Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Skirmish - What's Out

So now that you’ve seen what’s in the game, what about what’s out? 
As usual, we’re gonna go right back to the start before we answer that question.  First we need to talk about what exactly we’re going here.  Every miniature war game rule set abstracts a whole host of factors in every rule it makes. Everything that happens on the table is an abstraction.  No battlefield is a plain as flat as a tabletop – we abstract the rills and gullies and rocks away.  Fighting effectiveness and morale is a function of an infinite number of factors (how cold it is, the reputation of the enemy unit across the ridge, whether Gunny Highway had a good bowel movement that morning, if PFC Johnson got shot yesterday on patrol) and we’re gonna abstract it all away into one mechanic.
So we’re gonna keep in mind a commitment to abstracting as much as possible while still maintaining the fundamentals of a miniature wargame.  Just remember that speed and fun are the key as we cheerfully toss certain conventions right out the window.

Command and Control

These dudes are your dudes to push around as you see fit.  You’re here to fight the enemy and not the rules.  You’ve only got a handful of them, so you decide how they act.  The good guys have satellites and comm-links while the aliens have telepathy or hive-minds or whatever other justification will help you sleep at night.

Morale

Your figures don’t have morale.  They can’t get scared.  They are bits of metal.  You can worry about them, and you might want to have them run away to stay safe, but they won’t run away.  They might get hurt bad enough in a fight to play dead or run off; either way, they are dead to you, so just write them off and move on with things.

Record Keeping

Look, if the figure is on the table then it’s doing some good.  If it’s not doing anyone any good, get it off the table.  Once a figure can no longer contribute, he needs to at least be knocked over so everyone knows that figure is effectively out as a fighting force.  Unless the specific scenario calls for it, there isn’t enough time to pull him out or patch him up.

Markers, Chits, and Other Distractions

A lot of games use on-table chits, markers, or dice to designate a figure’s status.  Those things (aside from exceptionally clever highly detailed markers) always clutter up the table with visually unappealing additions.  Suddenly, the neat diorama is marred by a big purple cube next to the guy who is broken or fleeing.  Visual appeal is half the hobby, we’re not gonna sully this table with any of that nonsense.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy reading the "designer's notes" the most in the rulebooks that include them, so I was glad to see this post.

    The amount of control the gamer has over their models through command and morale rules is certainly a point that can create a lot of frustration. My own views have slid from one extreme to the other on the issue - currently I just try to embrace whatever approach the designer took in the system I happen to be playing at the moment.

    And I heartily agree with your comment on markers. That's one of the reasons I've drifted away from Warmachine fairly quickly despite a great deal of initial enthusiasm for the game. If markers must be used, it would be nice to see some attractive 3D markers.

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