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QILS Hints and Tips

Well, if you read the QILS Ramblings, you probably have a good idea that the intent of QILS is to enable fast and furious combat where you focus on tactics and decision making vice mechanics and rules. Given that is the design, there are still some ways you can set up your games that move away from that intent. And there's nothing wrong with that. If that's what you want (though you might also consider looking for another game, maybe from someone else). But if you want to keep the mechanics and rules tamed, here are a few suggestions for designing your engagements.

Hints and Tips

Use Strong Type Cues

One of the key features of QILS is that it isn't tied to a specific type or line of figures to use. Selection of figures can help with immersion in the game, give you more personal involvement in it, and even allow you to be a little flashy and show a sense of style. Careful selection of figures can also help the mechanics of the game go better.

Since dice and figures are independently selected and designed, keeping a tight correlation between the "look" of a figure and the type of dice it uses can help smooth playing QILS. One good way is with weapon choice. In some settings, identical weapons makes sense - Roman legions or Spetznatz operatives. But even where it doesn't, maybe an old west posse, having some simple solid visual cues helps.

Bart uses the gunslinger die, Big Jim is a rilfeman, and Little Jim and Juan use the hired gun configuration. This can work, but isn't ideal since most opposing players in most circumstances won't have easy name recognition to your forces. The guys with a single pistol are hired guns, the guy with a rife uses the rifleman die, and the guy with two pistols uses the gunslinger die might be better. Here are a few other options for other situations:

decorations like feathers bundles on spears indicate elite status

how about a few left handed swordsmen?

bigger weapons for combatants with more dice

bigger shields for dice that favor defense points

different uniforms = differently trained combatants

While this seems like a decent amount of design work, hopefully, it is the fun kind of work because you get more invested in the character, ideas, and background of your combatants. The big benefit of having good visual cues is the ability to put figures on the playing board and not need to have dice, counters, and markers next to them. Of course, if you have lots of figures, you could even queue up a system where two dice combatants are replaced with another figure sans weapon (or shield or something else) after they take a hit. Really obsessive people could have muiltiple versions of the same mini with different levels of battle damage depicted. I wouldn't recommend that, but I'd love to see pictures if you do it...

Mark the Organizational Structure

Like making it visually easy to identify which dice go with which combatants go with which dice, QILS has a couple of organizational structures that could be aided with good visual cues. Sometimes organizational structure will directly align with weapons loadout, such as squads of spearmen and squads of swordsmen. In other cases, you might need different cues for your figures.

Command and control networks are a good example. Especially if you trick out combatants to be part of multiple networks of different types in a C2 rich game, sometimes it can be a little confusing who is (and who isn't) connected to which network. There are two basic approaches to handling this easily: (1) on the figure, and (2) off the figure.

To handle C2 networks on the figure, simply have a different piece of comm gear on members of different networks. Single antennas are for Network 1; double antennae, Network 2. Instead of physical gear, you could also color code the comm gear to have a RedNet for your snipers and a GreenNet for your assault squads.

Handling C2 newtworks "off" the figure can also be pretty easy. You can attach markers, like little flags, that aren't really part of the figure, but serve to indicate membership in a specific net. A painted color around the edge of the base can also work well and look cool. You can do this permanently if you want, but there are also temporary techniques: You can drill a little hole in the base (even in pro bases!) for a toothipick with a marker flag on it. Instead of painting the base, you could buy or make a little id ring to go around the outside of the base. If you're in a pinch, a couple of pieces of sticky note poking out from the bottom of the base can also do the job.

Similar to C2 networks, sometimes you have teams and leaders in your force. The above techniques will work for teams as well, but there are a couple of other technqiues that seem more "teamy" and less "networky." A little forethought in the selection or painting of your figures can let color scheme or iconography identify different teams in your force. Leaders of teams often have unique characteristics like more ornate uniforms (helmets, shields, weapons) that distinguish them. Use that. My favorite trick is to have tier-one leaders with weapons raised instead of leveled and tier-two leaders with their heads looking back instead of forwards (as they are leading from the front).


Limit the Different Die Designs

Variety is the spice of life, and QILS thrives on variety. The simple rules enable you to have tons and tons of different options for die design. But that also requires you to have tons and tons of dice. The game tries to avoid min-maxing (having stats for certain units significantly out of balance with stats for things that are supposed to be "equivalent" units). There are good ways to exploit this to keep the game fast and fun. Ten swordsmen with a die of design A are "equivalent" to five swordsmen with design A and five with design B. The real difference is not (hopefully) in the die design, but in the way you play them.

This is not to say the QILS is best played with homogeneous forces. If you have a tactical reason for two (or three) different designs for your spearmen, say different ratios of offensive and defensive power to be placed at different parts of your formation, by all means, use them. If you really need to have 200 swordsmen all with unique stats, keeping track of which die goes with whom can quickly ruin the fun.

You can still have a lot of variety with a smaller number designs, especially when combatants use multiple dice. Take a fantasy campaign with one swordsman, one spearman, and one archer die design. Men-at-arms and henchmen are pretty simple now and you don't need to keep track of scads of dice to drop in an improvised patrol of the emperor's Retinue on your adventuring party. But still, your five-die barbarian PC has 243 different options for combining those three dice. I wouldn't recommend three die designs for a campaign, but with some decent organizational skills, a dozen or so shouldn't be hard to handle and I don't want to do the math for that many combos!

There is a special case of die design for mutiple die figures - the "solid" die. A die where all the pips are the same is still very useful for combining into robust multi-die combatants. And you can have a little trick here. You can easily use a blue die without bothering to color the pips instead of a grey die where you color in all the pips blue. Using that as a convention can make the die management challenge much easier.

Use Fewer Dice per Combatant

Yes, yes, more dice is more power. But only kind of here. Since QILS was designed to avoid a lot of problems related to min-maxing, in general a ten-die Grendel should "equivalent" to ten one-die Skyllings, or a five-die Beowulf and five one-die Skyllings. But it is pretty easy to see how those different configurations have different dice management requirements.

One die figures are pretty easy to track on the board. If you're using groups of figures that have the same die design, you can just keep the dice off the board and pick them up pretty readily when needed. Two die figures are not much harder. Even if they have two different die designs, it isn't too hard to have two different types of wound marker to know which dice to roll when a combatant is running at less than peak performance.

Figures with lots of dice probably need to have those dice on the board with the figure (and thus, moved around with the figure). If you have a moderate number of figures unique total on a team, like a party of five-die PC mercenaries in a scifi campaign, you can probably keep the dice off the board on a marker (like an index card) that has the figure's picture on it.


Make Some Cheat Sheets

QILS doesn't really rely on very complex rules, but since it has the a lot of depth built into the system, it is pretty easy to add complexity (and eventually subtract fun) through accumulating different types of terrain and magiq.

Terrain is cool and different types of terrain make the game fun. QILS also has pretty simple terrain, two numbers - one for movement, one for combat. But even five or six different types of terrain can get a little confusing and make the player focus a little more on executing actions and a little less on evaluating them.

So, make a little cheat sheet. And put pictures on it. That's pretty easy to do with computers nowadays. And use lots of pictures, too. If your space ship has three different surfaces that have the same terrain feature, put an image of a little square of each type on the card next to the stats.

Magiq can have the same issue. Even with the standard types, remembering opposition and antagonism and which rule goes where can be tough. When you add a couple dozen supernatural sources of magiq, it gets tougher. Especially if they align to the "core" magiqs differently. A little chart on an index card can do wonders. And if you play magic in your games, you'll probably have fun with this, too.