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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Using Initiative

Hi all,

Every now and again, I go through a phase of "tweaking" rules for games to try something a bit different. Most of these get forgotten, but every now and again something gets filed away for review (and then, of course, gets forgotten!) A few posts over the last few weeks have taken me back to an old idea for changing priority in 40K. In particular, Marcin made me think with this, and Goatboy had Characters and Vehicles under the spotlight on BoLS.

OK, so the first question to answer, I guess, is why? Well, I think that there is a flaw with you-go-I-go (YGIG)- whoever goes first has a huge advantage in firepower. Being able to move, shoot and assault with no response from the enemy can be devastating. Don't agree? Check out any article referring to Alpha Strike, and how to pull it off/deal with it. OK, so it is possible. Also, have a look at the ruleset these  posts refer to- yes, it is exclusively 40K- not many other games (I am only aware of 1, in fact) make it possible for you to win on turn 1.

Right- now that we've identified something that can be fixed (note- not Should Be fixed- I am not advocating re-writing 40K here) then it's time to look at alternatives. Many people over the years have suggested different methods: Priority roll every turn (LotR), Orders (Command and Control, Epic Space Marine), Games Masters (any game you like, really) are a few. I looked at the Initiative statistic.

This is the idea: units activate according to their Initiative value. Simple right? Yes, until you dig a little deeper, but hey, that's life. This is going to get a bit wordy now:

Turn Structure and Priority

The turns now look like this:

1) Priority: Both players roll a dice- whoever scores highest, has the Priority for this turn

2) Move and Shoot- The unit with the highest Initiative on the table can Move and Shoot. Where units have the same Initiative, the player who won Priority this turn decides which player activates their units first. All units that player controls than Move and Shoot, followed by their opponent.
2a) Note- Initiative acts in groups, so if Player A has three units at I:5, and Player B has two units at I:5 then the player with Priority decides which group of units activates. If we say Player B has Priority and decides to go first, then BOTH UNITS may Move and Shoot before Player A.

3) Units activate in Initiative groups, I:10 to I:1, until all unit have moved and fired.

4) Assault- Units can launch an Assault in Initiative order, the same as above. (This means that units with higher Initiative are good at launching assaults, units with low initiative are good at counter-assaults) Units with Furious Charge count as 1 higher initiative for Priority in this round.

5) Rally- all units that can Rally do so at the same time- Priority is ignored. Units which are fleeing do not count as enemy within 6" for this purpose, so two units can Rally next to each other if there are no other enemy around.

Additional changes:

Vehicles have Initiative equal to their crew equivalent. So a Space Marine vehicle is I:4, and Ork Battlewagon is I:2 and an Eldar Falcon is I:4. If a Vehicle is Crew Shaken it suffers -1 Initiative (to a minimum of 1) and if Crew Stunned it suffers -2 Initiative (to a minimum of 1) in addition to all other affects. Units disembark based on the vehicles Initiative rather than their own (the crew concentrate on damage control / panicking / writing their will rather than opening the doors)

If a unit has different Initiative values, then use the highest. This is mainly to reflect Characters issuing orders to the Soldiers under their command. Wargear does not effect this (just in case Grot Assistants can break the rule in some way).

A models Wargear will never effect it's Priority, unless specifically stated. So a Power Fist only makes a Chapter Master I:1 when working out who strikes who first in Close Combat.

Finally, Fearless units activate at the start of the round. For example, a Chaos Space Marine force comprises of Space Marines, and 1 unit of Khorne Berzerkers. When I:4 comes around, the Berzerkers must be the first unit to move and shoot, and the first unit to assault. Where more than unit is Fearless, the player with Priority can decide as usual.

That's it. Implications of this- well, Imperial Forces become more unified when compared to Xenos. Tyranids especially, with all their various Initiatives, become a very different army to use and face. Rules such as Going to Ground make a unit I:1 when assaulted, so getting cover during the shooting phase means that you cannot react to enemy charges. The changes in Initiative for Vehicles (Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned modifiers) make MEQ a very different affair as well- it encourages Marine armies to have a few foot units, in case their Rhino's suddenly drop to I:2 and they don't have Priority. The key problem is that it is more complicated than the current system- but as something different to try, I found it very interesting for a while.

So- thoughts, comments and reactions. Even better- try it out and see what you think (this becomes easier if you treat these ideas as a special Scenario, rather than a new set of rules)

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