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Combat Commander: Europe» Forums » Variants

Subject: Allow Players to Pick Their Starting Hand rss

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Robert Waters
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Hello all:

I've been playing CC:E for a few days now, and I'm of the opinion that one of the best ways to get a good impression of this game right away is to allow players to pick their initial hand of cards. What happens is that if you randomly draw them, and if you're the "attacker" (for example), you could theoretically never draw a Move card.

I was playing as the Attacker in one scenario, and it took about 4 discards in order to draw my first Move card. This is the inevitability of card games, but it can lead to a lot of dead time and frustration. And it doesn't make any sense for a player whose posture in the game is "attacker".

So I propose the variant of allowing each player to go through his deck and pick his starting hand. This will ensure that attackers have some Move cards right away, and Defenders have some Op Fire cards right away. This makes perfect sense to me, since as the "attacker" I would have a game plan going into a battle. And as the defender I would be on alert to fire at anything coming my way (Op Fire).

For those concerned that this would allow players to form a "pat" hand at the beginning, I disagree. You are limited to the number of Orders you can play anyway, and even if you have move cards, that doesn't mean that you are going to be able to use them effectively, nor is it a forgone conclusion that a defender will be able to blow away advancing attackers with his op fire cards.

So, allow players to pick their starting hand, and then play the game normally from there. That's my recommendation.
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Robert Wilson
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I disagree

if you dont have good cards then you should just discard and draw new ones.

Picking your opening hand has additional side affects too, if it was me and I was an attacker, whats to stop me from taking all the "time" triggers into my opening hand , or as a defender taking all "hidden mines"

The way the game is designed , the cards have a lot more impact than just Orders.
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Jonathan Fried
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Tinker, tinker. (It's a compliment, Chad.)

I don't like the starting hand idea for a variety of reasons, but I do agree that the absolute inability to move can really hamstrung the play (and a players sense of enjoyment). I played 2 games this weekend and in both -- in both postures -- my oppponent was without a move order for long stretches. Any other Order seems like something you can survive -- or something that should be limited -- but to have all of your troops locked in for 3-4 turns, is a bit much, IMO.

However, I recognize this is a card game -- and hand management counts for a lot -- and I like the "fog of war" aspect that keeps you from being able to have complete control. I'm just thinking aloud, but what if when you discarded you were able to move a single UNIT. That would mitigate the feeling of doing "nothing" in terms of the battlefront simulation (although, of course, from the "game" perspective, discarding your hand is a critical decision). It would keep the fluid nature of the battle going -- i.e. even without orders, I presume there is movement amongst units -- but still constrain someone. The real power of the move order is to activate leaders for multiple units -- and you don't get that here.

Anyway, I like the game as is - pardon, LOVE the game as is -- but its a mark of my appreciation for the system that I can't help but engaging in these discussions of ways to tinker, tinker, tinker...

 
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Robert Waters
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Well, my response to that is that I'd rather deal with those kinds of disruptions and issues than to be the "Attacker" and sit on my side of the map for turn after turn after turn, and not be able to move, simply because I had the misfortune of not drawing any Move cards. And honestly, it's impractical to draw all the "great" cards into your hand initally anyway because eventually that's going to bite you back.

Trust me, it's a bad first impression of the game if your opponent can't do anything but discard cards.
 
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D Clevenger
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If you are talking about "learning the game" then I may understand your point. But it may also give players the wrong sense of the game. It seems to me the balance of the scenarios and DYO's take into account the randomness of the cards dealt. Several times I have set up and looked at the map only to think "wow, the attacker is going to win this easy." However, after not getting many move cards, or enough recover cards, or any advance cards, the attacker gets bogged down and has more trouble than i thought.

Same with defender. "A bunker and wire? He'll never get past me." But then I draw too few OP Fires and none of the good defender cards and find myself close to overwhelmed.

But then in just about all of these cases, after the first time trigger for each side, when decks are shuffled the fates reverse themselves.

Plus, as mentioned above, being able to get some of the rare cards in your hand every time, combined with a Move, 2x Recover and an Advance, will make one side or the other off-balanced pretty quickly.

Again, I think the post is just talking about a new player learning the game so I'm not dismissing the idea out of hand but I think learning how the chaos of the cards works is half the fun.
 
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Robert Waters
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One possible alternative to allowing a player to pick his initial hand is to allow him to declare a "mulligan" on his first draw, then allow him to reshuffle his deck and draw again, but then having to accept this second draw regardless. I've not tried this, so I don't know if it's effective or not. But it's a method used in card games often, like Magic, where if you get no Mana cards your first draw, you can draw again. This would at least give the player a second chance at drawing some cards he needs initally, without really affecting the opening shots of a game.
 
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Robert Wilson
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I taught my father to play CC:E and his first few turns he didnt have any *good* cards either, but he did what any card player would do, he discarded them , then again he plays lots of cribbage and gin, so cycling through cards isnt a big deal-braker for him

There seems to be a reluctance to discard cards amd I dont know why, my personal theory is:

"will holding onto these cards help me in the next 2 turns? if the answer is NO they are gone ."

Dont forget in a normal game you will be cycling through the decks numerous times.
 
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Lee Kennedy
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I had a similar problem with my first two games (scenarios 1 and 3). In both cases one side could not get move cards for a long stretch at the beginning of the game even while discarding. It wasn't such a big deal since I am playing solo

Another option besides picking the entire hand or the mulligan is to let players pick only part of their hand -- maybe one or two cards. This makes sure they have something prepared but doesn't allow for guaranteed pat hands. Scenario 3 actually does this explicitly: the Germans start with a specific card in hand.

On a related note, for scenario 3 as the Russians defenders I suggest not doing the following:
- set up some of the Russians close to the German start area to perform a fighting retreat
- draw no move cards for 4 or 5 turns. (Except for fire/defense rolls where you should feel free to pull as many as possible. Also for random hex rolls).
- let the German player pull a never ending supply of Fire/Move/Advance orders
 
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Steve Huskey
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This game is very similar to Up Front. You can only do what the cards allow you to do. In time, as players gain experience, the pack will begin to separate.

I have played alot of Up Front in national tournament settings over the years. I can tell you that it is a game of mostly SKILL. It seems like luck is a big factor, but the same players are at the top of the tournaments year after year. There are masters of the game and believe me they are very good and hard to defeat!!

I am sure CC is the same. As you gain experience, you will be able to win despite "bad luck". It is because during the course of a whole game, "bad luck" affects both players!! It is most often a matter of perception. It is a game of mostly skill, not luck.

Probably the most important ingredient of "skill" is patience and managing what you do have. Controling your emotions and "morale" are the keys to becoming a good player. Taking unecessary risks because of impatience or fear, or an incorrect setup, are what will lose the game most often.

Admittedly, bad luck can sink any player on any game, no matter what his skill level. But it is the player who manages his resources and has a knowledge of the correct manuvers to make that will prevail in most cases. In a game between two good players, the play will often go down to almost the last card play.

I wouldn't do anything to change the "luck" factor. I suggest playing it the way it is and learning to master yourself.

My favorite saying is " The enemy is defeated in his mind long before he is defeated on the battlefield".

I have looked forward to "Up Front with a map" for a long time. I shall enjoy the many incarnations that CC is going to bring for many years.

Thank you and keep em coming Chad !!
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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I like the "mulligan" idea, but anything else is forcing things a little too much.

And yeah, I know exactly what you're referring to. We had a game that more than half the turns were discarding. It was a fluke, and those'll happen, but I still managed to do somethings even when my cards were crap.
 
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Brian Bankler
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I'm with the "it's part of the game" camp, but scenario rules could handle this. One scenario (at least) starts with a specific card in hand. I could easily see a 'novice' scenario (or some such) with a rule like "Draw up to 8 cards and discard down." [Presumably this would represent superb command and control]. It may be interesting to see one side get the "Draw up and discard down" rule, but deal with a significant force disadvantage.

Given a 4 card hand (attack posture), you have 18 hands throughout the deck (assuming you didn't use any cards as dice). Given 12 move cards, 1/3rd of your hands won't have a move. The actual number will be higher, since you'll have a few 2+ move hands. This isn't bad luck, it's how the deck was designed. With a six card hand, you should average 1 move per hand, but they won't be eventy distributed...

Now, bad luck is having many 'move' orders show up as die rolls (etc).
 
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Joshua Wolf
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I was Jonbone's hamstrung opponent for those two games, and yeah, it totally sucks not being able to move. But, ya know what? I was probably holding onto Fire cards longer than I should have. When I was discarding, if I had two Fires, I dropped one and kept the other when really I should have dropped both; as an attacker, it's often better to be able to Move than Fire.

Though, I must say, the mulligan idea is somewhat appealing. Maybe for 1VP?
 
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D Clevenger
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Bankler wrote:
Given a 4 card hand (attack posture), you have 18 hands throughout the deck (assuming you didn't use any cards as dice).


Didn't you mean "6 card hand" for attack posture or am I missing something?
 
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Chad Jensen
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Quote:
I've been playing CC:E for a few days now, and I'm of the opinion that one of the best ways to get a good impression of this game right away is to allow players to pick their initial hand of cards.

I disagree: if a player is brand new to the game, how in the world would he know what the best hand of cards is? A hand of 6 Move cards could seem like a good idea to a new player but would actually be horrible: you'd have no options as far as rallying units that break, no access to Smoke, no opportunity to use a powerful hex for a suppressing Fire Attack before you begin moving, no chance to Advance a single hex without getting hit by Op Fire, etc.

So this idea would lead to min-maxing, which is exactly what I don't want in CC (like in most wargames with a CRT where each player spends an inordinate amount of time trying to position all of their forces exactly right so that they reach that precious 3:1 column on each of their attacks for the turn).

Quote:
What happens is that if you randomly draw them, and if you're the "attacker" (for example), you could theoretically never draw a Move card.

In a more traditional wargame you could not roll "6" on a 6-sided die for quite some time - would you also advocate allowing a beginning player to choose his first five die rolls?

Quote:
I was playing as the Attacker in one scenario, and it took about 4 discards in order to draw my first Move card.

This is an intentional and integral part of the game.

Did you not draw any Advance Orders either?

How many cards did you discard each of those 4 turns? Rule of thumb: "if you need a Move card NOW and you don't have one, discard as many cards as you can (up to your nationality's limit) in order to have the highest possible chance of drawing one." This goes for any needed Order, really (Recover especially).

Many times I have seen a great reluctance amongst new player to discard a card "because it might be useful in few turns". Once that player understands that "card advantage wins games" and starts cycling what is not needed NOW, their play vastly improves.

Quote:
This is the inevitability of card games, but it can lead to a lot of dead time and frustration.

Dead time? It takes less than 10 seconds to discard and draw a new hand. And frustration is intentional - this game is supposed to put you in the mindset of a real-life company commander.

Quote:
So, allow players to pick their starting hand, and then play the game normally from there. That's my recommendation.

Players are, of course, free to adopt any house rules that they so choose but I will not endorse this particular one. CC works as intended with the rules as written.
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Robert Wilson
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"Many times I have seen a great reluctance amongst new player to discard a card "because it might be useful in few turns". Once that player understands that "card advantage wins games" and starts cycling what is not needed NOW, their play vastly improves."

Told you

 
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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I would have a hard time playing with this house rule, but might be open to allowing each player to pick ONE card, then shuffle and deal the rest. Maybe.
 
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Robert Waters
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Hello Chad:

To answer your question about drawing Advance cards: No I didn't draw any of those either. It was an extremely bad run of drawing.

When I decide to discard, I usually discard as many as I can. The problem I see with discarding, though, is that sometimes, you simply can't do it because your opponent is right up on you, and you cannot afford to let him continue to hit you time and again with no response (especially if you're in a discard, draw, discard draw, discard draw pattern which happens sometimes). So what happens is that you "want" to discard, but you have a Fire card in your hand, and you have to fire at him in the hopes that you can break him and then get a little breathing space to "then" discard and try to get something better. I know it's a risk and it may be better to bite the bullet and discard. But then if you wait that extra turn, you may not have any units left to fight with. That's what happened to me in one scenario. I took a risk and discarded, drew some interesting cards, but by the time it was my turn again, I had no units left in good positions to do anything with the cards I now held. Such is the nature of war, huh?

Understand, I like everything else about the game: The production values are excellent, the combat system is good, the random events, snipers, timing, all work well I think. The limits to stacking bug me a little, but I can live with it. I'm just concerned about the number of move and fire cards in each deck, and that's why I'm trying to come up with a good alternative starting draw in order to ensure that both players get some of these very valuable move and fire cards (move especially) right away. To me, the essence of the game is Fire and Movement. Too many "discard and draw" turns in a row and new players (especially) will become disenchanted. I can deal with middle game stagnation much easier if I can at least get off to a good start.

I equate Move cards in CC:E with Mana cards in Magic. A magic player cannot do anything (i.e., cannot move) unless he consistently draws enough mana to put into play. A typical 60-card Magic deck will have a minimum of 18 mana cards. And most players prefer to have 20-22 mana. That may seem like a huge amount, but in practice, it's just enough to ensure enough mana is drawn each turn for the deck to be reasonably effective. In CC:E, there's (what?) 12-13 move cards in each 70+ card deck? Yes, you draw more cards per turn in CC:E than you do in Magic, but you also burn a lot of cards in CC:E for triggers and Fire resolution, so your chances of drawing move cards each time is limited quite a bit.

So what I'm trying to do with this suggestion, is to explore ways to allow some flexibility with the opening hand. Perhaps allowing each player to have 1-2 Move cards to start is a possibility, or perhaps one move, and one fire. I liked the idea of drawing 8 cards and then discarding down. That's intriguing.

So I'm not trying to knock the game. I like it a lot actually. I just want to keep new players from throwing up their hands and walking away from a system that deserves a more serious look.
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Robert Wilson
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rwaters wrote:
So what happens is that you "want" to discard, but you have a Fire card in your hand, and you have to fire at him in the hopes that you can break him and then get a little breathing space to "then" discard and try to get something better. I know it's a risk and it may be better to bite the bullet and discard. But then if you wait that extra turn, you may not have any units left to fight with.



you might want to discard the bad cards and keep the FIRE one , then you can use it for Opportunity fire if he moves . If you are trading fire back and forth though, I see your point.
 
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Richard Irving
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This is an element players of Up Front had to learn--card flow is your friend. The more cards you flowing through your hand, the more opportunities you'll get. A Fire 8/18 be a game winning card, but not if you are at long range. (For nonUFers, Fire cards in UF are rated for firepower (in this case 18) and you cannot play a fire card unless you have at least the much firepower in your group. 18 is a lot of firepower, that can only acheived by a rather large group at point blank range.)

Card flow is a little different in CC due to the separate decks and the ability to use cards for actions as well as orders, but the principle remains--That Advance card may win the game when you can get close to the enemy for a melee, but if you a far away, you need movement more right now.

If there is a card with an order that MIGHT be useful in a turn or two, but an action that is valuable RIGHT NOW, you should play the card for the action. Don't be afraid to discard if your other option is playing only one or two cards.
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Ben Vincent
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Choosing your starting hand would be a much bigger advantage for the nations that can't cycle cards as fast (USSR, Italy, France).

Both my opponent and I have gone long stretches without a move card. I've also had 3 artillery request cards in hand, a radio, but no LOS to anything worth shooting at. Choosing when and what to discard is one of the more important choices involved in this game.
 
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Jonathan Fried
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I agree with the importance of dumping your hand if you need a particular order badly. After 5 plays, I grokked that. I have no compunction with discarding (except maybe those precious Ambush and A.D. cards) my hand to get the order I need.

The "problem" (and I use that word hesitantly because I don't see it as a problem in my gaming experience, but I can understand people's frustrations) to me, is not an opening hand issue -- and for that reason the mulligan/setup variants are non-starters for me -- but that the lack of moves turn-to-turn can stagnate what is otherwise a very fluid and dynamic playing experience. In my (limited) experience, the place where the tactical battle simulation verges "too much" (again, hesitant usage) into something game-y is where the action on the battlefield "stops" while people cycle (most often) for a move. That's why I suggested the idea of a fixed move option for a single unit when there is a discard. It means that you still get a tactical option when you have to manage your hand.

 
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John Paul Sodusta
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I see no problem here. It is an integral part of the game. Just as many has mentioned it, it is all about damage control or hand management. You cannot do everything that you want in CC:E, which is another reason why there is so much angst in this game. You have to DECIDE on what to do and the decision is not an easy one to make, which is a good thing. Otherwise, why play the game when all the decisions are obvious.

My session last night was just like how yours is. THe scenario was Cold Front and I was the Russians attacking. She broke half of my units early in the game and it wasn't after 80% of the game has passed that I finally got my Recover card. Obviously, I was in a bind but I made do of what I had. I rearranged my men by using Routs and Advances to get them out of trouble and bring my unbroken men out in front. By the time the Recover card came, it didn't make any difference because I used my other men, which were able to gain me a lot of points by exiting through her side of the map. I lost though, but that wasn't due to the lack of Recover cards. It was because in turn 4 she was able to exit a leader and two squads. I made a mistake by not manning the middle building to keep her from doing this.

At any rate, play more and you'll see that this is not a problem but one of the cool puzzles you have to solve every turn in the game.
 
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John Kantor
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Well you need to do something. It's a bad enough problem in Magic, much less a game that takes much more time to play and where discarding is much less help. Having two fresh forces (or worse - just one, yours) milling around aimlessly at the beginning of a game is not my idea of fun or realism - so it's a rule I'll use. It's not a major design concept we are talking about here - it's just an oversimplification they made to keep the game simple.

As for the comment that it is a bigger advantage (relatively) to the low-draw forces, that's part of the point. The Soviets ran on doctrine. It worked great at the beginning, but once things got gummed up, they were in trouble. Right now, they are in trouble from the very beginning.

If you're worried about taking specific cards out of play - just come up with new "plain" starting cards with only orders on them and no actions or events.

In fact there's something to be said about modifying the game to use the Magic concept of a constructed deck of, say 50 cards, with appropriate limits for the different forces. (Of course you'd need a duplicate original deck to handle die rolls.) The game is good as it is, but it cries out for some advanced rules.
 
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Robert Wilson
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jkantor wrote:

In fact there's something to be said about modifying the game to use the Magic concept of a constructed deck of, say 50 cards, with appropriate limits for the different forces. (Of course you'd need a duplicate original deck to handle die rolls.) The game is good as it is, but it cries out for some advanced rules.


I think that is what the different hand sizes are for, 4/5/6


and having a duplicate deck to handle die rolls? I dont understand why you have to make an elegant game so complicated .

In the game scale, isnt each turn a few seconds? so your troops do nothing for 20 seconds while the enemy runs around, (don't forget that it should even out in a little while, they have cards now and you dont, later on you will have some good ones and guess what, they wont)
 
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Jonathan Fried
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Gripe, gripe, gripe.

Last night, I went through 5 turns worth of discards (as the Americans) which meant about 30 cards without getting a move.

I understand that's statistically unlikely -- but it's just no fun.

From a simulation perspective, that's a lotta time for my troops to be twiddling their thumbs.

But them's the breaks I guess. I still think there is a place in the game for a default move option so the tactical side doesn't completely stagnate while the card-game part progresses. When the move orders dry up like this it delinks the card-play from the positional play, IMHO.
 
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