Monday, December 10, 2012

Initiative

The fastest ways I've seen to resolve initiative are preplotting (secretly record all unit declarations simultaneously) and the playing card method (each unit acts when its assigned card is drawn).

What I'm going to propose is not as fast.
  1. Before the game, assign point values to all units (say, BV2/100, round up). Multiply all units in the lower valued force by a factor which brings their total even with the higher valued force. Round any unit valued at less than a single point to tenths of a point.
  2. Some units may be required to declare before standard initiative begins. They do so now. If both players have such units, the players alternate as in step 4.
  3. At the beginning of any phase in which initiative matters, each player may designate any enemy units as "exempt" from standard initiative.
  4. Each player secretly records declarations for as many of his own non-exempt units (at least one, assuming he has at least one non-exempt unit) as he wants, and tallies up their point values. Both players reveal and resolve those declarations.
  5. The player whose tally is lowest openly declares actions until his tally exceeds his opponent's. Repeat until all non-exempt units have been declared.
  6. Declare actions for "exempt" units, alternating as in step 4. (Given that players will tend to "exempt" enemies they don't care about, these could be resolved quickly and simultaneously.)

It seems to me that "initiative" rules are where things like leadership, morale, communications and electronic warfare start coming into play.
  • Units noted for inconspicuous communications are exempt from initiative as long as they do not have LOS to an opposing unit.
  • Units noted as capable of coordinating the activity of a company, battalion or regiment increase their initiative value by an amount equal to 10% of the initiatives under that unit's command (up to the force they are capable of coordinating) multiplied by their Tactics skill. 
  • Commanders who do not have to operate a vehicle (ie, are inside a Mobile HQ, Command Console or command bunker) apply their command bonus in any step the player chooses instead of when their unit declares.
  • For each unit capable of eavesdropping on enemy communications, and for each unit capable of forecasting or projecting enemy movements (sometimes including Beagle Active Probes), the opposing player chooses 10% of his own force value to declare during step 1.
  • Jamming negates any abilities (including leadership bonuses) which require communication. For each level of jamming a player has deployed, he may exempt 10% of his own force from standard initiative.
  • Some comm systems (such as on the Mobile HQ) can pierce jamming.
  • Units noted as possessing heavily shielded comms can communicate with units directly under their command even when jammed.
  • When rolling to determine critical hits on the head, a roll of "no effect" indicates that comms have been disabled. (Some comm systems may be even easier to disable.) Units with disabled comms declare in step 1.
  • If a unit's T&T can pick out the most threatening enemy unit, then that unit is exempt from initiative during the Weapons Attack phase. 
  • Units designed to be "intimidating" (Atlas, Berserker) can force an equal value of units closest to it to declare immediately after its own declarations.
  • Conventional armored vehicles reduce their initiative value by 10% for each crewmember less than four manning them. 
Suppose that the number of "victory points" a player receives for destroying enemy units is similar to the "initiative point" calculation in step 0.
  • "Forced withdrawal" rules become unnecessary if the players get full victory points for each unit they destroy, partial (perhaps half) points for any which surrender to them, and none for any which retreat from them. Reduce these values to reflect lower morale.
  • Multiply each victory award by a fraction equal to the fraction of the awarded player's initiative value which still survives. 
  • "Forcing the Initiative": both players add their "victory point" totals to their initiative totals in step 3.
Skill and personality of individual pilots can also be reflected here.
  • For every level of Tactics skill a pilot or crew has, increase it's initiative value by 10%.
  • For every level of Tactics possessed by the overall force commander, the player may choose to "bank" 10% of force's initiative value, applying the amount as a penalty in step 3, and on a later turn applying it as a bonus (again in step 3). 
  • When a unit is destroyed, its immediate commander saves 20% of the destroyed unit's initiative value for each level of Leadership skill the commander has.
  • Reckless Pilot: resolve (as well as declare) actions in step 1 for all phases.
  • Cautious Pilot: resolve (as well as declare) actions in step 5 for all phases.
  • Taunt skill: if this unit makes no other communications (spotting, jamming, leadership bonuses, etc.) this turn, it may force any single enemy unit to declare immediately. 
  • Gray Noton is exempt from standard initiative. Instead, he designates any single enemy unit before the match, and makes his declarations for each phase immediately after the designated unit does. 
  • Avenging Pilot: when a friendly unit is destroyed, and this pilot destroys the opposing unit that did it, the player gains victory points equal to the friendly unit's initiative value.

Finally, the real point of all this spitballing:

I wonder if it's possible to make things like morale, cohesion, command integrity, communications, sighting, surveillance, detection & identification the primary elements in a tactical skirmish game, and to abbreviate fire and maneuver into supporting details?

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