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  • #73382

    One of the more enjoyable mechanisms in ‘The Sword & the Flame’ rules was the use of playing cards to activate units.

    Essentially, this means that drawing a red (hearts, diamonds) card allowed you to move/fire/etc a British unit, whilst a black (spades, clubs) card gave a native unit its turn. The nature of playing cards meant that sometimes you would get runs of one colour or the other, thus allowing one side a definite if periodic advantage. Exciting stuff.

    I’m thinking of taking this to ‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ in an AZW game.

    It would mean not using the game’s normal activation method (a unit throwing a D6 against its leader’s Leadership score) but AFAIK should not need any other adjustments.

    What do others think of the use of playing cards in games?

     

    donald

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Deleted User.
    #73385
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I’ve yet to try a ruleset that uses playing cards, but I’m coming around to the concept, having been leery of it in the past.

    At any rate, I do appreciate (to a point) any kind of mechanic that makes for an uneven pattern of unit activations. I don’t know or care whether it’s one of those things that just seem realistic to a wargamer but aren’t really (much like what reaction fire mechanics in wargames are often described as by some who claim to be in the know). I just like the idea of representing the concept of “initiative” as a random series of lucky and unlucky streaks where sometimes you get to activate a lot, sometimes not, and there’s no predetermined rhythm to the activations.

    One possible problem with playing cards is that it might be difficult to include modifiers like those for dice. For the kind of system of activation described in my previous paragraph, I do also like the idea of making it successively harder for a player who has the initiative to keep it the longer he/she has it. With dice this can easily be done by introducing an incremental modifier, so the player who’s been activating needs to roll again with an increasingly high threshold after each successful activation, in order to get another one. Dice roll modifiers can also be used to represent other situations where one side is more or less likely to keep the initiative based on special circumstances, such as in an ambush or when some turn of events in-game triggers either confusion/dismay/encumbrance or a jolt of activity in the ranks.

    Anyway, these were just some unweighed thoughts that came immediately to mind.

    #73389
    McKinstry
    Participant

    I’ve had fun with TSATF type systems or things such as the Musket & Tomahawk cards. It is just another form of randomizing an activity and you can always play with the math to adjust the percentages if you want to modify the potential outcomes.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    #73392

    I, too, enjoy card activation systems. Depending on the make up of the deck you can probably get as much odds tweaking as you can with die rolls. For example, if one side has twice as many activation cards as the other, then the odds are that it is going to have the initiative during the game. But there’s also a bit of karma involved. If the game calls for the entire deck to be used before reshuffling, then if one side gets a lucky streak early in the turn, the opposing side will benefit towards the end of the turn when its cards are flipped over. By its nature the mechanism is self balancing, though. Keep in mind that each time one side’s card is turned up, that reduces the chance of the same side getting the next card since the in-deck cards for that side is now one less.

    You can restrict options even more by allowing only infantry actions when an even card is turned, cavalry for odd cards and artillery for face cards, etc. Or even have specific cards represent specific units. Inserting an ‘end turn’ card adds even more unpredictability to the game. So, the intricacies can be quite complex but the actual game plays remains very simple: flip a card.

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    #73393
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    I’m thinking of taking this to ‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ in an AZW game. It would mean not using the game’s normal activation method (a unit throwing a D6 against its leader’s Leadership score) but AFAIK should not need any other adjustments.

    It should work, though you’ll have to make a special case for rallying I think.  It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

    #73395
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    you can always play with the math to adjust the percentages if you want to modify the potential outcomes.

    Depending on the make up of the deck you can probably get as much odds tweaking as you can with die rolls.

    I suppose that’s true. My main concerns, based on experiences from card games and board games that use cards, are that inelegantly designed rulesets may require frequent reshuffling and re-regulating the makeup of the deck in order to establish the “correct” odds (which can be tedious and disruptive), and that conversely, in the absence of frequent reshuffling, card decks can make for too much of a “metagame” for my tastes as players make complex calculations based on what they know of the remaining deck by process of elimination.

    Still, an elegantly designed set of rules could obviate both those problems, I suppose.

    #73398
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Card activation, one of my pet hates.

    YMMV

     

    "I'm not signing that"

    #73406

    I’m thinking of taking this to ‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ in an AZW game. It would mean not using the game’s normal activation method (a unit throwing a D6 against its leader’s Leadership score) but AFAIK should not need any other adjustments.

    It should work, though you’ll have to make a special case for rallying I think. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

    It’s your fault, Victoria. Looking at your AZW figures started me back to the period.

    One thing I may have to add is the ability to shoot if charged.  As you know TMWWBK’s allows firing only as an action. With cards, you could get wiped out without a chance to shoot. So, maybe fire at half effect if charged?

    donald

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Deleted User.
    #73408

    Card activation, one of my pet hates. YMMV

    This will probably sound snobbish & ruin the high regard I am held in at TWW……..

    but I wouldn’t use cards in this way for any period I take “seriously”. For me, Colonials are fun and “gamey” mechanisms are fine.

     

    donald

    #73410
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    It’s your fault, Victoria. Looking at your AZW figures started me back to the period. One thing I may have to add is the ability to shoot if charged. As you know TMWWBK’s allows firing only as an action. With cards, you could get wiped out without a chance to shoot. So, maybe fire at half effect if charged? 

    I guess it depends how your card activation works, if a single unit could use consecutive activations it would be needed, but if you had to have activated all units before you could have any of them do a second action then you’d probably be fine without a ‘defensive fire if charged’ rule.

    Though you might be better asking someone who has played more than one game of it. 

     

     

    #73412
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    I’ve used ‘draw a chit from the hat’ for many years, and like the unpredictability it injects.

    For more ‘serious’ venues the inclusion of a ‘borrowed’ chit that can be used by a unit/character that is attacked/engaged to respond to an action by the current unit/character works well enough to handle ambush and such stuff.

     

    Much hinges, imo, on the POV of a turn sequence.  I’ve been turning lately to the idea that a particular unit/figure is activated and can do something until the rest of the forces on the table (both enemy and ally) can react. The instance of two (or more?) consecutive activations simply represents the occurance of a particular unit/figure getting the jump on everyone else on the table -not that they ‘moved twice in a turn’.

     

    Thus the ‘borrowed chit’ idea: If attacked/engaged a unit/fig can react, but anyone else one the sidelines is left gaping like idiots ‘cuz…they are.

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    #73414
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    People seem to think that getting away from the ugoigo nature of trad wargames (once they abandoned simultaneous movement to written orders) is a good idea and randomising ‘activation’ via cards seems one of the more annoying mechanisms used to achieve this.

    Not only does it lead to bizarre runs of activity unrelated to planning, commander ability, troop quality, or anything else that a battlefield commander might consider, but designers and players alike seem to end up, if they are not careful, playing card games for the sake of it rather than wargames.

    But for me it sounds like TMWWBK has a perfectly good activation system. Why change it?

     

     

    #73416
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    People seem to think that getting away from the ugoigo nature of trad wargames (once they abandoned simultaneous movement to written orders) is a good idea

    I don’t like UGOIGO. Simple as that.

    #73417
    Norm S
    Participant

    I have used cards and the atmosphere is helped by buying a pack of specialised themed playing cards. I have a Waterloo set and a WWII set.

     

    #73418
    Norm S
    Participant

    search on Piatnik waterloo (they produced both sets).

     

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Norm S.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Norm S.
    #73422
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I don’t like UGOIGO. Simple as that.

    I understand people don’t (although I am never too convinced why they don’t – but it’s a personal preference so that’s okay) but why cards?

    Why not interleaved phases, dice throws, troop quality (better first), written orders and simultaneous move(if you must), randomised command/battle/division activations by dice etc? As soon as people introduce cards they tend to get motivated to do other ‘clever’ things with them. And if waiting for my go seems annoying -waiting for someone’s run of luck to end before it wipes out the planning, positioning and harbouring of resources I’ve done is even more aggravating.

    But I like my card games to be card games and my wargames to be…well you get the picture (Not  KQJ).

    #73425
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    What counts as UGOIGO?

     

    #73429
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    My opinion: card activation by unit is fun, as long as you have a small number of units and a small number of players in the game. Activating too many units one at a time makes the turn drag on too long. With SATF style activation, where a card can activate any one unit on a side, multiple players tend to debate which particular unit should get the activation, which slows the game even further. For a two player game with 4 or 6 units on each side, SATF style card activation can be fun.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #73435
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    I use tokens for activation, if you want to bias it towards your elite units or ones with the equivalent of ‘Big Men’ you can add tokens. I prefer activation a bit random, I don’t see why a player should be able to ‘get the Tiger shot in first’ just because he is desperate to do so. All soldiers are desperate to make their actions count (unless morale etc..).

    Back on topic, I only use the normal deck of cards for wildcard events because I like the feeling of “ooh, time to get the playing cards out”

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    #73442

    . But for me it sounds like TMWWBK has a perfectly good activation system. Why change it?

    The activation system for TMWWBKs is based on a dice roll, bequeathing a command level to the unit: surely as arbitrary as cards?

    As for “why change it?” I confess your comment, Guy, astonishes me.

    Why? Because it might be fun. Because I can. Because I want to put my stamp on the game. Because if I wanted something with immutable laws, I’d play chess. Because I want to explore the laws of chance as they might apply to a wargame. Etc.

    Might my introducing cards to the game end in a disaster? You bet. But then I can think some more & try something else. This is part of what wargaming is for me: and not the least part.

     

    donald

    #73471
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I don’t like UGOIGO. Simple as that.

    I understand people don’t (although I am never too convinced why they don’t – but it’s a personal preference so that’s okay) but why cards? Why not interleaved phases, dice throws, troop quality (better first), written orders and simultaneous move(if you must), randomised command/battle/division activations by dice etc? As soon as people introduce cards they tend to get motivated to do other ‘clever’ things with them. And if waiting for my go seems annoying -waiting for someone’s run of luck to end before it wipes out the planning, positioning and harbouring of resources I’ve done is even more aggravating. But I like my card games to be card games and my wargames to be…well you get the picture (Not KQJ).

    Card activation (which I’ve yet to try in a miniatures wargame) doesn’t strike me as a superior mechanic at all, and indeed, as I said earlier, it seems like there might be a potential pitfall with this system in the form of metagaming. Still, I’m one of those subversives who believe that the closest thing to perfection in wargaming is had by sampling lots of different rulesets and gameplay mechanics, as opposed to finding or crafting that one ostensible holy grail of a ruleset with the “perfect” mechanics and sticking with it. I believe that all rulesets and game mechanics are ultimately hit-and-miss, the difference between them is that each is a unique configuration of hits and misses, and variety is preferable to staying the course with any one specific configuration. That doesn’t mean all rulesets and game mechanics are equally good (there are some clunkers out there), but still, there are many that deserve a place in the grand smörgåsbord of wargaming. I do still sample UGOIGO rulesets occasionally as well (although I will admit I think of it as a somewhat dated choice of game design – we’re all allowed our idiosyncrasies).

    Anyway, generally I’m inclined to think that card-based activation and other card-based game mechanics work best for relatively “wild” rulesets, such as colonial games that emphasise a sense of adventure and “Boy’s Own” style storytelling, as opposed to ones that emphasise the wretchedness and hard-value limits of real colonial warfare. Thus, card-based game mechanics are one tool in a toolbox, good for some jobs, bad for others. I’d love to use card-based activation in a swashbuckler tavern brawl game. In a refight of Jutland… well, I’ll try anything once 

    As for interleaved phases, assuming you mean a system of “you activate one unit, then I active one unit”, then that’s the closest thing I have to comfortable home ground. I generally like this style of gameplay, but sometimes I feel that the “rhythm” could do with breaking up. Having my planning, positioning and harbouring of resources wiped out by a run of extraordinarily bad luck sounds to me like the makings of an interesting story, and hence a fun game.

    To be clear, though, I would normally prefer weighted randomness in what I call a “random” activation system. If circumstances seem likely (or at least believable given whatever degree of suspension of disbelief may be in effect) to affect the initiative or impetus of a unit or a side, then they ought to also affect the likelihood of that unit or side to get the next activation. Thus, factors like planning, commander ability and troop quality wouldn’t be left out of the equation.

    What counts as UGOIGO?

    I’ve always taken it to mean “you activate all your units once, then I activate all my units once”. Never really stopped to check if that’s how everyone else interprets it as well 

    #73482
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    Victoria Dickson wrote:

    What counts as UGOIGO?

    I’ve always taken it to mean “you activate all your units once, then I activate all my units once”. Never really stopped to check if that’s how everyone else interprets it as well

    I think of, say, DBA as a UGOIGO set of rules, in that the active player does everything they can then hands over to the opponent to do the same.  But they don’t get to move all their units.  Chess is UGOIGO, and you only get to move one ‘unit’ in a turn.

    I guess there’s no official definition, so we each interpret it differently which doesn’t aid discussion.  I think you leave IGOUGO when you allow the opponent to make choices during your turn.

    I think what Ochoin is proposing is to let the number of units you activate in your ‘turn’ be decided by how many of the same colour card come up in a row, which is similar to DBA ‘pips’ but you don’t get to know what the total will be till you run out of ‘pips’.  If that’s what he had in mind I’d say it was still UGOIGO.

     

     

    #73486
    MartinR
    Participant

    There are many variations on card based activation, and I have to say that the method used in TSATF is one of my least favourite as it can cause (very ) long runs of one side being a victim. Even worse is the variant where the deck gets reshuffled on a joker, which makes such runs even more likely. The same thing can of course happen in dice or initiative based sequences (BKC, Piquet, Crossfire etc) which is why my local gaming groups loathes all those sets of rules. Control freaks the lot of them. If you do want something a bit heroic/chaotic, then it work very well of course (and ideal for Colonial Adventures where we like to see some plucky heroism).

    A more controlled variant is to limit the deck to one colour card per unit (as in Fireball Forward, or the old AHGC Firefight) and possibly mix in a couple of extras for better commanded formations.

    Another is to play a card on each and every unit (both sides), then activate them in card suit/value order – which gives players the opportunity to do some some planning and resource management as well as producing interleaved semi-simultaneous activation. Events and restrictions can be placed on particular card types and e.g. HQs can play extra cards to override the default ones. I’ve used this method for ‘serious’ historical simulation games from 1850 to 1989.

    The very best ones let the players use cards as command assets, to be played as they will from a hand e.g. the entire Battle Cry/Command and Colours series. The new ‘Rommel’ rules effectively use cards for command, although they are modelled as HQ boxes instead, and the old East Front/West Front tank leader games made excellent use of command cards to simulate C3 and doctrinal differences.

    At that point you are of course playing a card game, with the figures merely the actors for the card play, but as Clausewitz noted, the closest parallel to warfare in civilian life is a card game with its elements of deception, bluff and odds calculations.  An interesting take on warfare as a card game is Phil Sabins ‘Kartenspiel’ as described in his book ‘Simulating War’. I had the pleasure of running this a couple of times at the Conference of Wargamers earlier this year, great fun with ten players. A completely dice free simulation of a multi Corps Napoleonic battle using only cards.

     

     

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #73497

    I mostly play solo so I use cards all the time. Normal playing cards for TASF and Piquet cards for when I use those rules.

    #73531
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    Drawing cards to activate units cannot be seen independently form the other mechanics in the game, and specifically the move/combat mechanisms. It works best when every unit sort of can act alone, and coordination between friendly units is at a minimum.

    The medium of using cards allows for additional mechanisms such as keeping and managing a hand of cards, which puts decision making in the loop. Otherwise, it’s just a randomization device that can as easily be implemented by chits or dice as well.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Phil Dutré.

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