18 November 2010

I Go, You Go, We Go, Hugo?

My first miniatures gaming experience was Charge!; early on I got used to writing orders and moving my figures at the same time as my opponent. Always seemed to work well, and we never that I recall had a problem that could not be solved by breaking the moves into quarters.

More recently published rules work that way as well. Both Command Decision and 1870 use a chit to express commitment to an order with the details worked out in a shared movement phase.

Other rules use a system where only one player, and generally one formation, is moving at a time. This may be a completely alternating system where I move all my units and you move yours, or it may be an interleaved system where sides alternate moving subunits either picked by the player or by a card draw.

My main experience to compare these two approaches in rules for the same period and level of play has been Command Decision and Blitzkrieg Commander. Both are excellent systems, well supported, with an enthusiastic following.

Both games were full of surprises, but they came from completely different mechanisms.

In playing Command Decision I found that most of my decision making took place in the few minutes I spent laying chits. During the shared movement phase I discovered the implications of the intersection of my decisions with my opponent's. My heart would sink, my hope would be buoyed up, but I would not be making decisions.

Playing Blitzkrieg Commander, I find myself constantly making decisions. Do I try to get another action, do I shoot or do I move if I am the player who's turn it is? Do I use my opportunity fire now, or wait f I am the non-moving player?

I like making decisions. There is a momentum to how battles are fought, especially in the days before radio, that should constrict how quickly a formation can reverse a decision made and disseminated an hour ago. But within the bounds of that overriding decision, there should be decisions for the player to make constantly through the game.

Lets make that an objective:
  • Every player should have decisions to make constantly through every turn.
Another audience to consider (especially since I am liable to be one while developing the rules) is the solo player. Inherently, in solo play, only one formation is moving at a time. I am not sure that having to wear both hats at once to work out shared movement situation will be all that much fun.

So, looks like I will be going with some variation on I Go/You Go. But I am not sure of the details yet.

Just a quick aside on sequence of play. While I like fluidity in rules, I do (probably because I played boardgames for so many years) like to see pretty much every key activity allocated a place in the sequence of play. The SoP is not just an order in which things are done. It is a checklist to make sure that we do not forget anything.

1 comment:

  1. Giving some thought to time vs scale vs player POV several thoughts come to mind:

    1. There is likely to be a considerable delay between when the highest level of command issues orders to a corps and the time that these are analysed, scouts sent out, maps consulted etc, orders formulated and dispatched and finally boots start hitting the pavement. Issuing corps level orders should almost be done a turn in advance. Tricky with solo play though.

    2. Given a rate for individual battalions of even a conservative 2 miles an hour and a turn length of 4 hours, a divison that is marching without hindrance should probably cross the board in 1 or 2 turns but will come to a crashing halt when it encounters enemy.

    3. Once said troops are in proximity to the enemy, orders are not going to come from above (usually). Decisions will be made at regimental, division and corps level and lower on occasion. So when the player is moving actual pieces vs issuing corp orders, his POV should shift if you want the player actively involved. But his options should be limited.

    This might even be done via separate phases an operational or army level command and movement phase for uncommitted formations then a series of tactical turns for engaged formations. Perhaos corps orders to unengaged units first, then the tactical turns then an unengaged formation movement phase where they carry out orders issued before that turns combat?

    Have you had a peak at

    Napoleonic and 1 level down but interesting and more grist for the mill.