Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turn order and Initiative

There’s three main ways of organising how players take turns in a campaign ranging from the very simple simultaneous method, to the ordered method or the more complicated initiative method. Much like campaigns themselves, the simpler it is, the easier it is for the players to use but the less it offers in campaign strategy. There’s two main things to consider when deciding how the campaign turn will be ordered, the first is the order that the players will take their turns and the second is the order that their individual armies will move and battle.

The simplest way for the players to move their forces is simultaneously. Every player writes down the orders for each of their armies on a piece of paper or order sheet and then they’re all shown at the same time. Players then follow the various orders, moving armies, going into battle or performing other actions. The benefit of this method is that no player gets an advantage by moving first before another players has had chance to do something. It’s also very easy to run as all it requires is for the players to write their orders. The downside is that it can lead to situations where one army is constantly chasing another with never been able to seize the initiative and catch them. You could always add a rule that where an army is moving into an area at the same time as another is moving out, you roll to see if the escaping army manages to break off and escape or is caught and brought to battle which solves the constantly chasing problem that can occur with the simultaneous method.

The next method is ordered, where the order players take their turns is decided at the start of the campaign. Players can then either write their orders as normal or just decide on the fly what their armies will do that turn. This method can be simpler on the paperwork side but can lead to situations where one player is always last to move and often gets pinned in battles before they have chance to do anything.

The third method is initiative based, where the order players take their turns in that particular campaign turn is decided by random at the start of the campaign turn. This can be done by a simple roll off or by one person picking players tokens out of a cup. Although it requires a little bit more effort to do, it does allow players to seize the initiative which is far more realistic. The randomness of it means that one player is never always disadvantaged by going last, well as long as the dice gods don’t turn their back on them.

The other thing that you need to consider is how the individual armies making up a players force take their turns. This isn’t an issue with the simultaneous turn method as all the armies move at the same time but with the ordered and initiative methods, a little more planning is needed. With these methods, you need to decide whether all the armies in a players force move at the same time or whether the players take turns to move their armies individually. Although moving all the armies at the same time seems the simplest, it can lead to a situation where one player is able to deploy multiple armies against one single enemy army to overwhelm it. Whereas moving them individually if you’re not using orders can lead to a tit for tat situation, it can also give quite an advantage to a player who has more armies than another player as they get ‘extra’ turns.

It’s down to you what method you use, but we’d recommend using the initiative method in combination with orders written in advance of the initiative being decided along with moving all the armies in a players force at the same time. This method keeps the admin to a relative minimum whilst giving players a more realistic campaign phase with their plans to seize a vital objective or escape before becoming overwhelmed dependant on whether they gain the initiative much like real life commanders.

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