I´m uing todays blogpost to roll out some more ideas how to tweak some mechanisms in Force on Force. Right now, I´ve coined this little initiative "FIMP" as in "Force on Force IMprovement Project" - I don´t know how long I´ll stick to it. Probably once you don´t recognize original FoF in it anymore ;) I´m still using it as a starting point to unfold my ideas.
Todays Mechanism is:
I´ve never quite liked how Initiative was handled. It doesn´t switch that often in normal FoF, it´s very easy to retain initiative due to the bonus die and it is largely influenced by the number of teams, not the Flexibility of Command or the Training and Proficiency of NCOs.
Second Mechanism that is discussed in line with Initiative is:
Command & Control
The Activation and Reactions of Units are at the core here. Basic FoF assumes you can control every unit at once, except Irregulars who suffer certain limitations. But this is actually not too bad. What I really didn´t like was how unit organisation didn´t play any role above the fireteam level. When playing a platoon, I always felt like I was controlling 6 Fireteams, NOT like I was controlling 3 Squads. There is no incentive to keep squads together, NCOs don´t play any part in the rules if you´re not using the very very complicated advanced rules section. They´re basically just one more infantryman who adds Firepower and Defense. FoF totally ignores how pivotal Squadleaders and even Platoon-Lead are - even in times of modern radio communication and cross-training along the Chain of Command.
What I did like and what definitely has to be retained, is the tremendous flexibility of Force on Force. I love that I can play anything from a single Squad to a Platoon plus Support without running into limitations of a game mechanism (game size is still limited as reaction chains get terribly complicated). This is what I definitely want to retain!
So, things I´ve changed to consider the above points:
I´m decoupling Initiative and Number of Units. Initiative should not be generated by how many teams you´ve hanging aroung. First, that´s bad because it totally ignores the size of the teams. Yes, I can imagine that this was originally designed as a drawback to mobbing up huge troops and getting an advantage in FP & Defense over smaller enemy teams. As this aspect has been dealt with in my earlier changes, I see no reason to retain that. Why should many small teams have more flexibility in command than larger units? The ability of your officiers does not magically improve if he has to order double the elements around. Maybe your enemy is more confused by the multitude of elements, but that´s all.
Based on this thinking, I´m tying Initiative to Officers instead of Teams. Every Squadleader or above generates a set of Initiative dice that go into a common pool. I´m thinking about 2-3 dice per Leader. These dice can either be used to un-pin units (e.g. remove one marker at a time from a unit), as pin-markers are now spilling over to the next round (see last post in the Houserule section) OR they can be rolled for Initiative as usual.
The resulting successes are compared to the enemies successes, as usual, to determine who´s got initiative. Now, the catch is: These successes are now used to activate units, like an activation pool. Units can be activated by their corresponding officer, but only if he has enough dice left. (if he spent 1 to unpin a unit, he can use only one more to activate a unit under his command if the threshold is 2 dice per leader)
Spend Initiative dice to:
- Put a Team on Overwatch
- Activate a unit (move, move/shoot or close assault) as the initiative player
- React with a unit if you´re the Non-Initiative player
- Conduct end-of-turn actiation as non-initiative player
Let me illustrate the mechanism:
Taliban units have ambushed a US Army patrol (1 Squad). The Taliban have 2 Infantry teams (2 AK +1 Leader and 3 AK + 1 Leader) at their disposal and a PKM Team (PKM+Assistant) as support element. The PKM has been suppressed during the last turn.
During the initiative phase, the Taliban generate 4 Initiative dice (2 per leader). They choose to spend one to un-suppress the PKM and recude their status to "pinned", so they can keep firing during the next turn. They now have 3 Initiative dice left to roll.
The US Squad leader generates 2 dice (D8!) and has no pinned or suppressed troops, so he is free to roll both for Initiative. Taliban Roll a 2,5,5 and achieve two successes. The US Player rolls a 4 and a 6 and, having had Initiative last turn, retains it.
He spends 1 Initiative to put his team in cover on Overwatch and activates the second team to move forward towards the flank of the PKM-Team. The Taliban decide to spend their 2 available Initiative dice on the PKM team and the 3-man-group to interrupt the advancing US Team.
The fight is on!
Now, of course a proper chain of command is required if not every officer should be allowed to commmand very unit. For Regulars, this is quite easy as it´s often already supplied with the scenarios. For Irregulars, you´d have to decided if a leader can only command his cell, or which units are under his command.
For testing purposes, I´ll use a command radius of 12" for commanding without penalty. You can always command units over radio above that distance, but this will cost you 2 instead of 1 Initiative dice for establishing proper comms, reporting the situation and keeping things in line and managing units that are dispersed too much.
Make sure the threshold of command initiative of individual leaders are not exceeded (i.e. you may NOT spent 3 initiative dice through 1 leader on his assorted units, even if there´s dice left in the pool! You´ll have to spend elsewhere or discard the dice)
Another open question is how to handle Irregular units that usually require a test to activate. This might actually not be much of a problem - leaderless irregular units could take an order from another leader, forcing a check if they respect his authority and follow his commands. He´s not their boss after all, but they might just do what he says.
As always, this will be subject to more testing and tweaking!
Until next time!