My 'Tank-Mordhiem' is a skirmish game where tank crews are kinda the 'ships' of a post-apoc style wasteland. Stalker-Mad Max-Pirates-Mortal Engines meets Fury.
Basically there are colonies (vaguely themed after/using tanks of WW2 nations e.g. Teutonica, Britannia, Slavia, Federation) who trade across the wastelands. WW1 has gone wrong, with poison gas and deadly weapons creating a WW2 era of mutants, wastelands and weather that conveniently makes flying a no-no so planes never really got developed. Also the WW2 theme means if I need to reuse the tanks for an actual WW2 game, the paint jobs will be OK....
I'm making my own rules: basically we have 4-12 units per side, with tanks usually operating in troops of 2-4. They kinda act like sailships of the wastes, escorting merchant half-track convoys, exploring and raiding bases and villages. Yes of course, there are tank pirates.
I'm kinda using the real stats, but balancing them more to the middle - nerfing late war tanks and buffing early war models. So a Pz38 would actually have a small chance to defeat an IS-2.
The Activation Problem
Anyway, here is my problem. I'm pretty chill with combat mechanics, but activation is bugging me. I have 3 ideas currently. Since mechanics are simple and we've only got 4-8 tanks per time, I can use some complexity, but still want it to play fast. The crews are kinda 'heroes' who have their own crew stat, and often a special skill or trait. (Think Battletech pilots)
Option A - He who moves slowest, shoots first (been playing LOTR lately, simple is good)
Basically kinda a modified LoTR. Movement goes:
Tanks moving fast
Tanks moving normally
Tanks moving slowly
This means, slowest tanks see who goes first. Better crews go last if a tie. Shooting works in reverse:
Tanks who don't move fire first
Tanks moving slowly fire next
Tanks moving normally fire next
Tanks moving fast... ...don't fire at all
This has the advantage of being fast and very easy. It's also pretty logical. If you're parked you'll probably get your shot off first. But it's also rather rote and predictable. I could sexy it up by allowing tanks a special order a la BFG order/LoTR might where they can snap shot first; or even allowing a dice roll where one side can drop a step in the sequence. This is quick and clean but may be better suited to a mass battle tank game. There isn't any uncertainty, friction or randomness. You can kinda plan ahead too much for a skirmish game. All crews get the same amount of actions, just better crews act at a better time; so better crews DO have an advantage...
Option B: Song of Tracks and Cannon (original method)
As seen in Chain of Command or SoBH. After you choose a tank, you roll a bunch of "Crew Die" or "Skill Dice" to see what you can do. E.g. a crew might roll 3d6, and get a bunch of orders/actions for each success (say a 3+ for elite., 4+ for regular, 5+ for rookie). So you will score a random amount of actions, with better units usually getting more. Failing rolls could mean initiative swaps.
Orders could include: pivot tank, adjust tank 2"/reverse, move half, move full, acquire target/slew turret, shoot, aim, load special ammo, overwatch, repair tank etc.
This gives a nice RPG feel, with some randomness, but you have a tank that could move AND shoot before an opponent could respond. Method A has only 1 action each side. This method could have a tank taking 2-3 actions before opponents respond e.g. fire twice and take out two tanks. I'm not sure if I like this... but it might be good. It's certainly no worse than other skirmish wargames and their aternate move. It's also quite consistent, rules-wise. Better crews do act more often, which I like as it shows their coolness under combat; they process and co ordinate better.
Option C: A bit of both (latest idea)
Each tank gets a single action and can roll a single "Crew Dice" for a second action, similar to Method B above. Failing the crew roll means initiative swaps (or your opponent chooses who acts next).
Movement goes: Roll crew dice
-if pass, may pivot AND move
-if fail, may pivot OR move
...so you can do more stuff, but not much...
Shooting goes: Roll crew dice
-if pass, may acquire/traverse+shoot, aim+shoot, or shootx2 (RoF/movement permitting)
-if fail, may merely shoot
Horde rule: if one player has activated all his models in a phase, his opponent is -1 to crew rolls
The downside of this is... have I made it more complex with more 'exceptions' to the gameplay? Also, moving second is usually better. So maybe if you pass your movement crew roll you choose if you OR your opponent moves next...
Upside: No one can really shoot before opponents have had a chance to move out of the way... and there is a touch of unpredictability. You can do 1 or 2 things each time it's your go. It's kinda halfway between A and B. Better crews do get to act more often.
As for mechanics, you can presume a d10 roll to hit, d6 or d10 roll to damage/kill, and a d6 roll to see what damage does (mobility, crew, weapons) with only the later step exceeding the complexity of Bolt Action/FoW.
So... which is better for a small-scale skirmish game?