I’ve spent two days with this preoccupying my background thought processes. Apologies if I seem insistent, I must fully understand this to clear up that nagging in my head. Also, apologies for this awful long post. In order to get my thoughts straight I needed to write this all down and well, why not share for those that would find it interesting.
I may certainly be wrong here, but I think there is some conflation going on between moving assets and characters, and movement of those elements among a conflicts zones.
Here’s my thinking on the RAW. To develop an understanding of the Move rules we have to examine Conflict first.
Conflict is a generic concept including the following defined scopes: Dueling, Skirmishes, Warfare, Espionage, and Intrigue. Notably, Negotiations and Intrigue are cases where most if not all zones are “free-floating” and are adjacent to every other zone. My thinking, in part, hinges on the supposition that zone adjacency plays into the resource expenditure decision by the players for the Move action.
In the Taking Action section on p.166, there are two defined examples of expenditure for a characters turn action: Move and Use an Asset.
My reading of the language is this:
- A player can use their character’s turn action to Move an asset or the character themselves (if no asset is possessed).
- If the action was used to move either an asset or the character, the player may modify the Move action to extend the movement of that asset/character, or move another asset/character entirely, by spending 2 Momentum.
- If the action was used to move either an asset or the character, the player may seek to gain an advantage by taking on a risk to pass/fail a skill test with a corresponding reward/penalty by moving the asset/character boldly or subtly.
For Use An Asset
- A player can expend their action to do a number of things including: attacking, removing an asset/trait, creating a new asset/trait, overcoming an obstacle, gaining information, removing a trait from or aiding an ally,
- Regardless of the desired outcome, this action always requires a skill test.
An important distinction here is that last bullet in Use an Asset. This is very specific language that does not appear in the Move section of the core rules. The words, “…this action always requires a skill test,” are important. The implication here is that the preceding uses of the turn action in the text for Move, do not always require a skill test. Or at least, this is the proposition I am exploring.
How to validate this? I modeled an example of a Skirmish (agent play) conflict. I set it up such that if the Move as a simple use of action (without Boldly or Subtly) did not exist, there would arise gameplay issues. The existence of these gameplay issues would therefore indicate the necessity of a Move as a standalone use of an action. I know, crazy! But hey, let’s analyze this Skirmish:
The GM sets the scene and draws the zones. The player’s main character (PC) is in red, while two bandits are in black (NPC). The PC has a knife asset as does NPC2. NPC1 has no asset. The PC is hidden behind the wall in Zone 1 at scene start.
Momentum Pool: 2
Threat Pool: 0
Turn 1: The GM has no Threat and grants the first action to the PC.
The player thinks about how to spend the turns action. They can spend their action to perform a Move from the shadows and get the jump on the bandits rather than staying hidden. But how to execute this? The player could decide to spend their action to Move into Zone 2 and then spend an additional 2 Momentum to move one additional zone into Zone 3 to take on the armed bandit first. But they decide against this route as they reason it will be an easier attack against the unarmed bandit. So they decide Zone 2 is where they want to end up. Once there, the player is going to Keep the Initiative by spending their 2 Momentum to gain an extra action so they can immediately attack the NPC with their knife by Use an Asset.
Now here’s where the argument for the concept of an action spend to Move without doing so Boldly or Subtly comes into consideration. If the player had to move Boldy or Subtly, they would have to risk a skill test with the penalty for failure which would givie the GM the opportunity to immediately perform a Move on a single asset one zone, which would undoubtedly be NPC 2 into Zone 2. Additionally, the player would lose the use of their Momentum to Keep the Initiative for that attack on NPC1. Yikes! That’s way too risky. If the player can decide to simply Move into Zone 2 without the additional effects of extended movement, or risk a bold/subtle test, it gives the player more tactical choices, and maximum agency.
Alright, the player makes their decision and announces it: they spend their action on a Move into Zone 2:
Now that the character and his asset is where the player wants it to be, they announce to the GM they are going to spend their 2 Momentum to Keep the Initiative.
With an extra action to spend, the player announces their attack by spending that action on Use an Asset with the knife and a contest is rolled.
This attack sequence makes sense to me and it was possible because of the ability to Move without the risk of the boldly/subtly test and possibly losing the opportunity to attack first, which looking at the scene definitely feels right. The PC jumps from cover and gets the first attack on the surprised bandits.
Conversely, if the boldly/subtly was forced with Move, there is a chance for Momentum gain if they pass, and either a reduced Keep the Initiative or the ability to move one of their assets. But looking at what could happen on a failure, its not worth that risk for the small gain. Furthermore by having that three way choice: Move normally, extend the Move, or go for broke with Boldly/Subtly, the player has more agency.
Thus my gut tells me that the RAW’s intent is that there is a “normal” Move option.
And with all of that, I could still be wrong and made a dozen mistakes in this analysis.
Map credit: Heroic Maps. Find them on https://www.wargamevault.com