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Subject: Combat favors defense? rss

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Justin Dugger

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I saw someone in another thread suggest that their group consensus was that combat favors the attacker, but I'm leaning the opposite direction.

Defenders win ties, so that alone is (maybe) a one gem advantage for defense. Additionally, it's really hard to move large cruiser fleets without using the discard a card basic tech, which potentially costs you combat strength. And the winner is often out of combat strength.

In game, I've never seen a cruiser vs cruiser battle go in favor of the aggressor. Perhaps we're just novices and haven't yet discovered good heuristics for attacking.

The only thing I can think of, and I just came up with this now, is sending in a single cruiser on suicide missions to get the defense to overcommit cards for two points, before sweeping in with the rest of your fleet.

Anyone have opinions on whether its better to attack or be attacked?
 
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It favors the attacker because an attacker only starts a battle they can (reasonably) win.
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Marc Bennett
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darthnice wrote:
It favors the attacker because an attacker only starts a battle they can (reasonably) win.


that can be said about any game that has attackers and defenders and doesn't change whether or not the system favors attacker or defender.

now I have not played this game so I cannot say one way or another about this system. defenders winning ties does help the defender but its not enough to know for sure if the system favors one or the other.
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Lionel Graveleau
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Advantage is for the attackers because he know how much reinforcement defender put. And that can change a lot the strength between the two players. Some tips i see to make easier a battle before attack :
- boost : you can increase number of ships
- sabotage : if you want to destroy a huge fleet, launch before a sabotage to reduce number of ships. Unlike battle, there's no risk if you miss your sabotage
- keep in mind that there are lot of ways for reinforcement : 2 techs, 4 impulse and plan. Launch an attack when you have in hand some cards matching.
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Playing naïvely, it favors the defender. They have a 1 gem advantage. There isn't much more to say there. The defender has a 2 card advantage as well assuming nothing else happened, since they drew last.

However, the attacker chooses the battle. The attacker can seed the impulse in such a way that it gives them an advantage, since they know the battle is coming. They may also have other knowledge of the cards in the defender's hand. It is up to them to judge if all of this is enough.
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Christian K
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They don't have a 1 gem advantage, they have an advantage between 0 and 1 (0.5 for example).

Sorry.
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Muemmelmann wrote:
They don't have a 1 gem advantage, they have an advantage between 0 and 1 (0.5 for example).

Sorry.


You are right, of course. I should have said "The defender has an n gem advantage where 0<n<1." There are no ties in space (but there are a lot of space ties)
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David Bohnenberger
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Klaxas wrote:
darthnice wrote:
It favors the attacker because an attacker only starts a battle they can (reasonably) win.


that can be said about any game that has attackers and defenders and doesn't change whether or not the system favors attacker or defender.

now I have not played this game so I cannot say one way or another about this system. defenders winning ties does help the defender but its not enough to know for sure if the system favors one or the other.


In this game, cards in hand are a large factor in decided the winner of a battle. The attacker will only attack if he sees he has a good hand capable of winning the battle. The defender gets no such choice. Maybe he has a good hand, maybe not, maybe he has few cards in hand at all.
 
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Justin Dugger

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Been thinking about this some more. I'm going to limit myself here to a two player game, as a simplification. First player will be player A, second B.

So defense naturally has a one card advantage (not two, players lose a card from hand to the impulse) and a fractional strength advantage (from ties).

Notably, A, having drawn up at the end of their turn, has a bonus one card advantage when defending against B, which I hadn't realized until I wrote it out on paper. So A's choices are to attack their opponent while down a card, or risk defending while up two cards. That's a three card swing in favor of defense for A on top of the tie advantage. That situation is mirrored for B, who can defend up a card, or attack down two.

Thus far it seems like the defender has a pretty good advantage. If an extra card in A's hand is worth the same as one fewer in B's. Obviously plan, tech, and impulse changes affect this. Plan and tech cards on command centers affect both attacking and defending equally. The impulse, however, favors the attacker, as they may add a card more likely to favor them. If you have a matching pair in hand, adding a surprise size 2 or 3 to the impulse might be enough to neutralize the defender's advantage and let you spend advantage accumulated through other actions to win the battle.

Fleet sizes complicate things a bit; it's hard to attack with fleets of 3-4 cruisers unless you've researched one of the 4 command cards that let you move fleets of any size. If neither side has a way of commanding large fleets, combat will be one or two cruisers attacking a fleet likely to be equal or larger in size. Attackers have the advantage only insomuch as they can choose to send 2 cruisers after 1 instead of waiting to be attacked by attacked by a fleet of 2.

In summary, I presently believe combat favors the defense, and players should primarily use the threat of attack to punish opponents who invest too much of their hand into board state, and at a higher level, to intimidate them away from doing so. Rather than a 'shoot first and ask questions later' strategy, the game theory leads to a sort of cold-war buildup where players eye one another cautiously, building up a points engine (but not too quickly!) until a someone approaches sprinting distance of the victory line, forcing opponents to hobble them in the only means available: combat.
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Mark Delano
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Everybody has the same basic tech that lets them move a single fleet of unlimited size.
 
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Justin Dugger

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They do, but it does cost the attacker a potential reinforcement from hand to do so, and upgrading it earns you some fractional combat strength.
 
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