My Favorite Rules Pt1 – Initiative, Turn Sequence and Morale

It’s  been longer than I intended to get this thing rolling.  I pinch my sciatic nerve and I aggravated it  to the point where I had to head to the doctor for some medicinal help.  I am well on my way back to full strength now and am ready to get going.

Initiative, turn sequence and morale seem like quite a lot of ground to cover but frankly, it really isn’t.  For initiative, it should be a matter of a head to head roll.  If one side has a better commanding general, then they get to add 1 to the roll.  A tie goes to the side that one the initiative last turn.  If it is the first turn of the game, a tie goes to the attacker.  The winner chooses to move first or second during the turn.  If they choose to move second, then they are surrendering the initiative to the other side.  This means that the initiative winner becomes the other side for tie breaking purposes.

The turn sequence is as follows:

Side A moves all of its units

Side B moves all of its units.

Both sides shoot with the following priority.

  • Units that did not move shoot first both sides simultaneous
  • Units that moved shoot next both sides simultaneous

Close combats are performed.

Units that took casualties are marked with a marker indicating that they will take a morale check before they can move in the NEXT turn.

Morale checks are made immediately before a given unit moves.  Sometimes it will be better for a player to move units at risk of routing first while other times you can wait until later in the turn.  Morale checks can result in a unit retreating, routing or even skedaddling off the board.  They can potentially shrug off the effects and move normally that turn or even go out of control and advance aggressively toward the enemy as a result of a morale check.  Nearby commanders can influence the die roll up or down by 1 or even 2 for army commanders but they will risk being killed.

0-   Unit dissolves.  Remove from play.

1     Unit routes 2 moves.  D3 casualties.

2     Unit retreats 1 move.

3     Unit may not move and remains disordered.  Check again next turn.

4     Unit rallies with consuming all movement.

5     Unit rallies consuming half movement.

6     Unit rallies without loss of movement.

7+   Unit rallies.  Cavalry and impetuous units make an uncontrolled advance toward the enemy attempting to make contact.

-1 for 25% casualties, in contact with an enemy, charged in flank or rear

-2 for 50% casualties

+2/+1/0/-1/-2 Army Commander nearby or  -1/0/+1 other general nearby.

For standing against an enemy charge, a 6+ and the unit will fight first, 5 or 4 unit fights simultaneously with charging unit, 3 unit disorders (morale marker for next turn) and fights simultaneously but at half effect.  2 or 1 unit retreats 1 move and fights second if contacted anyway.  0 or less unit routes 2 moves taking D3 casualties.  Also does not fight back if contacted anyway.

When a commander is used, roll a die.  On a 6, the commander is hit and may not use his influence.  1-2 horse shot.  Commander is out for the next turn.  3-4 commander is wounded.  Out D6 turns.  5-6 commander is mortally wounded or killed.

Notes:

It seems to be a trend these days where designers go for simplicity in much of their design and then muddle up the rules in the name of command and control.  They constantly try to go for near simultaneous play.  To me, this is a huge mistake for a number of reasons.  1) it often very hard to explain these rules to new players and even players who are more used to IGO-UGO.  Having both sides moving within the same phase and then resolving combat with a few simple priorities works wonders for keeping the game flowing and it still allows both sides to get into the fight.  The morale checks right before the unit moves will ensure an amount of uncertainty and that commanders can influence the die roll allows for a simple command and control system.

Units should be allowed to move as the players wish (within the rules!) until they get stuck in.  It is a rare occurrence that a formation would sit idly by for no apparent reason at all.  They are not under attack and likely will move toward the front when ordered to go.  Once stuck in, it will become increasingly difficult for a commander to control the units until it becomes unengaged.  The morale rules do an excellent job of enforcing the latter.

There is nothing difficult to explain here.  It is fairly linear in concept.  Both players remain engaged in game play throughout the turn.  I’ve used this system many times and have blted it onto my Featherstone rewrite, which you can find on my “Old School” page at the top of this blog.

Next time, I will go through the combat rules.  I’ll be changing them up some, moving away from the Featherstone style combat mechanisms.  I’ll even give some options for those that like saving throws and for those that prefer to do without them.

One Response to My Favorite Rules Pt1 – Initiative, Turn Sequence and Morale

  1. Ed Mueller says:

    I like where you’re going with these (and we share a brain on the whole fake friction/activation business). Sorry to hear about your sciatic attack: I feel for you–I had crippling (literally) episode of that which took me months to get back to a form of “normal” (and some time after that before I finally reached a pain-free state).

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