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"Alternative Unit Activation." Topic

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Last Hussar08 Dec 2020 3:31 p.m. PST

This is a different way to activate units in wargames, originally proposed for Lion Rampant. Although this will base on Lion Rampant, it could be adapted to any set.

In this Alternate I assume the player has 6 units or Commands (see ‘Definition of Unit'). More or fewer units are discussed at the end.

Note on Lion Rampant activation.
In Lion Rampant a unit has two or three activation scores, one for move, one for attack (‘charging') and if relevant, one for shooting. This number is the target on 2d6 the player needs to roll to take that action with the unit. So a unit might have Move 6+, Attack 7+. The player would declare what they wish to do, and attempt to roll the target score or more. If they fail the unit does not move. If they were, in the above example, declaring the unit will attack but rolled a ‘6' they could not convert that to a ‘Move' instead.

This difference in Move/Attack target plays a bearing in this alternate.

Definition of ‘Unit' in this alternate.

In Lion Rampant you roll for each unit. However in other games it is a subcommander that is activated, that allows you to move individual units; for instance in Black Powder the player rolls for the Brigade Commander. If the Command Roll for the Brigadier is passed, all units in that brigade can activate. In this Alternate it is the Command Brigadier you activate – he is the ‘unit' for these purposes, NOT the individual battalions.

Setting up
Each unit should be identified, and the player should have a card with that identifier for each unit. Each unit is discreet, and may only play on its card- if you have 2 archer units you must know which card belongs to which.

Each player places the cards on an "Activation Board" – this can just be a spare surface – face up left to right. The left most position has an Activation Cost (AC) of 1, an AC of 2 for the next card along, and so on until the right most card (with 6 units) is AC-6. It you may want to just mark each position.

At the start of his turn a player receives 4 Action Points (AP). To activate a unit pay the AC for the position it is in. The unit can now take any actions allowed in the rules – you do not need to roll for it.

If in the rules it is harder to get the unit to charge/attack, you need to pay an extra AP. Most units in Lion Rampant will need to pay this to charge. Note that this is the only time you need to pay the extra AP- it doesn't matter if anything else would need a higher roll, it is just about motivating men into charging.

Once the unit has moved, take its card from the Board, slide everything to the right along to fill the gap, then place the unit just activated into the now vacant AC6 position.

The player may now activate another unit at the new AC.

Units A-F are on the Activation Board, under AC 1-6

The player pays 1 AP to activate unit A. A goes into the 6 slot, and he can now pay 1 to activate B which is now in the 1 slot

A player may carry forward a maximum of 2 unused AP to the next turn, allowing a maximum of 6AP in a turn.

‘Broken' units.
In Lion Rampant if a unit fails a morale test it becomes broken, and at the start of every turn it must roll to see if it recovers. When a player makes this roll in this alternate, he MUST declare BEFORE whether he wishes to pay the AC for the unit.

If he does not pay, the unit's card stays where it is, it is not moved to the AC6 slot.
If he does pay the card moves as normal into the AC6 slot, allowing the other cards to slide up.
It doesn't matter if the morale test was passed or failed – the card is moved or left in place no matter the result.

Losing units.
As units are lost the number of AP a player receives goes down. The player receives one less AP for every two units less than 6 he has. Also use this for different sized armies. For every 2 units above 6, they get an extra AP.
If the player has 3-4 units at the start of his turn – 3AP a turn (Also for small armies)
If they have 8 or 9 units – 5 AP
10 or 11 – 6 AP.

Analysis – "So why would I ever pay more than one, and not cycle through the units"
Two reasons.
One, sooner or later part way through your turn a Routing unit is going to end up in the AC 1 slot because you didn't pay when you tried to rally. For instance you have 4AP at the start of your turn. You must rally the unit in the 3 slot before doing anything else. If you move it you have just 1 AP left. If you don't move it you can activate the 2 units ahead of it, sliding the Routers into AC1. You then pay 2 for the unit in the 2nd slot.
Secondly. You have 2 AP left, and the best unit in the army is now in AC1, but you have no target for it or want to use it next turn. If you pay 1AP, then 1 for the unit that slides into the AC1 slot, this elite unit is now in AC5, meaning you have lost it for a turn. If you pay for the unit in AC2 to move, that elite unit is still a very obvious threat as it is in the AC1 slot – it WILL be able to charge next turn.

UshCha08 Dec 2020 11:53 p.m. PST

This seems fine if you like playing cards and its not too complicated but even just as a sub game inside a game I have too admit it personally I see no attraction. Too be honest in our club it could be a menace on a busy day, players just have an 6ft by 4 ft board so the extra space just for some cards would be quite demanding. I guess at home there may be more space.

Decebalus09 Dec 2020 4:40 a.m. PST

I think you have an interesting system here.

I am not sure, if it was your intend, but i would say, use this system very radical, i.e.
- no rounds, just changing activation for each side. So a player could activate a unit on spot AC1. And next turn he could activate the same unit paying 6 pts. (the unit is now in AC6, the player has 2 leftover pts., gets 4, so can activate it again.) I am not even sure, if you need to limit the pts., that can be taken to the next turn.

@UshCha. I am not sure, that this system is more complicated than many other command systems. You could even have mini-cards and stack them (top card costs 1 pt., the next +1 and so on). That is a space of 41mm*63 mm with a dice on top for the command pts.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 6:50 a.m. PST

I like games that break up the IGOUGO in simple and believable ways. My go to is a 2 Phase system. Each unit rolls a die – odd it is Phase 1, even it is Phase 2. Initiative winner moves/shoots Phase 1 units, followed by opponent's Phase 1 units, repeat with Phase 2. Creates "friction" inside the game simply. It gives the right amount of chaos to the battle.

I'm not sure what this card system is supposed to represent? One thing I hate about Lion Rampant and it's kin is you frequently have units that essentially get left out of the game. Why is a unit easier to activate, just because it's card came up? If you tie activation to leader quality or troop quality that makes sense.

What if one side has just 4 units? Does it matter if they have uneven number of units (3 versus 5)? Does the system work for more than 6 units? What if I have a Horde army of 12 units? Do I get nmore APs?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 7:27 a.m. PST

I guess it would work, but I don't understand the purpose.

Last Hussar09 Dec 2020 11:41 a.m. PST

Crispy- you change the AP 1 for every 2 different from 6 (2nd last Paragraph)

The purpose is to command your troops!

More seriously, the problem with dice command is you can go turns without moving stuff, especially in LR where your go ends once you fail, and the chance of failure in such games is in the 16-35% range. I've lost numerous battles because a sub command moved once in 15 turns.

We tested these on Monday, and we found, much like Sam Mustafa's Momentum system in Blucher, you have to decide where you were going to concentrate your attention (Sam's system is particularly elegant, because you *might* be able to activate everything you want, but do you risk not getting to the moves in later activation phases?). In fact I got caught on the wrong end of a Cannae tactic (in the 14th Century!) because of my focus.

Personal logo nvdoyle Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 5:13 p.m. PST

EC – what distinguishes Phase 1 from Phase 2 units?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Dec 2020 6:37 a.m. PST

@NVDoyle: Nothing. You just roll a die each turn for phases. You can change things up a bit for different scenarios. For example, a sluggard commander might be Phase 1 on a 1 or 2, Phase 2 on a 3-6. Or Seal team 6 might be Phase 1 automatically (you can voluntarily change from Phase 1 back to Phase 2, but rarely the reverse).

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