Game Design Concepts Continued…

As mentioned in my last design concepts blog, I’ve discussed just about every design decision that covers the Lieutenant’s Manual. With several weeks under our belt now since the Lieutenant’s Manual‘s release and most (I believe) of those following my blogs having either read and/or even played a few introductory games, I’m sure you’re already chomping at the bit to figure out what the Commander’s Manual contains that sets it apart and the decisions behind those rules. Let’s dive right in and start discussing those differences.

I believe one of the biggest additions is Line Of Sight (LOS); i.e. a straight line running between two locations (in this instance, the attacking and target hexes). Many of the rules differences in the Commander’s Manual are add ons, building off of what’s in the Lieutenant’s Manual. However, LOS is a “core” building block.

Unlike so many miniatures games, the Lieutenant’s Manual doesn’t rely on LOS. In fact I believe I’ve mentioned before that I tried like crazy to completely eliminate the need to pull out a string and draw such LOS as I felt it would slow down game play. However, through several iterations of rules, even when I thought I’d figured out how to make it work, play testing showed in no uncertain terms it absolutely did not work.

My favorite moment came when one of my play testers diagramed out how you could curve shots completely around a ship under the then current rules, as though Wanted suddenly was making an appearance in my Steampunk universe. So by the time I reach the fifth (or sixth…can’t remember now) iteration of the Commander’s Rules I realized I was left with no choice but to move to the inclusion of an LOS rule for certain situations.

Now luckily LOS only applies to two rules in the Commander’s Manual: Screening and Resolving Torpedoes (there are other rules in the Captain’s Manual that require LOS, but we’ll get into those at a latter date).

Now I hope you don’t immediately think that the use of LOS will hopelessly slow down your game. That’s simply not the case. After all, hundreds of games across the years have made excellent use of LOS without issue. However, remember that one of my primary goals of Leviathans was to try and make it as easy as I could at its core, with plug-and-play rules that could then stack on top to provide depth of play for those that wish to go that distance. And just like molding all modifiers into dice rolls eliminated that aspect of miniatures play while retaining its purpose (tactical movement), I’d hoped to swallow the need for LOS into a new mechanic. At the end I simply could’t figure a way around it without dumping far too much of the bedrock of the rules that had proven to work so well. As such, it’s back in where it’s needed and once players have a game or two under their belt using the rule, it’ll flow very smoothly.

Next time I’ll actually delve into the specifics of Screening/Firing Torpedoes, why they’re in the game and how they’ve morphed as the rules have changed.

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

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