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Order Tile System

posted Nov 18, 2010, 5:11 AM by Christophe Boelinger   [ updated Nov 18, 2010, 6:06 AM by Jean-Charles Mourey ]
At the beginning of the design process, for this game, I imagined that the characters were all connected through radio waves using headphones and microphones and even most of the times connected to a close central command HQ, like an underground moving driller occupied by the Intelligence service who would dispatch orders and directions to their above the ground troops. Also I wanted to get away from all the ordinary commonly used game mechanics to activate your various miniatures and try to find something new that could match the above simulation. Meaning, when you are awaiting for your superiors orders through air-waves it’s not always so easy, and you cannot always get the info right away, hear well or interpret in the right way some orders, there might be some perturbations in the signal, the radio frequencies you are using could be scrambled (and that comes in with the Radio Scrambling rule), and so on...
To simulate all that I had to find a game mechanic that allows sufficient freedom to the players so that they can perform actions according to their objectives, but on the other hand this shouldn’t be too easy because of all these chain of orders and transmission problems. To define more clearly what I had in mind in terms of translating the rules back to what they are supposed to simulate : to my POV (Point Of View) each player is partly playing the command centre distributing orders from their remote HQ or vehicle, and partly playing the leader characters in the team he is controlling. This is why some leaders bring extra Command Points during the Initiative Phase, it’s because they are able and allowed to take some of their own decisions on the field and radio-transmit orders to their troop or act on their own.
From all the game mechanics I had imagined it seemed that the Order Tiles system was the most flexible and yet with some constraints that I had.
The constraints:
  • not having always the right tiles was simulating the fact that either sometimes you couldn’t hear quite well orders, or the HQ was not really aware of all the elements of the situation and they are having a hard time selecting the right orders.
  • paying 2 CP to go search for a specific tile in the discard pile. The more CPs you spend on an action the more time you are spending on this action, or the more you are concentrating on this action. This principle is valid for most of the game mechanics in Earth Reborn. So paying 2 CP to go search for a specific order tile simulates the fact that you are spending time giving HQ all the proper and detailed information on the actual situation, on the field, and you are trying to convince them that the decisions and actions to take should be these ones and not others.
  • Red and Gold order sections that are needed for interrupting actions, simulate the fact that under the stress of an enemy appearing in your line of sight or getting close to you ready to attack you in close combat, keeping cool, staying focused, quickly do the right choice is not so easy for the character involved, and even more difficult for High Command to react that fast and give correct orders. So since you can only play red or gold orders as reaction orders really sets a limit to your possible choice under pressure. In terms of game play, it also makes it faster for the interrupting character to pick up a decision, which really follows the speed of the action and reaction process.
And even with these constraints, we can really feel when playing the game that the players still have lots of choices and combining possibilities, at least sufficient freedom and control to be able to perform almost any type of combinations of actions to reach the goals they strategically aim for.
Then also, the tiles are very useful to keep track of how many Command Points each character has already used this turn.
Play tests went on and on.... and apart from the tile distribution, nothing has changed since the original design of this new order / activation mechanic.
Welcome aboard a brand new tile order activating system ;) I hope you’ll enjoy...