Sergio's blog: hints, ideas, pictures and news about SDS (and more) from the author

Friday, March 29, 2013

Multiple Turns Orders

Inspired by a hint of Dale (thanks mate) here is another subject that I studied a lot with the aim of creating a good system. The concept is quite straightforward: if you are forced to give your units an order that lasts for several turns, you get many advantages from the point of view of game design. You get a high level of fog of war (you still see enemy troops, but you don’t know where they will be – say – 3 turns later) and completely bypass many of the problems outlined in my previous posts about Orders.
When I approached this problem I started studying two old games (RoboRally and Blue Max) and a relatively new game (Wings of War/Wings of Glory).

RR is a boardgame where robots move on a board and shoot each other while trying to reach a Finish Line passing through several check points (a sort of regatta). Players have cards to plan their moves and must allocate 3 consecutive cards (maneuvers) for each turn, laying them face down on the table. Then first card is flipped and all movements are performed. After some shooting (automatic, they are Robots!) players flip the second card, and so on. After the third card a new planning phase begins. A square grid regulates movement.

Blue Max is a game of WW I Air Combat, played on a hex grid. Each plane, according to its features (speed, climbing rate, and the like) has a card where all possible maneuvers are listed with a code. Each turn players are required to choose secretly a code and then reveal it at the same time. Planes move and then fire if allowed to (Arc of fire, range). I don’t remember right now how many moves you had to plot in BM, but that is not important.

The “son” of these 2 games is the famed “Wings of War” (now “Wings of Glory”) which covers both WW I and WW II Air combat. With minor differences, both periods have a plotting phase (2-3 cards) and then moves are resolved. The big difference from RR and BM is that WoW does not use a grid. The “move cards” are a sort of template that you position in front of your airplane, then move it beyond the card at a certain point printed on it.

It seems easy to adapt the same concepts and mechanics to miniature wargaming, but there are some (minor?) drawbacks. First of all, this system requires the use of cards: other means are too complicated. It also requires, in my opinion, the use of a grid as it is not suited for linear games. The variable frontage of a unit (according to its formation) does not allow the use of card templates like in WoW, and the different speed of the units (infantry, cavalry and artillery) would force the producer to print many, many cards. Finally, a game like this would require a lot of SPACE: if – for each unit capable of moving – we have to put on the table 3 face down cards, much of the surface would be crammed with cards (even if they are small).
So, if you have nothing against cards and grids, and have a lot of space, there could be a solution. More about this soon….


  1. You might find this (long) article interesting, as it and the rules The Compleat Brigadier were what I was thinking of when I commented on multiple turn orders.

    The Army Level Kriegspiel is an interesting concept that I would like to see taken to the table an using more traditional miniatures rules, rather than a paper and numbers exercise.

    I am not sure why you feel that cards are necessary, unless you are trying to avoid simple pen and paper for writing orders down.

    One other "token" you have not discussed on wanting (or avoiding) in your games: umpires.

  2. Well Dale, I am trying to avoid just that (writing on paper)...
    Umpires are a luxury that few people and groups can afford. Of course everything made with an umpire is better, but - as a matter of facts - it is very difficult to have one. Take me as an example, I have no one to play with, just imagine if I had to find not 1 but 2 people to play a game.

  3. Very interesting article BTW.
    I am happy that - without knowing it - I nonetheless applied many of the guidelines suggested (see my post on the Big Battle in december)..