Combat HQ Designer’s Notes – Part 2

CS CHQ coverI started to look through my World War Two rule sets. Many seemed to scale up vehicle movement from infantry crawling on their stomachs in the Normandy bocage. For the desert setting to work, it needed vehicles whizzing around the table.

I like games that offer plenty of player involvement with little or no downtime. Many years ago, I stopped playing games where one player has time to wander off and make the tea while his opponent moves, shoots, fights, and rallies. Games should be interactive. If I’m playing a video game, I don’t expect to spend half of my time doing nothing. Opposed dice rolls are a great way to keep both players involved, as are short turn sequences. But if the turn sequence is too short, it becomes meaningless. In games where I move one unit and then you move one unit, it’s very difficult to plan ahead. Even with a good draw of dice or cards, I’m still not really planning my moves. Sure, I’m reacting to what I get, but I like to coordinate attacks between units.

I also like rules that are easy to remember and don’t require any table cross-referencing. My ideal is one game mechanic that is applied consistently to every occasion. I don’t want to learn different rules mechanics for infantry combat, armour combat, infantry versus armour, and artillery. I’d rather spend time playing than with my head stuck in a rulebook.

To feel like a World War Two game, weapons need to have realistic ranges. Hand-held anti-tank weapons have to be scaled appropriately – they don’t fire as far as rifles! Opportunity fire has to be part of the game. Units don’t just move across the battlefield without being fired at. I don’t like games where I have to order my troops to use opportunity fire or where I have to put them on overwatch first.

With huge numbers of World War Two games available, you’d think I’d find one to suit. I tried. I looked at lots, but nothing gave me what I was after. It was time to start designing “yet another World War Two game” – one that could handle the whole epic sweep of the war. Rules that felt realistic, were relatively simple, and had lots of command and control decisions.

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