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  • #125747
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    I’ve had an aspiration kicking around in my head for years, now, to write the ultramodern/sci-fi skirmish game I’ve always wanted to play.  I’ve played Infinity and that had some of what I wanted but ended up just being to “game-y”.  I’ve tried Black Ops, but it was a bit bland.  I gave Rogue Stars a try, but it was too schlock-y.  Probably the closest thing I found was Tomorrow’s War, but it was optimised at a higher model count than I was looking for.  For a long time I was an Inquisitor fan, because of the narrative freedom it permitted, but in the end that was just TOO open-ended.

    I really wanted a game in which I could lavish my attention on a small collection of miniatures, which didn’t dictate what I could and couldn’t take within the bounds of reason, and which would let me enjoy narrative freedom within a sensible rules framework.  Most importantly, I wanted a game I could play as easily solo as I could co-operatively as I could competitively.  Now, there are a few games doing this, now, but when I started work, the cupboard for miniatures games you could play both solo and PvP was entirely bare.

    I made several abortive starts on these rules over the years, from about 2005.  But it wasn’t until a year or so after Horizon Wars had been out that I was struck by the idea that eventually led to Zero Dark.  So many people joined the Horizon Wars community declaring their intent to play HW with 28mm miniatures that I realized that, in Horizon Wars, I already had the framework that people were looking for.  It was a bit simplistic at that scale.  It had a lot of things it just couldn’t do.  And it wasn’t terribly narrative.  But it was a start.

    So I took Horizon Wars back to the table and started tweaking it to do the things I wanted it to do.  By April 2017 I had the basic concept for the game down: players build a small team of 3-6 characters in a similar way to mechs in HW – a pool of points to spend on stats, and a list of extra upgrades they can also take.  Then there was the Red Force: a small number (6-10) of enemy models on the tabletop that were controlled by the flip of a playing card.

    But it’s taken most of the last two years, testing each part of the rules, carefully balancing out the different options and advantages, playing missions, playing operations (linked missions) and campaigns (linked operations!) and trying out every conceivable combination of upgrades and options and stats to try my level best to ensure there’s no “easy button”.

    So now I’m working towards independent publication.  Obviously, I’m keen to promote the rules.  There will be a limited public beta release in December.  There will be a less limited beta release to Patreon backers.  But I’ll be blogging on my own site and, on a later schedule, across several forums with intersted groups, to tell them about the mechanics and the challenges that the process encounters and how they are then resolved.

    #125754
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    What sort of tech will it be using, or will it be generic.

    Heavy rifle and medium rifle, rather than gauss gun and particle carbine?

    Not that it makes any odds as you can change names.

    But curious all the same.

    #125776
    ian pillayian pillay
    Participant

    I Like the idea of it being solo / cooperative play from the ground up rather than being core rules with solo bolt on. Good luck with the rest of the project.

    Tally-Ho!

    #125778
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Just like HW, weapons will be defined by their properties, rather than their names.  So a character has a Fight stat that broadly describes their shootiness, then you can make them Lethal, or Suppressed, or Explosive or whatever combo you want to recreate the particular weapon you have in mind.  Grenades are dealt with separately.

    #125795
    RuarighRuarigh
    Participant

    Very interested in this. I like HW, so a solo/co-op skirmish game based on that engine appeals greatly.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    https://roderickdale.co.uk/

    #125810
    Olaf MeysOlaf Meys
    Participant

    Sounds like it’s right up my street, particularly the solo from the outset idea.

     

    I’ll be following this for sure. The only real question for me is about the mechanics. Do you plan to use any cards?

    http://mainly28s.com
    wargames review site...

    #125816
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Mr. Picky finds himself mildly baffled by the name. Do you suppose that “Zero Dark” is half an hour before Zero Dark Thirty? I don’t think it works quite like that.

    The British equivalent always used to be “Oh Christ Hundred Hours”, but now there’s a film out I’m sure we’ll all switch to the American term.

    All the best,

    John.

    #125826
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    John will be pleased to know that an answer to his question will be the first piece of text in the book.  Yes, it comes from Zero Dark Thirty.  When I was in the Army it was called Oh Dark Hundred, but the “Z” was too good to miss (there are more Zs in the future – they’re like typographical hexagons).

    Olaf – yes, a deck of normal playing cards runs the AI system to operate the Red Force.

    R.

    #125851
    Olaf MeysOlaf Meys
    Participant

    Oh dear- that makes me a little concerned. I very strongly dislike any card-based mechanics…

     

    Still, I’d love to hear more before I make a final call on them.

    http://mainly28s.com
    wargames review site...

    #125900
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Copy/paste from a recent blog:

    The Control Deck runs the artificial intelligence behind the Red Force. It’s a normal deck of 54 playing cards. After every character activation, you flip the Control Deck. The result dictates the behaviour of the Red Force.

    The value of the card tells you which bogey will act. The suit tells you what they will do. If you flip a Joker, you get a complication – this can be anything from more bogeys to a booby trap.

    Bogeys come in three basic flavours: Grunts, Elites and Bosses. Grunts are plentiful and die easily, but they can gain support tokens that make them tougher or deadlier. Elites are harder to put down and more dangerous. But most dangerous of all is the Boss. Complications can introduce special bogeys, like the Sniper or the dreaded Defence Mech.

    You can manipulate the Control Deck in a few ways. The most basic is to move cautiously. A cautious move, if successful, negates the primary action on a Control Deck flip. Another way is to take a Spook: a special kind of hero. A Spook gives you a hand of cards from the deck that you can play at any time to replace the actual flip.

    However, the Control Deck also performs a second important role: it is the mission timer. Once you run out of cards the mission is over. If you’ve not finished, you lose. There are lots of things you can do in the game that give you advantages, but which “run down the clock” – that is, they remove cards from the deck, so you have less time to complete your mission.

    #126043
    Olaf MeysOlaf Meys
    Participant

    Hmmmm- interesting.

     

    http://mainly28s.com
    wargames review site...

    #126044
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    I’ll take that as a positive response given your antipathy to card-based mechanics.

    #127403
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    We all love a good heist movie, don’t we? My favourite bit is the early chapter – usually done as a montage or series of short, choppy scenes with a unifying musical track – when the Boss puts his team together. Whether it’s Ocean’s Eleven, Hogan’s Heroes or Justice League, you get this sense of a diverse group of character, each with their own particular strengths and weaknesses, who come together to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

    When I wrote the rules for building your “X Teams” (whether the X stands for Exploration, Extermination or something else is for you to decide) in Zero Dark, I really wanted to capture some of that flavour as well as borrowing from the popular Horizon Wars mechanics for building custom mechs – but with even more creative freedom!

    The baseline is that each hero – the main type of character, the other being allies, who are a bit different – gets 15 stat points to spend on four stats that will look a bit familiar to Horizon Wars players: M, F, A and D. But they mean something a little different in Zero Dark: Mobility, Fight, Acuity and Discipline. The first two are physical stats. The latter two are essentially mental stats.

    Then you can add as many upgrades to each hero as you like!

    What? That makes no sense!

    Mad, right? Well, the thing is, if you’re playing solo or co-op, then you add up all the upgrades you’ve taken on your characters and then you run down the clock by that many cards. So, sure, by all means take a ludicrous bunch of upgrades for a superhuman hero, but you’ll have less time to complete your mission.

    Now, things are slightly balanced in the heroes’ favour, because upgrades are better than the clock. This allows you to balance how hard you want any given mission to be by giving your heroes more upgrades and abilities. It’ll run down the clock, but your advantages will mostly off-set that disadvantage. Mostly.

    In a PvP missions, you must agree with your opponent how many upgrades you get to take on each hero. So there are no limits, but your opponent has the same advantages you do. The default position is 4/16/4, or 4 heroes with a maximum of 16 upgrades, a maximum of four of which are allocated to each hero.

    Makes a bit more sense, now?

    Hmmm… OK, so what are the upgrades?

    There are loads of upgrades, but they split down into five main types: specialisms (of which you can have a maximum of one of each in your team), traits, gadgets, weapons and allies. One of the traits – “synthetic” – also gives you access to things like artificial intelligences, robots and drones.

    They sound really interesting! Tell me more.

    I will. Next week, we’ll talk about allies. If you want to know more about the others, you’ll just have to wait. 😉

    #127407
    Olaf MeysOlaf Meys
    Participant

    Still following this.

    http://mainly28s.com
    wargames review site...

    #127408
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Thanks, Olaf!  It helps to know I’m not crying into the wind.

    R.

    #127409
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    I r following too.

    #127448
    Thorsten FrankThorsten Frank
    Participant

    Thanks, Olaf! It helps to know I’m not crying into the wind. R.

    What? I actually wait for your take on skirmish gaming since you first announced this project a few years ago on the HW group.
    Actually I used Horizon Wars much more then I intended first over the past years.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #127450
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    No man is a prophet in his own town, and no game designer can get any bugger to come and play his new game with him, so it’s always hard to know how much anyone really cares until you actually publish the damn thing.  But Patreon campaign is amazing because it gives me an immediate group of people who are already paying for the privilege of staying up to date with work.  It’s very motivating.

    Anyway, for an insight into the mechanics, check out my new video.

    Suffice to say that I am a game designer, not a video director…

    #127453
    Olaf MeysOlaf Meys
    Participant

    I’m still interested.

    http://mainly28s.com
    wargames review site...

    #128638
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    There’s no limit to how many heroes you take in a game of Zero Dark, but I tend to find that 3-5 is the sweet spot. Beyond that, and you’ll find that some heroes just don’t do much because it turns out you don’t need their particular skills, and if you’re playing co-op, there’s a lot of downtime for those who aren’t activating their particular hero. It’s a lot like an RPG. To have a good game, you need an interesting party, but if the party is unwieldy the game tends to get out of hand and it spoils everyone’s fun.

    But even if you only have two or three heroes, you can still get more friendly minis on the table by taking allies.
    Allies are a special sort of upgrade that adds another character to the X Team. “Character” is a generic term for the main players in your drama. Heroes are the leads, but they can still have a supporting cast. You could even have a single hero and a range of supporting characters alongside him or her. There are three options for allies in the starting line up of the game:

    Remotes are synthetic assistants. At their most basic, they are simply an expendable drone that can rush up to objectives and interact with them when it’s too dangerous to send a hero: zipping around that unexpected enemy mech, or clambering over an otherwise-unscalable object. But they can be improved with a number of their own upgrades, including adding weapons to them to create a mobile gun platform.

    Close Protection Dogs are trained to take on an enemy that gets too close to their principle. Great for helping keep smart but weak heroes alive, CP Dogs can also work with the more lethal type of hero to allow them to take on more than one enemy at once!

    Embedded Journalists are both burden and buff for heroes. On the one hand, no one like operating under the scrutiny of the media. But it certainly does help to focus the mind! Heroes who are acting within the line of sight of an emjay get bonuses to their actions, but if the emjay gets killed, that’s very much the definition of “bad news”.

    Allies provide a few things to Zero Dark. The first and, to be honest, most important is the option to put some new and unusual miniatures on the tabletop that you might always have liked but never known what to do with. At its heart, Precinct Omega is about giving you excuses to use the miniatures you love more than the miniatures someone tells you you have to use. But there’s no value in minis that look great but don’t contribute to the game. All the allies are designed to enhance the natural abilities of the heroes: not powerful on their own, but a force multiplier that can make the difference between success and failure at the right moment.
    Next blog (sorry this one was a bit later than planned) will look at some of the other types of upgrade and what they add to your X Team.

    #128639
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    In the Zero Dark setting, it’s kind of assumed that your X Team is going to be made up of specialists: serious, military operators who consider the work of entering an area, killing the enemy, securing the objective and extracting to base to be… well, their job. It’s a job they are good at and they understand and accept those risks.

    It should be said that, for those who want to, you can entirely ignore the setting and create your own. The team could just be a rag-tag group of tourists, lost in a Westworld-like robot theme park, or a gang of Jedi younglings trying to escape from Order 66. But for the purposes of this blog, we’ll assume they are the default scifi military operators.

    The nature of a special forces team is that each team member will tend to fill a particular role. Everyone can do everything, but everyone is the best in the team at doing one particular thing. Specialisms represent that particular level of special expertise. As a result, any one hero can have only one specialism.

    The Leader is, obviously enough, the one in charge. But whilst every team has a leader, not every team has a Leader. In this sense, a leader has a level of personal charisma and dedication that inspires the members of the team to out-perform even their own high standards. A leader gets a pool of re-roll dice that, used wisely, can make the difference between victory and defeat. But if the leader goes out of action, unused dice may be lost.

    A Doc isn’t necessarily (or even, perhaps, usually) an actual doctor. A doc has a gift for combat medicine that will often make “proper” medical professionals despair when they see the mess of dressings, random environmental objects and analgesics these guys dispense to keep their team mates on their feet when all good sense should have put them on a stretcher. Docs can re-roll any or all of the dice in medic tests performed on a non-synthetic character.

    An EWOp is an Electronic Warfare Operator, often called a “combat hacker” by the media, although it’s not something you should call them to their faces. EWOps can seriously mess with the enemy game-plan, buffing their friends, de-buffing their opponents and dominating enemy synthetics, turning them into allies. Electronic Warfare opens up a whole new dimension of play.

    Sappers have come a long way from digging trenches by the time of Zero Dark. If EWOps deal with software, these guys deal with hardware. They unlock remotes as allies, carry sentry devices, like mines and sentry guns, and can act like docs when doing medic tests on synthetic characters. If you just need to reliably blow something up, you want a sapper.

    No team likes having to work with Spooks. It’s rarely clear who, exactly, they work for or even if the name they gave was their real one. They have a weird level of insight to enemy plans but only ever seem to be involved when the missions are particularly difficult. Spooks manipulate the Control Deck by removing cards (running down the clock) which they can they put back in to replace any flip result with a preferable one.

    What do you think of Zero Dark‘s selection of specialists? Are there any we haven’t included that you think ought to be in there?

    In the next blog, we’ll look at the remaining categories of upgrades – armour, weapons, gadgets and traits.

    #129380
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    At the encouragement of my patrons (I think they back me just for the fun of making me dance to their tune) I did a livestream demo of a game of Zero Dark.

    Because it was my first YouTube livestream, I started it ten minutes early and rambled to no one whilst trying to make sure everything was working properly, so fast forward to 00:10:12 for the start of the actual demo game.

    R.

    #130105
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Upgrades make up a large chunk of the rulebook, but I don’t want to spend too long dwelling on them in the design blog. So this will be the last blog talking about them and I’ll cover off the remaining categories:

    Armour is a simple numerical value from 0 to 8 and it has three effects: first, it makes you harder to hit. This is borrowed directly from Horizon Wars and, although it sounds counter-intuitive, I’m sticking with it and I’ll explain why in a moment. Second, it makes you harder to injure. This is more logical, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    To expand on these two points: basic armour – let’s say AV3 – has the equal effect in both directions: it adds +3 to the effective range to the target and you roll 3 dice in the counter-test against the shooting attack. The core rules don’t include anything but basic armour, but the door is open for advanced armour types which may add or subtract from these. So you could have, for example, AV3 chameleon armour that adds +1 to the effective range but subtracts -1 from the counter-test. Or AV3 bulky armour that subtracts -1 from the effective range, but adds +1 to the counter-test.

    Just to emphasize: this is something that will follow the basic rules in the supplements and expansions to the game, but it serves to explain why these two complementary aspects of armour sit alongside each other.

    The third effect of armour is that it makes climbing and jumping harder. This is the reason why all heroes start with AV1, but you can either drop that to AV0 or raise it to AV2 without it counting as an upgrade or otherwise. If you want an agile ninja of a hero, you might want them to be AV0 despite the risks.

    Weapons in Zero Dark are abstract in a similar way to Horizon Wars. I don’t care whether your hero has an M919x gauss rifle or a Beltway-7 laser pistol. All I care about it what it does to a target. So weapon upgrades might be better described as “weapon effects”. Weapons might be lethal, or explosive for example. This leaves players maximum freedom to use miniatures equipped really however they please as long as they can justify the weapons based upon their effects.

    An exception to this is grenades, which I thought were essential to a game like Zero Dark and which come in a broad array of types from simply fragmentation grenades to ones which simply put everyone in its area of effect into the “targeted” state.

    It’s worth noting, though, that Zero Dark doesn’t use templates. I’ve always found the binary predictability of weapon templates to be… unsatisfying. Explosive weapons in Zero Dark are unpredictable and dangerous. With the right (wrong?) dice roll you can potentially blow yourself up with your own weapon, so keep that in mind before you pull the trigger.

    Gadgets are other bits of kit that aren’t weapons: we’ve got your nanoweave invisibility cloaks and your see-in-the-dark visors; we’ve got jump packs and exoskeletons. If there’s an advantage to be pressed, we’ll try to help you press it.

    One of the cool things I’ve tried to build in to gadgets in particular is synergy. That is, there are gadgets that you’ll look at and think “why would I spend an upgrade slot on that?” – and you’d be right. There is at least one gadget – the relay visor – that, on its own, is entirely useless. But in synergy with another character with a relay upgrade, such as a zipper drone, suddenly your EWOp can stay out of trouble’s way whilst lighting up enemy targets like no one’s business!

    That’s just one example. There are a few deliberate synergies built into the gadgets and, I hope, even more accidental ones waiting for players to unlock.

    Last of all, Traits are those subtle qualities that turn someone from merely being a character to being a hero: little tweaks that let them break some rule or do something better than other characters. Most of the traits are self-explanatory – things like courageous and athlete – but there is at least one that will require a design blog all of its own: synthetic.

    So I’ll leave off there and next time we’ll look at synthetic characters, why you would want to take them and what they can do.

    #130106
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    So I’ll leave off there and next time we’ll look at synthetic characters

     

    I prefer the term artificial person myself.

    #130109
    Thorsten FrankThorsten Frank
    Participant

    I really like what you write about weapons!
    Ok, I´m a little fanboy when it comes to read about futuristic firearms but I´ve got PLENTY of RPG books for that to choose of.
    But the unpredictability of weapon effects, especially grenades, is something I love. I know there are people out there that disagree with me but it gives the whole thing a touch more  of realism (like one thing I experienced one with a HG going off after under one second and feeling the shrapnels flying over me or giving new orders to a LAW guy while he was firing – luckily both cases in ex.).
    I wonder if you want to integrate rules for interacting environment (the odd fuel barrel etc) . Ok, it makes the game more or less unrealistic but may add to the fun factor.
    What you write about the armor mechanics is good too. This is one of the things I love with HW.

    The more you talk about ZeroDark the more it get´s on my wish list (ok – it IS already on the list for a while now but it makes me want it even more)

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #130114
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    You can back my Patreon for early access, remember!

    https://www.patreon.com/precinctomega

    I’ve just had two great chunks of feedback from a couple of patrons and spent a couple of days making adjustments based on their excellent suggestions.

    Dynamic terrain is a great idea, but one I think I’ll save for when I publish the first campaign book (currently July 2020), as it’s best suited to solo or team missions where the players have 100% control over what they put in and what they leave out.

    You just have to look at my Zero Dark Pinterest art page to see that I also love scifi weapons.  But the moment you start saying “this is a boltgun” or “this is a laser pistol” suddenly you’re limiting people’s choices of miniature and that’s the opposite of what I want to do.  I want people to be inspired by their miniatures collection to create characters that suit them, rather than restricted by the rules to use only minis that suit *my* vision.

    By the way, I also have a Zero Dark Pinterest miniatures page.  Suggestions are welcomed.

    #130347
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Skip to 00:10:30 when I remembe to turn on my microphone.  You don’t miss anything important.

    This is a long one! Follow my attempt to infiltrate enemy territory and secure classified data with my team of heroes. The opening is slightly more relevant, this time (barring my minute away from the screen to fetch a cup of tea).

    R.

    #131309
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Synthetic characters are some of my favourite bits of the game.

    The first thing I need to point out, because some patrons pointed out that it wasn’t immediately obvious, is that heroes – your team’s main features – can be synthetic.  In fact, it’s often a good idea to have at least one synthetic character in a team as you’ll see.
    Synthetic heroes come in three flavours:

    Robots are sci-fi staple androids: human- or roughly-human-shaped, independent and a bit stupid or, at least, not as independent as a true intelligence.  They are smart enough to move quickly, fire accurately and to help and support their allies, but they must be given a program that dictates broadly what they do with each action when they are activated.

    Drones are best thought of as robots with human minds.  Their operator is likely to be some way away, but sees what the drone sees and acts accordingly.

    Artificial Intelligences meanwhile are digital superminds that exist on the Battlenet, but which are able to “bodysnatch” other synthetics on the Battlenet to take an active role on the battlefield.

    Let’s look at some of what makes each of them special.

    First of all, all synthetics are “inhuman” – this makes them immune to the feelings of panic that fleshy beings feel when they are shot at and immune to any other effect that causes stress (an effect in the game that causes characters to freeze and have to use actions – and run down the clock – to get back in the game).  The other thing all synthetics have is an immunity to the effect of the heatlight visor.  I’ve not mentioned this upgrade before, but it gives some pretty major advantages to the wearer when shooting at warm-bodied targets – but it doesn’t help at all against synthetics.  In playtesting the PvP game, we found that people do love the heatlight visor, but their faces fell when facing an all-synthetic enemy!
    Then each type of synthetic also gets its own advantages.

    Drones are all Alert – this gives them a 360 degree arc of awareness: literally eyes in the backs of their heads.  Other than that, they really are “one of the team” and are otherwise just like any other hero.

    Robots may have the limitation of their program, but each program confers another upgrade.  For example, the Assassin program confers the Stealthy upgrade.

    Robots also have a special relationship with EWOps (see above for details on EWOps) because one of the things EWOps can do to a robot is change its program.  So if you’ve got a robot with a Medical program but you really need it to go kill that Boss, you can use the EWOp to re-program it to the Assault program.  Of course, this sword cuts both ways. EWOps in the PvP game can hack enemy robots to change their program, too!

    AIs get an upgrade of your choice for free (although they can’t be Leaders, and can’t have weapon upgrades for obvious reasons).  They also have a special relationship with other synthetics, but whilst the EWOp’s is relatively benign, the AI is more of a puppet master.  An AI can possess another synthetic, gaining the possessee’s upgrades (as well as its own) and replacing the possessee’s stats with the AI’s.  This can be a great manoeuvre for objective grabbing or saving a colleague’s life, as a high-F/low-A character can be replaced with a low-F/high-A one with the right skills for the moment.

    When you face enemy synthetics, be it in the PvP or solo/team mode, an EWOp can also dominate enemy synthetics, joining them to their own Battlenet and making them available for a friendly AI to possess them.

    I hope you’ll have seen, just from this short visit to the Battlenet, that synthetics can really mix up your tactical options in a game and provide some tempting choices for a small team.  A popular combination for a 4-person team has been a robot with the Medical program, an AI Spook, a drone EWOp and a human Leader.  But for all that is has some fancy synergies, it’s not an unbeatable combination or a guaranteed win in a solo mission: after all, you have one fewer ally on the table unless the EWOp can dominate an enemy synthetic.  And the robot is basically incapable of claiming objectives, which can put you in trouble if the other side has some good shooting results at the wrong moment.

    In the next blog, having touched upon it in this one, we’ll have a look at Electronic Warfare in more detail and talk about the extra dimension that EWOps bring to the team.

    #131344
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    Interesting stuff.

    #131482
    ThomastonThomaston
    Participant

    Very interesting read. I’m really looking forward to seeing this.

    Tired is enough.

    #131496
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    The nature of a special forces team is that each team member will tend to fill a particular role.
    [snips]
    The Leader is, obviously enough, the one in charge.
    [snips]
    A Doc
    [snips]
    An EWOp is an Electronic Warfare Operator, often called a “combat hacker”
    [snips]
    Sappers
    [snips]
    Spooks.

    An interesting comparison with the classic SAS specialisms of demolitions, medic, signaller, and linguist. Your “sapper” and “doc” fairly clearly correspond to demolitions and medic. Less clear, but I think discernible, is the correspondence between “EWOp” and signaller — EW is really a sub-specialism within signals, and traditionally high-speed morse was always more of a core skill than the ability to handle the Low Orbit Ion Cannon. Least clear of all is the correspondence between linguist and spook, although even anglophone nations have by now mostly realised that it’s helpful for intelligence purposes if you can speak the other side’s language.

    “Leader” does not strike me as a good category for specialising in. I think most armies would argue that leadership is a “generalism”, that is, everybody should be expected to do it at some level.

    Then again, the futuristic setting and the way you’ve described EWOp and Spook suggest to me that technology will be used to provide magic-like effects, so perhaps I should be thinking of Sapper, Doc, EWOp and Spook as corresponding to fighter, cleric, thief, and mage.

    All the best,

    John.

    #131497
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Your analysis is pretty much spot-on, John.  The book itself also addresses the other point about leaders in that there are leaders (the one in charge) and Leaders, who are especially gifted in this area.  The specialism refers to those who are thus gifted.  They are probably going to be officers or Senior NCOs with legendary reputations for not only succeeding against the odds but also of bringing back their people alive.

    #131498
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Although, EWOps are mages and Spooks are more like bards.</p>

    #131540
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Although, EWOps are mages and Spooks are more like bards.</p>

    I’m now pondering designs for qualification badges for jobs like “Unix wizard”, “Black hat hacker”, “Red teamer”, “Low Orbit Ion Cannoneer”, “Information Targeteer”, and “Winning-the-Narrative Raconteur”. I expect 77 Bde will be needing something along those lines, if they don’t already have them.

    The book itself also addresses the other point about leaders in that there are leaders (the one in charge) and Leaders, who are especially gifted in this area. The specialism refers to those who are thus gifted.

    It’s certainly well-attested that “opinion leaders” are not always the same people as are formally appointed to official leadership positions. However, I still don’t think it is an exclusive specialism in the way the others are — I think there’s a case for this being something that can be doubled-up with the other specialisms.

    I think it’s “War on the Mind” that points out that 2-i-c is a job that requires different qualities from leading. Whereas leading requires initiative, active communication skills and an impression of bold certainty, second-in command requires the ability to support the boss’ initiatives, listening skills, and the ability to check up for dropped bollocks. Second in command is not at all the same thing as a leader writ smaller. So maybe “deputy” as another double-uppable specialism like “leader” might be a thing. The very best successes don’t come from good leaders or good deputies, but a good leader and a good deputy working in tandem.

    All the best,

    John.

    #131552
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    There is an upgrade called “Second” that isn’t a specialism (you only get a maximum one of each specialism).

    Glad to hear you’re getting into the spirit of the game!

     

    #131715
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Marc T has posted a blog about his experience trying out the PvP mode for Zero Dark:

    First game of Zero Dark

    #131721
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    This bit confuses me.

    “You have the number fifteen to be divided between them. None may have less than 2. Some figures are given bonuses, so on one figure we could allocate 17 points”

    If you have 4 stats, and each must be allocated a minimum of 2 (so 8 in total) this gives you 7 left, how then can one stat be allocated 17?
    Am I being dim?

    😀

    “What’s more, it has me digging out some old figures, that have sat in boxes for some time, to make up my own force. Always a good sign of good game.”

    Can’t argue with that!

    #131725
    ThomastonThomaston
    Participant

    This looks very prmissing. How long did the game take?

    @Mike
    I assumed it was 17 total points (15+2 bonus) to spend on one figure.

    Tired is enough.

    #131733
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Thomaston has it correct.  15 points plus 2 bonus points.  Also worth saying that stat has a maximum of 6.

    #132461
    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins
    Participant

    Cover art!

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