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Phoenix Command

 Post subject: Phoenix Command
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 1:36 am 
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Rogue-Psyker
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It came up in another thread, but since it is rather off-topic in the 40K section, I thought I would field Phoenix Command questions here.

Yarlen Fireblade wrote:
Venator wrote:
(Actually, if you would like to see a game where they always chose to go with accuracy and detail at the expense of playability, try to find a copy of Phoenix Command or its add-ons by Leading Edge Games. Hit locations rolled on d1000 anyone?)
I'm not familiar with the rules but that seems to make less sense than 40k, are hits randomized with a D1000?
It's almost too complex to explain, but I'll summarize!
- Determine the angle of attack. This can be Front, Side, Oblique or Rear. The direction the attack passes through the target determines which hit location table you roll on.
- Determine how much of the target's body is behind cover. This determines how many possible locations there are to hit and if you need to roll just d100 or d1000.
- Roll the hit location. For example, if you roll 270-287 on the Open (no hard cover) Side chart, the wound path is Rib-Stomach-Liver-Rib (Chart S14).
- You then consult the detailed penetration chart and determine, based on the power of the attack after armor, how deep it penetrates. So a weak attack might stop at the rib going in, while a more powerful one might tear through multiple organs as it passes through.

Most of the detailed rolls are actually d100, but there are multiple charts and multiple steps to determine which chart you actually end up rolling on.

Yarlen Fireblade wrote:
You can probably see what i'm getting at.... that in 99% of cases people firing at targets are generally aiming at something. A track, turret, leg, head, engine.
I have never actually shot anyone, but I have had some training in it. In the event of an actual gunfight, standard practice is to shoot for the center of mass. A heart or central nervous system hit can drop an opponent immediately, and that's where people are generally trained to shoot. Phoenix Command goes with this idea as well, and assumes all shots are aimed for this kill zone. Of course there are probably rules for aiming at other places too... Phoenix Command has never been accused of lacking detail.

Yarlen Fireblade wrote:
Randomizing each hit with a D1000 makes absolutely no sense, and is neither detailed nor accountable.
The d1000 system allows for very precise plotting of hit locations... since each increment on the chart is a mere one-tenth of one percent. If the 17% increments of a d6 are too big and sloppy, and 10% or 5% increments are better... then 0.1% increments must be even better! Or so the logic goes....
With such extreme levels of detail available, they don't gloss over the whole topic and just say "this guy is out of the fight (suffers a wound)". You can tell how long it will take for him to bleed out and how badly crippled he'll be if he lives.

A great example of the rules and the fluff being in sync. But is this level of detail actually desirable in a game? I think I'd rather have a more abstract system that loses some realistic detail in the name of speed and playability.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:16 am 
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Holy Hannah, how long does a game of Phoenix Command take, years? You'd be carted off to Sunny Hills Mental Facility by the time you looked up and rolled all for those different charts for just one wound, and rightfully so...

But, I bet you'd feel like such a big man rolling all those D100s.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:43 am 
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With all its detail and claims of realism, I'm still totally unconvinced that Phoenix Command is anything of the sort.

So many people seem to be fooled into thinking that detail and complexity is realism, and that you can't have realism without detail and complexity, which is simply not true.
It's possible to have realism with limited detail and minimal complexity, and it is of course possible to have limitless detail and complexity with absolutely no realism to show for it.

Furthermore, while a game may be less detailed and more abstract, that by no means makes it simple or straight forward, or even fast to play.
A game like 40K 4th edition has a huge learning curve to understanding it. You have to get your head around the particular illogic of the rules and understand that what would make sense to you, has no bearing on how things work in the game. That makes for a very counter-intuitive system, which must be learnt by rote, rather than through any logical system of understanding, and can't be helped by any previous knowledge of the given subject matter.

I think this can actualy be seriously damaging to people.
I see no shortage of 40K enthusiasts who first of all, have their understanding of the setting shaped by the rules, and second, have their understanding of the reality of the concepts the game deals with, and the corresponding reality in which they live, again, shaped by the illogic and unreason of that same abstract rules system.
At some time or another, you've probably all met someone who just doesn't quite get why you don't bring a sword to a gunfight.

It's been a long time since I looked at the mechanics of the Phoenix Command system, and I don't really want to revisit it, because I know I'll be at it for hours.
But the two contentious points I remember noting were that the action/turn sysem was no better than that of any other game, which is often the biggest point in falling short of realism in any system, and the weapon and damage rules still seemed fairly arbitrary.

Phoenix Command wrote:
"Are you tired of your current small arms combat system? Tired of inconsistencies and rules that simply don't work? If so, we invite you to conduct a short test:

Using your current small arms combat system, place the muzzle of a large caliber pistol between your character's eyes. Squeeze the trigger. Continue squeezing the trigger until he falls unconscious. Then have a friend put a band-aid over that nasty .45 caliber dent in his skull, and try not to get him shot too often in the week or two it takes to heal.
Now, using Phoenix Command, place the same pistol in the same place. Squeeze the trigger. You now have a choice: you can either roll up a new character or rush the body to a very sophisticated medical facility and discover the joys of role-playing a vegetable.
If you are nodding your head and smiling, and thinking that it would be nice to have a combat system that really works, welcome to Phoenix Command!"


I'm sure the effect of all the charts and tables and sub-tables will be a highly detailed shoot out and an in-depth description of how the resulting corpses came to be such. But that doesn't make for a realistic game if all of the relevant tactical concerns and contributing factors are not taken into account, and if the rules simply don't let a fight play out like it would in real life.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:23 am 
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In terms of time, I think a game of Phoenix Command is still pretty short because it is designed around small units having a skirmish and getting shot is fairly deadly. Few of the combatants can survive being hit multiple times.

Increasing detail is always good for realism, as long as it's done realistically. But you can have so much detail that the game ceases to flow well and be fun. At some point you have to say that a certain level of detail is good enough or close enough. In Phoenix Command, I think they have gone over the top on the side of detail at the expense of playability. Ironically, their campaign/RPG system (Rhand) uses few and simple stats to represent a person. Weapons have far more stats than characters... now is that realistic?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:04 am 
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Yeah, a person is a far more variable, complicated and nuanced thing, than a gun. Even just in terms of a person's tactically relevant qualities.
Most sources seem to refer to Phoenix Command as a role-playing combat system. I wonder if anyone ever made any real effort to wargame with it.

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