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Shinlocke

code zero
Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System

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One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. 

One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen.  

One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen.  

Looking from a miniatures game perspective, when playing a game there is probably nothing more annoying than making a mistake. Little mistakes because of how items are abstracted in games can cascade into a much worse mistake. It is a blow to morale when you end up in a situation, that it seems hopeless which in turn affects the enjoyment of the game.  

We as gamers suspend disbelief because there are many things that can't be represented accurately so they are abstracted. Take a traditional IGO-UGO system. You are setup in a room, waiting to strike, then the opponent simply walks in shoots at your troops and you have no ability to respond to it. You start to ask, "When does that happen normally, I should have at least gotten one shot off".  

Timing, initiative and other factors affect that but they are nuances that factor into it. One one side a player can say, that is a bad play because it could have been predicted. That is part of the strategy, trying to determine how an opposing player will react to where your position is. Even though they walked across an open area to enter the building it should have been able to be seen.  

The Action/Reaction system is something that was created to try to bridge those differences. There a number of games that utilize that system in different methods, when one player takes an action, the opposing player can react with certain actions. It allows the players to not have a harder time suspending disbelief, creates interaction between players that normally didn't exist. There are still issues with the system though as each game system has pros/cons.  

I'm going to take a step back and look at a gaming system that has refined action/reaction to an almost science. Action/reaction are at the heart of the majority of card games like Magic the Gathering or World of Warcraft TCG. In a nutshell, they gain resources per turn, using those resources to play cards. When an active player has priority and plays a card, priority passes to their opponent who might be able to respond. The rules themselves sound complex and are a bear to read through but the application of the system is fairly straightforward.  

Action | Reaction System

An example of a well-known Action/Reaction system is basically an IGO-UGO activation with reaction response built into it. The Active Player activates their units, one at a time and does their actions. The Reactive Player responds usually when one of the Active Players models cross line of sight. They resolve rolls. This continues until the Active Player can no longer activate any more models. Then they switch roles. The Reactive Player role although interacting is more of a “sit and wait”. There is also no limitation on a number of times a unit can be activated in a turn.  

It is a great game, solid system but still has the issue at points where suspending disbelief becomes harder. We wanted to do things a bit different to create some interesting and unique opportunities in a battle. We felt this simulated cinematic action movie sequences better as well as providing more opportunities for players. 

In Code Zero activation is not IGO-UGO, it is an alternate activation. That means during a game turn the roles will switch back and forth. We also wanted there to be a method for the Reactive Player to respond to an action without it requiring the Active Player to cross line of sight. Although we don’t put a hard limit on a number of times a unit can be activated, there is a soft limit. If you wanted to run a unit from one side of the board, spending all your activations points, to the other side you could but it comes at a cost… they get tired and gain fatigue from being overworked.  

Standard Activation - 2 Short Actions  

1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action.
 Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”.

1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions.

2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. 
 Example: “I don’t have a response, pass” 

3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up.
 Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 

3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond. 
 Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 

4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 

4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. 

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Activation and Steal Initiative 

1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. 
 Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 

1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 

2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. 
 Example: “In response, I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action.” The Reactive Player now temporarily takes over the Active Player role, while the Active Player becomes the Reactive Player. They would declare and do their 2 actions. If it triggered any reactions from the Reactive Player those would be handled normally. Once those actions are complete, roles get returned to normal. 
 Example: In this example, there were no units who could react to Player-B moving their units. 

3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up.
 Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 

3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond.
 Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 

4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 

4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. 

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Activation and Chain Reaction 

1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action.
 Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 

1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 

2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player declares he is going to Steal Initiative and activate one of his fireteams to do a move action. Unlike before the Active Player didn’t have any other units that could have benefited her doing a response. However, in this example she does have Sergeant who Steals Initiative back. 

3| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1AP and chooses to activate her Sergeant. This creates a Chain Reaction. The Reactive Player could also Steal Initiative again BUT it would come at a cost, that unit would gain “Fatigue” status. In this example, he chooses to not respond. 

4| Active Player: Uses the units special ability to use a jump pack, allowing her to have her unit leap putting it on top of the building and gaining high ground. 

Now the Reactive Player would then resolve their actions, then finally the Active Player would resolve the actions of the first unit. 

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Resources Are Valuable

Activation Points are your resources and resource management is an important part of the game. Some people might be asking, "Why would someone want to do that?". I hope that becomes more clear in the gameplay run-through. I apologize for the animated gifs, hopefully, they didn't confuse things. I have never worked with them before but I was trying to find a way to demonstrate without having 50 pictures for the examples. Hopefully, that worked a bit. 

On paper, it can sound complex and complicated. If you are familiar with a certain TCG then it should be easier to grasp and understand.

Decisions become important. However bad decisions don't necessarily cause a cascade effect that a player can't bounce back from. They can but at a cost, move a unit out of danger providing you can predict that was where the player was going to go. Keep in mind you don't know what their secondary objective is. The only information you have at that time is the unit they are activating and what that action is (move, combat or special action). If it was a move action, you don't have the information of where they will move yet. When you choose to move or not to move can become important. 

A Reactive Player can only Steal Initiative once per round in the Player Phase unless they want to give the activated unit Fatigue status. One round in the Player Phase is when the Active Player has activated 1-2 units, then the Active Player and Reactive Player switch roles. This alternating activation happens until they are both out of Activation Points.

Part 3 will cover a battle report for a game going through the whole game, bringing everything we have covered together.
 

Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction

Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System


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