It's been a busy weekend, partly spent laying out the game. The writing is mostly done, but a key element still to be finalised is the points system.
For those not sure, points are a rough measure of how valuable an individual is in-game, useful in trying to set up evenly-matched battles. In my case the calculation is complicated by the fact it isn't necessarily a wargame, more a skirmisher and worldbuilder hybrid, with RPG-like ideas.
I saw three posts on points this weekend, two at quirkworthy dealing with the issue in general terms - here and here - and one at Rules Manufactorum re 40K, here. Value also came up in this post at All Things Fett on orc numbers for a tower assault ruleset.
Following up on all of that, I thought I might describe a possible alternative approach for squad-level games I've been mulling over. It's nothing revolutionary, but might be useful.
The idea is to introduce a simple self-balancing mechanism, something that might better allow the players to put down any value of force without needing to worry about how equal they are. For simplicity I suggest using the squad as the basic measure of value, but of course the problem here is the fact a squad could be of any size and composition.
A way around that variability is allowing a player to recycle a destroyed unit in a later turn, on a 50% chance say, as if a sudden weakening in the front is being reinforced.
So far, so ordinary - we see this often. And it only does a limited job, when a massively more powerful force could still overwhelm the other in short order, recycling or no.
But what about if a force destroying a unit then incurs a one-unit handicap on its own recycling? That is to say, what if the next unit of this force to be destroyed is not recycled, as if the strong performance means reserve units are directed elsewhere?
Let's see an example. Force A destroys two of B's units in the first turn; these may reappear to help B in later turns. But force B can now destroy two of A's units without them reappearing. Only the third of A's units destroyed would be eligible for recycling.
It might be argued that this is unfair to the stronger force, but the point here is that we don't know which has the more value; the system reacts to the events on the table. On the other hand, if the forces being used are by chance equal in value, this would increase the challenge for the stronger player and give the weaker a helping hand.
It could mean more circling or probing, with a bold strike needing to be well set up, and so suggest more respect for the troops, and hint at the larger battlezone. It could keep things tighter through the game, not to mention make spontaneous games easier.
How does it look? The principle is the issue, given victory conditions are crucial, use of squads can be switched out and the idea refined. As ever, thoughts are very welcome.