Friday, 7 August 2015
Slammer - Activation Table explained
As part of the Star Force project I proposed creating an edition of Slammer using the Solar Federation / Ramorian Empire setting. This would include unit and equipment stats for troops and vehicles tied to proposed figure range. To help get my head around it all I printed off a copy of Slammer. Somehow a paper
copy seems much more tangible than the digital copies I have been playing with for years. Skimming through the paper rules I noticed something missing. I have been following the rules design discussion on Delta Vector and I wanted to check how Slammer treats troops reaction and opportunity fire.
I have always played the Activation Table so a higher Activation unit can make an early interrupt and take their turn before a lower Activation unit if necessary. I have always assumed this was written into the rules, but I could not find it.
I had to go back through the Yahoo Group message archive to 1999 before I found it written down in response to a player's query about the turn sequence.
I have attached the relevant passage below and emphasised the key bits.
When we first tried Slammer the turn sequence was reversed so higher activation troops moved first. This really didn't work. The best units became instant opportunity targets for every unit on the board and got cut to pieces before they could achieve anything. Lower activation troops have much more limited options, moving them first gets the 'compulsories' out of the way. If they are going to run or fall back, it's worthwhile giving them a head start then keep them running rather than catching them and having to fight. If your high activation unit is afraid they might get away you have the option to opportunity fire and shoot them as they run. If a low unit is firing they may be limited to return fire or panic fire and this is largely ineffective anyway. It's not a race to see who gets off the first shot!
Also a higher activation unit can choose to move at a lower activation level. Units can choose any of the options at their activation level or less, even an option that is nominally unfavourable, e.g. fall back.
I don't think this is stated clearly enough in the rules but it does happen in games I've run that a high activation unit chooses to make its move as an early interrupt, rather like opportunity fire.
I think this needs repeating and adding to the rules because it's not clear at all. This can make quite a difference to the way troops react to opponents and gives players a bit more to think about rather than just waiting their turn.