Tuesday, 18 June 2019
The Portable Wargame - Card-Based Initiative
I should say that I use a variation of the system, as Bob's method uses two packs of cards, whilst I use one. So the odds are different, but the principle is the same.
Essentially the system is this:
(i) Assign each side a colour - Red or Black
(ii) For a given side count up how many units it has. Halve that number, rounding up. This is the Initiative Value for that side.
(iii) In a deck of cards, find the two cards of the Initiative Value of the appropriate colour. In addition find the two cards for the Initiative Value + 1 and Initiative Value - 1. You should have six cards per side.
(iv) Shuffle the twelve cards together, along with a single Joker.
A 'turn' consists of drawing a card. The side whose card it is gets to perform actions with a number of units corresponding to the card's value. If the Joker is drawn the deck is reshuffled.
It's a simple system, and creates a nice ebb and flow. Mostly.
An issue with it is that it's possible for one side to get a run of cards, leaving the other somewhat flat-footed. In most systems which allow this as a possibility the side which loses out can be sure of getting their own run. But the Joker in the deck means that often one side can get a run of actions and then a reshuffle happens, creating a new deck before the other side gets a go. It happens often enough to be a little frustrating.
I have been considering how to limit this issue, whilst maintaining the essential nature of the system. My answer - currently untested - is this:
Assume you're starting with a freshly shuffled initiative deck. Draw a card as before. The side whose card it is gets to act with as many units as correspond to the value. Then draw another card. If it is for the same side, then its value is reduced by one when determining how many units can act. The next card in a continuous sequence for one side is reduced by two. And so on. If the value is reduced to zero or less, ten it is treated as '1'. This progressive reduction of value continues until either a card for the otehr side is drawn, or until the Joker is drawn, causing a reshuffle.
Example: Red has an Initiative Value of 5, so the six cards they have in the deck are two 4s, two 5s and two 6s. The first card is drawn and it is a Black card, so Black activates some units. The next card is a Red 6, so Red activates 6 units. The third card is a Red 4. Because this is the second Red card in a row, its value is reduced by one, so Red only activates 3 units. The fourth card is a Red 5. This is now the third card in a row for Red, so its value is reduced by two; Red once again only activates 3 units. The fifth card is the Joker, so the deck is reshuffled. And the first card from the new deck is a Red 5. Because the deck has been reshuffled, Red can use its full value and activates 5 units. And so on.
As you can see, it's still very possible for one side to be sat watching the other take continuous actions, but reducing the card values should tend to reduce the momentum such runs otherwise builds up and prevent the non-acting side being steamrollered.
The next step is, of course, to try this out.