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Sep 5 16 8:32 AM

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There is a very neat interactive activation system in some board games – the Men of Iron and GBoH systems – made by GMT and I have often wondered how something similar would generally import into a set of miniature rules. I have tried them in some other miniature games and they have tended to be okay so here is the outline of how they could fit into TTS. The rules for MoI and GBoH are freely available to download on the GMT site for anyone who wants to review and investigate these fine games further.

This variant is probably not best suited to large multi-player games where you want everyone on one side to be activating simultaneously to keep the game moving along at a pace. Also, it can be subject to some swings of fortune so perhaps keep it away from any competitive environment :-)

The only real change that needs to be implemented pre-game is that every General now has a rating. I would suggest this is between 4 and 7 and the lower the better as will be explained. I would suggest, on a broad-brush basis, the ratings be as follows:

Standard General – 6 or 7 (or even an 8 for a poor General having a bad day but this should be rare)
Senior General – 5 or 6
Brilliant General – 4 or 5 (or even a 3 for a top General having a good day but this should be rare)

When a Command is activated all the usual TTS rules apply for moving, fighting etc. No changes apply to this.

The very first activation of a Command on the first turn of the game by the active player (see P35 of active / passive notes) is automatic. After this, the following applies:-

After a Command has concluded activating all of its units, the active player chooses and declares to the opponent another of his Commands to activate (it cannot be the same one that has just finished activating). Unless the passive player tries to “seize the initiative” (see later), then the active player draws a card for the selected Command (played on the baseline) and compares it to the rating of the selected Command’s General:

If it is equal to or higher than the rating, the chosen Command activates normally.

If it is lower than the rating then the attempted activation fails and the player passes over to the opponent who may freely activate any of his Commands without drawing a card. He now becomes the active player.

Play proceeds like this for the rest of the game. There is one additional mechanism, mentioned above, and that is the “seize the initiative” ability of the passive player. It is risky but may be worth attempting.

When the active player declares his next Command to be activated but before drawing a card to determine its success, the passive player may attempt to “seize the initiative”. He does this by stating that he wishes to do so and then choosing any of his Commands with which to make the attempt. He draws a card and compare it to the rating of the selected Command’s General.

If it is equal to or higher than the rating, the “seize the initiative” attempt is successful and he now activates the chosen the Command normally and becomes the active player.

If it is lower than the rating then the attempt fails and the play remains with the active player. Moreover, importantly, the active player may now choose any Command including the one just activated and activate it without any card draw being required. Thus, in this way, a Command may activate in successive goes.

You can see, therefore, that trying to “seize the initiative” has its risks and rewards.

As an (entirely) optional rule, to make it more difficult to get a sequence of Command activations for the same side, you can include an accumulating -1 modifier to the card draw for each Command activation attempt for a side beyond first two activations in a series. For example, a side may activate his centre Command and then succeed in activating the right wing Command. If he were then, say, to attempt to activate the centre or right wing then a -1 modifier applies. If this were successful then his next activation in this series would be -2 and so on. This modifier is “reset” by any “seize the initiative” attempt (successful or unsuccessful) and ends when play passes to the opponent and starts again when play returns to the same player.

I have played around using CCA blocks and the map from GMT’s Manoeuvre game and it seems to work okay for an alternative just for fun.

It might sound a little more involved than it really is so I will post an example which will hopefully assist.
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#1 [url]

Sep 5 16 8:35 AM

Example of play using alternative activation method (not including the optional rule).

It is the great battle of Zama in 202BC using TTS. The General’s line up as follows:-



Carthage –
Right Cavalry wing: Hanno (6)
Centre: Hannibal (5)
Left Cavalry wing: Tychaeus (6)

Rome –
Right Cavalry wing: Masinissa (6)
Centre: Scipio (4)
Left Cavalry wing: Laelius (6)

Rome is the game’s first active player and activates Masinissa’s cavalry first. As this is the first activation of the game it is automatic. Once Masinissa’s Command is finished, the Roman player selects Laelius on the left (he cannot selected Masinissa again) and declares him to be the next Command to activate. The Carthaginian player may now try to “Seize the Initiative” with any Command but declines to do so. The Roman player draws a card and compares it to Laelius’ rating, needing a 6+. It is a “7” so Laelius activates his Command normally. Had it been a 5 or lower then play would have passed to Carthage to activate any Command without the need for any test.

Once Laelius finishes, the Roman player decides to activate Masinissa again. Hannibal decides he cannot stand by so attempts to “seize the initiative” using Hannibal’s own centre Command. He draws a “5” which is enough (just) and Carthage is now the active side with Hannibal’s Command activating normally. Once Hannibal finishes activating the centre Command, Hannibal selects Hanno to be next. Scipio decides to try and “seize the initiative” using the Roman centre under Scipio for the attempt. He draws a “3” however and fails (as he needed a 4+). The play remains with Carthage and now Hannibal decides to activate the centre Command instead (as he has a free choice) getting two activations in succession for the centre Command (the only way this can happen).


I hope this short example helps. Be wary of using it in games if you have a particularly strong Command under a good General as if it gets a number of successive activations it can swing the game significantly but, otherwise, try it out for something different from time to time.

Mike

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#2 [url]

Sep 5 16 9:27 AM

Hi Mike-

Sounds interesting. As you mention I very much wanted a set of rules that can scale up for multiplayer games, which doesn't work well with a "seizing the initiative" type system. I could see that it might work very well for a two player game, though, and it's a good way of advantaging better generals.

Best, Simon

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