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"More advice on rules mechanisms wanted" Topic

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Elenderil10 Sep 2012 1:58 p.m. PST

Following on from the morale question a second point came up about paperwork in games. I am considering the use of in game markers to track morale to reduce paperwork. The alternative would be unit rooster sheets with check boxes to tick off.

What are your thoughts and preferences (and why)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Sep 2012 2:16 p.m. PST

I hate chits and markers. If rules use them, I instantly convert to rosters. Nothing bugs me more than putting a ton of effort into a beautiful table only to then cover it in dice, poker chips, counters and cotton balls of various colors.

That said, many gamers take one look at a roster and immediately convert it to a marker/chit/die.

Either way you go, a substantial part of the gaming community will immediately light the torches and sharpen their pitchforks….

Phillius Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2012 2:17 p.m. PST

A lot depends on what you want from a game. I play a lot of DBx at the moment, and I enjoy it for some of the reasons you discuss. There is no unit morale or casualty tracking, there is no requirement to write and prove orders.

However, there is, even under DBMM, a lot of reactionary aspects to the game. This is down to simplifying the order/action/casualty/morale nature of the rules.

I think, personally, I would like to see the order structure of DBx (pip dice) continued, but the casualty monitoring/removal, improved upon.

So to answer your question, I think on table markers are a suitable method for indicating unit morale and possibly casualty rates (I missed question one). This can detract from the appearance of the game if players choose to use counters instead of casualty figures or similar. However, it is down to individual choice.

On table markers tend to tell the opponent what the status of your army is as well. So if you want to keep that to yourself, then unit rosters are a better option. However, you then probably need to prepare extra copies for each game.

This is a tricky area which can define the entire nature of your rule set, so needs to be considered carefully. Good luck.

Elenderil10 Sep 2012 2:22 p.m. PST

Pass the fire extinguisher and the chainmail long johns :-)

Like you I dislike markers on the table, but a lot of gamers hate paperwork. So which is the lesser of those two evils? I'm thinking of using a rank of dismounted dragoon figures behind the unit to track the combat effectiveness level so that minimises the impact of that marker.

Historicalgamer10 Sep 2012 2:41 p.m. PST

Rooster sheets????? I used to hate cleaning them up!!!

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2012 2:44 p.m. PST

Why does a marker have to detract from the table? Use of casualty figures, rocks with numbers, or even a simple base with varying number of glued on rocks set next to a unit could both add to the scenic look and provide vital info at a glance. In my example, the use of a singularly based leader figure that is NOT a target, to track current unit status does not detract from the look of the tabletop.

many gamers might enjoy making innovative markers for use in their games from stuff just lying around the house. As long as it also adds to the view, I see it as a good thing. Ugly poker chips, dice, etc. do detract from the "look". besides, the pop, beer cans and coffee mugs detract as it is! Add to that tables, charts and roster sheets….what happened to the game table?…..

I hate rosters and charts! ind a better way, IMHO.


Thunderman Inactive Member10 Sep 2012 3:11 p.m. PST

I ended up getting some custom Litko tokens recently and couldn't be happier. I personally enjoy having counters and markers on the table, especially for temporary 1-turn effects. They are quick and easy for all players to know the status of units. I wouldn't want to end up dragging 5+ tokens for each figure, but a couple here and there don't hurt. Plus it saves having to twist around in your chair and write on a roster sheet.
Here are how mine ended up, as you can see I even had a set made around morale (Fleeing in this case):

vtsaogames10 Sep 2012 4:52 p.m. PST

I use casualty figures on terrained circular bases, look pretty good.

Mako11 Inactive Member10 Sep 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

I agree with EC.

How about an easel, with a magnetic white board, and listings for the various units, and markers to track their status on that instead, assuming the ones on the tabletop can be uniquely identified?

Only downsides to that I can see are that:

1. someone bumps the easel, wiping out the records for the various units at a critical moment; and
2. everyone knows the status of the various units, which perhaps they should not (generally though, they would, if it was mentioned anyway during the game, assuming they have a decent memory). This could be worked around by a random die roll to change a unit's status each turn, which is usually done anyway, in a recovery phase, so the issue might be a moot one.

That seems better to me than random tokens, chits, etc. on the tabletop.

A flip chart could be used too, instead, if desired.

For the easel, someone could take a photo of the easel each turn, so the data could be viewed on the LCD display, if needed, after a near catastrophic accident with the magnetic white board.

I am okay with white puffs for weapons fired, and other small smoke puffs for MG fire (denotes suppression, if that is included in your games), and/or larger ones for near misses by bigger weapons (perhaps dirt colored, or gray and black).

grambo Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 3:04 a.m. PST

Does of course depend upon your choice of rules, but I'm a big fan of the Command & Colors game system played with miniatures because they require only discreet casualty markers which sit on the rear of my bases and are landscaped to match. The markers move with the units!

Also I think as the game system is so incredibly easy to follow and to track there is no need for many markers as such. Not to everyones taste I do understand that, but just something to think about.

A couple of examples of our C&C games and figure bases, note the markers. The square blue/red markers denote a battalion in square, but I will be replacing even these with duplicate units with figures based in squares shortly as they are unsightly.





ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 6:44 a.m. PST

Have options for both and let players decide.

I like some sort of marker on the the table. It helps observers track the status of the game by a glance. In WRG 7th, we used markers AND a roster since you had to track fatigue in the game. This being said, I don't like large tokens like poker chips either. I use amber colored glass disks they sell for dried flower arrangements and small dice, depending on the game.

I do like the specially painted stands but prefer them to be exaggerated for easy visual status. I have seen some great purpose painted stands that look so good, you can't tell there is a problem with a unit :-)

Elenderil11 Sep 2012 7:23 a.m. PST

Funnily enough I was already considering including rules for both a roster sheet and use of markers and allowing players to choose their own preference. I too don't like caps over figures, large markers etc but don't mind small markers for short term effects. I am also happy to have markers for overall combat efficency that live at the rear of the unit in the guise of file closers, NCO's rounding up stragglers etc. In 2mm these are not going to be a big distraction.

Thanks for the input everyone.

Elenderil11 Sep 2012 7:24 a.m. PST

PS perhaps I will make one of the markers a very large cockerel…a Rooster marker. :-)

religon Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 7:25 a.m. PST

Grambo's solution looks nice. His blog…


As I mentioned in a previous thread CCA, and derivatives like CCN, is a game where reserves are not necessarily a tactical blunder. In this game, a sound tactic is to retire flagging units to the rear and bring fresh units into their spot in a line. It denies the opponent the victory banners for defeating the flagging unit and the fresh unit is likely to defeat opposing units that may have been bloodied in combat.

In the Epic version of the game, special recovery cards and switch-er-oo cards for units behind another exist to simulate reserve commitment actions and recovery of flagging units.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 7:35 a.m. PST

I'm one of those who think you've commited a mortal sin if you place a drink on the game table. I have plenty of places near the game table for that. Rolling dice is done in specially placed felt lined boxes.
While some markers are unavoidable, they are kept to a minimum. The game table is for terrain, miniatures and scenics.
So a certain amount of paperwork is part of the deal.
If one is really that averse to writing anything down, might one respectfully suggest that computer games might be a better option.

RudyNelson11 Sep 2012 3:24 p.m. PST

In several of our set of rules. Morale is treated slightly different. It determines how long a unit will fight with reduced effectives.

For example fanatics or Elites will fight until the last stand is destroyed. Poor troops fight until half of their stands are gone. Average fights until two stands are left and Veterans fight until only one stand is left.

A simple no paperwork or chits needed.

We are looking at ways to adopt it for several other sets of rules as well. along with our order of movement determination system.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member12 Sep 2012 3:17 a.m. PST

In our house-rules, we use dials (1-10) from The Dial Dude to track unit status. The dials are flocked in the same green as the playing mat. Works very well.

The morale status of a unit (on a scale of 10-1) has effect on firing effectiveness, further morale effects, etc.

Tracking more than one variable statistic per unit is usually not a good idea. Also is a sign of bad game design, IMO.

Crocus Inactive Member13 Sep 2012 3:09 a.m. PST

I don't like rosters, playsheets or anything else I have to look at apart from the table and the toys themselves. Of course my memory isn't legendary so cheat sheets are a must, but one of the benefits of DBA (have you seen the 2.2+ version? – very good) is that the rules can be meorised quite easily.

I use nicely landscaped bases to show shieldwall, throwing weapons and so on, and have the tiniest (maybe 5mm, almost too small to handle easily!) D6's to track attrition. I have also made bright yellow and red flippable markers that are used very regularly for 2 step tracking.

All personal preference in the end, and I like simple games with as little paperwork as possible. Oh yeah!

Russ Lockwood13 Sep 2012 1:05 p.m. PST

Markers can be the bane of a nice wargame table, but can be mitigated by clever use of figures as markers. In the Fire & Fury games, a single mounted wounded guy means disorder, figure loading a musket means out of ammo, etc.

But I had to chuckle about the comment above where those who don't like markers on the tabletop change to rosters and those that don't like rosters change to markers.

In Snappy Nappy, I originally had colored puff-ball markers to make unit status…until someone dropped one of the clipboards holding the game charts juuuust right. Whoosh! The wall o' wind scattered the puff balls. Uh-oh.

Then for a game I put on in Wally's Basement II, I forgot the box with the puffballs. Uh-oh. Thus was born rosters and we found it became the way to go because you're only tracking one variable -- unit status. It adds fog of war because markers do not give away the status of the unit -- you have to rely on your memory about how much you've pounded on a unit or how well it seemed to fire or melee.

As long as players are concentrating on the battle and not on paperwork, it's a good mechanic.

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