Thursday, October 6, 2011

Counterfett's Solo Play Random Enemy Action Table!

Hey all! So, after yesterday's post about miniature games that could be played solo, I went on a pretty dedicated hunt for a system to use to play some solo games myself, and see what I thought about the process. It had to meet certain criteria to be acceptable.
  1. Easy.
  2. Interesting.
  3. Free.
  4. For a miniature game I knew how to play, or was willing to learn.
And then, when I failed utterly, I had an idea. Basically, I decided to just make a random enemy action table, covering the gamut of enemy response, from running away screaming to Pickett's Charge material. It would be easy, interesting, free, and I would make it vague enough that it would work with any miniature game I cared to apply it to.

Random Enemy Action Table

Roll d20 at beginning of enemy phase

1) Lose Nerve! Enemy moves full movement directly away from your nearest visible unit, firing only if possible with maximum movement (ie relentless).

2-3) Lose Nerve! Move to nearest cover. Fire only if possible after reaching cover.

4-5) Stand Ground! Full ranged attack at your nearest visible unit. Only move toward cover if possible while still making maximum attack.

6-8) Flank Left! Enemy unit makes normal move distance towards its own left, while firing any weapons allowed with normal movement speed.

9-11) Pincer formation! As above, but enemy forces split in a move to envelop your position.

12-14) Flank Right! As above, but enemy moves to their own right.

15-17) Advance with fire! Enemy makes a normal move directly toward your nearest visible unit, firing and avoiding terrain and obstacles as normal.

18-19) Attack! Enemy unit makes full movement to attack your nearest visible unit, firing only if possible with maximum movement. They will charge if possible.

20) Damn The Torpedoes! Enemy charges furiously, eshewing puny ranged attacks to better rip you to shreds! Enemy unit moves over terrain and obstacles, ignoring movement penalty for terrain, but taking damage from obstacles as normal. All enemy stats are improved by +1 for the duration of their own activation only.
Now, is it perfect. No, I'm not that conceited. If there are major gaping flaws, I'd like to hear them. Obviously, it takes some integrity on the part of the player to take the rolls he doesn't like, but I figure if you want to make the enemy act the way you want, you are not using a table anyway. Also, the bit which gave me pause was that there was a possibility of an enemy rolling a 1 and retreating for a turn, then rolling a 20 and going into a killing berzerker frenzy.

There are two ways to work around this. The first is to ignore it. Maybe they were retreating as a ruse, then sprung the trap on a surprised foe. Maybe they tried to flank right, but realizing the opposition seemed tougher there, decided to try the left. Think of Napoleon at Waterloo; he tried each flank, then went hey-diddle-diddle-right-up-the-middle. Alternatively, perhaps the unit charged into battle on bravado and liquid courage, but in the teeth of the enemy, broke and fled. This is the course I plan on using, unless the random results are just too obnoxious after playtesting. I feel like I accidentally stumbled onto a decent facsimile of a mechanic working in real life, ie you may have a plan, but the enemy has no obligation to honor it.

The second option is to modify the roll rather than apply it to the table raw. You can use whatever statistic represents the unit's elan in your chosen game, be that leadership, morale, grit, or whatever. Since I plan on just using the basic number to represent an inscrutable foe, I leave the modifiers to whomsoever decides to use this.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think. I will write up a few battle reports as soon as I get a chance to try it out.

Note: This is a guest post by KE554, since Counterfett is currently out of commission with nerve damage. Stay tuned folks.


paws4thot said...

Can I suggest that a second "advance" or "attack" result, or one of those followed by "full ahead..." should result in the unit continuing to attack the unit engaged in the first turn?

CounterFett said...

I might try it both ways to see. It sounds perfectly reasonable, but I don't want my table turning into something like the Rage USR. If an enemy starts marching towards unit A because it is the nearest visible unit, but it turns out as they pass the first hedgerow that unit B was waiting in ambush, I don't want them to just continue on to A. That's why I used 'nearest visible.' Because if you roll an attack or advance, and the nearest unit doesn't change, they are going to keep attacking the same unit. If that unit broke, or something else maneuvers in, the enemy can artificially 'prioritize.' That way they have a simple decision making mechanism. I got that idea from someone referencing Blackjack in the earlier post.

Like I said though, I'll probably try it both ways and see what works best in the game, rather than just assuming I'm right. As much as I like to do that.

paws4thot said...

You thought of something I didn't. Ok, it's more complication (again) but you really want to have a chance rather than a certainty that the enemy will respond by turning to the new threat, so some sort of "observe" roll for them to detect Unit B and turn?