Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wargame Wednesdays - Multi-Player Game Ordering

One of the things that is hard to deal with, in multiplayer games (especially large participation-style Miniatures games) is the ordering of player actions during a turn.

The very fun, multiplayer western gunfight rules("The Rules with No Name") from Foundry miniatures (at least the old free version, that I still use) has the concept of an action card for each character in the scenario, and a referee flips through those cards, one at a time, to determine order of actions.  This is not uncommon for a lot of small scale skirmish games.  One of the things that is good, is that the ordering within a turn is unknown to the players.  One of the bad things is that the players have no control over the ordering within the turn.  One of the nice things that "The Rules with No Name" provides is a couple of wild cards in the game, that can be collected, and used for out of sequence actions.

This system (flip a card, that player gets an action) is OKAY.  It sometimes bogs down, as players not doing anything tend to sit around for a while, waiting for their action to come up.  I would like to try a system that allows some player interaction, without detracting from the main game.  It will involve cards (normal playing cards are fine, but having two matched decks is better), and 2 six sided dice.

The idea is to assign each player (up to four) each a suite of cards.  Then assemble a small deck of ten cards for them, it should include (for their suite, say Clubs) two each of the cards numbered 5,6,7,8 and 9.  Shuffle those together, and each player draws two, forming their own private starting hand (just two cards).  All of the rest of the cards (eight for each player) are all shuffled together and put into an initiative deck.  Each player has one marker, used to mark the unit that acted last.  This can be a ring, dice, or some identifiable piece of modeled terrain (a curious stone, for instance), so it looks good on the table, but is still easy to spot.

Okay, so play starts by flipping the top card.  Whomever owns the suite of the flipped card has a decision to make.  They can use the card to activate one of their units, or they can take the card into their hand.

If they use the card to activate one of their units, they get to act (once) with one of their units.  Whatever the rules allow as a single action (move, shoot, move & shoot, recover, reload, etc. - each ruleset will be different, but I am currently working on a set of horse and musket era skirmish rules that will work for Swashbucklers, Pirates, Mountain Men, Colonials & Indians, etc.), that unit may perform.  It then gets the "last moved" marker placed on it.  When a card is chosen to act on in this way, the unit activated cannot be the one that currently has the "last moved" marker on it - thus preventing a unit from acting twice in a row.

Once that action is completed, the player may roll 2d6 against the card, if they roll less than, or equal to, the number on the card - then they get to do a follow-on action (with a different unit - again, follow the rule for the "last moved" piece).   The same options are available during a follow-on action, as during the initial action for the card.  Once that action is finished, roll again (with a minus 1, although this is cumulative, so next time it will be -2, then -3, etc).  The player could keep acting, and can even use the same unit more than once, as long as it is not consecutively, as long as they keep making their dice roll.

Now, at any time, another player may play a card from in their hand.  It cannot be done after an action as started, or after a dice roll has successfully been made for a follow-on action, but it can be played at any other time.  In order to avoid confusion and mistake, it is polite for the acting player to see if someone wants to play a card before they take an action, or roll to take a follow-on action.

Now, another player can play a card to interrupt.  They have to play a card out of their hand.  Once they do, the interrupting player now has to roll against their own card.  If successful, the place the original card in the discard pile, and the owning player now begins an action with one of their units.  Follow-on actions can follow the first.  This player can now be interrupted by another player (or the original) with one of their own cards.

If the interrupting player fails their dice roll to interrupt, then they lose their card (to the discard pile), and it is up to the original player to do their action (although multiple people can attempt to interrupt).  In the case of a failure, then the original actor has the opportunity to do their next action (whether initial, or follow-on) with the unit that is still marked with the "last moved" marker - so in the case of a failed attempt at an interrupt, the last unit that moved, can be the next unit that moves.

If the interrupt is successful, then the interrupted player loses the card they were playing off of (to the discount pile) and they are finished.  They could play another interrupt card against the player that just interrupted them.  And so on.

I will have to try this out in a game.  Ideally it should be a game where the players get a handful or more of units or characters.

I am looking forward to it, and will report back with results.
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