Squad in the Starting Mission?

Should there be a squad of rookies with you on the starting mission?

For

  • It’s a mission and missions have a squad.

Against

  • But it breaks other mission rules since the players can all field specialists.
  • It also doesn’t mention squads anywhere on each of the Divine’s Starting Missions.
  • And typically the Marshal picks the squad and names all the rookies, but we haven’t divvied out Roles yet—that happens after the Starting Mission
  • So that means its on the GM, but it doesn’t say anything about picking and naming a squad anywhere in the GM section on preparing for the first session and the Starting Mission.
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Hi Oliver
“So that means its on the GM, but it doesn’t say anything about picking and naming a squad anywhere in the GM section on preparing for the first session and the Starting Mission.”
It says that “Rookies are allowed” for the three starting missions… So if there are Rookies, there is a squad!
Also on page 125: “For now, detail the one sent on the starting mission.” It can be read as retroactive: “for now, detail the one which has been sent on the starting mission”. But I agree it’s a bit of a contradiction.
But there is another contradiction of this type: the Lorekeeper too is supposed to make a Return to Camp scene after the starting mission, although the Lorekeeper has not been chosen at this stage.

As for another “For”: The group needs Scale sometimes, and Scale is mostly provided by the Squad.

Yeah, I wondered what the ‘Rookies are allowed’ bit meant . All the setup instructions ask players to make Specialists, not rookies. And since there’s no Marshal to select and name the squad, I assumed it wasn’t present.

I didn’t make the leap that since Rookies may be present, then a squad is present.

But let me check. The correct procedure for starting the mission is:

  1. players make Specialists
  2. GM chooses squad of rookies and maybe name some
  3. players pick a Specialist or a rookie from the squad.

If that’s right, then that’s a lot of joining the dots. I can’t see anything in the setup instructions that suggest Step 2. So they could be way clearer, because at the table I’m looking at them for clues on what to do next.

Shreya’s Starting Mission does say

“You and your squad must secure a retreat for your comrades.”

But the Starting Missions for the Horned One and Zora don’t say that.

This is an interesting catch! I watched Actual Play videos, and the groups always took a squad of five rookies with them on the opening mission. I didn’t even notice that since the Marshal is supposed to name the squad members, and the Marshal isn’t chosen until after the mission, that seems like it shouldn’t happen.

(Note: we didn’t name the rookies in the squad that came with, though the players did choose which squad they were with about half-way through, when it became important to know what sorts of actions the squad might have an edge in.)

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Yeah, it was only after watching a couple of Stras’s Actual Plays that made me question the set up for Starting Missions.

You definitely take a squad with you on the first mission. I think this is just a casualty of streamlining the play procedures and just not updating the text. I’m pretty sure the starting procedure used to be that you chose roles at the beginning. However, I think it was changed to make it easier to get into the game. Consider:

You gather your friends together to play a game of Band of Blades. You give them the pitch, give them a quick rundown of the history of the world, the nations, the gods, chosen, the cinder king and undead. Then they choose roles and fill out those sheets, making a bunch of choice solely on the context you just gave them. Then you have to choose a Chosen, and choose their special ability. Then you give them a mission, and they each need to create another character, a specialist this time. Then the Marshal chooses a squad and assigns the specialists and you have to make rookies. At this point you’ve possibly made 3 or more characters before you’ve even started playing!

All that to say, I can see why the designers decided not to frontload everything - but I think something got missed in the shuffle. I can’t think of a good reason to not allow the squad - you want to introduce the dynamics of the game right off the bat, and a lot of the game to me is managing the squad as a resource, either using them to increase your position/effect or having to mitigate damage to them.

Just my two cents.

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All makes sense. I noticed earlier versions had Roles picked before the Starting Mission, so I can understand why this might have happened.

If the GM is meant to pick a rookie squad, then all it really needs is a mention on the GM role sheet, which currently says:
GM%20sheet%20original
This could be tweaked to:
GM%20sheet%20update

You definitely have a squad. All missions include squads unless otherwise specified. Also I figured this was a dead giveaway:

It’s in the Marshal instructions.

Fun sidenote: Duamn is right, and brought up something interesting. If you look at the beta, you’ll see we have folks make the roles first, then the marshal picks the starting mission squad as normal. However that didn’t play great (we did a ton of playtesting). Basically it was a LOT of overhead, and you’d be making these roles you didn’t really understand, or feel connected to, who didn’t do much till the campaign phase, and it would take WAY LONGER to get to the action, and raised more questions than it quashed.

So we switched it over. The GM does some minor stuff (like picks a squad). I honestly thought the squads were pre-picked per mission in the description but apparently not. ^_~

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Ah right, thanks!

But that’s not a give away that’s easy-to-spot though! In our game, no one’s looked at the Marshal sheet or section yet. I mean I‘ve looked at everything, but I didn’t check the Marshal sheet and section to prep the Starting Mission. I used the GM sections in the book and GM sheet to walk through the process.

Role after the first mission makes a lot of sense. I just think a key step is easily missed if you’re running it first time.

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You’re not wrong, but I will say that of the many games I’ve seen (streamed, podcasted, snuck into at a con) you’re the first one I’ve heard ask this ^_~ The “missions go with squads and specialists” usually covers it without too many questions.

If I ever find time in my life to go back over the sheets I’ll see if I can fit in the one change you suggested.

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I did not run them with a Squad because I thought they were going alone (Zora Mission).
They killed it though

If you don’t have Rookies, there’s no one to play if your Specialist gets incapacitated (or killed). So yeah, you need that Squad of Rookies!