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Toxic_Rat

Squadron Activation

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5 hours ago, Spenetrator said:

-Lion/Dragon Rampant's System is great in a medieval skirmish - and kind of fits thematically if often with hilarious results - I've played games where a unit of  Mounted Knights intended to ride round a flank, but simply sat where they started, each failed command roll ending their general's turn prematurely (presumably they were discussing poetry or hawking) while the rest of their army was shredded in the center... That will also put people off as mentioned upthread - a disaster for competetive players.

They were filing their nails :P! I can agree that it probably won't work for Firestorm(Won't keep me from trying out Dragon Rampant though)! 

 

5 hours ago, Spenetrator said:

-Battletech's system is realistic, but can be a bit hard to get your head around for a newby - and might complicate the bookkeeping side of things in larger games - Lining up your big broadside only to have your target activate after you and appear in your aft arc will really upset some people (It can essentially devolve into whoever moves last is shooting you in the rear).

 

The only extra book keeping I can see that you would have to do is remember what is effecting you ship that turn. 

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Alextroy and I were playing a different game a couple weeks back that had an interesting activation mechanic/tracker (Firefly Browncoats and Brigands).  Translated to Firestorm, it might work something like this:

Both sides start at tracker 0 and roll initiative.  Winner goes first.

Each squadron has an activation cost (for example, 2 for a T3 squadron, 4 for T2, and 6 for T1--note, numbers pulled out of my butt, they would probably be a ship stat rather than a tier level designation).  First player to go activates a T1, and moves to 6 on the tracker. 

After that initial initiative determined move, the player with the lowest tracking # goes next.  Ties go to the player who did not just activate. Example, after the first player moves the tracker is 6 to 0, so the second player activates a T3 squadron and moves to 2 on the tracker.  After that activation, he still has the lowest score (6 to 2), so he goes again, choosing to activate a T2 squadron.  After that activation the players are tied at 6 each, so play reverts to the first player.

Just throwing it out there as something to ponder.

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There’s a lot of discussion about Initiative, which is interesting, as the overall discussion is ways to structure a turn-based game.

Im not saying the following is the way to go, but it’s something to think about.  There’s a skirmish game called Relic Knights, which had a lot of interesting game mechanics (probably too many).  One interesting bit is there are no turns in the game.  Instead, each player has an activation queue, and each unit can only be in the queue once... and you will have more units than slots in the queue.  Some units are designed to stay out of the queue until late game, as the queue length shortens when units are destroyed... these late-game units can then cycle activations very quickly.

The entire point of Game Turns is to ‘simulate’ simultaneous actions, which is why the Battletech system is interesting... it’s the closest to simulation.  X-Wing Miniatures is also very simultaneous, thanks to the Orders system.  One good thing about X-Wing is “Initiative” is just a resolution tie-breaker that automatically switches each turn... and it’s possible it won’t even matter in many games.

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I like these systems but for Firestorm im going to have to lean heavily on a system that reliably lets me activate each squadron per turn. I think shunt entry and reserves need some reworking but will still represent the best way to bring forces into play later on in the game.

I would like to ask a general question to the group here, do you prefer calculating combat by activation or by turn? Do you want first activation to be important because of strategic reactions or getting an edge on an enemy that will drop their effectiveness permanently? 

If we can reach a concensus on what advantage first activation brings you, we can start to sift through systems with a clear idea of what we're trying to achieve

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13 hours ago, Charistoph said:

Bringing up X-Wing is an interesting point.  Each "pilot/ship" has its own initiative in which orders are processed, though all the actual movement decisions are made before any movement actually occurs.  It actually affects who hits and who squeeks by at times.

Would we want to follow a model where ships/squadrons have a commander attached to them?  Someone who gives a specific bonus to that squadron?  ie, re-roll a command check, additional AD in an attack, better defense, etc?  I don't really want to get into a 'collectible' game with card or ship rarities, but such a system does have some good points.

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1 hour ago, Toxic_Rat said:

Would we want to follow a model where ships/squadrons have a commander attached to them?  Someone who gives a specific bonus to that squadron?  ie, re-roll a command check, additional AD in an attack, better defense, etc?  I don't really want to get into a 'collectible' game with card or ship rarities, but such a system does have some good points.

I wasn't really focusing too much on having individual pilots of the ship, just the Initiative factor of the system.  Some of the more specific pilots do alter that Initiative number, but there are generic pilots which share the same Initiative, I believe (I am by no means an expert at X-Wing).  It doesn't seem to have done well for Star Trek Attack Wing, but I can't say that aspect harmed it, either (Attack Wing's biggest problems were the models and trying to cut in to X-Wing's action).  I think adding in the Admirals was pretty bold for Firstorm, but I was never able to play any games with them to say how good they were (Directorate's Admiral was almost pointless unless you had Works Raptor and Omnidyne). 

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@Wolfgang Jannesen in an alternating activation game, first activation allows us to get the jump on an opponent for many purposes: objectives, destruction, etc.  and last activation also has advantages for the same reasons  

But the PURPOSE of alternating activation is related to game design. 

1) it keeps both players interested and focused

2) restricting activation to one unit at a time mitigates imbalance based on who acts first

3) it is a practical compromise between fog of war/simultaneous activation which requires record keeping (full thrust, X-Wing) and something that feels very unrealistic like 40k moving/shooting an entire army while your opponent does nothing. 

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@Charistoph  I own both Xwinf and Attack wing.  Attack wing also isn’t as popular because while the initial game rules were OK, subsequent releases were careless and unbalanced, and their organized play system was mostly a treasure hunt.   

I’m not adverse to adding some nuance to the activation order system, but Crew/pilot skill isn’t the direction to go IMHO.   I don’t see what that gains us, and it just requires more looking at the stats. 

FSA is an admiral game, and I think we should keep our fancy orders, tricks, cards and power plays at the fleet-admiral level IMHO

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27 minutes ago, Stoobert said:

@Wolfgang Jannesen in an alternating activation game, first activation allows us to get the jump on an opponent for many purposes: objectives, destruction, etc.  and last activation also has advantages for the same reasons  

But the PURPOSE of alternating activation is related to game design. 

1) it keeps both players interested and focused

2) restricting activation to one unit at a time mitigates imbalance based on who acts first

3) it is a practical compromise between fog of war/simultaneous activation which requires record keeping (full thrust, X-Wing) and something that feels very unrealistic like 40k moving/shooting an entire army while your opponent does nothing. 

I understand, my question was more do you want to do EVERYTHING on that activation including attacks and damage against opponents? Or are people more interested in doing separate movement and combat phases instead. Do you limit it to getting into position first or opening fire first? I think the latter gives a significant more impact to winning initiative, though the former is more in line with current rules and all of us battletech players are used to changing tactics mid-turn. 

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26 minutes ago, Stoobert said:

@Charistoph  Attack wing also isn’t as popular because while the initial game rules were OK, subsequent releases were careless and unbalanced, and their organized play system was mostly a treasure hunt.   

I’m not adverse to adding some nuance to the activation order system, but Crew/pilot skill isn’t the direction to go IMHO.   I don’t see what that gains us, and it just requires more looking at the stats. 

This is an admiral game, and I think we should keep our fancy orders, tricks, cards and power plays at the fleet-admiral level IMHO

I'm not in really in disagreement.  I agree that exotic rules should be kept in the Admiral's hands.  I was more for allowing for certain ships to be "quicker on the helm", and so they would affect how an initiative-based system would work for their squadron.  The Admiral would affect Initiative for the fleet as a whole.

I'm not necessarily advocating it, but it largely depends on how an Initiative-based activation system is being setup, and if a full activation system (movement, shooting, etc, happen in a single activation, ala WarmaHordes) would be happening or a phased-activation (movement, shooting, etc happen in their own phases, ala 40K, Battletech and X-wing), it can make it easier or harder to balance.

Having a full activation means that those who are the first to move have full advantage.   Unless you include a reaction system (ala Infinity), that means that whoever is the first to move has zero chance of responding.

Now, if full, altnerating activations are the way we're going, then Tier 1 ships would logically be the ones to act first (in most cases, Kedorians would probably be an exception).  This cuts down a little on the effectiveness of an Alpha Strike, as compared to having Dreadnoughts move and shoot before everyone else.

Honestly, I prefer to have phased-activations.  Partly because it is how my first TT game worked.  Partly because it allows for one to respond, especially if dealing with a long-ranged faction.  In these discussions, I often go back to Battletech because it handled the phased-activation process excellently without giving away too much advantage to whoever goes first.  While it had other ways to handle Alpha Strikes (i.e. heat from shooting could cause a lot of problems), disallowing the Alpha Strike from neutering a model before it had any chance to respond was and is my favorite aspect from that system.

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I tried playing FSA once with a friend by separating moving and shooting into separate phases if that's what you mean.   All ships activated and moved.  Movement was done.  Then all ships activated and shot.   We gave up after a single turn.   1) Keeping up with which criticals and damage were applied this turn vs. those that were already on the ship from a prior turn was a nightmare.    2)  Models get bumped when you move., it happens - we all do it.  What was in range/arc at the beginning of the movement phase may not be once firing begins, leading to confusion  3) Not to mention the sheer time spent.  Let me put it this way...

Unless someone believes FSA 2.0 plays too quickly, this is not the approach to take.  :P

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11 hours ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

do you prefer calculating combat by activation or by turn?

For firestorm I think I would prefer it as it is right now (as in move then shoot). Battles in X-wing are generally smaller than in firestorm, so its easier to keep track of which ship have fired and which haven't. 

Random Draw and Alternating Activations( with some tweaking to initiative) seem to be the best two options to me thus far. Both guarantee the use of all your squadrons, but Random Draw mixes up the order of the turns while Alternating activations is set throughout that round. 

Thoughts?

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While Random Draw activation sound intriguing, I'm a bit apprehensive given my experience with FSA 1.0 STAR cards and the awesomeness of the Double Activation Card.

Still, if both sides expect to have double activations done to them regularly, it makes for a different game dynamic.

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1 hour ago, Skyhawk said:

For firestorm I think I would prefer it as it is right now (as in move then shoot). Battles in X-wing are generally smaller than in firestorm, so its easier to keep track of which ship have fired and which haven't. 

Random Draw and Alternating Activations( with some tweaking to initiative) seem to be the best two options to me thus far. Both guarantee the use of all your squadrons, but Random Draw mixes up the order of the turns while Alternating activations is set throughout that round. 

Thoughts?

I'm totally adaptable between both combat systems, but I will admit that being able to shoot in the same activation allows you to shut down some plans before they even begin hatching. That is a beautiful sight to see and I don't mind keeping it as is. Could we even make this as simple as starting each turn with the same initiative roll you start the game with?

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On 3/7/2018 at 11:18 PM, alextroy said:

Still, if both sides expect to have double activations done to them regularly, it makes for a different game dynamic.

If both sides have the same number of squadrons then if one player gets double activations than so will the other.

On 3/7/2018 at 11:19 PM, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

Could we even make this as simple as starting each turn with the same initiative roll you start the game with?

I believe it was suggested earlier in the thread to have one roll, then alternate who went first after that. 

I was originally just wondering if something would work better than the current system, I did not say that we have to change it. But if it stays Alternating activations I think it could use some modifications.

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On 04/03/2018 at 10:12 AM, Skyhawk said:

What did you replace it with?

I think this will only make players want to go Tier one heavy to keep control of the initiative throughout the game.

How so? I am genuinely curious.

 

First off, I didn't mean to have a bonus to be cumulative, so you only add the highest bonus in your fleet.

As for being more tactically interesting, it would not only be from a 'which ship do I bring to the game' perspective (as you could flavor certain ships like a carrier to have a higher bonus than say a dreadnought), but more from an enemy ship perspective. As in, which ship do I try to focus fire. The heavier gunned, or the one that gives a higher initiative bonus to their fleet.

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So in last nights game, we tried out the 'activation draws' instead of rolling for initiative.  The starting count of squadrons was 5 for side A, and 4 for side B, so 9 dice went into the bag.  The first turn, side A had 3 activations in a row.  If I did my math right, that's about a 12% chance of happening.  Not bad for turn 1 where everyone is still out of range.   This same thing happened to side B in turn 3.  So probability really does even things out.  :)

The effect on game play was interesting.  There's a bit more anticipation as the dice gets drawn to see who goes.  YMMV on whether that is good or not.  One interesting side-effect is that drawing 3 in a row can create a situation where you are required to move a squadron that you might otherwise want to wait and see what the opponent does.  We found it was sometimes advantageous, sometimes not.  It was a different experience...not worse, not better, just different.  It's just one game, so not enough to make a decision on, but I'd encourage people to give it a try and see what you think of it.

It might be best listed as an optional rule, or something that is part of a scenario.  "Sub-space interference hinders communication, resulting in less coordinated movements" or something like that.

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To me, drawing Activations looks more like a way to introduce a gambling mechanic (where anticipation of a reward becomes a reward) than a way to create a game where choices matter.

 

 For example, you could have alternating activations, but the specific Squadron you activate is determined by a dice roll, and if you can’t use that dice roll, you miss your turn to Activate.  This would play out similarly to drawing activations, but it’s a slower method with even more gambling mechanics.

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1 hour ago, Ryjak said:

To me, drawing Activations looks more like a way to introduce a gambling mechanic (where anticipation of a reward becomes a reward) than a way to create a game where choices matter.

 

 For example, you could have alternating activations, but the specific Squadron you activate is determined by a dice roll, and if you can’t use that dice roll, you miss your turn to Activate.  This would play out similarly to drawing activations, but it’s a slower method with even more gambling mechanics.

Literally being able to shoot first is a huge advantage from initiative. It doesnt have to be a scenario where you dont activate at all or the order of squads you can activate is random, i agree that that doesnt really enhance anything

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Activating first, activating last, or activating “back to back” all have advantages depending in circumstances.   I’m not seeking to eliminate advantage, just make it more clear and more fair.  

I suppose that it is worth testing anything.   But drawing out of a bag for initiative mitigates these above issues only through luck, takes time and gives me a bad fluff taste in my mouth.   Is my admiral  incapable of executing an ordered plan of attack?  Even if communications were totally jammed during battle, my fleet should be able to follow pre determined command directives (frigates, then cruisers) and not simply activate randomly.  

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Can we agree as a thread that we can all accept alternating activations, with varying ways of determining who has the initiative. Some folks want to alternate every turn, Im in the battletech camp that doesnt mind rolling initiative cor every turn, some folks want even the order of activation randomised, and there are absolutely merits to that. The only thing that the thread seems universally against is the idea that a squad could just not activate on that turn due to bad luck alone

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9 hours ago, Stoobert said:

Activating first, activating last, or activating “back to back” all have advantages depending in circumstances.   I’m not seeking to eliminate advantage, just make it more clear and more fair.  

I suppose that it is worth testing anything.   But drawing out of a bag for initiative mitigates these above issues only through luck, takes time and gives me a bad fluff taste in my mouth.   Is my admiral  incapable of executing an ordered plan of attack?  Even if communications were totally jammed during battle, my fleet should be able to follow pre determined command directives (frigates, then cruisers) and not simply activate randomly.  

Apparently he is since he's incapable of having two squadrons move and attack before his opponent can respond ;)

In ways, that is what a random draw represents. A uneven flow of actions where one side manages to make a big push, to be then left on the receiving end of a big response. Currently, the only time you can activate multiple squadrons in a row is the end of a turn when you have more squadrons then your opponent.

Of course, the random draw also represents those times when the opposing force is too on the ball and keeps getting in the way of your lovely coordinated attack. Or those times when you are drawn into action even if you want to wait.

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Well,  play randrom draw a couple times and and see what you your opponent think.  Post your play test thought (s) here.  I don’t think random draw effectively or convincingly or compellingly represents any of those situations you put forth, it just represents randomness.  Those situations would best be represented by other mechanics that involve player choice: tactics, objectives or orders.  But each is entitled to their opinion.  

And unfortunately is not the case that “in a row” or back-to-back activations only occurs when one person has more activations.   

Given equal number player activations he who activated last on Turn 2 and first on Turn 3 could activate the same squad twice sequentially, with such devastating results that the game can be decided.  This doesn’t feel fair to me (or my opponent that I may have just obliterated) and I think something should be done about it, hence my prior suggestion.

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