25 February 2011

Designing Out Loud - Inspiration in Traffic

OK, so we don't have traffic around here like, say, DC or Houston or San Jose, but it's still enough that I have time to mull over ideas within this project. Here's what I'm currently putting together for some of the overall concepts...
Click on images to enlarge

Game Setup
Each player will have a mission briefing (roughly 1/2 page) that will have stand-up tabs to allow each player to see their side with their instructions. It will also give the opponent an intel briefing with some facts about your forces - estimated disposition/composition/capabilities and some expected missions based on this information. This gives him the ability to replicate some higher intel knowledge without simply looking at your forces.
The mission briefings will be tagged with letters A-? so that you can pair up potential scenarios. A card might have more than one letter on it, indicating that it could be used in multiple scenario combos. So a "Hasty Attack" mission might have letters A, C, D on it, indicating that it could be paired up with an opponent's missions with an A, C, or D on it, which might be A-Hasty Defense, B-Flank Cover, or C-Movement to Contact.*
Now, if you're doing a Hasty Attack, you've got certain parameters that your opponent will know about. They'll know that you're not expected to be in a defensive posture, so they're not likely to have any breaching assets given to them. They will have have some intel missions to ID certain types of your units by a certain point in time.
There might also be other specified tasks in your briefing, such as "seize a bridge" or "eliminate enemy recon".

Intel and Recon
I've been struggling with this one for a while now. So here's what I think I've come up with. Each phase, you can establish certain recon objectives. You do this at a command point cost, and you mark it on the command mat with 3 things: location, unit, action.
You mark the location in which you expect to find the certain enemy assets with an NAI counter placed face-down in a phase box. That location is keyed to the recon/maneuver grid. So the counter being placed on the grid has "NAI"** on the background and the letter/number combo on the front. With this counter is also a counter indicating what you expect to find, so some sort of generic unit type/echelon counter. Finally, you add a counter with a specific order/action, which can be anything from an artillery mission to a command point bonus to an additional movement for a specific unit.
So in your phase II box on your command mat, you might have an NAI counter designating B3 as a location you might find a tank platoon, and a +2 movement to a tank platoon bonus. That means that during Ph2, if you can get eyes on a tank platoon in B3, you can give a tank platoon a +2 move bonus somewhere on the map (either to react to the guys you just found, or elsewhere, freed to act by having located a threat somewhere else).

The game will play out over 4 phases, with each phase lasting until both sides have exhausted their command points for that phase. During each phase the players will have a designated mission for their different formations from a deck of cards. These missions are set out at the start of the game, but can be altered later for a command-point cost. You can build some FRAGOs*** into the missions for later, allowing you to pay a small command point cost now to avoid a much larger one later if you need to radically shift the mission.
Each type of mission will give bonuses to certain stats based on the type of mission.
You plan out your missions for each phase by sub-unit, and multiple sub-units can share a mission (you spend fewer command points doing this) but then are all working off the same set of numbers, even if their stats are modified differently (see below).
So on your command mat, you need to place, for each phase, your units and their missions as you order them. These need to be planned out well in advance, for changing them in the middle of the battle can be expensive.
So when Phase I is over, and combat is resolved, and the command points are reset and broken units are recovered/removed, and we're ready to move to Phase II of the battle, you'll pick up your Phase II cards and assign the relevant missions to your units on the battlefield.

Each card has 4 colored blocks on it that modify one of 4 things:
Fire (red) - Shoot from a distance
Assault (blue) - Close and destroy
Defend (green) - Shoot from set pieces
Recon (yellow) - Constantly moving
Units are rated for 3 different things:
Combat - primarily modified by the colors on the mission cards. Note that just b/c a unit has a bonus to "defend" doesn't mean it's an automatic bonus to "protection". It means they get a combat bonus when defending.
Protection - How hard units are to kill, significantly modified by terrain and orders.
Movement - very simple combination of how far / type (mtd/dsmt)

* Note that we're not constraining ourselves strictly to US Army doctrine/terminology, although it'll be loosely based on it.
** Annnnnnd, as soon as we say that we include a US doctrinal term: Named Area of Interest, a specific recon objective.
*** FRAGO = FRAGmentary Order, or a partial order that changes some aspect of a previous order.

By: Brant

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