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Cry Havoc» Forums » Strategy

Subject: The Value of Attrition rss

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Grant Rodiek
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Someone posted today "I think we're undervaluing attrition. My group only uses Territory/Prisoner objectives." To that I want to say:

1. Yes, you are undervaluing it.
2. Don't fall prey to group think, ESPECIALLY in an asymmetric game.

We all grew up playing Risk and it's super duper enticing to win Territory Control. It's how we were all raised! Hell, it's a policy that's won a lot of good generals a lot of wars. But, the ground situation in Cry Havoc is fluid. It mixes the pain of logistics with the infuriating mess of a guerrilla war and tosses in a dose of conventional warfare just to ground us all nicely.

Territory Control: This is key when:
1. Scoring is enabled AND IT'S WORTH SOMETHING
2. End of game (Scoring is auto-enabled)
3. Early in the game when you want to and are able to build a Structure

If those things aren't true? It's much less valuable. If you're the attacker, the defender gets a tie bonus, making it even tougher to take from them. If they already own it and they have a Structure in it? They're going to pay more to keep it. Use that knowledge to your advantage. Take prisoners and go for attrition. Then, come back next round.

Capture Prisoner: This is key when:
1. Early in the game
2. You can punish a leader by shrinking their army
3. You cannot capture territory
4. You want to spook your opponent

People HATE losing a unit to a prisoner. It's classic risk aversion (speaking economically). People just hate this. If you want to spook someone or throw them off their plan? Threaten the prisoner. Do it especially when you have Tactics to move your Units around.

The reality is that losing a Unit? Not that big of a deal. You should almost never spend 2 Points to get one back unless you're really hurting for manpower. Capturing a prisoner in Rounds 4 and 5 is much less valuable as they'll net 2/1 points per at most.

There are two factions that should really prioritize prisoners: Humans and Trogs. Why? They recruit easily, especially early. By taking prisoners early, they force the Machines/Pilgrims to waste precious actions re-recruiting. Plus, if you can get 3 or 4 early (I had 7 the last time I played the Trogs!), that's a really nice engine.

Machines and Pilgrims will rarely be able to take advantage of Capture Prisoner. They simply don't have the Units on the board. Sure, every now and then the Pilgrims might draw +2 Unit exploration tiles. But, often they won't have prisoners.

Humans/Trogs? Capture prisoners left and right.
Pilgrims/Machines? Threaten capture prisoner, but focus on Territory for your Structure engines or Attrition to soften the region.

Attrition: This is key when:
1. Scoring isn't enabled
2. You have the Firepower Skill (Machines). This is especially good in 2-3 player games. Go to the middle and just go full lawnmower!
3. You have the Shift Priorities Tactic
4. Really, all the time.

Attrition is amazing. Firstly, you get a point per kill. Capture Territory rewards 2 points. If you kill 2-3 Units with Attrition? It's already better. Prisoners? Up to 5 points apiece, though you can lose them. Attrition's looking good!

Secondly, Attrition really cuts to the bone of your opponent's logistical operations. Remember, Cry Havoc is a 15 Action game. It is TIGHT. Now, Skills and Structures effectively provide bonus Actions, as do Exploration tokens, but 15 Actions is still very very tight.

Let's say you lose Territory control, but you kill 3 of their Units. That's 25% of their total possible force. That's 3 Units worth of cards they must play to re-Recruit them to their HQ. That's 3 Units worth of cards they must play to Move them just next door. It's 6 to move them more than two spaces away again.

These are cards that:
1. Won't be used on Structures
2. Won't be used as Tactics

Furthermore, you're burning Actions, meaning it's more difficult for them to use Enable Scoring. Using an entire Action for Enable Scoring is VERY costly if you're low on Units.

Frequently, I'll combine going first in the Round with heavy Attrition to just incinerate the Trogs and Humans. Eventually, I'll be fortified on their Front door. Sure, they'll retake some territory, but not the soft, gentle hinterlands back towards my base.

Please, fully consider Attrition. And Prisoners. And Capture Territory. All three Objectives exist in the game for a reason. They are all very valuable and they will open up new strategies, new paths to victory, and more fun for Cry Havoc.

If you're only competing for a single objective, your opponents will know what you're going after. Then, it's just a numbers game. Guess what? We all know you're going to add +1 Unit with a tactic. Start taking advantage of the Move 2, Shift Priorities, and Force Opponent to Move.

Be unpredictable.

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Kim Fjeld
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HerrohGrant wrote:
Someone posted today "I think we're undervaluing attrition. My group only uses Territory/Prisoner objectives."


I think that someone you refer to, is me meeple

This is a great strategy piece that not only sums up some of my notions about attrition, but it really expands and deepens the understanding of my favorite mechanic in the game: The battle system.

In order to be successful, I think players need to be aware that battles in this game work very differently from what they might be used to. That was the lesson I learned myself from last nights session: Playing into the standard mode of battle, the conquest or what you describe as the Risk-like mindset, betray any player of the real strategic depth offered by the battle system.

As outlined in your article, each battle objective support various play styles and game conditions. Being able to resolve a battle in a way that support your overall game plan all the while you score some points, seems like the ideal outcome. Thus, if a player or a group meta undervalue attrition, they are not taking full advantage of the rich tactical and strategic opportunities provided by the battle system.

Or, like a comment I made yesterday to a fellow player: With this battle system you actually don't have to "win" any battles in order to win the game.
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Grant Rodiek
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'Twas you!
 
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Evan McKinney
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Perhaps this is just the people I've played against, but prisoners are great when the opponent has a lone dude in the attrition objective. This happens a lot... personally I don't do it. Perhaps I just undervalue attrition. But as noted above, attrition is a beautiful thing when you have Shifted Priorities handy.
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Grant Rodiek
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qklilx wrote:
Perhaps this is just the people I've played against, but prisoners are great when the opponent has a lone dude in the attrition objective. This happens a lot... personally I don't do it. Perhaps I just undervalue attrition. But as noted above, attrition is a beautiful thing when you have Shifted Priorities handy.


And if you don't, you can always bluff and scare them!
 
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Jeremy Rivea
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The best move I saw was a machine player handling a card, smiling as he put all 3 of his units into attrition. The Human player assumed he had a Reverse order so pu all his units there too since he had no cards.... the machine then played a move objective cards to take the region. Always play on expectations for advantage!
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Grant Rodiek
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Jeremypenguin wrote:
The best move I saw was a machine player handling a card, smiling as he put all 3 of his units into attrition. The Human player assumed he had a Reverse order so pu all his units there too since he had no cards.... the machine then played a move objective cards to take the region. Always play on expectations for advantage!


Yes!
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Mike Oehler
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qklilx wrote:
Perhaps this is just the people I've played against, but prisoners are great when the opponent has a lone dude in the attrition objective. This happens a lot... personally I don't do it. Perhaps I just undervalue attrition.


Yeah, prisoners going first seems like a big reason why people might avoid attrition. If you put 2 guys into attrition, someone placing one into prisoner captures one of those guys, so each player ends up losing one and gaining one 1 VP. Except the person who captures can get additional VP from time, while the person who went attrition can't. And of course the person who went for the prisoner actually used fewer guys to get an outcome that is at least equivalent. So in fairly small fights, take prisoners seems to match or exceed attrition.

In big fights, yeah, the ability to remove 1 attritioner before it acts is much less effective. Of course, big fights are often harder to arrange due to the cost of deploying and moving guys (and say the machine building abilities to thin out enemy forces before or during battles). So strategies that work well for say 1-3 units before battle cards seem to be more all around reliable.

The game also seems very short. I think we had a 3 turn game today because I had a crazy scoring round as humans in turn 2 which bumped two events. And if humans play scoring, it'll probably be a round 4 game even without them going nuts. So while a strategy of depleting of enemy forces through attrition while ceding objective control in the battle can have large payoffs eventually, the fact that you give up the control objective (worth 2 points, similar in value to many immediate attrition rewards), end of round territory/crystal points for the region and can't really fight another battle in that territory until the next turn (which can be a huge chunk of the game) means it's hard to take full advantage. If you want to run down enemy units and then roll in later to take control, going nuts with drones and orbital strikes can let you kill guys and move in unopposed in the same turn. Using an attrition battle with a follow up strike is probably taking half the game.
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Carl Pilhatsch
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Jowjow wrote:
Jeremypenguin wrote:
The best move I saw was a machine player handling a card, smiling as he put all 3 of his units into attrition. The Human player assumed he had a Reverse order so pu all his units there too since he had no cards.... the machine then played a move objective cards to take the region. Always play on expectations for advantage!


I've got one worse than that. Machine player (me) moves four units into the human territory right in front of their HQ and has a 4-1 advantage in the territory. The human player, desperate, uses the last two actions of their turn to draw terrain tactics cards from the jungle deck, taking them to three card in hand. I had two, the scoring and initiative track cards, neither of which was useful in battle. Needing to win control as scoring was happening this turn and there were 9 or 10 crystals there, I dumped all four of my guys on territory control. The two cards the human player drew that turn allowed him to bring a unit in from each adjacent territory, which brought in 3 units, and change attrition to be the first objective, allowing him to kill everything I had there. It was literally a 20-30 point swing in and instantly lost me the game.

This really stresses how important combat tactics cards are. If you have none to play, it's not the fault of the game.
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Grant Rodiek
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Jowjow wrote:
True enough, but that turn three of the four cards I drew for the turn didn't have battle abilities, so w/o burning actions I couldn't afford to waste to draw more cards I had to play what I drew. Just bad luck.


Gonna disagree on "just bad luck." By the end of the game if you don't draw Tactics, be sure to draw more. If you had no cards left in hand, be careful to manage them. And if you have a Battle you NEED to win? Manage actions so you don't show up without tactics.

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