Since both players plan their moves at the same time there is always the chance that two moves clash in some way. Maybe two robots try to move into the same square, or they both try to shoot each other at the same time. The initiative is designed to solve these situations. A lot of people find it confusing though, so take a deep breath and read the following sections carefully!
You can see who has the initiative up in the right corner of the screen. The player with the blue exclamation mark has the initiative at the moment:
The most important thing for understanding how the initiative works is the concept of turns and moves.
A turn is the combined set of moves that you and your opponent submit to the game. Each one of your submissions contains five moves, numbered 1 to 5. When both players have submitted their moves the complete turn is shown in the 'playback' view.
First, move nr 1 from both players is played out. This is where the initiative is used! Whoever has the initiative will get to do their move first. When both #1 moves has been revealed the playback moves on to #2 and the same thing happens – the player with the initiative gets to move first. When all ten moves has been shown the turn is over.
Note that it's not possible for a move to be executed before all moves from earlier rounds has been shown. This means that both #1 moves has to be played out before both #2 moves are revealed, and so on.
Since it's clearly beneficial to have the initiative both players try to get it whenever possible. This is done using the "take initiative" move, symbolized by a blue exclamation icon in the command pane:
To use this ability takes up one move though, so you can't use it in a stand-off situation to get the upper hand. If at the start of a round your opponent has the initiative and decides to use the laser, this move will happen before any move you do! The lesson is that it's important to take the initiative before it's too late.
If both players use the "take initiative" move at the same time, for example both at the final (5:th) move of a turn the following will happen:
- The player who already has the initiative will move first and take the initiative again. This does nothing.
- The other player (who doesn't have the initiative) will take the initiative.