Why I Hate Simultaneous Movement

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Why I hate Simultaneous Movement by Len Krol

I used to love simultaneous movement. I first met this system when I tried Sniper (SPI). What fun I had fighting house to house combat! You and your opponent write down which soldier shoots or where they move. The results could be unpredictable. Soldiers would wander past each other or panic and run into walls. When you had a squad of thirteen soldiers, it took a while to write down orders for each one.

Then there was Wooden Ships and Iron Men (TAHGC). This had simultaneous movement. It was a little easier. The ships did not move as fast and the movement was limited. You knew that the enemy would not turn into the wind. The frigates at full sail were fast. However, at full sail you would take double hits and would soon lose your masts and then you would be slower than ever. Simultaneous movement resulted in a number of occasions where both ships sailed past each other without shooting. The more ships you had, the more difficult it was. It was extremely difficult to plot more than six ships.

It took Air Force (Battleline) to expose the falsehood of this type of movement. Aircraft can climb and dive in addition to turning to the left and right. With simultaneous movement air combat became a guessing game. If you were on the 6 o’clock arc of any enemy aircraft, you never knew where they would go. In real life you could follow them, not in Air force. You had to guess where they were going. Luckily there was a game called Air War (SPI). I used the sequence of play for that one. It worked.

For Wooden Ships and Iron Men I used the turn sequence from Royal Navy (Quarterdeck games). Initiative is determined by nationality or leadership. First the side without initiative moves half their speed with fractions rounded up. Then the side with initiative moves their full movement. Next, the side without initiative moves their remaining movement. The initiative side can change facing up to 60 degrees. This is a simple and easy method. Soon moving large fleets of ships was easier.

Then one day I wanted to play Sniper. No one was around, so I improvised a new system. First, you assign which soldiers would be on overwatch. They could not move or offensively fire, but could lay down opportunity fire. Then you move or shoot, and then the other side does this. The only change was in the panic rules. You determine if a soldier panics and then you roll to determine if he does nothing or randomly moves. I found that using this system was doable and the game played faster.

To sum up, this is what I have against simultaneous movement:
1) You cannot play solo
2) You cannot command large forces
3) The writing of orders takes too much time.

I urge every wargame designer not to use this system.


  1. Good points, but you can half the workload by having *one* side write down its orders (usually the side with fewest units), then the other side moves, then the first side reveals its written orders and carries them out.
    There’s certainly no point BOTH sides writing down orders when in fact only one needs to do so.

    This can be used for simultaneous set up too: one side writes down its setup, the second side physically sets up., then the first side sets up in accordance with its written setup.
    It saves trying to put a screen across the map while both sides set up secretly and simultaneously.


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