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Barry Miller
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Hi all,

I’d like to talk about the [lack of] emphasis that the Rulebook places on the Shared Activations rule. Perhaps it’s that I’m missing something basic, is why I’m posting this thread. I apologize for my long-windedness. If you want to skip to the meat, go to about 2/3 down my post.

Background

First, a bit about my POV if it matters. If not, simply skip this paragraph! I’m brand new to CoH. Also, I'm not a grognard though I do like wargames and own my fair share. My interest is mostly in games that play at the strategic or operational levels as I’ve never been drawn to the decision space which resides at the tactical level. Having said that, it was the COH Solo Expansion that brought me around to purchasing COH:AtB (and finally being able to get my hands on a copy)! Finally, I don't get a lot of opportunity to play my wargames, so I’m not as adept at identifying tactical situations, or developing efficient strategies, or even seeing through specific rules as others are.

Second, I'm still reading the Rulebook. Thusly without having played the game yet, I’m not asking a rules question. Instead, this post is about the placement of the Shared Activation rule, and not about the rule itself. It was upon reaching page 10 and rule "9.0: Shared Activations", that I felt compelled to whip out the keyboard...

A Question is Born

Pages 1, 2, and 3 of the 2ed Ed Rulebook frequently emphasize how a unit is activated with [the standard] seven Action Points, and how only one unit can be activated at a time. As I read those pages, I immediately got stuck on this “singular” concept – i.e., that only one unit can act at a time. I had trouble contemplating how that could work. Given that I fully grasped the turn structure, I couldn't wrap my brain around the notion that a unit has to exhaust or forfeit all of its APs before another unit could act.

But then of course, I went on to learn about Opportunity Actions, and CAPs, and Card Actions. That's when I had my, "Ah ha!" moment. ...
"OK", I said to myself, "Now I get it. Just because I have only one unit activated doesn't mean I'm locked into taking action with only that one unit."

But still, something gnawed at me as I continued to read the rulebook. … Something about the timing of when units are spent continued to linger in my mind. But I naturally figured that I need to play the game to "let it all come together".

More specifically, what was gnawing at me was that I simply couldn't get past my preconceived notion that I should be able to do something with more than one unit at a time before having to spend any unit, and without having to resort to CAPs and Opportunity Actions to do so. I mean, given how the turn structure works, why can't I take an action with 3 or 4 units before having to spend any of them?
Still – again - I continued to say to myself, "I guess I'll have to play the game. It's gotta make sense once I see how it all comes together." But then…

I eventually made it to page 10, and read... Rule 9.0 Shared Actions, and…

"Huh?"
"Well, damn, Uwe! Nothing like burying the lead!", I said to myself. "So, I CAN activate multiple units at the same time, after all!" That's exactly what I was looking for!

Finally, to question:

So, keeping in mind that I haven’t played the game yet, is it just me, or does it really seem like that the "Shared Activations" rule is buried? I mean "buried" in the sense that:
- It doesn't appear until page 10
- I would think that Shared Activations should be the default method for allocating Action Points and thusly lead off the discussion of Unit AP Actions in rule 3.0, on page 3. Here's what I mean:

Instead of presenting the Shared Activations rule in the way it currently is, instead I would've expected the rule to be presented up front as such:
"You can activate one or more units using a combined total of seven Action Points. The 7 Action Points are shared among all the units you select for activation. Each activated unit or units takes individual actions whose costs are subtracted from the shared 7AP pool. Once the 7 APs are exhausted, all the units (or unit) that used any of the 7 APs are marked as spent. You can repeat this activation cycle as long as you have non-spent units."

OK, so that's the sort of wording I would've expected up front. Plus, that sort of wording up front would've prevented that "gnawing feeling " I had till I got to page 10!

And yes, I saw the footnotes on pages 2 and 3 that said: "(exception - Shared Activations 9.0)". My admitted problem is that I usually read a new rulebook sequentially and really don't pay attention to such footnotes until I actually "use" the rulebook (meaning, playing an actual game).

That aside, I guess the fact that rule 9.0 is considered an exception illustrates the heart of my question!
Why is it considered an exception? Shouldn’t the “Shared Activations” rule be emphasized more as the default norm? The fact that it isn’t – and that it’s buried back on page 10 - is why I suspect that I’m missing some really basic tactical savvy!

Thanks!

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Brett Schaller
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Quote:
Shouldn’t the “Shared Activations” rule be emphasized more as the default norm? The fact that it isn’t – and that it’s buried back on page 10 - is why I suspect that I’m missing some really basic tactical savvy!


Activating more than one unit at a time means they have to share the 7 point action pool, effectively giving each unit only (an average of) 3.5 points. It's a useful tactic at times (generally I use it to get a unit out of a jam that I didn't see coming!) but not something you want to do very often.

By the way, don't confuse shared activations with group actions, which are much more generally useful.
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Barry Miller
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Brett Schaller wrote:
By the way, don't confuse shared activations with group actions, which are much more generally useful.

No, I'm not doing that. I have no problem understanding the rules, thanks to a superb rulebook! What I'm having trouble understanding is why the Shared Activation rules gets so little emphasis or mention here in the forums.

BTW, thanks for your response!

Anyway, I'd think that I'd want to activate several units at once and get them moving, or engage in multiple fires from different locations, all at once.

But you're right that, that means each such unit would have less APs to work with during each round. And perhaps that's the big "Ah ha!" that totally escaped me before. I really do need to actually play a game, to see how it all unfolds.

Thanks again!

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Trevor Wilson
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I would like to add the fact that once you move on to using the Solo expansion the "Shared Activation" rule is no longer used anyway, as it, and the rules regarding "opportunity movement/firing" will not apply with the variable nature of the activation cards.
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Chris Schenck
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bgm1961 wrote:
What I'm having trouble understanding is why the Shared Activation rules gets so little emphasis or mention here in the forums.

I think the issue is that it's very situational. It's hard to give general strategy advice saying "here's how to best use this option" since shared activations are more of a tactical option rather than a strategic one.

I've often said on these forums that it's critical to understand the full potential of shared activations and group actions. They are two different concepts that need to be applied as the situation warrants. In my experience with that game, applying these options at critical moments is what makes and breaks your gameplay. They're most certainly crucial, bit highly situational. So the best general advice that can be given is to undestand your options and the impact those options will present. But it really can't be prescriptive general advice. So I agree that players many times underutilize the potential. Knowing your options and the impact of those options is what will determine your performance. This really can't be stressed enough.
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James Luksich
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I think it's because Shared Activations are often outshone by Command group actions which are just incredible in every aspect except that they use CAPs.
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Lewis Karl
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First, the rules are presented in a format for programmed instruction, meant to be digested in pieces as you play the first few firefights. Naturally, the more complicated matter of shared activations and groups come later.

Second, group actions are far more useful than shared activations that aren't grouped. The latter would only be used rarely in very special circumstances (loading/unloading AT guns) and can only be used for movement. Grouped actions are useful in far more situations, but you need to learn by playing.

Grouped actions and their use have been discussed in a number of threads spread out across the forums associated with CoH games. I have never considered this material to be hidden or under emphasized. It gets exactly the emphasis that is required to understand the rules.
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Barry Miller
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All, thank you much for your responses! They've helped shed some light.

If the discussion should continue, let me add that, yes, I now get why one would typically want to spend all [7] APs on a single unit instead of divvying them up between several units - so thanks for that [now] obvious - yet escaped - point. Also, I do understand how group activations are different from shared activations, and why they're placed in the rulebook where they are. Your comments only helped cement that realization!

Finally, I'd like to add an illustration - which I should've included in my OP - of why having only one unit activated at a time didn't make sense to me...

If you watch Ben Harsh's video, starting at 16:22, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dmQt..., you'll see a situation that perfectly illustrates my original question. ... I couldn't wrap my head around how both the activated German unit and the activated Soviet unit are able to move a significant distance across the map (and potentially initiating attacks along the way), while all the other units of both sides remain still.

That the rest of the units remain still while the two activated units get to move about and attack, is what had me scratching my head! It just didn't seem right.

Yes, I understand that you can use Command Action Points to temporarily change focus to another unit, as Ben demonstrated at 17:15, and you could even use an Opportunity Action to get another unit into immediate play if desperate enough. But again, it simply didn't look right to me that I could prance a unit half way across the map while his mates stayed stuck elsewhere. So this was the genesis behind my OP question.

Again, I want to stress how you guys have helped me see things from a different perspective. Still, while I fully understand what you're all saying, I nonetheless think of your replies as very sound advice on how to play the rules as written. Whereas I'm still stymied about why they're written the way they are. For instance, the alternate wording I posed in my OP (blue font) doesn't change how the game would play, it only changes how one would perceive the sense of multiple units doing something all at the same time - even if it means at reduced flexibility. I.e., my alternate wording would still allow you to activate only one unit with the full allowance of APs.

I think what it all boils down to, is that I'm demonstrating my lack of experience with Tactical Warfare games! This whole notion of one unit being able to do a bunch of $h!+ while the other units just sit and watch, is something that I definitely need to play a few games in order to get. And please rest assured that your replies are helping! So again, I thank you!

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Bob S.
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DELTA2468 wrote:
I think it's because Shared Activations are often outshone by Command group actions which are just incredible in every aspect except that they use CAPs.

But you're not limited to using only CAPs to perform group actions, yes?
 
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Russ Williams
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Borz wrote:
But you're not limited to using only CAPs to perform group actions, yes?

You can indeed also use regular APs. (The disadvantage of that is that then all the activated units become spent when the APs run out, as opposed to a single unit becoming spent in the more usual case of one activated unit spending APs.)
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Barry Miller
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The Wrong One wrote:
I would like to add the fact that once you move on to using the Solo expansion the "Shared Activation" rule is no longer used anyway, as it, and the rules regarding "opportunity movement/firing" will not apply with the variable nature of the activation cards.

Trevor,

Thanks... I just got around to reading the solo rules and I see what you're talking about.

While in the solo rules, I found it interesting that Uwe wrote, "This [the solo AP system] gives you greater freedom to jump from Unit to Unit each turn,..."

Which is exactly where I was coming from in my OP... I.e., I was wondering why this same freedom wasn't presented as a fundamental aspect of (or simply missing from) the core rules. Though I again, I really have to play the game a few times to figure out the answer for myself!

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