CROM Mechanics Teaser #1 – Initiative

All tabletop wargamers know that a game can be won or lost on initiative. If anything, this becomes more true with smaller numbers of units, so initiative is critical to the flow of a skirmish game. Conan: Rise of Monsters is built with an eye towards making initiative more than just a random chance. It’s a gameable mechanic that will need to be part of your overall strategy if you want to be effective.

The Basics

At its core, initiative is very simple – each side rolls dice, and the player with the most Swords showing wins the initiative. The winner of the initiative then chooses who will go first. If you want to plan your moves in reaction to your opponent’s, you can. But you can also seize the initiative and move first if you want to control a valuable position.



First of all, the number of dice is not set by the game, but by your units. Fielding more units increases the number of destiny tokens you have available. Destiny tokens can be spent for various effects, and they also set your base initiative. Now, you might be wondering, doesn’t that just encourage swarm tactics? Why wouldn’t I always field a bunch of weaker units? The reason you wouldn’t necessarily want to do that is that all units provide the same scoring when defeated. So by fielding more units you are literally making more points available to your opponent.

Second, initiative is not necessarily static. It can be changed through powers, cards, and expenditures. For instance, Valeria has the ability to reroll initiative dice that come up as Sigils, Conan has a card in his deck (“King of Thieves”) that lets him steal initiative when he loses the roll, and those destiny tokens can be spent for additional dice to give you a boost when you really need it.

And there are even certain aspects of the game that trigger on the initiative roll, regardless of who wins. Xaltotun can summon an earthquake that pins an enemy unit if you get at least 2 Swords, whether you win or not. Shapechangers who roll at least 1 Sigil on initiative become shocking and monstrous, limiting enemy’s ability to charge them. And so on.

As you can see, there’s plenty to think about just in terms of initiative.

Keep watching here for more Conan: Rise of Monsters mechanics teasers!