Matt and I have spent the last week doing some heavy development on DAMOS, and I can now say that this may be my best game yet, and an innovative take on WW2 operational scale games. We’ve nailed down concepts that in playtesting have turned out to be very quick-playing and fun. Some of the choices we have made made it more interesting for play against an opponent, but the game still remains completely solo-able.
The coolest innovation we have is what is called the Combat Matrix. Depending on the belligerents, the defender in any given combat has a choice of how to posture their defense. A lot of games ignore posturing (except at a tactical-level) when dealing with an operational or strategic scale as its assumed the piece representing the unit will make the right choice, but what happens if the player is given that instead of the cardboard commanders we imagine collectively? Check the bottom of the post.
This is where the Combat Matrix comes in, once a force has been declared the target of an attack, before identifying the attacking force, time freezes as we zoom in on the defending force. That commander has an immediate choice to make as to what posture they were in prior to the approach to the attack. This is because non-phasing units may react and attempt to prevent other units from reinforcing a combat or even retreating from one.
Whatever choice the defender makes, if the combat occurs, that defender has locked himself into a course of action without knowing who is attacking or from where (though they may have an idea). I value immersion in wargames and this method brings about a level of uncertainty I’ve usually only seen in block wargames. All of this sounds like it would take a lot of time to play out, but it really only takes as long as the defender chooses to take his time. Reactions take place against enemy movement or retreat by rolling +9 on 2d6. It's pretty damn hard, but when it happens it rules.
Putting the cart ahead of the horse here as all of this is resting upon a foundation of both Zones of Influence. The number of SP in a stack relates directly to the range of hexes eligible units may project a ZOI into. ZOIs are important for attacks beyond Meeting Engagement and Standard Attacks, and for Reactions. You read that correctly, non-phasing units have a chance to influence the action, and force moving units into unintended meeting engagements. ZOIs otherwise have no effect on the game other than the above and usually only some units will project one depending on the game being played. Zones of Control are still there for purposes of supply and retreat.
Gone is Advance after Combat and instead we introduce Exploitation. Each unit type has an inherent Exploitation Rating which is added to the number of MP a force spent on an attack, giving you the Exploitation Movement Allowance (penetration attacks, which require all mp spent in order to attack, use a different calculation for exploitation movement, subtracting the cost of the hex terrain from their normal movement allowance, plus their Exploitation Rating giving them their Exploitation Movement Allowance. Exploitation combat is permitted just like regular combat, except the supply trace for the second combat isn’t required (the unit is considered to be insupply throughout exploitation if they were in supply at the beginning of the attack). Reactions are not allowed during Exploitation Movement and Combat.
Best of all, the series rules clock in right now at 11 pages which I’m sure will get smaller as development moves through its final stages. I am extremely excited for this series and we will probably open up playtesting as well as place the series rules online as soon as we get vassal modules made up. Different exclusive rules will account for changes in theater, terrain, and other factors necessary to fiddle with when making a system that covers stuff from the eastern front through the west and Africa. Really excited about this one, it’s a unique, yet familiar approach to operational ww2 gaming, that I think you are all really going to love.