Command Resources in Game Design

I’ve played a number of games recently that require managing command resources. Let me name names first.

One of these is SAGA. I think I’ve played five games of SAGA, and really enjoyed all of them. A player is allotted a certain number of dice to roll and based on the die roll one can move or attack or employ super-cool SAGA abilities based on one’s army. I like it, much fun. It’s a nuanced game that requires one to use the SAGA dice carefully. Just to add, the game requires six-sided dice and the annoyingly spendy and sometimes hard to find SAGA dice that go with your chosen army. I have a Norse-Gael army and they require DIFFERENT dice than my newly purchased, but unpainted Irish army. Of course.

I’ve played two games of 1914, the Great Escape Games rules for the opening days of WWI. Another set of rules I really like. In this game units generate command tokens to move, fire, and remove morale points. They may also use tokens to take multiple actions or react to the enemy’s move. Carefully managing tokens to ensure the bad guys don’t run rampant and lay waste to your army while can do nothing is critical to success. This has many characteristics of a traditional miniatures game, but the command resource management overlays another level to the game. It can slow it down considerably for new players who are kind of going . . . “what???!!!”

Last Sunday at our Veterans Museum gathering I played On the Altar of Freedom. This is an ACW game using 6mm figures. It also used a command allocation system that was somewhat different. Command points were distributed each turn, but could also be used to “manage the clock.” Each turn began with 12 “on the clock”. After each turn was taken, the clock was allocated and clever clock management would end the turn before all the bad guys got to move. I thought that was fascinating.

All of these games are pretty different from the I Go, You Go game systems most of us are comfortable with. They require another level of play from the game mechanics in whatever we’ve been playing. Often those mechanics are simpler. Facing and formations matter less. Planning for more than one turn becomes more important.

I’m intrigued enough that I’m interested in putting together a set of rules applying some sort of command resource management with 15mm fantasy figures. I’ve had a bunch for years and am thinking I can still paint 15’s, even if I don’t see well enough to do a great job. This is a project for 2023.

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