Hidden Characters and Activity
Previously in wargaming, hidden characters and secret actions were not so hidden or secret. Minis had to be placed on the tabletop, and secret actions declared in order to keep things fair. LoR allows players to have truly hidden characters in play without their opponents knowing they are there, as well as perform actions that the opponent doesn’t know about. Imagine a hidden sniper waiting to ambush the opponent. This is all tracked and kept fair through the companion Command Console app.
Ambushing your opponent with an elaborate plan including traps and hidden ambushers is exciting. Will you manage to make your opponent take the route where you sniper has a clear line of sight? Will you be able to lure your enemy into your minefield?
Ambushing is impossible if your opponent knows where the ambush is. In Lands of Ruin we have implemented a game system that allows players to place truly hidden characters and traps on the battlefield.
Deploying hidden characters
Before the game starts, in the pre-game phase, some scenarios allow one or more players to deploy hidden characters. Nothing is placed on the table but the players must indicate the position of the character in the Command Console companion app.
Only the owning player knows that there are hidden characters in the game. That way the ambush is real.
In any game of LoR, you always have to be prepared to meet an unseen threat.
Detecting hidden characters
No camouflage is perfect. There's always a possibility of a sniper being spotted before they can trigger their trap.
In LoR, each piece of equipment has a camouflage modifier. The total camouflage value calculated from all of this describes the camouflage value of the character.
Carrying a large weapon makes it more difficult to hide. On the other hand using camouflage clothing and other equipment will make the character more difficult to spot.
Each character also has a detection skill value. Some equipment gives bonuses to this skill.
The Command Console companion app performs all detection calculations automatically behind the scenes. Whenever a character is in the same map section with a hidden enemy, a perception test is secretly made by the app, pitting the hidden character's camouflage value against the character's detection skill.
Handling a detection
When a character is detected we don't simply place a character on a table and continue from there. Instead, the Command Console app informs the detecting player about the hidden character. At this point the owning player isn't actually aware that their character has been detected.
What happens then is up to the players. The player who has detected the character can keep this information to themselves and continue playing simply avoiding the character.
Alternatively, the detecting player can perform an action that forces the owning player to place the character on the table. In this case the previously hidden character's miniature is placed on the table and can now be attacked. A detected character will get pinned, as a penalty, making it unfavourable for any player to let their characters get detected.
As with most things in LoR, hidden characters are a tradeoff. Making your character hidden might potentially allow you to unleash devastating sniper fire at an opportune moment but if your enemy manages to spot the character before that, you might end up losing the character before it can even fire its weapon.
In Lands of Ruin, players always select the actions they intend to perform one turn before they actually get to perform them. This is to simulate simultaneous action and forces players to think and plan ahead how they go about dismantling their opponent's plans and characters. You can read more specifically about the simultaneousness aspect of LoR in another article.
If you're not familiar with the LoR gameplay you can quickly catch up by watching our Gameplay Overview video on YouTube:
YouTube - Lands of Ruin Gameplay Overview
Players assigning actions to their characters ahead of time only makes sense if these actions are kept secret from their opponents. The LoR Command Console companion app enables the game system to do this smoothly and fairly.
Many of the actions take effect immediately when they're performed but the system can do more than this with certain actions.
One of the most exciting secret actions to perform is to call in a massive artillery strike to hit all targets in a designated map section.
However, an artillery strike cannot hit instantly. Firstly, it would give an overpowering advantage, but even more it would be unrealistic. No ordnance can hit the target immediately. The off-board support will have to aim and fire, which takes time, and on top of that, there is the travel time where the delivery is in the air.
In LoR a player calling in an artillery strike designates the target map section when the strike is called, but the effect of the hit happens later.
The designated section is kept secret from the opponent, but as the attacking player has to designate the target in the app, there's no room for foul play.
Four Environment phases after the artillery strike is called in (in the case of standard Artillery fire), the Command Console companion app will automatically indicate the incoming artillery. It will add hits to all characters in the affected map section as well.
The delayed strike creates a lot of excitement. Once you've called in the strike you have to keep your opponent in the selected section (without your opponent's awareness) until the strike hits. Can you make your opponent believe that there's no danger? Can you make them think that the strike is hitting another section? Or did you manage to predict your opponent's movement correctly hitting them when they're on the move?
Asymmetric information creates excitement
Your opponent not knowing everything about your intentions allows tactics and strategies that wouldn't be possible otherwise. In a game of Lands of Ruin asymmetric information plays a constant role. You cannot know everything that is going on. You have to plan your tactics to adaptively prepare for, and react to, the unexpected.
In this arcticle we went through a couple of examples of asymmetric and hidden information but there are many more. Take a look at the Rulebook (free download) for the rest of the game rules.