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The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

February 9, 2005

Passing a phase

As a brief review, where have we come in our tale? First, I addressed why you would want to make a warband with a large number of figures. There are many valid reasons, but the reason with the most effect on the game is to create Overactivation. Overactivation is such a big deal you want to use it or protect against it, mostly by using more figures. The problem is, large warbands rarely finis a game inside of an hour, and too many games are called on time. It is so reliable that many warbands plan to win on time rather than outright. Then, I looked briefly at a recommended solution to drop the warband limit to 8 figures, and concluded that it really won't address the cause of the large numbers of creatures, just limit the impact.

So what, you may ask, is my idea to fix the problem? Well, it has to address reliable overactivation. I feel that it doesn't need to eliminate overactivation but if you can't predict and rely on it's location in the phase order you will play differently, and instead play based on tactical advantage rather than back-loading all of your effective pieces. My solution is also based on my recommendation when R&D asked for suggestions for tournament format changes back in August of 2004. It is, however, a bit different.
Passing a Phase - When it is your turn to activate two creatures you may instead choose to pass your activations and your opponent will activate two more creatures. You may only do this when the number of creatures with activations remaining your opponent controls is greater than the number of creatures with activations remaining you control. If you both have the same number of creatures with activations remaining you may also pass, but only if you did not act first in the round. If you have more creatures with activations remaining or you have the same number and you activated first in this round, you may not pass.

A slight change on act/defer. There isn’t as much mental math, and I hope it is a rule that is stated more simply. But like Assault/Plunder there are many small nuances that may need to be explained.

First and foremost, it allows you to interrupt overactivation blocks of your opponent. This is because you can judiciously pass activations and make your opponent activate two more creatures when he was hoping to hold them off until later. So there may be multiple overactivation blocks during the round but their location and size is not entirely predictable or reliable. Hence, you can bring a 6 figure band against an 11 figure band and not be looking down the wrong side of a 5 to 7 figure activation, unless you really want to.

Second, the tie rule preserves the decision made by the initative winner to play or to react. This may require some mnemonic, like an arrow pointing to who must act on equal figures. But if you win initiative you still have (for the most part) the power to say "I go last."

This also preserves the initiative rule impact of a few creatures, Tactics from the Moon Elf Fighter, Ryld Argith's Improved Initiative, and all four creatures with Dual Activation. Moon Elf can still cause an overactivation of his own. Ryld's control of initiative still means something. And finally, Dual Activation still provides for minor abuse. This last one needs some clarification: since the rule asks you to look for "creatures with activations remaining" you don't count the choker twice, and after he moves once he still counts. Hence you can use dual activation to gain a slight overactivation or battle one.

Finally there is one quirk, I call it an off by one error. If one band has an odd number of figures it can always be activating last against a band with even numbers. But the impact is very slight: an underactivated block, i.e. only one activation. This slightly improves the value of dual activation, but since it encourages specific figures or a smaller warband, it seems ok to me.

This may not be as cut and dried as the 8 figures rule, but in my opinion it addresses the cause of the warband bloat rather than addressing the symptom.

2 Comments:

  • "This may not be as cut and dried as the 8 figures rule, but in my opinion it addresses the cause of the warband bloat rather than addressing the symptom."

    Personnaly i don't agree with the 8 figures rule for 500 points games. Thats limits the warband building strategy. Don't think to use a healer of 12 points in it.

    All the basics rules was perfect to play without time limits. Don't need the assault/plunder rules, don't need to get points when killing summoned monster, etc.

    The overactivation is a cool feature that add strategy in warband building process. It allows to use weakest creatures.

    The real problem is to solve is the way you have to manage time in tournament.

    Maybe the use of a chess clock could be a good measure. Managing D&D tournament the same way as chess tournament. Maybe 2 or 3 games per day on 2 days.

    By a better time management, no rules have to be changed. The game stay the same good game. And creatures like summoner stay a balance creature !

    My 2 cents opinion.

    By Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

  • You can't use Chess clock in D&D miniatures. Why? Because the opponent need to do things during your turn (roll save, calculate path for routhing creature, etc.)

    By Anonymous, at 6:53 PM  

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