Posts Tagged ‘Game Mechanics’

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A Gambit and a Stratagem

May 23, 2008

A taste of a Gambit (Treacherous General) and a Stratagem (The Standard Has Fallen) from That Samurai Game (I really should think of a better name). And soon to come, a play test report…

Treacherous General

Phase: Opening

Reveal this stratagem to turn any one leader and his contingent to your side. This can only be played if the contingent has not yet been engaged and has not yet engaged any other unit in melee or ranged combat. You immediately take control of the leader and his contingent, but must immediately reduce the lowest value unit stack within this contingent. This may mean that a unit stack is removed. Any unit blocks removed as a result of this reduction are given back to their original owner. Any unit blocks subsequently removed from this treacherous contingent can’t be used for reinforcements for either side.

The Standard Has Fallen

The standard of one of the opponent’s leaders is captured.

If an opponent’s unit suffers a loss in melee, you may play this stratagem to capture the opponent’s standard. While holding the opponent’s standard, you gain a bonus to morale and attack value equal to the value of the standard.

This event may be countered. A countering card is treated as 1/2 value unless it is a The Standard Has Fallen stratagem, in which case it is treated as having the stratagem’s value. A successful counter makes the unit who lost the standard fanatical until they recover it. Mark with a fanatic counter.

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Phasing in That Samurai Game

May 20, 2008

Sekigahara

This is a tricky area of the rules that I’ve been struggling with for a week or so now. To introduce the problem, it is necessary to understand an element of the rules I haven’t much elaborated on: Gambits.

Gambits are strategic or operational actions that impact on the tactical battle, but that aren’t appropriate for ‘playing out’ on board. They are actions that, by their nature, span multiple turns and that are better off not represented tactically. A typical gambit is ‘Treacherous General’–we all know about Sekigahara, don’t we? Such an event is a product of strategic actions, secret communiques, bribes or even hostages. The tactical conditions on the battlefield merely enable such treachery, they don’t produce it. Gambits are played in the game by selecting a small number of gambits, placing them face down, and then revealing them at the appropriate time in the battle. Gambits are not guaranteed to be successful, and the likelihood of their success is a function of conditions in the game.

So, back to my problem. Gambits are big things with big impacts, so they are infrequent. In addition, they are tied to the life-cycle of the battle. Some gambits can only really happy early on, others later on, and still others at any time. I want to represent this life-cycle in the game and capture the relationship between life-cycle and gambits. I’m proposing to do this by having an opening, middle and closing phase in each game. The trick is how to do this mechanically.

In discussion with Andrew this morning, a few ideas/concepts were clarified, and I thought I’d put them up for comment:

  1. There must be tangible benefits to a player of remaining in the current phase or moving onto the next phase. 
  2. It must be possible to prevent transition into the next phase, but once there it can not be possible to go back (this will likely use the ‘countering’ mechanic already in the game).
  3. Victory objectives must somehow relate to the concept of phases and behaviour should be shaped by victory considerations vis a vis point 2 above (for example, if one player has a secret objective of delay, then maintaining a long opening phase, in which skirmish and non-decisive engagements are more common and withdrawal from melee is easier, is an advantage and will increase his chance of victory).
  4. There needs to be enough potential gambits in each phase to maintain unpredictability, regardless of what phase the game is in.
  5. Not all gambits should be executable in all phases.
  6. The three phases should vary in length from game to game and this length must not be prescribed.
  7. Different actions will be easier/harder in different phases (for example, it is easier to withdraw from melee in the opening phase, when both sides are jockeying for position rather than trying to force resolution AND it is harder to resist a rout when in the end game phase).
Anyway, these are some thoughts. Any feedback would be most welcome.