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Tracking Range in Combat

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#1 dirklancer



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Posted 19 September 2012 - 04:33 AM

 Hello all,

We've been playing the game for the last few weeks, and absolutely love it. Love the base mechanics, the dice rules, the way it fosters creativity and quick thinking. As a GM, it really seems to make my job easier as well. A couple of threat or despair can quickly turn the tide of things or add fun complications that the heroes need to overcome.

The only area we've been having trouble tracking is relative ranges in combat. The system is fine for it, but we've been trying to use a visual representation using the various maps and Star Wars minis we have laying around. I've tried using actual maps and a vague distance mechanic for it (Short with 5 squares, Medium within 10, etc.), and last week we tried a purely abstract system using boxes on the gaming map for each range band with minis at their proper location. Both seemed to work out well, but had some snags. With the actual maps, I would get comments from the more tactical minded players like "Why can't I move into cover? I know I'm out of maneuvers, but there is a crate right there!" With the abstract system, it was more an issue of finding the best way to show things like a Stormtrooper being at medium range for one hero and close for another.

So my question is for those using some kind of visual representation or maps, what has worked best for you? I am guessing there will be something in the Beginner's box for this since it includes tokens and a map, but I want to get some ideas on what might work best for our group to try.



#2 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:43 AM

I've not really worried to much about exact ranges when I used maps & minis for the demo game I ran for some friends last Saturday.

It didn't take long for them to get used to not counting squares for range, to the point the maps and minis were just window-dressing.

That said, given the ranges are fairly broad, I'd say anything out to 5 squares that's not adjacent falls into "close range", and most anything else on the map would be "medium range," just to keep things simple.  Unless you're dealing with a really huge freaking room, in which case I might suggest keeping those types of encounters to a bare minimum.

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#3 dirklancer



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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:56 AM

 We didn't have too much issue with the maps and minis and most of the group adapted quickly, and in some ways it worked out well, but over the years I've run into a lot of gamers that stop thinking creatively and start thinking tactically when the map comes out. Usually, but not always, I find its long term wargamers. And the nature of this system encourages more focus on the narrative and less on the scribbled dry erase marker lines and plastic stormtroopers. My one player has some trouble with that, and this is pretty much the exact exchange from 2 Fridays ago:

Player: I spend my first maneuver on moving to close range and I'll spend 2 strain to take an extra maneuver to aim at one of the Espos (moves mini to close range and places it behind a barrel).

Me: Ok, just be aware you won't get a cover bonus from that barrel since you weren't able to dive for cover behind it during your move and aim. If you get enough advantage though, you can use it to say the barrel provides some cover from one of the Espos.

Player: That's stupid. If I move, why can't my guy just move behind cover when he runs up? It's still in the range band?

And so on… With the abstract thing we tried last week, he seemed more comfortable and I found a bit more creative use of die results from everyone. But it had some flaws too. So I am hoping to find a happy medium.

#4 EldritchFire



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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:10 PM

 The first game I ran into that had abstract range bands was Monsters and other Childish Things: Bigger Bads, and they have this idea of a "default range." The GM sets a default range for an encounter, and if you forget how far away you are to someone, you are at the default range, as the chaos of the battle brings you to the default range band.

So a close-quarters battle in the cargo hold of a ship would have a default range of close, whereas an encounter in a factory could default to medium or even long range.


#5 LethalDose



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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:35 AM

 I think my group has taken a slightly different approach to the ranges to those presented above.  We pretty much glass game beads to represent the relative distance in maneuvers.  We adapted the system from WHF.  Bases touching = engaged, one stone between characters is short (nee' close) range, 2 means they're medium, 4 and they're at long.  Its basically from a sidebar on page 67 in the WFRP 3rd ed Player's Guide.

The issue becomes "what if they're three?" We still call it long, because you can't close to engaged in 2 maneuvers.  We try to start at the standard ranges, and do the best we can.  It's all an abstraction anyway, so the exact distance in meters isn't terribly important.

Anyway, this works great so far for us, and I anticipate continuing to use it.



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#6 CharlieBananas



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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:43 PM

I originaly posted this in the thread on movement on the main page….

In warhammer tracking range became a real bugbear, I had seven players and using tokens would get confusing in big fights, but should be ok for smaller groups.

I'm creating a peg board that uses coloured beads on pegs, each enemy or group of enemies is designated a colour and a relative position, forward or rear, and the player tracks range by simply moving the pegs to the right range catagory on the board.

As a side note, in warhammer to keep book keeping down to a minimum for myself I tracked hitpoints on my villians/monsters with poker chips, each enemy figure would stand on top of a stack, and as hit points were removed so were chips, this does mean that players get to see how many HP the villian has, but the pay off was very fast fluid combats.

I'll post pics of the peg board and upload the plans once I'm finished if anyone is interested.

All the best


#7 dirklancer



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:13 AM

 I would be interested to see your peg board, so if you don't mind posting pics that would be great.

For our last game I drew a series of blocks on the dry erase board we use on the gaming table, and each block was a range band for the enemies. Then I drew separate blocks on the x and y axis of the other blocks as areas for the heroes, so they could move to other range bands relative to the enemies and other heroes. It actually worked pretty well, and we even used little barrels and crate tokens we had to show when someone had cover. But there were a few times it felt like it needed something else to make it work better.

#8 Gallows



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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:54 AM

 In warhammer we simply converted the range bands to a grid system. It was exactly the same and nothing changed. But instantly combat became easier, faster and not prone to silly situations.

Each maneuver is 4 squares and that translates directly to the range bands.


I'll do this for this game too, simply because the abstract system doesn't work very well with all the other details they put into combat. When I read the book, they make no mention of miniatures of any kind and it seems like they expect people to keep it abstract. But tracking 4 PC's and 4+ NPC's and their individual ranges relative to each other is just silly. Either you do it loosely and it doesn't really matter or it becomes really silly, because it's an abstract system trying to represent something not very abstract. Using a grid is much much easier and takes absolutely nothing away from the game.

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