Friday, December 28, 2012

Campaign System December Updates - Part 1

Hey folks,

as I´ve promised on christmas, I´ve started to condense my thoughts on the new mechanics and (potential) changes to our campaign system into a word document. After hitting page 6, I decided that I´d split the promised blog-entry into at least two parts (maybe three) in order not to kill you with a wall of text.

To recapitulate how the campaign system works in general, I recommend a short study of the posts Operation Firefly - The Campaign continues which features a small executive summary of the mechanics of the campaign system. The second post is for those who are really interested in more details & my thoughts about balancing some aspects, but not required to understand this post. Read here about: The Delicacies of Balancing

So, we´re starting today with the first bit - the light stuff. Then you´ll get some time to recuperate before we move on to the truly awesome stuff ;)

During the last scenarios and the campaign turns we played through, some points have come up that need some further work on. I built the initial version of the Campaign system on the most basic mechanisms that I could come up with. The trick with designing a game is not overloading it with useless mechanisms, but instead abstracting it as much as possible. As much as possible means that everything that does not add to the game experience and the intended aim (a believable representation of guerilla warfare in our case) should be thrown overboard - but without sacrificing the aim for the sake of simplicity.
As all my games suffered from overcomplexity in the past, I´ve tried to restrain myself and condense this system to its basic skeleton from the start. And while the core works relatively well, the playtest has shown some shortcomings that I´m trying to fix with some additions and tweaks to the system. Some added flesh to the slightly corrected skeleton ;)

The first change we´ll make is concerned with bookkeeping. Although I´ve tried to design the system with the most basic mechanisms I could come up with, the unit status table has suffered from my habit of making things too complex:

I seriously considered tracking all that for >20 units?!
Tracking the Status of every soldier in the team has proven to be cumbersome and hard with more than a few Squads on the board. We will keep TQ, Morale & Name (maybe also Experience) for information, but the detailed bookkeeping on unit status will have to go!

Instead, a more abstract view on the subject will replace the detailed roster:
KIAs and Seriously wounded contribute to scenario VP in most cases anyway, which is incentive enough for the guerillas to kill coalition units in order to build up more strength on the campaign map. 
The new interpretation is that WIA and KIA units are replaced automatically within the time that is covered by a campaign turn. This means they´ll probably be full-strength on the next mission anyway. The concept of “Combat Fatigue” will be adapted to represent the strain on the unit that results from taking casualties and the potential difficulties that could arise when resupplying many units with casualties.

So far, we´ve used the concept of combat fatigue in the following way:
“When suffering heavy losses, troops might be affected by a state of shock that limits their combat abilities. For every KIA or POW in a Squad, roll 1 TQ-die. If the unit passes all checks, they suffer no fatigue. If one of the checks fails, they are subject to Combat Fatigue as per FoF-Rulebook.”
(Excerpt from the campaign rules document)

This concept will be modified and expanded to cover the effects that losing men has on your units. Every KIA, POW or serious wound causes a TQ-roll. A fail indicates that the unit will become “depleted”, e.g. suffers from combat fatigue and becomes less efficient in combat. We still have to experiment with the effects that will be applied to these units. That could range from using only FoF-rulebook combat fatigue, harder modifiers, like the chance to have understrength-squads in combat, or  even complete loss of combat readiness. We need to clarify what will happen when they are engaged despite being depleted. 

To recover from depletion, the units will have to spend an entire turn away from the combat zone to replenish (two if special forces). So, we get rid of useless bookkeeping and replace it by a mechanic that was already implemented anyway and smoothens the game with easier handling of things.

 The second aspect of todays entry is supply. We´ll have to test that in a few turns. So far, there are different options on the shelf how to resolve things (both are similar in nature but somewhat different in their details). So this part will be more raw then the above section.
The roads (thick lines) are the main supply routes in the map and can be disrupted if not properly guarded. We´re going to experiment with the following mechanic: Whenever a road is blocked by a guerilla cell, the insurgent player rolls XD6, with X being the sum of the cell value in the area. 

Now, the two potential versions:
-Version 1: For every 6, the supply level of the regular force is decreased by 1 level for the turn. It goes up automatically on the next turn if not disrupted again. (Easy & simple version)

-Version 2: The insurgent rolls XD6 vs. the convoi protection dice available to the regular player. Just like an FP-attack, the dice are paired off. If the Insurgent has more successes than the regular player, his guerillas succeed in disrupting supply for this turn. The US player has to invest in supply-protection to prevent disruption (more complex variant, more FoF-esque, but gives further choices to the regular player between investing precious COIN vs. using troops to keep the supply routes clear)
 Right now, I like the second version better. This is why I´ll end this entry with an example for Version 2: 
Example: Two guerilla cells (value: 1 each) are blocking the road to El Qualeed. They roll 2D6 for supply disruption scoring (6,6). The US convoi protection level is default (1D8). The US player rolls his D8 and scores a 7, blocking one of the sixes, leaving one success. The supply-level decreases to “Normal”, as the insurgents succeed in blowing up several trucks with IEDs.

What do you think? Version 1 or Version 2?  Please leave some comments in the discussion section. 
If you have any question, I´ll try to answer those as well ;)

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