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"Warlord Activation Variant" Topic


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609 hits since 7 Feb 2017
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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Feb 2017 9:49 p.m. PST

We have tried the various Warlord games and overall like them. However, the activation rules feel out of whack. We frequently get results that don't look right – instead of battle lines we have battle clusters all over. A suggested variant we may try:

After a failure to issue an order, the targeted unit may not move. However, the commander may continue to give orders. BUT regardless of the dice, now units may only receive two moves. Following a second command failure they may only ever be given a single move. Following a third failure, we suggest a change of profession.

This would reduce the attractiveness of group moves, so all group orders would have -1 applied to their command roll.

What do you think?

Ran The Cid08 Feb 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

I agree that the current rules lead to divisional clusters on the battle field – giving you 3 or 4 little battle lines on each side. Your suggestion would break up those clusters so that more divisions will have a jagged line of units moving 1 or 2 or 3 moves, instead of a single cohesive group move. I'm not sure how that helps with establishing a whole table battle line.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Feb 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

the main issue really is we seem to have players who get cold streaks. They miss command rolls in consecutive turns so end up standing around for an hour with nothing to do.

This would at least make it hard for you to not get at least a few moves.

Generals who ASSUME they will get 2-3 moves for every unit and act accordingly will end up scattered all over, but I don't think that's a rules problem….

steamingdave4708 Feb 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

I assume this thread is about Black Powder/Pike and Shotte/Hail Caesar family of rules? Our little group plays ECW with Pike and Shotte a lot. We do get games where one or another player has a run of poor throws, but we feel it reflects the difficulties of getting relatively amateur armies to act in a coordinated way. When we try to recreate historic battles, we use a range of command values to try and reflect the actual performances of the commanders on the day. We have a lot of fun with this aspect of the rules and it certainly makes a change from rules where every unit advances in perfect synchronicity with every other, just as the CinC wants, something which rarely seems to have happened in actual battles. Even Napoleon could not get Grouchy to Waterloo!

Deuce03 Inactive Member08 Feb 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

"the main issue really is we seem to have players who get cold streaks. They miss command rolls in consecutive turns so end up standing around for an hour with nothing to do."

Yeah, this happened to me once at a convention game, where for about three turns I failed a command roll and my division had a great view of the unfolding battle to their left. We had a laugh about it but it was a little frustrating.

However if you have players standing around for an hour with nothing to do I'd suggest part of the problem is that you're playing too slowly. One of the reasons my frustration was minimised in the above situation was because the game was umpired by someone who knew the rules well enough that he could effectively run the game even though most of us were relative novices, and could chivvy people to make decisions in a timely fashion so we weren't sitting around watching other people thinking (rarely exciting).

Of course, I know "play more quickly" is easier said than done especially if you aren't that familiar with the rules yet. Still I think there is definitely something to be said for introducing a time limit on players' turns, whether a soft one with an umpire pushing players to move more quickly or a hard one where players get timed out if they take too long faffing around. In a game like Hail Caesar, and assuming figures are based reasonably a chess clock or the like with an hour or so per side should cover most reasonably-sized battles (at least if you have an option for time-outs to cover rules disputes) and could itself help to add an extra sense of excitement and urgency.

Ran The Cid08 Feb 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

For club/home play, we try to have at least 2 divisions per player. Helps with the cold command dice problem.

At conventions where each player has 1 division, I give out 2 re-roll tokens to each player. Helps get players stuck in and gives them 2 chances to roll a 7. That said, there usually is 1 guy who is still sitting where he started after 2 turns. Generally they have good humor about their terrible dice and have a chance to play hero at the end of the game when their division is still intact and ready to clean house.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Feb 2017 4:52 p.m. PST

For the record….

Typical games for us are 4 or 5 players per side, usually a 12x6 table. We now give 2 commands per side and keep them small -3 or 4 units each.

Based on how some of our games have gone it's a wonder anyone ever got an army to do *anything* in a coordinated manner!

I guess in the end we keep feeling like the game comes down to activation luck more than anything else.

This era is not my strong suit but I was really under the impression – especially for dark ages and earlier – that units didn't really maneuver independently. You kind of set up and then went in, and it was about when/where to commit reserves. Utterly impossible with this system.

paul liddle09 Feb 2017 2:35 a.m. PST

Try Kings of War. Similar mechanics and none of that activation palaver.

Edzard09 Feb 2017 3:34 a.m. PST

My elite Macedonian companion cavalry have yet to reach combat using these rules..

paul liddle09 Feb 2017 4:26 a.m. PST

That is why I've been going off activation mechanisms lately.

Maybe Hail Caesar would play better without it, just move everything you want to IGOUGO.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

It's all about balance. I don't like rules where mobs of spearmen fly around with the precision of laser guided munitions. But I also don't like the feeling that they're just leaves in the wind either.

arsbelli09 Feb 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

On the other hand, these folks don't seem to have had any problem using Hail Caesar for enjoyable and historically viable Dark Age battles: TMP link

'Different strokes for different folks,' and all that. If adjusting or eliminating the activation system makes for a more enjoyable game for you and your group, then go for it!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

In fact we did Vikings vs. Saxons in 15mm using Hail Caesar as well. We like everything but the activation, so to speak.

Codsticker09 Feb 2017 11:44 p.m. PST

It's all about balance. I don't like rules where mobs of spearmen fly around with the precision of laser guided munitions. But I also don't like the feeling that they're just leaves in the wind either
That is a really tough balance to strike, isn't it? Activation systems are the first thing I want to know about a new set of rules nowadays.

Your amendments sound worth trying to me.

durecell10 Feb 2017 5:02 a.m. PST

I have to agree. I like almost everything about the Black Powder line of rules except for activation. I think every game I've played recently has had at least one player sitting around doing nothing but fail activation rolls.

Redcoatphil10 Feb 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

I really do like the activation system in BP/HC. I've played a lot of BP, but I am just getting into Hc.
The only reason I get "annoyed" with the order system is that it compounds so harshly with the disorder rule. Attacking is down right hard sometimes(not that it shouldn't be and both rules are important to the game). It does look like they changed up disorder for hc. I really think that in BP the simplest solution would be to let the main general have the ability to order a brigade that failed a command roll with a -1 penalty and if he fails…well you are out of luck. I do like the token idea for conventions Ran I may have to borrow that idea. just my two cents

DGT12314 Feb 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

I read of one variant that allows unit to have 1 free move even if they fail. But if you are within 12 inches of enemy unit then you lose your free move. Kinda reversing the activation rules. I have not tried this yet but am interested giving it a go. I have had games at conventions I run where all the units except one sat for 2 turns.

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