Friday, 30 May 2008

The Big Move

After living in the same house since 2001 -- where I set up an entire room as a wargaming room -- I'm moving to a different house. Biggest change will be I am not going to live there by myself, but with a "woman of the opposite sex" (to paraphrase Herr Flick from 'Allo 'Allo).

So what has this do with wargaming?

1. Since I have to pack everything, I realize I have a LOT of wargaming stuff. And I mean a lot! I've been collecting things since the late eighties, so that's a huge collection. Not that I don't sell things. I've sold sizable chunks of my collection before, but the acquisitions still manage to outnumber the sales. Moreover, some things will be difficult to move. A 3 foot by 2 foot castle? A 2 foot by 2 foot pyramid? All kinds of scenery items that don;t seem to fit in normal-sized boxes? Anyway, I'll have to find a solution ...

2. Since I have a wargaming room now, I also want a wargaming room in my new home. However, as I said before, I won't be living there by myself, so I'll have to play a little committee game first. But things look good for now, although it probably won't be as cosy as my attic.

UPDATE (29 July 2008):
It has been a while since I moved, and most of the wargaming stuff is unpacked. I am using the garage as my new wargaming room, and it seems everything will be ready in due time to host a game somewhere in August.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Experimental Command & Control

I've been toying with a 'new' C&C system over the past few weeks. I haven't playtested it yet, but maybe I can sollicit some constructive criticism here.

To start with, the system is not entirely new, of course, but is based on previous published systems. Maybe it already even exists, so be it.

Some motivation:

The C&C system is based on the idea that you can only activate a limited number of units each turn. Other rules already do this, in various formats: roll a dice to see how many pips (or impetus points ...) you have, and activate that number of units; roll a dice with decreasing probability to succeed each time you want to activate an additional unit etc.

Although I've been a fan of the latter (e.g. Blitzkrieg Commander, Warmaster, ...), it creates some frustration because you never know exactly how many units you can activate. Rolling for a number of points at the start of your turn moves this problem to the start of your turn, but adds some certainty to the player as to how many things he can do in his entire turn. On the other hand, these systems limit intervention by your opponent. In some sense, intervention by the enemy is built in since you never know exactly when the opponent will have his turn by randomizing the amount of units you can activate.

So, I want to combine the following:
- knowing how many pips/command points/units you have available in each turn
- allowing for intervention by your opponent.
I got some inispiration from the cardgame Magic the Gathering, in which each player has 'mana points' available to cast spells. However, your opponent can also use his mana points to interrupt your spells, which you can interrupt again etc.

Here's my C&C system:

1. Every player has a number of command points, which he can use in his turn + the opponent's turn. The number of points can be fixed for the whole army (e.g. you get 10 points every turn), or can be the sum of command ratings of individual commanders on the battlefield (e.g. you have 3 commanders with command rating 4, 3, 3, which adds up to 10 points). The latter allows modifications for killed commanders (command points decrease).

2. During his turn, a player can activate a unit (or group of adjacent units, depending on underlying framework of rules), to perform an action (actions again depend on underlying framework of movement, combat resolution, morale checks etc.). He has to spend 1 cp (command point) for such an order, but he has the option to spend more (see later). The amount of cp you spend on an order is an indication of the 'urgency' of the command, the quality of the transmission of the order etc. A player can give multiple orders during his turn, by spending the appropriate amount of cp. (note that further modifications are possible here: units far from the commander cost more cp's; multiple units cost more cp's etc.)

3. When an order has been given (and the player has spend the relevant amount of cp's, plus any additional cp's he sees fit), the opponent now has the opportunity to 'interrupt' your order with an order of his own. He has to spend at least one cp more than yoy did in order to do this. Again, the amount of cp your opponent spends indicates the urgency, the outsmarting, the effectiveness of his commander to provide an order to one of his units.
E.g. suppose you give an order to one of your troops, and you want to move them forward to occupy a farmhouse. You spent 1 cp for this order. Now your opponent can spend 2 cp to act before you do, possibly because he wants to occupy the farmhouse first. By spending the 2cp, he makes sure he acts before your troops, and your unit gets 'suprised' by finding out that the farm is already occupied when they get there.

4. You can interrupt your opponent's interruption again (by a different unit, and by paying 1 cp more than his last order). All interruptions are resolved in reverse order. Note that you can voluntarily spend more cp's on an order, to increase the probability or likelyhood that your opponent will interrupt.

5. At the end of your turn, your pool of cp's is replenished. So, you start with a full allotment of cp's when your opponent starts his turn. THis hopefully encourages players to interrupt when they think it's crucial, but at the same time keep enough cp's to use during their own turn. In essence, there's no real difference in turns anymore, except for who has the initiative to start a sequence of orders and interrupts.

As I said before, I haven't playtested this yet, but I think it might have some potential. As with any C&C system, it is crucial that the players have the right mindset, and know exactly what cp's and interrupts represent. An interrupt does not mean that your unit sees another unit moving towards the farm, and quickly decides to move there too, but should be interpreted as if your unit was on its way already, except that your opponent wasn't aware of it yet.

The pool of cp's you can spend on orders and interrupts might also force the players to put some thinking in what parts of the battle are really important to them, so they can decide how many cp's certain orders are worth. Given that the amount of cp's is known beforehand, players might also feel less frustrated by varying die rolls as in some other systems.