Skip to Content

Following Orders?

10 replies [Last post]

Hello all! My first post to the forums, although I have been reading them for a bit.

I am in the middle of designing a war game (simpler than Axis and Allies, more complicated than Lionheart). It is played on a 25x25 square board. There are several different units, infantry, cavalry, and (importantly for this topic) the Commander.

I wanted to model the fact that just becuase the Commander gives orders, doesn't mean the units follow. What I was thinking of doing was having the player roll 4 dice before movinga unit. If the dice roll was less than the number of squares from the Commander, the orders "never got there" and the piece does not move.

It could really throw a wrench into an attack, especially if a front line unit doesn't move, causing a bottle neck. However, this will also encourage the player to bring their Commanders (an important piece for other reasons) out into play instead of hiding them for the whole game.

What do people think? Is it too random an element? The player can mitigate the randomness by moving his Commander to the more critical parts of the battle (at increased risk to his safety!). I, personally like the idea, as it removes some abstraction from the game as they are not chess pieces which will do what you want. They will *usually* do what you want though.



Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Following Orders?

I like that idea ... and that is tied to how far away the Commander is. However, I'm wondering if there would be a more interesting way than a dice roll to determine if the orders "got there". Something that could allow the player a little bit more control over when to stress how important the orders are, and so make them more likely to arrive.

(Commander puts his hand on the messenger's shoulder. "Son ... this is going to be the most important thing you've ever done in your entire life! If these orders don't make it to the front line ... you better be missing a limb or two!")

Nothing's coming to mind right now that wouldn't just overly complicate it, but I'll think on it ... (and I'm sure others will make some suggestions too).


Joined: 08/03/2008
Following Orders?

Cute idea!

I think it will be pretty random, but perhaps you can think of ways to make it less so. For example, maybe you have different "morale" units, possibly denoted by a different base color, say. Some are "fiercely loyal" and have a higher probability to do what you say. Some are "less loyal" and are less likely to follow orders. Maybe some are mercenaries and you can pay to increase the odds that the orders will be followed.

Also, a 25 by 25 board is big, and I assume that you'll have plenty of pieces, meaning that there will be a LOT of die rolls required, and that could bog the game down in a somewhat annoying way. But it's hard to say up front.

I think the need to move the commander to make orders happen could be interesting and could lead to some interesting strategies; for example, maybe you pull all your guys back to draw in the opponent, forcing him to bring his commander out to engage you, etc.

Nice idea. You'll probably go through a few iterations to make it work, but I definitely think you can pull it off if you have a good combat system that you're dropping this mechanic into. Good luck!


Still Tweaking

Thank you both for oyur replies. I was thinking of reducing the size and/or number of pieces for each side. At the moment, each side has 27 pieces (including the Commander). I wanted to make sure that there were enough units to make strategies possible, while also making sure the board was large enough to allow for flanking maneuvers.

Having said that, there are 3 types of infantry, peasants, shield men, and spear men. Peasants would be least likely to follow orders, while the others might be more inclined.

The other question, I was thinking of was what do they do if they don't follow. The most obvious option is that they simply do nothing. However, they also might move towards the nearest enemy, move away from the nearest enemy, etc.

I was trying to think of other mechanics to allow this to work. Allowing the Commander to expend "points" of some sort to ensure orders are followed may also work.

Thanks for your input!


Following Orders?

Well, you're starting to get into a sort of "reverse break" roll.
Almost all war games and miniatures games use a "break" roll to determine if a unit crumbles under the stress of war and flees... if a troop is lost in the unit, the rest have to make a successful break role to hold their ground or they bail. Generally, if there is a leader nearby, the unit gets bonuses to its break roll.

It's not a particularly cumbersum rule... and you could use it as a duality in this game... the Commander could be used for a break roll... and as well, the unit must make a "loyalty" roll before moving or whatever. If it were me I'd keep it to a simple 1d6 or what have you and give bonuses for the distance to the Commander.

So say the Commander is IN or NEXT to the unit, no roll is required.
Commander is 1-3 spaces away - roll 2 or more
Commander is 4-6 spaces away - roll 3 or more
Commander is 7 + spaces away - roll 5 or more

Then, if the unit fails this roll they sit tight.
If they are engaged with an enemy unit and they fail, they flee their full movement opposite the direction of the enemy.

But, that's just me keeping it simple.

Simple is good....

Thanks Tyler,

Simple is definitely good. I was also trying to think of some sort of Morale score which would influence movement, and attack/defense bonuses.

Morale would be dependant upon:

1) How much of the unit is left (Each unit starts with for pieces which can then be killed and removed through the game)
2) The number of friendly units around it
3) Then number of eney units around it
4) The proximity of the friendly and enemy commanders

Perhaps, I can roll this all up into the "loyalty" roll you are talking about. The trick, is not to make it too complex. I would like to avoid having extra sheets and graphs if possible.



Following Orders?

Well, to make things extra simple... always go up.
Sooo... to transform my previous idea into a "plus" system:

Each time a unit is given a command the "target number" for their loyalty roll is... um... 8. Yeah. That works.

Each member in the unit is +1

If the commander is in the unit or next to the unit, they receive a +6
1-3 Spaces away, +4
4-6 Spaces away, +2
7+ Spaces away... no bonus.

So, I tell my unit to Move. There are 4 people in the unit and the commander is 4 spaces away. I get a +6 to my roll. I must roll a 2 or better to succeed...

Additions and fixed difficulties are generally easier to remember than charts and graphs.


Joined: 12/31/1969
Following Orders?

I did a similar game (not really), but with modern infantry and little green army men. I had a similar figure in the Captain, and his "range of command" could be boosted by radio op's.

Why not have your limit, but increase it with a piece like a runner or a drummer or a flagman. As long as one of these pieces was within a few spaces of the units in question things would be assumed fine (for relaying commands). Take these otherwise useless pieces out and the army starts to charge ahead (spearmen), do nothing (shieldmen) or run away (peasants). [only if so many enemy pieces are engaged] Such behaviour could be halted only if another piece or the Commander is brought back into range.

I like the Commander idea, it adds a whole wack of opions and some nice chaos!

Joined: 12/31/1969
Following Orders?

there is a similar set it up similar to GW's Warmaster...where the commander has to be in certain range to issue orders to his troops (ex. 30cm i think)... then he must roll 2d6 over his own command ability which would be determined by his experience (ex. a new commander would only have a 7 but a very experienced one coudl have 10)...the die can be modified by distance troops, battlefield situations (proximity of enemy troops, ect) can also be modified by the number of orders being sent out.

just some thoughts

i really do like your idea of having to roll over the distance to see if the orders get there.

Following Orders?

How about this, you have multiple field commanders. Your commanders each have a stat card representing them. On each card they have a range of 1-6 perhaps with variants of range for the capability of each leader or rank with a marker set on the number representing their current range. Everyone starts out at something like three, but the troups most likely will start near each individual commander. When a skirmish is successful, that commander may convey orders at one higher range, if unsuccessful move the marker down. Commanders may make as many orders as they would like to give each field unit one move a turn, but they may only give orders to those that they can reach, so you have to move your commanders around. If you give the orders to one unit and that unit fails its skirmish, your leader goes down a notch which might negate another order that you had given, as word travels fast on the front line. This would reflect moral in a force. If a Commander is on the front line with them in real life then the troups feel more obligated to act, if they are farther away and they hear that the Commander is making rash decisions that seem like suicide moves troups would be less inclined to act. What do you think of this?

Following Orders?


I like it a lot, and I was moving in that direction. The army will be made up of 3 "Divisions" each with a Commander who is commanded by the King.

Each commander might have different statistics in terms of loyalty, independance, bravery, etc. Each division would partially reflect the "personality" of its Commander. The King may need to stay closer to a Commander who is cowardly, or independant, or may even need to kill him!

I want to make sure it balances properly, as a poor Commander will make life difficult for the player. But I do like that it rportrays things a little more realistically. Kings could not move troops like chess pieces, they had to give orders which were in turn followed down the line.

Thanks again,


Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut