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Brian Workman
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A friend and I tried to play this today. We both had read through the rules two or three times, but after playing three turns we threw in the towel.

We seriously could use a step by step illustrated example of combat. WE both think we were doing things quite wrong but just couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do.

Does something exist out there. We've looked at the "rules summary" sheets but it just doesn't seem to get us there. A detailed play-by-play with visuals would be great. Can someone point us in the right direction?
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Will Green
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Hi Brian,

I think this may be what you're looking for:

http://www.simmonsgames.com/strategy/AusterlitzGame.html

It is a play-by-play through an entire game, with dialogue and with photos at the end of each side during each hour of the day.

Also, if you would like I'd be more than willing to play a game with you and explain moves and the attack procedure in order to help facilitate your understanding of the game.

Keep your resolve! This game, though big on the learning curve, has a Huge Payoff in the end...

Cheers,

Will
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Brandon Pennington
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If the OP was having difficulty with the combat procedure, I don't think that link will help him. It is a nice example of strategy and gives you an idea of what you can do in a game.

I am a huge B@M fan but the combat system in NT is really turning me off of the game atm. I hope I eventually see what everybody else sees in this game.
 
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Will Green
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Hey Brandon,

I know exactly how you feel. I have been there. I have gone from loving this game, to absolutely refusing to ever play it again!! Then back to "okay, I'll try it..."

This cycle has occurred at least twice...however, now I am in the "All-Star All-Time Favorite Game Ever" stage...

If you are interested in playing online, I am more than willing to help you get a better handle of this game. There are a Lot of 'tiny little rules' that if overlooked make the game a different one each time you play it and "learn another one of the 'tiny little rules' that you may have overlooked...

However, let me say, that once you "grok the system" it is one of the most elegant and tremendous games out there today.

My first games took five hours. Now I can finish one in less than two, (if I played solo), and usually in about 2 1/2 hours with others who have a good understanding of the rules.

It takes a while, but it truly is worth the effort.

Cheers,

Will
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Brad Miller
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Been there, done that...

There is a combat flowchart player aid. It's pretty darn helpful...
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TGov wrote:
If the OP was having difficulty with the combat procedure, I don't think that link will help him.


I've seen a lot of games, and it is the least bloody by far, so I must agree that it is short on combat examples. It is certainly worth checking out, though, as it walks you through movement and command decisions and gives you a big picture feel for the game.


TGov wrote:
I am a huge B@M fan but the combat system in NT is really turning me off of the game atm. I hope I eventually see what everybody else sees in this game.


I agree with Will that NT is absolutely worth learning. If you are a BaM player, that may be working against you. Forget all about BaM combat rules when learning NT, and do take a look at Garry Haggerty's Attack Summary:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/26629

If you use that while you step through your attacks, I think you'll assimilate the system faster.
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Matt R
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I'd like to add that it may be worthwhile to simply take out a few units of each type from both sides, and play out a few "staged" combats between the different unit mixes on different parts of the board. That may help to give you a good "feel" for how combat plays out. I'd suggest doing this by yourself without anyone else when you've got an hour to yourself.

As others have mentioned in this thread, there are several excellent player aids available here.
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Rachel Simmons
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KillerB wrote:

We seriously could use a step by step illustrated example of combat. WE both think we were doing things quite wrong but just couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do.


There is no question that the number one thing that causes people trouble in learning the game is the combat sequence. I have my doubts that an illustrated step-by-step example will help. Why do I think so? Because there are already illustrated step-by-step examples of combat in the rules to the game, and obviously they didn't help, or you wouldn't be here.

The main thing to understand about the attack procedure is that it combines several different types of attacks with very different purposes into a single sequence. You have to approach the sequence not from the point of view that it is going to tell you WHAT to do, but that you already know WHAT you want to do, and are looking to it to find out HOW to do it.

So, let's take a look at WHAT sort of things you might want to do:

(1) Cavalry screen. In a cavalry screen, the object is to slow the enemy down as much as possible without losing the cavalry. In general, you will retreat your cavalry in step 2. It is sometimes ok to not to retreat in step 2, if you are confident that the attacker will resolve it as a feint in step 3 and that you can avoid giving your opponent a chance at an open flank attack. (See below.)

(2) Feint. The purpose of a feint is to force your opponent to commit units in reserve to defend against the feint. This forces at least one of them to block the approach (which can break up an enemy corps) and reduces the number of enemy units available to defend against an attack from a different direction later in the turn.

(3) Bombardment. A bombardment is an attack by artillery. It is slow to set-up because it can only be made by first getting the artillery up to block an approach; it can't be made from reserve. The main benefit of a bombardment is that it is safe: no attacker losses are possible. However, artillery is quite vulnerable when it is alone in an approach, and so you will need to move other units up into the approach with it to protect it from enemy attacks.

(4) Attritional assault. An attritional assault is an attack made with some units (almost never with an entire corps) where you don't expect to win. The purpose of the attack is to inflict losses an enemy position such that a later break-through assault can succeed.

(5) Break-through assault. A break-through assault is an attack you expect to win and force all the enemy blocks in the locale to retreat, hopefully with heavy losses. Because the defender has the capability to counter-attack in the attack procedure, a break-through assault generally requires that this potential be eliminated before attempting the break-through assault. This can be done by bombardments, by attritional assaults, and by feints.

(6) Open flank attack. In an open flank attack, you make an attack move across an approach when you know that the enemy will take losses if he retreats but that he will have to retreat because there are no enemy units that can defend against it. Depending on the number of enemy units in the locale and their dispositions, this can be a devastating attack. In such cases, it is worthwhile expending a great deal of effort to create an opportunity for such an attack.

(7) Strong defense. Much combat in the game takes place with the defenders in reserve. However, the defense is much stronger when the defender is blocking an approach, at the cost of being less mobile. The great danger of a strong defense is that blocking one approach does no good if the attack comes across a different approach. Thus, you need to think about the flanks of your defense and how to prevent this from happening. Sometimes a strong defense can be anchored on impassible terrain, and sometimes a line of adjacent positions can be strongly defended, where the flanks of the line are inaccessible (for any of a number of reasons) to the attacker.

I hope this conceptual categorization is useful, even if it isn't quite what you asked for. I admit this answer is something of an experiment on my part, in seeing if this sort of answer is of help to someone who is finding the combat rules difficult to grasp, which is, regrettably, not at all unusual.
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Clark Millikan
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Excellent summary Bowen.
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Andy Kelly
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Something like that summary should definitely be in the rules. I really love the game (and loved B@M), but "grokking" the rules, not only memorizing them but knowing how they work together, is the hardest thing with these games. This is particularly true with Napoleon's Triumph because, for example, it's not clear until one plays the game why that cavalry feint is even useful.

I really like this "practical application" approach. Prior to this the most useful guide I had as far as what was intended with the rules was Bernard Cornwell's description of combat in his first Sharpe book.

Thanks, Bowen
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Rachel Simmons
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Because I monitor the forums, I have known for some time now that the attack sequence has been a frequent source of trouble.

Part of the difficulty has long been obvious: the attack sequence has lots of detailed rules and people can find it difficult to learn them all. Some people quickly grasp the overall structure but find this or that detail troublesome, and write to ask about it. They ask specific questions that are easily addressed with specific answers.

Some people, however, don't seem to grasp the rules at all. They don't ask specific questions that can be directly answered. They make general complaints that they don't understand how it works. Obviously, the rules aren't working for them, but why not? What is needed that isn't there? It isn't examples, because the rules have examples. I have only just gotten the idea that maybe it is that they are trying to read the attack sequence like a cookbook: first do A, and then do B. But much of the attack sequence isn't written that way. It is written as a series of choices: choose A or B. Getting choices where they are not expected may be an important source of confusion. Further, this complex decision tree is really central to the game. If you don't get it, you really can't play.

So, anyway, I now have a theory as to what it is that makes some people not get it. The next problem is to figure out what sort of help is useful to them. The answer I gave earlier in the thread was an attempt to provide a useful response in the form of a conceptual framework. Will it help? Maybe. I don't know. If not, then I still want to find an answer that does. I know that not everybody likes every kind of game and don't expect everyone who plays NT to like it. (Not everyone who plays Chess likes it; not everyone who plays Bridge likes it; not everyone who plays Poker likes it; if these classic games don't work for everybody then there is no way that NT can.) What I would like is for people to at least get to the point where they are able decide whether or not they like it, rather than finding themselves utterly bewildered by it.
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Andy Kelly
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I can understand your (what sounds like) frustration, and having followed the design diary stuff with the games, I know that you edit the rules like crazy so that they are as clear and concise as possible. When I've had trouble with them, I've always been able to find the answer to my question; in other words, the problem has never been that the answer isn't there. The problem is that you have to play the game a couple of times to see how all the rules work together, which is problematic when one player is often teaching another player the game.

Your cookbook analogy is very apt because the rules are a kind of cookbook, and we don't have any idea how the finished product is going to taste. But cookbooks never tell you why you put the onion in now or how to cut the tomatoes. It's only when we see the whole thing work together that we can see the "why" with everything. It takes several plays to get the spirit of it. Once you have it, you have it (and my familiarity with B@M made Napoleon's Triumph really hard for me).

The combination of your description and this: http://fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view... have me dying to play this game again.


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Matt R
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Bowen,
I adore any chance I *ever* get to play NT. With that being said, I definitely can remember problems translating from merely reading (and believing I "understood") the rules, to the issue of actually "how to play". I feel that this is mainly due to the great number of new, almost abstract-feeling mechanisms.

As an example, it was not obvious at all to me from a mere reading of the rules that combat between corps should almost never happen directly - the attacking corps (usually the Allies) should instead perform a "corps detach move" to detach one or two units to attack the defenses of the opponent (typically located in an approach), knowing that the first couple of these attacks will "fail". This would then result in a slight loss of morale and a small buildup of broken units in the attacking locale.

Not until after my first partial play of the game (solo - just to play with the rules) did I understand that you just didn't throw a full corps into another one. At first I just couldn't understand what was so great about this game - I mean, the combat rules between corps just seemed so plainly broken! Then I realized from reading a couple of posts on here that the *intent* was to only rarely actually throw an entire corps at the enemy.

In retrospect, it seems so *obvious* that one would only ever detach part of a corps to attack (just like detaching part of a corps to block an approach). But the problem was in translating a "bunch of rules" into something that actually made sense.

I'll throw one more non-NT example out there. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the rule in checkers which states that one is *required* to jump the opponent's checker. I mean, why would you ever be forced to do that, why would you ever leave a checker next to one of your opponent's checkers just to be lost to a jump, etc? But in actual play, knowing when to intentionally move one of your checkers next to one of your opponent's makes a lot of sense tactically as it helps you to control your opponent's moves at the cost of losing (hopefully) a single checker.

Guess I'm long winded, but my point is simply that I think that this game really doesn't have a long learning curve to understanding the rules - the learning curve is definitely with the application of the rules to get your units doing what you want them to do in the game.

At the risk of sounding cliche, it is somewhat along the lines of "easy to learn but hard to master".

I'm looking forward to The Guns of Gettysburg. I haven't checked out your designer diary for it in a while but I hope its going well!
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Tom Wells

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Directed to Bowen, I appreciate your summary of the attacks but if you could help me with the following specific questions;

1. When the defender names their defenders (in the reserve) - do they stay in the reserve or do you move them up to the defense approach?

2. Same question as #1, except after naming the leading defense units - do they move up to the defense?

3. Can you explain the purpose of claiming zero leading units for attacking / defending units?

4. In your comments about a strong defense - were you strictly speaking that a stronger defense is in the approach since you substract one if defenders occupy approach vs. reserve in the initial result?

Thanks.

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While you're waiting for Bowen, I'll step in on these.

Major Geek wrote:
1. When the defender names their defenders (in the reserve) - do they stay in the reserve or do you move them up to the defense approach?


They remain in reserve. The defending player names the defending units in step 2. If the attacker declares a feint in step 3, at least one named defender will then move to the approach. If the attacker does not declare a feint, the named defenders will fight from reserve.

Major Geek wrote:
2. Same question as #1, except after naming the leading defense units - do they move up to the defense?


Same answer. If you are naming lead units, then the attacker did not feint, and the defending units must fight from reserve.

Major Geek wrote:
3. Can you explain the purpose of claiming zero leading units for attacking / defending units?


The defender will only claim zero leading units out of necessity. This occurs if cavalry attacks alone, or defends an obstructed approach, or if defenders of any type(s) are in reserve and are all 1-step units.

The attacker will most often declare an attack with zero leading units when he believes the defender will also have zero. The attacker can win in this case, for example if a French cavalry unit attacks a lone Allied cavalry unit in reserve behind an obstruction.

Major Geek wrote:
4. In your comments about a strong defense - were you strictly speaking that a stronger defense is in the approach since you substract one if defenders occupy approach vs. reserve in the initial result?


1) Attackers will be penalized for penalty symbols only if the defender is in the approach.

2) Defenders of different types or from different corps can be paired as leads only in a wide approach (such units cannot be paired in reserve).

3) Defenders with one strength point (notably artillery, but other types as well), can only be declared as leading units if they are in an approach.

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Tom Wells

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I think I actually answered some of my questions while I was writing them and your response confirms it. I was thinking that once the unit was named in the defense that they automatically moved up into the approach thus causing a disconnect.
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Major Geek wrote:
I think I actually answered some of my questions while I was writing them and your response confirms it. I was thinking that once the unit was named in the defense that they automatically moved up into the approach thus causing a disconnect.


That's a common mistake when you're learning, often made by people with BaM experience (in BaM, a unit either retreats or blocks immediately).
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bowen wrote:
Obviously, the rules aren't working for them, but why not?


Hi,

I now love NT but actually got angry when I first read the combat rules. It just seemed so utterly complex - and I have been wading through wargame rules for almost 30 years.

For me, I found the exceptions to the rules for the different units really confusing. I actually had to highlight the exceptions for infantry in blue, calvary in orange and artillery in red. Only then could I begin to remember and make sense of the rules.

Lots of games have different unit types without seeming to be so complicated. In some games the exceptions are listed on the unit counter and in others there are charts explaining the differences. I think it would be useful to look how command and colors Ancients handles all the unit types. In C&C:A there are very few exceptions the basic rules. Each unit has different abilities but only leaders really have a lot of exceptions and even then they pertain to very specific events. NT's exceptions are written in long form paragraphs. Only once I highlighted the types of exceptions for each unit type did the game's rules fall into place.

I really do think that NT is worth learning but there is a huge hurdle in getting started. I haven't played the game in a few months and have actually resisted playing again because of the effort of relearning the system. This has never happened to me before with any other game. Usually, once I learn a game it is in my head forever, but in this case I will have to work up the energy to wade through the rules again because my mind just didn't retain them as a coherent whole.

Has anyone else learned this system and then had to relearn it later because the rules didn't stick?
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bowen wrote:
I have only just gotten the idea that maybe it is that they are trying to read the attack sequence like a cookbook: first do A, and then do B. But much of the attack sequence isn't written that way. It is written as a series of choices: choose A or B. Getting choices where they are not expected may be an important source of confusion.

Yes, I think that is a big part of it. I find the rules difficult to grasp, and I think it is because those choices are intertwined with each other in the rules. For example, artillery bombardment is mixed in with assault combat, which (to me) makes it harder to follow both. Personally I would find the rules easier to understand if the options (bombardment, feint, assault etc) that feel conceptually different were explained in different sections. This would result in some duplication and a longer rulebook, but for any particular situation the players would only have to consult a small, less intimidating section of the rules.
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capadotia wrote:
For me, I found the exceptions to the rules for the different units really confusing. I actually had to highlight the exceptions for infantry in blue, calvary in orange and artillery in red. Only then could I begin to remember and make sense of the rules.


This is absolutely brilliant. I'll have to print up a fresh copy of the rules and try it myself. Being quite visually oriented, it may be a very good way to separate out distinct parts of the combat sequence so they're easy to see (and avoid, if necessary) without increasing the length of the rules.
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markus_kt wrote:

This is absolutely brilliant. I'll have to print up a fresh copy of the rules and try it myself. Being quite visually oriented, it may be a very good way to separate out distinct parts of the combat sequence so they're easy to see (and avoid, if necessary) without increasing the length of the rules.


I hope it is helpful to you - let us know if works for you. There were many times when I knew there was something that say infantry or cavalry couldn't do in a given situation but couldn't be sure I caught it in the paragraphs of rules. But now I can quickly scan the rules looking for the exceptions that pertain to the unit types by colour.

If you, who have played the game so much, have trouble with the rules then I now don't feel so stupid.
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I know this is an older thread, but some of the discussion lately on NT made me dig up this particular post.

Bowen: This is a very very helpful explanation of WHAT you can do according to the rules. I think many people who have trouble with the game can follow the combat sequence just fine, but they don't understand what that means in broader terms.

My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to have something like this in future rules, perhaps set off in a gray box or "Strategy Notes" or something like that. I think you could give players some examples of the overall things they can do within the constraints of the rules without really giving away any strategy, etc.



bowen wrote:
KillerB wrote:

We seriously could use a step by step illustrated example of combat. WE both think we were doing things quite wrong but just couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do.


There is no question that the number one thing that causes people trouble in learning the game is the combat sequence. I have my doubts that an illustrated step-by-step example will help. Why do I think so? Because there are already illustrated step-by-step examples of combat in the rules to the game, and obviously they didn't help, or you wouldn't be here.

The main thing to understand about the attack procedure is that it combines several different types of attacks with very different purposes into a single sequence. You have to approach the sequence not from the point of view that it is going to tell you WHAT to do, but that you already know WHAT you want to do, and are looking to it to find out HOW to do it.

So, let's take a look at WHAT sort of things you might want to do:

(1) Cavalry screen. In a cavalry screen, the object is to slow the enemy down as much as possible without losing the cavalry. In general, you will retreat your cavalry in step 2. It is sometimes ok to not to retreat in step 2, if you are confident that the attacker will resolve it as a feint in step 3 and that you can avoid giving your opponent a chance at an open flank attack. (See below.)

(2) Feint. The purpose of a feint is to force your opponent to commit units in reserve to defend against the feint. This forces at least one of them to block the approach (which can break up an enemy corps) and reduces the number of enemy units available to defend against an attack from a different direction later in the turn.

(3) Bombardment. A bombardment is an attack by artillery. It is slow to set-up because it can only be made by first getting the artillery up to block an approach; it can't be made from reserve. The main benefit of a bombardment is that it is safe: no attacker losses are possible. However, artillery is quite vulnerable when it is alone in an approach, and so you will need to move other units up into the approach with it to protect it from enemy attacks.

(4) Attritional assault. An attritional assault is an attack made with some units (almost never with an entire corps) where you don't expect to win. The purpose of the attack is to inflict losses an enemy position such that a later break-through assault can succeed.

(5) Break-through assault. A break-through assault is an attack you expect to win and force all the enemy blocks in the locale to retreat, hopefully with heavy losses. Because the defender has the capability to counter-attack in the attack procedure, a break-through assault generally requires that this potential be eliminated before attempting the break-through assault. This can be done by bombardments, by attritional assaults, and by feints.

(6) Open flank attack. In an open flank attack, you make an attack move across an approach when you know that the enemy will take losses if he retreats but that he will have to retreat because there are no enemy units that can defend against it. Depending on the number of enemy units in the locale and their dispositions, this can be a devastating attack. In such cases, it is worthwhile expending a great deal of effort to create an opportunity for such an attack.

(7) Strong defense. Much combat in the game takes place with the defenders in reserve. However, the defense is much stronger when the defender is blocking an approach, at the cost of being less mobile. The great danger of a strong defense is that blocking one approach does no good if the attack comes across a different approach. Thus, you need to think about the flanks of your defense and how to prevent this from happening. Sometimes a strong defense can be anchored on impassible terrain, and sometimes a line of adjacent positions can be strongly defended, where the flanks of the line are inaccessible (for any of a number of reasons) to the attacker.

I hope this conceptual categorization is useful, even if it isn't quite what you asked for. I admit this answer is something of an experiment on my part, in seeing if this sort of answer is of help to someone who is finding the combat rules difficult to grasp, which is, regrettably, not at all unusual.
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