Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ruleset Design: Turn system (1)

So let's get this rolling shall we! I would like to start with the turn system I've created.

When I first started thinking about creating a game the first thoughts I had went out on how to create a turn system that I would like. I am not a big fan of the ''you go, I go'' way as I find it pretty boring! Basically you or your opponent moves, shoots, fights and whatever else with his entire force and all you do is react when needed and make some dice rolls for various reasons. What I like a bit better already is that you move something in your force and then you opponent does the same. This way you both get to play shortly after another without waiting for the other to finish the turn with his entire force. And it's also a bit more challenging tactically wise. Still I find this a bit predictable and I really want a system where you don't get to choose entirely which unit goes when.
So what I have come up with is that every individual that is part of a force is represented by its own token. (bare in mind that I have a skirmish game in mind. That means you get to play with 6-20 miniatures a side. If you want to use the system in bigger games you could allocate the tokens to units just as well!) To playtest the system I've bought some glass pebbles (which are available in most pet shops and garden supply centers) to use as tokens.
You can write down numbers or symbols on the glass pebbles to represent the various sorts of fighters which can be found in your force. I'm probably going to use classes or levels to represent the fighters and characters so I've simply used Roman numerals to keep it simple.
For example, you have five class 1 fighters in your force, two class 3 and your leader is class 5. You would need to take 5 pebbles with a I, three with a III and one with a V.  Your opponent does the same for his force and of course to keep the forces apart you use different colours for each force! (this also because there will be more different coloured tokens which have other uses. But more on that later!)

As said, once the forces has been put together the players collect all of the tokens necessary for that game and put them together in a bag. These bags are also known as dice bags. (check below for an example of a dice bag which I've found online) Just remember that you need a bag which is large enough to put your hand in with enough room for about 20-30 tokens without you being able to see whick tokens you pick.
To establish which player goes first with which fighter, the players each take turns picking a token out of the bag. The player who's token is taken out of the bag can activate a fighter of the same class which is represented on the token. For example we have five class 1 fighters in our force so it's up to you to decide which one of those five you are going to play with!
Repeat this process untill there are no more tokens in the bag. When the bag is empty and all the fighters have performed then the turn is over and the players put back all the tokens into the back for another round. Reapeat this cycle for whatever number of rounds you have agreed upon or adhere to the number given if you are playing a scenario of some sorts. 
Note that it is possible to have one player's token taken out several times in a row. This makes the game unpredictable and challeninging. You have to choose wisely which fighters you use and more importantly, how you use them.

Edit: I now see I forgot a very important part!!! While the players are taking turns in picking out a token blindly from the bag, it can happen that you pick a token belonging to your opponent! Thus in this case he takes its turn and acts with one of the fighters from the class represented on the token! And vice versa!
Okay this was the first part about the turn system and I hope you like it so far. If you have any questions, ideas, feedback or advice then don't be affraid to share it! Next part will be about the different sorts of tokens available and how they work.


  1. I like the notion of randomizing the sequence of activations. However, the physical act of drawing counters from the bag might slow down the game and disengage your mind from the cinema. Check out Fantacide. They have a similar concept using cards. It might be a faster, less intrusive method.

    1. @Mike "Shades" Schaefer:

      To be honest it doesn't take that much time really. I believe not more than shuffling a deck of cards too. ;)

  2. Such a system is inherently broken. Consider: mark has a level 1, a level 2 and a level 3 character in his force. Jess has a presumed points-equivalent force of 3 level 2s. If jess' token is drawn, she can choose which of her models to activate (gaining a tactical advantage). If mark's token is drawn, he is always railroaded into moving a specific model. Things get even worse when each side has taken a casualty. 1/3 of mark's token draws are now wasted, while Jess can make use of the first 2 tokens drawn each turn (assuming a model can't act twice - it's even unfairer if they can!)

    1. @Ian:

      Good points and I'll take them into consideration. However I dont quite get what you mean with Jess taking advantage of using the first two tokens drawn? Of course when someone dies there will be one less token in the bag as that fighter is removed from play. If one side is more unlucky and loses fighters faster, his force will become weaker. This happens with all (war)games though right?

      You've assumed correctly that each fighter can only get activated once in a turn. (well, theoretically that is! ;) )

    2. Edit: I now see I forgot a very important part!!! While the players are taking turns in picking out a token blindly from the bag, it can happen that you pick a token belonging to your opponent! Thus in this case he takes its turn and acts with one of the fighters from the class represented on the token!

  3. I think having no control at all over which model to activate will mean the game will be a lot less tactical, and will feel too random. Also how will you cope with a large army with a lot of low-point cost models vs an army with a few behemoths?

    1. @Corvus: much the same points as Ian. I also want to stress that it will be important to balance your force! If you take only high level fighters your force will be small and if your opponent has more fighters in his side due to using lower levels it will mean he will get to play a bit more.

      It is a part I haven't touched upon yet too much but I think I will make sure that when creating a force you need to balance it. One or two leader types, maybe a few specials and mostly footsluggers because it is logical (IMHO). I definitly do not want to have something similar to Hero Hammer where it was all uber fighters of doom and some lowly troops only because it was necessary...