I've never been happy with the solitaire rules for PPW; just when you become emotionally invested in winning with one side, the system forces you to switch and put yourself into your opponents shoes....erh, sandals. So I've created two "Opponents" to play against, one for the Delian League and the other for the Lacedaemonians. Each opposing system consists of a list of Priorities/Objectives that you use to determine what your "opponent" does each turn. Every time your opposition is supposed to move, you run down the list, top to bottom, and attempt to accomplish that objective. If you've already completed that objective in a previous turn, move on to the next.
There are several general rules that you must follow when performing the opponent's move:
1. Never create a situation which may result in a battle in which there is less than a +3 die modifier in combat. This may consist of modifiers for Tactical ratings, hoplite superiority, cavalry superiority, etc. If a battle might occur at only a +2 or less advantage, move on down to the next objective.
2. The exception to the above rule is when a Leader is moving toward an assembly space. In this case, he should be escorted by one strength point, if possible. Also, the operation to Panactum may occassionally result in an Army at less than the +3 modifier. This is also acceptable.
3. All armies should include at least 1 cavalry SP, if possible.
THE SPARTAN OPPONENT:
Sparta should always leave at least 2 hoplites in Corinth. Sparta rebuilds SPs in this order: Spartan hoplites, Spartan cavalry, Allied hoplites, Allied cavalry and will always spend the maximum 600 talents if available. Do NOT rebuild naval SPs!
1. Defend Sparta at DRM of +3 or less.
2. Send an army to Panactum that mirrors the hoplite strength in Athens
4. Defend Sicyon/Corinth/Pegae/Thebes
5. Cut an established Epidamnos LOC.
7. Crush rebellion.
9. Create an Epidamnos LOC
10. Support/Cause a rebellion
Notes on the objectives:
2. The +3 advantage rule does NOT apply to the Panactum objective! Instead, you must mirror the hoplite SPs in Athens with 50% Spartan hoplites plus 1 more. Example: If the Delian League has 6 SPs of hoplites in Athens, then you'd place one leader, 4 Spartan hoplites, 2 Allied hoplites, and one cavalry SP in Panactum. This is the sole exception to the +3 rule. SPECIAL NOTE: If Byzantium is occupied, this Panactum army is sent to Athens in a bold attempt to win the game.
3. The Grand Tour goes to Cnidus -not Loryma- because a single fleet at Loryma will break the siege and cost Sparta a -1 SCI.
4. Defend Sicyon/Corinth/Pegae/Thebes at +3 against land SPs. Otherwise, send a leader with a positive tactical rating to move the fleet to attack Naupactus or Corcyra. If Athens leaves your fleet alone, move on.
5. Clear Macedonia/Pela first.
6. The Counterattack option. By this time Athens has been busy and this is Sparta's chance to react. Try reinforcing the nearest battle to create the +3 advantage. If Athens is besieging with naval units alone, send 1 hoplite to create a NO Battle situation. Never create a siege situation, Athens can win it with a single naval SP. As always, make the best opposing move you can and do it efficiently without wasting the 50% spartan hoplite modifier unnecessarily. If you don't have enough SPs to counterattack now, move to the next objective.
7. Reminder: cavalry can be used to suppress 2 or more adjacent rebellions.
8. Occupy Byzantium to cut the Black Sea supply line. SPECIAL NOTE: If Byzantium has been occupied in a previous turn, send the Panactum army to Athens instead in a bold attempt to win the game by siege!
10. Support the rebellion which is most difficult for Athens to suppress.
THE DELIAN LEAGUE OPPONENT:
Try to avoid losing a space in the Cnidus area. A successful occupation by the Spartans will leave behind SPs that can be marched north next turn and reverse the direction of the Cnidus campaign despite the block at Larisa.
Try to create trouble along the Sicyon/Corinth/Pagae/Panactum axis of cities. This corridor is vital to Sparta and will allow three intercept attempts of unescorted leaders moving from Sparta toward an assembly area. Athens wants the Spartan standing garrisons spread out so it can create local superiority along this axis. A standing army of Spartans at Panactum is a good thing IF you can create a stronger intercepting army at Sicyon.
The main thing for Athens is to move the block from Larisa down to the Corinth area later in the game.
Athens rebuilds SPs in this order: Athenian hoplites, Athenian cavalry, Allied hoplites, Allied cavalry, and finally Athenian fleets.
1. Defend Athens
2. Send a blocking force to Sicyon/Corinth/Pegae/Larisa
3. Destroy Spartan fleets
4. Raid Peloponesian coastline
5. Cut an established Spartan LOC to Epidamnos
7. Create an LOC to Epidanmos
8. Maintain at least 1 fleet SP at Byzantium/Halicarnasus/Chios
9. Attack Thebes/Corinth
10. Crush rebellion
11. Create rebellion
Notes the the objectives:
1. Defending Athens will only be necessary if Byzantium has fallen and a successful siege is possible by Sparta.
2. Create the block with an Army or standing force large enough to prevent passage by a Spartan army with a +3 battle modifier. SPECIAL NOTE: In the early turns, this will probably be at Larisa. However, late in the game it may be possible to position this blocking force closer to Sparta at Sicyon/Corinth/Pegae further constricting the movement of leaders from Sparta. If so, THIS is your objective!
4. The raid should end at Corinth/Sicyon/Pegae.
6. The Counterattack option is the wildcard move to try and undo the mayhem Sparta is attempting to create. Do this efficiently by placing a fleet SP to lift a siege, reinforcing a battle to create the +3 advantage for your side, etc. Commonsense is the rule here.
And that's it! You now have two opponents that will do their best to defeat you. I've pitted both systems against each other and the Athenian opponent made mincemeat of the Spartans. In any case, these will provide a consistant game for you to try your own pet strategies against. I warn you: these are tough to beat!
- Last edited Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 10)
- Posted Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:26 am
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when you play against one of my proxy opponents, you should use the Two-Player rules that you can find at Grognard.com. They have a few refinements and I believe that the augery die roll for Athens is "6" while the roll for Sparta is a "5" or "6". The Spartans were, apparently, more religious and could be discouraged from action by bad pig entrails. Go figure.
- Last edited Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:45 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:06 am
Here is an AAR of the game in which I pitted the Spartan player system against the Athenian player system. The symbols used:
H = Spartan/Athenian hoplite
h = Allied hoplite
C = Spartan/Athenian cavalry
c = Allied cavalry
[S] = Spartan operation
[A] = Athenian operation
The priority lists of objectives, which you can find in previous postings of mine, will pretty much eliminate "human" interference and I'm curious about which side will dominate. My only input will be in the Counterattack option where I will try to undo that turn's work of the opposing AI. As usual, NO operation will occur if there's a possibility of the opponent creating a battle with a +3 die modifier advantage. I'll just be running the numbers and choosing the best routes for marching armies if they're equidistant. Here goes:
Turn One... Sparta automatically goes first because Phormio has already laid siege to Potidea.
1.[S] Archidamus is listed to mirror the hoplite forces in Athens so he takes 4H2h and 1 C to Panactum.
2.[A] Going down the priority list I find that Athens is targeted to Larisa where it can block any Spartan moves in the north. Pericles takes hoplites from Athens, Chios, and Amphipolis to Larisa.
3.[S] The Gods are already angry at Sparta and they fail the Augeries die roll!
4.[A] Only the weak Nicias is available and the treasury is already low, thus Athens can't attack the Corinthian fleet and so merely raids up the Peloponnesian coastline up to Cyllene.
5.[A] Cleon is targetted to create a LOC to Epidamnos and takes one hoplite from Larisa to Macedonia.
6.[A] Demosthenes takes 1 fleet to Byzantium.
7.[A] Thrasyblus takes 1 fleet to Halicarnarsus.
8.[A] Gods turn against Athens and Operations are over.
Sieges of Panactum and Potedeia succeed while the Cyllene siege fails. Athens has created a LOC to Epidamnos and gets 1000 talents. Both Belocosity ratings drop from 10 to 9.
King Perdiccas of Macedonia changes sides and joins Sparta. Because of his defection, the LOC to Epidamnos is cut. With equal strategy ratings, Athens rolls and gets the first Operation.
1.[A] With only one Spartan hoplite in Panactum, the road to Sicyon just west of Corinth is open and the Athenian block can be moved south from Larisa to Sicyon. This Alcibiades does with 8H1C. During the march, there are skirmishes in Panactum and Pegae. The Pegae skirmish turns into an all out battle with Corinth and they are defeated and the city ravaged! Alcibiades has now split the Spartan allies of Thebes and Corinth from Sparta. Also, he is in a position to intercept any leader attempting to move north.
2.[S] Sparta can only attempt to cause rebellion in Colophon which fails.
3.[A] Thassyllus takes 5N around the Peloponnese, raiding the coastline and finally meeting the Corinthian fleet off Siphae. The Corinthian fleet is sunk and he lays siege to the city of Corinth.
4.[S] Another failed attempt to cause rebellion in Colophon.
5.[A] Demosthenes wants to reestablish the route to Epidamnos and fights a cavalry battle over Pela and wins that city for the Delian League.
6.[S] Rebellion in Colophon succeeds!
7.[A] Phormio and 1H1C go to Macedon and Epidamnos is open.
8.[S] A rebellion in Syme fails.
9.[A] Cleon puts down the rebellion in Colophon.
10.[S] Rebellion in Syme fails.
11.[A] Rebellion in Pylos fails.
12.[S] Rebellion in Imbros fails.
13.[A] Rebellion in Pylos fails.
14.[S] Rebellion in Imbros fails.
15.[A] Rebellion in Pylos fails.
16.[S] Rebellion in Imbros fails.
17.[A] Rebellion in Pylos succeeds! however the Athenian treasury can't afford to send a supporting army.
18.[S] Lysander is sent out to quell the rebellion in Pylos.
19.[A] Athens is broke and Passes.
20.[S] The Gods frown upon Sparta and Operations cease.
The sieges of Pela, Corinth, Sicyon, and Pylos succeed. The Athenian army at Sicyon decides to stay in place!!! which pretty much dooms Spartan activities for the next turn. After the Revenue phase, the Athenians have 5750 talents in their treasury and Sparta has 3950 talents. Because of the Athenian successes in battle, their Belocosity is raised to 10... and the Spartan's Belocosity drops down to 2!!!!
Alcibiades is accused of holding mock religious ceremonies and defects to Sparta. He is a rat deserting to what appears to be a sinking Ship of State. Athens once again wins the first Operation. This is as far as I've gotten so far.
Notes: So Athens is kicking Spartan ass and it all comes from the gods turning against Sparta on Turn One and then Athens winning the initiative die roll on Turn Two and establishing the blocking force at Sicyon. And since this block won the strategy roll and begins Turn Three at Sicyon, it seems impossible for Sparta to survive Turn Three. However, the gods may turn against Athens and this would change everything.
Sicyon is the MOST favorable blocking position even though, because of manpower shortages, Athen's first block will probably be in Larisa. Also, remember that some hoplites and cavalry begin the game in Larisa. So when you move an army there, the spent forces should be kept separate from the still usable fresh forces which may be relieved from their blocking duties by an Augeries Die Roll or the hoplites committed by Sparta. But the SP total in Larisa should ALWAYS be able to enter battle with a +3 advantage... so don't weaken that city prematurely.
So it appears that the Athenian AI is much superior to the Spartan and in the future, for a real test, I will try to beat the Athenians and their solitaire system. Since I'm making virtually NO decisions by myself, this game is somewhat boring while I crunch the numbers. If anyone DOES beat the Athenian solitaire system, please let me know so I can modify their priority list and keep them, and Democracy, safe for posterity.
- Last edited Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:54 pm (Total Number of Edits: 4)
- Posted Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:26 pm
When I left off the current game, Athens had placed a crippling block at Sicyon. The last of Turn Three had Demosthenes reinforcing Sicyon and this army decided to return to Athens at the end of that turn ending the block.
I'll now finish up the trial game pitting the two opposing solitaire systems:
King Perdiccas, seeing the error of his ways, once again alligns with Athens. Thassylus of Athens takes the blocking force to Larisa but is intercepted at Thebes. He loses one hoplite in a skirmish but the resulting battle defeats Thebes and sends their army back within their walls. Pericles follows up with another army, once again defeats the Thebian survivors, and lays siege to the city. Meanwhile, Lysander raids the Peloponnesian coast. Sparta sends Pleistoanix to Corinth and he retakes that city. Pericles' siege succeeds and Thebes falls.
Thus ended Turn Four and the game. With the battle losses and the loss of Thebes, Sparta's Belicosity rating falls to -3 and they surrender. The Athens AI system is, indeed, a worthy opponent.
One interesting variant to PPW might be to have victory entirely dependant upon the possession of Sicily. You'd still have the struggle over Epidamnos and Byzantium, etc. but they would only have importance as the economic base from which to attack Sicily. The way the game is set up now, only a plague-ridden Pericles would send an army to Sicily. Also, this would force Sparta to support a fleet which is a no-win situation in the standard game. This victory condition may force a more historical game. I might try this next time to see how it works. Historically, wasn't the PPW a stalemate until the invasion of Sicily?
Well, that's it! PPW is a beautiful game to look at, I enjoy the game mechanics, and replacing the original two-headed solitaire system with this one really added life to the game IMO. Enjoy --and if you DO defeat one of these opponents (in essence, defeating me through my proxy) please post it here and tell me how it was done.
- Last edited Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:09 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:38 pm
Your rules look good, however, the idea behind the game's switch mechanic was that the player might better get a feel for a civil war - Sparta and Athens may have been different states, but both were Greek, so... I've yet to play the game, solitaire or otherwise, but your rules set gets a place in the box.
- Last edited Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:07 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:44 pm
I got rid of the game years ago because I did not like the solo structure of it.
Shame as I wouldn't mind giving your proxy player rules a try!
This is exactly the type of game that is fun to fiddle with. Whereas in chess you have 32 pieces marching from 32 different positions on the board, in PPW all armies march from two cities and pass along a few roads. So the game is somewhat predictable and that makes it much easier to program a response and create a worthy opponent. I think you'll be surprised at how canny these proxy opponents are. I designed Sparta first because it wouldn't involve Naval action; it was simpler. And the Spartan AI beat me consistantly for a year... until I discovered the Sicyon block that strangled all movement from Sparta. Now I play Sparta trying to upset the Delian League monster of mayhem.
Now, Mark Herman said that victory in the game depends on three factors: Leadership, Strategy, and Economics. But the economic side of the game is broken. Both sides have entirely too much money. For example, there is absolutely no reason to establish the LOC to Epidamnos! An additional 1000 talents later in the game makes no contribution to which side will ultimately win the contest. The first few turns are tight, but after that the treasuries overflow and the players can only spend 600 talents building new troops. I kept the Epidamnos LOC in the priority list because it adds color to the game. So, one element you might want to experiment with is tightening up the economics of the game. There was a reason Athens decided to invade Sicily --and it was because of the wheat grown there. Economics forced them into a bad move... but, presently, money is NOT a factor in the game. So, perhaps, the annual income should be reduced from 3500 and 2500 talents per year... to 2500 and 1500 talents per year. OR perhaps each side should be allowed to spend 1000 talents per year building up their armies. OR perhaps ravaging a space should result in a loss of 100 talents instead of 50.
So that's one element to play with.
Now these proxy opponents are also useful for teaching the game to a newbie. While his head is spinning learning all the mechanics of movement and combat, he can simply consult the priority list which will tell him exactly what to do each turn, saving him a little brain-work.
Also, the proxy opponents provide a "control group" to test your own strategies against. And the bottom line is to... have fun!
- Last edited Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:41 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:35 am
Here's another AAR of a Two-Proxy game in which I merely referee as the programmed opponents go at one another. Now, as mentioned previously, there is entirely too much money in the treasuries. So, in this game, I raise the stakes and each ravaged space costs 100 talents from the revenue. Let's see if this tightens up the economics:
Now, since the game has already begun with Phormio suppressing the rebellion at Potedeia, Sparta has the first move:
[S]Archidamnus takes 4H2h1C to Panactum.
[A]is targeted to set the block at Larisa; but after counting up all the Spartan combat factors, I realize that Athens can't get its required +3 die modifier in combat. So the target switches toward the Spartan fleets at Corinth. Pericles takes 5N to Corinth ravaging the Peloponnesian coastline along the way.
[S]The gods frown upon Sparta; its operations end.
[A]Going down the priority list Athens next must establish a LOC to Epidamnos. Thrasylulus takes 1h from Amphipolis to Macedonia and the LOC is created! Simple.
[A]Cleon would like to take 1N to Byzantium but Athens can't afford it; nor can he attack Corinth or Thebes. So he causes a rebellion at Methydrum.
[A]The next two operations also try to cause rebellions which fail.
[A]The Athens treasury is only 1000 talents and operations end.
The Naval battle at Corinth sinks 2 Spartan fleets and Corinth falls. The siege at Potedaea succeeds while the siege at Panactum fails. Rebellion spreads to Orchominus.
Turn 2: Civil War breaks out in Corcyra. The Athens treasury is at 5000 talents; the Spartan treasury is at 2150 talents.
[S]wins initiative. Since there are 10H in Athens, Glypas takes 6H4h1C to Panactum.
[A]is targetted toward Larisa to create its block. However, Thebes intercepts and brings the army to battle at Delium. Thebes loses and the army continues on to Larisa; Block created.
[S]is now set to liberate Corinth from the Athenian fleet and sends Callicrateides with 1H to the city. This No Battle will drive the Athenians out.
[A]Target is the Spartan fleets, now at Gythium. Cleon with 4N sails, skirmishes at Cythera (-1Spartan N) and then blockades Gythium.
[S]Brasidaius takes 1H to Epidamnos and cuts the LOC from that city.
[A]Gods turns against Athens and their operations end.
[S]Counterattack option is next but the bad draw on Pleistoanix (0-0) nixes that idea so he can only attempt to crush the rebellion at Methydrum.
[S]Gods frown upon Sparta; operations over.
The No Battle frees Corinth. Athens destroys the last of the Spartan fleet at Gythium. The Panactum forces elects to stay in place. Rebellion spreads to Philias.
Turn 3 There's a plague in Athens; Pericles dies, 5H die, and the treasury is reduced to 3250. Spartan treasury at 2450. However, the Athenian belicosity is now at 12! while the Spartan drops to a meager 2! Defeat looms.
[A]Normally, Athens could have moved its block south to Sicyon, but the plague reduced its manpower to where it could not do this; nor could it block at Larisa. So Thrasyblus raids the Peloponnesian coast and ends at Corinth.
[S]Agis marches to Loryma but is intercepted at Corinth by the Athenian fleet and the fleet is sent home by No Battle. A skirmish removes the Athenian hoplite at Macedonia, breaking the LOC. Agis arrives at Loryma. [Note that the system is targetted toward the Loryma -NOT Cnidus-! This had to be changed for reasons that you'll soon see...
[A]the Counterattack option sends Alcibides with 1N to break the siege at Loryma. [Note continued: Loryma contains a citidel which means its a siege situation which is an automatic winner for Athens with its 1N. That's why I had to change the target city to Cnidus, without a citadel. It creates a No Battle instead of a siege which wins the city for Sparta. But, in THIS game, Athens will get its -1 SCI against Sparta and this will decide the game.]
[S]Archidamus crushes the rebellion at Orchomenus.
[A]Demosthenes is sent to Macedonia to create the LOC with 1H... but a skirmish by Thebes destroys the army.
[S]Gods end operations.
[A]Cleon attacks Thebes but yet another skirmish forces the Athenian army to retire.
[A]Gods frown, turn over.
And after all the dust settles, Athen's belicosity is at 10 while Sparta surrenders with a belicosity of 0. The Athenian treasury was at 4100 talents and the Spartans had 3350 talents.
What I learned from this game:
1. First, I changed the messages above to reflect the change of Sparta's Grand Tour from Loryma to Cnidus, a non-citadel city.
2. Sparta is still defeated too early. Perhaps its priority list should altered so that the Grand Tour toward Cnidus is the first operation; that is, that Cnidus is the MOST important operation each turn in order to gain the +2 SCI modifier. Only in this way can Sparta remain in the game despite putting its capital in jeopardy. I'll think on it.
3. Once again, economics played little part in the game, even though a ravaged space counted for 100 talents each. So, the annual revenue for each side should ALSO be reduced; perhaps take off another 1000 talents from each side each turn. I'll try another game later with this adjustment to see what happens.
- Last edited Sun Apr 9, 2006 12:26 am (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Fri Apr 7, 2006 9:53 pm