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"Your favourite action reaction system" Topic

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Ark3nubis25 Apr 2014 2:19 p.m. PST

Just wondering what people's favourite (as opposed to just asking "what's the bestt") rules that have a reaction mechanism in. Can you give me your reasons why and/or what it is that you like about your preferred game.

I am wanting to understand how these mechanisms work as, regardless of scale, genre, general fluff around whichever game, the result pfthe system gives you an outcome that 'feels right,

Thanks in advance!


Oddball25 Apr 2014 2:38 p.m. PST

I love "Force on Force".


It is written for modern combat, but easy to make stats for W.W. II games.

A phasing side is chosen by rolling a die for each element in your force. The side that has the highest number of successful dice is the phasing player. This allows for a flow of attack and counter-attack to take place in the game.

The phasing (offense) side then places whatever units it wants on "overwatch". Then moves a unit. The non-phasing side (defense)can then interrupt the movement to take a shot. If a overwatch unit has LOS to the defense unit, a troop quality check is rolled to see who shoots first.

It is possible for the overwatch unit to force the defense unit down and therefore it doesn't get it's shot at the advancing unit.

If another defense unit interrupts the movement and the same overwatch unit has LOS to them, it can also fire, but at one less combat dice. So a LMG team might get 3 or 4 shots off on overwatch, but at decreasing effect until there are no more dice to roll. That represents changing out belts/barrels.

After all the offense units have moved, any defense units that have not fired are then able to move and fire. Overwatch units would also get to shoot at them with decreased effect if they had been firing to cover their sides advance.

When both sides have moved/fired all units, roll again for which side will be the phasing player.

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Apr 2014 2:50 p.m. PST

In the Wild West genre, GUTSHOT has a REACTION SHOT mechanic that I really like (and not just because I helped write it!). In essence, when you shoot at someone who has a loaded/ready weapon in their hand, they get to shoot back at you.

This really speeds up combat AND, since Damage is applied at the end of the Action phase, that means it is perfectly feasible that you can jump into a room and empty a shotgun into someone who simultaneously empties HIS shotgun into you… and you BOTH wind up dead. This works well in a skirmish game because the combat is all in close quarters. In that scenario, the mechanism is covering the situation where the guy was standing therein the room, using his shotgun to cover the door, just waiting for someone to show up and take a shot at him. Without this Reaction Shot mechanism, there would be no point to ever covering a door or window because, in a simple IGOUGO system, you would just stand there and let the other guy shoot you because it was his turn and not yours.

This really works well for Wild West Skirmish gaming. I personally wouldn't want to use this mechanism on a large-scale, unit- or battalion-based game.

Mike Mitchell
Hawgleg Publishing

Recovered 1AO25 Apr 2014 3:09 p.m. PST

Mike Mitchell,

I wonder if it wouldn't be appropriate (time scale dependent) in a modified form?

Will give this some thought.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2014 3:44 p.m. PST

Kampfgruppe Commander has a pretty good system, once you work it out.

It's UGO/IGO, but I can do things in your turn (fire, run away from you). But how much I do in your turn effects how much I can do in my turn. You roll a die for command points each turn, spending points to do stuff, but you have to add in what was done during the opponent's turn. So if I roll a '3', but I shot at you three times in your turn, I'm not going anywhere.

This is a massive over-simplification of the system, but it works pretty well.

Pictors Studio25 Apr 2014 4:10 p.m. PST

I like Infinity. It keeps the players involved and works otu to add a very cinematic feeling to the game.

whoa Mohamed25 Apr 2014 4:58 p.m. PST

Force on force for me too

Sundance25 Apr 2014 5:05 p.m. PST

I like THW rules, but we modify them so there is only one reaction rather than a potentially endless chain of reactions.

Ark3nubis25 Apr 2014 5:30 p.m. PST

GUTSHOT sounds like a really good cinematic game, makes sense and could be applied to any genre (I'm thinking even of the film Predators with the Japanese guy and the predator killing each other at the same time) that's a nice touch for a game, especially for me where I am used to the GW style of doing things (where the outcome is either or)

FoF i've heard a range of people's opinions but those that like the game seem to love it. The attacker/defender rules sound pretty neat. Are there rules for vehicles to do the same?

I wrote my own zombie game and characters have an initiative value between 2-4. The number not o ly is used to roll against for certain tests, but also determines how many actions per turn a character can take. A character can sacrifice an action in their following turn if they wishto perform an action/reaction in the enemy's turn. Sounds very similar to Kampfgruppe commander in that respect.

Infinity, doesn't that have major and minor actions or something? Isn't that a bit complicated fir an action reaction type system?

Can you elaborate on the THW reactions

Thaaks all!


Lion in the Stars25 Apr 2014 11:34 p.m. PST

I can't really call a favorite between the Ambush Alley and Infinity reaction systems. Both do a great job at always keeping both players involved in the game.

Infinity is technically IGO-UGO, except that every ORDER spent by one of your models that I can see, every one of my models that can see the order being spent gets an Automatic Reaction Order. Can't do as many things in ARO as you can during your active turn (active turn order gives you 2 actions, ARO only 1, and the list of allowed actions in ARO is shorter), but you can always do *something*. If you're familiar with Warhammer Fantasy's Charge Reactions, it's kinda like getting a charge reaction to everything that particular model can see.

The Ambush Alley reaction system works similarly, though there some differences in the mechanics. Any fireteam/squad that can see your action has a chance of reacting to it, and might even shoot at you before you shoot them! The key difference with Ambush Alley is that there is only one Active player, the other player is always reactive (unless the initiative roll says otherwise).

I do make one house-rule change to the AAG reaction resolution process, though. The way I do it, I resolve all the units that beat the active unit (ie, are shooting before the active unit takes it's actions) from closest to farthest, then resolve the active unit's actions, and finally resolve all the units that didn't beat the active unit (shooting AFTER the active unit does). The standard way has you resolve them in strict order of proximity, so the active unit might have made it to cover for one unit but not for the next unit. Means you're making two separate passes through the units reacting, but makes more sense to me.

UshCha25 Apr 2014 11:35 p.m. PST

I Like mine as I wrtote it (well most of it, Paul did help). Being a "modller", engineer rather than artistic, we whent back to more or less the start but not quite. We use IGOUGO as it has the flexibility of responce we felt was representative of what we were trying to achive. Similar to Stargrunt II/Squad leader. We then as an integrated part of that system add a reaction system to it. This sytem eliminates "overwatch" as a name because you can automaticaly respond to a "new" situation you can percive. You may see all but your models cannot. Thgis reaction is reasonably controlled Think of it very approximately approximately all you could do in 7 to ten seconds (That alone will have the hero vs real man debate going). For instance troops shot at can run off (The classic get off the killing ground) or go to ground, or if in a better position return fire. This can go one for a number of itterations. Too long in this frenetic mode and troop quality and ability begins to degrade. The openents have some controll of when it terminates, rathet than a in say 3 itterations deteministic limit. This does give a very rapid "flurry" of fire where the "remainder" of the battle field is "frozen". It represents firefights that are won or lost is a few seconds. Tank ve Tank will only last a couple of rounds normal unless one is on "shoot and scoot" and this to us reflects this well.

Nothing is universally perfect. IGOUGO is definitely for seroius players who want a simulation that catches the mood. MG may be a bit more complex here but it eliminates more "classic rules" seen elsewhere. The sheer number of simple choices it generates, reac,t don't react. run, throw smoke, hunker down and make no attempt to return fire etc can daunt some players. You have to know the adgade "observation over preservation as its not mandatory you make that rule for your self or for the style you are portraying. At an individual level its easy to coach all of this as you play ann increasingly more varid set of games.

Its not tailored for multi player games of folk with limited experience. Experience players are given boundaries like the real thing but that is too hard for a casual player.

To be fair that is a problem with any IGOUGO system. There

Patrick R26 Apr 2014 2:25 a.m. PST

Chain of Command works on several levels.

1) The turn is divided into phases. Command dice rarely allow you to perform everything you need to do, going back and forth between both players can be very fast, creating a feeling of greater interaction.

2) The system of deployment points means you often have reserves to react to some situation and can deploy them fairly close to the action, sometimes even as an ambush where troops suddenly reveal themselves. While it is not fully interactive, it avoids many of the pitfalls of seeing a squad of reinforcements deploying on the player's edge and taking forever to reach the point they are needed.

3) Troops can be put on overwatch and they can shoot when the other player makes a move in their covered area.

4) Players can use a chain of command die (accumulated during play) to interrupt any opposing player action and perform either shooting or moving. During one game I was sneaking up on an enemy armoured car with some tank hunters, the other player used his action to drive away. Felt very much like an actual AAR. "Spotted enemy troops in close proximity and told the driver to floor it."

Dust Warrior26 Apr 2014 3:34 a.m. PST

Dust Warfare works for me. The reaction mechanic activates if the enemy does any action with 12" unless you are suppressed or have a reaction marker already. The 12" range is the range where stuff gets deadly, so to get in close you have to risk being shot at first. To avoid this you have to have supporting units try to suppress the target first. Most infantry weapons in Dust have about a 16" range so you are always shuffling around trying to get in to be lethal without being shot in return. The game gives a Command Phase though where you can take an action with no reaction allowed, but you get a reaction marker stopping you reacting later.

The mechanic does force a combined arm feel to the game where long range support weapons have to suppress targets so you can move the deadly stuff in close.

I've also played Force and Force and like the mechanic in that game too (as described above). And Infinity too. I find all the extra rules available in those games makes the reaction feel a bit more fiddly but still are fine.

Trojan Points26 Apr 2014 3:44 a.m. PST

Quadrant 13 and its historical parents "I haven't been shot, mum" and "Charlie don't surf"…

Cards are drawn from an activation deck (common to both players). Each unit is activated when its card comes out. Character cards allow you to either activate the character or one of its subordinate units. And there is a 'end of turn' card that puts an end to the turn: the deck is reshuffled for the next turn. And yes that means you never know in which orders the units will be activated or even if they will be at all (if a unit card his after the 'end of turn' card in the deck, it won't come out this turn)… But you can mitigate the effect of this fog of war and friction simulating system by using your leaders to get a better the chance of activating the units critical to your plans.

I understand most wargamers dislike such systems as it allows them to little close control on their troops. As a professional military officer I thing it's a bang on simulation of military operations! Tactics isn't so much (or even at all) about having the best possible combination of troops and a extremely cleverly detailed plan… It's all about getting over (or around) friction and getting your assets do more or less what you want!

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2014 6:19 a.m. PST

Another vote for Force on Force (which certainly warrants a dedicated WW2 ruleset release all by itself). XX – fingers crossed

vegabond26 Apr 2014 7:41 a.m. PST

Infinity, every time you can see your opponent act you can react with your forces. It's a very back and forth game. Great fun.

By John 5426 Apr 2014 1:27 p.m. PST

Crossfire for me, too, surely the 'reaction/interaction, taken to its logical limit, and the most innovative set of rules in the last 20years, there, I've said it!

It's a winner, for me, anyway, it is based on Infantry, however, so if your a 'tanks are all powerful, and the infantry secondary' type of player, it's not for you.


MrAverage27 Apr 2014 7:06 a.m. PST

I still like Dirtside. Activate-Action-Opfire-Turnover. Keeps everyone engaged at all times.

Ark3nubis27 Apr 2014 8:14 a.m. PST

Hey Mr average, can you elaborate a bit more? That sounds like a simple method, although is that fully activate and use one unit at a time before moving in to the next? What do you mean by 'turnover' too? Also is Opfire the only reaction? Could a unit not move or hide or something as a reaction?

I've never played crossfire, is it unlimited movement unlimited firing range?

Does anyone rate THW's chain reaction system too?

By John 5427 Apr 2014 2:52 p.m. PST

Crossfire is unlimited range, and unlimited move rates, you basically do your move, and continue moving until your oponent stops you by shooting at you, or you mess up your own firing, or fail to rally people up.
Its a brilliant system, with no real set turns, and both players interacting most of the time. I'm a big fan, as you can tell!


Amalric27 Apr 2014 3:11 p.m. PST

My favorites would be in no particular order;

Ambush alley ( I havnt played Force on Forcd yet)
THW, namely ATZ/LTL, though I'm gearing up for 5150
Pulp Alley (I love this game)

I havnt played Infinity yet but want to

grommet3727 Apr 2014 11:15 p.m. PST

Total novice, here, but I chose Force on Force specifically because it seemed to present a more engaging gameplay than IGOUGO, even though I'll be playing all factions myself.

I was looking for something that seemed to tally with what I was reading about modern small unit tactics, and FoF fit the bill. Plus, one can play it sitting at a card table. Presumably with a beer.

Someone asked above about FoF vehicles. Overall, much like infantry rules, just modified for larger things with bigger armor and guns. Which makes it easier to resolve all of the permutations of who reacted to whom before whoever else could suppress them. It made sense to me and it was ruleset #1 in my personal experience.

It should make learning and incorporating Tomorrow's War (and a couple other variants) pretty easy.

maverickv28 Apr 2014 6:01 a.m. PST

All the Operation Squad series rules (Operation Squad, Assault Platoon, Wild West Chronicles) use the same action/reaction system: a real action/reaction system.

A player choose a unit and declare his Action/Order in a specific way. The enemy player can react by choosing a unit and declaring his intentions.

zonk7628 Apr 2014 6:25 a.m. PST

My 2 favorites are AAGs(Force on Force/TW) system and THWs(ATZ/Chain Reaction FV/5150) system.

Both mechanics produce a GREAT game!

Cambria562229 Apr 2014 2:49 p.m. PST

I've enjoyed THW's Chain Reaction systems enough to buy the WW2 variant, 'Nuts!', with 2 supplements. This is based on several games using the free versions; 'Chain Reaction 2' and then 'Chain Reaction 3'. I've also used 'Swordplay', the ancient and fantasy variant, and 'Six Gun Sound', for gunfights in the old west. I find the Chain Reaction system gives great gameplay once you get your head round the reaction mechanics, which took me several mini games to do!

Ark3nubis30 Apr 2014 11:53 a.m. PST

Really? I like small scale skirmish type rules, do you have a lnk to those Chain Reaction rules at all?

From my mate's description operation squad is a bit more 'scripted per turn' in that each player takes it in turns to say what they are going to do, with the ones after the first saying their reaction (so player A says I'm going to run my guy over there, player B says 'we I'll shoot him as he tries' player A says 'my next guy will shoot your guy back then' and so on) is that correct?

Cambria562230 Apr 2014 1:58 p.m. PST

"Chain Reaction – Final Version" is what you want to try: link

snodipous01 May 2014 7:50 a.m. PST

Your description of the 'scripted' nature of Operation Squad is correct. The active player states clearly what his unit is going to do, the reacting player does likewise, and they go back and forth until the max. number of activations is reached. Then you dice off to determine order. Force On Force works the same way.

I really like both games, largely because of how reactions are handled. You commit your soldiers to a course of action *before* you know what order everyone will be acting in. Once you have stated what your unit will do, you have to follow through on your plan even if the initiative dice go badly. Do you think you can run across that road before the MG team on the roof notices you and opens up the lead hose?

Lion in the Stars01 May 2014 9:30 a.m. PST

Your description of the 'scripted' nature of Operation Squad is correct. The active player states clearly what his unit is going to do, the reacting player does likewise, and they go back and forth until the max. number of activations is reached. Then you dice off to determine order. Force On Force works the same way.
Except that in Force on Force the Active player is almost always only moving ONE unit. Barring some special setups, there's no reacting to a reaction.

josta5901 May 2014 3:42 p.m. PST

Another vote for THW, though I haven't really tried any of the others mentioned. THW is easily played solo, which was a big draw for me. It gives the feel of a first-person shooter with a fireteam, like Ghost Recon, which was just what I wanted. I use the CR3 rules for every game I play.

Caesar01 May 2014 8:41 p.m. PST

In Starship Troopers nearly all models are on Alert Status during an opponent's turn. Anytime an enemy unit completes an action within 10" of any of your models, those models may react. The available reactions for models depends on which force they were from. It creates very dynamic turns.
I believe that Dust is by the same designer.

Judge Dredd uses a modified version of this. Models can forgo their turn to go on Alert Status and then get one reaction per turn when an enemy completes an action within 10" or it gets shot at or a friend within 10" gets shot at. It can then take any action.

I find the THW system to be very realistic in Nuts!

The Department has npc reactions where you roll on a table to determine what they do depending on what your models are doing.

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP04 May 2014 3:38 p.m. PST

Ark3nubis: Thanks! I've actually heard of people using GUTSHOT as a generic game engine for other genres. We are presently adapting it to the horror genre, albeit the Weird West, so it's not that much of a stretch. I've found the strength of the system lies in its use of firearms vs firearms. We have a different mechanism for dealing with hand-to-hand combat, and I like the way it equalizes men a bit, giving even a farmer a fair chance of winning a fist fight against a gunslinger.

The only thing I'm not happy with, to be brutally honest, is that I don't like the way the two systems overlap. In other words, the rules are strained when you bring a knife to a gunfight. grin It works, but not as elegantly as I would like.

Ed the Two Hour Wargames guy05 May 2014 5:19 p.m. PST

Download CR 3.0 and give it a try. Use the STOP boxes that occur every few pages. It breaks down the rules into smaller bites.


What actually happens during the game is often different than what people "think" will happen because they've read the rules but not used the boxes.

We've been using the Reaction system since 1998 and thanks to lots of feedback from players have come up with the Final Version mechanics. All the rules except for Six Gun Sound (cowboys), Larger Than Life (Pulps),and NUTS (WW2) have been updated. That's why NUTS isn't available at this time.

There's lots out of good ones out there and already mentioned so I'm sure you'll find something you will like.

Ark3nubis06 May 2014 12:53 p.m. PST

Thanks guys, this is fantastic. You're right Ed, plenty to choose from and from platoon size down to the single man reacting to another. Thanks for the CR3 links too though I seem to fail at being sent a copy once 'purchaesd', I'll try again!

I've heard that a lot Ed about THW as people's AARs love and describe the cinematic feel. This I like and probably why the GUTSHOT method of resolving shooting after both sides appeals.

Someone mentioned rolling against a table/chart to see what the enemy would do depending upon what your guys are doing, is this for solo play? I will likely be doing a lot of solo play in the near future as I have just moved house and have no gaming buddies here :( *sobs* are there games that have good solo play/play the AI type rules? Can you give me an idea of what's on the charts and how they work?

Cheers, the TMP at it's best…

RTJEBADIA06 May 2014 8:57 p.m. PST

Btw, its easy to add that possibility of both guys shooting each other into THW (specifically the final version).

uglyfatbloke09 May 2014 10:01 a.m. PST

MOH tells me that I like the Bolt Action activation system best….

geoffb04 Jun 2014 8:49 a.m. PST

I think Tin Star is the best. But then I would :0)

Lion in the Stars04 Jun 2014 10:00 a.m. PST

@Queen Catherine: You can actually stretch the Ambush Alley rules back to the 1880s (Colonial warfare, not necessarily major powers wars) with a few mods. Examples are on the Ambush Alley Games forum.

Weasel04 Jun 2014 11:33 a.m. PST

Crossfire would seem to be the model child here, since the entire game revolves around action/reaction. While you have initiative, you keep moving and firing until something screws up or you get bogged down by reaction fire, then it switches back to the other side.

Russ Lockwood05 Jun 2014 2:33 p.m. PST

Wally Simon spent a lot of time and effort creating rules mechanics that used reaction points, command points, interrupted sequences of play, and so on. For example, in Secrets of Wargame Design Vol. 1 (disclosure: I edited the booklet), under ACW Telescoping Battlefield: Battleline Melee, Reaction Points, and the d6 Crowd, he outlined a Reaction Point scheme (and the gamer reaction to reaction points!):

Take the dreaded Reaction Point (RP) concept. What's an RP? I'm glad you asked.

In the sequence, the first phase had the active side moving and firing. The second phase had the non-active side firing defensively. In the third and fourth phases, both active and non-active sides were permitted to react to each other with what might be termed 'special actions.' They could attempt additional movement, or additional firing.

For example, if one of the active side's divisions, on its movement phase, closed with one of the non-active side's weaker divisions, the non-active side could, just prior to melee, attempt to withdraw. Note use of the word 'attempt,' for nothing was automatic.

The reaction phase for this attempted fall-back employed a two-step procedure:

A: First, the division attempting to react had to have a couple of RP. If, say, 2 RP were required to react (the required number changed from bound to bound), then the division commander crossed off his 2 RP. This was symbolic of his having sent the order out to his reacting division. No RP meant no adjutants to carry the order off.

B: Second, the next question was and did the order arrive? This was determined by a percentage dice throw. There was an 80% chance of the order being successfully delivered. If the dice toss was 80 or under, the division fell back. A toss over 80, and the order was never received, and the division stood in place.

This procedure entailed keeping track of each division's RP. As RP were used up during the bound, new RP arrived. Once again, the hounds of hell were unleashed!

"This is too complex! This is too complicated! I have to juggle the RP numbers amongst my brigades and divisions and it's confusing! Why go to the trouble of using all these percentages and numbers? Why can't we simply toss a 6-sided die and if a 6 comes up, the reaction takes place?"

In a later article: Sixth Sense for Sequences of Play: Options, Consequences, and the Future, he includes a similar Reaction Point procedure:

I permit both sides to use a limited number of 'emergency responses' that are a limited number of out-of-sequence reactions within the turn. The opposing commanders can individually define their own 'emergencies' and react accordingly. Since the number of responses is limited, they can't be too free with their reactions.

Each side is provided with, say, three Reaction Points (RP) for the turn. These RP provide a sort of 'local initiative' to a unit commander. they permit him to respond in an out of sequence fashion when he deems himself in trouble. If, for example, one side's infantry unit, now in line formation, is suddenly being charged by enemy cavalry, a player may do the following:

a) He allocates one of his RP to the situation, indicating that he's sending an emergency order to the infantry commander … the adjutant rides out, or the radio message goes out over the aether, or the courier is on his way, etc. The player now has two RP left.

b) Having sent the order, did it arrive successfully? I set the chance at 80%. A toss of percentage dice of 80 or under indicates the order was received and can be acted on, for example, infantry forming square.

c) If the 80% toss failed and the order never arrived, the player can spend a second RP to send out another order. I permit a maximum of two orders to a unit per phase because a player can only do so much to help out his units. In this case, because of this second order, only one RP remains available to the player.

d) The cavalry commander, suddenly faced with charging a square, can now allocate his own RP to attempt to abort the charge -- an 80% chance.

The interplay of RPs occurs anywhere within the turn, as long as the players have RP in their inventory. If a player decides, in mid-sequence, to suddenly call on one of his infantry units to issue a volley, it is perfectly permissible to do so. What the player has done, in effect, is to declare his own emergency, and, in a sense, by using up an RP, has penalized his side when and if a true emergency appears.

Inserting RP Phases

On occasion, the half turn can be expanded to devote an entire phase to the use of RP. Here's my previously listed 7-phase sequence, expanded to nine phases.

a) Side A moves all units
b) Side B fires
c) Reaction cycle
d) Resolve melee stemming from Side A's movement
e) Side B moves mobile units only
f) Side A has 'opportunity fire'
g) Reaction cycle
h) Resolve melee resulting from Side B's mobile unit movement
i) Switch sides

This sequence inserts two separate phases, (c) and (g), solely for the use of RP. Each phase contains a 'reaction cycle.' First one side uses an RP, then the other, until neither wants to use his RP. Perhaps a side has run out of RP, or perhaps, he wants to save an RP for a subsequent phase. Note that the RP phases occur just before the resolution of melee. This permits a unit to attempt to respond to an emergency situation produced by an opponent's move.

Note that RPs are, in essence, a 'bonus' for a player. He should be forced to decide where and when he wants to use them, and allocate them only to critical situations.

In some of my rules sets, I've gone hog-wild and provided too many RP -- the presence of an overabundance of RP completely negates the reason for their existence. There should always be too few of them.

It goes on to talk about card-based reactions…

In another AWI-centric article, he combines both with a Reaction Card ploy that includes percentages listed on each card to perform some action.

The more I edit his work, the more I appreciate his efforts to change established systems. They didn't always work, but they were always interesting to read.

piper90906 Jun 2014 1:19 p.m. PST

I also like Pulp Alley's approach. With only a few game sequence and combat mechanics, these rules encompass a wide range of options and possibilities. Not much fussing with charts, tables, or equations. The system is also adaptable to non-Pulp scenarios if you simply ignore or strip out the fantasy elements. And there is constant player involvement, no wasted turns where you fail to activate your pieces.

I have yet to find similar satisfaction with another rules set.

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