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Made in us
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Arlington, va

Just a general question, what clever ways have people seen for alternate activation of units that balances that some armies will be a little or a lot bigger?

I'd want to avoid a system where one player ends up either moving 10 units at the end (because he outnumbers his foe) or losing their action.

I've been thinking of system where each turn you can activate 1, 2 or 3 units each turn (player picks) and then loses any unmoved units. So unless you outnumber the enemy 3 to 1 you get to move everything.

Or would that be too unbalancing for the small army?

 
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

Activation doesn't really matter, it just creates a different sort of balance and flow. The question is what sort of action you are intending to simulate. If it's slow-moving, individual alternating activation is just fine, a la Chess. If it's a fast-moving simultaneous action game, then Igo-Ugo is clearly the best. Then you have 3-ish units per turn a la Memoir '44 and other Command and Colors games.

If you are talking about activating 3 units of Grots vs 3 units of Terminators, it's still fair.

   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka




UK

I've seen games like 40K Apoc do the limited activations per turn mechanic but that's more because the game is already large beyond reason and its not really aiming for balance but more an experience.

The main issue with limited activations is that you basically gear the game toward only using as many units as you need to make the activation limit. So if you've only got 5 activations per turn then most players are going to aim for 5-7 or so units only. Armies that run with elites will be at a significant advantage because they will be able to run at near full power; whilst armies like swarming tyranids or orks or even guard would be at a disadvantage because they'd never be able to use all their units in a turn.

For Warhammer I can't see this working well. The limit per turn would either be so high it would be a pointless feature; or so low that it will significant favour certain builds over others. Why take any chaff when you can't activate it to keep up.




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Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

IG activating an entire Formation (remember those?) would be fair. 3 IG activations would be about 90% of their army

   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

I’m not aware of a game that does it, but giving each unit an activation card, and then shuffling the deck and drawing a card would (on average) balance out vastly different numbers of units on a side. Whenever a unit’s card is drawn, it completes one turn’s worth of actions.

If I outnumber you 2-1, then out of three draws I’ll have an average of two activations to your one. On average, we’ll both activate fairly evenly throughout the game turn.

This takes away some player agency... “I wanted my Librarian to activate before my death star unit so he could buff them!” Which is a bit of a drag. Perhaps the system could have some wild cards (1/5 units?) to increase the odds of a key unit activating first. If a unit is later drawn, just discard it and draw again.

Double-action abilities could put your card back on the bottom of the deck, or even shuffled in. Prescience powers could be used to manipulate the card deck.

I would personally enjoy the tactical reaction-ness to not knowing the order of activation.
   
Made in nz
[MOD]
Villanous Scum






Random draw can work, put an appropriate number of coloured tokens in a bag (ie. player 1 has 10 units so 10 red tokens go in the bag, player 2 has 12 units so 12 blue tokens go in the bag) and the player with initiative draws a token. If its their colour drawn then they activate a unit if not the opponent does.
The other way (and what I use in ACTA) is that the player with initiative keeps one unit to activate last after everything else has gone, being initiative sunk to death is no fun in that game.

On parle toujours mal quand on n'a rien à dire.
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Made in us
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Arlington, va

Random draws is a pretty good idea, either generic (activate 'a' unit) or specific (activate 'this' unit).

I'll keep that one in mind...

 
   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

Depending on unit count for the game, an initiative roll like dnd could work, but probably not beyond kill Team size... and even then could be tedious.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

Card-based activation doesn't have to be by unit or on the draw.

Consider a system where you have full FOC worth of cards in the deck: 2 HQs, 6 Troops, 3 Elite, 3 Fast, and 3 Heavy. Draw a card and activate that type. Now, you have the inherent flexibility to activate any Troops, rather than one specific Troop unit. Aside, this encourages a balanced army, as an army with skewed selection (3 Heavy, no Fast) will be "wasting" draws.

Enhance to have a hand of 3 cards, and activate up to TWO cards each turn (may play ONE card for a partial reaction during opponent turn). Side effect: if you have a non-max type (e.g. 1/3 Fast), you get bonus reactions (i.e. 2 Fast reactions).

Further enhance to only play a portion of the deck, say 12/17 cards. Now that unbalanced (or horde) army has a risk that some units get to activate at all, whereas a balanced (or MSU) army will likely activate all units and gain reactions.

Lots of possibilities, just a question of how complex the rules should be, and how many components you will require.

   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






There is a game that did a version of activating a few units. It was heroscape. Each player had 4 markers they placed on unit sheets with a blank forward face and a rear face with 1,2,3, and x on the back.

So at the beginning of a round each player took turns placing a marker on their unit 1 at a time. The x was a fake out, that unit does not activate but the opponent doesn't know where or when you placed it.

During the turn you activated your units in order of your placed markers. Player 1 marker 1, player 2 marker 1, player 1 marker 2, etc etc...

You could have 5 units or 10, you still only got 4 markers.


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

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

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Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






 JohnHwangDD wrote:

Consider a system where you have full FOC worth of cards in the deck: 2 HQs, 6 Troops, 3 Elite, 3 Fast, and 3 Heavy. Draw a card and activate that type. Now, you have the inherent flexibility to activate any Troops, rather than one specific Troop unit. Aside, this encourages a balanced army, as an army with skewed selection (3 Heavy, no Fast) will be "wasting" draws.


I like this idea, as it encourages balanced list building and gives spam a disadvantage. Taking additional slots would not yield additional cards, so gives you flexibility at a cost of not activating all your heavies every turn.

It could easily be tweaked into 40k, where filling a FOC doesn't always happen for armies. Allow one slot from each section to buy you a wild card, up to 3, which you swap out of the deck.
So if you buy 2 wildcards using a heavy and a troop slot, you would have 2xHQ, 5xTroop, 3xelite, 3xfast, 2xheavy and 2xwildcards. Wildcards would allow you to activate anything.

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Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander




Halifax

Lately I've been taken with the notion of stress to the unit. It might be something to have a straight-up Chess-like game where players can activate any unit on their turn, but that unit takes an additional point of stress for each activation, with maybe an opportunity to shed stress instead of doing something else during an activation. Stress would essentially be a penalty to whatever a unit might do during an activation. In Warhammer terms a unit might pick up a cumulative -1 to hit for each activation unless they regroup when they activate in which case they do nothing and reduce their stress by one pip.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

 some bloke wrote:
 JohnHwangDD wrote:

Consider a system where you have full FOC worth of cards in the deck: 2 HQs, 6 Troops, 3 Elite, 3 Fast, and 3 Heavy. Draw a card and activate that type. Now, you have the inherent flexibility to activate any Troops, rather than one specific Troop unit. Aside, this encourages a balanced army, as an army with skewed selection (3 Heavy, no Fast) will be "wasting" draws.


I like this idea, as it encourages balanced list building and gives spam a disadvantage. Taking additional slots would not yield additional cards, so gives you flexibility at a cost of not activating all your heavies every turn.

It could easily be tweaked into 40k, where filling a FOC doesn't always happen for armies.

Allow one slot from each section to buy you a wild card, up to 3, which you swap out of the deck.

Wildcards would allow you to activate anything.


Thanks.

The point is actually NOT to fill the FOC incomplete types (e.g. 2/3 Heavy) will activate more of the army sooner on average, leaving more spots for reactions.

Buying wildcards further advantages MSU armies above and beyond the advantage gained from activating more, sooner as above.

A single wildcard (representing the General) would be OK.

   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

I’m ok with spammy armies and wouldn’t want to create a system that limits FOC. I like the idea of focussed armies, and penalizing armies that focus on one FOC slot seems unnecessary. To me, the cat’s out of the bag. CP generation aside, people can essentially build “unbound” lists right now with the drawback of a bunch of HQ units.

I don’t like playing against Knights, for example, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be functional on the tabletop. I’m fortunate in that Guardsmen are ok-to-great in most editions, so I take lots of troops but if I were interested in playing Marines (again) I don’t feel like I should need to take a lot of Tacticals, again for example. Though I usually do take 3 or 4 small squads...

I like the idea of Terminator wings, and Saim Hann lists. I’d love to play a battlesuit only Tau force. Big Bugs for Nids, or a tank company for Guard shouldn’t be denied to people that like that sort of thing.

So I wouldn’t want to play a game where if I were to focus on several units from one FOC slot I’d be punished, and I think the potential for some interesting armies would be lost.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/31 21:51:59


 
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

 greatbigtree wrote:
I’m ok with spammy armies


Most opponents are not.

Nothing in the example says you can't spam, just that it might not be as effective as a more balanced army. If you're taking spam because of theme, then that won't be an issue. If you're taking spam because you're actually a cheesy powergamer, you might reconsider why you're playing in the first place.

   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

And why are “balanced” armies the moral imperative? I get that some people like them, and my personal collection is just that, but I don’t want to force that on someone.

I guess I don’t get the need to punish other people for playing the armies they like to play.
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

Almost everyone wants to play against a "balanced" army.

Nothing is being forced - the sample activation system does not have anything to do with army selection.

I have no problem applying punitive comp, but mechanical comp like this is a better fix to encourage competitive players not to mindlessly spam things. The players most affected by this don't care in the least about the army that they play, as long as it wins. Screw 'em.

   
Made in us
Douglas Bader






Why would you need to "balance" it? Army size is inherently a balancing mechanic with tradeoffs built in. A MSU list has lots of activations and the advantage of stalling until the end and then activating lots of stuff once the other player has committed all of their moves, but has limited ability to exploit a fleeting opportunity (for example, shooting an enemy unit before it can move out of LOS). A death star unit will be vulnerable to having to commit sooner but has the ability to activate a powerful threat all at once when needed. In the end systems like this tend to favor a fairly balanced army with some bigger threats and some cheap activation fodder, with most lists avoiding either extreme. There are still choices to be made about where to aim on the scale but you're probably not going to see too many games with a huge disparity in unit count.

There is no such thing as a hobby without politics. "Leave politics at the door" is itself a political statement, an endorsement of the status quo and an attempt to silence dissenting voices. 
   
Made in nz
[MOD]
Villanous Scum






Depends entirely on the game doesn't it?
In ACTA you would frequently see lists spamming the lowest priority ships and a few harder hitting ones but not all factions had the same ability to do so. For example the Centauri fleet had all of their best ships at the mid level priority and lower (including 2 for 1 ships at the lowest) where as the Vorlon fleet contained nothing below the mid level at all. Vorlon ships were alot more powerful but the Centauri player would just use their horde of spammed little ships to initiative sink the Vorlons to death and by the time the Vorlons had activated their entire fleet the Centauri player wouldn't have moved half. This was often a problem with ships that had boresight weapons (literally a weapon with an arc of a straight line).
That's not going to be an issue in say Bolt Action or 40k with alternate activation.

On parle toujours mal quand on n'a rien à dire.
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Made in us
Douglas Bader






It definitely depends on the game. Certain mechanics can skew it one way or the other, but the alternating activation mechanic itself doesn't have much inherent bias.

There is no such thing as a hobby without politics. "Leave politics at the door" is itself a political statement, an endorsement of the status quo and an attempt to silence dissenting voices. 
   
Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





London, Ontario

“Almost everyone” wants to have a fun game, but a person’s definition of fun can be wildly different from another’s.

For all it’s sins, 8th edition lets people play what they want to play, and I do like that. But any system that rewards taking lots of “troops” skews any balance to armies that have *good* troops. Like Guard right now, and CP farming. Or Scatterbikes in 7th. Or Gladius... even if Marine troops weren’t that good, taking a lot of them unlocked tremendous rewards and made them a tournament viable army.

And again, for all it’s sins, 8th is making at least a token effort to fix the OP units. If you correct points balance then it shouldn’t matter what you take, right? Which is also why I would favour being rid of FOC entirely. If one unit is the clear best in a codex, and someone wants to take an entire army of them, that needs to be fixed through a combination of points adjustments and mission parameters. Different types of units should each have a use on the battlefield. If you want to take a pure Terminator force, you should be able to. Not because they’re the OP unit du-jour but because Terminators are (hypothetically) balanced against other infantry, like Tacticals and Guardsmen and Battlesuits and Genestealers and Ork Boys.

The loyal 32 exist because taking cheap troops to fill a troop-heavy Battalion is encouraged. Scatterbike spam was powerful... for many reasons... but in large part because the FOC chart made everyone take lots of troops and Scatterbikes were the best troops in 7th. Rules to prohibit spam just buff the factions with access to powerful troops.

Yes, we could balance all the “troops” to put everyone on a level playing field, but if we can do that, why not balance all units so people aren’t “forced” to take troops but instead choose to?
   
Made in us
Douglas Bader






 greatbigtree wrote:
Yes, we could balance all the “troops” to put everyone on a level playing field, but if we can do that, why not balance all units so people aren’t “forced” to take troops but instead choose to?


Because it's easier to balance a subset of the game than the entire game, especially when that subset is composed of the most basic units in the game: infantry models mostly armed with their faction's basic gun. For example, you cite IG infantry squads as being overpowered but the fix is simple. There aren't really any special rules or complicated interactions, it's just a unit that is too cheap for what you get. Increase their ppm cost and you have a balanced unit. That's a much easier task than balancing a psyker that can have any of a list of completely different abilities, many of which interact with other units in ways other than straightforward damage. This doesn't guarantee success but it sure does make the task easier.

Once you have that balanced core the classic FOC acts as a failsafe on unbalanced units. If you can only ever take three copies of a unit in your army an overpowered 200 point unit is only going to result in 30% of your 2000 point army being overpowered, contrasted with 8th where potentially everything but the token HQs can be copies of that unit. And you further maintain balance by pushing armies in the direction of TAC lists with an infantry core, mitigating the problem of skew lists that can produce an miserable game even if the units they're composed of are individually balanced correctly.

There is no such thing as a hobby without politics. "Leave politics at the door" is itself a political statement, an endorsement of the status quo and an attempt to silence dissenting voices. 
   
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut






SoCal, USA!

 greatbigtree wrote:
If you correct points balance then it shouldn’t matter what you take, right?

If you want to take a pure Terminator force, you should be able to. Not because they’re the OP unit du-jour but because Terminators are (hypothetically) balanced against other infantry, like Tacticals and Guardsmen and Battlesuits and Genestealers and Ork Boys.


You talk about balance, but that elusive balance is in the context of balanced army vs balanced army. A unit of Grots is never going to be balanced on its own against a Land Raider Crusader by itself.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/01 05:25:02


   
Made in us
Douglas Bader






 JohnHwangDD wrote:
You talk about balance, but that elusive balance is in the context of balanced army vs balanced army. A unit of Grots is never going to be balanced on its own against a Land Raider Crusader by itself.


Are you replying to me there? Your post follows mine, but nothing you said is an argument against any of the things I was talking about.

There is no such thing as a hobby without politics. "Leave politics at the door" is itself a political statement, an endorsement of the status quo and an attempt to silence dissenting voices. 
   
Made in au
Unhealthy Competition With Other Legions






Privateer Press 'Company of Iron' has alternating activations, and balances it by 'if you have less unactivated units then your opponent you may pass your activation'-thus, you can force your larger opponents force to activate first, and gain an idea of how the game is playing out (and plan accordingly), or if you have something you immediately want to do (kill an important target, withdraw a key model, etc), you can.

It works really quite well, I've found.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/01 05:14:40


My $0.02, which since 1992 has rounded to nothing. Take with salt.
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Made in au
Committed Chaos Cult Marine




Melbourne

 Farseer Anath'lan wrote:
Privateer Press 'Company of Iron' has alternating activations, and balances it by 'if you have less unactivated units then your opponent you may pass your activation'-thus, you can force your larger opponents force to activate first, and gain an idea of how the game is playing out (and plan accordingly), or if you have something you immediately want to do (kill an important target, withdraw a key model, etc), you can.

It works really quite well, I've found.


Most of the AA rulesets I own allow the player with less to pass until the same number are unactivated.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/01 08:50:21


Mantic Rules Committees: Kings of War, Warpath
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Made in us
Sneaky Sniper Drone




United States

one fix for the MSU squads giving too many activations thing, would just be to ditch the concept of MSU. remove the ability to change the size of units. That would take some close balancing to figure out what the size a lot of the units need to be, (squads of 3 broadsides always, or always individual broadsides?) but it would help to level out the point costs of similar units by making sizes non-negotiable.
   
Made in au
Committed Chaos Cult Marine




Melbourne

balmong7 wrote:
one fix for the MSU squads giving too many activations thing, would just be to ditch the concept of MSU. remove the ability to change the size of units. That would take some close balancing to figure out what the size a lot of the units need to be, (squads of 3 broadsides always, or always individual broadsides?) but it would help to level out the point costs of similar units by making sizes non-negotiable.


Or have something similar to Epic/DZC where you activate formations instead of individual units.

Mantic Rules Committees: Kings of War, Warpath
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Engineer: "Because it's a gift shop!" 
   
Made in us
Sneaky Sniper Drone




United States

 Baragash wrote:
balmong7 wrote:
one fix for the MSU squads giving too many activations thing, would just be to ditch the concept of MSU. remove the ability to change the size of units. That would take some close balancing to figure out what the size a lot of the units need to be, (squads of 3 broadsides always, or always individual broadsides?) but it would help to level out the point costs of similar units by making sizes non-negotiable.


Or have something similar to Epic/DZC where you activate formations instead of individual units.


I feel like MSU would just allow you to take more formations though. I don't know much about those games. But I assume formations are kinda like detachments in 8th right? fill slots with units?

My idea is that if you remove variable unit size. Then people aren't spamming cheap units at minimum sizes to get more activations. They might be spamming cheap infantry still, but that will be because it is good in game for its cost. which is way easier to balance than "I'm bringing the smallest possible units to benefit the most from rules"
   
Made in au
Committed Chaos Cult Marine




Melbourne

IIRC DZC only allows for a small variance in the number of detachments for a given size of game, but it's a while since I looked.

Gods of Battle uses fixed unit size, and because of the way points are done, it's probably similar to what you are thinking. 36pts is equivalent to a 2k game of WHF or KoW, because it isn't balancing points to the nth degree it's harder to get a significant drop advantage. Also the way army lists are written means both players are taking core (ie potentially cheap) stuff from the same size pool, and the sexy stuff from a different pool.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/01 13:24:21


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