Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Mechanisms: Command and Control

While I am waiting to get my hobby activities back on track, I thought that putting down some of my musings on rules mechanisms might be an interesting idea. It might not, but at least I will have a record of what was going through my head with regard to rules writing at this approximate moment in time.

This post will look at the mechanism I am currently using for my AWI rules and which I am adapting for other periods.

Firstly, the AWI rules. These have a basic unit of play as being approximately battalion sized but varing from as few as about 6 figures in a small unit up to 24 or 30 in a large unit. Even larger units are split into two. For most battle the figure:man ratio is 1:10 or 1:15, and very occasionally 1:20.

The effect of firing and melee on units is represented by disruption points, and a unit can accumulate up to 6 of these. Units with 6DPs are then vulnerable to routing or surrendering in suitable circumstances. Unit may also be disordered.

The command and control mechanism allows units to take between 0 and 3 actions in a turn. An action can be to move, shoot, rally, remove disorder, etc. Disorder must be removed before any action other than shooting can occur. An attached leader can add an extra action - with some restrictions to how this can be used. An additional restriction is that quality 1-3 units need two actions to order a charge.

To determine the actions available, the unit rolls 6d6. A pass is scored for each d6 that rolls less than or equal to the units quality rating (1-5). One pass allows one action, three passes allow two actions and all six dice must pass to allow three actions. Elite units of quality 5 therefore have a fair chance of three actions and will usually get two. Lowly raw militia with a quality of 1 will usually get one action but more than that is usually a bonus and tend to need an attached officer to really get them moving. Units will very seldom get no actions until they are pretty shot-up and an attached officer guarantees at least one action will be available. 

Units with no actions can usually shoot if there are enemy to their front as a "freebie", however any unit that rolls as many "6s" than passes can take no action at all and if it rolls more "6s" then it may be forced to retire, (if it has six disruption points it is destroyed).

For each disruption point on a unit it loses a d6 from its pool, until there is a minimum of 1d6. Disruption points can be rallied by using an action (if not disordered) but only one rally action can be used per unit per turn if the enemy are close-by.

All in all this seems to work pretty well. There is still scope to tinker and I am tempted to reduce the pool by one d6 for each two disruption points - but this is extra stuff to remember so I might not bother. Keeping things simple is a good idea!

It then occurred to me that this type of mechanism would work pretty well for other "action" based rule sets as a "bolt on" with a bit of refinement for each.

I'm currently working on a version for Blitzkrieg Commander (for WW2, but also possibly for my middle-east WW1 and Back of Beyond stuff too). This will rate CO and HQ stands for quality rather than units - to be closer to the original:

CV6/7 will now become Q3
CV8 will now become Q4
CV9/10 will now become Q5

Or something like that. This does mean that units will know how many actions they are getting before they begin to act but at least they will be limited to no more than 3 actions and those armies with CV6 in the original rules should not be left hugging the baseline in some kind of stupor.

I think I'll make rolls per CO/HQ rather than for individual stands and have fixed commands. The dice pool will then probably be reduced for each 25% of a commander's units that have been lost, and rolling more 6s than passes will cause the whole command to withdraw.

The same approach could also be bolted on to the Peter-Pig "PBI" WW2 rules, so I might try both for my WW2 gaming, or an amalgamation of the two, as the AP v Armour in BKC has never really satisfied. I think BKC is more on the money for the WW1 stuff though.

Lastly, for now, the mechanism should also work with ancient rules such as DBA, particularly if lower qualities are used and rolls are made per "group" or "individual element" - more akin to the AWI rules. The pool can be reduced based on overall army losses (1 per element in DBA?).

Overall then, here is a mechanism that I am liking more and more which can be slotted in to a wide range of rules (should work for Black Powder, Warmaster, etc too) that reduces that disappointment for players who find that for turn after turn they remain stood on the sidelines because the dice-gods take against them.

When I post battle reports I will try to point out how the mechanism is being used.

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