I'm afraid this page has never been properly finished
(despite the first draft being in 2000), but I think there's enough of interest here
to warrant publishing it in its current state. I would particularly welcome any
comments or ideas.
The problems of turn order in war gaming.
All war games are trying to simulate, in a turn based environment, events which happen simultaneously
in reality. This is extremely difficult to do satisfactorily, particularly as concessions must also
be made to game play. If the turn system is too complicated and contorted, it may be very realistic,
but will also be intensely boring to play.
There are two central problems caused by transferring from 'real-time' to turns. One of these is
to do with movement. Both players cannot move their pieces at the same time, so one must go first.
The other player will then inevitably react to the other's movement. Even though this is not
unfair for one player as it can be balanced out over alternate turns, it means that a player
is always making a move in response to a fixed situation, rather than a simultaneously evolving
position as in real battles. This can lead to bizarre situations like one unit going round the side
of an enemy unit and attacking from the back, where it would be impossible to do so in
The other problem is to do with firing. In reality firing takes place almost, but not
quite, simultaneously, in a very complex sequence. When this is reduced to a small
number of turns, the following problems arise.
There are a number of different approaches to deal with these two issues, each with their
own pros and cons.
No opportunity to fire- If one player fires and then moves consecutively then
it is possible for him to shoot at his opponent's models without them having a chance to
Moving across gaps- Whatever type of turn order is used, there is the problem
that a single move may take a model through an enemy's line of sight and into cover again.
Unless the turn order allows this to be interrupted, it can result in an unrealistic
situation where the models can move with impunity.
Approaches to Turn Order
Separate Turns (move and fire)
Play passes from one player to the other. Each moves and then fires. This gives a major advantage to the attacker, because they can pop out and then blow the opponent's model away. This can be improved by a penalty for moving and firing, or even disallowing moving and firing in the same turn. The advantage of this rather crude system is that it keeps gameplay quick and easy.
Separate Turns (fire then move)
|1)|| Player A moves|
|2)|| Player A fires|
|3)|| Player B moves|
|4)|| Player B fires|
You should be wary of introducing too complex a phase system as they can make game play considerably slower and, particularly if playing in large groups, it is easy to forget one phase or to lose track of which stage of the turn is currently in progress. A system such as the one below has the advantage that because all the firing takes place at one time, the situation where a model is shot at without an opportunity to fire itself cannot happen.
The order in which the two players move might be alternated or randomly diced for each turn.
|1)|| Player A moves|
|2)|| Player B moves|
|3)|| Both Players fire|
This helps to solve the problem of one player reacting to another's movement by
forcing each player to set orders independently at the start of the turn. However,
if players have to set precisely what they plan to do by drawing on a map, for
example, this will dramatically slow up the game so most players will find this
too dull a technique.
A quicker alternative is to have a number of different orders which can be given
to a unit such as charge, advance, hold position etc. These can be written on
counters which are placed face down at the start of the turn. They can give firing
or movement bonuses, as well as making certain movement compulsory. This way the
player must broadly define what each unit will do during the turn before he has
any idea of what his opponent will decide to do.