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Jamopower

Alternating activation in Age of Sigmar

35 posts in this topic

Jamopower    184

Hi,

 

I've been thinking about testing Age of Sigmar with alternating activation as I have got used in it with other games, and I have to say that I like it more than IGOUGO. The combat phase already works that way, so it's not a big stretch to go the other phases like that as well.

 

My idea would be to first play the hero phases of each player normally in iniative order and then go though the other phases unit by unit. So movement + shooting + combat unit by unit and then in the end the battleshock phase again together. It would change the dynamics of the game quite much, but at the same time would reduce the impact of shooty armies and the double turn quite a lot. It increases the interaction and tension as you get to respond to each move of the enemy and also it adds another tactical level in which order you move your troops. Do you save some harder hitters for later on the turn or push them to the face earlier, which is the aspect I like in it. Probably some point costs would be off, but that's the case anyways and in casual games it's not so big issues when players are not trying to "break the system".

 

I'm sure, I'm not the only one who has had these thoughts, so has anyone tried this kind of tweak for AoS?

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Menkeroth    152

I've thought of it as well after some play in Malifaux, so yeah, it could work. Or maybe just stick to the close combat unit by unit and add this for shooting as well, like in HoMM V, where shooters always respond to the first shot at them by shooting back.

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I had the idea for something similar recently, something like this:

"Roll for Initiative in each phase.  The winner of the roll can then activate/use up to a number of units in that phase equal to the Initiative roll, followed by the loser doing the same for their roll.  Then proceed to alternate unit activation for each player.  In the event of a tie, re-roll until one player rolls higher.  If the winner of the roll wants the loser to go first, they can let the lower activate first with their units, each still activating a number of units up to the result of their Initiative roll.

If there are more than two players, regardless of playing on teams or in a free-for-all, roll for Initiative as normal, with re-rolls as necessary for ties, etc."

My thinking was trying to balance out bigger games, as an army's power level goes up with its size.  It not only changes up how tactics can be played out, but it increases player involvement and keeps all the players better engaged with the game (in theory).  I could also see it working really well in multi-player games as well for that same reason.  Scoring on objectives might have to be changed a bit, but I could see it working really well in Apocalypse-style games that are huge in size with multiple players per team.

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Jamopower    184

Yes, in bigger games it starts to be a bigger issue as there might be enough firepower to eliminate big important parts of enemy army. As close combat already being done unit by unit, it's mainly an issue for the shooting and magic.

In 40k it's much bigger issue, especially in Apocalypse-style games.

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KnightFire    205

Its an interesting idea, it will drastically alter the power levels of armies and units though, so existing points wouldn't be relevant for it. It also makes MSU armies much worse, so people will lean much more heavily on a small number of very large units (and monsters become more powerful). Try it and let us know how you get on.

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pseudonyme    17

I wonder what alternate activation would suit AoS best: Bolt action, Infinity, Eden (taking movement stat as speed/initiative stat) etc ?

 

I quite like the planning/simultaneous system of the recent Runewars wargame, but it's quite a différent beast.

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Menkeroth    152
50 minutes ago, pseudonyme said:

I wonder what alternate activation would suit AoS best: Bolt action, Infinity, Eden (taking movement stat as speed/initiative stat) etc ?

Malifaux could fit right in, but anyway this requires testing to see if it will even work.

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Auticus    994

Alternate activation is the system I use in our summer campaign, defined in the above doc.  I find this system 1000x more tactical and more engaging than sitting there for an hour taking it on the chin and just removing models as well as removing the whole "if I get double turn i winz" strategy that I've noticed is fairly strong.

Its won over quite a few people that have given it great feedback.  The only one that has slammed it slammed it for playing AOS in a way not directed by the GHB.

Edited by Auticus
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Killax    803
22 hours ago, Jamopower said:

Hi,

 

I've been thinking about testing Age of Sigmar with alternating activation as I have got used in it with other games, and I have to say that I like it more than IGOUGO. The combat phase already works that way, so it's not a big stretch to go the other phases like that as well.

 

My idea would be to first play the hero phases of each player normally in iniative order and then go though the other phases unit by unit. So movement + shooting + combat unit by unit and then in the end the battleshock phase again together. It would change the dynamics of the game quite much, but at the same time would reduce the impact of shooty armies and the double turn quite a lot. It increases the interaction and tension as you get to respond to each move of the enemy and also it adds another tactical level in which order you move your troops. Do you save some harder hitters for later on the turn or push them to the face earlier, which is the aspect I like in it. Probably some point costs would be off, but that's the case anyways and in casual games it's not so big issues when players are not trying to "break the system".

 

I'm sure, I'm not the only one who has had these thoughts, so has anyone tried this kind of tweak for AoS?

Hi! As a game developer that worked on Malifaux (and still do from time to time) The Other Side and another few side project I think that the alternation activations is a fantastic system.However as with all systems, there are pro's and con's to such a design. Being; going back and forth between unit activation adds massive tactical depth. The biggest con to this is that it also drastically increases the playing time used to 'make moves'.
By comparison a game of Malifaux' 7-10 models can easily generate as much playing time as AoS in it's current 10-120 models.

So going back and forth will drastically increase the playing time required for AoS, especially because it has a very good focus on 'board control'. To prevent some of the time being spend into moving pieces The Other Side has been designed with larger unit footprints to be a base of and in itself. Better put, single models, barring characters that arn't part of a larger unit, cannot move how they please. AoS brings a rule of 1" to this but as we know, congo-lining is possible and that's something The Other Side cannot do because units excist out of 'Fireteams' who excist out of 1-5 models per Fireteam.

So my conclusion on this matter is that it's certainly possible to implement at the cost of the game thaking much more time to play as your tactical decision tree is much larger as it is with a I go, you go system. This isn't bad but not ideal for timed play, which ultimately everyone has to deal with. Having time for a game is not something that's exclusive to Tournaments. 
Personally I think the best way to improve AoS turns-system is to remove the option to double turn and make it a complete I go, you go system without the option to hack your opponnents army in two by turn 2 because you happen to have two turns in a row. Alternatively I could settle on a system where every phase becomes a dice-roll to see 'who starts'. The cool thing of this is that due to the many dice-rolls you'll see less drastical imporatance is put onto one roll, which usually makes it more 'fun/random' and less 'lucky'.

Cheers,

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Auticus    994

Alternate activation does in fact add time to the game yes.  I've been doing it for a few months now.  However, it adds a ton more to the game so I enjoy that immensely.

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Killax    803
1 hour ago, Auticus said:

Alternate activation does in fact add time to the game yes.  I've been doing it for a few months now.  However, it adds a ton more to the game so I enjoy that immensely.

Yeah I think it can be awesome! Especially since I love Malifaux and the like. Likewise I think it could become too cumbersome for larger games, such as with 2000 points matched play but for 1000 points it still should be managable.

Did you also consider or test the option of rolling per phase? I think it could be very interesting when we'd see a turn shared (like an alternating system) but put the rolls (luck) in phases. So step one would be, rolling a dice, player A hero phase, player B hero phase, etc. etc. 

At first it might feel a bit cumbersome but could be implemented with the rules as written, as I don't feel it would drastically alter the way things are now but still make the game more interactive with a good touch of randomness. One of the reasons why Malifaux is so tactical aswell has to do with the fact that knowing when to activate what is a skill in and on itself and while I certainly like skill to be rewarded I'd equally like to see a luck factor.

AoS currently has a touch more luck factor as skill factor in my opinion but could go 50/50 if for every phase there is a chance that player A and B will 'seize initiative'. Typically though GW is known for their 'easy to understand stuff ' so I dont deem it likely to be implemented but it sure as hell seems fun to me for a House-rules setting. 

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Auticus    994

We use it with 2000 pts.  Haven't had an issue.  I could see at larger then that how that could be a pain.  

Sharing phases like hero phase etc is also not that bad.  Its better than the double turn end game you can get with pure AOS rules, which is something that kind of irks me.  

There are a few ways that it can be handled (alt activation) that I think are all miles better than current raw system.

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Jamopower    184

Having played gate of Antares quite much, that uses the bolt Action system, we spend about as much time on a game as for a similarly sized Aos match so I don't see the time as muvh of an issue. Many "single model" skirmishes have much more refined rules which has a part in the game length. Still I agree that it might take a little longer, but not more than the Off game banter :)

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Killax    803
1 minute ago, Jamopower said:

Having played gate of Antares quite much, that uses the bolt Action system, we spend about as much time on a game as for a similarly sized Aos match so I don't see the time as muvh of an issue. Many "single model" skirmishes have much more refined rules which has a part in the game length. Still I agree that it might take a little longer, but not more than the Off game banter :)

I think that it's a matter of experience and practice plus setting that can change it up. To keep it short, turning AoS in actual 'chess' can make it as stagnant as chess. If both parties are extremely competative for example :) 

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Jamopower    184

It's interesting that almost all other Major games have some sort of alternating activation or reaction mechanics. Although I'm not sure of warmachine as I have never been interested enough of it To investigate the rules further.

Concerning the mechanics. Gruntz had a fun alternative how to play. Each player gets dealt playing card for each unit and then they are put face down next to units. Then the units activate in the order of the cards, starting from the Ace of hearts. Fun way to add bit of fog of War to the system.

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Killax    803

Warmachine and Hordes doesn't have it. T9A also doesn't have it.

Another side-downside of having to spend more time in the alternate turns concept is that it becomes much more difficult to keep track of time. Something that is done for Warmachine and Hordes for example. Also for chess but for chess we know that the pieces are set and there is no piece requirement to spend more time into X or Y. Which is another thing that can become an 'balance issue' with alternating activations. As the player who has the most pieces, or units in this case, can also simply 'control' the board better.

This is something that came up with The Other Side games for me. There was one unit who's power and cost was the exact same as that of larger units. Except it was a single Fireteam of 3 guys where most units are made up of 3 Firetimes of 3 guys. Activating it would essentially mean that I could out-activate my opponent a lot of the time.
To put that into AoS context for example, imagne no unit had any advantage into running more of itself (which for some units applies to date). What you get is that player A activates units 1-5, B activates 1-5 and B still has unit 6-10 to activate. What this allows player B to do is put in 'chaff' to control the board by presenting it's opponent enough "useless" pieces so player A's tactical choice window becomes much smaller. In chess context it could mean that player A has the regular chess set up and B happens to have 3 additional Pawns.

However, as above, seeing who has (for example) iniative per Phase has nothing to do with Unit numbers and generally speaking still has some aspects of I go, you go and because a dice roll could allow for alternating Phases it still would also have some aspects of alternating turns.
Long story short again, I'd like to test an alternating Phases system. It doesn't affect the regular AoS game in any mayor way, doesn't care about quantity of units and also doesn't add the same tactical depth as full alteranting activations do but I don't think that's a clear disadvantage/advantage.

Cheers,

Edited by Killax

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Auticus    994

Yes with alt activation, MSU gives you an advantage because you get to control more units at the end of the turn.

This is offset though by a lot of units getting bonus abilities the larger they are.  So you are trading out large units with bonuses for smaller units for board control.

Its enough to make one have to make decisions, which I think is a very good thing.

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Sleboda    1,000

It's probably already been said,  but the biggest reason why I can see alternating being a horrifically bad idea for AoS is that everything about the system,  from points to scenarios, is designed to not be that way. 

Oh the surface it may seem relatively simple to rewrite the game to play this way,  but I shudder to think how many things would get all wobbley.  

No thanks.

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mdkinker    40
2 hours ago, Sleboda said:

It's probably already been said,  but the biggest reason why I can see alternating being a horrifically bad idea for AoS is that everything about the system,  from points to scenarios, is designed to not be that way. 

Oh the surface it may seem relatively simple to rewrite the game to play this way,  but I shudder to think how many things would get all wobbley.  

No thanks.

I'm actually unclear on what would become unbalanced. Would you have an example?

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Jamopower    184
4 hours ago, Auticus said:

Yes with alt activation, MSU gives you an advantage because you get to control more units at the end of the turn.

This is offset though by a lot of units getting bonus abilities the larger they are.  So you are trading out large units with bonuses for smaller units for board control.

Its enough to make one have to make decisions, which I think is a very good thing.

Many systems have some tweaks to go around this.

Bolt Action/Antares has the order dice mechanism, where the exact order is random and one player might have more activations in a row.

Batman has passes for the player who has less units.

Dropzone commander has limited amount of battlegroups in which you divide your troops and they activated all at the same time.

My favourite system is Havoc, which as a very indie game is perhaps not so familiar, but it has a great system where each model is individual, but you can activate more models with musicians and by having the models on Base contact. After one player has activated all his troops, the other player has only two moves left.

I think many of those would be suitable for AoS.

About scenarios, we have actually played some of the general's handbook scenarios in Antares as they are quite nice for General pick-up games. Worked out perfectly.

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Nin Win    268

Age of Sigmar is from a very classic school of wargames design.  Move - shoot - fight with dice per miniature and target numbers.  Goes back to loads of historical games from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  They also tried this sort of approach with lots of different turn orders.  Alternating activatons, each player does whatever the phase is about (both move, both shoot, etc.,) having a subset of things you activate during your turn, and so on.  There were even games where both players did everything at the same time but each player started on their right and moved their stuff in order it was on the table while the other person was doing the same from the opposite direction.  When they both got to the middle they diced off to see who went first if things were going to matter.

Anyone willing to change the basic turn structure is going to be able to work around points and scenarios to make it work, so that's not really much of a concern.  There are loads of options.  At it's core, the type of wargame Age of Sigmar is can take a lot of hacking and playing around with the rules.

Edited by Nin Win
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Nin Win    268

Another option:  Have you hero phase.  Take your units and divide them by 6.  That's how many d6s your opponent rolls and then covers the result with a cup before you can see.  Then activate a unit, and do everything, move, shoot, fight with that unit.  The opponent doesn't fight back.  When you've activated a number of units equal to the dice your opponent rolled they tell you your turn is over and then they can fight back with anyone in combat.  Then you roll for them and they activate things not knowing when their turn is going to end.  When it does, you fight back and then move on to your hero phase and repeat.

End result is you have to concentrate on getting things done that are important to you because you might only have 3 activations on your turn but you won't know until it's too late.

Will scenarios and points and all that need adjusting?  Absolutely.  Will certain things become worse and other things better?  Yes.  Will it be fun?  Absolutely.

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Nin Win    268

It may also work to wait until your opponent calls end of turn and lifts the cup to show you the dice to have a fight phase.  Maybe only move and shoot in single activations and then have normal fight and battleshock phases

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Menkeroth    152

Interesting idea. But as far as "balance" and involvement in the game is concerned, it seems to me "phase by phase" is more prominent as both players (or more) can go side by side without need for some to wait too long.

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