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Subject: Is cover stackable? rss

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David Kennedy
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HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
Can I play a Cover Chit on a unit in a space that already has cover, either on the map or via another chit?

The rules do not appear to explicitly forbid this under the section describing the Confederate Event Chits, specifically Cover. Interestingly, their Union counterpart Obstacles does forbid the stacking of these chits. I'm not clear if the omission is deliberate and provides the tactical option you seek. Or rather, if the omission is an oversight.

While awaiting an official ruling, I'm inclined to conclude you can't stack Cover chits. I do so because -2 Hits is very powerful. I'm not sure this is in the spirit of the rules nor reflective of the reality of the battlefield. The idea Confederate troops can erect ad hoc fortifications on the run seems ahistorical. The point of the game is the battlefield is a killing field. Any respite from the withering Union fire is very much happenstance. I'm not sure it is wise for this is to be encouraged. If permissible, it would certainly make this a very powerful tactical option and fulfilling your hopes.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Hey guys! I don't have the rules directly in front of me at the moment, but I'm pretty darn sure that the spirit is indeed not to allow stacking of cover. I'll go over the rules again when I can, but I am under the impression that we specifically disallowed it somewhere in the rules. But as David points out, we may have stated it specifically with the Obstacles but omitted it by mistake with Cover.
I'm sorry, but it's been a couple of years since I wrote these rules and certain details escape me off the top of my head.
Assume no stacking until I (or anyone else) finds evidence to the contrary.
Thanks!
Hermann
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David Kennedy
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Looking further, I see under [9.0] Event Chits, there are two clarifications.

"Cover can be placed in the same space as an Obstacle and vice-versa.

An Obstacle Event chit cannot be placed in a space that is already an Obstacle or has an Obstacle chit already in it."

Obstacle stacking is explicitly forbidden. Stacking of Cover and Obstacle chits is permitted.

I'm not seeing Cover chit stacking explicitly forbidden. Possibly, I am missing something. I would actually apply the logic of the second sentence to Cover chits. That said, it never occurred to me (and presumably the design team) to consider the stacking of Cover chits. Again, it is a very powerful tactical option. Essentially, the player has a on-the-fly entrenching option. Given a turn is approximately, those boys can dig fast. I don't think this was the design intent.
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David Kennedy
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HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
...I will say that I think it should be allowed. It's not so much that the brigades are building up cover, they are finding it. There are two types, Ground and Smoke.

Ground cover reflects the changing condition of the battlefield. A deeper hole provides more cover, thus reducing sight.

Smoke cover is literally the fog of war.

On map cover locations present structures to hide behind.

So I would think that at the very least, smoke cover should be allowed to double up on a ground cover or map space with cover.

Thematically, this would make sense...

I hadn't thought of that. Now I have the counters out as well!

Logically, your case is sound. Ground cover and smoke are different. However, I would be concerned that distinguishing between the two for purposes of stacking could be problematic from the standpoint of simplicity. Essentially, you're suggesting stacking of Cover chits is permissible if they are different. Some may find this thrilling and bringing a certain "yes!" factor to the proceedings. Others may find it to have more of "Oh, vey..." effect. It also leads to more complications with on-map cover of which there are two. Can you stack ground cover here? With Smoke Cover, could you get a mighty -3 hits!

From the standpoint of rules simplicity and design intent (i.e. this battlefield is a really dangerous place), I would suggest no Cover chit stacking a la the precedent of Obstacle chits. Certainly, you are welcome to use your House Rule distinguishing Smoke and Ground Cover. I'd be interested to know the effects on the game. My sense is it could give outsized significance to those Cover spaces before Lane and Armistead's brigades. Meantime, we will await a final ruling from VPG.

Myself, I always assumed the Smoke cover was some officer deliberately ordering the cover. But, this assumption has zero basis in fact and pure speculation on my part. I know nothing of small unit tactics during the Civil War.

HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
I should playtest things for VPG!

Duly noted. The authorities have been alerted. Your draft notice from VPG will arrive at some future date. Welcome aboard!
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Hmmm ..... you guys got me thinking now. "Ground Cover" represents folds in the ground, a thick hedge, a pile of debris, etc. "Smoke Cover" is obviously drifting smoke that cloaks a unit. So no entrenchment is involved - these are just features that are encountered on the battlefield. With that in mind - and the apparent fact that this is not specifically prohibited in the rules - I'd have to change my ruling and say that multiple Cover chits could be in a square (at least until I look at the rules and find otherwise). Sorry for the confusion, but it's been a while. But looking at it now - and based on the rules quotes put forth - it sounds like you can pile Cover chits.
Thanks!
Hermann
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David Kennedy
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HORST324 wrote:
Hmmm ..... you guys got me thinking now. "Ground Cover" represents folds in the ground, a thick hedge, a pile of debris, etc. "Smoke Cover" is obviously drifting smoke that cloaks a unit. So no entrenchment is involved - these are just features that are encountered on the battlefield. With that in mind - and the apparent fact that this is not specifically prohibited in the rules - I'd have to change my ruling and say that multiple Cover chits could be in a square (at least until I look at the rules and find otherwise). Sorry for the confusion, but it's been a while. But looking at it now - and based on the rules quotes put forth - it sounds like you can pile Cover chits.

Sure, the rules don't explicitly forbid the stacking of Cover chits. My questions are was this the intent AND is it a good idea? I don't know on both counts. Perhaps, our new playtester can bang around with this and report back his findings?

Also, are you suggesting stacking of more than two Cover chits is permissible (i.e. -3 or -4 Hits, etc.)? Sure, it is unlikely. But, with the door open, it will happen.
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David Kennedy
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Guys, one last thought on this from a design standpoint. I don't think too much should be read into the fact there are two types of cover -- Ground and Smoke. The purpose of the distinction is meant to be more narrative chrome than literal meaning. Instead of there being generic cover chits, we get the two different types. They add narrative detail.

"Hey, the boys found some ground cover over there!" or "I see Lane's boys are catching a break from all that smoke."

The type of cover isn't important. What's important is they found some cover. It is very easy for us to be literal about what the chit says, be it smoke or ground cover. From a simulation level, it is very common for players to assume these are two quite different phenomena. Thus, they can conclude it should be handled differently. In a detailed game like Squad Leader, this is perfectly reasonable. Indeed, it is the point. Smoke cover and ground cover are two very different things. That they need distinct rules to handle them makes perfect sense.

I would argue IMS isn't that kind of game. It is intended to be more evocative than simulation. The chits and their effects don't mean to cover comprehensively every battlefield phenomena. Rather, they capture actionable narrative moments. For instance, there's plenty of artillery, volley and canister fire on this battlefield. Most of it isn't simulated. Rather, at crucial moments, their effects are manifestly felt or the player must make a decision because of it.

My point here being if we start delineating the distinction between types of cover, we open up the game to more complexity. I'm not sure that's a good thing. Sure, if a player wants something and they craft a house rule to that affect, knock yourself out. I do it all the time. But, I do think once we start down this garden path of simulation, where does it stop? Indeed, does this align with the design's intent?
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Jim Story
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I think David is on point. I think only one cover should be allowed in a space. Any playtesting results in regards to more than one cover allowed in a space?
 
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