Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Random Thoughts on Random Events

I've been using Bolt Action rules to work through a Pacific war campaign, which I've covered previously.  Since this is primarily a solo endeavor I've been having some fun with tweaking the rules to my liking. After all, my opponent doesn't really care. For the most part, these are minor things to make up for my lack of models or certain terrain.  However, one thing I've done is added random events to the game.

Adding random events is obviously not my original idea. It's easy to add a different die to the dice cup, and add an event when it comes up.You can read about one of the best applications of this idea at this link. In fact, I've stolen from these guys!

So for my games, I place a yellow die in the cup and when it is pulled I roll a D6 and on a 6 there's a random event. I've been using the random events table from Platoon Forward in the past. However, these are rather generic.  Since I'm playing a specific campaign in an historical location, I thought I could customize my random events table.

Here's what I've done. I've tried to incorporate things I know about the operation and the conditions of the battle. I thought I'd share it as inspiration for others, much the way the original post I referred to above inspired this table.

 This is obviously a screen capture, and you'll have to click on it to see the detail.

I've used the layout of reinforcements versus "story events". Both serve to add spice to the game being played and help create a less predictable experience. I also altered table odds by using a D8 versus a D6. I roll one d8 for the row and another for the column and, presto, I've got my event.

I've given a slightly better chance of the Japanese getting reinforcements, but their reinforcements are more likely to be Inexperienced or Regulars at best. The US reinforcements are less likely to occur but when they do, they will be better trained. The First Marine division at this stage of the war had been through quite a bit of the Pacific war. I figured they'd have better overall experience levels.

As for story events, these were a lot of fun to create. I tried to mimic real events I've either read about or figured would be likely. Again, not every idea was totally original. I set these up to run the gamut of bad, neutral, and positive events for the unit subjected to the event.

Some of my thoughts on these "story" ideas:
  • Battlefield confusion is that scene from every war movie where soldiers argue with their officers on what to do in the heat of battle, inevitably with someone getting shot. I left out the "getting shot" part.
  • Heat exhaustion was a real threat on Peleliu and this is how I modeled it in game terms
  • Storms seemed a likely thing to complicate fighting in the tropics. While I didn't have any examples from the 1st Marines, I do know the 81st Infantry Division experienced storms.
  • Renewed inspiration is another movie moment. I figured once the unit fails an order test, they've lost their nerve and become normal again. 
  • Stray mortar rounds make sense to me. My battle isn't the only fight in the area, as the rest of the company would be attacking alongside me.
  • Suicide surrender was hard to model in game terms. I think this does it. Basically, the Japanese used surrender as a means to kills themselves and as many enemy as possible. Amazingly the Allies seemed to fall for it over and over. The d2 hits pushes this event to be a potentially more favorable trade for the Japanese side.
  • Non combat casualties occur in every battlefield, and the rush of combat combined with weapons and a dangerous environment makes this scenario likely.
  • Time table decreased. Sorry, I just can't call it Tea Break. I'm playing Americans!
 So what has my experience been with this? Well, in the first game I got no random events. In my second game I got a useless event at game end, where the last die pulled was the random event die and I rolled for Time Table Dencrease at game end! I've decided that if I get a random event at game end I will ignore it if it has no impact. Otherwise, if I roll an event that doesn't have an effect, I'll just roll again (eg, I have only veteran units and no pinned units, then "renewed inspiration" is a waste).

Additionally, random events are seasoning and not the meal. So no more than two per game, otherwise I risk ruining the intent of the scenario. In certain scenarios, I'll plan some restrictions, like no reinforcements being available, etc.

Well, this is a whole lot of "no pictures" and lots of words. I hoped you enjoyed this and can borrow or steal some of this for your own games.


Robert Brightwell said...

Interseting stuff. I remember reading scriv's article and thinking it would be fun to try out. We need to get together for some BA sometime. Been too long.

Jerry said...

Thanks Rob! Agreed, we need to get in some games. I'll be off a couple of weeks over Xmas. We should plan to meet up.