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A Clunky Theory

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Experimental Designs
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After a long hiatus and winning my fight against a wicked form of an autoimmune disease I have come back to the drawing board to start a new set of ideas and scrapped all the old ones to have a clean slate.

I still want to make a company based game like 'Flames of War' except I want to avoid the old and tiresome “IGOUGO” turn system where your opponent moves then shoots and my people die and can’t do anything while I go out for a mocha. I’ve dabbled into some mechanics familiar in some games like 'Heavy Gear' that take turns in “chunks” where you alternate back and forth on a squad by squad basis with your opponent until everyone has activated to complete the turn.

My new approach to the design is to mix alternating activations with reaction mechanics tied in to keep the action flowing. I have it down that if I do something, you can do something in response if the situation permits itself or if you so choose. It does not get as convoluted or goes off on a tangent like THW’s 'Chain Reaction' where one action can set off a slew of reactions and counter-reactions that can go on for a while. I like the uncertainty of 'Chain Reaction' where you can lose control of your forces if things go sour as to take away that omnipotent tendency you have in most games. Still, the concept can trip over itself, especially in larger games.

The aim is if I activate my squad it has a mutant form of an action pool allocated that I can choose to move, deploy, and attack or if things go wrong I can burn a spare action point to risk another chance for a second attack or make an evasive action to avoid getting my squad into deeper trouble. There is a risk for with every action your opponent could and can react accordingly to each action you make. The risk involved is how bad or good my roll is versus how bad or good my opponent rolls in response.

My question is if my theory is too clunky or is this more like a mechanical disaster waiting to happen?

Jarec
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I've been thinking of

I've been thinking of incorporating reaction-based turn systems to my projects too. I think it's awesome system when done right, makes the game real fluid to play.

Have you checked the miniature skirmish game Infinity out yet?
Here's the free quick start rules: http://www.infinitythegame.com/infinity/downloads/rules/QSR_ENG.pdf

It has pretty simple reaction system from where to maybe draw some inspiration.

Experimental Designs
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It's funny you mention

It's funny you mention Infinity since a friend has invited me to her group to play a game of it to see if I will like it or not.

I heard a lot of good things about it but never had the chance to really sit down and play it. We'll see how it goes this Friday.

Experimental Designs
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I apologize in advance for

I apologize in advance for double posting.

After playing Infinity and Ambush Alley's Force on Force over the weekend I was encouraged to stick to the current path with my design to break away from the "IGOUGO" turn system.

I was given fresh ideas and more importantly was shown just what I can do better with my own system.

So now that I cut my teeth on two solid reaction systems my question now is how to make this work on a large scale game like Flames of War?

X3M
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Perhaps you can get some idea's from this

IGOUmightGO

I work with action points.
Each player has 6 in a default game.
Each round, the order of players is decided randomly.

So after that we clearly have a player 1, 2 and 3.
And player 1 begins. Player 1 is "forced" to do something. All other players have a choice.
By forced I mean that he/she will spend at least one action point or discard one action point.

However, depending on what player 1 does, 2 and 3 can react at any time.
Player one most likely will attack or move or do both.

Player 2 and 3 can do the following to that:
They can use any event card.
They can intercept the moving army.
They can defend against the attacking army.
And if the army does both, they can intercept and/or defend.
They also could cut in with their turn by paying extra action points. This can come in handy if you suddenly want to block a moving army.

Each option costs a number of action points. And sometimes one option is clearly better then another. However, players can also choose to save up their action points by spending just 1 each time they are in turn. When one player runs out of action points, that player is no longer able to command his/her troops until the next round.
Event cards can be player any time though. No need for AP for that.

Experimental Designs
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Looks to me you been through

Looks to me you been through this dance before. Your experience and knowledge is much appreciated and I like to thank you for your persistence, and for that matter, your patience thus far.

There was a brief moment in the design process I toyed with the idea of action points like you suggest to an extent in the form of action pools. The principle remains the same except the action pool affects the models inside the unit to negate or “buy” an additional action at the cost of overall unit effectiveness. This is the fundamental problem I’m running into because again the scale I’m using.

I’m trying to find a more efficient way to do with this without wristy die-rolling and littering the table with chits or tokens. I know what I want in theory but mechanically my brain takes an epic dump which forces me to ask these questions.

X3M
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My patience? No need for it

My patience? No need for it if I like talking about this. :)

Well, I do have some rules regarding the action points. Might as well give these examples. They work well with my game, perhaps you did not know well yet how to implement them.

There are different costs. And there are additional weaknesses.

For example, if a squad passes by and you want to intercept them because it is the only chance in doing damage. This costs 1 action. But there is an extra chance for you to miss. On average, this 1 action is only worth somewhere near 60%. Due to the fact that this strategy is depending on their speed and your range. Which normally is not the case with a normal fight. The most extreme case that could occur is a reduction of hits to about 8%. But that still can kill of 1 to 3 units.

To give you an idea. The list of costs copy/pasted from my manual:
- 1 AP for movement.
- 1 AP for an attack.
- No movement or an attack while the player is in turn, results in 1 AP discarded for that Round.
- 1 AP for defending (not forced).
- 1 AP for moving "away" with a reduced damage effect (not forced).
- 1 AP for intercepting a moving player with a reduced damage effect for the interceptor (only one squad/player).
- 2 APs for moving and attacking with a reduced damage effect for both players. (Comparable with an Assault, which costs 1 AP + the Event Card)
- 2 APs for defending and moving with "an extra" reduced damage effect for both players.
- If the Squad already paid an APs, then the next one costs: what has been paid + what has to be paid = the total AP costs.

***

So eventually there are at least 6 AP for each player on the table. And spending them could be chaotic for new players. But it is only those 6 and then a new round begins. Removing al those AP again. I am not forcing every squad to do something.

This mechanic has proven to balance the game and actually add a lot of strategy as well. My favourite is intercepting while being assaulted. It simply means, you shoot down the incoming enemy before they shoot you.

My friend used the running away option a lot. Eventually he needed to make sure there was room to retreat to. :)

***

I do have to say that certain situations slow down the game. And that chaotic situations might occur.
Yes, it is true that the effectiveness of a squad is less, but you use that specific strategy for a purpose.

Why would you intercept a squad? Well it is heading to another squad that might not have the power to fight this squad. So you damage it by intercepting it.

But I think that AP works so well in my game because my game resembles RTS a lot. Each statistic in general has a use and does not change. And I only have numeric statistics. There are no special abilities like confusing the enemy and such. In fact, you could say that I tried to copy the micro management that you can see in RTS games.

Fun fact: It took me 6 months to perfect this part of the game.

DifferentName
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After reading this post

After reading this post, I've been thinking more about the problem of IGOUGO, and not feeling involved in other players turns. Mostly I've been thinking about it in an abstract way instead of for a particular theme, and I think I came up with some interesting solutions to it.

I've started making a game where each time the active player does an action, the other players get an action to get resources. So you go around the table frequently with players taking actions, but the active player marker goes around more slowly. With this, the active player can control the pace of their turn, choosing whether to do a small number of actions to starve their opponents of resources, or a large number of actions to make a big move.

Now I'm thinking about this in the context of a war game, and it can make a lot of sense. Each time you do something, you could give your opponent action points to react to your attacks. Or each time you do something, you get exposure tokens, allowing your opponents to do big counter attacks, like using cards that require the opponent to have a certain amount of exposure points.

With this, you could stay hunkered down behind cover, taking some small action to get better positioning. But when the time is right, you send everything you've got on the offensive, taking fire from the opponents as your exposure increases.

X3M
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Well, that is a neat

Well, that is a neat approach.
But after doing that in my head, I think the number of actions that can be played by one player will grow exponential once you have 3 or more players.
This in a chain reaction. Simply say, for each resource I can do 1 action.

Are there limits?

DifferentName
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For the abstract game

For the abstract game I'm working on, you use resources to buy things (as an action), so your wealth grows somewhat exponentially, but this doesn't always translate to your actions growing exponentially as you buy more expensive things. So the hard limit is just what you can afford to do, but you also limit yourself more to keep your opponent from getting too many resources. It felt strange at first how often you want to limit your actions in this game, taking very short turns, but it seems to work well. Then when you feel the time is right to make some big moves, it feels exciting for everyone, as you buy several new things, and your opponents get lots of resources.

For a war game, I'm imagining it kind of similar, where one action or counter-attack could cost multiple points. I could take a quick turn, and pick off one of your soldiers with a sniper, which doesn't let you do much in response to my sniper. Then on your turn you send several soldiers over to take out my sniper, but sending all those soldiers allows me to respond with my defensive machine guns as the large number of soldiers moving makes them more exposed.

There could be hard limits based on action points your opponent has given you, or limits per soldier you have, while also having you limit your own actions as you don't want to be reckless and get your soldiers killed unless there's a strategic advantage you gain from it.

Experimental Designs
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X3M wrote:My patience? No

X3M wrote:
My patience? No need for it if I like talking about this. :)

Well, I do have some rules regarding the action points. Might as well give these examples. They work well with my game, perhaps you did not know well yet how to implement them.

There are different costs. And there are additional weaknesses.

For example, if a squad passes by and you want to intercept them because it is the only chance in doing damage. This costs 1 action. But there is an extra chance for you to miss. On average, this 1 action is only worth somewhere near 60%. Due to the fact that this strategy is depending on their speed and your range. Which normally is not the case with a normal fight. The most extreme case that could occur is a reduction of hits to about 8%. But that still can kill of 1 to 3 units.

To give you an idea. The list of costs copy/pasted from my manual:
- 1 AP for movement.
- 1 AP for an attack.
- No movement or an attack while the player is in turn, results in 1 AP discarded for that Round.
- 1 AP for defending (not forced).
- 1 AP for moving "away" with a reduced damage effect (not forced).
- 1 AP for intercepting a moving player with a reduced damage effect for the interceptor (only one squad/player).
- 2 APs for moving and attacking with a reduced damage effect for both players. (Comparable with an Assault, which costs 1 AP + the Event Card)
- 2 APs for defending and moving with "an extra" reduced damage effect for both players.
- If the Squad already paid an APs, then the next one costs: what has been paid + what has to be paid = the total AP costs.

***

So eventually there are at least 6 AP for each player on the table. And spending them could be chaotic for new players. But it is only those 6 and then a new round begins. Removing al those AP again. I am not forcing every squad to do something.

This mechanic has proven to balance the game and actually add a lot of strategy as well. My favourite is intercepting while being assaulted. It simply means, you shoot down the incoming enemy before they shoot you.

My friend used the running away option a lot. Eventually he needed to make sure there was room to retreat to. :)

***

I do have to say that certain situations slow down the game. And that chaotic situations might occur.
Yes, it is true that the effectiveness of a squad is less, but you use that specific strategy for a purpose.

Why would you intercept a squad? Well it is heading to another squad that might not have the power to fight this squad. So you damage it by intercepting it.

But I think that AP works so well in my game because my game resembles RTS a lot. Each statistic in general has a use and does not change. And I only have numeric statistics. There are no special abilities like confusing the enemy and such. In fact, you could say that I tried to copy the micro management that you can see in RTS games.

Fun fact: It took me 6 months to perfect this part of the game.

Six months?! This took me the better part of five or might as well say six years! I must be slow, lol.

Your design is a good bit more efficient than mine. The action pool varies on the unit since there are multiple models in a single unit like stands of infantry (one stand represents one model) and vehicles like armored personnel carriers and tanks. When that unit is activated that unit has an action pool to draw from. To use your method on the entire unit the models in that unit loses their autonomy which maybe something that needs to be done to have simplicity but may compromise the diversity of the factions. I have to run a few tests just to be sure.

DifferentName wrote:
After reading this post, I've been thinking more about the problem of IGOUGO, and not feeling involved in other players turns. Mostly I've been thinking about it in an abstract way instead of for a particular theme, and I think I came up with some interesting solutions to it.

I've started making a game where each time the active player does an action, the other players get an action to get resources. So you go around the table frequently with players taking actions, but the active player marker goes around more slowly. With this, the active player can control the pace of their turn, choosing whether to do a small number of actions to starve their opponents of resources, or a large number of actions to make a big move.

Now I'm thinking about this in the context of a war game, and it can make a lot of sense. Each time you do something, you could give your opponent action points to react to your attacks. Or each time you do something, you get exposure tokens, allowing your opponents to do big counter attacks, like using cards that require the opponent to have a certain amount of exposure points.

With this, you could stay hunkered down behind cover, taking some small action to get better positioning. But when the time is right, you send everything you've got on the offensive, taking fire from the opponents as your exposure increases.

I don’t know if that is exactly the same as the active player having two actions and reactive player have one action (or reaction) with the difference that the reactions are mandatory or “forced.” What you described can be turned into a dance of sorts that can favor the defender in the meta.

DifferentName wrote:
For the abstract game I'm working on, you use resources to buy things (as an action), so your wealth grows somewhat exponentially, but this doesn't always translate to your actions growing exponentially as you buy more expensive things. So the hard limit is just what you can afford to do, but you also limit yourself more to keep your opponent from getting too many resources. It felt strange at first how often you want to limit your actions in this game, taking very short turns, but it seems to work well. Then when you feel the time is right to make some big moves, it feels exciting for everyone, as you buy several new things, and your opponents get lots of resources.

For a war game, I'm imagining it kind of similar, where one action or counter-attack could cost multiple points. I could take a quick turn, and pick off one of your soldiers with a sniper, which doesn't let you do much in response to my sniper. Then on your turn you send several soldiers over to take out my sniper, but sending all those soldiers allows me to respond with my defensive machine guns as the large number of soldiers moving makes them more exposed.

There could be hard limits based on action points your opponent has given you, or limits per soldier you have, while also having you limit your own actions as you don't want to be reckless and get your soldiers killed unless there's a strategic advantage you gain from it.

And you have numbers and stats to dictate how much exposure your troops get when they use these actions points?

You see, that is a brilliant theory but when it comes to the mechanical aspects of it in its execution my brain just runs home to mama.

Fun fact: I did go to school to be an engineer. Go figure.

X3M
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Well, I spend 5 years on

Well, I spend 5 years on figuring out that I made a huge balancing flaw. That is the biggest mistake in my life. :)

Anyway, I feel I need to clarify some more in how AP are spend in my game.

I work with a hexagon grid. And each grid has a space of 3600 units. Well, 1 Rifle Infantry is 100 big, and a tank is 600 big. So let's say, a region like that can have 12 rifle infantry and 4 tanks. Might as well be 36 rifle infantry. Or indeed just 1 rifle infantry. It doesn't matter. For the examples, I use the 12 rifle infantry and 4 tanks.

What matters is that you decide to spend the AP on a group of units. The player chooses a region. Then chooses the group of units to play the AP on. If the player only selects his 4 tanks then, this way the tanks can be separated from the 12 rifle infantry.

Another way is that you want the 4 tanks to shoot on that bunker near by, but the 12 rifle infantry keep their ammo for that round. Just in case a squad of grenadiers try to come out and take on the tanks.

Since I have flat pieces. I can simply put the AP on the 4 tanks. So I know they did an action. The 12 rifle infantry, if there is no room in the field any more. Are placed on top of the tanks.

***

With multiple stands on 1 unit, you mean the unit can be standing, crouching or prone? That is actually cool. I have none of that. My units are just standing there being "bitch, I am fabulous!" Like those in Risk.

And if you are talking about position in the squad, front, rear, back. Than I have that too. But only right before a battle commences. (There are still cards to help fight the units you want to kill)

DifferentName
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Experimental Designs

Experimental Designs wrote:
What you described can be turned into a dance of sorts that can favor the defender in the meta.

Yeah, I think that is what can make this mechanic fun. You would make it so the more actions you do on the offense, the greater the advantage that the defender gets. But then there would be other mechanics that can benefit the offense, like taking key locations on the map, or destroying some key goal that weakens the opponent, while they just killed a few troops. In this way, you could have a large number of actions available to you every turn, but it would only be an advantage to use those actions to get a strategic advantage.

Experimental Designs wrote:
And you have numbers and stats to dictate how much exposure your troops get when they use these actions points?

It could be simple, like the player getting one exposure per action. Or more complex where different actions give different amounts, and different soldiers having different ratings, like a tank that's big and loud, vs a stealthy sniper.

Experimental Designs
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X3M wrote: What matters is

X3M wrote:

What matters is that you decide to spend the AP on a group of units. The player chooses a region. Then chooses the group of units to play the AP on. If the player only selects his 4 tanks then, this way the tanks can be separated from the 12 rifle infantry.

Another way is that you want the 4 tanks to shoot on that bunker near by, but the 12 rifle infantry keep their ammo for that round. Just in case a squad of grenadiers try to come out and take on the tanks.

Since I have flat pieces. I can simply put the AP on the 4 tanks. So I know they did an action. The 12 rifle infantry, if there is no room in the field any more. Are placed on top of the tanks.

***

With multiple stands on 1 unit, you mean the unit can be standing, crouching or prone? That is actually cool. I have none of that. My units are just standing there being "bitch, I am fabulous!" Like those in Risk.

And if you are talking about position in the squad, front, rear, back. Than I have that too. But only right before a battle commences. (There are still cards to help fight the units you want to kill)

So in essence you don’t exactly have “chunk activation” like I want to implement? I can kinda see where you’re going with on the concept you have. What I have trouble grasping is if your standard amount of AP is 6 is that AP redistributed to each individual tank or does it count for all 4 tanks? Like if you spend one AP to shoot then all 4 tanks can be elected to shoot or is it you spend one AP per tank to take a shoot action.

I’m not dealing with flat pieces like a Hex-and-Counter game; you have me confused on that part.

I did have mechanics that detailed soldiers’ postures as standing, crouching or prone but that was tossed out when I decided to go on company level operations instead of squad-level. Right now I have something simply to indicate they’re prone in a defensible position if you decide to keep them stationary like on overwatch with some buffs to defense and whatnot.

DifferentName wrote:

Yeah, I think that is what can make this mechanic fun. You would make it so the more actions you do on the offense, the greater the advantage that the defender gets. But then there would be other mechanics that can benefit the offense, like taking key locations on the map, or destroying some key goal that weakens the opponent, while they just killed a few troops. In this way, you could have a large number of actions available to you every turn, but it would only be an advantage to use those actions to get a strategic advantage.

But how do you balance it? How do you balance between an offensive player just rolling people over from the start or a defensive player just wearing down the others through sheer attrition by sitting on all these points? I’m trying to know how that operations on a mechanical basis.

DifferentName wrote:

It could be simple, like the player getting one exposure per action. Or more complex where different actions give different amounts, and different soldiers having different ratings, like a tank that's big and loud, vs a stealthy sniper.

I have something like “signature” to dictate how stealthy or unstealthy a model can be under simple conditions. Infantry holed up in cover are hard to spot versus a noisy tank rolling through the countryside. I have it where vehicles do not really benefit from being still like infantry but using their high mobility gives them a minor or major defensive bonus to hit versus infantry which are vulnerable moving out in the open. In short I made it where using recon elements is essential if you want to have situational awareness.

X3M
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You could consider my action

You could consider my action point to be a mouse click.

You select a group of units on the screen (1 region/hexagon)
And you give an order. 1 AP.
All 4 tanks are given the order at the same time.

Since you want to have 2 groups doing different things. You select them separately. Giving 2 orders, and thus using 2 AP.
In my game, giving 2 different orders to the same hexagon happens very often. Especially in choke point situations or awaiting the reaction of your opponent.

Experimental Designs
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Perhaps it is all personal

Perhaps it is all personal preferences but this is not meant to be played like an RTS, this is a tabletop game.

Honestly I think 6 AP is too many action points.

James Allen
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Where All Actions are Reactions

I've done something not unlike DifferentName's mechanic. (this explanation is simplified for expediency).

Imagine a card game card where each turn consists of drawing a card into your existing hand and then playing a trick of cards. This is the sort of system where everyone sits around watching the person whose turn it is. What I did is to use reactions as the main method of determining whose turn it is. So, every time one player plays a trick, the other players have the opportunity to either draw a card or play a trick in response (the order of this opportunity depends on the nature of the trick). If no one responds, the player who played the trick can play another, and if he can't play another, everyone draws until someone can play.

So, applying that mechanism to a war game (I don't), might look something like this... Instead of drawing cards you build units. Instead of playing tricks you move or attack. The opportunity to interrupt (or respond, or take the next turn--whatever you want to call it) first goes to the player being attacked, then to the closest player, then to the player with the most units, etc. You could add mechanisms for changing how the order in which players get an opportunity to respond are determined, and mechanisms for changing what players get when they forgo an opportunity to respond.

Shorter version: rather than thinking of reactions as a special mechanism given to players who get attacked, think of reaction as the means of turn order but where attacked players get priority.

Experimental Designs
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I had to go back to the

I had to go back to the drawing board to start from scratch again and I think I have something less cumbersome.

Activations alternate between players where if I activate a unit then once I'm done with it then activation passes to the next player and so on until all units have been activated.

The actions remained pretty much the same but I completely rehashed how reactions work. I decided if a unit is acted upon in anyway it has a chance to react out of turn if it can steal the initiative from the activating unit. This can deny your opponent the tactical advantage but it does come at a risk.

I factored in if a unit is reacting to an activation it loses some of its actions when it is turn to activate.

Do you follow so far?

pelle
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I just bought Nuts (and Chain

I just bought Nuts (and Chain Reaction, but that rulebook doesn't cost anything) about a week ago. Have not had time to digest that reaction system.

Have you looked at CrossFire? It has a quite simple and elegant reaction system where you take actions until one action fails (for instance if you move in LOS of an enemy unit and it reaction-fires successfully) and then the other player takes actions until they fail etc. No need to count action points or keep track of what units have already fired (mostly) etc.

X3M
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I have almost the same thing.

I have almost the same thing. :)

The only differences are that the AP costs increases for the "defending" squad. And the "defending" player spends at least one AP before he/she is in turn.

As a bonus, other players that are not involved. Can still "intercept" moving squads. (But only if the squad moves, and only one squad may intercept)

So, how does it work for you?
I had complaints from my play testers that they wanted more tactical options to spend AP on. Thus I have a "menu" these days. Not only for the attacker, but also for the defender. I believe I already posted that list before.

Experimental Designs
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I doubt mine is that similar

I doubt mine is that similar and rather not say too much on the details as of yet since it still being reworked or should I say renewed. Some old -what I thought were good- ideas I had set aside years ago are starting to resurface from recent play tests.

I do not take away from the "defender" for the defender has much of a chance to win or lose the confrontation outright as the attacker. There are subtle advantages and fluid dynamics in play but for personal reasons those details are classified for the moment.

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