The Bag O’ Destiny

9 01 2011

If I were asked to describe what a turn of Monopoly was like I would say that each turn consisted primarily of a player rolling dice and moving their token.  Sure, you can buy houses and hotels, you might buy property, you may draw a card, and you may even owe someone money, but you always roll a dice an move.  This basic formula is repeated as many times as needed to complete a game.  The rest is details.

McPherson and Revenge has a similar rinse-lather-repeat mechanic for regulating play.  A bag, lovingly referred to as the bag o’ destiny, is filled with tokens each representing a brigade and division commander in the game.  A full turn of the game (representing 15 minutes of scenario time) will consist of pulling all token’s from the bag, one token at a time.  When a token is drawn that general may try to begin issuing orders to his brigade or division.


In addition to a General’s name, the tokens will have a number indicating the units command rating.  A command rating is a reflection of that general and his staff’s competency and organization.  A number of dice equal to the command rating is used by that commander whenever he attempts to do something within the game.  The higher the command rating, the better and more prepared the general.

A token being drawn does NOT necessarily mean that that the unit will be activated.  As we have previously pointed out, good things tend to happen to good generals and choosing when to go during a turn is something that good generals are better at.  When a token is drawn, the player who controls that general must make a skill “skill check” using a number of dice equal to the command rating of the officer.  If ANY “4”s, “5”s, or “6”s are rolled then the controlling player decides whether he wants to go now or be put back in the bag.  If he fails, then his opponent get’s to choose!

Note: Skill checks are a central mechanic to McPherson and Revenge and will be discussed in more detail later…

Officers will have their command ratings lowered by taking casualties over the course of the game.  Casualties will be caused while giving orders to troops under fire and using leadership to influence units.  (These mechanics will also be discussed later. )  When a leader’s command rating is lowered then the token for that leader is replaced by another token with a lower command rating!


In addition to officer tokens, events such as “reinforcements”, “rout” and “scenario end” may be placed into the bag o’ destiny based on the scenario being played.  When these tokens are drawn then those events are conducted.  Presumably, I will explain what these events mean later too.

Making the tokens

I used Visio to draw the tokens.  Stars are used to indicate if a general is a brigadier (one star) in charge of a brigade or a lieutenant general in command of a division (two stars).  I created 6 tokens for each general numbered from 0 to 5 with 5 equaling a absurdly organized general and 0 equaling an incompetent, or more likely dead, general.


I used Litko Aerosystems 3mm thick 15 mm by 30mm plywood bases.  Litko is a really cool company whose founder must have a son that was a war gamer.  They have a really impressive side line selling war-game accessories including bases, markers, and tokens.  They sell custom cut metal, wood, magnets and plastics.  Very cool stuff.

I printed out my labels on photo paper, cut them out and then glued them using white glue.  I will have about 140 of these tokens for my entire order of battle but I will not need more than about 20-25 at a time while playing.

The “Chit Pull” Mechanic

The “Chit pull” mechanic is pretty common in hex and counter war-games.  I believe that Mr. Richard Berg first introduced this mechanic for activating generals back in the 1970’s for his Gettysburg game “A terrible swift sword”.  He has used the mechanic in several series of games since including his Ancient World titles; Carthage and Rise of the Roman Republic (were I encountered it first.)

I modified his mechanic with an activation role and multiple command rating mechanics which are my own.




One response

10 01 2011
jerry choate

You “bag of doom” concept is very intriguing.

I have some questions that I believe will be address as you further explain the mechanics. I am eagerly awaiting for you to tell us more about “skill checks.”

I love the blog.

BTW…beautiful chits.


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