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Subject: Battlelore - The Good. The Bad. The Verdict. rss

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J Mathews
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rarbelaez-
:sigh: From the BGG Glossary:
strategy
n. 1. The plan that a player uses in a game.
tactics
n. 1. Decisions that are based primarily on current situations and short-term goals.

As far as I can tell, those are the common meanings of those words, at least on this site. If you want to make up your own definition, go ahead. But please don't try to use your definition as the only correct one.

Now we can debate about the meaning of the word 'plan' (because the BGG Glossary doesn't define that word), which definition seems to be the crux of your arguement. But that seems pretty pointless.

Now, there are other definitions for those words:
- Strategic: In a wargaming sense, a large scale game in which units represent large military formations (brigades & larger) over a wide ranging area (like a nation or continent). Typically these games have a high level of abstraction and a low level of detail to depict conflict. Such a game depicts an entire war or a major campaign.
- Tactical: In a wargaming sense, a small scale game in which units represent small military formations (platoon, squad or down to a single soldier/ship/tank/aircraft) over a limited area (such as a city or even a few blocks). Typically these games have a low level of abstraction and a high level of detail to simulate conflict. Such a game depicts a battle (or part of one) or a skirmish.

With those definitions, there is no question that BattleLore is a purely tactical game. But that has nothing to do with planning and all the other stuff that you are bringing up.

Any game with random elements or at least one other person as an opponent will have enough entropy within the system to render your definition of planning an impossibility. So all games have tactics but no strategy under that defintion, thus making it a useless definition to descibe games. I'm not sure what you are trying to prove, other than that all games rely on tactics, within that definition.

Oh, and I've asked 3 or 4 people if they can figure out what you mean by stating that there is a difference between defining strategic objectives and planning and no one can figure it out. Nor can they figure out how defining strategic objectives isn't strategy but planning is. So what are your common meanings for those words? Or are we all 'incapable of comprehending it'?
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Paul Fortner
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rarbelaez wrote:

1) The futility (stupidity) of making long term plans was mentioned. Also, the importance of doing the best next thing (in a system intrinsecally devoid of enough predictability to allow for coherent, reasonable planning): defining long term goals, as well as the tactical pursuit of those goals.
2) No one said it was a turn by turn "card maximization game". Nothing further from the truth. If you "think" it was implied, stop thinking.
3) There's a difference between the two concepts, even if some people choose to disregard it, or are incapable of comprehending it.
4) Defining strategic objectives is not the same as planning. Once again, the entropy within the game system makes planning an impossibility. But people do define strategic objectives, and they pursue them (take the hill, control the flank, destroy the units). And it's not the same thing. That is not planning. Tht is defining objectives.
5) Planning in BL is useless. Defining strategic objectives is smart.
6) BL is tactic. Deal with it. Don´t go changing the meaning of words because you don't like or know what they mean.
7) It's a semantics problem only if you choose to ignore the common meaning of the words.

Perhaps I am just "incapable of comprehending it" but I don't understand your assertion here that "planning in BL is useless" because you can't move every piece at the time of your choosing. If that were true, warfare prior to the advent of instant communications would not have been worthy of planning or strategic thinking. Your advice to those generals would be "What is the point of a strategy when our Messengers might get delayed or killed"?

As for games, do you also believe games like Magic are void of strategy because you are not ensured that you will draw that key card whenever you want it? I would argue that players come in with a definite strategy in mind after building a deck...sure there are tactical decisions to be made in reaction to the game and your opponent but for good players those are just necessary evils until the overall strategy takes hold. How is BL dramatically different?

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Gabe Alvaro
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Altauri wrote:
If that were true, warfare prior to the advent of instant communications would not have been worthy of planning or strategic thinking. Your advice to those generals would be "What is the point of a strategy when our Messengers might get delayed or killed"?
This is a really good point to remember for understanding what the C&C system is attempting to represent. Lines of communication have always been a very serious consideration in the history of battle. Most of us who've never been warriors forget, or simply have no idea, that for much of human history communication between commanders and their troops has not been instantaneous, though many different and clever ways to help make it so have been employed. But when it has broken down, things have gone seriously wrong even when accompanied by the best of plans.
 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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Altauri wrote:
As for games, do you also believe games like Magic are void of strategy because you are not ensured that you will draw that key card whenever you want it? I would argue that players come in with a definite strategy in mind after building a deck...
Actually, building a deck is textbook strategic behavior. The only thing remotely similar in BL is selecting a war council...but the're no comparison.

So, trying to compare BL and magic doesn't really make sense now, does it?




 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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Altauri wrote:

Perhaps I am just "incapable of comprehending it" but I don't understand your assertion here that "planning in BL is useless" because you can't move every piece at the time of your choosing. If that were true, warfare prior to the advent of instant communications would not have been worthy of planning or strategic thinking. Your advice to those generals would be "What is the point of a strategy when our Messengers might get delayed or killed"?
I guess you're right (about the comprehension part).

In real life, choosing how to deploy troops, and giving a battle plan to each unit (division, brigade, batallion, squadron and so on) before the battle is strategic. Planning beforehand how you'll position your troops and where to better handle a surprise attack and minimize its impact, that is also strategic. Also, choosing the type of units you want to take to the battlefield, that is strategic. None of those require instant communications, do they?

We could go on, but what's the point?



 
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J Mathews
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rarbelaez wrote:
Altauri wrote:
As for games, do you also believe games like Magic are void of strategy because you are not ensured that you will draw that key card whenever you want it? I would argue that players come in with a definite strategy in mind after building a deck...
Actually, building a deck is textbook strategic behavior. The only thing remotely similar in BL is selecting a war council...but the're no comparison.

So, trying to compare BL and magic doesn't really make sense now, does it?
Now you are just contradicting yourself and your made-up definitions. Please cite your definitions of your terms from a secondary source and stay consistant in your usage or you are right and there is no reason to continue.
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Jay Borden
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I think it’s poorly said that ‘pre-game planning is useless’, but I think I see the point the statement was trying to make.

In Battlelore, you can set up the same general plans before starting just like in any other games. It’s never a bad idea to identify weak points in the enemy line or terrain formation where you can set up. Your cards will determine if those plans are possible and still the best option though.

Let’s assume a group of forest hexes are 2 spots forward on the left flank and a reasonable pre-game plan may be to take those hexes if possible.

Here’s an extreme example with your starting hand: 0|2|0 - darken the skies - green banner - 3|0|0 - 1|1|1; and one of your lore spells is magic missile. Are you going to follow the pre-battle plan or try to maximize the hand you drew? I know I’d be setting up my archers for an early attack hopefully before my opponent draws a foil or other spell that will limit my attack dice.

A bit less extreme with the following opening hand: 2|0|0 – 1|0|0 - 0|1|0 - 0|3|0 - 0|0|C. You can get 3 units into that forest, but is it the best plan? I would probably start with the left scout card to move a back unit forward, but keep it in formation. If I drew another left flank card, then using the 2 order to get to the woods seems like a good move for a hypothetical situation. If I didn’t draw another left flank card, would I want to get close to the enemy where I have no more orders? Even if I would be in a supported formation in a forest, I’d hope a more promising advantage was available.

I pre-plan every game. While I’m setting up, I’m looking at the match ups of units that are closest together. I do a rough order count of how long it will take for our lines to meet at different parts of the board. I look at where the terrain is that may play into the early conflicts. I’m always analyzing though. After my opponent show his command card, I’ll be working through all the combinations of moves he could do and how I would react before he points out which units are going to be activated. After each roll, I think of which unit he’ll choose to roll next; and what the even dice will yield; and start thinking of what to play next to counter it; and a million other things like what he’ll take for lore this round. I don’t even really think about it, I just look and analyze everything as its being played out.

Anyway…when the game begins, I look at my cards to form my plan. All that other information gathered during the set up is just stored away. While it may happen that I’ll drive the conflict towards one of those pre-game ideas, I consider it coincidental that the cards came that made one of those plans my best choice. If I came into the game with no pre-game planning, I’d likely do the same exact thing since I base my plays on setting up to gain the best advantage possible with my current resources and positions.

So I would agree that pre-game planning is useless in the sense that what I have to work with will ultimately determine how I play out my turns.

Interesting discussion, if you take out the bickering over the terms being used.
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J Mathews
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PlanetSmasher wrote:
In Battlelore, you can set up the same general plans before starting just like in any other games. It’s never a bad idea to identify weak points in the enemy line or terrain formation where you can set up. Your cards will determine if those plans are possible and still the best option though.
According to the BGG defintion of strategy, what you describe is strategy. If we look at other definitions, it's not, but from the BGG definition it is. There are actually many games that you cannot make a plan before you start but after setup: Alhambra, Carcassonne, El Grande and Acquire are examples of those.

Now discussing the best ways to create those plans, and effective ways of implementing them, that would be an interesting discussion (but first we'd have to agree that planning is possible in this game, which concept appears to have a vocal detractor). From what you write, we seem to differ in the amount of influence the cards in your hand have to your overall plan (read: strategy), but this thread might not be the best place for that (due to the signal:noise ratio).
 
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Jay Borden
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EventHorizon wrote:
PlanetSmasher wrote:
In Battlelore, you can set up the same general plans before starting just like in any other games. It’s never a bad idea to identify weak points in the enemy line or terrain formation where you can set up. Your cards will determine if those plans are possible and still the best option though.
According to the BGG defintion of strategy, what you describe is strategy.
And later in the non-quoted part of my post I am agreeing that it is "useless". If you are going to quote me, please try to keep it in the context of my point. I avoided the terms strategy and tactics on purpose to avoid being dragged into that side of the conversation. We get it that the terms are used incorrectly or have different meanings to some gamers (myself included). There's a good discussion point under that noise that I was attempting to capture.

If your plans are dependent on the cards and resources availible, wouldn't it be better to look at the cards and determine the best play from the options availible with those known resources?

The cards tell what you can do. That's what you have to work with. You will see others in the game, but the ones in hand are what I concentrate on in an attempt to minimize the amount I let the luck of the draw determine if I can carry out pre-made plans. I analyze the battlefield, but don't make solid plans until I have my cards. Those plans are constantly updated as troops move and wounds are taken. If you want to call that strategy, go ahead. I still call Battlelore a great tactical game.

My apologies to the original poster.
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J Mathews
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Point taken, I apologize for misquoting you and won't use the terms in question anymore. This discussion is more interesting anyways.

As I said above, you and I seem to differ on the usefulness of a plan created before you look at your cards. I don't consider such a plan useless, I consider such a plan as necessary for good play. Maybe it's more useful in Memoir '44, where formation plays less of a role, than BattleLore. However, I think that forcing your cards to conform to your plan is more effective than trying to make your plan conform to what you have in your hand.

I'm not saying that you foolishly cling to a plan after it falls apart, but if looking at the scenario, you feel that attacking the left flank is the best way to approach the scenario, then there are many ways that you can follow that plan with the cards in your hand, even if you don't have left flank cards. Arrainging your other troops into a more defensible position, using archers in a different section to weaken the left flank or blunt an opponent's advance, moving other troops over to the left flank, etc are all ways to stick to your original plan without having the 'right' cards. While you should keep an eye out for counter-attack oppotunities and breaks in the opponent's line, if the weakness that you choose to exploit is in the left flank, that's where you should focus your efforts until another oppotunity presents itself.

PlanetSmasher wrote:
If your plans are dependent on the cards and resources availible, wouldn't it be better to look at the cards and determine the best play from the options availible with those known resources?
And I guess what I am saying is that my plans are not dependant on the cards in my hand. The number of cards are finite and you are drawing from a fixed deck with a known composition. As long as you are ok with trusting in the unknown and creating contingency plans, I believe that you can work towards a broader, more long-term plan than just what you can see in your hand. But this might just be a play-style difference more than anything else. What do you think?
Quote:
The cards tell what you can do. That's what you have to work with. You will see others in the game, but the ones in hand are what I concentrate on in an attempt to minimize the amount I let the luck of the draw determine if I can carry out pre-made plans. I analyze the battlefield, but don't make solid plans until I have my cards. Those plans are constantly updated as troops move and wounds are taken. If you want to call that strategy, go ahead. I still call Battlelore a great tactical game.
This is what I was trying to point out way earlier in this thread, but I'm not sure that was heard over the noise. When I play this game, I look at it opposite from what you do. To me, my units tell me what I can do. The positioning of them in relation to the opponent is what matters to me. The cards are secondary to where the units are and what they can do. But I think that there is more than one way to play and look at this game.
 
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Jay Borden
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EventHorizon wrote:
...if looking at the scenario, you feel that attacking the left flank is the best way to approach the scenario...
Here's the meat of the topic. What makes one place better than another to attack. Superior troops like my reds are close to your greens? A weak formation with only 3 units away from the rest of your troops or troops lined up rather than in triangle 3-packs? Terrain? Already wounded troops?

Battlelore's big difference from M'44 is the battleback attacks. Assuming your opponent is not going to give up his formations, most attacks will result in the opponent also rolling dice. The way to offset those attacks is by 1. getting one of those first mentioned advantages, or more importantly 2. rotating units so the wounds are spread out rather than letting your opponent concentrate on a single unit. You need orders where the conflicts are happening in order to do that.

You can set up a formation and hope it holds. Putting a unit in a forest or hill can help the odds in that. Moving towards an area that you cannot influence with the command cards currently in hand is not a good plan in my opinion. That's why I keep stressing the importance of planning based on your current resources and don't think you can effectively have a pre-game strategy. All those first mentioned advantages will gain you a couple of dice here and there, but the orders are what will give you the opportunity to drive and adjust the conflict as needed based on how those dice turn up.
 
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Man, I really hope I get to meet some of you at BGG.Con so we can play BattleLore and I can share my strategy for winning. I'll have a different one for each game because of terrain, War Councils, opposing troop placements, and initial card draws, but at the end of each game I can tell you what my strategy was and whether it was successful or not.
 
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Saw this thread on the splash page

Blue Moon - Tactical not strategic?

Thought about it but after this, decided not to get involved. shake
 
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The difference in opinion the recent posts appears not be be whether planning is possible in BL but how dependant it's implimentation is on the cards in your hand. Basically how well your plan survives the friction of combat.

I think players individual opinions on this are valid as to a degree it's dependant on your playing style and the Lore Council you intend to use in support of your plan.

I don't see any problems with juggling the sequence of your plans implimentation. If you've got archers and darken the sky then use them. The problem starts when you continually postpone it's implimentation to be side tracked by something that apppears to have more instant gratification and is already in your hand. Often the sum of these "quick wins" doesn't amount to very much and is offset by your oppenent doing the same. If, however, you can make them stick over the long term they are entirely valid.

I think the more dificult decisions come when you have to make an aggresive movement in a number of imperfect steps to impliment your plan.(Moving two units it's hard to stay bold!) Shying away from this however makes it appear that you don't have enough activations to impliment the plan in the first place, but if you're too aggresive it can all go horribly wrong!

There should be no doubt however that there are ocassions when one side has a clear advantage over the other in a sector and you need to take advantage of these oportunities when they arrive, Lore decks and creature can often be the key that reveals that an apparently solid position is actually very weak though it's usually the cavalry that mop up what's left.

BL tends to start with the sides quite close together on the board and this has a tendancy to suck players into a reactive stance, and for me diminishes the game experience. In Epic BL units can cover greater distances and there is more space so planning is more practicle.
 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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EventHorizon wrote:

Now you are just contradicting yourself and your made-up definitions. Please cite your definitions of your terms from a secondary source and stay consistant in your usage or you are right and there is no reason to continue.
What made up definitions?

My definitions are formal, textbook definitions. I'm not the one silly enough to take a formal definition of the word "strategy" from a glossary on BGG and stand by it like it was from Harvard business Review, or some other accredited source.

Contradicting myself how?

Building a deck in magic IS strategic behavior, as I have defined it time and time again. Any magic player will tell you that. And that statement in no way contradicts what I've been posting time and again.

I've made my point through arguments. Clear arguments.

You're the one "assuming", "inferring", and chasing your tail through endless pointless posts, not convincing anyone.

Perhaps you dislike the fact that almost every other person who has participated has agreed that Battlelore is tactic? That there's no sense to pre-game planning?








 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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EventHorizon wrote:
PlanetSmasher wrote:
In Battlelore, you can set up the same general plans before starting just like in any other games. It’s never a bad idea to identify weak points in the enemy line or terrain formation where you can set up. Your cards will determine if those plans are possible and still the best option though.
According to the BGG defintion of strategy, what you describe is strategy. If we look at other definitions, it's not, but from the BGG definition it is. There are actually many games that you cannot make a plan before you start but after setup: Alhambra, Carcassonne, El Grande and Acquire are examples of those.

Now discussing the best ways to create those plans, and effective ways of implementing them, that would be an interesting discussion (but first we'd have to agree that planning is possible in this game, which concept appears to have a vocal detractor). From what you write, we seem to differ in the amount of influence the cards in your hand have to your overall plan (read: strategy), but this thread might not be the best place for that (due to the signal:noise ratio).

PlanetSmasher wrote:

I am agreeing that it is "useless". If you are going to quote me, please try to keep it in the context of my point.
Agree 100% with everything, specially the latter.


PlanetSmasher wrote:

The cards tell what you can do. That's what you have to work with. You will see others in the game, but the ones in hand are what I concentrate on in an attempt to minimize the amount I let the luck of the draw determine if I can carry out pre-made plans. I analyze the battlefield, but don't make solid plans until I have my cards. Those plans are constantly updated as troops move and wounds are taken.
I totally agree.


PlanetSmasher wrote:

If you want to call that strategy, go ahead. I still call Battlelore a great tactical game.
Once again, I Agree 100%.
 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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Definitions of Strategy

http://www.investorwords.com/4775/strategy.html
Long-term action plan for achieving a goal.


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/strategy
An elaborate and systematic plan of action

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/strategy
A careful plan or method, a clever stratagem, the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal


http://www.answers.com/topic/strategy
A plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal.

In these definitions, it is clear that the strategic objective is something different from the strategy, is what the strategy pursues. It is also clear, that the strategy is a detailed plan of action.


EventHorizon wrote:

Oh, and I've asked 3 or 4 people if they can figure out what you mean by stating that there is a difference between defining strategic objectives and planning and no one can figure it out. Nor can they figure out how defining strategic objectives isn't strategy but planning is. So what are your common meanings for those words? Or are we all 'incapable of comprehending it'?
Well, reading all the definitions where planning and objectives are not the same thing, I feel pretty confident that the answer to your question is the latter (the incapable of comprehending part).

But thanks for asking!
 
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Roberto Arbelaez
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EventHorizon wrote:

I'm not saying that you foolishly cling to a plan after it falls apart
Good for you.

EventHorizon wrote:

but if looking at the scenario, you feel that attacking the left flank is the best way to approach the scenario, then there are many ways that you can follow that plan with the cards in your hand, even if you don't have left flank cards.
Actually, attacking the left flank is an objective. An objective you can pursue by different means, or through different actions.

There's only one way to follow a plan, if you divert, you're not following it anymore (and that's OK if conditions require it, that's what tactics are for, as long as what you do is still aligned with the strategic objectives).

But there are many possible ways to pursue an objective.

So thanks for making my point.

EventHorizon wrote:

Arrainging your other troops into a more defensible position, using archers in a different section to weaken the left flank or blunt an opponent's advance, moving other troops over to the left flank, etc are all ways to stick to your original plan without having the 'right' cards.
Those other alternatives are ways to pursue your objective. You couldn't follow your plan, because the cards didn't allow it.

My point exactly.

 
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Rather than continue with the back and forth quoting and rebutting, which could continue because there's so much material, I think that I will clear up something that seems to be a misunderstanding. I agree that BattleLore is mainly a tactical game. I do not think that it is a strategic game. What I said at the beginning was that I think that there is a strategic component to it. This is in contrast to a game like Carcassonne, which has no strategic component at all, or a game like Magic, which is mainly a strategic game with card play playing a smaller role than deck-building. The strategic component of BattleLore isn't as important as the tactical component, and thus BattleLore is correctly considered a tactical game. The strategic component of BattleLore has been enhanced by the addition of the expansion, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't there to begin with.

Now we can talk about the benefits of pre-game planning and how useful or helpful that is, but that is an individual player difference. I personally feel that making a reletively detailed plan before starting the game is important, whereas PlanetSmasher sees it as useless. But the fact still remains that you can make a plan beforehand and, even if useless due to card draws, the fact still remains that you can make just as good and detailed of a plan with BL as you can with M:TG (both being card-based, the following of a plan is up in the air and dependant on card draw). The presence of a plan says that there is strategy, by all the definitions that were presented. It's like the wargame arguement about simulation- even a bad simulation is still a simulation as long as an attempt was made to simulate.

So, to repeat, I have never said that BattleLore was a strategic game, I said that there was a strategic aspect to the game. It is a mainly tactical game (maybe 85/15 or so), and I feel that the import of the pre-game plan varies depending on the player.
 
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Paul Fortner
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I have $50 on Jon over Roberto best of 7! Patience over reactionary ftw!
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J Mathews
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lol

I'm up for it over VASSAL but I doubt the feeling is mutual.
 
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Jay Borden
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EventHorizon wrote:
I personally feel that making a reletively detailed plan before starting the game is important, whereas PlanetSmasher sees it as useless.
To clarify, I agreed with the spirit of calling it useless because the available resources in hand and turn to turn unit positions will ultimately determine what I do each turn. Identifying possible points to gain an advantage is not useless. Trying to execute detailed plans on those identified points before you see what orders are available is useless to me.

Without you defining how specific those detailed plans are, it’s just going to turn into another pointless argument over the terms being used. I picture detailed plans as specific unit maneuvers (“move this red unit on the left to that hex”). You can be using this term in a far more general way like the earlier “move to the hill” or “advance on the left flank”, but that’s not what it sounds like without an example to help put it in context.


EventHorizon wrote:
…you feel that attacking the left flank is the best way to approach the scenario, then there are many ways that you can follow that plan with the cards in your hand, even if you don't have left flank cards. Arrainging your other troops into a more defensible position, using archers in a different section to weaken the left flank or blunt an opponent's advance, moving other troops over to the left flank, etc are all ways to stick to your original plan without having the 'right' cards.
If you have a plan to attack the left flank and do not get cards in that section, but do other actions like you mention above…are you really still following your plan? Aren’t you executing your orders based on what your cards allow and not your original strategy?

Is it just a difference in how we are reading what you are saying? Your example is an outline of my exact point. The pre-game plan of the left flank attack is ‘useless’ in a sense because my hand needs to support it. Knowing you could gain an advantage on the left is not useless. Playing with that in mind, but using your orders availible to gain other advantages while keeping that possiblity open is also not useless. Saying that doing all those other actions is following your original plan is quite a stretch...especially when said as a counter argument to a ‘play based on cards in hand’ point.

If you are saying your strategy is identifying where you can gain an advantage, then I agree with you…but that is far from how it reads to me.

If you want to continue a discussion regarding how we differ in our approach, I’ve pretty much spelled out exactly what I look for to gain an advantage in the following 2 posts.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/164161
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/167359

I’ve tried to avoid general terms and gave specific examples for all my points as much as possible. I’d be interested to know if you agree or not.
 
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J Mathews
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There's a lot of good ideas and concepts in what you write. I agree with a lot of it. Both threads are must-reads for anyone wanting to get better at BattleLore. Stylistically, you and I differ, but that's not a big deal.

From what I can tell, the big difference can be boiled down to two philosophies. One looks at their hand and thinks, "What plan can I implement from the cards that I have?". The other looks at their hand and thinks, "How can I use these cards to achieve/further my plan?" You do the first, I do the second. I don't think that either way is necessarily better than the other. It's just a different style.

Personally, I don't see the cards as the limiting factor that you seem to, I see my units as the limiting factor. But that might be part of the divide in philosophies as well.
 
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Nicholas
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I think Jon and Jay should play each other!!!

While you are playing, write up the decision-making process you are going through and do a session report! To me it wouldn't really matter who won and it wouldn't prove one method was better than the other, it would just be interesting to read your thought process and see how and where it differs during a real game.

 
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Nicholas
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... and for the record, this is way too much analysis for a game that is mostly luck!

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