Thursday, April 11, 2013
Fluid Combat Status
Beyond the Gates of Antares has a few fairly unique mechanics. One of which has to be a Fluid Combat Status. Throughout the game, a unit will move from fully ready (Alert) to "Run Away! Run Away" (Broken) with a few stops throughout. What makes this even more interesting is this can go back and forth a lot with in 1 game turn. Read beyond the fold for a more detailed idea of how this works in game.
The first concept to cover is Escalation Level. Every turn this level is set, and it essentially means the number of unit acitvations that will occur for each player per turn. For example, if the EL is 9 then each player will activate 9 units that turn. Oh, and there is nothing to prevent you activating the same unit multiple times. And that really is the important thing to remember here. You can activate the same unit multiple times a turn.
If you combine the EL concept with Fluid Combat Status, you get a really interesting game play. Below is a direct excerpt from the Outline Rulebook, which is available for download now:
A unit’s ability to undertake actions, to support friendly actions, and to react to enemy actions, are all determined by its combat status. Combat status varies during play, and is affected by casualties, enemy fire, and sometimes by a unit’s own actions. There are six different status levels – four key steps and two subsidiary types.
The key steps are: Alert, Ready, Exhausted and Broken.
These statuses change based on damage done to the unit, fatigue (failing certain tests) or demoralization (essentially panic).
Alert units are able to act and react without penalty – they are prepared, equipped and fully motivated for combat.
Ready units are degraded to some degree, either because of casualties, fatigue or demoralisation; Ready units can also undertake the full range of actions, but can only undertake a limited range of reactions, and suffer various penalties whether acting or reacting.
Exhausted units can only undertake certain mandatory actions and reactions, and are otherwise unable to act or react at all.
Broken units are effectively out of the game – badly shot-up or so fatigued as to be useless – they are unable to do anything apart from try and regroup.
Rick Priestly explains this a bit in the outline rulebook:
As you can see – a unit’s combat status affects its ability to fight – specifically its ability to make actions and reactions during play. In other words, Alert (Green for Go!) units can achieve a great deal, ready (Amber) units can also do well but are only one step away from being exhausted (Red) and effectively useless. Exhausted units also risk slipping to broken (black), and now you’re really in trouble! The important thing to realize is that exhausted (Red) and ready (Amber) units can improve their status by making a recover action. This means the player expends an activation to recover the unit’s combat status by one step. A single unit can be activated any number of times during a game turn – so players are presented with the choice of making moving or shooting actions with tired units, or taking the time out to recover their combat status. This is what we mean by a fluid combat status – combat status changes as units fight and can be changed again by the player – but it’s always a tough decision! The total number of activations a player can make each turn is limited, so if you spend all of your activations recovering worn out units you won’t be able to launch your own attacks against the enemy. The number of activations available each turn (the escalation level as it is called) is also not entirely predictable, although it is affected by the progress of the battle so far. It’s a careful balancing match between preserving your own troops and eroding the fighting ability of the enemy – and all within a limited number of turns.
The unique bit is that within a turn a unit can be activated more than once, thus spending time going up and down that scale. Should make for an interesting time. Until next time....