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Neuroshima Hex!» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Lonely League Round 3 – The Results Are In rss

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The ultimate tactical game

After 36 recorded matches, and countless rounds on the app, I’m starting to get the measure of Neuroshima Hex.

If there’s a scale to measure how tactical a game is versus how strategic, NH will be way out on the tactical side. The order in which tiles come out does make a great deal of difference – I would venture to say that this might be more important than player skill in deciding the winner – and this might seem to skew the game towards luck, and certainly away from strategy, apart from the knowledge of which tiles to hope and plan for.

On the other hand, the openness of information and the decisions to be made in choosing the tiles and placing them on the board are quite deterministic.

In combination, they produce a delightful gentle fizzing of the brain, as you are presented with a random set of tiles and try to make the best of them. Each draw is a fresh tactical puzzle to be solved, and your decisions are then punished, mocked or rewarded by the draws that follow.

In its own way, this combination is perfect, and it’s an unfortunate quirk of fate that school cupboards and backrooms of pubs aren’t supplied with copies of NH instead of chess sets, and the deeper but more brutal medieval world those represent. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever have a random game of NH with an old man while I’m out for a pint.

Why not keep it light with some post-apocalyptic death matches? ☺ In the absence of regular opponents (although I will one day have to make the trip to Poland for an NH tournament), I continue to explore the possibilities of the game with perfectly even matches against myself.

The tournament

The five starter armies (Outpost, Hegemony, Moloch, Doomsday, Borgo) faced off against each other in Round 1, with Doomsday dominating the rest. In Round 2, my incomplete collection of additional armies (Neojungle, New York, Steel Police, Mississippi) met in battle, with Steel Police winning out against Mississippi. Now in Round 3, the old meet the new and all nine armies will have faced everyone. Where armies have ended up on the same number of wins, ranks are decided by point difference, which is the points won by in winning matches minus the points lost by inn losing matches.

Neojungle Wins: 2 Losses: 6 Draws: 0 Point difference: -35

The sentient weeds did little better against the starter armies than they did the newbies. It was interesting to note that Neojungle’s two lone victories were against the entirely mechanical armies, Moloch (13-8) and Doomsday Machine (11-9). Neojungle’s tide of green could only overwhelm the static machines, vines entwining pistons, growing through gaps in metallic armour and melting servers with deadly acidic nectar.

Hegemony Wins: 2 Losses: 5 Draws: 1 Point difference: -27

The punks did not impress. They were wiped out completely by Doomsday (0-8), Steel Police (0-5) and Mississippi (-4 – 6). The ‘Hegemony’ might have taken control of their own corner of the wasteland, but they’re in no state to contend with anyone else. I still root for them as underdogs though – mangy, yard underdogs.

Moloch Wins: 2 Losses: 5 Draws: 1 Point difference: -6

The Demonmachine failed to cause much of a stir. It may have brought on the end of the world, but it hasn’t done much since. Barely losing out to Outpost in Round 1 (10 – 11), and brought to a stalemate by New York (16 – 16), Moloch found time to wipe out the Mississippi crew (9-0) – perhaps because those smelly humans’ toxin was originally Moloch’s by-product. The Machine was just smelling its own farts.

New York Wins: 2 Losses: 4 Draws: 2 Point difference: -19


With draws against Hegemony (11-11) and Moloch, a one point victory against Neojungle (16-15) and a one point loss against Borgo (10-11), New York were kings of the slow grind. Outpost beat them most convincingly (9-2), which fits the theme of grizzled guerrillas returning from the field to find fascists in the cities they thought they were protecting. New York could take some pride from the victory they took from championship contenders, and fellow riot gear cosplayers, Steel Police (15 – 11).

Mississippi Wins: 4 Losses: 4 Draws: 0 Point difference: -23

The pikey poisoners looked set to sweep through the irradiated wasteland, smelling worse than any man, machine or murderous magnolia they met. They wiped out Hegemony and New York (12 to -2) and brought Borgo (10-8) and Neojungle (15 – 5) low. But when they lost, their HQ was destroyed every time: by Steel Police (-5 – 18), by the Doomsday Machine (-1 – 13), by Moloch (0 – 9) and by Outpost (-8 – 5). A performance that seemed to verge on OP at first, ended up being completely mediocre: dead centre in the pack.

Borgo Wins: 4 Losses: 4 Draws: 0 Point difference: 12

Although the swift cyborgs also lost as many matches as they won, they can hold their horrendous hybrid heads high. They annihilated Outpost (18 – 0), all but destroyed Neojungle (13 – 1) and had a convincing victory against their mummy machine, Moloch (17 – 11). When they lost, they put up a decent fight: 8-10 against Mississippi, 11-15 against Hegemony ( a rare victory for the punks), and 12 – 17 against the intimidating Doomsday Machines. Only the Steel Police humiliated them, steel nets wrapping up the deadly net fighter (3 -17).

Outpost Wins: 5 Losses: 3 Draws: 0 Point difference: -4

Outpost were destroyed without a fight in their first two matches in Round 1: 0 – 20 against Doomsday Machine and 0-18 against Borgo, and things looked bleak for humanity’s last hope. But it was all good news for the resistance after that: solid wins against Hegemony, Neojungle and New York, a close win against their old adversary Moloch and the total destruction of Mississippi. I was glad to see this comeback to allow one of the classic armies into the top three.

Steel Police Wins: 6 Losses: 2 Draws: 0 Point difference: 46

The purple police-impersonators won out against Mississippi in Round 2, and continued to dominate against the starter armies, with close wins against Outpost (10 – 9) and Moloch (15 – 13), and more convincing victories against Hegemony (5 – 0) and Borgo (17 – 3). With their judges and executioner, Steel Police were strong contenders for the top spot, but one ancient death machine - a form of capital punishment far more potent than the electric chair - stood in their way…

Doomsday Machine Wins: 7 Losses: 1 Draws: 0 Point difference: 55

It could have easily gone the other way, with the deciding match between Doomsday Machine and Steel Police coming down to a single point: Doomsday – 9; Steel Police – 8. Still it was fitting that Doomsday Machine should come out on top, as they destroyed more HQs than anyone else, wiping out all the humans: Hegemony, Mississippi and achieving one perfect 20 – 0 match against Outpost.

The Doomsday Machine’s point difference was significantly higher than Steel Police’s, so it’s only right to see purple riot shields alongside the pile of corpses left behind by the smelly boys of Mississippi, the quick-no-more cyborgs of Borgo, the mouldering Manhattanites of New York, the greased guerrillas of the Outpost, the piss-poor punks of Hegemony and the crushed chrome of Moloch.

And yet, in a delicious twist, The Doomsday Machine’s only loss was against six-time loser Neojungle (9-11). It seems that the mechanical king of the slow build was outmatched by its biological equivalent. Ultimately, vines choke their way through the cogs and gears and seem to have the last laugh as they rustle in the radioactive breeze.

Thoughts on the results

I had expected Steel Police to win out, but Doomsday remained consistently strong, and the game manual’s exclusion of them from tournament play seems to be well-considered. I was pleased to see an even spread of results from 7 wins to 6 losses, and that Borgo and Outpost, two of the classics made it into the top half. I retain an affection for the bottom three – Neojungle, Hegemony and Moloch – but rooting for the underdog didn’t seem to affect their results, even subconsciously. Somehow, I also feel that New York and Mississippi deserve their mediocrity – New York for their encouragement of negative defensive play to make the most of HQ ability and Mississippi for their all-in poison strategy.

Altogether, I wonder about the point of this experiment. In some way, there is validity in playing against myself, as this diminishes the influence of player skill when comparing the armies. On the other hand, these results could amount to how well I cope with the demands of each army.

In any case, one match each is a laughably small sample size, which brings me to…

Future Rounds

My next planned round is for my latest acquisition, Uranopolis, to face off against every army to see where it places. After that, I intend to have a series of matches to finally decide who should win matches that were draws or won with a margin of two points or less in this contest. The idea is that I already have one ‘vanilla’ result, but further matches will be played with the terrain from the Babel 13 expansion, on ice, around forests etc to reach a best of five result to put the matter to rest.

Please do leave a comment if you managed to get to the bottom of this report. Thanks for reading. It’s fun to explore the possibilities of one game, but it’s good to know if anyone else still shares my fascination.
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Mark Saya
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Enjoyable write-up. I did something similar a few years ago, playing 100 games with the armies I had at the time: all of yours except Doomsday Machine and Mississippi, plus Smart (my favorite I think), Vegas, Dancer, Uranopolis, and Behemoths (a not yet published fan-design).

The plays were an even mix of face-to-face two-player games, games with the app, and face-to-board solo games. Most of the armies were used 16-18 times; each army played every other army at least once. Steel Police and Borgo faired the best with 12 wins each, with Smart (11) and Outpost (10) not far behind. Dancer, NeoJungle, and New York were the least successful armies.

After 100 plays I needed to let the game rest for a while. However, having since acquired Doomsday Machine, Mephisto, Mississippi, and Sharash, it seems likely I'll be revisiting the world of Neuroshima Hex sometime soon.


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Thanks for writing - so I'm not the only one! Which army came out on top after a hundred plays?
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Alex P
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msaya wrote:
Steel Police and Borgo faired the best with 12 wins each, with Smart (11) and Outpost (10) not far behind.
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Mark Saya
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Blowncover wrote:
Thanks for writing - so I'm not the only one! Which army came out on top after a hundred plays?


Steel Police: 12-5
Borgo: 12-6

Smart: 11-5
Outpost: 10-7


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Thanks - I really should read before I post! blush

It may be safe to say that Steel Police is above-average in terms of power level.

I guess SMART is an inherently interesting army because of the extra options from the movement. I have them on the app but not in cardboard.

Do you consider the NH: Duel expansion with Vegas and Smart worth buying (as opposed to getting the armies separately)?
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Mark Saya
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I've always been glad to have the Duel expansion. First of all both Smart and Vegas are very distinct and fascinating armies. For another thing its smaller board is very convenient. And the board includes special locations called terminals and an energy track as optional features. Energy points can be gained via extra tile discards and/or voluntary hits to your own HQ (hmm, probably should avoid overdoing that!). The points can purchase simple one-time abilities like rotation or push back, or more powerful ones that eliminate one or more enemy units, if occupied terminals are configured just right. This amounts to a really interesting extra dimension to the game, but is tricky and obviously requires some acclimation and experience: it proved to be mostly inconsequential in the mere couple of times we've tried it.
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Great write-up and interesting results!

Playing a solo-game with all possible setups is something I'm doing a lot. I have to admit I haven't considered doing the same for Neuroshima Hex. But I suppose, although it isn't a solo game, the results of playing both sides as well as you can with the given tiles wouldn't be that far from a 'real' two-player game's.

We've played a lot of three player games, though, and I found it interesting how different the perceived power level of factions was in those games. E.g. Doomsday Machine seems to have a really hard time, because it's a lot harder to put down those 'combo' pieces you need to succeed with DM. Two players getting to act between each of your turns results in a less predictable game. There can be a lot more battles, or the board can fill a lot faster than in a two player game.
And - unfortunately - you can also end up in a kingmaker position.
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It might seem like an odd thing to do, but I picked it up as an only child, playing both sides of chess games. It's just a matter of playing fair on both sides and resisting the urge to aid one side to victory with the most convenient moves. Now, as a family man whose family doesn't share his interest, I'm doing it again and it's still quite interesting.

I've even done it with Netrunner, a game of hidden information, by 'unknowing' what the 'other' side had and looking at the board state to complete the next move. A couple of times, I've managed to fall for my own traps! It's quite an exhausting and peculiar process though.

Since learning that Theseus, another Oracz game, is also all open information, I've been looking forward to playing that comprehensively too.

I find multiplayer(3+) NH to be a matter of attitude because of the potential unlucky mishaps that can happen between turns. I can see why some might find it frustrating, but the challenge is in dealing with the tiles that are dealt and fighting for the position above you. Even at the bottom, avoiding coming last or just surviving can be small moral victories.

I've played quite a few 2 v 1 games in NH, but haven't completed the grid yet. It's quite an interesting and balanced format.

Thanks for reading. What solo games would you recommend?
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Mark Saya
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I have Theseus (with two expansions) but am having trouble getting around to it, only one game so far. Hmm, I never considered playing it solo--that's a good idea!
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Blowncover wrote:
Thanks for reading. What solo games would you recommend?
For quicker games I like Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game and Race for the Galaxy (requires the 'robot' from the second expansion for solo play).

For longer games, I've recently turned to Mage Knight Board Game again. I think this may very well be _the_ best solo board game. In the past I played Arkham Horror a lot solo. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and Assault on Doomrock are also great.

P.S.: It's interesting that you mentioned playing Android:Netrunner solo. When I started getting into the Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game LCG, I also played both sides to get a better idea of how the game and the different factions worked: White border two-faction decks - complete test game results.
However, at least for that game it does little to prepare you for the real thing...
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Exploring the 2 v 2 matchups in Theseus would result in a good couple hundred combinations.

I still have some NH to get through, but that's definitely on my radar.
 
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I enjoy Race for the Galaxy on Keldon, but feel that one needs opponents, especially as I'm pretty mediocre at the game, and I wouldn't be able to play out anything close to an ideal version of the game.

I've been eyeing up Mage Knight for a while, but the element that makes me hesitate with that is play time. I don't mind playing for longer, but how possible is it to put the game away and lay out again to continue, if I have to give up the kitchen table?

I think there's only room in the average brain for one LCG. The Lovecraft theme is pretty cool though.
 
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Blowncover wrote:
I've been eyeing up Mage Knight for a while, but the element that makes me hesitate with that is play time. I don't mind playing for longer, but how possible is it to put the game away and lay out again to continue, if I have to give up the kitchen table?
That might be a bit tricky - at least for the map tiles. The cards would be less of a problem. It does take up quite a bit of table space.

For the Exploration scenario I'm down to about 1h play time, but a full Conquest scenario still takes me at least 2.5h.

It's also a bit of a brain-burner - it's very satisfying to (successfully ) finish a game, but it's also mentally exhausting, so I'm not always in the mood for it.
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Artur Godlewski
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Absolutely! For me Vegas is the best, smartest, balanced and trickiest army from all NX. And Smart is one of the strongest army
 
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