Capt. Winters
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Finally. I was going to play FF 8 – Mzensk pocket – solo both sides. I have been looking at it for a long time, playing the pc version a few times. This huge scenario with so many twists and tactical challenges have caught my attention but because of the time factor, I have not been able to play against another player yet. Now was the time. I was determined to play this scenario which looks to be a very good one, even if I had to play alone. But how good was it?

This text is a mix of a session report, discussion of AP variants/mechanics, and strategies. I like to test out different variants to find the best game experience to my liking and have played a lot with AP mechanics 3d6, AP 7, AP 5-10 and Solo Chits.
Now was the time for trying out something new; a hybrid between solo chits and a tiny AP pool…I have been working on it for a while and needed a huge scenario to test out where asymmetrical imbalance of Units, was no issue, which could affect the testing. FF # 8 Mzensk Pocket was the perfect test.

First, I played this scenario twice, with two different strategies and two totally different outcomes.

GAME SETUP:
1.Firefight: FF 8 AtB Mzensk Pocket
2.Game mode: Solo both sides
3.AP mechanics:Solo chits with my own variant(AP pool of 3 and solo chits)
4.Hidden Soviet artillery fixes:
Soviet plotted 6-8 coordinates and 2 hits were resolved with dice randomly
5.Hidden German unit fixes: German used 3 RE counters per unit and resolved with dice

1.Firefight 8: A complex and hugely challenging scenario which only can really be understood by playing the board game version. In the pc version you don’t see all the units, hill aspects and other things because it is so big and the pc screen doesn’t give this overview well enough. Here we have both sides being both attacker and defender which takes a lot of thinking.

2.Game mode: I don’t get to play the 2-4 player firefights enough and have decided to play them both sides. In the big scenarios there are so many choices all the time that arguments that ‘you know what the enemy is thinking’, is not valid for most of the game. By only focusing on the best move, many new options arise as the game go on and I manage to surprise myself often.

3.AP mechanics:
Earlier I have developed a variant for solo chits play where first unit/AI action each round is ‘free,’ if it is a 1 AP action. This works great. Now I wanted to push this further by allowing each unit to have at least 3 AP before turning to spent checks. I wanted more unit endurance and planning and still be able to use the chits, which gives faster play than tracking lots of AP per unit.

I put a little dice upon the actual unit and tracking used AP so far. If first action was to shoot for 4 AP, the first 3 AP is free and the unit must make a 1 AP check for spent (4-3=1). This method combines some AP pool resources and randomness of the chits. Very interesting from a game designing perspective in my opinion.

In addition; Every AP chit saying “A.I. only" is regarded as a free turn. There are 10 of these among the 55 chits which gives more randomness and staying power to the units.

Session report – Fight I:

Soviet Force 2 took an offensive approach – and paid dearly. They were smashed by superior German tanks working in teams. In the west the same thing happened as the Soviets stormed the heavily defended village – and took a beating. Germans won quit easily in the end.

Session report – Fight II:

Soviets Force 2 were defensive and withdraw to the hills in the centre and defended these areas. In the west they were also more patient and waited for the artillery in early round 2 to do the job, before moving in. This strategy was much better for the Soviets and there were hard and tense battles everywhere! In the end they won but it was very close until the last units.

Summary:
The variant as described mixing the solo chits with 3 AP per unit was a fantastic success, getting the best out of both systems. Being able to play this with the marvellous FF# 8 Mzensk Pocket is the absolute best war gaming experience I have had, so far.
I have never experienced a CoH fight more entertaining mixed with such tactical dilemmas, as this.

It is a shame that these firefight is left un played because there are no other to play against. Solo works great here and this FF must surly be one of the best firefights there is.

Right now I have started my third fight with the same system but his time tweaking the German tactics a bit, to see if they can manage another win. The score is 1-1 after two fights.


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Rodney Cockrell
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Thanks for the write-up. It's interesting to see how the AP spend is evolving over time. I like your idea.
 
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uwe eickert
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Great piece Herr Winters!
I am finishing the Storms of Steel rules and would like to get your input on these. They include the d10 Spent Check die. Its sides are: 1,1,2,3,3,4,5,5,6,7.
We decided on this since we have found that squads really did not and do not like moving much during combat! Even in open terrain, when fired upon, the inclination is to drop and find cover.
If you have a d10 and would like to try this system, make the 0 = 1, 9 = 3, and 8 = 5. We use a permanent marker.
I will also be posting or can email the CAP cards, which are called 'Command Support' in the game.
Now we no longer track APs or CAPs. Just take:
Unit Action
Spent Check

Unit Actions can be affected by Command Support.

This method allowed us to cut 40% of the rules in section 1 of the rulebook and makes everything VERY streamlined. BUT it also created more battle chaos and FOW in a two player game.

Let me know if interested and I can email you what I have so far.
Sincerely,
Uwe
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Kevin L. Kitchens
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uweeickert wrote:
Great piece Herr Winters!
I am finishing the Storms of Steel rules and would like to get your input on these. They include the d10 Spent Check die. Its sides are: 1,1,2,3,3,4,5,5,6,7.
We decided on this since we have found that squads really did not and do not like moving much during combat! Even in open terrain, when fired upon, the inclination is to drop and find cover.
If you have a d10 and would like to try this system, make the 0 = 1, 9 = 3, and 8 = 5. We use a permanent marker.
I will also be posting or can email the CAP cards, which are called 'Command Support' in the game.
Now we no longer track APs or CAPs. Just take:
Unit Action
Spent Check

Unit Actions can be affected by Command Support.

This method allowed us to cut 40% of the rules in section 1 of the rulebook and makes everything VERY streamlined. BUT it also created more battle chaos and FOW in a two player game.

Let me know if interested and I can email you what I have so far.
Sincerely,
Uwe


No chance of including the cards/chits instead of the dice? Just don't like the pure random a die brings vs. the deck that gets reshuffled intermittently. Seems a much weaker alternative since we already have the superior system in the solo game.

Love that the APs and CAPs are going away too though, the spent check draw works so much better than tracking them.
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Christopher Cline
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Interesting read! I have a miniatures setup for this scenario, and to speed play, I substituted in a D8 roll in lieu of AP expenditure in order to drastically streamline the gameplay for the sake of three players who were not experienced with the system. I would want to try the D8 system more extensively to see how the active/spent probability works out. I would intrigued to compare it with Uwe's alternatively-distributed D10 method.
 
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Russ Williams
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klkitchens wrote:
No chance of including the cards/chits instead of the dice? Just don't like the pure random a die brings vs. the deck that gets reshuffled intermittently.

Out of curiosity, why not? Do you actually card/chit-count and does that affect your in-game decisions?
 
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Kevin L. Kitchens
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russ wrote:
klkitchens wrote:
No chance of including the cards/chits instead of the dice? Just don't like the pure random a die brings vs. the deck that gets reshuffled intermittently.

Out of curiosity, why not? Do you actually card/chit-count and does that affect your in-game decisions?


Nope. Just like the suspense and purity of it and the built in limitations of highs and lows as well as the random reshuffle/restore mechanism.

Just "feels" right.

And since it wasn't broken see no justifiable reason to alter it (except that a die is cheaper to include?).

That said, it's not going anywhere. The solo system for now will still include it and the chits PNP is still available. So just like replacing the 7 APs we have now with it, gamers are free to decide to replace the d10 method that will become "official".
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Lewis Karl
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I would say first. Just get the game out. I won't use the D10 and if I use the new rules will use the Solo cards, so I have a preference for the cards, but can't explain why.
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Capt. Winters
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Tofufury wrote:
Very interesting. Do you activate the unit you give the 3 APs and lose the unspent points when activating a new unit or are there lots and lots of dice on the board if you move units (1AP spent)?

Think Ill try this over christmas


Every Unit has got 3 AP to spend before spent check, and therefore loose nothing. Mark them with dice and remove when used 3 Ap or more. I also thought it could be messy with dice all over, but in reality there are seldom more than 6 dice on a map. Remember you only track when units use 1 or 2 AP as you remove the dice when units have used 3 AP. Activated units do spend their 3 AP quite fast so dice are likewise removed fast.

Because of tactical play where defenders awaits patiently for the attacker to move, there are not activted defenders all over the map and is no problem at all.

I would like to hear how people like this new version when playing CoH.
 
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Capt. Winters
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uweeickert wrote:
Great piece Herr Winters!
I am finishing the Storms of Steel rules and would like to get your input on these. They include the d10 Spent Check die. Its sides are: 1,1,2,3,3,4,5,5,6,7.
We decided on this since we have found that squads really did not and do not like moving much during combat! Even in open terrain, when fired upon, the inclination is to drop and find cover.
If you have a d10 and would like to try this system, make the 0 = 1, 9 = 3, and 8 = 5. We use a permanent marker.
I will also be posting or can email the CAP cards, which are called 'Command Support' in the game.
Now we no longer track APs or CAPs. Just take:
Unit Action
Spent Check

Unit Actions can be affected by Command Support.

This method allowed us to cut 40% of the rules in section 1 of the rulebook and makes everything VERY streamlined. BUT it also created more battle chaos and FOW in a two player game.

Let me know if interested and I can email you what I have so far.
Sincerely,
Uwe


Hi Uwe, yes I can take a look at it. Have sent you a PM.
 
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Ben Bosmans
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WoW a VERY nice round up...

I was planning to game a LOT of CoH in 2018 btw.... and this is just making it more hot.

I played the KV1 scenario many times in the same way. Trying it with different tools and approaches and in about every way I tried it (computer, fixed AP, random AP, chit/card draw) the scenario keeps its freshness and fun.

The new 10 sided die of Uwe makes me want to play it like that.

And I am a fan of the chit pull mechanic too... But perhaps the new dice rolls are a bit more user friendly. We all like to roll dice any way.

Thank you for the report on Firefight 8 as it seems a real fun scenario.

The most exciting thing is that the AP's are now officially "out" which for most of us is a good thing I guess.

The limited AP's were liked by some, but it did link this wargame to euro like moving and very Artificial play.

If you saw some negative comments from wargamers, it was due to this more euro like mechanic of managing troops. At least you can now hop from one unit or group to another and back again.

 
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Lewis Karl
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I think the variable AP mechanism in which APs are hidden from opponent is far more realistic than rolling a D10, though I haven't tried D10 method.

In variable AP you have a sense of being able to plan ahead as a unit which makes sense to me. You have fog of war (opponent doesn't know how many actions you can perform), you know precisely how your well-trained unit should perform in theory/plans (7 AP), but of course things happen when you put theory/plans to action (hence your roll may increase or decrease that theoretical limit).

In D10, you can make plans, but you have no clue what are the limits of your unit's capabilities so your planning capacity is unrealistic; not only hampered by unforeseen events but randomly hampered.

I think its a mistake, but until I try it, won't know for sure.
 
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Danick Cloutier
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pisqueeter wrote:
I think the variable AP mechanism in which APs are hidden from opponent is far more realistic than rolling a D10, though I haven't tried D10 method.

In variable AP you have a sense of being able to plan ahead as a unit which makes sense to me. You have fog of war (opponent doesn't know how many actions you can perform), you know precisely how your well-trained unit should perform in theory/plans (7 AP), but of course things happen when you put theory/plans to action (hence your roll may increase or decrease that theoretical limit).

In D10, you can make plans, but you have no clue what are the limits of your unit's capabilities so your planning capacity is unrealistic; not only hampered by unforeseen events but randomly hampered.

I think its a mistake, but until I try it, won't know for sure.


that's where CAPs comes in.
 
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Lewis Karl
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maedhros wrote:
pisqueeter wrote:
I think the variable AP mechanism in which APs are hidden from opponent is far more realistic than rolling a D10, though I haven't tried D10 method.

In variable AP you have a sense of being able to plan ahead as a unit which makes sense to me. You have fog of war (opponent doesn't know how many actions you can perform), you know precisely how your well-trained unit should perform in theory/plans (7 AP), but of course things happen when you put theory/plans to action (hence your roll may increase or decrease that theoretical limit).

In D10, you can make plans, but you have no clue what are the limits of your unit's capabilities so your planning capacity is unrealistic; not only hampered by unforeseen events but randomly hampered.

I think its a mistake, but until I try it, won't know for sure.


that's where CAPs comes in.


I always viewed CAPs as a discretionary reserve to represent the commander's or leader's additional resources/planning capability. I'm talking about the units capabilities (APs) which in the D10 method are apparently entirely unknown to the leader, which is not realistic. And indeed, the rules say:

Quote:
The strength, functionality, and effectiveness
of a fighting force relies on its logistical and command
structure. Leaders coordinate attacks, keep the morale high
in the company, direct group attacks, and much more. The
logistical structure is responsible for supplying ammo to the
front line troops, evacuating wounded soldiers, communicating
with the HQ command, etc. If a position had to be held, extra
ammunition, spare parts, and men were sent to reinforce the
defenders. Command and logistical availability are abstracted
in the game through the use of CAPs.


A good commander would always know the base capabilities of units under his command and have an additional bit of resources/logistical planning to be applied as needed (the CAPS). With D10 the commander has no clue how his units can perform in theory, unless he does something gamey like determine the mean and standard deviation of the die roll. I try to avoid that kind of malarky.
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Ben Bosmans
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pisqueeter wrote:
I think the variable AP mechanism in which APs are hidden from opponent is far more realistic than rolling a D10, though I haven't tried D10 method.

In variable AP you have a sense of being able to plan ahead as a unit which makes sense to me. You have fog of war (opponent doesn't know how many actions you can perform), you know precisely how your well-trained unit should perform in theory/plans (7 AP), but of course things happen when you put theory/plans to action (hence your roll may increase or decrease that theoretical limit).

In D10, you can make plans, but you have no clue what are the limits of your unit's capabilities so your planning capacity is unrealistic; not only hampered by unforeseen events but randomly hampered.

I think its a mistake, but until I try it, won't know for sure.


BUT the HUGE advantage with both the spent solo cards/chits mechanic or the new D10 mechanic is that you can hop from one unit/group to another unit/group and BACK again...

... which renders this game far less euro like and far more wargame.

Also I don't see ANY problem: you plan, but you never know for sure you can execute it due to some troops who no longer obey the orders as was planned.

Rather far more realistic than the old AP system ...

The vast majority of players will prefer the solo spent mechanic, be that with cards.chits or a die.

In NO way I am going back to fixed or even variable Action Points as this is much too limiting and at the same time too much number counting in what is supposed to be a tactical wargame where you are NEVER sure what will happen to hamper your planned actions.

It is a fabulous new mechanic in COH.

As an extra side note: not only AP are finally gone ! (sigh), but also the Commander Action Points are being reviewed and this comes directly from Uwe himself.

I guess that solves your problems too: a squad you thought would reach point X, doesn't react like you thought it would: enter a new CAP system.

 
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