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Subject: Activation and initiative systems rss

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Jason Cawley
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A recent thread about We Go systems suggested this topic to me, to share something about the variety of activation and initiative systems in wargames, recent and older, and to comment on what people like or dislike about each, where they find them suited and appropriate, interesting effects people have noted from any of them, and the like.

I'll start with the system I designed for my variant Simple Panzer Grenadier (SPG for short below) system - the original has its own which others may want to discuss of course - which borrows a key idea from the old John Hill game Battle for Stalingrad.

SPG is played in turns which divide into impulses, with a change in control ("active" player role) in each impulse. There are normally multiple actions within each impulse, by each unit separately or occasionally by locally linked groups (for assault on the same hex e.g., or a fire group at the same target).

Turns start with all "spent" units refreshing so they can act again, akin to the "untap" step in Magic. Each unit acts only once per turn (or doesn't, its optional). Then an "initiative" roll for the whole turn will determine who is the first to get an active impulse; ties leave it where it was the previous turn, and there can be scenario modifiers to that roll etc.

So a full turn is basically the unit refresh time, an impulse is the change in active control time, and an action is one unit (or small group) trying to do one thing (fire, move, assault, overrun, rally).

The part borrowed from Battle for Stalingrad is the idea of combat triggering possible "reactions" that change control. Basically each shot taken by either side has a 1/6 chance of handing control over to the inactive player. This includes the inactive player's opportunity fire shots (he's allowed to take those without becoming the active player, as an "interrupt" basically), which trigger his own reaction if they are the best rolls / most effective fire. When it is the active player shooting, on the other hand, it is his worst rolls / least effective fire that triggers the (defender's) reaction.

Rally never triggers reaction, nor movement out of enemy spotting range, so a player can continue to use units for such things to his heart's content within the same impulse. But as soon as there is fire either way, each such is a 1/6 to switch control after it resolves. Assaults and overruns normally involve multiple "shots" in this sense, by defender first then the attacker, and each can trigger reaction. So an assault has a significantly higher chance of triggering a change in control than a ranged shot (2+ chances at that 1/6 each).

Reactions are full changes in control, not limited to only a certain number of units. Control only passes back when the new acting player triggers another reaction himself, or if / when the acting player no longer wants to activate any more of his units, since that is always optional.

If a player with control hands it back without having activated any unit, he has "passed". If both players pass in succession, the turn ends. This must eventually happen since the sides will run out of unspent units at some point - though they can pass before then etc. Passing once doesn't prevent a later action if the active player triggers a reaction and you have unspent units left.

Why did I design this system and what do I like about it from the game scale in SPG? Multiple goals, but the biggest is player freedom to find his own tactics, along with some uncertainty and an ability of defenders to "interrupt" what the enemy is doing if they have the vision and firepower to interfere.

In Conflict of Heroes you exchange active impulses one for one, which I find can be too many changes in control for what is actually happening on the board, needlessly prolonging play. It also then needs elaborate action point and command action point mechanisms, which I would have found inappropriate for the step higher units (platoons not squads/single vehicles), larger distances and scale of SPG.

In Squad Leader / ASL you get a much more elaborate sequence of play and elaborate rules for how many times defender side units fire and so forth, which to me is more rigid as to the tactics it forces or expects and on the complex end of the spectrum in game play terms. In SPG, units act once a turn and an opportunity fire shot as the enemy moves is that shooter's whole action for that turn.

Defensive final fire is just handled by an assault procedure that lets even spent defenders fire first without it counting as an action, but only if assaulted / enemy units try to take their hex. This is more appropriate for the larger scale, but also each unit does fewer things per full turn cycle than they frequently can in ASL.

In games like Panzer, the side that wins initiative fires all his units first without reply. There actually were big advantages to having the drop on enemies in tank fighting, but every unit on the map can mean too much on the one initiative roll for the turn. The SPG system does let an initiative winner fire multiple units or fire groups before the enemy can reply in a fire duel situation, but one "7" (or AT fire 2, 3, 4) - normally a full "miss" - and the other guy fires back with the same variable size reaction. You can't *count on* these things; stuff happens, as in some of the more chaotic chit pull games, which I find realistic.

A rigid I Go You Go I find relatively clumsy for these tactical level games with ranged fire (e.g. old Panzerblitz with its "panzer bush" tendencies), though really involved sequence of play with opportunity fire and so forth can fix that with a cost in complexity (e.g. ASL). But I contrast what would be appropriate in e.g. Ukraine '43 with SPG.

I don't want full We Go, however, because it is too rigid and I find Analysis Paralysis can strike in the orders writing phases. When you can act and then act again unless..., on the other hand, players just naturally get on with it and the game seems to move along briskly. Which is definitely what I want in SPG.

There are tactics that result, as in CoH which shares the one action per turn idea basically (with some twiddle for CAPs), that some might find unrealistic. I refer to decisions whether to try to be "beforehand" and get there first with the most or get your shots in, vs "saving up" actions for "late" in the turn when many enemy units have acted and are therefore less able to interfere.

These don't bother me and I actually quite enjoy them, and find the overwatch principles they encourage realistic in their own right. But I have heard from some (including people commenting on CoH, coming from ASL e.g.) that they don't "get" these or find them realistic. I personally think this is just a matter of learning how to play the system well.

If you fire off everyone at the top of the turn at 1 kilometer ranges, you are inviting the enemy to close in without punishment until the following turn. When he might win initiative instead of you, incidentally. If you want to deter him from closing, some units exercising "fire discipline" to threaten opportunity fire is just good tactics.

I think the issue there is that people used to systems like ASL unconsciously expect their units to have "extra" defensive fire phases for that sort of thing. They are also used to units getting multiple fire phases per opportunity to move (your own turn, the enemy's turn, multiple fire within a turn from held ROF, final protection fire, etc).
SPG is just vastly simpler in that respect and also "friendlier" to movement, reflecting in part the much greater distances it is depicting (200 meter hexes not 40 meter hexes etc).

Anyway, that is one example of a game system's activation scheme, different from simple I Go You Go, elaborate sequence of play I Go You Go, chit pull randomness, init rolls to act on orders or fail to activate, simul orders plotting, etc. What systems do you like best for what scales, eras, types of combat and what do you like about them?

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Øivind Karlsrud
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One of my favorite activation systems is the one in Empire of the Sun. It is card-driven, so you play a card to activate, and the number of points on the card (1-3) has consequences for how many units you can activate, how far they can move, and the probability that the opponent can react (smaller probability for small operations). It works perfectly for the Pacific in WWII.

Of course I like the activation systems in all my favorite games, like ASL, but Empire of the Sun stands out as a game I like primarily because of the activation system.
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Jason Cawley
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I do like EofRS and I consider its notion of an “intelligence condition” for any given operation another brilliant idea.

I will say, though, that in practice I find its systems favor the biggest fleet, one big stonk approach, to an extreme degree. Mainly because it always lets all surface units sent contribute to enemy losses in a big overall air and sea combat factor with a linear impact on enemy losses (with, to be fair, a quite accurately wide variance around that expectation).

It is possible that I and those I’ve I played it against just aren’t very good at the system. Maybe there are good counters available to what looks like a Mahan esque single optimum, and we just haven’t found them or implemented them effectively.

That said, mechanically I agree the operation size system feels realistic. I’d personally like to see a more sequential and air focused actual resolution of the resulting combats, mated up to that. Older games in the same space have that - in e.g. USN (original or deluxe) it feels like the role or carriers and air compared to surface combatants is more nearly right. But like I said, I probably am just bad at it, only having played it a half dozen times or so.
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Øivind Karlsrud
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There can be some gameyness in how you use battleships in EotS. Not only do they contribute with combat factors, they also can protect aircraft since you can't assign hits to already hit units before all units have been hit once (unless you get a critical hit). I love the game, so this obviously doesn't bother me too much.
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Jason Cawley
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Yes same issue that was referring to. I get that it is an overall good game and I’ve definitely enjoyed it; own the original and it Plan Orange and South Pacific C3I mag variants. I think the intel condition and air sea combat variance stuff are brilliant; I’ve even worked on “porting” the latter to old 3rd Reich’s too deterministic air sea and strategic warfare subsystems. Mark Herman is one of the best overall designers active IMO.

I’d still love to see an optional variant that somehow had the carrier and air factors clash first, perhaps much more dangerously than the current system, and let surface ships matter only after that and some of the time.

Like imagine round one is purely air and CVs attacking regardless of placement or objectives, and then a d10 roll determines whether there even is any surface exchange, with maybe day action only 10 and night action 5-9, with DRMs for intel condition or who won the air combat step or similar.

Not really about the thread topic, though...
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JasonC wrote:
Not really about the thread topic, though...

No, the reason I brought it up was just the activation system. But how to make air-sea combat more granular in the game would be an interesting discussion for some other time. In general, I'm opposed to house rules, but it's still fun to discuss house rules.
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Jason, curious if you have ever played Crossfire (Arty Conliffe, miniatures rules)?
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Rory McAllister
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One of my complaints with reactions is that they are automatic. The enemy threatens your position and you automatically react. Is that historical? Probably not. History is full of stories of assaults that the defender didn’t not reinforce or tried too and couldn’t get enough force to ward off the initial assault.

Trial of Strength is the only game I’ve played where reaction is not automatic. When you are attacked, you have to make a reaction roll to see if your units are able to react. Germans, with the more flexible command structure, are better at this than the Russians. Another game is Frederick the Great where reaction is automatic but you roll to see how far the reacting force can move (modified by the leader’s modifier). This means that you can have a reserve force to react to whatever the enemy does but if the leader is poor, you may not get where you need to go.
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Stu Hendrickson
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The best thing about this idea is that it discourages frivolous, low probability firing 'just because you can'. Of course, broken weapon results do the same thing.
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Jason Cawley
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Rory - in the SPG system I describe reactions are not automatic, they occur only when a firing defender rolls his best 1/6 of results or a firing attacker rolls his worst 1/6.

In that game, on the normal (soft) fire table, bombardment table, and assault table, a “7” on 2d6 is the worst roll, while 2,3,11,12 are the best. With Antitank fire on the other hand you always want to roll high, so 2,3,4 are the worst and 10,11,12 are the best rolls. That makes for more cases to cover but the effect is the same - each fire event in either direction has a 1/6 chance of triggering change in control.

Assaults and overruns have shots both ways, defenders first then the attackers. The defenders can shot at different attacking hexes in assaults, if there are multiple defenders present and the attackers are coming from two plus directions. Overruns are always from one direction. All that means these closer combats will have two shots (overruns, one defender, assault from one hex), occasionally more. Each shot is still 1/6 tomtrigger reaction, but with several in sequence the whole event is 1/3 to just under 1/2 to do so, depending.

But it is never certain.

Stu - yes, you need to decide about prep fires and stuff like that, too. That said, sometimes the enemy reaction can’t bust up your plans too much, because e.g. if he moves someone in front of you, he isn’t also going to fire at you until the next turn. But if he reacts and actually gets to the hex you wanted to move into, yeah you have to assault to get him out. Basically you do need to think about what is a priority, what can wait.

The most common uses of earlier initiative are to try to win key tank duels by firing before the other guy, and trying to win “races for position” in built up terrain with the infantry, whether grabbing a hex or reinforcing a position before the enemy assaults it. Just “fire my whole side first” will get broken up by enemy reactions, in all but the smallest scenarios.

Another game that has uncertain reactions from combats only - with no opportunity fire because of its larger scale - in Battle for Stalingrad by John Hill. That using a chit pull for it with starting 1/5 chance. The way those work, if there hasn’t been a reaction in a while the chance of one starts rising, and several early lower the chance ofnthe next until the misses catch up etc. That is the game that gave me the design idea, actually.

But yes, I like the uncertainty, compared to e.g. a fixed sequence of play that automatically hands over control. You can mix those, though. E.g. if a leader needs to roll initiative to move and attack, as in some chit pull Napoleonics or older games, you can’t be sure he will. But only 1/5 to 1/6 chance per combat event is much more variance than that, and let’s the active player do a meaningful amount of stuff before control changes hands. I like that much better for WW2 era tactical fighting, it seems much more right about battle “flow”.
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Jason Cawley
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Bob - I have not played Crossfire. Not a big minis guy. The closest I really get these days is Panzer or Air Force / Dauntless with tank or plane minis in place of the units.

I played a fair amount of medieval, Napoleonic, and a bit of ACW using minis when I was much younger. Terrible Swift Sword system soon replaced the last, with modifications. Wellington’s Victory and simple GB of H have replaced the others, but with even more house rules.

Are there similar systems in Crossfire to what I described for SPG?
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Have you tried Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division? I have found the activation & initiative system very clever, and yet still allow for an active participation (via opportunity fire and card play, although FF is not a card-driven game) by the non-phasing player.
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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I had not heard of your SPG variant before, and I will give this a good look and try it out today. Thanks!
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I wrote a review of Wagram 1809 from Battles Magazine for a magazine some years ago, and given that I don't believe they have ever published it, I will feel free to copy a bit of it from the section on the activation system.

Quote:
At the beginning of a game, each player puts one corps HQ, face down, in the Order 1, 2, and 3 boxes. These will, under normal circumstances, be the first three corps to activate in sequence. Each player may also put up to two corps, face down, in the Operational Movement box. Although Operational movement happens at the end of the turn and it is generally pretty obvious which these corps are by that point, it is handy to obscure which corps they are at the turn’s beginning.

As each round begins, the player with the initiative reveals the corps HQ in the Order 1 box, places it in the Activated box, and slides down the corps HQs from the Order 2 and 3 boxes into the Order 1 and 2 boxes. Lastly, a new corps HQ is chosen from the Available box and placed into the Orders 3 box. The player thereby keeps three corps in the orders queue at all times.

This mechanism also means that a corps can be activated every four activations if the player cycles it through as rapidly as possible. It also means that a corps can activate more than once per turn, though this is at the cost of other corps not activating at all. Accounts of battles throughout history understandably emphasize action, but when the action is focused one part of the battlefield, the leader’s attention is so focused there that other parts of the battlefield might be ignored. The mechanism does a good job of drawing you to the most important part of the battlefield and makes it painful indeed when your opponent manages to force your attention to another part of the field you would rather not concern yourself with.

Some commenters have noted that the orders table doesn’t really reflect the limitations of pre-radio command and control. After all, units do precisely what the overall general wants and the overall general has omniscient understanding of the battlefield situation. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the frustration of having to create a plan without having the easy ability to change it. I also enjoyed the almost inexorable drag of your attention to the currently critical part of the battlefield: as much as you’d like to do something elsewhere, you feel that you must keep responding to the enemy in the current “hot spot”. In the sense of delay and uncertainty, I think the system models Napoleonic command and control well.

There was also a reaction mechanic by which one player could attempt to interrupt an opponent's activation (Napoleon has an edge here) and get an otherwise idle corps to react to an unexpected development.
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Jason Cawley
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David - if you PM me with an email address, I can send you a Word doc of the full rules in their most up to date form. Same goes for anyone interested. Feedback welcome, including questions / clarifications and especially AARs and reviews.
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Jason Cawley
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David - No I have not played FF-GD. I have a strong preference for open systems that let me fight any battle I find in the histories I read or that I make up as semi-historical, stemming from the ways I've used ASL in the past and my time designing scenario packs for the computer game Combat Mission.

This makes systems like Panzer Grenadier inherently more attractive to me than those focused on single formation's historical fights or games specific to single fights like the Battalion combat series. Which isn't a comment on the game systems themselves, just what I can do with them.

I do also like systems like SCS that by now cover so many battles that I can treat them almost as such "universal" systems, and maybe BCS gets there soon enough. But I really like being able to "roll my own" for the lower grand tactical and tactical end of things, "open kit" fashion.
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Bob Roberts

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JasonC wrote:
Bob - I have not played Crossfire. Not a big minis guy. The closest I really get these days is Panzer or Air Force / Dauntless with tank or plane minis in place of the units.

I played a fair amount of medieval, Napoleonic, and a bit of ACW using minis when I was much younger. Terrible Swift Sword system soon replaced the last, with modifications. Wellington’s Victory and simple GB of H have replaced the others, but with even more house rules.

Are there similar systems in Crossfire to what I described for SPG?


Not really like what you describe, but worth a look.

Arty uses a "go till you screw up" initiative system. You perform one action at a time, for a single unit or small group (units are squads or weapon teams, group moves are generally platoon sized) and you keep doing this until you "fail" at something (shooting without getting an effect, failing a rally etc) or get suppressed by enemy fire.

This tends to blow the mind of those who take things very literally, who complain about jet powered infantry moving all over the place at warp speed. But what it allows for, that so very few games do, is getting the drop on the enemy. Those "how the hell did they get there?" moments that happen on real battlefields but hardly ever on wargame battlefields, without having to resort to an umpire and double blind movement.
The infantry aren't jet powered, the game is simply representing units moving free from enemy interdiction in a rather unique way. You can move around as much as you want out of enemy LOS, but where they can shoot, they can stop you.

Most games have fairly small movement rates, and it is hard to take advantage of any gaps in the enemy defenses as they can move in reaction as fast as you can move to get there. In Crossfire, if you set up your defenses poorly without interlocking fields of fire and have gaps, those gaps will usually be quickly exploited by the enemy. Outside of the aforementioned double-blind umpired games I am hard pressed to think of any games that really allow for this sort of thing. Crossfire truly requires some thought and an appreciation of the terrain when setting up a defense.

The "go till you screw up" system also makes combat work properly. If you can achieve fire superiority and suppress key enemy units, you can close to assault which is much more decisive than fire combat. Inexperienced or timid players often find themselves in desultory fire fights, exchanging shots between units in cover, and complain that it is boring. This is as it should be to my mind, shooting at units in cover is usually pretty ineffective. It takes a player willing to take some risks, and get his troops up and moving to close with the enemy to make things happen.

There is a bit more to it of course, but it is a rather unique system and I think it is one of the very best at giving plausible results for small unit tactical combat.
Well worth picking up a copy to read, and you don't necessarily need miniatures. You can play with blocks or counters on simple terrain or even drawn/printed maps. I've even played using Squad Leader maps and counters when I couldn't be bothered to drag the miniatures stuff out, though some adaptation was necessary.

Apologies if the above is rather disjointed or poorly explained, its 4 am somehow and well past my bedtime.
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Jason Cawley
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You explained it fine, and I’ve viewed the 2 available BGG videos on it and you filled in the only real gap - which is the essential and those videos left out, incidentally. I get the idea.

Compared to the SPG system, what you describe differs most in allowing multiple actions per unit without any notion of turns or refreshing, until triggering a reaction, but then it also effectively has an automatic reaction on defensive Opportunity Fire instead of only a 1/6 chance of one.

I can see how that puts a premium on “shooting the gap” and also why some wouldn’t find it their cup of tea. It is fine to say use cross cutting fields of fire to prevent approach, but after two suppressions and a smoke mission that will go by the board. Thinking ahead to engineer that becomes the key to its tactics, I can see, and I can definitely see why that is tactically interesting.

Another minor difference is that rally doesn’t risk a reaction in SPG, only fire, assaults, or moves that can trigger enemy opportunity fire. Also assaults take a bit more to set up in SPG, because you need to move adjacent one turn, and then assault the next. I can see how the Crossfire system might be more appropriate at its smaller unit scale in that respect.

The part they share is that the acting player in SPG can continue to activate more of his units - just not the same units again and again - if he is moving out of enemy LOS or rallying. He doesn’t even risk a change in control until he triggers enemy fire or fires himself.

Big practical difference, though, in only getting to do so once with each unit before the enemy gets a go with his own unspent units. SPG enforces an “absolute time” that let’s all units act at basically the same rate. Which can be more appropriate for its larger scale, in which fights on one side of the map and another can be literally miles apart in simulated terms, and how fast one of those “resolves” to a decision and victory determines how soon the winners of that fight can influence one of the others. That is just much more of the theme or focus in the battalion to regiment scale fights SPG depicts than in a single company action in one town, that Crossfire is meant for.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention, though. It definitely counts as a different activation system of the kind this thread is meant to be about, and an interesting one.
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Brian McCue
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badinfo wrote:
... "go till you screw up" initiative system. You perform one action at a time, for a single unit or small group (units are squads or weapon teams, group moves are generally platoon sized) and you keep doing this until you "fail" at something (shooting without getting an effect, failing a rally etc) or get suppressed by enemy fire.

This tends to blow the mind of those who take things very literally, who complain about jet powered infantry moving all over the place at warp speed. But what it allows for, that so very few games do, is getting the drop on the enemy. Those "how the hell did they get there?" moments that happen on real battlefields but hardly ever on wargame battlefields, without having to resort to an umpire and double blind movement.

The memoirs of Robert Crisp (Brazen Chariots) and Erwin Rommel (Infantry Attacks) are full of instances of "getting the drop on the enemy" in tactical combat. Even with an umpire and double-blind play (strongly recommended), this effect can be difficult to reproduce in a game.
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Jason Cawley
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Brian - I'd say it happens routinely in 3 game systems I know - Combat Mission on the computer, Conflict of Heroes, and Simple Panzer Grenadier.

In Combat Mission it comes from the game being full double blind with bilateral spotting (not "Borg" I mean - so just because player A can see unit C doesn't mean all his units can). Plus "order delay" that prevents especially lower quality units or those out of command distance from acting on new orders until e.g. 30 seconds have passed.

The more complex the orders given, the longer the delay, and it also interacts with suppression. If conscripts need to zero out their old orders and get entirely new ones, it could take them 2 minutes to react. If they also take fire, another minute. By which time even the new orders won't make sense, and you are "inside their loop".

With Conflict of Heroes and Simple Panzer Grenadier, on the other hand, the way one "gets the drop" on someone is to notice when units are already "spent" from their previous fire or movement, and then "exploit" that with an aggressive move of your own, "late" in the turn (in terms of how many units have already gone). This sets up a new situation at the start of the following turn that the enemy is not well prepared for.

Sometimes the triggering event is destruction or disruption of a specific enemy unit, rather than just their being spent. But "openings" happen for such reasons, and a reserve held back until one appears gets to "jump in" with the other guy unable to react. Simply because his units are spent for the turn, already.

The following turn, maybe you win initiative, or the guys you ran up next to are disrupted and therefore low firepower, and reactions take the other guy their move, too. And that can leave them "behind", creating the same vulnerability again, on them this time. Attacks may "with tempo" like this can therefore keep an initiative "rolling" across turns.

I don't see the same in sequence of play heavy designs like ASL, at the tactical level at least. At the grand tactical / operational level, games with soft ZOCs and mech movement and overruns - like SCS - do allow such "drop on them" initiative moves by mechanized formations, especially against infantry ones. The issue then isn't intel-blind, it is just that the active player's armor can move twice and sometimes fight up to three times before the defenders get to react effectively.

FWIW.



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For an ACW division-level system, I outlined a four-part series of phases in which corps-level initiative would be determined by three factors: the corps commander's "efficiency" rating (1-4), the result of an "alacrity" die-roll (1-6), and the player's assignment of a "precedence" level to that corps' movement for the half-day turn (4-1).
During a Command & Staff phase before movement, players assign corps precedence to four sections of their army for that turn, as well as divisional posture (attack or defend, direction of march, etc.)
Each phase, the players reveal which corps has the highest precedence, add the corps commander's efficiency value, and roll for alacrity to determine the initiative rating for that phase:

Corps initiative=precedence+efficiency+alacrity (1d6).

The result is the initiative rating for both opposing corps for the next phase; first the higher initiative result corps' units conduct movement and attacks; then the other player's lead corps conducts its operations. (Note that these corps are not necessarily attacking each other, just operating from wherever they happen to be on the board.) The process repeats for the next highest precedence corps until all activations and combats are complete. A few divisions may be designated as "reserve" with more flexibility. Note that it's possible for a player to move two corps in a row in two phases (by getting initiative second in one and first in the next).
This system was intended to simulate planning consequences and battlefield interaction as I understood it, and wished to portray it, from a historical, veterans', and gamer perspective. This can be limiting: so you want to swing around a corps two miles to move up an exposed flank? But that corps had the lowest priority for the day, while your corps with the highest precedence is already moving as ordered headlong into a recently occupied enemy position. Dang friction.
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Javier Romero
Spain
Sevilla
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JasonC wrote:



I don't want full We Go, however, because it is too rigid and I find Analysis Paralysis can strike in the orders writing phases. When you can act and then act again unless..., on the other hand, players just naturally get on with it and the game seems to move along briskly. Which is definitely what I want in SPG.




Hi Jasonc!

Have you tried WSS? In Normandy: The Beginning of the End the players alternates to activate companies (its a platoon scale game).

You can activate a whole company if all platoons are in command range from the officer or a single platoon it is isolated.

This system makes a very dynamic turn, because in your turn, you only move 3 or 4 counters at a time. And the other player can react to your moves and make opportunity fire.

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Phil Hatfield
United States
Helena
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I really like the system in the GCACW series of games (Stonewall Jackson's Way, etc.)

They have an initiative step where each side rolls a D6. High roll gets an activation. They can activate a Unit, a Corps (if you use the Corps Commander) or multiple Corps (if you have an Army Commander).

When you activate, you fatigue. So multiple activations really tires a unit out, and when you hit a certain fatigue, you can't activate that unit anymore.

So when you win initiative, you can take an activation, or you can pass. If you pass, your opponent can take the activation, or can pass. If both pass on the same initiative roll, the Turn ends. If an activation is made, you move and/or fight. Then you roll for initiative again. Keep going until both sides pass.

Simple, but really interesting. Because if you take all the activations you get you could move your units a whole lot, but then you might not have anything left to respond the enemy forces moving.
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Jim Cavallari
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Connecticut
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GrimacePCH wrote:
Simple, but really interesting. Because if you take all the activations you get you could move your units a whole lot, but then you might not have anything left to respond the enemy forces moving.


The fatigue rules in the GCACW lend a nice "push your luck " element to the game system.
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Simon
United Kingdom
Sheffield
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I tend to be a bit dissatisfied with games that don't have either some sort of command and control sim, fog of war or active supply system. I don't really play tactical games much.

The most common i come across are chit pull and variations OPS cards. Activation rolls of one sort or another probably being third. Chit pull works, but I tend to worry that some designers just chuck it into a game if they can't think of anything better.

I quite like the dynamic in East Front, where in supply is abstracted to pips on command blocks that you spend to activate. It forces you to trade between reinforcements to your combat blocks and activations. You can therefore take an aggressive defense and try and use up your opponents activation dealing with your activity and spend their resources healing units rather than on logistics.
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