In our recent game of Twilight of the Britons, we used markers for the hits taken. But after the game Chris suggested moving to hits remaining. This post explains that element of Game Design and when I’m tempted to use these two contrasting mechanisms.
Why record hits
Some rule systems, like DBA, have no record keeping. A unit on table is alive and if it is destroyed/routed then the unit is removed from the table. Simple.
But most other rule systems try to simulate the gradual attrition of fighting ability. Different game systems use different names for this mechanism, for example Tilly’s Very Bad Day tracks a unit’s “resolve”. But Volley and Bayonet calls them “casualties” and Shako tracks “kills”. For this post I’ll call them hits, which happens to be what One Hour Wargames calls them.
Players usually record hits on a roster or with markers on table. In either case, both the rules writer and the players have a choice: do they records hits remaining or hits taken.
Tilly’s Very Bad Day tracks the hits remaining. Actually it is “resolve” remaining rather than hits remaining but same, same. A regular pike+shot unit starts with resolve = 4, but when it takes a hit it goes to resolve = 3, then 2, then 1, then routs and is removed. I use a marker next to the unit to show the resolve remaining. As the game designer I did this because resolve is used in the game. In combat a unit rolls a number of dice equal to their current resolve (hits remaining). It is simpler for a player to roll the number of dice they see (hits remaining) than do a calculation (starting resolve = 4 less 2 hits = 2 dice to roll).
Note: the photo is from Small Kircholm – A Tillys Very Bad Day Battle Report 2.
In contrast, for Twilight of the Sun King, I used hits taken. The hits taken have no in game effect, except when the unit has no hits left it routs and is removed from the table. If you want to know how many hits does this unit have left, then you have to do a calculation i.e. starting hits = less hits taken = hits remaining.
Note: the photo is from Twilight of the Britons – A Battle Report 2.
This whole question came up because I’m working on a variant of Twilight of the Sun King called Twilight of the Britons – Fast play rules for the English Invasion of Britain. By default I started with tracking hits taken because the original set of rules did. That seemed okay to me as units are at full strength until they have no hits remaining, then they rout and are removed from the table. But in play testing Chris asked that we track hits remaining instead, even though the number of hits remaining has no in game effect. Presumably to be able to assess their relative resilience.
What do you think?
My wargaming group are leaning towards tracking hits remaining, like I did in Tilly’s Very Bad Day .
What do you think?
What do other game systems do?
What is best?