The essence of Engle Matrix Games is that they allow you to do whatever you want to, so long as you can make a logical argument. You play a leading general of the period. Each turn you get to make one argument/order about what you want to happen that turn. You can make arguments for your side, to cause problems for the other side, or to change the rules! (No more than one level of rule change.)
The game is played on a simple area map. Miniature figures or counters are moved around on the map to reflect the location of military forces.
Sequence of play
The referee decides who presents their argument first. (Randomly?) These principles dictate who goes next:
1. The player who is most affected by previous argument should present their argument next. For example, because they have been ambushed.
2. Then any player who wishes to apply their argument to the forces of either of the immediate protagonists has a go. For example, ambush a moving force. An so on.
3. The situation is then resolved.
Battles are resolved as they occur (including Open Battles, Skirmishes, and Ambushes).
You write your arguments before announcing them.
The matrix argument cues provided may help construct arguments. They are based on common wargaming terms. Arguments are structured as follows: an action, a result, and reasons why the argument should succeed.
Ambush, Anger, Battle Cry, Fatigue, Fear, Forced March, Halt, Large Formation, Love, Morale Increases/Decreases, Motivation, Normal March, Open Battle, Rally, Recruit/Desert, Rest/Prepare, Retreat, Rout, Shame, Skirmish, Small Formation, Supply Lines, Tactical Advantage, Terrain Effect, Victory/Defeat, Weather Effect
Action: (Normal March) My army moves from France to Austria, via Wurttemburg and Bavaria.
Result: (Open Battle) We will fight the first army we encounter.
Reasons: (Prepare) The army is ready to go. (Supply Lines) Our supply lines are good. (Victory) I always win!
Action: (Terrain ) I intend to reinforce the defences of the city.
Result: (Tactical Advantage) To make it harder to attack.
Reasons: (Love) I have the support of the population. (Fear) The enemy are threatening to attack at any moment. (Personal Ability) I have the engineering expertise needed.
You may not present an argument which is, in effect, an order to troops not under your direct control, unless you are senior to their actual commander. However, you may present an argument as to why they fail to carry out an order. You may always present an argument which contradicts that of your superior, provided the superior is not present. Such insubordination may incur the senior officers wrath! And you can also submit arguments which cause unfortunate events to occur for your enemy.
Most arguments take effect in the turn they are presented, then stop. Sometimes the action or result of an argument may take several turns to complete. Any argument which is continuing in this way will be cancelled when another argument affects the same force. For instance, a force which is ordered to march between two distant points will continue to do so until the destination is reached or another argument intervenes.
The referee assess arguments for logical strength. The referee’s ruling is final. This affects the chance of success, determined by 1d6:
Irrefutable Any score
Very Strong 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
Strong 3, 4, 5 or 6
Normal 4, 5 or 6
Weak 5 or 6
Very weak 6
In general, the results of arguments are cumulative. Two directly conflicting results will cancel each other out. For example, if two players present this argument “attack other player (Action – Open Battle) and win (Result – Victory)” the nett result is an open battle fought with the battle rules.
Armies may be in the same area and not fight a battle. A battle only occurs when an argument says so. Use a simple set of rules for the battles. DBA is a good choice or use Arthur Harman’s Battle system for Matrix Games.
A player wins by best completing their personal goals. Players from the same side may share goals.
In the games I ran each player got 2 x A4 sheets (plastic wrapped) with all the rules etc:
- First sheet
- Generic Rules for a Matrix Game
- Generic Rules for Battle Resolution (unless using DBA or some such)
- Second sheet
- Specific Campaign background and rules
- Playsheet for their specific General
I have word documents (zipped) containing the play sheets of a couple of Matrix campaigns.