To Record Sheet Or Not To Record Sheet

When you look at miniatures games as a whole they fall into several categories (there are other categories, but for my purposes the vast majority fall into one of these three).

1. Record Sheets for everything. BattleTech is likely the best example of this, with an in-depth record sheet for about every unit you can field…last count, with all the advanced rules options, we’re pushing 50. Now this provides a great sense of how cool and big and kick-butt units are, as they don’t die quickly and you can feel the damage as it occurs. The downside, of course, is that things don’t die quickly, so the games can be long and of course it can be incredibly intimidating for a new player to look at a pile of confusing record sheets.

2. Hit points; semi record sheets. Games like Warhammer, Warmachine and so on usually have a very small record sheet with fixed stats for their heroes, while the bulk of the units are simply a single hit point figure, and many of those are a hit and kill situation. Now those style of table-top miniatures games work like that because you’re fielding dozens and dozens of figures and as I can attest, if you’re fielding that many units and they all have in-depth record sheets, you’re looking at months of play time. So while it works to quickly speed up games, I think the downside is that you lose a sense of connection to most of the figures when they pop like candy.

3. Combat dial. Pioneered by Mage Knight, MechWarrior: Dark Age and HeroClix, variations of it exist across numerous games. Basically taking all the stats and moving them to a dial on the miniature’s base to speed up game play. While it solved a lot of the issues of “too many RS and they’re too complex” and “too few details on the miniature,” it had its own issues for game play, such as the dreaded “did you put the miniature back exactly where it was?”

So there’s a long, storied history of successful games that fall into those categories and those that spin off variations of those above to make cool, fun games. After looking at all the various options I kept coming back to the record sheet. Especially when you’re talking multi-thousand ton vessels, I felt that neither simply “hit points” or a combat dial could really do it justice.

At the same time I didn’t just want to do a standard paper record sheet. There’s been a lot of cool innovations made in gaming over the last 5 to 10 years, as well as unique and new ways of tracking information and the materials used for such tracking. So after kicking around the concept some we had some jotted notes on some paper and we got in some very early and quick tossing of some dice to see how it was feeling; not sure I’d even call it “game playtesting” as the rules were so loose at that point, but instead it was more about “aesthetic playtesting” if you will.

What resulted was a solid concept that we could and should use a record sheet to provide enough details to really convey the sense of the size of the vessels and the wear and tear damage they take. And so far, through a lot of playtesting that’s proven itself out thoroughly.

At the same time we’re not going the normal paper route (as mentioned above), but instead we’re going down what I hope is a different, cool and fun path. But I’ll touch on that down the line.

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

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