First up we are going to take a look at the Activation process sighing the game; essentially this is used to establish the order in which your fighters can do ‘stuff’ and how they go about carrying out these functions.
As mentioned in the last post every single model on the table will be allocated a unique playing card from a normal deck of cards; and it is in the activation phase that these will be used. Therefore before the game starts each player should pick one of the four common suits (hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs) which will be their Warband’s designated suit for the duration of the game. Once this has been done then players simply allocate each of the models within their Warband a specific card from this suit. My recommendation is that a player’s warlord gets given the relevant King card and then they work downwards in terms of fighter’s seniority allocating the remaining cards as they go.
Once both players have assigned a card to each of their fighters these cards are then all collated together in a single pile and shuffled; this will become known as the ‘activation deck’.
Once the battle has commenced properly the top card from the deck will be turned over and the model associated with this card will then be considered to have been activated.
An activated model is then able to carry out two actions from the following list: Move, Hide, Shoot, Melee, Rally, Rest. Once this model has completed his two actions the next card is then drawn and a new model becomes activated, and the process starts again.
Once all the cards in the deck have been drawn the cards are again shuffled up and the next turn begins. As fighters fall or leave the battlefield then their cards will be removed from the activation deck.
It really is that simple and although it’s quite an unusual system all of my play testers universally reported that it worked really well during their games. It took me ages to perfect this system and much trial and error was undertaken in order to provide both balance and fun.
Initially I tried going with a standard IGO-UGO format for the game but I consistently found that in skirmish games of this size it led to a degree of an imbalance as the player who went first invariably seemed to have a higher chance of dominating the game!
What I particularly love about the activation system that I have developed for Outremer: Faith and Blood is the element of randomness... you never quite know in which order the fighters’ cards will be dealt and so you really have to think ahead as you develop your strategy. You may well have the best plan in the world, but if the cards aren’t drawn in the order you want then you’re going to have to come up with an effective ‘Plan B’ rapidly. In truth this reflects the reality of combat in which both the circumstances and the enemy conspire to derail even the best laid plans. The test of a truly brilliant commander is in how they adapt to the shifting tides of fade on the battlefield.
Next time we’ll take a closer look at some of the actions available to your fighters once they have been activated.