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Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

Greetings Fellow Designers,

For a long time, one of the 4M's of wargame design has been morale. Morale was basically the point at which troops would stop reliably following your orders and start doing something else entirely, perhaps even running away. Modern games, and skirmish games seem less inclined to deal with morale in favor of player-control OR having it built into a Unit's "wounds" before they disappear from the table.

I tend to like managing morale as a form of friction and another decision point BUT also understand that changes with taste. So let's have a free ranging discussion about Morale systems you have liked, systems you have hated, and if Morale should even be a component of "modern" wargames?

Discuss.....

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




Morale always was one of my least favourite M.
Realism is most oftenly the worst way to design a game and morale is no exception imao. I hated it back in 40k and don't think that it got much better with the 8th. I can remember so many games in 7th where I had just too many Boyz that won't stop running unless I roll a double one. So many models moved in vain, so many models that do nothing but need my attention anyway. And then there were all those fearless models, that just ignored that gakky mechanic. Now you don't have to move models that won't do anything anyways... but feels kinda lame.

I think a better way to display morale are crowd control effects... ie. a single forced movement that is caused by certain models with a specific special rule. So no overall basic mechanic, "just" a special rule that is displayed on models where it is relevant.

And it's (as always) a matter of scale. I think in a skirmisher a morale basic mechanic is completely out of place. It always hurts if a single dice roll effectively kills a model. Much worse it cannot be compensated through good gameplay skills and that's a bummer from my POV.

Imao that's the reason why you see morale basic mechanics less and less often in newer games. It's just a thing of the past that is necroed by older games again and again.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/29 22:57:50


 
   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

Something that occurred to me is that there should maybe be more than one “type” of morale.

Courage and discipline spring to mind. If a morale challenge is passed, the unit acts as normal. If a courage check is failed, the unit runs away. If a discipline check is failed, the unit is “pinned”. There could be some condition like “restraint” that if failed would cause a unit to surge forwards.

Some marines, like Blood Angels, might have lots of courage, solid discipline, but poor restraint, wanting to charge the enemy.

Tau might have low courage, high discipline, and good restraint.

It’s something I’ve kicked around in my head a few times.
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






I've approached it in my game as being a fight or flight mechanic, were you have 2 statistics on a test to roll between. I use a 2D6, and you have to roll over flight and under fight to control your unit completely. if you roll below flight, you can't attack, you can only use move and hide actions. If you roll over fight, then you can only move if you end up closer to the enemy, and cannot hide.

I prefer limiting mechanics than overruling ones - the old 40k was terrible when you could do nothing but slowly run off the board. 7th was better as you could at least make snapshots. 8th is too "streamlined" for me, and I don't like it.

I think morale in skirmishers would represent hesitation rather than outright panic. It could easily be reflected by reducing the actions the unit can perform, EG if a unit typically has 3AP, but fails morale by 2, they lose 2AP, meaning they can only perform 1 action. I also think that pinning and morale should be separate - you would hide from a shooter, but you would run from a band of charging savages. to do the opposite in either situation would be a bad move.

This can easily be represented by falling back, if used, always being towards cover if you're being shot, and away from the enemy if you're being charged. failing morale due to shooting when you're in cover should simply make you hide from the bullets.


With the fight or flight mechanic, you would have your level of control, and the 2 responses. so to compare blood angels and tau, as greatbigtree did:

bloodangels would have flight 3 and fight 9. this means they would flee on a roll of 2 or 3 on 2D6, and would charge into the fight on a 9, 10, 11 or 12.

tau, being more disciplined but less fighty, would have flight 4 and fight 12. meaning on a 2, 3 or 4 they flee, and on a 12 they fight. they have more chance of staying in control than the blood angels.

Gretchin, being cowardly folk, would have flight 8 and fight 12, so if they take a morale check, they flee on a 2 - 8 and fight on a 12. they are not likely to pass!

Orks in 8th, W/D/L
2/0/1 
   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka






Lord Royal wrote:
Morale always was one of my least favourite M.
Realism is most oftenly the worst way to design a game and morale is no exception imao.
...
Imao that's the reason why you see morale basic mechanics less and less often in newer games. It's just a thing of the past that is necroed by older games again and again.


Well, if you want your game to feel anything like "realistic" combat, then it's necessary. The binary you're OK/you've fled the battlefield mechanic of 40k and AoS is ... OK but a little unsatisfying for me. I'd prefer something like what Easy E describes - it's about getting your troops to do what you want as their CO, not what they want to do*. So a unit that's under heavy fire might take cover and refuse to move. A unit that's taken casualties might start to retreat, or at best hold position and attempt to treat casualties. Or a partiocularly gung-ho unit might assault an enemy position when you'd rather they didn't. As long as these things aren't permanent or can be mitigated (by sending an NCO over to shout at them, for example) then it's fine, and to my mind, more interesting. Warmachine, for example, toned down then abandoned its morale rules as it released new editions, which is one reason why I dislike its current state; it's not about commanding a platoon of soldiers and warjacks any more, it's just a game of moving playing pieces about.

* and depending on the game, this might be the default state - Warmaster's command rolls, for example (re-implemented in a way by the Orders system in Adeptus Titanicus), or prior editions of 40k where units needed to make a Ld test to fire at anything other than the closest target.
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




As I said: It's all about scale. I can't imagine an engaging morale mechanic for a skirmisher.

And aswell: Realism is the worst Game Designer ever. Don't design your game on realism. It's always a bad choice. Believe me... it's my job.

It's a different thing though if you say: My theme is horrifying so I need some mechanic to represent that. But it should be influencable.
Means: You should be able to decide whether you should take a risk of breaking morale or not. So morale becomes a mirror for how you treat your troops. If you treat them bad, they're more likely to fail a check and so on...

But besides 40k I only played skirmisher systems... I can't the pain (and don't have the time) anymore to paint 100+ models.
So when I hear morale I have to think of "crouching painfully slow over the battlefield"...
And I generally hate rolling 50+ times per round.

This message was edited 7 times. Last update was at 2019/04/30 10:11:35


 
   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka






Lord Royal wrote:
And aswell: Realism is the worst Game Designer ever. Don't design your game on realism. It's always a bad choice. Believe me... it's my job.


So all those historical wargames publishers; Ambush Alley Games, Too Fat Lardies, Bolt Action, Battlefront, etc, should give up and get real jobs? The entire point of a historical wargame is to simulate some aspect of real warfare, after all. Morale might be different for a skirmish game rather than a massed-battle game, but I don't think it's irrelevant. If one model is coming under heavy fire from a machinegun across the battlefield, don't you think that should have some effect on what that model can do?
   
Made in us
Dominating Dominatrix






Bolt action/Beyond the Gates of Antares pin system is a decent approximation for morale and has interesting effects.

It really does 3 things. 1) every pin on a unit is a penalty to hit rolls. 2) when you activate a unit with pins you roll leadership to see if they will follow orders or just bunker down. 3) If pins exceed leadership the unit breaks and runs.

(pins can be removed by issuing regroup orders and stuff)

Now I like the last part the least because it's automatic. But doing checks to get units to act is neat. Placing the tactical choice in the players hand to risk it for the biscuit and roll the dice to attack or play it safe and try to regroup is the very definition of good game play. A series of interesting choices.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander




Halifax

I really like how the blast markers in Epic Armageddon work, allowing units to affect each other beyond removing models from the game.
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Dorset, England

Well I'm no game designer, but I do play computer games which have some cool treatment of morale...

I liked in Dynasty Tactics 2 how morale was effectively turn order, so the unit with highest morale gores first, then the 2nd highest and so on.
This made thematic sense in that a unit that is taking a drubbing will find it harder to pull the men back together to take action.

I also like the system in Field of Glory II in which morale is a stepped condition, with units going from normal --> disorganised --> fragmented --> routing. The fighting ability of units and their movement speed is reduced at each step.
This means you interact with morale much more during the game than just "did my warriors run or not".
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




 AndrewGPaul wrote:
Lord Royal wrote:
And aswell: Realism is the worst Game Designer ever. Don't design your game on realism. It's always a bad choice. Believe me... it's my job.


So all those historical wargames publishers; Ambush Alley Games, Too Fat Lardies, Bolt Action, Battlefront, etc, should give up and get real jobs? The entire point of a historical wargame is to simulate some aspect of real warfare, after all. Morale might be different for a skirmish game rather than a massed-battle game, but I don't think it's irrelevant. If one model is coming under heavy fire from a machinegun across the battlefield, don't you think that should have some effect on what that model can do?


Sorry, I should clarify the difference between realism and theme mechanics:
Designing a mechanic just to have more realism is often a bad decision because you tend to design the most realistic mechanic possible, but that's often the least practicable.
A theme mechanic on the other hand is a question about how you transport the illusion of realism through the most practicable mechanic. The playability should always stand above realism. That's the thing I meant.

You're right, in skirmish games it's not irrelevant but should be treated as an unit ability rather an overall basic rule. Because you can have much more detail in a skirmish game in comparison to a larger wargame, so you could have different kinds of morale (fear, panic, surpression fire) etc. that are bound to particular weapons and unit types. That's why I like morale as a kind of crowd control more than a basic mechanic. Again, I'm talking about skirmishers not wargames.
Another example why I think morale is better with special rules: Some factions have a military hirarchy. Those should of course have a mechanic that represents the command chain. But there are also factions that don't have that hirarchy, where every model is a individual survivalist that doesn't need someone who shouts at him via intercom. Another one: A single soldier with a lasgun shouldn't have the ability to deliver supression fire, while a whole platoon should certainly have it. So doin it AoS-like a soldier has a special rule: if the unit contains 10+ models the unit gains Surpression Fire.

In my system I have an overall value for non-combat actions called Survival and there are several rolls that refer to that roll. To stay with the topic that is for example Survival(Willpower) that is rolled for certain morale-based effects (most often a model-/unit-ability). That effect determines what happens if you pass/fail the test. That way the system is expandable as I "only" need to add special unit effects and don't have to touch the basic rules. Another bonus: Through that the basic rules stay sharp and short, while the whole system is complex af.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/30 16:47:51


 
   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander




Halifax

 Kroem wrote:
Well I'm no game designer, but I do play computer games which have some cool treatment of morale...

I liked in Dynasty Tactics 2 how morale was effectively turn order, so the unit with highest morale gores first, then the 2nd highest and so on.
This made thematic sense in that a unit that is taking a drubbing will find it harder to pull the men back together to take action.

I also like the system in Field of Glory II in which morale is a stepped condition, with units going from normal --> disorganised --> fragmented --> routing. The fighting ability of units and their movement speed is reduced at each step.
This means you interact with morale much more during the game than just "did my warriors run or not".

Those are both great ideas I hadn't heard of before (I don't really play many computer games), so thanks for mentioning!
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






I really like the idea of morale being entwined with the activation order! it's a streamlined way of affecting the units without involving tests and affects to track.

Orks in 8th, W/D/L
2/0/1 
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




That sounds interesting. How does it work exactly?
   
Made in us
Dominating Dominatrix






So in bolt action you get shot at. If there are any successful hits you get a "pin marker". (in my bolt hammer games I play I use these.... https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pyrkol-Blast-Markers-Marker-set-for-6mm-10mm-15mm-Epic-40k-Dropzone-Commander/112922600720?hash=item1a4ab62510:g:iMoAAOxyCTtTc9kj with single blasts being 1 pin and 3 blasts being 3 pins)

If the unit you activate has no pin markers it just does what you tell it to.

If the unit has any pin markers you make a leadership test with a -/+1 penalty for each pin on it. If it fails instead of doing anything you wanted it to do it takes cover. (think of it like in 7th where you could have your guys hit the dirt).

You can issue an order to a unit to "regroup" which removes 1d6 pin markers or some such but takes up the units entire turn.

If Pins ever exceed leadership the unit breaks and runs away.

You can adjust that easily enough. Like... you only get a pin with a successful wound roll since 40k people are insane and will march through hails of bullets with only near damage causing them to flinch. Or they only break and run if pins equals double leadership (same reasoning as above).

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/02 01:43:08



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

 Easy E wrote:
if Morale should even be a component of "modern" wargames?


Morale is an obsolete mechanic that doesn't belong in ANY wargame.

It's an un-fun mechanic that wastes time and rulespace for no real benefit on the tabletop.

Just count "broken" as "dead" and move on. That's faster, and more consistent.




Automatically Appended Next Post:
 AndrewGPaul wrote:
Lord Royal wrote:
Realism is the worst Game Designer ever. Don't design your game on realism. It's always a bad choice. Believe me... it's my job.


So all those historical wargames publishers; Ambush Alley Games, Too Fat Lardies, Bolt Action, Battlefront, etc, should give up and get real jobs?


None of those games are realistic in any way, shape or form.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/02 06:23:38


   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




 JohnHwangDD wrote:
 Easy E wrote:
if Morale should even be a component of "modern" wargames?


Morale is an obsolete mechanic that doesn't belong in ANY wargame.

It's an un-fun mechanic that wastes time and rulespace for no real benefit on the tabletop.

Just count "broken" as "dead" and move on. That's faster, and more consistent.


2nd that.
Thing is that many TTP are stuck in the 80s/90s. There was no real evolution for decades at least with the bigger games... maybe it's like the shark or the crocodile (just perfect) but I think it's more like the dodo.
It's very rare that a game comes with a real USP (UniqueSellingPoint) that is not bound to their setting or miniatures. I think it's because of their unforgiving community that doesn't know better and thinks that they need it.
I often read "A wargame needs..." followed by a long list of game features. But the real thing is: There are no rules for what a wargame needs to be fun. Fun is not a science or a set of design principles. If you say "but I want realism"... maybe you don't know what a great game can feel like (that's even a common problem... I even know some Game Designers that don't recognize cool game controls or fun... or at least WHY those were cool or fun... and I DON'T talk about my games).
In wargames that is even more common because there are many players that stick to one system, even if they switch to another game by another company, they stay with things they know already... but it's totally understandable: The hobby is crazy expensive, so you stick with things that you know. It's a bit like Transformers (sorry, for the comparison), noone entirely likes it, but at least you know what you get for your hard earned bucks.
To make that clear: I don't want to offend someone. I don't call anyone stupid. It's just an analysis from a design POV.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/05/02 09:03:48


 
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Dorset, England

I think that as well as fun, the goal of a wargame is to pose similar challenges and prioritisation needs to the player that a commander of the period would have had to grapple with.

If morale was a very important factor in warfare of the period, then we can't just arbitrarily remove it.
In Death in the Dark Continent for example, morale is very important due to the role it played in late 18th and early 19th century African warfare.
   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander




Halifax

I think it depends on whether you want your game to be a simulationist wargame, or a fun game. Not to say simulationist wargames aren't fun, but that morale as a bad thing is something that should be in them and accepting that is part of the buy-in to play. In fun games where it's more about a game than a simulation then it's a good idea to figure out what's fun for players to do and then decorate some part of it with the label 'morale.'

Like I really like that idea of morale affecting the order in which units are activated, kind of like how in Warhammer 40k charging units are activated first in the Fight phase, then stuff already in combat starting with the player whose turn it is, with some other stuff tossed in like psychic powers that make a unit fight last or fight first or whatever. The order in which stuff activates is very much a part of the strategic level of the game and it's both neat to be able to play with that, and lines up with the notion of morale well enough.
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




 Kroem wrote:
I think that as well as fun, the goal of a wargame is to pose similar challenges and prioritisation needs to the player that a commander of the period would have had to grapple with.

If morale was a very important factor in warfare of the period, then we can't just arbitrarily remove it.
In Death in the Dark Continent for example, morale is very important due to the role it played in late 18th and early 19th century African warfare.


That is true, but I don't mean to kill morale completely but to not have another randomizing layer or a factor you can't control but to have to keep in mind.

It is the question whether to have contradicting mechanics or not. Randomizers are a good thing but if you have too many of them your player skill is less and less important.

But if your setting is built around the importance of a command chain and morale, go ahead but keep in mind, that there is no Tabletop Wargame that cannot be considered as bloated in some way. So imao a modern morale mechanic shouldn't add more tokens or more dice to the table.

imao there are two options how to treat morale:
1) as a core mechanic (but than the whole system should be built around it)
2) as an ability, as part of the special rules

Each mechanic in a system should be a part of something bigger not an added tumor that might contradict with the rest of the organism.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/05/02 13:37:31


 
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

***Note when I say "modern" wargame, i mean a game made in the present time. Not as a genre.***

I think people just have a really out-dated idea of what "Morale" means. They only think about the old Fallback Mechanics from 40K 3rd edition and fail to think outside the box.

Warfare between humans means people are going to get pinned, run away, freeze up, get suppressed, spray bullets randomly, etc.

I actually see Morale and C&C as two different elements of a game.

-C&C is how your units react to and carry out your orders
-Morale is how your units react to actions from the enemy

Most games treat C&C as a given and your soldiers always do exactly what you tell them. The few that don't typically tie it into some sort of Activation mechanic. I know that is not to every designers taste.

Morale is treated even worse, with units simply dissolving after taking ridiculous levels of casualties. There is no stepped level of reduction or ability as wear and tear goes on. Basically, there are limited consequences for your choices and many actions are equal. You kill the enemy or you don't. You die or you don't. Red beats blue.

Without Morale, designers are depriving themselves of a potential opportunity for depth. I am under the assumption that "fun" games require choices and consequences. Managing Morale and C&C at its best adds more choice and consequence. Sadly, most system just make these choices very clunky or too obvious.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/02 13:39:03


Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




Can you name some games with modern approaches?

I only know those outdated crappy treatments of morale as a core mechanic.

Or did you want to point out that it's about time to design a cool morale mechanic? In that case I strongly agree.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

Lord Royal wrote:
 JohnHwangDD wrote:
Morale is an obsolete mechanic that doesn't belong in ANY wargame.

It's an un-fun mechanic that wastes time and rulespace for no real benefit on the tabletop.

Just count "broken" as "dead" and move on. That's faster, and more consistent.


2nd that.
Thing is that many TTP are stuck in the 80s/90s. There was no real evolution for decades at least with the bigger games...

I often read "A wargame needs..." followed by a long list of game features. But the real thing is: There are no rules for what a wargame needs to be fun. Fun is not a science or a set of design principles.

To make that clear: I don't want to offend someone. I don't call anyone stupid. It's just an analysis from a design POV.


I'd call a spade a spade and say that Warhammer-esque morale rules are stupid, and that designers are unforgivably stupid for implementing and perpetuating them the way that they did. I'd go so far to say that anyone who says that Morale is mandatory for every "good" wargame is also stupid.

Saying you need morale is just something people say out of habit, and it's generally really badly implemented. Warhammer, in particular, does this exceedingly poorly with a break test after 25% casualties. Not only does it break the player's control, it removes decisions with compulsory movement and reform tests in a game genre that is supposed to be about control and decisions. And then there's that 25% breakpoint, which is at least an order of magnitude higher than what it should be, but existing as a side effect of per-model granularity. On top of that, they give some armies a pass (Chaos, Undead / Necrons, Space Marines), and make it crippling to others (Orcs/Orks, humans). Terrible execution that gets inherited from the original Warhammer Fantasy, to 40k, to the various clones out of habit, not thought.

Pretending that real world simulation is even desirable, morale test would be required when coming under fire AT ALL, or taking ANY casualties, on EITHER side. Except that this is easily modeled by having campaign rules that require you to pay for troops upkeep, pay more for deaths, and pay even more for recruiting new troops. Incent players not to suffer losses, and morale is handled naturally by the player wanting to preserve forces for the next game and/or minimize cost to the treasury. If the player would naturally retreat, etc, and the rules allow it, then no additional morale rules are required. This is so-called "emergent" gameplay, and should be the ultimate goal of a game design.



Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Easy E wrote:
Without Morale, designers are depriving themselves of a potential opportunity for depth. I am under the assumption that "fun" games require choices and consequences. Managing Morale and C&C at its best adds more choice and consequence.


OK, you say that, so what's your "fix" in a game that someone would actually *want* to buy and play?


@Nurglitch - is Command or Morale in Titanomachina? Or do the Titan and Crew just do what the player wants?

I deliberately kept Morale out of KOG light, because the game already did what I wanted without it. Players were already incented to stay down and hug cover by the very nature of the rules and stats; scenarios were won more on mobility than combat.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/02 17:25:09


   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander




Halifax

@JohnHwangDD

That's an interesting question. I suppose there's a degree of C&C in there because the order of play is defined by a Titan's Initiative score with the highest going first either activating a system, or resolving that system's effect. That Initiative can be increased by damage to ablative armour systems or resolving sensor system activations, or decreased by another Titan increasing its own score, or rolling over when it goes above 6.

Morale-wise, I suppose that's defined by scoring. You start with a score defined by the size and amount of buildings you have on the board, and score additional points for destroying both enemy buildings and systems on the Titans. So you want to both wreck your opponent's stuff while protecting your own. Titans also get personalities that give them extra incentives to protect or destroy their stuff. The notion being that, as you said, players will behave appropriately given the incentives without being set on rails.
   
Made in us
[DCM]
Infiltrating Prowler





Portland, OR

Morale isn't entirely obsolete or bad to have, but how it has been implemented has been bad. The idea behind Morale is to provide something that has to make a player adapt or adjust game play. It isn't that it isn't unneeded, it can provide interesting dynamic to game play but it should never take away choices. That is what has been bad about previous systems where it basically makes a unit useless either through retreating or non-action. You don't want to remove aspects or choices rendering units completely useless because it doesn't create a positive play experience.

For large battles particularly war games it was designed as method to apply pressure and fire to a region, causing those units to fall back or be routed. Opening a tactical position and maneuvering. It was implemented poorly because it is tied just into a Morale roll, instead of an ability like we would with Overwatch or Fire Suppression. If you want to be able to push units or route them, then make it an ability to could use a Morale which may pin units or cause them to fall back without removing their ability to react but not have it be a Moral check, where basic game play can force a unit to inaction instead of a activated choice to accomplish that goal.

I try to think of Morale as Willpower or Shaken, where it will impact decisions not remove it. The simple way is to failed checks increasing modifiers to shoot and/or decreasing modifiers for that unit to be hit. The basis is to make decisions for a unit more difficult to move forward, not make them unresponsive.

One way could be they can't move but can hunker down. You can make the more failed morale checks add counters, which change what they can do. Maybe one failed check means it is harder for them to concentrate on shooting, decreasing their ability to shoot by making it harder. Maybe two failed checks it also makes them easier to be shot, because they are still moving but may hesitate impacting how their movement results. Three failed checks means they don't move and are pinned, but can still fire.

Then add mechanic or ability to remove those counters, gather their resolve or regroup. This can be done at the cost of an activation or half an activation. They can have the choice if they fall back it removes counters or status effect, or they can push forward at a more difficult rate but that decision is left up to the player instead of arbitrarily chosen for them.

For skirmish games that tend to have a higher health, meaning one shot does not equal one kill, Morale can be something that impacts decisions. Often strategy/war games aren't entirely a simulation but they are aspects they can do better. Wounds typically reflect damage taken, take enough and they die but they never really impact decisions (unless they trigger moral but again poor executing makes it a poor mechanic). So now health forces a willpower check which then doesn't remove choices but may make choices more difficult.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

@Dark Severance - thanks for that reply.

I would counter-propose a rule whereby the player can Go to Ground as a reaction, and/or Dig In at the start. Provide the option to trade mobility and action for a defensive bonus.

If that exists, do you still need morale that forces a unit to hunker down? With counters and other state tracking? Probably not. The player now has another choice available, a decision to hide, on top of the choice to flee as a movement action (units don't "lock" in close combat).

Pretending that the troops are rational, they should dig in or reposition accordingly, and there is no reason that the player can't make that decision for the unit.

Again, this is stupid Warhammer designers designing bad rules that compound upon one another. Units "lock" into close combat, so it's not possible to naturally break from combat if it goes badly. Instead, it goes into this uncontrolled Morale thing where the player is scripted into taking tests, and managing compulsory movement.

   
Made in us
[DCM]
Infiltrating Prowler





Portland, OR

That is a possibility, a lot will depend on the game mechanics. But in reality most games that suffer with Morale issues that those that are IGOUGO, alternate activation and/or reaction/action based systems do not tend to suffer from the issues. That doesn't mean that Morale is necessary component but can or is handled through a different method since those games, usually skirmish, provide players with more options than traditional squad based games that tend to be IGOUGO to make gameplay faster.

A lot of the decision of if to use Moral or how to implement depends on the "Spirit of the Game" that you are designing/playing. Traditionally in games, players are the commander giving orders to squads and units who carry out those commands. Skirmish games tend to be more personal, where the player can be (but isn't always) envisioned as being each of those individual players, instead of a commander despite the player issuing commands.

Morale is kind of the the opposite to "rational decision making". Players can make rational decisions when not under outside pressure or influence (ie: gunfire, pain, wounds). Just because a commander orders a troop forward that is under heavy fire or badly injured, doesn't necessarily mean that unit will follow through or follow through at a competent level. So it becomes a question of first what to do you want it to represent.

If you want the choices to be dig in or reposition, then yes you don't need counters if the options are choose "dig in" or "move/retreat". I think we are all in agreement that Moral as a "fight" or "flight" method that is forced on players is a poor choice. That is where instead of "A" or "B" choices, there is only "A (run)".

Counters is an idea to allow stacking effects based on multiple failed checks. It can also be as simple as "failed check" means these are your choices, A, B, C, etc. What they do or how to implement depends a lot on how the game is played. In games where units can activate multiple times instead of just once, failure could mean they can't reactivate that unit this round. In a game where they have multiple activations, the first failure could mean modifiers to shooting or easier for them to be hit. If failure and wounded it could mean can dig in, or have to reposition. In games where a counter is used for activation, if failed and they were previously activated then your options are D and E. Basically counters work for a game that already has counters like wound markers, or use it to stack with something existing that gives different options instead of just the same choice of "dig in" or "reposition".

It doesn't mean it should always be used, but it can be used to supplement or provide alternate methods.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

@DS - It is incorrect to characterize Igo-Ugo as a defining characteristic of Morale issues, when it's really the Warhammer family line at fault, and that due to the age of when Warhammer was originally written. Alternating / Reaction games are inherently newer, and smaller skirmish vs mass battle games, so they tend to have reconsidered what went wrong in the Warhammer family line, so they approach Morale differently.

The completely rational decision is to bunker down under heavy fire; and the irrational Command decision is to order them to move into the open. Given the choices to hide or flee, such command friction shouldn't exist unless you are specifically trying to create "Charge of the Light Brigade" suicide situations stemming from implied orders. If the intent is to force irrational decisions upon players, that's bad game design, and I'm going to ignore it.

   
Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut




I don't see morale that badly.
Morale is a very wide value. Though it's commonly used for surpression fire or losses only... and that's so... yea, let's call it... stupid.
It is true, it's far from being a neccessity. But there are themes in which morale (or willpower or sanity) might be an important core mechanic.
A cthulhu-themed skirmisher for example wouldn't be a cthulhu-themed skirmisher without some sanity mechanic.
Or imagine a freakishly weird skirmisher where you have the possibility to talk your way through "combat"... maybe called DEBATING CLUB (you're free to use that idea ;-))
If your theme and system is built around nicely around a cool morale core mechanic, I'm sure it can be a nice thing.

The problem with morale is to figure out how to alter the game while you keep the players in control. If your main melee sledgehammer is pinned due to some unlucky dice roll it can completely f**k your tactics. In a skirmisher game it can mean the difference between a win or a lose. And that can't be a good thing.
But again: Pinning, forced movements etc. are just the least creative approaches for a morale core mechanic. And they are not even dated but are actually hurting the game.

@DS It has nothing to do with how your game round is organized. The question is: How much contol do you lose for what ammount of time?
If one 10 soldier squad in your 100+ soldier platoon is going bonkers it's not that bad but if a single key model in your 5 model street gang is cowering under a table it destroys your game. For example: Imagine the 40k morale in a AA skirmisher for 3-10 models. Now one of your models turns around and rushes with 10-30% of your manpower towards your table edge. Each activation you can roll but only a double one can turn it around, because the model is badly hurt, that's why it crouches with halved movement (to make it even worse) over the table. It cannot do anything, it won't have any importance, but you still have to move it and you still have to roll for it....grml. Or let's imagine a even worse scenario by implementing the AoS/40k8th-morale instead. Now you roll a dice for every model at the end of each turn and choose randomly how many models die due to "I'm pooping my pants. Oh, no!!! It's running down my legs. Aw, now it's in my boots. Oh, please help me....".
A bad mechanic generally works nowhere, while a good mechanic CAN work in different systems.

Now imagine the very simple psyche mechanic from Dark Age was implemented into 40k:
Certain units and weapons can attach a Panic counter to a target unit. Units with panic counter suffer a -1 penalty to ToHit and ToWound rolls till the end of the target player's turn. Period. Additionally there are certain units that gain a +1 Bonus on ToHit/ToWound against units with a panic counter.
If you want to have supression fire, give your sergeants the ability to perform a command ability to give their units the ability to deliver panic counters.
Bingo Bongo King of Kongo. For a while crocodile.

This message was edited 8 times. Last update was at 2019/05/02 20:11:16


 
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

Insanity should be a key element of Cthuhlu games, but I'm not sure it's the same as Morale, maybe more of a Control thing? It could just be a stat where you lose if it gets too high.

Maybe we need to be clearer about what we mean by "Morale"? Typically, it's where the unit chooses to hide or flee (instead of advancing / fighting) as a very rational decision within the context of what the unit is immediately aware of.

I think there are better hide / flee mechanics that can be built into a game, that don't look like "Morale" as commonly implemented.

I would share that playing various team shooter games like PUBG, etc., any morale situation can be naturally handled by the player. There are times to push, times to hide, and times to run away. At no point did I need the game to take over for me. I'm perfectly capable of making that decision myself, and weighing the risk/ .

   
 
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