Friday, August 30, 2013

Concept: Adapting Squad Leader's Turn Phases

My alternating Action Phase idea didn't gain any traction, so I'm leaning towards continuing on the classic Movement Phase -> Shooting Phase as a replacement for our currently overcomplicated Action Phase. It's the safe bet.

But I keep thinking about something more Squad Leader-ish overall in terms of turn structure, and Oblivion_Necroninja has gotten interested in the general idea (but not my last take). So here's another take on the idea. One that I think Eriochrome might actually like too. Since it's not too different from the current structure, and would go a long way towards simplifying close-combat.

Squad Leader was a hex-based counter game, so keep that in mind.

For everyone's reference, here's Squad Leader's turn phases:
  1. Rally Phase
  2. Prep Fire Phase
  3. Movement Phase
  4. Defensive Fire Phase
  5. Advancing Fire Phase
  6. Rout Phase
  7. Advance Phase
  8. Close-Combat Phase
The Rally Phase was where you made repair and morale rolls.

The Prep-Fire Phase was where the current player would fire any units that weren't moving that turn.

The Movement Phase was where the current player would move his units.

The Defensive Fire Phase was where the opponent would get to fire on any units that just moved. There are no restrictions on who can fire (except for broken units), and they get bonuses to hit units which moved.

The Advancing Fire Phase was where moving units could fire.

The Rout Phase was where broken units (from both sides) would flee into cover.

The Advance Phase let the current player move every counter one hex.

The Close-Combat phase is self-explanatory.

Adapting This System

Ok, so right off, we don't need the Advance Phase (because we're not a Hex game, and it would be slow/pointless). Having Movement come after static firing leads to the commitment problem that we've discussed before. Because you can decide after you shoot whether to move anyone or not. We want players to commit to a course of action and be invested in the possible consequences.

So that gives us:
  1. Rally Phase
  2. Movement Phase
  3. Prep Fire Phase
  4. Defensive Fire Phase
  5. Advancing Fire Phase
  6. Rout Phase
  7. Close-Combat Phase
The Rally Phase and Defensive Fire can be rolled into a 'Reaction Phase', as we have now. While the Rout Phase can be rolled into Movement (as now). While we'll bring in our existing Starting Phase, and rename 'Prep Fire Phase' to 'Shooting Phase'.
  1. Starting Phase
    1. Strike Force Morale Checks
    2. Did I Win?
    3. Remove Friendly Smoke
    4. Roll For Reserves/Support
  2. Movement Phase
    1. Move Falling Back Units
    2. Move Advancing or At-The-Double Units
  3. Shooting Phase
    1. Fire Units that didn't move or Go To Ground.
  4. Reaction Phase
    1. Opponent Rolls For Suppression.
    2. Opponent Gets Defensive Fire with all units not suppressed, GtG, or running.
  5. Advancing Fire Phase
    1. Fire Advancing Units
    2. Fire At The Double Units (not normally allowed)
  6. Close-Combat Phase
    1. As Now/TBD
So looking at it in detail, we'd be adding one phase after the reaction phase, where units moving do their shooting. Which is what I'm most interested in. Letting the opponent shoot moving units before they can shoot back.

Now let's look at O_N's suggestions...
"Honestly, I'm rather tempted to just say we ought to use Squad Leader's turn order (probably scrapping the Rout phase), and just move the CC Fighting phase between Defensive and Advancing Fire. The Prep/advancing fire timing thing seems like the kind of thing that might have interesting interactions w/ our system (although we could scrap it)
So, something like one of these
Move - React - CC - Shoot
Prep Fire - Move - React - CC - Advancing Fire - (Rout?)
We COULD do Move - React - Shoot - CC, but I think that putting CC right after moving and reactions feels more right, especially since we're going with the FoW idea that CCs are rare but decisive."

I don't think that Move->React->CC->Shooting would work, unless we have static shooting rolled into that movement phase. Which differs only semantically from my outline above. Maybe we could move CC before Advancing Fire. But that would prevent advancing units from being able to suppress the unit they're trying to get into CC with. Which I don't think we really want.

Once possibility does come to mind though, if we adopted a version of your second suggestion.
  1. Starting Phase
  2. Movement Phase
  3. Shooting Phase
  4. Reaction Phase
  5. Close-Combat Phase
  6. Advancing Fire Phase
This version would sandwich Close-Combat between the Reaction Phase, and the Advancing Fire Phase. Which would, in theory, allow us to switch to a melee-only Close-Combat Phase, while still allowing models in the combat to fire at each other during the Reaction and Advancing Fire phases.

So it would break down like this:

Reaction Phase:
  1. Defender rolls Ld/Suppression tests for ALL their units, even those in close-combat.
  2. If failed, defending units in CC must fall back (distance depends on % remaining models, as now).
  3. If passed, defending units in CC may shoot, but only at other units in the CC.
Close-Combat (Or Just Melee) Phase:
  1. Attacker consolidates his CC models (if not suppressed).
  2. Defender consolidates their CC models (if not suppressed).
  3. Melee attacks are performed back-and-forth until no engaged models are left.
We could go with one back & forth round of Melee per turn, but I'd still like CC to be very decisive. So we melee until we can't anymore. Leaving only the surviving unengaged models when its over.
Advancing Fire (Or Just Action) Phase:
  1. Attacker rolls Ld/Suppression tests for ALL their units, even those in close-combat.
  2. If failed, attacking units in CC must fall back (distance depends on % remaining models).
  3. If passed, attacking units in CC may shoot, but only at other units in the CC.
  4. If an attacking unit won the combat, it gets a free consolidation move.
So this would potentially accomplish a few things...

First, it would pull all the shooting out of the CC Phase, and lower the overall complexity of it. Which would probably speed it up quite a bit, since you wouldn't be moving/shooting each melee round.

Shooting would never have to worry about engaged/unengaged models, or tracking who moved, as there won't ever be any engaged models during shooting.

Close-Combat/Melee would still be far more bloody and decisive than 40K, but would make more sense chronologically. In terms of what could reasonably happen in a turn. Models won't be firing or moving 2-5x more than they normally could just because the combat wears on. Preventing a number of CC problems that have cropped up in testing.

Close-Combat can span multiple turns, but melee would not.

We would be rolling Ld/Suppression, and removing markers, the same way for everyone. Whether they're in CC or not. Being suppressed wouldn't keep you from fighting, but it would stop you from consolidating into combat. Handing the initiative to your opponent, or causing both sides to just sit and shoot at each other.

Makes supporting fire possible from other units outside the combat. But I'd probably limit that so that CC targets would have to be clearly visible (within Awareness & no hard cover) to the firing unit.

Victorious attacking units would have a chance to get into cover before the Defender's next turn starts.


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