So Whose Turn Is It Anyway?

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While I get stuck into writing the missions, I thought I’d write a few blog posts outlining some of the rules as they are. Today’s topic is Turn Order.

Before the mission starts, the Outlander (thanks to @Symatt for the suggestion of what to call the player who plays the aliens) reads out the read-aloud text located at the beginning of the mission chapter. This should set the scene, letting the players know where they are, what they are doing and the success/failure criteria.

The players position their characters on the starting spaces denoted on the mission map. Any obstacles and aliens that the Outlander has at its disposal can be placed within the limits described in the mission. The missions begins. And now we need to know which player acts first…

Initiative/Turn Order – i.e. who goes first

How do you decide who goes first? Should it be a tactical decision made at the team level? Should it be thematically appropriate with some battle hardened soldiers reacting to finding themselves in a hostile environment quicker than the led-a-sheltered-life Doctor? Here are a few of the different turn order/initiative systems that I have seen:

  1. Level 7: Omega Protocol – The players decide on their order and all act in that order. Once the turn has started the order cannot change. Once all of the players have been, the aliens then all go. This is a good way for the players to start planning their turn – tactically deciding which order the players act in.
  2. Dungeons & Dragons – Each player rolls and adds an initiative bonus to the roll. The DM rolls for the enemy combatants. The highest score acts first and then the next highest etc until everyone has taken a turn. This is perhaps the most simple, but it works better for D&D where you are not locked in that turn order for 2 hours as fights are a lot quicker than that. Being locked in to a turn order based on a dice roll for 2 hours could be quite frustrating.
  3. Deep Madness – Each player card has a number on it. The turn order alternates between players and aliens, with the score on the player card determining how far up the turn order track they are. At the end of each turn, each player gets pushed up one on the turn order tracker, with the first player dropping back to last. This keeps the turn order fluid but you have no control over it AND it doesn’t make thematic sense, as every character gets to act in each slot over a game.
  4. Feng Shui 2 – Each player rolls a dice and adds their initiative bonus to it to determine their “shot number”. The GM counts down from the highest number. When a player’s shot number is reached, they get to take an action. Their action costs a certain number of “shots”. Once they have completed their action, the shot cost is taken away from their shot number. When their shot number is reached again, the player gets to take another action. This continues until the GM counts down to 1 when the next round starts. This is a great way of adding an extra layer of decision-making as a player could be deciding between a quick action that is less damaging or less accurate versus taking a bit longer to get a more accurate shot or using a more damaging weapon.

I really like the idea of the Feng Shui 2 system and would like to use it for Spaceship 47. But, as this would involve me balancing all of the shot costs of various attacks and actions, I have decided to go for a slightly simpler turn order system for the time being. It is basically the turn order system for the X-Wing Miniatures Game.

Spaceship 47 Turn Order System

Each round in Spaceship 47 is split into two phases: the Movement Phase and the Action Phase. To determine the turn order within each of these phases, each character and alien will have a Turn Order score on their character card.

Movement Phase

At the start of each round, the Outlander counts up from 0. When the Outlander has counted up to the Turn Order score of a combatant, then that combatant can move a number of hexes up to their speed. This means the characters with a high turn order score get to react to the positioning around them.

Certain characters will be able to give up their move to perform a talent check (more about these in a future blog post) which will aid them in the action phase. Once the last combatant moves, then the Action Phase starts.

Action Phase

When the action phase starts, the combatant who acted last in the Movement Phase acts first. Then the Outlander counts back down from that combatant’s initiative score to 0 with each combatant taking their action on the appropriate number. This allows characters with a high turn order score to complete their actions first.

A character can take one action in the action phase. Actions a character can take are:

  • Move a number of hexes up to their speed
  • Go defensive (+2 to all defence scores for this turn)
  • Attack
  • Use a piece of equipment

If this system isn’t suitable for some reason (takes too long? players don’t like having split actions?) Then I will go with the Feng Shui 2 turn order system. But as it stands, this is how turn order in Spaceship 47 is being decided.

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