Monday, 29 October 2012

Two Flanks And A Centre

On the train and walk home from work tonight I was musing on how to do a Memoir '44/Battle Cry style activation system but without using cards. You see, the things is, I like the simple mechanisms of games like that, but I also like games that are easily played solo. The card mechanisms of those games don't make for good solo play. yes, you can devise systems to create a 'dummy' player, but I generally like to play solo games where I take the role of both players equally, not gaming against a system (I'll make an exception for Avalon Hill's 'Raid On St Nazaire' or 'B17 - Queen Of The Skies').

So, what am I after?

Well, anyone who knows the M44/BC style of game will know that you have a board divided into three sectors - two flanks and a centre. Cards allow you to activate a number of units in one or more sectors. By managing your hand you can try and ensure that you keep acting in a particular sector for as long as you need to, or wrong-foot your opponent by switching the focus of your activity.

I want to be able to simulate something like that, but without a hand of cards.

Leaving aside how many units are activated, the simplest solution is to say that on a turn the player rolls a D6 - on a 1-2 they operate on the Left Flank, on a 3-4 the Centre and a 5-6 the Right Flank. But where's the fun in that? It's totally random. What I want is a mechanism where a player can't necessarily choose which sector they will operate in that turn, but where they can influence that choice somehow. And, ideally, where their chance of influencing the choice of a particular sector decreases with time, forcing them to stop and regroup from time to time.

And this is what I came up with:

Both sides have six counter, numbered (imaginatively) 1-6.

They place these counters by each of the three sectors. At least one counter must be placed by each sector, but no sector may have more than three counters assigned to it. So, for example, the Left Flank (L) may have 1, 2 and 3, the Centre (C) 4 and the Right Flank (R) 5 and 6.

On your turn you roll a D6. You play into the sector containing the counter with the number rolled on the die. Easy. So if you roll a '1' you operate in the L sector. A '4' means the C sector.

All well and good; your activity is weighted to where you want it to be, but still random.

Having taken your turn, you must now move the counter with the number you rolled to another sector unless it's the only counter in that sector in which case it stays where it is. So if you roll a '1' you must move the counter, but a '4' means that it stays put.

A counter may be moved to either of the other two sectors, but no sector can end up with more than three counters. Obviously you will try and keep moving counter into the sectors in which you wish to move troops, increasing your chances of rolling that sector on your next turn. But each time you roll that secor you reduce your chance of getting it the next time.

So, with the above setup we have:


The player rolls a '1', so moves troops in the L sector. They move the 1 counter to the R sector:


On their next turn they roll a '4'. They move troops in the C sector, but the counter stays put. On the turn after they roll a '3'. That's the L sector again, and the 3 counter must move. It can't go to the R sector, as that already has three counters, so it must go to the C sector:


So whilst the player had weighted their efforts to the left, the odds have temporarily shifted away from them acting there in the next turn. Instead it looks likely they'll be operating in the second preference area, the Right Flank. In doing so, though, counters can be shifted back to the Left.

I hope this makes sense. I haven't tried it out with any thoroughness yet, so I don't really know how much choice it actually gives and how much less random than just assigning a one in three chance to each sector would be. But I hope it's a start.

Any comments welcome.


  1. Nice mechanic but it leads to a pointless result. It prevents you from reinforcing success, which is a fundamental military maxim.

    1. Sometimes success isn't always reinforced, and sometimes it's because of things outside of your control. Play Fire and Fury where a unit fails the roll to move at the critical moment. Play DBA where you roll a '1' for PIPs on two consecutive bounds and fail to exploit the advantage you've just created. Play Memoir '44 where the attack you are making on the left flank stops because you run out of cards for that flank. Most games with a C&C system will make you life difficult in this way at some point.


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