Using cards threw up a number of problems. If I get a good run of cards – say three red cards in a row – I can pretty much cave in my opponent’s defences. Even with opportunity fire, I can still overwhelm him with sheer numbers. At first it’s exciting, particularly when followed by a joker and a reshuffle! But, when you’re on the losing side, it’s no fun. The easy answer was to restrict each player to one order each. I tried it. It was okay, but it was hard to coordinate an attack. Often you just reacted to your opponent’s last move. Using cards to activate part of your army, sort of worked, but you were still reacting to your card draw. Using dice was similar.
How about rolling dice to activate my Command Groups? It works, but I’m gambling that each time I issue an order, it’ll be successful. Again it’s difficult to coordinate an attack. At the start of your turn, you’d roll your Command Dice and discard any 1s. This worked fairly well, but needed something more. Now, unless you roll an equal number (or more) 6s as you have 1s, your turn ends immediately! Your opponent then has his turn – effectively giving him two turns in a row. Well, it was certainly dramatic!
I wanted to incorporate my video game design experience; interactivity is an essential part of any real-time video game. No one wants to spend half their time doing nothing when playing a video game, but in wargames, sure, why not? I’ve designed and produced real-time games in which the biggest challenge was how to manage the constant chaos created by the game. Once a real-time game kicks off, it develops a life of its own. Units battle it out, they break-off when damaged, rout back to their starting positions, or get destroyed.
Units generally get on with it without you. What you do is direct the action, not control it at a low level. You can jump in at any time to issue orders, rally your troops, send new units to the front lines, or grab whole swathes and send them somewhere else. You act as the army commander – giving orders, selecting priority targets, sending more troops to fight, trying to shape the battle, trying to win. If you want to make a cup of tea, you pause the game and come back as soon as you’ve poured it. You’re in control of the game’s speed.