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Subject: Never teach your kids all the rules rss

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Bonaparte
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Yesterday I decided to teach my 11 year old son GMT’s Battle Line. I have owned it for several years but had not yet got this one out to play with my sons. We read through the rules together and he seemed to catch on fairly quickly. The one hang up was the use of the Tactics Cards. I explained how they worked and that a player can choose to draw either a Tactic Card or a Troop Card so he could get and play one if he wanted or not.

We started the game and after a few plays he claimed the flag at the center of the line with a yellow 4, 5, and 6 Wedge. He caught on quickly to the dynamic of claiming flags even if the other player was not finished with that column. He then claimed another flag two away from the center with a Battalion Order that totaled one more than mine. Now if he claimed the one in between he would win before we had even really got started. I managed to claim an edge flag but was very leery of his looming three in a row in the center. My son was working there on another Wedge with an orange 2 and 4 which I could not beat. To try to eliminate this threat I drew a Tactic Card and got the Traitor. I was able to steal one of his cards and reduce his wedge to a single 4 card. Unfortunately he immediately placed the Orange 6 and again he needed only a single card to end the game.

The game went on for a few minutes, each claiming another flag. Each of us was drawing cards hoping to pull the orange 5 but it did not seem to ever come. I decided instead to try another Tactic Card. I drew Fog which allows only the troop totals to count and not the formation. I was certain that I could outscore his formation as long as the wedge would not count. The following turn I played the Fog card. He was very disappointed as he had just drawn the Orange 5 from the deck (the card I would have drawn if I had not taken a Tactic Card). I suggested that he still had a decent chance of winning, just not with that formation. After a moment his face lit up and he said, “wait a minute, didn’t you say that a player can only play one more Tactic Card than the other player?” He stared at me while I mulled the situation. I had already played Traitor. He had not even drawn a Tactics card. Then he says exactly that. “Dad, you have already played the Traitor, I have not played any. You can’t play that Fog card.... (long pause)...I think I am going to win” he finishes with a big smile. I picked up my Fog card and lamely placed a card on some other formation. He then played the Orange 5 and said, “that would have been your card... sorry dad”.
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Ian McCarthy
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Good story, that's an easy rule to lose track of, definitely.
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Pasta Batman
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Been there. It kind of spoiled the game, because neither of us picked up on it until after the turn.

Here's an idea (which I just thought of). Place a special token to the side of the battle line. It has three possible positions: on the battle line (starting position), and one position to either side. When playing a tactic card, move this 'tactics token' one position towards your opponent. You can only play a tactics card if the token is on your side or in the middle (i.e., there is an open position in your opponent's direction).
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Peter Stubner
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Really??....you can only play one more tactic card than your opponent? I am going to check out the rule book when I get home. I can't believe I've been playing this wrong for years. If it's true I know understand why some people complain about tacitics cards.


I could not agree that Tactics cards are so random and game wrecking. I've always played that you can use as many tactics cards in a row (one/turn of course) and hold as many as you like in your hand as you like. In this way, the tactics cards usually go in the 1st 3rd of our games. Then you know what your opponent holds and so can plan accordingly. The randomness is in what you get in your hand, not in what your opponent can play on you. (if that last line makes sense)

P
 
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Bonaparte
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Fury wrote:
Really??....you can only play one more tactic card than your opponent? I am going to check out the rule book when I get home. I can't believe I've been playing this wrong for years. If it's true I know understand why some people complain about tacitics cards.
P


It is true. I think the game would suck if playing it without that limitation.
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Pasta Batman
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Fury wrote:
I could not agree that Tactics cards are so random and game wrecking. I've always played that you can use as many tactics cards in a row (one/turn of course) and hold as many as you like in your hand as you like. In this way, the tactics cards usually go in the 1st 3rd of our games. Then you know what your opponent holds and so can plan accordingly. The randomness is in what you get in your hand, not in what your opponent can play on you. (if that last line makes sense)

Well, that certainly is quite a different game (note that the official rules don't prevent you from holding as many tactics cards as you like). In our games, there are typically only a few tactics cards played. There's a tendency to want to hold on to them until late in the game, at a crucial point. This is because, after you've shot one, you're at your opponent's mercy until they play one, and they can then play another one very quickly. I imagine the original intent was to add a bit to the original Schotten Totten, without overpowering the basic play, and I think this was done very well. The way you play, it sounds like the game is all about the tactics cards.
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Peter Stubner
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pastabatman wrote:
The way you play, it sounds like the game is all about the tactics cards.


Yes, this is a good point. Game play does become more about countering tactics cards. It becomes a different game. I will have to play it with tactic card limitation rules and see the difference.

And contrary to what Mr. Davies thinks, playing without tactic card limits does NOT suck. It is very fun. Maybe he should try if a few times that way before judging. I counter that playing the way the rules are written make people think the game sucks all around becaus the effects of tactics cards cannot be as planned for, therefore feeling more random. Again, my point is playing without tactic card play limitations means tactics cards are drawn out faster and your opponents cards become deterministic.
 
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Bonaparte
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Fury wrote:


And contrary to what Mr. Davies thinks, playing without tactic card limits does NOT suck. It is very fun. Maybe he should try if a few times that way before judging.


Dang dude, don't be so testy. I was simply making an observation of my perception. Why do people assume it is "Judging" simply because I gave my first impression of what was stated. "Judging" would be to assume that you are stupid because you play that way. I am withholding judgment...for the moment.

Fury wrote:
I counter that playing the way the rules are written make people think the game sucks all around becaus the effects of tactics cards cannot be as planned for


As for that this, the game is ranked 57th. It hardly seems that the concensus is that this game sucks all around.
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Ian McCarthy
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Maybe sucks is a bit harsh, but it really does sound silly to just be able to drop tactic cards from your hand whenever you want instead of being forced to play a normal card. It completely negates the hand management aspect of tactic cards, i.e. that taking a second tactic card could be a dead draw and that there would be absolutely no incentive to draw normal cards until the tactic cards are all gone.

In that case, you might as well just deal the tactics cards to the players as part of their opening hands.

As I've said, though, it can be an easy rule to forget. I've definitely forgotten and then having two or more tactic cards in my hand can be very problematic
 
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Pasta Batman
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Fury wrote:
I will have to play it with tactic card limitation rules and see the difference.

Great! Have fun. Here's a couple of other points about tactics cards that some miss:
- Only one of the 'leader' (wild) cards may be played by each player for the entire game.
- Unplayed tactics cards have no bearing on a proof. E.g., if your opponent could only win with a tactics card, you can claim the flag.
 
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Mark W
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Hehe good story.

My friend and I just played this game for the first time...He played the first tactic, Mud, which didn't offer any strategic advantage that I could see. I drew Fog and held onto it for a rainy day. Later on I would see I needed to hold onto fog to save a particular formation adjacent to a flag I'd already captured, unless I drew a few specific cards (initially seemed unlikely, but eventually I did draw them!). I wound up never using it, but he drew two tactics cards in the meantime - they were pretty much garbage in his hand for the rest of the game. I think in the future he'll hold off on the tactics draws. ) I could be wrong, but I think it's best never to draw even one if you're not able to play it.
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Chris Schenck
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Fury wrote:
And contrary to what Mr. Davies thinks, playing without tactic card limits does NOT suck. It is very fun. Maybe he should try if a few times that way before judging.

Ok, a buddy and I took the challenge and played 5 games tonight with the "free for all" tactics card rule. I can confirm that it does indeed suck. At least, it sucked in the 5 games that we played. It was far more random and much less tactical. Granted, I'm a fan of the game with its true rules, but we did try to give this variant a fair shake. So I'll admit I'm biased, but this variant seemed to be a hollow shell of the real game.


Fury wrote:
I counter that playing the way the rules are written make people think the game sucks all around becaus the effects of tactics cards cannot be as planned for, therefore feeling more random. Again, my point is playing without tactic card play limitations means tactics cards are drawn out faster and your opponents cards become deterministic.

I disagree completely. A controlled flow of tactics cards greatly reduces the "random feeling" of the game. Perhaps it's just our play style, but the more we play by the true rules, the fewer tactics cards we tend to use. Remember, you can't trade a tactics card out for a normal card, so the tactics cards you hold might as well be blank cards for all the good they'll do you if your opponent won't throw the ball back to you.

Jumping out front with a quick tactics card play may give you a short-term advantage, but it puts the control firmly in the hands of your opponent. I've had many games where the opponent has a few tactics cards in his hand when it's my turn to play a tactics card. Many times I'll just refuse to even draw one, since the long-term advantage of letting my opponent play "short-handed" for the rest of the game outweighs the short-term gain I might receive by playing a tactics card of my own.

It's a fascinating game mechanic in the hands of equally experienced opponents!


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Matt Burns
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Awesome story. :)
 
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