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"Turn Sequence Design in Naval Games" Topic

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Wartopia Inactive Member25 Apr 2012 6:10 a.m. PST

The other day I was leafing through my old BFG rule book and noticed that it uses an IGOUGO sequence. It has been years since I played BFG and I had forgotten about the unusual sequence.

Most naval game designs seem to use something close to a simultaneous sequence, even if only having both sides move and THEN shoot together. Many use simultaneous plotting and exexution of move orders.

I strongly dislike written orders so that's not an option for me. I prefer I MOVE U MOVE WE SHOOT with movement initiative based on ship agility and tactical superiority.

Currently we're tweaking our home grown spaceship rules. In reality, they're closer to "WWI in space" with the addition of missiles and fighter drones for long range attacks.

One challenge we've had is weapon ranges vs movement and table size. In order to force ships to pass through distinct missile, gun, and torp range bands we've had to use ranges larger than I would like relative to table size. The reason is that with two ships closing on one another they cover a lot of space in one turn.

Question: what's your favorite naval turn sequence that does NOT include written orders? Are you ok with BFG style IGoUGo in naval gaming?

One reason for our design goal is to allow weapons to fill certain roles. If ships close too fast than long range weapons become less useful. One solution to our problem is to allow opposing ships armed with missiles (and BOTH want to close) to pass through the missile range band and straight into gun range. But if one is avoiding contact then the closimg ship would need to pass through missile fire before being able to engage with guns.

Your thoughts on this sticky design issue?

Note: cross posted to WWI naval gaming as our rules are unabashedly based on the period which is my favorite for naval warfare…air power had not yet made BBs useless and DDs could be a threat to the largest ships.

RTJEBADIA25 Apr 2012 6:14 a.m. PST

Well one thing my own rules do to make sure that there is a distinctive feeling of passing through range bands is to allow ships to shoot 'defensively' as the enemy closes.

So if you get within, say, 12cm of my ship, then I get to fire a volley at you, without it being an action.

This also makes fighter's job a bit more difficult, which is good, because in most rules fighters are overpowered.

Wartopia Inactive Member25 Apr 2012 6:17 a.m. PST


This idea of defensive fire is precisely our goal.

I especially want missiles and fighter drones to be viewed as defensive weapons that depend on longer ranges. If both ships want to give up that characteristic by closing I suppose I should let them. That would let me shorten all ranges while still forcing ships attacking missile armed ships to pass through that band.

21eRegt Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2012 6:34 a.m. PST

I don't play space games so can't comment on the feel of missiles, lasers, etc., but for my naval games I only like games with written orders. Without that and the accidents that can happen you can't, IMHO, reflex the chaos and drama of a naval battle. Reaction fire, like in the Command at Sea family of games can allow for a snap shot or opportunity shot.

Martin Rapier25 Apr 2012 7:22 a.m. PST

A simple alternative is to use something like:

Side A moves
Side B fires (defensive fire)
Side A fires.

The swap sides and repeat.

Accidents, collisions etc can come from some sort of command chit/pip type activation and automatic mivement for units which aren't ordered. I'm also a big fan of formations in naval games, so serious comand penalties for units going off doing their own thing would be in order.

This is essentally the turn sequence and comand system used in the varous DBA based big gun naval rules – De Bellis Navals, Damn Battleships Again and Iron Ships & Wooden Heads.

Syr Otto Inactive Member25 Apr 2012 9:49 a.m. PST

Instead of writing out the moves, we started using cards.
one for each movement point you expended.
The cards were simple, straignt, left and right.
We also had some no-move cards so your opponent would not gain an advantage by waiting to see how many cards you played.

Silent Fury Inactive Member25 Apr 2012 10:02 a.m. PST

We also use cards, but they're separate actions entirely. You don't need to specify what you're going to do when you thrust, only that you are thrusting. Cards flip simultaneously, but each card has its own initiative number so that you take your ship's action based on that.

The result is both hectic and fast there's no more 'move phase' or 'shoot phase', you instead get a mix of ships moving, shooting, conducting damage control and boarding, raising shields, turning, and jumping, and the order in which you play your cards for a turn involves some serious tactical thinking. We also get system power management out of the cards without actually needing power management rules, which is pretty sweet.

Here's a full post on how they work:

Action Cards

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Apr 2012 10:49 a.m. PST

In our pre-Dreadnoughts game all movement precedes firing (with the exception of torpedo attacks, which are dealt with differently). The side with initiative gets to chose which squadron moves first (either one of their own or an enemy) after that the sides alternate and each moves a squadron until all are done.

Mobius25 Apr 2012 11:35 a.m. PST

One problem with space ship movement is there is no upper limit. Well the scale speed of light is, but that doesn't allow turning. My naval and SF rules need written orders but they are pretty general.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2012 11:48 a.m. PST

I think I've played a couple of games with individual ship or battle group initiative, so the movement of each ship might be interspersed with ships of the other side – Roman Seas, or (IIRC) Sail and Steam and Under Both Flags (these use order markers, but are only orders in the most general sense – go straight, turn right, turn left, etc.).

matgc83 Inactive Member26 Apr 2012 6:02 a.m. PST

On my system, Pax Stellarum, on the Movement Phase one player moves one of his units, and then the other player does the same with one of his, then the first player moves another one, and so on.

The same thing happens on the Attack Phase, with players alternating the activation of their units.

This way you avoid the odd situations presented on IGOUGO games, where one fleet moves completely before the enemy has to move a single of his ships, and a fleet getting to fire all its weapons before the other can fire its first…

I always rejected such systems, as there is nothing less representative of true combat than on side unleashing a barrage of fire on the enemy while it remais completely actionless, resigned to certain destruction, even though they are armed to the teeth and perfectly capable of returning fire.

It also keeps both players involved during the entirety of the game.

On the other hand, when I play IGOUGO games like 40k, I feel strongly compeled to go have a snack during the half hour of my opponent's turn, which requires no decision of my part whatsoever (my save rolls could even be performed by him, as this is not a field where I have multiple options to pick from, its just a matter of dropping dice and checking who lived and who died…)

Karsta Inactive Member26 Apr 2012 11:01 a.m. PST

Why do you need a separate phase for shooting? Just go I MOVE U MOVE and whenever someone thinks that now would be a good time to open fire with some specific weapon, then let him fire (even in the middle of a move). Let the other player return fire if he want's to and resolve damage simultaneously. In space games projectiles' flight time to target is probably long enough anyway to let the other guy return fire before being hit (unless they are using lasers of course). Assign limited number of shots per weapon per turn (maybe just one for simplicity). This could create interesting situations where enemy fire pushes someone to return fire beyond optimal range.

matgc83 Inactive Member27 Apr 2012 6:10 a.m. PST


This is how Firestorm Armada works: you move 1 unit and shoot, the other player does the same, then you go ahead and move/shoot with another of yours, and so on.

The problem is that you give a player the opportunity to move and shoot at an enemy ship without it being able to even move too.

Also, with separate moving and shooting phases, you can insert the fighters phase(s) between them. This way, fighters move after ships but strike first, which represents their greater maneuverability.

Lion in the Stars29 Apr 2012 2:35 a.m. PST

Currently we're tweaking our home grown spaceship rules. In reality, they're closer to "WWI in space" with the addition of missiles and fighter drones for long range attacks.

If you use vector movement, then "WW1 in space" isn't too far from the most-probable-reality of space combat.

Even with IGOUGO unplotted movement, simply changing the location of the shooting phase to before the shooting phase really changes the way the game plays.

Ottoathome29 Apr 2012 11:17 a.m. PST

Hard topic

You won't like my answer.

Basically the problem with modern naval games is the empty space on the table top. You can only have so wide a table top (7') before your arms can't reach the center. When you throw in scale, ship length, blah blah blah, the problems become intense, after years of naval gaming we got tired of ships teetering on the edge and I designed a new system. I like it, but it might do for you especially if you are going to do it for space gaming.

1.The entire 6 x 9 table top I play my games on is divided up into 6 3 x 3 squadron boxes. Ships can be in any formation they desire in the squadron boxes. All that matters is their heading and speed. Each player simply notes these down. On any turn you can re-organize the squadron as you wish.

2. On any turn you can break the squadron off into a second squadron box and it can move on an independant speed a heading, or, even the same speed and heading if you wish.

OK Now for the part no one likes.

There is a computer and each turn a person simply loads into the computer the speed and heading.

Now… In the computer is a program which constructs an imaginary cartesian plane of about 30 miles square on an an ocean. You start whereever-- and each turn course and speed are put in it determines the vector you are moving on this plain with the start and end points being the hypotenuse of a right traingle, which through simple trigonometry gives you the change in the X and Y coordinates. The X and Y coordinates for your squadron(s) are compared to the X and Y coordinates of the enemy squadron, and it yieldsa a table of values showing the distance and bearing of all enemy and friendly forces.

You then forget about the computer and you simply, on the table top fire from one squadron box to the other. Of course squarons can become so far separated that they loe contact. We don't do ANYTHING else on the computer, the firing and damage and stuff- that's the fun stuff, we want to do that! We let the computer do the dirty work and calculate the bearing and ranges and leave the goodies for us.

A lot of people don't like this for the obvious impact on the visuals. But I use 1:1200 ships and we like to look at the purdy models steaming in formation and so forth.

Should be easy to simply add a "Z" coordinate for space and there you are, giving a course and speed etc.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2012 2:09 p.m. PST


I liked your answer. I don't really need it for my coastal actions but it makes sense for large day battles. If you start "wherever" how do you eventually close or lose contact without a great differencial in speed?


In my Release the Hounds that I am working on I am using cards for the sequence of play. I hate writing down orders as well.



lapatrie88 Inactive Member25 Jun 2012 9:04 a.m. PST

Ottoathome--Would you say in your game design you are creating something like the veiwpoint of a flag officer in each squadron, with something like a CIC or radar display as the game interface? Does that help generate uncertainty about the enemy forces?

Holden88 Inactive Member25 Jun 2012 11:41 a.m. PST

How about each player alternates activating one ship. When a ship is activated a player player chooses to either shoot or move with that ship. When a ship shoots or moves it is marked with a chit or counter accordingly. Once all ships have both moved and fired, remove all the counters and start over.

I also like the Naval Thunder/Colonial Battlefleet rules innovation of having every ship split into three classes: Captial, Cruiser and Escort (large, medium and small). During the movement phase the Capital ships are moved first. Then the Cruisers. Then the Escorts. During the shooting phase the Capital ships fire first followed by the Crusiers then the Escorts.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member30 Jun 2012 6:18 p.m. PST


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