Laserburn: Scenarios & Deployment rules

I’ve written up two scenarios Byakhee Rich & I will play tomorrow. I’ll trawl the records and brain cell to add some more as there seem to be very few Laserburn scenarios written up.

One thing that struck me when writing them up and reading the Laserburn rule book was the complete absence of deployment rules. Its totally up to the umpire to decide when designing the scenario – but what happens when there is no umpire ? Who chooses sides ? Who sets up first ? In what order ? How far in ? etc. Now having played different rules sets and different scenarios there are any number of options.

Some ideas for deployment rules:

  • Dice to choose side of table
  • Dice to choose deployment zone(s)
  • Play out the scouting rules as per Chain of Command
  • Hidden movement
  • Scouts & Vanguard movement (WHFB)
  • Place units alternately
  • Place all units in one go
  • Place units in an Initiative determined order (high first or low first)

It got me thinking as to how these rules would affect the way scenarios are run and how the balance of gamesmanship would change. If one side places all its units first, that could give the other side an unfair advantage (advanced intel). This is something that hasn’t come up in AVBCW yet where we simply all pile in all at the same time. Is this better or worse ? On what terms ? In terms of the chaos of war ? In terms of fairness ? Or does it disrespect advanced intel and hence undermine military prowess ? How far do you go when designing a scenario to favour one side or the other ?

I’ve longed to write up some inter war rules sets, and indeed to expand the Laserburn rules so if you have any ideas, chuck them in to the comments. I want to break out of the IGUGO rules and fixed deployment zones and get a really fluid battle going.

Thanks !

5 Responses to Laserburn: Scenarios & Deployment rules

  1. Roughage says:

    We have never had an umpire, and have generally deployed on our baseline, or up to X” in. Usually we roll to see who deploys first and then deploy one unit each in turn. The other system we use is that one player writes the scenario and takes the baddies as a non-player force. Then they act as umpire and baddy controller, while the other player plays normally. This works particularly well with attack/defence games, where the umpire can prepare the defence deployment beforehand. In such a game, the attacker will generally know the defender’s deployment before they attack, but there may be surprises along the way. This relies on the umpire/NPC player to play fairly, but we have had a lot of success with this type of game in the past.

    It seems to me that deployment and Intel will vary according to the type of game you are playing too.

    In a military game, both sides may have reasonable knowledge of their opponent’s deployment through satellite imagery, EW and so on. In that case, define deployment areas and deploy in them. You might give one side an advantage, so they set up everything second, or you might set up units alternately. Alternatively, players could have to write down their deployments while only knowing their opponent’s general deployment. They might be given two flank areas, a centre area and a reserve (off-board). Then they allocate figures to those areas, announce to their opponent how large each force is in each area, and then each deploys.

    One thought for the military games is that you could have general knowledge of force size in each area, but a screen is erected between the players while they deploy, so neither side knows precisely what is where, but they have a general idea of force sizes. If you want to include specialist intel, you could dice for scouting with the winner getting to see their opponent’s deployment in one or more areas, before the screen is erected.

    For civilian/gang games, deployment could be blind or it could be by initiative, or one side might have a better idea of the other side’s deployment, depending upon the scenario.

    For both types of game, the TFL system of blinds should work well enough. Another option that you might borrow from .45 Adventures is the use of objective markers. Instead of deploying troops on the table, one player prepares a scenario that requires all players to investigate 6-9 objective markers to find the macguffin and win the game. Some of these markers will turn out to be nothing, some will be enemy troops, while one/several will be the macguffin or triggers that indicate the approach of the macguffin. Usually the events triggered by investigating the markers are written onto cards and shuffled into an event deck, which means that the scenario writer can take part in the game normally too, if they wish, or they can umpire it and control activated enemy troops.

    Another thought would be to borrow from games like Bodycount, where the enemy is rarely seen, and is controlled by the game system. The players are all on the same side and are playing against the system, which can make for an interesting game.They then deploy normally with no visible enemy, but every bit of cover could contain enemy troops. This negates any advantage of deploying first.

    Really, it is a huge question that probably merits several posts in its own right, and I have gone off topic a bit, but what they hey! 🙂

    • Interesting stuff – and not off topic. I think I started off with Laserburn in mind having written two secnarios, and then marvelled at the lack of guidance. I’ve also played WHFB a lot and am finding it a bit to formulaic and want to explore some different ideas. the Chain of Command paytrol scenario simply prompted me to write this and I’d like to hear more ideas. As you can see I’ve written two brief secnartios, but I’d lile to do more so each game system I play has a dozen or more unique scenarios so we are all kept on our toes.

      For example the second Laserburn scenario I wrote borrows from the origianl Rogue Trader Death World climate rules, a simple device to heavily effect the game, and also bring about closure so it isn’t a simple fight to the death.

      • ruarigh says:

        That all sounds good to me. I shall be interested to see how the scenarios pan out. I am quite taken with a number of rules sets (Tomorrow’s War, Wargods of Aegyptus, etc) that include a set of scenarios as part of the rules, and then you dice to see which one you will play. Randomising the scenarios and then creating a narrative to link them is a great way to play a campaign.

        Do you have ‘Platoon Forward’? I like the campaign system in that, and I think it would adapt nicely to Laserburn.

        The scenarios for ‘Urban War’ from Urban Mammoth, might also be good inspiration for you. I believe they were free to download, last I looked.

  2. Roo says:


    Have you ever looked at Crossfire? It is an interesting concept that to be honest often takes traditional gamers a while to get to grips with ( if at all?) but if played right does give an interesting game. I have the rules and scenario books if you want a glance.

  3. ruarigh says:

    Another thought that occurred to me would be to try the mini-games/mini-campaign set-up of the RFCM rules from Peter Pig. They provide force variability and a means of determining who sets up where, through a mini-game that you play before the battle. I always liked the battleships-style game that decided attacker and defender in PBI2.

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