Monday, October 7, 2013

Concept: Leadership Failure Levels

Still from Paths of Glory- Kubrick 1957
Eriochrome here today to talk about some ideas for the morale/leadership system. Unit morale is a key factor in war and while interspecies wars can be genocidal that does not mean everyone will fight every engagement to the death.  Units under fire might start keeping their heads down more than the general on high would like or they might even run away to fight another day.  We would like a unified leadership system which can cover this whole range without being too complicated or constricting.

How It Works Now

To review where we stand currently in the morale/leadership system units have 2 statistics that control their reliability on the battlefield.  First the unit has a nerve value which represents how resistant it is to both volume of enemy fire/attacks and casualties from those attacks which generate nerve markers on the unit.  The unit then has a leadership value which represents how organized/compelling the command structure is for the unit.

In game, the morale system runs like this.  When a unit is shot at by the enemy, the number of cumulative hits is tracked on a 6 sided die called the hit counter.  Every time you get to six hits, you  add a nerve marker.  Past six hits, you 'loop' the die, starting at one again.

Units also get a nerve marker when any volley of fire cases a failed armor save.  In the reaction phase, all units with hit counters have to make a leadership test. Where the player rolls a number of dice equal the unit's leadership, and must roll lower than their base nerve minus the number of nerve markers on at least 1 die. Doing so represents success and allows the unit to act normally, hold objectives, and generate defensive fire in response to assault.

These guys would be Nv1, Ld0 at best.
The success also bolsters the nerve of the unit allowing for some number of nerve markers to be removed.  So having high nerve allows units to have multiple nerve markers but still function effectively. While the multiple leadership dice gives units a high chance of passing the tests when they have a few markers but becomes less and less helpful as the stuff gets rough.  This is all the same as we have talked about in the past.

Failing A Test

The next question is how to treat failure of the leadership tests.  If the nerve marker mechanic is to be interesting in acting like suppression fire, or as a tactical part of the game, units need to fail these tests. But not automatically run away like in games like 40K.

Units don't always run away. Sometimes they just get pinned down instead.

Right now, we reference unit size vs casualties to determine what happens. But given that we plan to have units as small as 1-3 models, the 50% or 25% splits might not work that well.  Another idea is to reference the number of nerve markers to a unit's leadership value, in order to determine the effect of failing the test on that unit's available actions next turn.  The basic break down was failure by units with no nerve markers, nerve markers equal to or less than their leadership values, and nerve markers higher than their leadership.

Failing with no nerve markers is possible for any unit with base Nerve 5 or less. Since you are forced to take the test anytime you are hit by enemy fire. Even if it fails to cause a casualty or does not yield the 6 hits for the hit counter to generate a nerve marker.  This should be the lowest degree of failure, and would allow you to either move toward cover closer to you than the enemy, but not fire your weapons, or "snap" fire at any visible enemy unit but you cannot move.

Failing with nerve markers eqaul to or less than your leadership will allow you to either move toward the nearest cover, go to ground, or "snap" fire at the nearest enemy.  If a unit goes to ground or gets 50% of the units models into the cover than they can remove a nerve marker.  These choices are similar to those failing with no markers just more restricted.  They also have options to remove the markers.

Failing with nerve markers greater than your leadership is the fall back condition.  To fall back a unit moves directly toward either their deployment edge or directly away from the nearsest enemy unit.  They have to move their full movement unless this takes them closer to an enemy unit than the initial nearest unit in that case they stop half way between the units.  This is probably need a diagram where you define the fallback direction as the line between the closest model in the unit and the enemy and the corridor as the models farthest out from the fall back direction.  If their is cover inside the corridor the unit can stop there.  If 50% of the unit gets into cover or if no enemies are in their awareness range than they can remove a marker.  A unit that is already in cover must still move and cannot consider that cover as a stopping point.

So those are the basic ideas.  Failing your leadership at first prevents the unit from operating at full effectiveness and then progresses to limit behaviors to only nearby objects (forgetting the grand plan to try to save your butt) and finally forces the fallback  (throwing out the plan and running for your life) based on how much fire the unit has received.  Every part still has a few options since having no choice at all is no fun but tries to limit the units in realistic ways.  I hope to have something similar in the assault part of the game where failing an easy leadership test does not make you run away but might give you opponent a nice advantage in their next set of attacks.

So what do people think of all this?

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