Simplifying

Last Updated

**Update: **My fiance has gotten into
painting miniatures (and she's better at it than I am), so I made up a game
that's easier to digest. Check it out here.

The following are ways I have found to simplify the play of Phoenix Command. While I have tried not to change the rules, I will make note of the places where I have.

1. Use miniatures without
hexes. Hexes are artificial and make it harder to use terrain. In the course of
doing so, we have started ignoring the Action costs for turning. It makes the
game go __much__ faster.

2. Make a GM screen. It puts
all the important charts in one place.

3. For longarms (PEN at least
10 and DC at least 6) against unarmored targets, assume that all hits take a
character out of play. 83% of them do at least 200 PD, and another 13% cause
broken arms. For large battles, accept the approximation and things will go
much faster.

4. Make a ruler with the range
ALMs marked. I use a straightedge cut from the aforementioned manila folder. I
graduated the ALMs from one to two inches, and the maximum ALM is still 33; no
bonus for being closer than an inch.

5. If you can find a set of
Phoenix Command counters, mark the ALM Modifiers on them. I put the Shooter’s
modifier on the left and the Target’s modifier on the right. For instance, on
the ‘Ducking’ counter I put –10 on the left (for Shooters who are Ducking) and
–5 on the right (for Targets who Duck). ‘Standing’ has a 0 on the left and a +7
on the right. There is no counter for Running, but the penalties for Running
and Ducking are the same so I decided that they were the same condition; one
can either Run in the open or Duck behind cover (not both). Running actually
has a variable penalty for the Target, but I took the minimum –5 to simplify
things. **Update:** As a rule of thumb, double
the positive modifiers when using Automatic Fire.

6. Buy some of the
aforementioned blank counters and mark them with the ALM modifiers for:

·
The character’s skill. Or, create a ruler for each skill level of each
player (it helps if each player’s characters all have the same skill level).

·
The number of actions spent aiming. Create a set for each weapon in the
game (or as many as you think you’ll need).

Notwithstanding the modifiers for visibility and a
few other things, you should now be able to calculate the ALM **without looking at the charts** or the
character sheet. Just use the ruler and add up the modifiers on the counters.
Now for the most important chart lookup: the Odds of Hitting.

Since the Odds of Hitting use percentile dice, the
‘ones digit’ will not be needed nine times out of ten. For instance, say your
Odds of Hitting is 53. You could roll one ten-sider, and as long as the roll is
not a five, you know if you hit or not. If you roll a five, then you need to
roll the ‘ones digit’, hitting on a 0 through 3. When the Odds of Hitting ends
in a nine, you don’t even have to roll the ones digit because you succeed on a
0 through 9 (remember that 00 counts as zero rather than 100). For the Burst
Fire table, that’s 93% of the time you don’t need the ones digit (more, if the
target dies from other bullet wounds which are resolved first). So:

7. Buy some 10-sided dice,
preferably larger than normal, and some small stickers. I use blue for the
Burst Fire dice and red for the Single Shot dice. Write the range of ALMs
corresponding to each ‘tens digit’ on a sticker and attach them to the dice. If
an Odds of Hitting ends in a 9, don’t include it in the range (I’ll explain why
in a moment). For instance, paste a sticker with ‘-1 to –17’ over the ‘0’ digit
for a Burst Fire die. It doesn’t have to be pasted over the zero, but doing so
helps me keep track. Note that the ALM of zero, corresponding to an Odds of
Hitting of 09, is not included in the range.

**Update: **Check this
file for a sample sheet of stickers, using the bottom part of an Avery 5196
or 8196 sheet of diskette labels.

Now the player can pick up a die and try to roll lower than his ALM, looking
directly on the die rather than looking it up on the chart. If an entire squad
has the same ALM, the player can roll a handful of dice at once to resolve fire
for the squad (which is more tactilely gratifying, I might add). Suppose his
ALM is zero; the ‘-1 to –17’ will always succeed and he need never roll the
one’s digit (which would succeed on 0 through 9 anyway). If his ALM were –5 and
he rolled ‘-1 to –17’, then he would need to lookup the ALM on the chart to see
what value he needed for the ones digit.

**Update:** I also pasted some small
stickers with the corresponding burst-fire ALMs on each face of a d100, for
single attacks.

8. If you are using the
Initiative rules (which I highly recommend), put the available actions on
stickers, attach them to poker chips and let the players lay out their actions,
face down, on a time chart with about thirty impulse slots (I use the board
from the game *Europa*). As time goes
past the end of the chart, wrap around to the beginning. Players can place a
number of chips equal to their actions, starting from the current impulse plus
their Initiative time. It helps if all characters have 4 Action Counts, so each
Impulse allows one Action. For aiming, players hide a counter with the number
of aim actions under a poker chip. This way, the order of fire can be fairly
resolved.