First Playthrough – The Ambush

We received reports of some of the civilian aliens having gotten their hands on a crate of our rifles. Never good. My patrol unit has been assigned a recon to one of their villages, in order to see if the reports are true…and deal with it if that’s the case.

Deliverance is at hand! We have the weapons of the humans, and they will allow us to finally wrest our freedom from under their cruelty. They take and take, and for what? We see nothing in return. Today begins a new day!


Welcome back! Part one of this series can be read here: http://strikepoint.games/2019/06/17/first-playthrough-units-cards-and-orders/

Picking up where we left off, we’re going to play a scenario called “the Ambush”. One side is the Attacker and the other is the Defender. As a note, I’m not fully on-board with those two terms, and it doesn’t work well from a fully narrative/story-telling perspective. But we’ll use them for now.

The Attackers are the forces setting up the ambush. They will set up second, have the initial Activation (as if they won Initiative), and be able to use Hidden Setup if they choose. The Defenders are the forces arriving on the board, who will set up first and have the second Activation.

StrikePoint uses the alternating activation concept. A Turn consists of a series of Activations, where a player chooses a Unit to Activate, then the next player chooses one of their Units, and then back to the first until all Units have been Activated. If one side has more Units than the other, they will be able to Activate the remainder of their Units until they run out. All Units must be Activated in a given Turn. Currently, there is no method of “holding” or “skipping” an Action, but you may choose to pass the Initative to another player.

Note: This may be revisited, most likely using an Order to indicate a higher level of tactical experience/know-how/skill. Being able to arbitrarily wait for the other player to do things, then act, is an advantage to the smaller force size. However, there is a trade-off in you may lose a unit or the other player can achieve a mission objective. Similarly, the ability to run a bunch of units in a row is an advantage to the numerically larger force, but one that is, in theory, offset by the smaller force being able to be more effective when used.


There we were, just a walkin’ down the lane, singin’…

The army squad sets up first. We give them 6″ of deployment, and force them to be on a road. Basically, a 6″x6″ box, centered on the middle of the board and the deployment edge. If this was a larger engagement, we’d just give them 6″ along the entire edge. The player does not know where the other forces are, save that they could be anywhere within 12″ of the other edge of the board. This allows us to provide some “fog of war” to the scenario, in that the player has to try and think how the other player will deploy their own forces.

Token Defenders

We will use a pair of coins, one for each squad. When using Hidden Setup, you use a unique Token for each Unit. When the Unit is deployed on the board, due to taking a visible action or being Detected, the first Model is centered on the Token, with the rest placed in Coherency of another Model in the Unit, but no further forward than the Token. Some Units may get multiple Tokens, representing their ability to truly take advantage of terrain. An example of this might be a Sniper.

A Hidden Unit is Detected (and thus placed on the battlefield) if an enemy Unit comes within double their Unit’s Movement, or if the Hidden Unit Moves or Fires. There may be other ways to reveal a Hidden Unit, but that is not part of this playthrough. To be clear, the Detection range is based on the enemy Unit, not the Hidden Unit.

Typically, Models must maintain a 2″ Coherency to another Model in the Unit. Two inches is a nice number which works well with the typical 25mm or 32mm bases currently available in the world. We do not worry too much about base sizes, other than to suggest you maintain a standard set of sizes for your army. Mixed base sizes in a Unit can be problematic.

It is important to note that a Hidden Unit needs something to hide behind. This is some form of Cover. If no Cover is available, the Unit may not be Hidden. This means you cannot place a Hidden Unit out in the open! A Unit must have Cover from all Enemy Units in order to use Hidden Setup.

Token deployment left

Once all of the Units are deployed, the battle can begin!


Turn One!

A player who wins (or is given by the scenario) the Initiative can pass it to the other player. In a multiplayer game, the Initiative passes to the next player in the Initiative order. In this case, I let the army “Player” go first, which was a terrible mistake! Oh well.

Order in the court!
Order in the Court!

An Action consists of checking to see if any Models need to make a Recovery Check, choosing to issuing an Order or using one of the default Behaviors, Activating the Order/Behavior’s Phases, and issuing any Special Orders.

A Recovery Check is needed when any Models are Downed. Roll any dice in the Orders box, and stand up any Models that roll equal to or under the Resiliency TN for the Unit.

A Unit’s Activation involves going through the Phases of any Behavoirs or Orders, including Special Orders. Each Order can have up to two Phases. For example, the Maneuver Order has a Move Phase and a Fire Phase.

Returning to the battle, the army player decides that a movement toward Hard Cover is in order here (get it?), but they also want to take shots at the Unit they think is Hidden behind the hedgerow. They could have taken one of the default Behaviors of the unit, but decided that putting cover fire down range to smoke out the civilians and getting into better cover was more important. I choose the Maneuver Order and place the card over the Behavior box on the card, indicting that I am over-riding the Unit’s normal Behavior. I then take the Leader’s die and attempt to pass a Leadership Check by rolling the Unit’s Resilience or less, in this case a 4. I could use any die for this test, but I want to keep the this-die-represents-something mentality going.

Hoof it to the stables!

I roll a 3, which means the Leadership Check passes, and my Order goes into effect. If it hadn’t, I would remove the Order Card and could use one of the default Behaviors. I move my unit their full Movement of 4″ toward the fence-line. Then, I will attempt to Fire at the enemy, choosing one of the Hidden Units.

Sidebar: Initially, I did not consider the concept of the Special Order requiring the Specialist to not act with the rest of the Unit. So, here, the Model moves with the Unit, when it should have stayed put. Requiring the Model to stay in place to use the Suppress Order means you have to think a little more ahead of time about your Action. Also, a Unit can still act in spite of a failed Order. This is to prevent a Unit from ‘freezing’ in combat which is more annoying than game-useful. You want to be able to rely on your units doing something, even if it isn’t the most optimal something.

First, to Fire at a Hidden unit, you have to be able to determine how many Models will fire accurately on the enemy Unit. This is a separate test which represents the Unit’s ability to figure out where to shoot, but does not count as a Detection. It is simply an advantage granted to a Hidden Unit. Take the dice of all of the Models you want to Fire, and roll against the Firing Unit’s Resilience. In this case, five of the nine Models, including the Leader manage to place their shots accurately enough to possibly affect the target. The red Specialist die is not used in this Phase. That is because I wish to also use the Suppress order, which means that Model cannot contribute to the volley from the Fire portion of the Maneuver Order.

The use of the Firing Unit’s Resilience is meant to represent the Unit’s experience, training, and equipment. A Unit that’s seen combat, has good training, and equipment such as binoculars, optical scanners, what have you will be better at possibly spotting Hidden Units.

Sidebar: You do not have to use all of the dice of a unit! Each time you Fire a Weapon, or use Equipment or a Special Order, there’s a chance that something will go wrong on the roll of a 1. You may still be successful with that roll, but the Model will have to recover with a Resilience Check later on. The complication could be the weapon requiring more ammo, the weapon jamming, the Model tripping, etc. It is not a permanent failure, but something to be overcome by the Unit’s Resilience. At the moment, I am using all rolls of 1 as critical, or a 1-in-6 chance something has gone wrong. I like the idea of the 1-is-a-fumble, but I may push it to a 1-followed-by-another-1, or a 1-followed-by-an-immediate-Resilence-check to reduce the chances.

Can you SEE the LIGHT?

Once we determined how many Models can Fire at the target Unit, we place the other dice on the card in the stats box at the top, and roll the remaining dice again. This time, the TN is the enemy Hidden Unit’s Resilience, modified by the Soft Cover the unit is hiding behind. When Firing, you must meet or exceed the target Unit’s Resilience. The civilian mob hiding behind the hedgerow has a Resilience of 2, plus 1 for the Soft Cover, for a total TN of 3. In addition, because the Unit is Hidden, an additional +1 is granted to the Unit’s Resilience, bringing the total TN to 4. In this case, four of the five rifle shots hit the enemy Unit, causing 4 Models to be Downed. If at any time a Unit receives more Hits than it has Active Models, each Hit Incapacitates a Downed Model. If there are still leftover Hits, they are discarded.

Sidebar: Line-of-Sight and Cover. In general, we are quite generous about Line of Sight. The board at the time of an Activation is a snapshot of movement, combat, swirling melee, etc. This is why Line-of-Sight is only blocked by two things: First, Full Cover, such as walls, rock formations, etc. Second, attempting to Fire through two sets of Cover, such as two lines of hedgerows, or a hedgerow and a fence, or two walls, and so forth. It does not matter if they are Soft or Hard Cover. To avoid slowing the game down, if there is ever a question, then the best Cover applies. We try and always rule in favor of the Unit being attacked, as things are already quite lethal. Also, if a Unit is in Cover, the cover it is using does not count for the purposes of firing at other Units. A Unit can claim to be in Cover if all of the Models’ bases are within 2″ of the cover, and the Cover is between the Unit and the Firing Unit. If there is doubt, then the Unit counts as being in Cover, and having the best Cover available. If a Unit is partially in Cover, then the Firing Unit may either Fire at the entire Unit, which gains the benefit of Cover, or Fire at the Models with no cover/lesser Cover. For example, a Unit half behind Hard Cover and half behind Soft Cover could be Fired upon as if they were all in Hard cover, or only the half in Soft Cover could be Fired upon, with the rest of the Unit unaffected. Full Cover always blocks Line-Of-Sight, even if the target Unit is not within 2″ of the cover. Elevation may enable a Unit to Fire at another Unit and ignore the cover, if the cover is not high enough to count as intervening between the two Units.

We move the remainder of the dice to the stats box on the Unit’s card. No 1’s were rolled during the Firing Phase, so there will be no need for these Models to make a Recovery Check later on. Now, we move to the remaining die, belonging to the Specialist.

We’re going to use the Suppress order, in an attempt to pin down the squad we suspect is there behind the Hedgerow, but Hidden. We place the Order card (note the color of the card matches the die) on top of the previous Order. This is okay, because the Special Order is only for the remaining Model. Then, we make a test against the enemy Unit’s Resilience, as the previous Fire Order.

Suppress is a nice Order to have, because it does not directly attack an enemy Unit, but effectively places the Unit in deadly terrain (angry bees), forcing the other player to choose if they wish to risk moving that Unit. StrikePoint is about forcing tactical decisions. Right now, the Hidden status of the enemy unit is not applied here, only the Cover they are in. This is because the Suppress Order represents sweeping the general area of the target Unit. However, in future, I believe I may allow the Hidden bonus to also apply, to help lower-Resilience Units. More play-testing is needed.

Help, help, we’re being Suppressed!

A roll of 3 meets or exceeds the target Unit’s Resilience, so the Unit is Suppressed. We place the Token next to the Unit’s Hidden marker as a reminder. We could also place it on the Unit Card. Either works, as some players don’t mind tokens on the tabletop and some do.

Line ’em up!

After placing any non-Downed dice into the Stats box on the card, this squad’s Activation is complete!


Let’s see how well we respond to being shot…uhoh.

Back to the civilians, and it isn’t going well for the left-hand Unit. We choose to Activate this Unit first, so we know what we can do with them before we make a decision on how to best use the other Unit. First we have to do the Recovery phase of the Activation. We roll all the dice in the Stats portion of the Unit Card. Any dice which roll equal to or greater than the Unit’s Resilience we move to the Members portion of the card, leaving the rest on the Orders section. This represents Models who are reloading, clearing weapon jams, etc. We then pick up the four dice from the Behaviors side of the card and roll them, looking to roll equal to or below the Resilience of the Unit, which is 2. In this case, only one Model is successful, and is stood back up. Their die is added back to the Members portion of the Unit Card. The remainder are placed back on the Behavior portion of the card.

Here is where the Morale portion of the game comes into play. This Unit’s Morale is Rocky. That means the Unit becomes Shaken any time they have any Downed Models after the Recovery phase of an Activation. They’re just not used to combat! Since three Models failed their Recovery Check, the unit is now Shaken. We mark the Unit or Unit Card with a Shaken Token.

In addition, those three Models are in danger of becoming Incapacitated! A second roll will be made at the end of the Activation. Note: This rule is going to be changed up a bit to also include coherency.

Solid Leadership skills…

Facing the possible loss of some of the civilians under their charge, the Leader of the Unit chooses the Regroup Order. This Order is a powerful one, which allows any Downed Models to roll another Recovery Check at a Resilience of +1, as well as bring any models which are out of Coherency back in. A Leadership Check is made, attempting to roll at or below the Unit’s Resilience. In this case, a 1 is rolled. Leadership Checks never cause Criticals, as Criticals are always weapon or equipment related. We can now take the three Downed dice, and make a Resilience Check.

I guess they don’t want to get back into the fight. Can you blame them?

One of the three Models makes their check. One die is returned to the Members section along with the Leader’s die. The other are put back into the Behaviors section of the card remaining in danger of becoming Incapacitated.

We’ll just stay here and keep each other company.

Sidebar: What does Incapacitated mean? A model that has been Incapacitated is not necessarily dead. It means they are no-longer combat-effective. This could mean dead…or they’ve run out of ammunition, their weapon is fully jammed, they’ve taken a serious wound, and so on. In another post, we’ll discuss how the victory conditions for a given army may involve how the army/player handles their incapacitated units. For example, human armies may have a victory condition of “No one left behind”, which rewards protecting/recovering the incapacitated models! It is also important to notice Incapacitated Models do not count as Downed. This will not bring a unit back from being Broken, but it does make it easier for a unit to remain Un-Broken. Choosing if and when to leave Models behind is an important part of StrikePoint. A Downed Model which is Hit again is automatically Incapacitated. Incapacitated Models may not have Hits allocated to them.

You cannot see us!

Initially, I went with an end-of-round-roll-for-Incapacitate mechanic, which is why the two dice/Models have been removed. I’ve since changed this to a more nuanced idea involving Coherency.

The second squad chooses to do nothing for this Activation, wanting to wait for another Activation so they can possibly move out without being shot at, next round. This was a tactical mistake which will come back to haunt the civilians.

In general, it is better to act, than react, in StrikePoint!


Turn Two!

Roll for Initiative! Each player rolls a D6 and adds their highest Resilience. The winner may choose to go first or second.

The army player rolls a six, plus their Resilience 4, equals 10, which means the civilians have no chance.

Pretty sure that six is gonna get you somewhere…
Four-lorn.

…and with a 4, the civilians Initiative score is a total of 6. The army players wins, and chooses to go first.

But where could they be?

Looking at the board, the army player thinks it would be a good idea to try and Maneuver. Get fully to the line of Hard Cover while putting Fire downrange to keep the civilians busy.

Nope.

However, with the roll of a 6, the Unit says “No, sir.” Instead, the unit can choose a default Behavior, and the army player uses Advance. It is important to note a failed Order from a Leader is enough punishment, so the Unit can still be functional, even if it isn’t precisely what the player wanted the Unit to do. This represents the discipline and training of the unit, as well as the commanding presence of the Leader.

Fenced in…

The Move Order comes with a +1 to the Units Resilience representing the idea of the Unit moving cautiously forward, taking advantage of cover, and being more aware of their surroundings. I place a Token next to them to represent/remind myself of this. The Token could also be on the Unit Card.

Next, the army player attempts to Suppress again. Note that I still haven’t stumbled onto the idea of the Suppress special order not allowing the Model to move. Oops!

Sidebar: Resources! In general, during game-play, Special Orders will be limited. As an example, this machine gunner Specialist will most likely only be able to Suppress once a game. As the game represents the few minutes of high-intensity conflict, there’s not enough time and ammunition to fire tons of ammunition, switching targets, and so forth. Plus, this adds another level to StrikePoint, the concept of Resource Management. Choosing when to play your limited resources is an integral difference between StrikePoint and other tabletop wargames.

More bees, squad leader?

For this play-through, we’re testing the effect of being able to play Special Orders an unlimited amount of time. Bear with me. Also, since the Specialist moved, it should not be able to use its Special Order as mentioned.

The Specialist rolls a 2, which means they successfully Suppress. A token is placed with the target Unit or on the Unit’s Card. This time, we place it on the Unit’s Card.

This Unit’s Activation is complete, as they cannot Fire. The Specialists’ die is placed onto the Stats section of the Unit Card.


The civilian player chooses to Activate the right-hand Unit first, mayhaps to distract the army player. Issuing the Maneuver Order, the Leadership Check is passed, and the Ynit can move out. Since the Unit is moving, it will no longer be Hidden even if the Unit was still in Cover. The civilian player chooses to funnel the Unit through the narrow bap between rocky outcroppings, which is a terrible mistake, as none of the Models can Fire.

Let’s get out there!

When deploying Hidden Models, you must place the Leader centered on the Hidden Token, then place the rest of the models so they are within Coherency of another Model in the Unit, and no more than 6″ from the Hidden token. You may also not place any models ahead of the Token.

Hey, which way do we go?

Now, we look to Activate the left-hand squad. The army player has no more squads to Activate, so they get to sit back and watch the show.

Shaken, not stirred.

Since the Unit is Shaken, it would normally use its Instinctive Behavior which, in this case is Break (flee). So, the civilian player will use an Order to try and keep this from happening. The civilian player chooses to Regroup, instead of Maneuver or Defend. A Leader may always try to make a Leadership Check to use the Training Behavior when a Unit is Shaken, or try to use one of their Order Cards. In this case, it would have been better to simply attempt to Defend, as the Unit would not Move, triggering the Suppress Token.

No, sir, we will be declining to stick around.

The Resilience Check is failed, which means the Unit defaults to Behavior. Since the Unit is Shaken, it must Break (flee). This triggers the Suppress Token as well. This Unit of civilians just can’t catch a break!

First, we Deploy the unit, as it has to make a Move action. Even if the Unit does not actually use the Move Phase of an Order, it still counts for losing the Hidden status. Unless otherwise specified, any Order or Behavior will remove a Unit’s Hidden Token.

Liiiine UP!

Next, the Unit makes a Resilience Check to see how many of their Models remember their keep their heads down. We roll all of their dice.

…ashes, ashes, they all fall down.

Not a good day for this civilian mob. Only 5 of the Models pass the check, so we tip over the rest, who are now Downed. We place their dice on the Behavior section of the Unit Card. It is important to note the Leader could be specifically hit, here. I somewhat like the idea of the Leader or Specialist taking a random shot in these situations, but I am more likely to allow the hit to be passed on to another model, because I happen to know that my dice luck would end up honking me off as I end up with Leader-less and Specialist-less Units. So, I will err on the side of Epic Game-play, not Random Player Morale hits.

The Break action is a special Move Phase, where the Unit must move directly toward the army’s Deployment Zone. Certain Missions may change where units Break toward. Initially, I thought of having this be a random-d6-and-Movement, but I’m also fond of straight up double-Move. In this case, I tried the D6+Movement option. I rolled a 3, plus the Unit Movement of 3″, to get a 6″ Break Move. The random roll would reflect panic, which is why I’m leaning toward it.

We move the remaining Models’ dice back to the Models portion of the card. (I need a better name for this section of the card.) We do not have to make any further Resilience Checks, because the Unit has not fired any Weapons, used any Equipment, etc. The Unit remains Shaken.

What a Down-er.

With that, turn two is at an end.

Well THAT went well.

Turn Three!

One is the loneliest number…

We start off with another Initative Check. The army player gets a 5, the civilians a 1. Really, just not their day. However, the army player chooses to pass Initative, gambling on the civilians to continue their rout and/or fail to move firepower past the rocky outcroppings.

They’re pining for the fjords.

The civilian player, realizing they need to get this Unit back in the fight, or concede the game, Activates the left-hand Unit. First, we make the Recovery Check against the Unit’s Resilience of 2. All of the Downed Models are within 6″ of an Active Model of that Unit, so they may all roll. Only four models pass the Check, so the rest are Incapacitated and removed along with their dice. This mechanic has changed a bit since the play-through. Downed models not within 6″ of another Model of the same Unit are automatically Incapacitated when the Recovery Check is made.

Alas, it was not to be.

The civilian player then chooses to attempt a Regroup Order. This, if successful, would bring any Downed Models back into Coherency and possibly recover from being Downed. Probably a good choice here, because if they pass the Leadership Check and have no Downed Models, they would no longer be Shaken!

We’re rapidly running out of Deputies.

Unfortunately, the Leadership Check is not passed, and so the Unit once again defaults to their Instinct, which is to Break. Another D6+Movement results in the unit running off of the board. The remaining Downed Models would then automatically become Incapacitated.

Run away! Run away!

At this point, with one Unit squeezed into a narrow crevasse and the other Unit gone from the board, the civilian player concedes!


Since I did not roll any 1’s for weapons fire, here’s a quick demonstration of how to resolve these Criticals in the Recovery Phase of an Activation.

FLANDERS!

If there are any 1’s in the Stats section of the Unit Card at the beginning of the Unit’s Activation, they are rolled just like any Downed dice, but separately. The TN is the Unit’s Resilience. If the Recovery Check is passed, the die is put into the Member’s section of the Unit Card. Otherwise it remains in the Stats section, as a reminder the Model cannot Fire or use Specialist Actions. It may still Move with the rest of the Unit.


Those poor civilians. Did they ever stand a chance? Well, if they had a better player (IE: Me) then, maybe! I was too timid with them, and should have been putting shots downrange while maneuvering to get the enemy in a crossfire.

Tune in for the next Developer’s Diary, where I talk about the changes in game play, and some new mechanics, including….vehicles!

Ciao for now!

Published By
Brian C. Johnson

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