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Subject: How to counteract poor Command Cards rss

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The complaint:

"My cards suck, all I have is left flank and center and my good stuff is on the right flank."

Or some variation of that.

Look at the board. From your side there are six easily reachable hexes that straddle the center and/or the left/right flank. A unit on such a hex can be ordered with a center or a flank command card. Think about this... when you move a unit does it reduce your options to leave it in one of these six hexes? Usually not. Archers can cover quite a range, so these are good hexes to poition them on. Cavalry are fast, same theory. How about the Spider, or the goblins? They're fast, they can access a good percentage of the entire board from these 6 hexes.

BL is a game where you play the cards you're dealt and those you draw. It's not a game where you have perfect control of your three sections. This mechanic aptly abstracts fog of war, morale, confusion and other aspects of combat that make winning harder than losing.

If you complain about BL or any of it's siblings based on the cards then it's probably because you have failed to grasp that this system is designed for the cards to thwart you as a player as well as to be an aid. It was designed this way... that's why the game is fun for those who enjoy it.

Another common occurance in the C&C system is that a player will "build" a strategy based on their initial card draw. Sometimes that works. Usually it's just asking for trouble. Sit down, study the deck. learn the cards and watch what's played. How many of each card are there? What are your odds for maintaing a thrust on the left flank when many left flank cards have been played by you and your opponent. How do you prepare for a deficit of cards you "need"?

By understanding what's in the deck. By husbanding certain cards for a time on the game where they will have a more effective impact. By playing the BattleLore card and getting a reshuffle. I learned this in Memoir '44 and it is effective. Certain cards are more powerful towards the end of the game, when your opponent has weakened units. I have won my share of games by earning three victory VP's on a single turn, coming from behind and suprising my enemy. And that has happened to me on enough occasions for me to expect it when I don't see any of the "power" cards early or in the mid-game.

Assertions that BL and the C&C system is too luck-based are just plain wrong. There is a random element to the cards and the dice, just like hundreds of other games. But like those others, BL offers control to the player who decides to make the effort to control the game factors that he can.

Really... try it out. Pull the command deck out and learn it. Have an overall game strategy based on what you do know about the cards as opposed to one based on hoping the cards line up with your board strategy.
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Paul DeStefano
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SCOUT.

Great card to hold on to. Use the real strong ones when you need them, activating 3 or more units per turn. Hold that scout for when you need better cards, not for when you need to move one guy.
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Josh
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Wow! The first honest-to-gosh legit strategy article about Battle Lore!

Well done, and very insightful.
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Jeremy Carlson
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I am in total agreement with you sir. I am curious if this is in part, a response to the recent post about this (right before this one). I was going to actually post in that thread, but then I looked at his profile. He joined today, and that is the only post he has made. Therefore....I don't really care what he has to say. Looks like game bashing to me.

I concur though...if you find yourself in a position where your cards all suck, its because YOU suck. That isn't meant to be mean. I was one of those people! You just aren't playing your cards correctly. Yes, you can get a crappy hand, but if you play those crappy cards right, you can make it so that units can be ordered from multiple sections, making those cards good again. The game is generally not won in the opening first moves.

I watched a game today on vassal, where one player had awesome cards...2-2-2, order amount of units = to command cards, and so fourth...but that player lost. Why? He charged right out of the gate, and while his opponent didn't have anything with wow factor, he got his units into supported positions, and beat the charge back.

Hand management is a HUGE part of the game, and one of the first things you have to master, to be able to compete in Battlelore.

I was also one of the peeps saying how bad archers sucked....until I saw how they should be played. They are not supposed to wreck total havoc, they are supposed to weaken other units. They are a supporting role, not what I, and a lot of others see in the movies.
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Quote:
I am in total agreement with you sir. I am curious if this is in part, a response to the recent post about this (right before this one). I was going to actually post in that thread, but then I looked at his profile. He joined today, and that is the only post he has made. Therefore....I don't really care what he has to say. Looks like game bashing to me.


You're right Jeremy. I posted in that thread and then realized the same false accusation of the command cards being broken is a frequent guest in the forums. So, why not address the reality on it's own thread?

And yes, archers are another common complaint, but damned if I can see why? Unless you're the kind of gamer that desires an "archer strategy" in your medevial themed games. If that's the case then BattleLore is the wrong game. The beauty of archers is their range, their nusiance factor and the command cards and lore cards that add to their effectiveness. True, you won't always get the right combo of lore/command cards to make them into uber-archers, but when you do... wow! They can kill some stuff quickly.

Paul points out the value of the Scout card and he is sooooo right. The tendency is to always view your cards as being the bad ones and to overlook that your enemy may be suffering as well. So why not use the Scout card to increase his suffering. When you draw two you have better than even odds of getting help AND adding to the enemy's pain by flushing a card he might need from use.

Going back to archers... they are hell on cavalry. One hit and the cavalry unit is now a "weakened" unit, a prime target for another cavalry foe or a blue/red infantry unit. Weakened units near rivers, hills and forests are VP's waiting to happen if you peruse the lore deck and see what gems await the canny commander.

What strikes me as superb about the whole C&C system is the fact that you really never have enough of a single thing. Not enough units in a section, not enough MP to get there, not enough dice when you do get there, in BL - not enough lore, or not the right cards to move the good stuff you do have. The entire game is about managing scarcity and it's really a simple, simple concept. There is nothing you cannot know about the deck except the exact location of each card... same with the Lore deck. Beyond that there are no great mysteries here... just an application of whatever intelligence you were gifted with by mom & dad, God (if it suits you), genetic chance or even your biorythms. The intelligent player will win 3/4 of the games played regardless of how the cards pan out.
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Jon Quinn
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Speaking of archers.... I agree.

I like them for range.
I like them for moving 1 or 2 still rolling 1 to shoot
A hit on a full strength cavalry at range will reduce it to 2/3 strength

But the archers' sweet spot is on a hill or in the trees. If that hill or woods is also on a red line, then that is a super sweet spot. That will take away the advantage of the enemy blue and red units that reach them

And though the range is not quite as good, The bold dwarven crossbows, with their bonus hits and boldness, are great for such locations.

Appreciate especially the observation about the design of the game with reference to the cards... the system is designed so that they can be both an aid as well a hindrance. There are always things beyond a commander's control on the battlefield, and the cards illustrate that well, though abstractly.
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hughthehand wrote:
I am in total agreement with you sir. I am curious if this is in part, a response to the recent post about this (right before this one). I was going to actually post in that thread, but then I looked at his profile. He joined today, and that is the only post he has made. Therefore....I don't really care what he has to say. Looks like game bashing to me.


I feel the need to come to the defense of my friend, and frequent opponent, Sam, who wrote the post you are describing. I was his opponent in the game he describes in his post. We do play various games frequently, and I consider him an experienced player of all sorts of games.

I beat Sam 6 to 2 and there was a disparity of cards between us. I seemed to pull in the right card when I wanted it and this allowed me to play as DWTripp explained above. I also have played BL a few more times than Sam so I have more experience with the game and adjusting my battle plan to fit the cards. Sam seemed to have an idea about what he wanted to do, essentially attack aggressively, but couldn't get the cards to coordinate it right. We have played lot of Warmaster and this technique would have worked in that game. Though that is really beside the point.

Sam is being honest and from his point of view I can see how he interprets the game as too luck based. I think he is wrong for the reasons DWTripp has outlined, but then again I've played it more. I believe it is unfair to judge his previous post just because he is new to BBG. His input is his honest opinion based on the two games he has played. I hope that he plays a few more times and manages to start enjoying the game.
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I have been in the situation with poor starting cards (As I'm sure we all have). One of the things I would do is prepare my units, by "bolding them up" basically moving the few units I can to make bold units and giving myself an attack back ability. Usually a card or two shows up that gives me a chance to take advantage of my line later in the game. As Geosphere mentioned SCOUT is a huge help in that situation.
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Quote:
Sam is being honest and from his point of view I can see how he interprets the game as too luck based. I think he is wrong for the reasons DWTripp has outlined, but then again I've played it more. I believe it is unfair to judge his previous post just because he is new to BBG. His input is his honest opinion based on the two games he has played. I hope that he plays a few more times and manages to start enjoying the game.


Well said Joseph.

Hopefully Sam does play some more, especially since you are his frequent opponent!

The success of the C&C system of games does draw it's share of critics and if you study the most frequent critic's posts they pretty much boil down to assertions that the system has too much randomness. Even if that were so, which we both agree it isn't, what randomness does exist in the system affects both sides. Which usually means if one side loses most games then that's just another constant... the game has a constant degree of random effects (affecting both players) and the guy who loses the most is constantly playing poorly.
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Excellent, useful article, and a pleasure to read after all the boring BattleLore-bashing/modifying posts.
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Mark McEvoy
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DWTripp wrote:
You're right Jeremy. I posted in that thread and then realized the same false accusation of the command cards being broken is a frequent guest in the forums.


Wait, are you talking about me? I posted a palatable variant (in the "No Command Cards" thread) to sate those who hold the opinion that a 'fix' is needed to counteract the situation that one could be in in that they're unable to move a unit that they absolutely, positively must move. *I* don't hold that opinion, but I posted a suggested variant for people who do because (a) I felt my variant broke the game far less than theirs did while achieving many of the same ideals, and (b) Borg et al seem to encourage variants and house rules, and I would hope I could contribute to that atmosphere without being contrued as a 'hater/basher'.
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MrSkeletor wrote:
So basically because I think the game is highly random I simply cannot play games?
No worries.


Frank, BL is not highly random. It does have random factors. Liar's Dice is highly random. That aside, this thread happens to be a BattleLore Lovefest and while I agree with you perhaps 90% of the time, I disagree with your use of the word "highly".

When Tide of Iron is finally released you and I can once again be on the same side.

To address the "fixes" to the command card whiners... they all sound fine to me, if you like that sort of thing. My only dispute is that the game needs fixing. Like many games, house rules and varients can add extra pleasure, but they are not likely to fix what doesn't need fixing.
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thatmarkguy wrote:
DWTripp wrote:
You're right Jeremy. I posted in that thread and then realized the same false accusation of the command cards being broken is a frequent guest in the forums.


Wait, are you talking about me? I posted a palatable variant (in the "No Command Cards" thread) to sate those who hold the opinion that a 'fix' is needed to counteract the situation that one could be in in that they're unable to move a unit that they absolutely, positively must move. *I* don't hold that opinion, but I posted a suggested variant for people who do because (a) I felt my variant broke the game far less than theirs did while achieving many of the same ideals, and (b) Borg et al seem to encourage variants and house rules, and I would hope I could contribute to that atmosphere without being contrued as a 'hater/basher'.


Not me. I happened to like your varient, even though I wouldn't use it. The whiners are elsewhere on the planet. In fact, one lives down the street from me. He's the same guy that thinks the artillery strike card in M'44 is broken because, well, because when he gets it he misuses it and when his opponent gets it he has his butt handed to him. The only random thing happening there is trying to figure out in what manner he'll mismanage his resources.
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Ted Kostek
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JANoll wrote:
Sam seemed to have an idea about what he wanted to do, essentially attack aggressively, but couldn't get the cards to coordinate it right.


This idea is based on misunderstanding the game. A flawed paradigm, if you will. Of course Sam might decide he doesn't enjoy the paradigm of BL or the C&C system, and that's OK. I just hope he takes the time to really understand what he's rejecting.

It's tempting to look at the game board and think "These are my resources," but that's wrong.

Your resources consist of your pieces and your cards. Should you launch a frontal offensive if you only had green infantry against a bunch of red cavalry? No: the plan doesn't fit the resources.

Should you launch a major offensive given only 4 cards and all of them crappy? No: the plan doesn't fit the resources.

In the C&C system, any plan that requires detailed, precise control and coordination of many units will have trouble. The system doesn't give you that kind of control. While I'm no military historian, I think the C&C system gives a good if abstract representation of the chaos of the battlefield.

In this game your ability to control your troops varies quite a lot, and it will ebb and flow during the game. You need to include that into your plans. It's different than many other games, and I can see that some one might have trouble if they are used to having more control over their units.

C&C games don't set out to be deep or detailed. They play fairly fast and convey a sense of barely controlled chaos. They fit at the intersection of euros and wargames. I like the system for these reasons.
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MrSkeletor wrote:
The cultish community that seems to be developing around this game is getting as bad as the GO players and is really turning me off this game, much more so then the game itself. The only good thing about is it is it's starting to enlighten me about what a jackass I must look like with the games I evangelize.


Come on MrS, that's a bit harsh! People started making changes to BattleLore before it was even released. It seems to me there are more people bashing the game or trying to change it than there are people evangelizing it.

I've got nothing against people coming up with variants, but why dick around with the fundamentals of a game when, as you say, you could just go play something else that is closer to what you're after? BL and the C&C games are like all games - when you sit down to play you both agree to work within the framework of a set of rules. Whether you enjoy that particular game depends on how much luck, strategy, role-playing, accountancy etc you like in your games.

But to change rules fundamentals in a game that has been playtested and developed over years - what's the point? If you want strategic historical simulation with no luck, go play *insert game that is all strategy, history and no luck here*.

Anyway, to each their own, people can put it on a pedestal or grind it underfoot and I care not. But I did think this particular article brought up some good points for those with a very shallow understanding of the C&C game system.

By the way I've now lost 7 damn times and it's purely due to bad luck!
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Excellent post and discussion!

JANoll wrote:
Sam is being honest and from his point of view I can see how he interprets the game as too luck based. I think he is wrong for the reasons DWTripp has outlined, but then again I've played it more. I believe it is unfair to judge his previous post just because he is new to BBG. His input is his honest opinion based on the two games he has played. I hope that he plays a few more times and manages to start enjoying the game.

Saw that post. While I was lucky to have enjoyed my first couple of BL, I can empathize with Sam.

Geosphere wrote:
SCOUT.

Great card to hold on to. Use the real strong ones when you need them, activating 3 or more units per turn. Hold that scout for when you need better cards, not for when you need to move one guy.

crazytalk wrote:
I have been in the situation with poor starting cards (As I'm sure we all have). One of the things I would do is prepare my units, by "bolding them up" basically moving the few units I can to make bold units and giving myself an attack back ability. Usually a card or two shows up that gives me a chance to take advantage of my line later in the game. As Geosphere mentioned SCOUT is a huge help in that situation.

Sounds like what I'd do too. ^^

DWTripp wrote:
Really... try it out. Pull the command deck out and learn it. Have an overall game strategy based on what you do know about the cards as opposed to one based on hoping the cards line up with your board strategy.
hughthehand wrote:
Hand management is a HUGE part of the game, and one of the first things you have to master, to be able to compete in Battlelore.

Nicely distilled. ^^

Totally agree. Hand management is key to overcoming the seemingly random nature of the game. If you play your cards right, there is a tendency for your opponent to feel helpless at his inability to react because of his bad cards. ^^

Example of a recent session I had. L3 Commander on both sides. I begin the game with 1 mounted charge, 2 blue banners, 2 right sections, 1 leadership. Remember this: The more right section cards you have, the more likely your opponent is going not going to have right section cards. More likely, he'll have more left section cards. Looking at the board, I made the decision to use the right sections to move all my units to the center, abandoning that flank. Next, I use blue banners consecutively to mount a massive assult at center & left. My opponent is forced to react to these assult, if not, he'll risk losing the troops without retaliation. By the time the clouds settled, I have a 5 - 0 lead. My opponent probably blamed bad luck because all he has was left sections. Game ended 6 - 2. Good hand management? Probably. But I also have the good luck of having nice tactics cards especially the two blue banners. This allow me to bring the fight into a section where both my opponent and I have fewer section cards.

IMHO, while I agree with the discussions so far, I feel the game is really random. Random to the point where advantage can swing to one particular player at certain times of the game. There are "bad" cards in the game. By this, it really mean relatively bad in this particular situation of the game at this particular time, where there are absolutely better cards you'd love to play and this bad card would be the last choice you'd want to use. While hand management can definitely reduce probability of a bad draw, there are undeniably instances where a lucky draw gives you a banner or two. And we ain't even touch on random results from the dice yet! Anyone seen a red infantry take out another red infantry in one dice throw (4d, 4 hits)? I have. ^^ Anyone seen how your weakened unit is surrounded by three of your opponent's and your opponent's blue banner rolled 3 flags (sending your unit to safety)? I have. ^^

I do not think BattleLore, at this point, is the perfect game. There are definitely room for improving the playing experience. Which is one of the reason why I am looking forward to the expansions (though sadly, a noticeable group of players in the community shun expansions). Still, good card draw or bad card draw, BL is one ass-kickin' fun game to play!
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Jerry Hawthorne
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DWTripp. Excellent post and a fresh look at the other side of things. I have been quietly whining about the card element of this game ever since losing badly the other day. I have discussed many ways to house rule an option for those times where you find yourself incapable of competing due to cruddy cards. Reading your post made me decide to hold off on that house rule and just see if there are nuances about the system that I have not explored such as some of the ones you mention. Thanks.
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Kevin Duke
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Quote:
Borg et al seem to encourage variants and house rules, and I would hope I could contribute to that atmosphere


And your evidence of this "encourage" is...what?

Borg "et al" manage to do a remarkable job of sitting on their hands and not screaming when people actually POST things like "I haven't finished reading the rules but here are my improvements..."

Part of the "variant bashing" comes because so many variants come from people who have scarcely played the game and, without actually understanding how it really works, blow it off as "too simple" and start layering on crap-- and I use the word precisely-- to make it act more like a game they do understand.

This is not unique to BL or C&CA-- there were people posting "my improvements" to Mem 44 before the game was even released. And the sad part is, those people will never know how the game was SUPPOSED to play or to be played.

Can the system be improved? Possibly.

Can it be made better by people who don't yet have a clue about what actually DOES work? And why it works extremely well?

Unlikely.

But they'll fix it anyway.
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kostek wrote:
JANoll wrote:
Sam seemed to have an idea about what he wanted to do, essentially attack aggressively, but couldn't get the cards to coordinate it right.


This idea is based on misunderstanding the game. A flawed paradigm, if you will. Of course Sam might decide he doesn't enjoy the paradigm of BL or the C&C system, and that's OK. I just hope he takes the time to really understand what he's rejecting.

It's tempting to look at the game board and think "These are my resources," but that's wrong.

Your resources consist of your pieces and your cards. Should you launch a frontal offensive if you only had green infantry against a bunch of red cavalry? No: the plan doesn't fit the resources.

Should you launch a major offensive given only 4 cards and all of them crappy? No: the plan doesn't fit the resources.

In the C&C system, any plan that requires detailed, precise control and coordination of many units will have trouble. The system doesn't give you that kind of control. While I'm no military historian, I think the C&C system gives a good if abstract representation of the chaos of the battlefield.

In this game your ability to control your troops varies quite a lot, and it will ebb and flow during the game. You need to include that into your plans. It's different than many other games, and I can see that some one might have trouble if they are used to having more control over their units.

C&C games don't set out to be deep or detailed. They play fairly fast and convey a sense of barely controlled chaos. They fit at the intersection of euros and wargames. I like the system for these reasons.


I think this is an excellent point an my main problem with most of the complaints about this game. Most of them that complain about the randomness seem to boil down to:

"I looked at the board, and wanted to follow this strategy, but I never got the cards to do it. This game sucks."

You shouldn't be looking at the board and going "What do I want to do?". You should be looking at the board, THEN at your cards and saying "What are my options?".

Your cards represent how your troops respond to your orders. Not taking them into account is as stupid as a modern commander not taking into account communication between central command and the units in the field.

Your strategy must be developed based on your cards and on your tropp positioning, not just one of those.

For example, you start a game. You look at the board and go "Yeah, I wanna hammer him on the left flank with my cavalry.". But if you've only got right and centre cards, that's not gonna happen. Don't throw up your hands and go "This game's too random. I can't get the cards I need.", re-evaluate your strategy.


As for all the variants, I think part of the resistance is from the fact that I have never, ever seen a game spawn this many threads on how to change the rules EVER. It's unbelievable. And don't get me started on the people who've played it never or like twice before they decide it needs to be changed.
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DWTripp wrote:
...If you complain about BL or any of it's siblings based on the cards then it's probably because you have failed to grasp that this system is designed for the cards to thwart you as a player as well as to be an aid. It was designed this way... that's why the game is fun for those who enjoy it.
...
Really... try it out. Pull the command deck out and learn it. Have an overall game strategy based on what you do know about the cards as opposed to one based on hoping the cards line up with your board strategy.


Great observation and excellent advice!
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kduke wrote:
Quote:
Borg et al seem to encourage variants and house rules, and I would hope I could contribute to that atmosphere


And your evidence of this "encourage" is...what?

Borg "et al" manage to do a remarkable job of sitting on their hands and not screaming when people actually POST things like "I haven't finished reading the rules but here are my improvements..."


Hold up, chief. Why are you jumping all over me here? Someone posted a 'fix' (to something *I* don't even view as a problem!) that I thought was not an especially good one, I proposed an alternative to achieve a similar goal but I felt would be less of an infringement upon the fundamentals of the game... and you're taking time out to single *me* out, to pick on *me*? All my contribution was, was "If you've already decided to make a house rule, here's one method that might accomplish what you want but without throwing away hand management."



I can't find a specific Borg reference, because as we all know Borg seldom posts anything more than a very short, curt, factual reply, anywhere (to know whether he's in favour or opposed to anything would imply him posting his personal opinion or feelings on something, which I've never seen him do). Eric Hautemont (who has been an active and vocal point of contact as the voice of DoW for the BattleLore community) has *suggested* house rules before (EG: Sat, 09 December 2006 19:46, daysofwonder.com forums, "Note: If you do want to, you can allow the Giant to store up and use that token to, so that the effect would be 2 hexes per Lore stored or rolled up. That makes it a bit more powerful (1 more dice, potentially, because you still have the limit of 1 Lore stored up here). It also makes things a bit more complex, options-wise. In other words; make it a House rule, if you want to. " - that doesn't sound to me like DoW is opposed to house rules if they're the ones PROPOSING a house rule.


And why the "quotes" on my "et al"? Couldn't find something better to pick on? I could have said "Richard Borg and all the other employees at Days of Wonder who aided in the design and playtest and continue to act as the point of reference for all post-release matters" but I figured "et al" would get that across.
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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kduke wrote:
Part of the "variant bashing" comes because so many variants come from people who have scarcely played the game and, without actually understanding how it really works, blow it off as "too simple" and start layering on crap-- and I use the word precisely-- to make it act more like a game they do understand...


Hear, hear!
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"and my win/loss ratio is currently at 7-1"

The odds of this are about 1 in 30 (I think... correct me if this is not true - I'm not great at statistics). This tends to indicate that skill is important otherwise your wins would closer to 50-50.

Maybe, you just don't enjoy the type of decisions that the system imposes on you. But the decisions do seem to be more important than pure chance.
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DWTripp wrote:
Pull the command deck out and learn it. Have an overall game strategy based on what you do know about the cards as opposed to one based on hoping the cards line up with your board strategy.

Just don't try this in Vegas. You can get kicked out of town for counting cards.
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DWTripp wrote:
Look at the board. From your side there are six easily reachable hexes that straddle the center and/or the left/right flank. A unit on such a hex can be ordered with a center or a flank command card. Think about this... when you move a unit does it reduce your options to leave it in one of these six hexes? Usually not. Archers can cover quite a range, so these are good hexes to poition them on. Cavalry are fast, same theory. How about the Spider, or the goblins? They're fast, they can access a good percentage of the entire board from these 6 hexes.


These hexes are the one thing (six things?) that bugs me about the game system. I can live with all the drawing of cards and rolling of dice; but I can't stand the fact that there are specific points on every battlefield where a unit's chances of receiving a useful order are greatly increased.

Well, alright; it's not really a problem as such, but it just seems a little too gamey to me and is easy to exploit. Worse still there is nothing I can do about it - I don't want to change the board layout or anything so I'll just have to live with it.
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