining how you might discover their dastardly Goal. New Actions then open up, allowing you to Plan, Research, and (hopefully) defeat the Enemy. If you fail to reveal and Defeat the Enemy within 12 Turns, the Doctor is killed – maybe your next regeneration will do better (or at least be better dressed)!

Please check out the Doctor Who Solitaire Story game over at BGG! (link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/233361/doctor-who-solitaire-story-game-second-edition)

(SC Games is a fan-based group which makes unofficial games purely as a labour of love. For DWSSG, all related characters, logos, and indicia of ‘Doctor Who’ are copyright and trademark BBC and used without permission).

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5 thoughts on “Mini-Review & Spotlight on Doctor Who Solitaire Story Game (2nd Ed)

    1. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the mini-review. I’m a fan of Doctor Who myself, and so far this game makes you feel like Doctor Who moreso than any other I’ve played. If you don’t mind reading as part of the gameplay and storytelling aspect, this one is a slam dunk.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Curse you!…Now I’ve downloaded the lot….quick read through without spoinling things…looks cool. Reminds me a little of a less complex Barbarian Prince. Been a long while since I tried this of this style of game. I suspect it will be finding its way onto BSoMT towards the end of the month! (thanks for sharing)

    Liked by 1 person

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