Friday, January 16, 2015

First Play Test Of The New Turn Sequence

Yeah, I went a little overboard on the terrain... :)
It's been a while since we've done any actual testing on the game. Since I wanted to complete a full written version of the new turn rules before we started tearing them apart with fixes and test-derived changes. But now that we have that, I wanted to see if the new sequence worked on-table or not. So CaulynDarr headed over to help me try it out.

The test was fairly simple, with just 5 units apiece, and we didn't play out a full game. Just 4 turns. But we did find out that the new initiative system was fun. Which was the only major goal that we had. Having who went first/last change dynamically during the game was very engaging.

The execution of the dynamic initiative system needs some refinement though. As I'd feared, you pretty much have to leave a 10-sided die next to each unit to track its current initiative. Or else you keep having to refer back to your stat sheet before subtracting your nerve markers from your starting initiative characteristic. Which means you'll forget to move/shoot somebody at a particular initiative level in the turn, or move/shoot them too early.

But then you end up with a hit-die, the current initiative die, AND the normal nerve markers next to your unit. Plus any reaction tokens your unit has. Messy.

CaulynDarr suggested putting numbers on the nerve markers to make the current initiative die unnecessary. Which could work, and would reduce the number of D10s you'd have to buy to play the game. But I've got another interesting idea... Which is that we get rid of the nerve (and maybe the reaction tokens) entirely, and let a unit's initiative be free-floating.

What do I mean by that?

At the start of a battle, the initiative of each of your units would be determined by its initiative stat, just as it is now. But the current system only allows IN to go down freely. It can never actually rise back up past the initial stat value. So we take away that cap (and the need to track the reduction from it with tokens), and let it rise and fall based on what happens in the game.

So let's say that a unit of Knights starts the game at IN 5. Their IN can fall based on how many hits/pens they take. Or it can rise based on how many reaction tokens they still have during the next starting phase. Or, more cleanly, we just give them a +2 IN boost for holding, and a +1 IN boost for advancing. Scrapping the whole reaction-token thing entirely.

A unit spends half the battle hiding behind a building? Their IN might make it all the way up to 9 or 10. Giving them the ability to 'surprise' a more worn out unit at a key moment. Unless you push their IN back down with certain kinds of weapons (stun grenades, white phosphorus, flame weapons).

A unit runs across the table, taking fire all the way? Their IN will probably be 1 or 2 by the time that they get where they're going. Maybe they'll need to rest up a bit before that big assault.

It's something I'm eager to test out, as it has the potential for simplifying some of the rules even more.

Other Findings

Visibility was quite easy to determine, even with all of the terrain I'd put on the table. But we had so much terrain that almost everyone was getting Concealed and Hard Cover bonuses. So I'll definitely pare it back in the future.

I need to come up with a new quick-reference sheet, as we missed a couple of modifiers here and there.

The unit and weapon stats were a mess, as I'd not spent much time on them. These need to be very carefully thought out.

Currently, there's no rule for firing through friendly units. CaulynDarr thought that the units being fired through should get 2 nerve markers. I'm more inclined to count every shot going through them on that unit's hit-die instead. So that the nerve penalty is based more on volume of fire going through the friendly unit.

CaulynDarr also thought that if the defender gets to spend reaction tokens to boost their defense, then it should boost their Armor instead of their Evasion. So that any tokens are always spent by the player currently rolling dice. While that's a bit messier conceptually, I have to agree with him. Since that would remove the problem of one player rolling before the other has decided whether or not to spend their tokens. Simplifying both play, and the rules describing it.

Finally, neither of us found the +1 bonus to BS or EV for spending reaction tokens to be all that great compared to just keeping the token for nerve marker removal. So the bonus should probably be +2 in order for it to be worthwhile as a choice.


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