ASGARD

Introduction

Welcome to the Asymmetric Game using Reaction Dynamics (or ASGARD).  ASGARD is a system for solo and cooperative gaming not requiring a game master or referee.  It can be used in many different types of games (tactical war games, search and rescue games, political simulations, and even roleplaying games) using rules you are comfortable and familiar with, and simulates any time period or genre.  It is asymmetric, allowing unequal forces to use different strategies and tactics against each other.  The reaction dynamics are the probability model for the system in which game play and chance determines the actions and responses of the enemy force.

ASGARD is ideal for situations where you don’t know the location and strength of the enemy and allows scenarios to play out differently from the previous play.  Traps and opponents don’t appear at the same place every time, and may behave differently than last time when they do come up.  Scenarios can be anything you can lay out.  The Magnificent Seven vs. a horde of banditos, colonial marines vs. alien bugs, a mountainside search and rescue of hikers (non-combat scenario), and many more are all possible.

What you Need

  • An ASGARD Scenario
  • 1 standard deck of playing cards
  • Rulers or tape measures
  • 15-20 encounter tokens (anything two-sided will suffice)
  • At least 5 blip tokens (anything different than encounter tokens)
  • Terrain, miniatures, and dice according to the tactical rule system desired

 ASGARD does not require any specific sort of map, as individual scenarios will give pointers on the setting, leaving it entirely up to you how that map is arranged. This leaves you free to work with terrain you have on hand and start playing immediately, and although ASGARD is intended to be used with miniatures, it can be played with maps, tiles, or whatever fits your existing game system.

ASGARD is compatible with any game system, as it manages dynamic encounter situations while leaving your existing system to handle the tactical rules.  Where ASGARD mentions a status effects (such as being flatfooted), it is up to the tactical system to decide what that translates to in game terms.  The players are encouraged to agree on a reasonable number and keep it consistent.  Scenarios may reference mechanics and modifiers such as Perception Checks, modifiers to accuracy, etc. and may be freely modified if they don’t fit the game system.  A modifier of -2 is minor on a 3d6 roll, but is huge on a 1d6.

Scenarios

At the heart of ASGARD is the scenario, a detailed plot line of the game that lays out rules and guidelines for setup, conditions, encounters, and objectives.  The scenario states what terrain elements are needed and what forces are involved, as well as listing the encounter range at which encounter checks are made against tokens.  It also consists of several global conditions that change over the course of the game.  Encounters are listed for each condition so they can be referenced when drawn, and change the condition.  The objectives should be listed as well as a general idea of what the players can expect.  The Scenario controls everything in ASGARD, and may even alter the rules listed here if necessary.  ASGARD scenarios tell the story and control the dynamics of how the enemy reacts.

A scenario set in modern times might involve a patrol looking for a tunnel entrance hidden in the jungle. The forces involved are a squad of soldiers armed with assault rifles, a light machine gun and a grenade launcher. The terrain may consist of many trees appropriate for a jungle, a hut on stilts, a hill and a water element such as a creek or a marsh. Of course there is need of a tunnel entrance feature, but it isn’t laid out on the table to start with. The scenario would need to lay out all of the conditions and game play effects. The scenario should also say what kinds of enemies you will need to play out the encounter.

As the scenario progresses from Condition Zero to the final condition, a story unfolds. Not every possible condition will be revealed in more complex scenarios, because it is possible to represent different types of end conditions. For example a scenario might end with a counter-attack by the enemy one time at Condition Six, but the next time it may end with the enemy retreating at Condition 7.

Depending on the scenario, a player may be controlling a single figure or as many as a dozen formed into a single unit, depending on the game system being used.  In these rules, each figure or grouping of figures is referred to as a ‘unit’ regardless of how many it actually represents.  In this way, ASGARD scenarios can be used for squad scale skirmishes or massive battles.

Scenarios can be used with any appropriate map, setting, and game system the player desires, and many scenarios can be made interchangeable with other genres.  For instance, a generic Prison Rescue scenario could be used for WWII soldiers getting a comrade out of a Nazi stalag, modern gangsters breaking their boss out of the pokey, or the Merry Men of Sherwood rescuing Maid Marian from a castle. Many scenarios will be specific and colorful – it is up to the author if theme is necessary.

ASGARD scenarios can be created for non-combat settings as well. The objective of a non-combat scenario might be a mountain search and rescue, firefighters putting out a blaze, messengers delivering crucial documents through a city, or chariots racing in a Roman coliseum. The search and rescue encounters might be things like snow drifts, crevices, quicksand, wild animals, etc. Eventually an encounter will be the subject of the rescue. There are many scenarios one could do along these lines to produce interesting and memorable events. The level of creativity in a scenario is only limited by the imagination of the author!

 Scenario Setup

ASGARD makes no assumptions about the setup of the table.  Scenarios will specify the forces needed, but the terrain is given as guidelines.  It would require a great deal of time and resources to create exact terrain and ASGARD is meant to work with what you have available so you can jump into the game quickly.  If you have collected standard terrain bits for the genre in question, it should be easy to layout out what you have according to the scenario guidelines. 

Usually, an example of the setup used to playtest the scenario will be given. These diagrams are not law and you can use them any way that you see fit – closely adhering to them or completely ignoring them if you like.

Laying out the encounter tokens, on the other hand, should be done with great care. Tokens should be placed about 1.5 standard moves apart. If the standard move in the game is 6” you would want the tokens 8-9” apart. They should be placed in logical places for encounters to possibly be. What constitutes logic is up to you and common sense. If the scenario is about locating and intercepting a patrol, lay down the encounter tokens where you’d expect to find a patrol. Once you have covered all of those likely locations, then lay down additional tokens in less likely places.  Always think, “If I were on the other side, where might I be?”  It is the chance of finding encounters at any given location that makes ASGARD so powerful.

Ending a Scenario

Scenario conditions will indicate if the scenario endpoint is near or if this is a possible endpoint. An encounter or several encounters will indicate that the scenario is ended. It may even indicate victory or defeat. In many cases victory or defeat will be determined, not by specific results, but by the players deciding for themselves how well they felt they did. Some scenarios are like real life, unfair and brutal.

A scenario ending condition may have several possible outcomes. This means that it is possible to replay the scenario and have a very different experience.

 

Conditions

A condition is a state of the scenario. Scenarios start at Condition Zero which defines the basic conditions present. Scenarios may progress to other conditions as certain encounter codes are activated.  Conditions may contain environmental variables as well as status changes that alter the game play and advance the plot of the scenario.  For example, Condition Zero might represent a quiet enemy encampment where the guards are not very vigilant.  Condition One will represent the camp after the first firefight as more enemy soldiers become awake and aware.  Condition Two might represent the entire camp on alert with alarms ringing!

Conditions can also represent branches in the story – for example a story might branch based upon random factors. In other cases it may branch because of an emerging change. An example of the first, random factors, might be where a certain enemy is often normally found in their lair but this time they are outside of it. The case of emerging change might be a forced condition change due to the loss of a valuable team member or the acquisition of some important artifact. The mission to blow the bridge suffers a setback when the only demo expert in the team is lost, for example or the party experiences fresh attention from the Dark Lord when one of the heroes dons the ancient and powerful sword of magical sharpness.

Environmental Variables

For any given condition, various variables can be set which allows the scenario to evolve.  There is no fixed list of these – they are whatever the scenario designer deemed important.  Perhaps it is nighttime, so visibility is greatly reduced in Condition Zero.  Condition Three might start when a star shell is fired, illuminating the area and changing visibility back to normal.

Each environmental variable will note what its game play effect it has.  Alertness, weather conditions, sunlight condition, even morale issues can be set up. The game play aspect will always be very clear and simple.  The only standard environmental variable is encounter range which lists the maximum range at which an encounter is triggered.  It is important to note that this is different than visibility which determines line of sight (LOS) to enemy units on the field.

Environmental variables that indicate changes to the field are called status changes.  Cell doors might be opened, a fixed encounter such as an evacuation helicopter might come into play, or an explosion might remove all encounter tokens from an area.  Status changes make immediate alterations to the field that remains in play unless a future condition specifically states otherwise.

Changing Conditions

When a condition changes, it will come from a certain encounter or the result of some action stated in the current condition.  When the condition changes, the following must occur:

  1. All previously activated encounter tokens are returned to play
  2. All encounter tokens within standard encounter range of friendly units are considered activated and taken out of play without any encounter taking place.
  3. All further encounter checks are made using the new condition

 

Handling Encounters

Every event in ASGARD is triggered through the activation of encounter tokens.  Encounter tokens are simple markers placed around the gaming area (as indicated by the scenario instructions) and are activated when a unit is able to spot them.  Spotting a token takes place before and after a unit’s movement phase if there is a token within encounter range.  An encounter check takes place to see what, if any, the encounter will be.

 

There are three states that a player’s unit can be in.

  1. A unit that has LOS to any enemy is considered ‘in combat’
  2. A unit that does not have LOS to any enemy is considered ‘exploring’
  3. A unit that is currently checking an encounter token is called the ‘spotting unit’

Exploring units always make encounter checks while units that are considered to be in combat are unable to activate encounters unless the scenario specifically states otherwise.  In either case, all rules apply if an encounter check generated a new combatant or changes the condition level.

 Encounter Checks

Encounter checks start with the spotting unit making a perception check to see if they notice the token, followed by the token making a perception check to notice the spotting unit.  Successful checks by either side means that a single card is flipped and the encounter takes effect as indicated.  A unit that fails its perception check is flatfooted and suffers from severely reduced defense.  Note:  It is possible for both sides to fail, which leaves the token in play and only one card is flipped, even if both sides succeed at their perception checks.

 Flipping a card determines the encounter by checking the scenario control sheet and finding the encounter code for that condition that matches the card drawn.  If the code is preceded by a card effect, then you check to see if that requirement has already been met.  If not, the card drawn gets shuffled back into the deck and the token has no encounter. 

 For example, after pulling the A♠ you would look on the scenario control sheet for the current condition and the listing for the card looks like:   A♠: [J] 2022 [A]

 You would look up code 2022 only if you have already had the [J] card effect – in this case, an encounter created by pulling a Jack. If you haven’t yet had the [J] encounter, the A♠ gets shuffled back into the deck.  The above encounter also produces a new card effect, as signified by the [A] after the code.  This satisfies any condition requirements for the [A] card effect.  Not all encounters have requirements or card effects.

 Some encounters are not determined by encounter checks and are called fixed encounters.  Fixed encounters may be brought into play as part of an Encounter Code, Condition, or may be part of the scenario from the beginning, but they don’t disappear or become blips when they leave line of sight. Roadblocks or troops in fortifications are examples of fixed encounters.  They are listed with the tag [FIX] on the scenario control sheet and perception checks are rolled to determine flatfooted status as soon as a unit gets within line of sight.

 Placing Encounters

Although encounters are triggered by encounter tokens, they are not always placed exactly where the activated token is.  If the unit activates a token and the encounter code indicates that a trap detonates at the unit’s location, the trap actually appears where the spotting unit is rather than at the token.  An encounter code might indicate that enemy forces appear in a flanking position to the spotting unit, in which case the enemy appears to the side of the spotting unit even if the activated encounter token is directly in front.  This allows encounters to play out in a variety of ways without the players being able to expect them precisely at the location of the encounter tokens. To counter this a good player or players will make sure that they view the game area like a chess or checkers board and are prepared with overlapping arcs from different units to prevent flanking as much as possible.

 Combat

When there is an encounter and enemy combatants are on the field, it is time for battle.  The initial state between the enemy and those that triggered the encounter is already known based on the encounter code and the readiness state (i.e. flatfooted or not) that resulted from the perception checks.  The encounter will either be advantaged over, neutral to, or at a disadvantage to the triggering forces.  To everyone else they will be neither advantaged nor disadvantaged (simply stated as neutral).  As with all such rules, the exact game play effects will vary according to whatever tactical system you have chosen.

 Joining Combat

Friendly elements not in combat may be able to join combat currently in progress only after they move within line of sight of the enemy units. As they move towards the combat they continue to make encounter checks as they come into range of encounter tokens.  As soon as they end movement in line of sight of the enemy they are in combat and do not make further encounter checks. For line of sight, take into account not only obstacles, but also the limit of visibility. Night and fog, for example, can limit the range of visibility.

 Blips

When enemy forces are no longer in line of sight, they become blips. Each scenario will have a table to determine what the blips do, and specific conditions may alter these actions.  They may move toward the player’s forces, move away from them, or disappear altogether. When they disappear, their card effect is removed from the list of seen encounters and that card is reshuffled into the deck.  This means that an identical encounter may happen again.

In some scenarios where you are trying to avoid enemy forces, disappearing blips is a good thing to have happen. In other scenarios where you are trying to defeat certain enemy forces, you will be forced to chase after blips.  While chasing blips, units are considered to be exploring and must make encounter checks as normal.

Remember that Fixed Encounters never become blips. They remain in play even if there is no line of sight from any friendly forces.
 

Tactical Rules and Effects on Game Play

ASGARD manages the story line, the victory conditions and the encounters.  Each scenario may come with a set of tactical rules you can use right away, but you may prefer to use your own rules.  This is especially true for a solo or cooperative role playing game or where you have a set of rules that you like and are familiar with. 

Some effects are essential to ASGARD during the exploration phase. When forces are exploring, the encounter range and visibility range is vital to keep things on track. If your tactical game includes a system for spotting (perception), then use that system.  If it does not, then use the ASGARD Spotting System specified in Appendix I.  For example, the game Disposable Heroes by Iron Ivan Games has no system for hidden units and therefore no spotting rules other than tanks attempting to acquire targets. Because ASGARD scenarios are all about hidden forces you would use the ASGARD spotting system. 

Appendix I (Optional Rules)

All of the following are optional rules that will be detailed in the scenarios if they apply.

Stealth Check:  A stealth check is a test to see if the player has kept hidden and low profile enough to help reduce a perception check.  Scenarios will indicate if this skill is in effect or not.

Quick Kill:  When a figure or unit is flatfooted it is vulnerable to being quick killed by some attacks. This means that the normal rules for damage are ignored and the figure (or unit) is instantly defeated. This only happens with specific types of attacks which explicitly state under what conditions they quick kill opponents.

ASGARD Spotting System

Spotting Check: 3D6, 11- if spotter is regular, 12- if skilled at spotting, 13- if skilled and equipped for spotting. 

Modifiers: the condition environmental variables will give the spotting condition. Note that the condition for the players may differ from that for the enemy.

Condition

Modifier

Hard

-3

Difficult

-1

Enhanced

+1

Easy

+3

Retreating Blips

Each combat round, retreating blips behave according to the following chart:

Blip Behavior (d6)

1-2 Move toward nearest player figure
3-4 Best move away from players
5-6 Disappear; reshuffle into the deck

Optional: retreating blips may disappear when 2 full rounds of combat pass without them being sighted.  During that time, the blip continues to put distance between it and the players. 

Encounters During Combat

Triggering encounters during combat may slow down the game and can lead to situations where the players are getting overwhelmed with encounters.  Allowing new encounters while in combat is fitting for a zombie horror style scenario, where the encounters should grow and seem almost unmanageable, or in settings where the players’ units represent large groups.

There are different choices to be made if encounter checks are allowed while in combat.  Friendly forces will have to be careful as further enemy encounters are triggered as it is possible for a full scale battle to result from an initial probe.  Tactically, the players will be rewarded for working together and bringing forward support elements in anticipation of encountering enemy forces. Conversely, they will be punished for racing ahead of reserves and support because precautions were not taken.