18 January 2012

GameTalk - Divine Intervention

What role can/should the "holy shit" moment play on the virtual battlefield? How do you account for the 'magic bullet' or the horseshoe that loses a nail or the perfect timing of the lunar eclipse? How many of these can/do you build into a game when a pre-set number of possible divine intervention moments would need to be developed for inclusion in the box/code/script?

Your thoughts below!

By: Brant


Matt Purvis said...

I always thought dice played that roll. You can hedge your bets and play the odds, but you never know when those snakes eyes are going to come up at the wrong(or right) moment.

Brian Train said...

I'm aware of only two games that include rules for actual Divine Intervention:

Fury of the Norsemen (Metagaming) - a “Divine Wrath” rule which allows the village player to call down heavenly offboard artillery on a hex containing Viking units, destroying or “stunning” them on a roll of 1-4 on a d6.

The Barbarians (Yaquinto) - though I may be confusing this with another Fall of Rome type game, it was more in the line of overawing the approaching barbarians with the power of Christ (on a good roll on the table, a bad roll would see you paying tribute to them).

I do my best not to script games too heavily for certain things to happen at certain times, just to include the possibility that they will happen or that players could somehow make it so.

Brant said...

Brian, there are other games that include "real" divine intervention:
- Saga (TSR)
- Mythology (Yaquinto)
- Warrior Knights (FFG, and before that, GDW)

Brant said...

I think most people use the dice for the range of likely outcomes, or at least outcomes in the realm of possibility.
But when you have Drusus falling of his horse, and derailing Rome's campaign in Germania because his horse was spooked by a snake, that's just not something you want to account for in every possible iteration of the game. Ditto Stonewall Jackson getting plinked by his own guys.
Given that these aren't sufficiently recurring events, how do we work them into a game? Do we even want to work them into a game?

Matt Purvis said...

I see. Working them into the game could increase realism without introducing too much complexity, depending on the mechanic used. Perhaps a small stack of cards only randomly and rarely drawn.

besilarius said...

An old gaming group was doing a Pacific War naval campaign.
The judge told us that there was a fleet action at a certain area.
Normally, the date wasn't addressed, or just put simply as third week of March, but this time he gave an exact date.
No one thought much about it, and we all came over for some form of a game.
We were all surprised that only american navy commanders were there. The US fleet was all set up in sailing formation.
Then the judge told us that this day was when the great storm, known as Halsey's Typhoon, hit the Third Fleet.
He then started moving a rather large circular form with a picture of a gale, toward the fleet.
It was actually an interesting exercise. Not much of a game, but very different.
Believe he rolled damage for the typhoon and ended up sinking four destroyers and a light cruiser. Better than the real typhoon.

EastwoodDC said...

Consider the problem of observation bias. Unusual things happen all the time, but we tend to notice some more then others. Unusual events that MATTER are more rare. Falling off a horse is not unusual, losing your commanding General is rare. Horses throwing a shoe is common, that it should lead to a critical failure is rare. Eclipses are perfectly predictable, a battle coinciding with an eclipse is rare.

I would say you should build in a certain amount of randomness and let events happen at the whim of the dice (or random number generator). Most of the randomness won't matter - a single soldier injured falling off a horse won't make a notable difference, or the citical message is delivered only a little late. Sometimes though, that little bit of randomness will give that critical difference that can change the game.

Granted that might be difficult to do in a boardgame. I'm all for cards or other mechanics if it can be made to work, but that also put some control of event back into the hands of the players.

Anonymous said...

it seems like maybe these just don't happen often enough to be worth putting into a boardgame. you're using a lot of components for something you'd very rarely be putting into play

-- Mike P