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Subject: Ideas for a "historical tactics" variant rss

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Drake Coker
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Compared to their historical counterparts, archery is a little funky in the game and it encourages very ahistorical tactics.

I'm interested in looking at a modest rules variant that might change this a little, without massively changing the game. Obviously, play balance between archery/non-archery might be affected, but, frankly, I think archery could use a little taming anyhow. My current impression is that it is undercosted in the unit design given its capabilities.

Main Goals:
1. Reduce attractiveness of unhistorical tactics
2. Keep it simple, stay within the spirit of the game

Idea #1 (archery on offense)
=============================
Imagine two units of archers, facing each other, just out of range. In the game, the player whose turn it is can move to range, shoot and shoot again before there is any response. This is backwards from reality where the unmoving defender really has the first opportunity to fire while the attacker is moving into position (assuming sufficient command control!).

My first thought was to disallow shooting after moving in any one turn. But there are significant complications.

My second thought: disallow pushing to shoot after moving. So you can move and shoot, but not move, shoot and shoot.

In the hypothetical situation above, the attacker could move and shoot (inflicting some damage), the defender would then have the option to shoot and push to shoot again. This sounds semi-even, or at least more even than the standard rules.

Idea #2 (infantry screens for archery)
======================================
This is an area where the game rules just go bizarrely wonky vis-a-vis historical tactics. In the game, since firing over units is allowed, one of the best things you can do is screen your archers with your melee units. This prevents the opponent from engaging your archers to shut them down. The only penalty for doing this is a measly -1 to the attack dice count.

Historically, archers (in the form of skirmishers) frequently screened infantry, not the other way around!

I'd like to develop a skirmisher formation concept at some point, but that will have to wait for more experience with the game. But the way-too-fluid archery rules have to go!

I've thought of 85 different ways to reduce archery effectiveness in regards to shooting over units and shooting into melee (including just not allowing it), but perhaps the following idea is both the simplest and the mildest in terms of its overall game impact...

If a ranged attack suffers any penalty to the number of attack dice, subtract 2 additional dice (once per attack). For example, if you shoot into melee, the penalty would be 2 + 1 = 3 dice. If you shoot over a unit, past some light woods and into melee, the penalty would be 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 5 dice.


That's all for now in terms of ideas! I'm sure more will develop over time.

Canned responses:
1. "This is a fantasy game, don't try to introduce reality". Yep, it's a fantasy game. I happen to like my fantasy games with just enough reality in them to be believable If you like the game the way it is, great!

2. "The game isn't broken". I'm not claiming it is. I mostly just think it's strange Regardless, these ideas are presented for like-minded people to discuss and, possibly, settle on.

3. "Unit XYZ fixes archery". I don't care. Archery and infantry should work well all by themselves!

4. "You're throwing off the costing of units". True. Currently, I think that archery is undercosted so feel no need to compensate yet. However, that opinion could easily change.


 
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Ryan Morgan
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I'm all for killing shooting into melee and over troops but you could make the action cost more orders instead.

Say a unit ordered to fire over troops or into melee costs +1 order each. so a formation base unit that is ordered to fire over units and into melee would require 4 orders to complete the action.

It could be thematically rationalized as being a munch more complicated action to complete.

It would also seriously discourage the action.
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Shawn Swart
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I agree. But, I think the most simple way to do this is to just nerf archery.

1. Simple solution is to toss out the shooting over a enemy, or into a melee unless the unit has a special ability to do so. Units that DO have a ability to shoot over should recieve a -2 penalty.

Doing this means normally no unit could shoot over a unit. Units with Hail of Arrows, could do so with normal penalities.

Shooting into a melee. could only happen if the unit had the ability. Since this would really mess with this ability. I would allow this ability to fire into melee when based by a enemy unit.

To make up for cost. Give all units that are made up of archers, the ability to move thru friendly troops.


This so far has worked out for me. Note there are some changes since the last time I mentioned this. Funny how playtesting find problems in my last version.

Now If you want some other variants. I have one for Command and Control.

This is a simplfied version from a earlier draft I made.

Command and Control. Each player recieves 3 tokens. If one player has more command figures of his faction (gold circled figures), than his opponent, he recieves 1 extra token. (I use poker chips)

A player on his turn may discard a token to either move multiple units or rally one unit.

Control (move): Discard a token. Move the command figures unit and any adjacent to him for 2 Order Points. All units moved this way count as being given a move order (no other order points used) Units move this way can only move in a straight line forward.

Command (rally): Discard a token. Pick either the command unit or any other friendly unit within 1 base element from the command unit. The unit given this order may not be in contact with the enemy. To rally roll 1D6 and replace that many white peg figures. (multi peg models count the number of pegs and toward the total rolled)

Using the two variants above should start making your armies act more like a army of the late 1st century BC.

I have others, such as Rivers, High Ground, Fortifications, ect.


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Frank Hakstege
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Historical tactics for a game that has bear cavalry? Or Minotaurs? Undead, etc.,etc.

You're joking, right?
 
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Drake Coker
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SJBenoist wrote:
You could also simply eliminate the Archer concentric formations from your games, and replace them with more appropriate Skirmish-style missle units using the unit generator.



True, but that might be a little harsh on the Han?

My thought is that the game has massed archery units, so try to handle mass archery "realistically" (recognizing that any realism here will be necessarily limited - it's a beer & pretzels game after all!).

My early thought around skirmish units do revolve around formations with lower figure count (e.g. 5 archers on a formation stand), but I need more time in the game before trying to present them.
 
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Drake Coker
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big__rhino wrote:
I'm all for killing shooting into melee and over troops but you could make the action cost more orders instead.

Say a unit ordered to fire over troops or into melee costs +1 order each. so a formation base unit that is ordered to fire over units and into melee would require 4 orders to complete the action.

It could be thematically rationalized as being a munch more complicated action to complete.

It would also seriously discourage the action.


Very interesting idea! That might be quite an elegant "solution".
 
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Tim McCormley
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Olvenskol wrote:

I'd like to develop a skirmisher formation concept at some point, but that will have to wait for more experience with the game. But the way-too-fluid archery rules have to go!

Well, speaking as a Han player (primarily) it's a little hard for me to be objective.

I've played about 20 games or so (primarily against the Romans)and I've been winning nearly all the games. Han archers are good. Even so, there are a LOT of combinations/tactics we haven't tried, so I think it's a little early to be tweaking the rules too much. Especially rules that Han players rely on to be competitive.

At any rate, it's not clear to me that the most effective use of archers is particularly non-historical. In the games that I've played so far, I absolutely use my archers as skirmishers. This game has a lot of maneuver. If you don't harass oncoming enemy cavalry (and other units) you are likely to find yourself outflanked and/or your opponent scoring a lot of victory point locations. Moving multiple units (archers plus their infantry screening force) is ponderous. It's been my experience that you just don't have the time to organize an infantry+archer tank combo. At least not without putting yourself deep into a VP hole.

Tim
 
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Shawn Swart
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Okay the point of this is not to redo the game, because the Han have a advantage in archery. It is not the point to adjust the rules for to tweak the basic game.

The Purpose of this Topic is a "Historical Variant".

As for the member that thought this was silly to do. I look at it this way. The game is about a historical point in mankind's history, then with a mythical what if added to it. So, while there are fantastic creatures, and magic using beings, warfare, would be as it was in 37bce. Basic tactic and weapons would not really change. With that in mind this variant discussion is based.

I talked the to one of designers of this game. He stated, that the easiest solution as been mentioned is increasing the penalties for shooting over, and into melee. I disagree for one reason and one reason only. Armies did not fight in that manner, nor was archery the primary weapon in 37bce of any of the three faction armies.

Thus the reason I made the changes I posted earlier in this thread.While not perfect, it does give a better feel to how armies operated and fought. After playing this game multiple times, there is little room for manuver, and archery in general acts as would a late medieval or modern army, not the ancient armies of Roman, Egypt, or the Han in 37bce.
 
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Shawn Swart
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big__rhino wrote:
I'm all for killing shooting into melee and over troops but you could make the action cost more orders instead.

Say a unit ordered to fire over troops or into melee costs +1 order each. so a formation base unit that is ordered to fire over units and into melee would require 4 orders to complete the action.

It could be thematically rationalized as being a munch more complicated action to complete.

It would also seriously discourage the action.


Ryan, I must have missed your post, This is a very simple solution, easy to use. I like it. It doesn't really change the unhistorical use of archery, but it really does tone it down.

Thanks for the feedback. You da man!
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Ryan Morgan
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Quote:
This is a very simple solution, easy to use


Its a compromise for those of us that absolutely do not want to cancel features from the game.

Also if all Han armies are winning like this;

Quote:
I've played about 20 games or so (primarily against the Romans)and I've been winning nearly all the games.


then the purpose of canceling shooting into melee and over troops is definitely to disadvantage them.

They clearly have an advantage and it needs to be taken away.

Tim,

How close were your wins? overwhelming victory?

Quote:
Especially rules that Han players rely on to be competitive.


Could the above statement be modified to say you rely on the rules to win?

Looking at some of your battle would you have been able to pull the victory off without those rules?

I would say that if the Han players are relying on a particular rule in order to win it is a bad rule.

Quote:
Historical tactics for a game that has bear cavalry? Or Minotaurs? Undead, etc.,etc.

You're joking, right?


The rules of a miniatures game are meant to support a sound strategy. Regardless of fantastical creatures, the point is still to test each others prowess, no? If you are planning your battle strategies around the rules then they need to be addressed themselves because you are no longer testing each others' ability to lead but mindlessly rolling dice.

In other words, once the game starts rolling the rules should fade into the background as each player attempts to out wit the other.

Here is an example from another entertainment medium to highlight my point,

In Xbox 360 games there is a feature called achievements. I'm sure most of you are familiar with them. The idea is to earn points for doing certain tasks.

The debate many game creators have been having is whether or not to make more achievements secret. The problem they have been experiencing is that on the first play through the game many players look at the achievements and try to accomplish many of them at the expense of playing through once "in character".

For example, an achievement may be, "Go through the first level and don't use a gun." Many player will attempt to get that achievement on the first try and play through the level in an unnatural way.

The designers would like to see players make decisions based on their own motivations not the motivation to win an award.

Rules in miniatures can cause similar reactions, because a player wants to win they will do things that are unnatural.

This is why we are discussing changes, unnatural = undesirable.

Now,

I have some experience with personally firing a bow and I can say with certainty that arching your fire and firing into a melee does not work. At best you'll totally miss, at worst you'll hit and kill your own people. Have you seen brave heart? the bowmen do not shoot over guys and they kill the home team too.

Imagine trying to get 100's of guys to fire in the same direction AND shoot over the heads of their buddies or into their buddies or both. How many guys would you trust to do it right?

Bows were designed to be fired like a gun, in a straight line. It is impossibly difficult to calculate the exact trajectory of an arrow. Especially when you start moving up in strength.

A 30 pound bow fired at a reasonable arch will clear 100 yards accidentally. If you arch a 100 pound bow, you'll never see the arrow again.

With this in mind, even in a fantastical setting, one can assume bows and arrows still function according to the laws of physics.

my two cents, of course everyone is still free to play any way they want.
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Tim McCormley
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TheTrojanHorse wrote:

As for the member that thought this was silly to do. I look at it this way. The game is about a historical point in mankind's history, then with a mythical what if added to it. So, while there are fantastic creatures, and magic using beings, warfare, would be as it was in 37bce. Basic tactic and weapons would not really change. With that in mind this variant discussion is based.

Basic weapons and tactics would change if the weapons were magical.

The way archery works in this game is interdependent with a lot of other stuff. (Which is one of the reasons I made the comment about "tweaking rules.") For example, the Han have two special abilities, "Precision" and "Call the Iron Rain," that are specifically designed to make it easier to shoot into combat. If you tinker with that basic skill, you're gonna have to rethink the point values for a half dozen Han units that rely on them.

Also, considering how overpowering the Romans can be in hand to hand combat, if you nerf archery you may find yourself having to nerf the Roman infantry, as I have a feeling that they would simply plod across the battlefield and squish anything in their way. (Just like they did in real life!)

But have at it!

Tim
 
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Shawn Swart
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Tim, I already have kept the abilities in mind with the changes I made. Hail of Arrow, Precision, and Bring down the iron rain, all still work. They player just has to adjust his tactics. With the addition of the ability to move thru friendly units the point cost and abilites are still in line.

The weapons in this game are still the same weapons of 37bce. Nothing has changed. Armies will have to adjust to magic yealding characters, and fantastic creatures and constructs, but mass combat would be the same.

A sword, a shield, a bow, a javelin are still as they were. Formations of troops still use them. All this topic is about is putting those aspects inline with the game.

Actually I have played all three armies and found them somewhat balanced. Egypt has both good archery, and aggressive foot. Roman relies on good cavalry and good defense. They are far the close combat monsters you think they are. Han can either build a force around archery or use some deadly combined forces. With somewhat weak infantry, but very strong archery and cavalry. This is not about making one army or the other stronger or weaker.

(How many times does it take to say, this is not about anything other than making a variant that tries to reflect that? No one asking anyone else to demand a change to the rules or tourneys played.)
 
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TheTrojanHorse wrote:

(How many times does it take to say, this is not about anything other than making a variant that tries to reflect that?)

I heard you the first time.

You say your changes work fine for you. Cool.

If the game was balanced before, and the Han are relying on archery as their fundamental strength, how does "simply nerfing archery" retain balance?

I choose to remain skeptical. But it ain't no big deal.

FWIW, I think I also play the archers differently than the OP. As I said before, my archers are up front screening the infantry, not plodding along behind them. Especially in the early part of the battle. But it's also possible that I suck at this game. laugh

Tim
 
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Drake Coker
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armor_11 wrote:
TheTrojanHorse wrote:

(How many times does it take to say, this is not about anything other than making a variant that tries to reflect that?)

I heard you the first time.

You say your changes work fine for you. Cool.

If the game was balanced before, and the Han are relying on archery as their fundamental strength, how does "simply nerfing archery" retain balance?

I choose to remain skeptical. But it ain't no big deal.

FWIW, I think I also play the archers differently than the OP. As I said before, my archers are up front screening the infantry, not plodding along behind them. Especially in the early part of the battle. But it's also possible that I suck at this game. laugh

Tim


Winning nearly every game suggests that you don't suck too terribly!
 
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Quote:
If the game was balanced before, and the Han are relying on archery as their fundamental strength, how does "simply nerfing archery" retain balance?


Its doesn't. But that's not the topic of this post. It was stated very early on that balance can take a break.

As a side note, it doesn't kill balance you'd just need to change up your tactics. Powerful units are still powerful.

In fact, if you are using your units like you say you are then you'd see almost no change.

Quote:
Basic weapons and tactics would change if the weapons were magical.


No they wouldn't and the horrible casualties taken in wars post guns proves that they wouldn't.

All the way up through the civil war guys continued to march at each other in formation. In spite of cannons and accurate rifles they still lined up and walked in a straight line.

If it took that long for someone to say, "Hey maybe we shouldn't do this!"

I could imagine that newly incorporated magic would not reinvent the wheel.

Quote:
For example, the Han have two special abilities, "Precision" and "Call the Iron Rain," that are specifically designed to make it easier to shoot into combat.


Call of the Iron rain: Any Han ranged units that are adjacent to this unit gain +1 blue dice when conducting a ranged attack.

Precision: This unit ignores hindering terrain when making a ranged attack.

fixed it!



 
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Tim McCormley
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big__rhino wrote:

Its doesn't. But that's not the topic of this post. It was stated very early on that balance can take a break.

I guess I must have missed that. But it seems weird to me that you would be satisfied with an imbalanced historical game.

Quote:
In fact, if you are using your units like you say you are then you'd see almost no change.

(WE INTERRUPT THIS THREAD TO MAKE A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The following should be taken in the spirit of actually trying to provide good feedback on the development of a "historical" game. It is not intended to suggest that the game is perfect "as is." WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED THREAD.)

Actually, I think the changes suggested so far would tip balance in favor of the Han. At least the way I play them. Normally, I send the archers out first as skirmishers so that they can harass the oncoming enemy units. My cavalry races ahead, often toward the flanks, threatening objectives and/or trying to position for a charge on a formation. Given that basic opening strategy, I rarely have enough command points to move my infantry very far.

As the middle game develops, the archers and cavalry do some damage and take some damage and maybe I've traded VP locations with my opponent. At some point, my infantry catches up and there is a critical mass of formations (on both sides) building at a key location on the board. It's at this point that my archers are typically in a tight spot because they have no easy way to back out. I have to spend a significant amount of command points to "send the archers to the rear," as they are often blocked by the units that have finally arrived from behind. But one of the suggested changes from Shawn is to allow archers to run right through a friendly formation! This allows me to easily retreat and hide behind my infantry. It actually encourages me to use the non-historical tactic of using my infantry to screen my archers.

Now, one way to reduce the effectiveness of archery is in the clever use of terrain. You can set up blocking or hindering terrain in what you think are going to be key locations (E.g adjacent to VP locations) to limit the effectiveness of the archers. But you have suggested a change to Precision that would allow formations with that ability to ignore the penalties of hindering terrain. Doesn't that discourage the historical use of terrain: choosing a battlefield that matches the strength and weaknesses of your army?

I really do only have limited playing experience with this game, as I've only played against one opponent, but it's my estimation that the proposed changes would make the "historical" Han very powerful indeed.

If it were me, I would be concentrating on the "Power of the Push"(the ability to "move+shoot+shoot" as mentioned by Olvens,) rather than the problem of shooting into combat.

big rhino wrote:
I could imagine that newly incorporated magic would not reinvent the wheel.

Certainly. And I could imagine that if your archers were equipped with magical bows that gave them all the archery skill of Robin Hood, you wouldn't be afraid to shoot into melee. But of course this discussion is tangential to the discussion of developing a more historical version of the game.

Tim
 
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Kevin Potyen
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As for the original ranged unit vs ranged unit complication. The solution I've been trying is Ranged units defending with Blue dice (only if unengaged) and being able to retaliate. This would make screening your archer unit to protect your infantry (as you mentioned) Makes attacking the archer Flanks more important. Or engaging enemy archer units and taking the penalty, to increase their effectiveness. Also making move shoot shoot orders bad vs archers, unless yours are just that much better.

I hadn't thought of increasing penalties for firing into melee yet. but will try.

Never found a game I haven't tried to tweak. (except Chess)
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Quote:
I guess I must have missed that. But it seems weird to me that you would be satisfied with an imbalanced historical game.


Historically no two armies ever commit to battle as equals. Balance is non-sense, historically speaking.

Second, changing some small rules here and there will not destroy the fact that a unit worth 500 points is roughly twice as good as a unit worth 250.

I'm completely satisfied with the game being "basically even" or "almost even" or even "slightly imbalanced".

Quote:
Now, one way to reduce the effectiveness of archery is in the clever use of terrain....Doesn't that discourage the historical use of terrain: choosing a battlefield that matches the strength and weaknesses of your army?


First, that's bull in this game because eventually somebody has to stand in the open like a stooge to get VP's.

Second, because of the stoogery taking place the ability to shoot into combat is much much much better than ditching the penalty for shooting through terrain for a few units. A dude stoogin it up on a VP can become engaged and then fired upon. That is super suck. Its also much easier for me to swallow that some guys are a "good aim," than they are so awesome that they can shoot into a wrestling match and hit the right guy.

Third, Terrain use in this game is boned anyway. Realistically archers wouldn't have an effect beyond an inch or so into the terrain, so if you want to get super nitty gritty they shouldn't be able to shoot through hindering terrain at all. The negation of a cover bonus would be totally fair as opposed to negating the penalty for shooting through an ENTIRE forest.In fact our club has a long standing house rule that forest and such cannot be shot through, only into.

Having only two classifications of terrain is nice but not very realistic. In reality every miniatures game should have a ref and the ref should discuss the uses of terrain before each game.

That's just too realistic for day to day purposes though, so I can let it go that archers are shooting through hindering terrain.

Last, The ability is called precision, I tried to quickly come up with a similar ability that would simulate precision and eliminate shooting into melee.

If you have a different idea please share, my goal is to be constructive in creating something that addresses our needs.

Quote:
Certainly. And I could imagine that if your archers were equipped with magical bows that gave them all the archery skill of Robin Hood, you wouldn't be afraid to shoot into melee. But of course this discussion is tangential to the discussion of developing a more historical version of the game.


Are you reading lore that I haven't?

Are you seriously disagreeing on the use of a bow in this game?

Is that even a place you want to go?

Or are you trying to make some kind of point about the abstract nature of the game?

Or are you just making shit up to win the discussion?

I enjoy talking about rules and hows to use them or change them. I'm also not being hostile at all and value your opinion, hence asking you to elaborate on the 20 battle you've been through. That's a lot of experience I'd like you to share. But if this is about winning just tell me and I can move on.
 
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Quote:
Never found a game I haven't tried to tweak. (except Chess)


My pawns sport laser cannons

 
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Shawn Swart
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Ryan maybe this?
------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Remove all range modifiers. No archer can fire over units nor into melee.

2. All units that have over half thier models archers, gain the following ability. Trained Skirmisher.

3. The following abilities are changed or are new.


Trained Skirmishers: This unit may move thru friendly units.

Precision: This unit may fire into a enemy unit that is adjacent to it (blue side) at a -2 die penalty.

Hail of Arrows: This unit may fire over friendly units at a -2 penalty per unit.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note the wording Ryan, this also nerfs firing thru woods. Since it states friendly units only. I plan new types of terrain each with abilities attached to them. Such as High Ground. Fields of Crops. Rivers and Fords.
 
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big__rhino wrote:

If you have a different idea please share, my goal is to be constructive in creating something that addresses our needs.

How about:

1) Archers can't shoot after moving.
2) When shooting into melee, any dice rolls that the attacker has "lost" or "tied" are taken as casualties from a single friendly formation adjacent to the enemy unit being fired upon. Attacker gets to select the figures which must all come from the same formation. This penalty would not apply to formations that have the "Call the Iron Rain" ability.

Tim
 
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Ryan Morgan
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I think those are both good ideas.

My brother had a totally different idea too.

He said that in order to reduce the effectiveness of archers but keep everything else in place you could make it that white dice always block blue dice. Archers only have an effect against Phantom dice.

he reasoned that a unit prepared to defend themselves would take fewer casaulties than say a unit of zombies standing in the open.

Example, The archer unit has 7 blue dice and fires at a unit with 4 white dice. The archer unit needs only roll 3 dice against the phantom dice.

I thought that was a neat idea worth mentioning.

BUT,

After playing a huge battle (8,500 points) I have changed my opinion on Archery.

First, Archers are awesome and cheap. My Egyptian archers were 500 points and rolled 7 dice with an auto hit added on. I won't even go into how insanely awesome my mounted archers were.

I would say that the main missing feature is penalties for range. My suggestion would be to leave everything in the game as is and amend the penalties to include range penalties.

As much as I hate things like shooting into melee and all that, if it gets taken out archers with special abilities will become even more awesome.

So here is my proposed amendment to the penalty list,

Short, medium, and long range are now defined as the targets distance of 1, 2, or 3 formation bases.

Penalty list:

-1 Target in Medium Range
-2 Target in Long Range
-1 Each Unit obstructing the target
-1 Each Hindering Terrain blocking the Target
-1 Each Unit in base contact with the Target

Example, my Egyptian archers at long range firing into melee would be -3, rolling only 4 dice instead of the usual 6.

It feels much more legitimate to me than doing the obvious nerfing of units.

I'll also note that the priority should be to run down archers with cavalry. I noticed some of the lighter cavalry is crap against a fresh unit but would annihilate archers.

Quote:
Actually, I think the changes suggested so far would tip balance in favor of the Han.


After playing more than tiny games, I would like to concede and say that I completely agree with your analysis.
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