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Subject: Is Combat Worth It? rss

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Dustin Freund
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Just got done playing my first game and really loved it.

However, the four of us were a bit confused about the point of combat. Yes, you get a star which is great, but it only sends the loser's units back to their home base. If you are attacking a unit(s) who is already close to their home base, essentially you are costing them one move action, when you've likely spent many turns gearing up for battle.

What are we missing? Are there strategic reasons to target someone in combat, other than earning a star?

The group discussed this before any combat occurred, and we decided to make a rule on the fly that when a mech loses, it goes back to your faction mat, which makes sense thematically because it was destroyed. This seemed to add an additional reason to attack someone, as it really did feel like the results of the battle were meaningful. And as it says in the book, the "threat" of combat instantly became more exciting, as losing a mech would set you back a few turns.

I understand this is not a combat-based game. However, the consequences of combat don't seem worth the effort of investing heavily in that side of your tech tree.

So, were we looking at combat all wrong? Has anyone tweaked combat like we did to make it just a tad more consequential?

Thx all!
 
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Stephen Eckman
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I have attacked someone to get a pile of resources they were sitting on.
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Andrew Brown
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steckman wrote:
I have attacked someone to get a pile of resources they were sitting on.
yeah, you have to weigh what you'll actually get out of it.

don't just go for area control. if it also helps you with some other objective, gets your resources, you REALLY need that space, etc., go for it. otherwise, it's probably not worth it usually.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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There are a lot of nuances to using combat effectively. For example, you can attack someone while you have a ton of power available, but actually only spend one combat card and no power to trick them into spending a ton of power "defending". They will have lost power (which will take many turns to rebuild) and you only have to move to your home base, which if you have planned well will be where you wanted to head anyway. This also leaves them vulnerable to other attacks for a few rounds until they can scramble together more power.

As mentioned above, well timed combat can also steal significant resources from another player.

Often just the threat of combat is enough to manipulate other players into wasting actions.

There is a lot of subtlety to this game. If I were you I would spend some time exploring the rules as written before houseruling new rules, you may be surprised by what you discover.
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Mus Rattus
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When you win a combat, you not only gain a star, but you (probably) gain a territory, and cause an opponent to lose a territory.

Territories are worth not much less than stars are, in terms of coins.


As well, fighting over key spaces, especially the Factory, can be worth many coins in the end.
 
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Alan Castree
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Many of my games end from combat. If it's your final star and your powers is higher, kick that guy out. Not only do you gain a territory, you're preventing them from claiming any territory due to their units being on home base. You can also get their resources and if they're on the factory, a big territory swing.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Dustin: I generally don't recommend ever making a house rule during your first game (though I'm glad it worked for you). The reason we didn't implement anything destructive in Scythe (like destroying a mech) is that we didn't want to disincentivize players from attacking. We tested a LOT of different versions of combat, and even the smallest change could lead to huge swings in terms of the motivations players have to attack, to not attack, or to not put up a fight when defending. It's a tenuous balance.

Thematically, the idea is that it's really tough to actually destroy a mech. It's damaged, and it's dragged back to your home base to be repaired.

To answer your question about whether combat is worth it, combat is probably the easiest way in Scythe to get a star (2 total stars).
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Paul Ferguson
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I have thought about trying your idea, I would also add that it costs the losing player that upgrade that the mech is placed back onto, and if it was their 4th mech they on longer qualify for that star achievement.

In terms of being thematic, (as Jamey noted)

jameystegmaier wrote:


Thematically, the idea is that it's really tough to actually destroy a mech. It's damaged, and it's dragged back to your home base to be repaired.



I don't understand how the mech gets instantly transported back to your base, seeing that it is damaged, it would take a long time to get back to your base for repair. Apparently, the fastest mode of transport for the mechs is to be dragged back by a farmer, through, snow, mountains and lakes. Why not just have them drag it around all the time? Also, why does it go back to your base? It didn't get made there, it gets built in any hex (not your base) that has a worker. And it gets repaired by the start of your next turn, without the need to spend materials to fix it. The thematic parts of this game are very weak and fall apart easily.

It would make more "thematic" sense if the damaged mechs are put onto a part of the game board that has a 3 round tracker. This would mean the mech is out for 3 rounds, each round the mech moves down on spot till it can re-spawn onto your base. This would make thematic sense, not what currently happens in the game.
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Simone Ferrari
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itmo wrote:
I have thought about trying your idea, I would also add that it costs the losing player that upgrade that the mech is placed back onto, and if it was their 4th mech they on longer qualify for that star achievement.



While I see your point about the house rule (I personally disagree it's necessary and I find it very unbalancing) I don't understand the point of the bolded part.
Stars are achievements you get for completing a task. When you have completed it you get the star regardless of the following evolutions. This is true both for Popularity and Power stars: you get them when you reach the maximum score, then it can drop but the stars stay.
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Stephen Miller
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DSteak wrote:
Just got done playing my first game and really loved it.

However, the four of us were a bit confused about the point of combat. Yes, you get a star which is great, but it only sends the loser's units back to their home base. If you are attacking a unit(s) who is already close to their home base, essentially you are costing them one move action, when you've likely spent many turns gearing up for battle.

What are we missing? Are there strategic reasons to target someone in combat, other than earning a star?

The group discussed this before any combat occurred, and we decided to make a rule on the fly that when a mech loses, it goes back to your faction mat, which makes sense thematically because it was destroyed. This seemed to add an additional reason to attack someone, as it really did feel like the results of the battle were meaningful. And as it says in the book, the "threat" of combat instantly became more exciting, as losing a mech would set you back a few turns.

I understand this is not a combat-based game. However, the consequences of combat don't seem worth the effort of investing heavily in that side of your tech tree.

So, were we looking at combat all wrong? Has anyone tweaked combat like we did to make it just a tad more consequential?

Thx all!


Winning combat as the attacker gives three things - i) A victory star; ii) A territory (More important towards the end game, and taking the territory away from the opponent is obviously more important in lower player counts) iii) Engine disruption (More important towards the early-mid game, and is enhanced if there's a bunch of juicy resources on there, and is meaningless if it's the factory or a lake)

Non-combat displacement of workers gives both but the star.

It depends from situation to situation if those three things are worth the morale hit of any workers you're displacing, and for combat specifically, the cost in power and combat cards attacking requires, and opportunity cost of doing something that might not work (and if it doesn't it's to the benefit of the defender, who gets a star without any opportunity cost) depending on what the combat card situation is.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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The benefits have been well described already (star, territory, possible resources). One of the subtleties in a combat is you can seriously gimp your opponent's plans simply by forcing that mech and workers back home. They may have been spending many turns to get to a specific territory and going home throws all those turns away PLUS all the turns to get BACK there (and possibly having to expend power & cards on kicking you out). That can be a pretty harsh setback.

Yes, the combat mechanism is pretty simple. Yes, on the surface simply forcing units to home base rather than to the player mat seems a light penalty. But in practice, there is a lot more to it depending on the situation. Again, the simple THREAT of combat can be significant because of these considerations. IMHO, that's one of the cool hidden depths to the game that you don't get in the first few plays.
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Lyle Chipperson
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Like other said, combat at first glance is simple and even maybe not very satisfying, but once you understand what it can do it becomes another layer of complexity that you can't ignore.

in my opinion combat is a calculated risk, it's not just move and attack,you have to plan maybe you can move 2 units to have two combat cards, maybe you want to unlock some combat related skill of your faction, if you are playing against the automa you want to keep it on low level power , although sometimes even when it has the max power you can beat it easily ,but , that leaves you exposed to another possible attack.


Scythe might not be a combat fest but if you want to win you have to keep track of lots of stuff, including combat
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Frank Hamrick
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itmo wrote:
I have thought about trying your idea, I would also add that it costs the losing player that upgrade that the mech is placed back onto, and if it was their 4th mech they on longer qualify for that star achievement.

In terms of being thematic, (as Jamey noted)

jameystegmaier wrote:


Thematically, the idea is that it's really tough to actually destroy a mech. It's damaged, and it's dragged back to your home base to be repaired.



I don't understand how the mech gets instantly transported back to your base, seeing that it is damaged, it would take a long time to get back to your base for repair. Apparently, the fastest mode of transport for the mechs is to be dragged back by a farmer, through, snow, mountains and lakes. Why not just have them drag it around all the time? Also, why does it go back to your base? It didn't get made there, it gets built in any hex (not your base) that has a worker. And it gets repaired by the start of your next turn, without the need to spend materials to fix it. The thematic parts of this game are very weak and fall apart easily.

It would make more "thematic" sense if the damaged mechs are put onto a part of the game board that has a 3 round tracker. This would mean the mech is out for 3 rounds, each round the mech moves down on spot till it can re-spawn onto your base. This would make thematic sense, not what currently happens in the game.


So, of course, you've play-tested this several hundred times with copious notes regarding balance, effect, etc. Further, you know exactly how many 'months' or units of time are in effect from turn to turn.

I'm always amazed at how 'all-knowing' and judgmental we game-players can be when assessing a game. We speak with little experience (at best a few hours of experience) as though we grasp far more than the designer who has spent hundreds, if not thousands of man-hours studying, balancing, testing, getting feed-back from experienced players, compiling and analyzing statistics, trying dozens of changes and variations, discussing variables, ratios, realism, theme, possibilities, strengths, weaknesses; trying to break the game, testing balancing issues, talking with publishers, artists, other designers, etc., etc.! Yet, we can pompously, and authoritatively state that the 'thematic parts of the game are very weak and fall apart easily.'

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, un-tested and un-proven as it may be. I have no problem with you stating your opinion - but I think it best to do so with an admission of your ineptness to judge and with a nod to the designer's expert understanding of the project!

I am sure I have made the same imperial statements from the throne of my own pomposity as I am prone to think more highly of myself than I ought. And in that spirit I write this somewhat corrective missile.



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Stephen Miller
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Frank Hamrick wrote:
Further, you know exactly how many 'months' or units of time are in effect from turn to turn.


Actually, there's a thought. Euro and Amerithrash games never tell you those details, while war games (and hybrids with wargames) often do as part of their scale details.

I mean, yeah, that makes some sense, since Euros are primarily mechanism driven, and Amerithrash while primarily theme driven is more on the Hollywood end, typically, than the simulation end, of theme... But... Would be cool in some cases to get that sort of detail.
 
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Richard Young
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For Saxony, if the circumstances are right, combat can be decisive and thus very worth it!
 
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Phil Campeau
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It's not just to get a star, it's to prevent an opponent from getting a star.

It could also be to drop their military strength with a fake attack where you put no power into the attack so that when you attack your real objective, their military strength is too low to stop it.

You only lose popularity if there are workers present, and even then, losing a couple popularity doesn't hurt much as long as you work your popularity well. I've rarely ended in the third tier of popularity, second tier is usually fine to win.

Combat isn't just for stars. Sending a player's character or mech back to the home base is a big setback in a lot of cases, especially if they didn't build a Mine directly next to their home. Sending stray workers back can be even worse, because the effort of moving workers on their own can feel like a waste, but losing a couple of productive workers can be a huge deal to your strategy.

If you attack someone, and start bolstering again, they're going to ramp up their military too. Suddenly, the guy next to him is getting nervous, and he bolsters as well. Maybe his other neighbour doesn't feel threatened, and focuses on production instead. Now player 3 has a strong military, and his weak neighbour has 4 wood sitting undefended with two workers. Swoop in use that wood to build a monument and you'll recoup that lost popularity in two bolsters, while keeping yourself strong against retaliation.

Battle isn't everything in Scythe, and a lot of the time the threat of battle is enough. But your plays are going to be a lot less interesting if you ignore it.
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Frank Hamrick
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Yes. It's opportunistic combat. Not planned. If the chance presents itself, it's worth it.
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Timmi T.
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philcampeau wrote:
It's not just to get a star, it's to prevent an opponent from getting a star.

It could also be to drop their military strength with a fake attack where you put no power into the attack so that when you attack your real objective, their military strength is too low to stop it.

[...] but losing a couple of productive workers can be a huge deal to your strategy. [...]

Yes!

And I would add: losing a couple of resources.

Think of an oponent in mid game, who is just about to enter a chain of Top-Row/Bottom-Row combos. Steeling maybe only a single resource at a crucial time can turn a magnificent plan into chewing gum.

I suffered it more than once and it always felt similiar to a punch to the stomach.
Yet, only if I was being attacked though... which makes me think we could add this to the worth of combat as well:

It simply gives you the great feeling of outwitting somebody. sauron

One thing you would often not do in your first games is playing your oponents as well as your own strategy.
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Marc Richter
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First game with my son, my second time playing (I did a solo game the day I bought it)

I'm yellow, he's white. I get some workers on the tundra after discovering riverwalk, he gets his submerge (travel between lakes) unlock. After I produce 3 oil, he attacks and sends my mech and 3 workers home. (my bottom action for produce was NOT upgrade)

After using my hard-earned oil to upgrade his empire, he then proceeded to essentially blockade me in by staying in my only "exit" hex until I could research my wayfarer mech and then port to another base with some workers. I lost a full upgrade, access to oil and got far enough behind that he placed his 6th star when I still had only 1 on the track.

For him, combat was definitely worth it.
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What a brilliant play blockading you! If you weren't Crimean you would've been stuck home for the duration. That makes the Crimean ability that much more useful in that rare occasion.
 
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PenguinMD wrote:
If you weren't Crimean you would've been stuck home for the duration.


Not really. For each of the base game factions, the second mech ability is a movement ability that lets them avoid a single hex that an opponent has blocked across the river. Moreover, each of the factions could also build a Mine.
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