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Foggy Leggy
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Here's what I think is a much improved version of the combat system in Rebellion using only the components that came in the box. For those who don't want the explanation you can skip down to step 1 below the double bars below.

In my view combat in this game is too random. You often draw cards that are useless to you or which aren't in line with why you're launching an attack or when you're attempting to defend against one. This largely deflates bringing in a leader of higher tactics values since the draws are so random.

This alternative adds MUCH more strategic decision making by making card pulls less random while emphasizing the difference that bringing a better leader than your opponent makes.

==============================
Steps are as follows:

1. Divide the 15 combat cards of the theatre (space/ground) you're fighting in into 3 piles of 5 cards each according to the following list and set them close by

Attack Pile
-Deal 1 damage (x2)
-Deal 1 damage to two units
-Deal 2 damage (x2 if space)
-Bombardment (ground)

Defense Pile
-Block 1 (x3)
-Discard 1 card to block 2 (x2)

Advanced Tactics Pile
-Concentrate fire (x2)
-No escape (space)/Escape plan (ground)
-Unstoppable assault
-Brilliant Strategy

2. Each player may draw one card from any pile at the start of combat
3. Compare tactics values. The leader with the higher tactics value gets an additional card or cards equal to the difference between his tactic value and that of his opponent from whatever pile he likes (in that theatre)
4. If a shield generator(s) is present, the rebel player may draw one more ground tactics card from any pile for each generator present
5. Proceed with combat as normal except drawing cards is done from the pile of your choosing

===================================

The effect of creating attack/defense/advanced piles

-The key difference is that you now have some ability to target the cards you want and thus to set strategy. For example, if you launched an attack to do damage but didn't score many hits on your initial roll, you can use tactics to draw from the attack deck to try and press the attack. This can grant you more offensive ability but sacrifices your option to try and draw defense/advanced technique cards thus you have a choice

-As more cards are played as the battle progresses you get a clearer picture of the cards left in any pile that can be targeted and thus may want to try and fish for a specific card in a pile. Alternatively, you may take a card from a pile just to try and keep it out of your opponent's hands (i.e. escape plan)

-If your initial roll went well, you may consider drawing from the defense deck instead to help withstand the counterattack

-if you're trying to play defense long enough to retreat, use tactics to draw from the defense pile. You may be able to block enough hits and buy time for your forces to retreat when the turn ends or if playing with no ships in orbit in the ground theatre, you could try to draw Escape Plan from the advanced tactics pile

-seeing what pile your opponent is drawing from can give you a hint at his intentions. If you already have cards from that same pile you can also make an educated guess about what your opponent has in his hand and plan/react accordingly

-need to score 4 hits but only have 4 tactics symbols? Draw from the attack pile and try to get both cards that allow you to do 2 damage to one ship

-did you start off with brilliant strategy? Try to pick up two more cards from the advanced pile to see if you grab combinations like unstoppable assault + concentrate fire

-the one card given at the start represents uncertainty about what your opponent is currently capable of which forces people to consider things like "overkilling" units. It keeps a certain "fog of war" element active


The effect of bringing a better leader

-bringing a better leader than your opponent means drawing more cards then your opponent at the outset which gives you more chances to play them, pay for other cards with them or maybe even just to try and draw cards you don't want to risk your opponent getting from a particular pile. This captures the theme of smarter leaders having more options at their disposal than less skillful ones through more deck control
-when leaders are evenly matched, no additional cards are given at the start of combat apart from the preliminary card for each side which reflects how leaders equal in skill have no inherent advantage over each other and allows a battle to rightfully be more luck-based in those cases

Updates

8/24/16 - Brilliant Strategy - cost to play is reduced from 1 tactics symbol to 0

Out of the box it costs two tactics symbols. One to get and one to play and then maybe a third or fourth to actually make use of the cards you draw. Way too expensive and too easy to draw when useless. Not that brilliant really unless you count being able to draw a card in both theatres. By using separated decks and giving it no play cost it becomes something you can try to fish for from the Advanced Tactics deck as a "hail Mary" pass if you're desperate which might let you draw two no-cost block or no-cost attack cards or maybe two Concentrate Fire out of the advanced deck with a good chance of being able to play them right away making this card truly "brilliant".

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Luish Moraes Coelho
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
Sounds interesting for a change. Although, playing Leaders with equal values leaves too much room for luck of playing dice with only one card, don´t you think? How about drawing the right amount of cards but doing it alternatively with one player at a time? (just a suggestion).
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Mike Barry
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
I actually feel this decreases strategy involved with the tactics cards.

Knowing what your opponent can have (1/5 cards) as opposed to 1/15 is a large percentile difference.

If they are 100% on a block there's no need to overcommit to things. Having to over kill a star destroyer or transport due to tactics cards in hand is a big part of the combat in this game and this takes away all of the guess work.

My 2 cents.
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Foggy Leggy
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
Not when you consider what's in the defense deck.

There are 3 block one damage cards and 2 outmaneuver/dig in cards.

Let's say your leaders are evenly matched which means both of you only drew one card and the defender decides to draw from the defense deck.

If he drew a block 1 damage, you may need to overdamage a unit by one. But if he drew outmaneuver or dig in he needs a second card to use it which means his real block capacity in turn 1 is 0.

Now as the attacker, let's say you score enough hits to overdamage a single target by one. Because you know your opponent only drew from the defense deck you know he can either block 1 or 0 this turn. What would you do with your extra hit?

It gets even more interesting if you drew from the defense deck yourself because now you have an even better idea of what defense card your opponent is holding by process of elimination. That helps you calculate the odds of what might be the best decision.

This overall setup also helps people understand when they may need to resort to the riskier cards of the Advanced tactics deck. If you've brought in an inferior leader to make an attack and the other guy draws all block cards which you can't match from the offensive deck because you didn't roll enough tactics symbols, you might risk trying to draw Unstoppable Assault from the advanced tactics deck to make his defense draw worthless. Every time you draw from this deck, you increase your chances of getting it while depriving your opponent everything you draw. Your concern then would be if you're opponent took it first which he could only do if he invested in less defense which you would have seen.

This means there's a lot more emphasis on trying to out think your opponent and more information to do it with.
 
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Mike Barry
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
Right, but the emphasis here is that you KNOW that they have a block. There's close to complete information here, rather than not.

If they dont draw from the block deck then you KNOW they don't have a block. Which is, again, close to complete information when it comes to damage.

If you leave it as is there is a substantial amount less of complete information available to either side. The only things you know your opponent cant have are the things you have in your hand.

Not to beat a dead horse on these forums but I really dont understand why people think the combat system needs an overhaul. Its completely fine for what it is meant to do.
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Foggy Leggy
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
luish wrote:
Sounds interesting for a change. Although, playing Leaders with equal values leaves too much room for luck of playing dice with only one card, don´t you think? How about drawing the right amount of cards but doing it alternatively with one player at a time? (just a suggestion).


I considered that but I think the attacking force could get too high an advantage in that case.

The ability to block a lot of damage tends to be more expensive than the ability to do a lot of damage. The more advanced damage cards and the advanced tactics cards require a tactics symbol to play while the more advanced block cards require an extra card to play.

Let's say two opposing leaders drew three cards each at the start of battle. If the attacker decided on offense and drew the three "do 2 damage" cards at the start and rolled 3 tactics symbols, that's potentially 6 damage using only three dice! Add to that the hits you can score even before using cards or playing cards like "concentrated fire" and that's a lot of damage.

In contrast, if you drew nothing but defense cards at the start and got both the "block 2 damage" cards and one "block 1 damage" cards (or all three "block 1 damage" cards) your ability to mitigate damage is capped at 3 no matter how many units you have or how many dice you roll. So two equally matched highly skilled leaders are in a sense still not fighting on very even ground as damage potential is MUCH higher than blocking potential. With enough units (and thus more dice) this would result in slaughter with the defender never really having a chance or protect himself or run even if he drew an equivalent number of cards and had a huge fleet. Too swingy in my opnion. A lot of cards flying around right away means the first round attacker would always get a major advantage.

By limiting the cards received to one plus the difference in "skill" between leaders and combining that with directed card draws this means that a better admiral/general can substantially reduce his opponent's attacking power. Because he will always get more cards, he has more access to the offense deck and can take cards away from there before combat begins. If he's defending he can draw more defense cards than the attacker can draw offense cards. If he's defending and feels like he has to make a run for it, he can fish for "Escape Plan" or if he's attacking and wants to try and pin and enemy in place, he can fish for "No Escape". The better leader thus will have more strategic options than his opponent because he has access to more resources at the start and can manipulate the decks more than a lesser leader because starting cards awarded are based on skill disparity. Thus superior skill counts for a lot and makes leader selection much more important.

Rebellion's combat system seems to have been designed to allow battles to be fairly damaging in the first round or two so as to make entering into a fight worthwhile. Combat doesn't often go beyond 2 or 3 rounds because usually the losing side will pull out having lost too many of his forces or because he doesn't want to risk his forces in a battle he didn't initiate.

I wanted to preserve this characteristic as I think it's essential to the way the game operates while making leader selection more important and at the same time giving players more control over how battles develop.
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Aron
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
Well thought about it. Great read and I agree. Will play normal rules still but in time when I feel change is needed yours is truly wonderfull.
Makes sense, gives better choices and really like it.
 
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Foggy Leggy
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
Thanks!
 
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Brian Schlichting
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Re: Combat - a more strategic alternative using only existing components
I have only played once, so I don't intend to try combat variants soon - but in my first game, I came to similar opinions to OP. I thought, what if you could flat out choose your tactics cards? If you don't want an early retreat, take that card. If you think they'll fight it out anyway, take your chances.
 
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