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Subject: How is combat different from a coin flip? rss

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Dan Fielding
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This card based combat system seems to be regarded as something brilliant, but I don't see it.

The outcome matrix may be clever, but it is completely irrelevant.

Reading the explanations on BGG, I am under the impression that each player secretly organizes the order of his cards, and the cards are compared in order.

Since the players have no way of attempting to use a good card against their enemy's card, the outcome of the card comparison is the same as a coin flip.

Actually its not a 50:50 flip because the players decks are not the same, but the matchup is still completely random.

Why is this considered brilliant?
 
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Tim Gilberg
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Gronak wrote:

Why is this considered brilliant?


Because your statement:

Quote:

Since the players have no way of attempting to use a good card against their enemy's card,


Is not correct.
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Richard Young
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Bump!
 
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Dan Fielding
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Quote:

Since the players have no way of attempting to use a good card against their enemy's card,


Is not correct.[/q]

Good. So 'splain it to me.
 
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James Palmer
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Combat is different from a coin flip because:

You can acquire better units. Regardless of how you sort your cards, if you have generally better units than your opponent, you will win most of the time.

You have limits to sorting. Since you have to put your faster cards ahead of slower cards, you have a general idea of what your opponent is going to do. If you have the military leader and are not limited to that, than you can sort your cards however you like, knowing that your opponent cannot.

Certain types of decks are better than others, so if your opponent goes cavalry heavy, than going pike and elephant heavy can defeat him, for example.

There are other things to think about when designing your combat deck. For instance, if you have 3 really good units, and 2 not-so-great ones, you might front-load your deck with the good units, in the hope that you'll get 3 wins in a row and your last 2 units won't even have to fight. Or if you have several mediocre units and 1 good one, then you might leave the good one until one of the last positions, because wins in the last position are often of greater significance in a close battle (because you can pull a previous win away from him.)

There is still a reasonable amount of luck involved, but there's a lot more to it than a coin flip, and every little win counts, so squeezing in an extra win in combat here or there can make a big difference in the long run.
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Dan Fielding
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No, none of the things you mention make it non-random.

It makes no difference how you sort your own deck because whatever card you use is being put up against a completely unknown card.

There is no skill involved in picking the best card, because you have absolutely no idea what card the opponent might be using.

***

I have 5 cards that can be sorted in P ways. So does my opponent. So there are a total of N possible matchups of my deck to his.

This yields a results curve of some shape.

There is nothing the player's can do to alter that shape -- its just a random pairing of the two decks; over time the curve will always show up.

The fact that one player's 5 cards might have more wins in its combinations against the other player's doesn't make it non-random. Merely not 50:50.

***

Even if I knew exactly _which_ 5 cards my opponent was using, the number of combinations is so large that optimizing the _order_ of my deck is beyond skill and becomes something you want to calculate on a computer.

If one player could choose some cards based on the other player's known 5 cards, then there would be some skill involved.

***

>wins in the last position are often of greater significance in a close battle (because you can pull a previous win away from him.)
>

Nonsense. To win 3, you need either to win the first 3 in a row, or 4 of the 5 in ANY order if you did not.
 
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James Palmer
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Gronak wrote:
No, none of the things you mention make it non-random.


I did not say it was non-random, just that it was different than a coin flip.

Gronak wrote:

It makes no difference how you sort your own deck because whatever card you use is being put up against a completely unknown card.

There is no skill involved in picking the best card, because you have absolutely no idea what card the opponent might be using.


If you have "absolutely no idea what card the opponent might be using" then you haven't been paying attention to what cards they've played in the past, what cards they've picked up, and what their playing style is. It's not that hard to figure what cards the person is likely to play.

***

Gronak wrote:

I have 5 cards that can be sorted in P ways. So does my opponent. So there are a total of N possible matchups of my deck to his.

This yields a results curve of some shape.

There is nothing the player's can do to alter that shape -- its just a random pairing of the two decks; over time the curve will always show up.


There are limits in how the cards can be sorted, so it's not a completely random pairing - you often have an idea of what your opponent has to put at the start and end of his deck.

Gronak wrote:

The fact that one player's 5 cards might have more wins in its combinations against the other player's doesn't make it non-random. Merely not 50:50.


Then it's not a coin flip.

Gronak wrote:

Even if I knew exactly _which_ 5 cards my opponent was using, the number of combinations is so large that optimizing the _order_ of my deck is beyond skill and becomes something you want to calculate on a computer.


Maybe beyond -your- skill. ;-)

Gronak wrote:

If one player could choose some cards based on the other player's known 5 cards, then there would be some skill involved.


Again, it's not too hard to get an idea of what they'll be playing. If they've picked up so many military cards that you don't have a clue what they could be playing, then they've been wasting turns and points, and I doubt they'd have much chance in winning the game anyways.

Gronak wrote:

>wins in the last position are often of greater significance in a close battle (because you can pull a previous win away from him.)
>

Nonsense. To win 3, you need either to win the first 3 in a row, or 4 of the 5 in ANY order if you did not.


Winning 3 rarely happens. But with a strong unit at the back of your deck, you can often win a battle without having more individual wins than your opponent.

For example:

Round 1: your opponent wins.
Round 2: you win
Round 3: your opponent wins
Round 4: Tie
Round 5: You win.

In this scenario, you've won 2 to 1 and beaten your opponent, even though you haven't won any more rounds than your opponent. If the cards were in a different order, your opponent would have won. Seeing that you have roughly evenly matched hands and thus throwing a stronger unit (say, heavy cavalry) near the back will win you more of those close battles over the course of the game. In fact, look at the above example, and turn the Round 4 Tie into a win for you, and now you've routed your opponent with only one more win than them! Ordering your cards properly can make a huge difference.

You're welcome to your belief there is no strategy in it, but you will be beaten by someone who realizes it does.
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Chris Shaffer
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Assuming:

1) basic competence in sorting cards on the part of both players
2) equal decks

Is your assertion that the result will not be 50/50?

Similarly, assuming:

1) basic competence in sorting cards on the part of both players
2) one deck twice as good as the other

Is your assertion that the result will not be 2/1?
 
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James Palmer
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TheCat wrote:
Assuming:

1) basic competence in sorting cards on the part of both players
2) equal decks

Is your assertion that the result will not be 50/50?

Similarly, assuming:

1) basic competence in sorting cards on the part of both players
2) one deck twice as good as the other

Is your assertion that the result will not be 2/1?


No.

My assertion is that when the competence in building and sorting a deck is different, that the more competent player will win battles more often.
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Dan Fielding
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>
If you have "absolutely no idea what card the opponent might be using" then you haven't been paying attention to what cards they've played in the past, what cards they've picked up, and what their playing style is. It's not that hard to figure what cards the person is likely to play.
>

Given that the rules are not online for me to read, you'll have to tell me how this works.

How do I know what cards are available in his hand to make up his 5 card deck in the first place? Are cards discarded after a battle or re-used?

In the real world, a general has some idea of what is in front of him and has at least a limited ability to direct appropriate troops to face particular opponents.

There is another game in the Ancients genre I've been reading about; where there is a grid and cards are exposed in a cell, with ability to shift from one to another.
 
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James Palmer
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Hi Dan,

Sorry, I didn't realize you didn't have access to the rules.

You know what cards your opponent has to choose from at all times. You know what deck they start with (they are predetermined decks), and when they pick up new cards, it is visible for all to see what they have picked up, as they choose from a selection of face-up cards. Once they have the cards, they keep them hidden, but with a little effort you can keep track of what people have - they don't accumulate cards as fast as say a game of Settlers. At the end of a battle, for every win your opponent has, you discard a card that wasn't part of your base deck, and you discard it face up and your opponent can see what you lost.

I think this game does a good job of handling the idea of you being a far off commander putting your forces into battle - you have some limited control over what goes on, but when the battle actually unfolds you just have to sit back and watch. I wouldn't describe the system as "brilliant" - it's interesting, and while there is a lot of randomness in it, there's enough wiggle-room for strategy that if you utilize it you will beat someone who doesn't think about it.

If you're looking for a game with some interesting tactics for war, this game isn't it. It's far more about larger scale operational control, with enough tactical flavour to add a bit more fun to it. In this game you can also win via diplomacy and economics, and I find going that route will win you more games than going strong military anyways.
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James Hamilton
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When you select your hand you have your initial fixed hand plus any cards you have added to it to select from. The extra cards are public knowledge so you should know roughly what each player has to select from.

There are several different types of combat card which are split into two categories, fast (or long ranged) and slow. When you sort your hand you must have fast cards at the top and slow cards after them. If you have a military leader then you can put one card out of sequence.

Some cards have fixed values, others come in different strengths so cavalry are always strength 6 but heavy cavalry are strength 7. Skirmishers roll a dice and generally lose or draw but can win and that is regardless of what they fight. Warband have a strength of 3 plus a dice. Some cards get a bonus against others so pike and spear get bonus against cavalry but as cavalry have to be at the top of the deck and pikes at the bottom you have to work at it to get them fighting each other.

There are definitley aspects of watching other players style and predicting what they are going to do and by being clever with your forces you can gain a significant advantage.

In the end you either win, lose or draw but getting there is an interesting process.

 
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The Fiend
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Quote:
Round 1: your opponent wins.
Round 2: you win
Round 3: your opponent wins
Round 4: Tie
Round 5: You win.


This combat actually ends in a tie. You always take a block from the center before you remove one from your opponents side. So it's 0-1 / 1-1 / 1-2 / 1-1 in the example above.

ALSO, a MILITARY LEADER can only place ONE card out of order. i.e. one slow in front of a fast or one fast behind a slow.

Variant: I don't like Light Troops automatically blocking each other and let them roll for a kill with a kill beating a "block". You can even have 2 kills with the attacker taking his block 1st.

Combat isn't a coin flip but frequently comes down to 1 die roll.
 
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James Palmer
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Jimzik wrote:
Quote:
Round 1: your opponent wins.
Round 2: you win
Round 3: your opponent wins
Round 4: Tie
Round 5: You win.


This combat actually ends in a tie. You always take a block from the center before you remove one from your opponents side. So it's 0-1 / 1-1 / 1-2 / 1-1 in the example above.


Not true.

Here's how it goes with "You", "Centre", "Your Opponent" in the example above.

0 - 2 - 1
1 - 1 - 1
1 - 0 - 2
1 - 0 - 2
2 - 0 - 1

It couldn't end in 1-1 as you say unless pieces somehow made it back into the centre.
 
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Richard Young
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I've lost the thread on why this is important but the example does result in a tied battle.

The opponent wins the first engagement and takes a block (two left in center); next you win and take a block (one left in center); now your opponent wins again taking a second block (he now has two, you have one and none are left in the center); after this the next match up results in a tie (nothing happens); finally, you win the last match up and since there is nothing left in the center, per the rules, you move a block out of his box back to the center. The battle ends with each player having a block on his side of the display and one in the center = tied battle.

This would seem to have been intuitive since you each won two of the match ups and tied on the fifth? I don't see how rearranging the order in which these wins, losses and ties occur could change the result...
 
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James Palmer
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Interesting, now I need to look at the rules! We've always played that you take one from your opponents end and put it in yours if there are none left in the centre.

Hmm... I actually think i like it better that way... I need to look at the rules again on this one. Thanks guys.
 
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Mark Crocker
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Bubslug is correct. The example is indeed a tied battle.

As for Gronak, the six army decks are only slightly different from each other, so you will always have a general idea of what your opponent has available (Deck A may differ from E by 2 different cards), So you must pay attention to what troops he has been recruiting to supplement his standing army. If the opponent has been hiring units of pikemen, then you would be foolish to send in waves of cavalry.

You have to outguess the sequence of your opponent's card order. It's not a coin flip because you know (or are supposed to have kept track of) what your enemy has available.

Example: I easily won a battle against a Cavalry laden opponent by playing nothing but slow troops. (3 straight pikemen, a warband, then a sword unit). All I knew was that he had a bunch of Cavalry, so he would be compelled to use them.
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Dave L.
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Same experience as Crockerdile. This game has a randomized aspect of battle resolution, not much different than something like Wallenstein, or a CRT. The much stronger army will usually win, but if you have two similar armies, it can go either way. When the armies are equal, the resolution is largely luck.

But the game offers ample opportunity to stack the odds in your favor. In my recent game, the player who was my chief rival has a strong army of pikemen, so I recruited several powerful swordsmen from the North, and starting cutting him apart. The player who focused on siege power was unbeatable in that arena, and the player who snapped up the best galleys owned the seas. Still, none of us won the game.

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Richard Young
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Revisiting an ancient thread and just quickly looking at it (and I was taking part in at the time), I'm amazed that "Gronak" wasn't called out for carrying on a lengthy debate over a game for which he'd not bothered to even read the rules?!? I thought there was a word for that...
 
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Dan Fielding
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Bubslug wrote:
Revisiting an ancient thread and just quickly looking at it (and I was taking part in at the time), I'm amazed that "Gronak" wasn't called out for carrying on a lengthy debate over a game for which he'd not bothered to even read the rules?!? I thought there was a word for that...


Can't read the rules when THEY ARE NOT ONLINE.

You would have known this if you had actually bothered to read the "ancient thread" which you "revisited" merely to insult me, you asshole.
 
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The Fiend
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Quote:
Not true.

Here's how it goes with "You", "Centre", "Your Opponent" in the example above.

0 - 2 - 1
1 - 1 - 1
1 - 0 - 2
1 - 0 - 2
2 - 0 - 1

It couldn't end in 1-1 as you say unless pieces somehow made it back into the centre.


Wrong. The last win would have moved a block from the right back to the CENTER - not all the way over to the opponent.
Page 3; Battle; FIGHTING THE BATTLE; 3RD paragraph; "If there are no blocks left in the center ground then the player moves one block from the opposing player's side back to the center".
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