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Subject: Battleplan articles rss

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Damo
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Does anyone have a copy of these and would be willing to scan a copy and email?

•Battleplan,No.4 September-October 1987
•"Fortress America - A play balance variant", Christopher Miller
•Battleplan,No.7 August-September 1988
•"Fortress America variants", Perrin D. Tong
•Battleplan,No.8 January-February 1989
•Fortress America – “Quick & Dirty Fortress America variants”, George Sauer III

Thanks!

EDIT: All articles found.
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matt feldman
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hey damo, did you ever get responses on this? if so, pass 'em along, eh? cool
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Matt Posey
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jojobinks wrote:
hey damo, did you ever get responses on this? if so, pass 'em along, eh? cool

Agreed. That would be great.
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James Megee
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I would like to have a peek at them too!

Jim
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I haven't got my hands on a copy yet, but will pass them around if I do.

I checked on Ebay but only 2 issues of BattlePlan available and neither are the ones I'm looking for.

Sooner or later I've got to get lucky.
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Damo
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Damjon wrote:
I haven't got my hands on a copy yet, but will pass them around if I do.

I checked on Ebay but only 2 issues of BattlePlan available and neither are the ones I'm looking for.

Sooner or later I've got to get lucky. :)


Sooner rather then later! I've just scored a copy of #8. I'll post a scan of the article when it arrives.
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matt feldman
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Damjon wrote:

Sooner rather then later!


i'll say: that was like 18 seconds.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Yes, please do. I would love to see the articles.
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Robert Wesley
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There is THIS too you know? and others if you L@@K! Enhanced VARIANT
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Damo
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Thanks Grog. Sometime I don't see the wood for the trees.
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Damo
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Battleplan #3 arrived the mail yesterday and I've scanned the article.

My next question is what's the best way to get it to people? Email it, type it out into a post or can I upload the article into the files section?

Are there copyright issues involved? Sorry for the stupid question, not my area of expertise.


EDIT: I've tracked down the author and gained his permission to put the article onto the BGG. So, look in the Files section....


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I have the other articles. I'm attempting to track down the authors and with luck I'll post to the files section shortly.
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James Megee
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Hey Damo, thanks for the update!!

Jim
 
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I've had no luck contacting Christopher Miller (if you know how to contact him, please let me know).

Below is his "Miller Variant" from Battleplan magazine #4. Not sure I agree with all his conclusions and suggestions, especially removing the Southern player. One aspect of the game I enjoyed immensely were the nail biting finishes - "Will the US hold out and that partisan card he's turning over save the day or will the invaders just pip him at the post!"

As to Millers reduction of the number of maximum attacking forces to 5, when we played the game we coined a phrase, "Over kill doesn't work", in response to our frustration on watching an "overwhelming" force attacking a US province, only to have the die rolls go badly.

I think this variant will tip the balance far into the US's favour. To test that theory I'm going to crack open FA after posting this and give the Miller Variant a work out.

Battleplan #4 Sept-Oct 1987
Fortress America - Christopher Miller

Despite the glowing reviews I have read of Milton Bradley’s Fortress America, I am largely disappointed by the game. However, I applaud the attempt by Milton Bradley to come up with another exciting, introductory level wargame in the Gamemaster series. I say "attempt" because the game does not appear to succeed as a simulation using the rules as written. With all the players performing at a level of equal competency, the end result of each game is the same; the slow, boring, eventual defeat of the United States. The focus of the problem seems to lies in the fact that the US is initially outnumbered by three to one, and that there is a limit of five units in any territory. There is no significant difference between attacking and defending units on the combat results table. The US is almost always in the defensive posture throughout the game, and yet there are only two benefits to the defender in a combat situation.

One is that the defender fires first and removes attacker’s casualties, and the second is a column shift defending in mountains and cities. However a territory can be attacked by any number of adjacent territories, though the defenders number five at maximum. Given the three to one invader units’ advantage, through patiently-executed attacks with overwhelming numbers, the invaders slowly but inexorably achieve victory.

Fortress America need not sit on the shelf. Excitement and balance can be restored with a twist of the rules. An instrumental change can be applied to phase two of the Action sequence. This is the phase when battles are declared. Declaration of battles proceeds as written with the addition of the following rule:

For all of the attacking units in combat position for a particular declared battle, up to a maximum of five, may actually participate in the battle for the territory. These units may be from any valid combat positions and may be of any type. The attacker announces these units to the defender as units designated for the attack, and turns them upside down among other units in their territory. These five (or less) units are the only units allowed to attack the territory, regardless of combat outcome.

No other changes to the rules are necessary, and all of the special rules in subsequent actions still apply, including Second Movement and the five unit limit per territory. The effect of this rule addition is that the defence becomes very strong, and attackers must orchestrate careful attacks on territories in order to capture them. Losses of bombers and other heavy units become critical to the attacker. The rule also stalls the invaders, allowing the US to build up lasers which can ultimately devastate the invaders. This, in turn, increases the pressure on the invaders to finish the conquest of the US quickly.

The above rule rectifies as painlessly as possible what I consider to be a crucial flaw in Fortress America. There are many other options for restoring play balance in the game. One is to allow partisans to pop up in un-garrisoned territories; one per territory. This creates mostly an annoyance behind the lines, but can give the invaders major problems if several unoccupied territories are allowed to sprout partisans. Another suggestion is to simply eliminate the Southern Invader from the game altogether, so that the US does not have to garrison its interior so heavily. The US then has a better chance to stop the invasions as they first arrive on the western and eastern sores.

Although Fortress America is not without problems, it remains a highly flexible and adaptable addition to Milton Bradley’s Gamemaster series.
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Jim Krohn
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Yes, I definitely disagree. This removes one of the most crucial decisions of the Americans. When do you stay and fight (in order to try to bleed the invaders) and when do you retreat (in order to save your units)? With that variant, I would almost always stay and fight. If you have a strong force in a city, and the invader can only attack with five, after you fire, he won't have many units left. If you are surrounded on three sides, then you need to withdraw from that city and save your troops. Hitler's order of no retreat doesn't work any better in the US than it did in Russia.

This variant also eliminates one of the US's players best tactics in taking back cities. A good US player can set traps at certain cities and hit them with a lot of troops. This is hard for the invader to avoid. For the invader player to win, he can't be giving the US too many extra partisan cards. Remember, the US doesn't have to stop all advances by the invader. With bombers centrally located to strike at targets in both the south and the east (usually playing the slow run away game in the west), the US player has to strike at only the most favorable situation. Every time he does so he gains an extra partisan card. An invader that advances very slowly to try to avoid giving those partisan cards to the US, merely gives them to the US in the form of extra cards because the game is lengthened.

It sounds as if he is playing the US wrong - always keeping all of the forces all the way forward, not giving ground and trying to maintain a striking force. This variant would drastically change the game - but not in a good way.

Am I the only one that thinks the game is fairly balanced? If you think that the US player is a little weak, it is better to tweak the game by giving the US player an extra partisan card here or there or giving them more accurate laser towers or something like that - not that I think it is needed.
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Hi All,

I think I've harrassed enough people with the same name as authors of wargaming magazine articles. It's a tad frustrating that I've got these info sources at my finger tips, but cannot easily pass them around to fans who will treasure them. Yes, I know it's a copyright issue, I don't have any issues with that.

Sorry for the rant, just venting I guess, don't mind me.

If you'd like a copy of Perrin Tongs variant from Battleplan #7, please geek mail me your email addie (I've deleted previous emails, so you'll need to resend).

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Damjon wrote:
For all of the attacking units in combat position for a particular declared battle, up to a maximum of five, may actually participate in the battle for the territory. These units may be from any valid combat positions and may be of any type. The attacker announces these units to the defender as units designated for the attack, and turns them upside down among other units in their territory. These five (or less) units are the only units allowed to attack the territory, regardless of combat outcome.


Good grief, I don't know how the USA player could possibly lose with such a restriction. It even eliminates a major advantage of bombers - if they count towards the five units, then there is much less need to move them into (rather than next to) the attacked territory.

Baring absolutely horrid die rolls, five units defending in any territory would assure that territory holds at least that turn. Even a single defender hit would drop the maximum casualties the defender could take to four no matter how hot the attackers dice are - thus the territory holds. Even a "bargain basement" squad of five infantry would statistically score two hits and one disengage (or pretty close) - to on average remove three or (for the sake of exact math 1/3 chance to hit times 5 attackers does not quite make 2 hits argument) two removed attackers means at most two to three casualties inflicted by the attackers. And that assumes the attacker hits with *every* shot, which is not likely even if two to three bombers are the remaining attackers.

It would also assure that the invaders almost always take disproportionate casualties at almost every attack regardless of their numeric superiority. With the USA player selectively bulked up in key areas and ignoring others, easy targets having any real game effect after the first turn or two will be few and far between. Heck, why bother - with only 13 cities to keep, the USA player would just drop 4+ units in each out of their initial surviving forces plus a few partisan cards, and watch the invaders bang their heads in frustration trying to attack them with only five units each per turn (probably taking 50% casualties each attempt).

Quote:
The effect of this rule addition is that the defense becomes very strong, and attackers must orchestrate careful attacks on territories in order to capture them. Losses of bombers and other heavy units become critical to the attacker. The rule also stalls the invaders, allowing the US to build up lasers which can ultimately devastate the invaders. This, in turn, increases the pressure on the invaders to finish the conquest of the US quickly.


Wow. I don't know how else the article author could have called things so wrong. The suggested rule actually makes orchestrating attacks meaningless, as the only factor becomes which five units to pick for the attack (so why bother "orchestrating" anything - might as well just hit everything you're adjacent to and you hopefully outnumber). It makes losses of bombers assured, not critical, as any territory you hit with lots of bombers will be subject to major bomber loss to any defending unit classes because lesser units won't be available to take the hit. Any territory you hit with few bombers are likely to lose those bombers before they can strike to any token defending air force. Lastly it does not increase the pressure to conquer the US quickly, because it basically eliminates most of the control the invaders have in even trying to speed up that process. Dropping two partisan cards a turn is plenty enough pressure, not being able to bring all your forces to bear to obtain the game objection isn't pressure, its merely futility and frustration.

Seems very clear to me the article author had spent very little time playing the USA, likely made the critical mistake of trying to go directly head to head early in the game, and then dismissed the entire game balance when that bone headed strategy failed. Having declared the game broken, the author then created a "fix" that could not possibly have survived any play testing worthy of being called play testing.

The USA player's chances to win hinge on keeping their forces away from concentrated attack as long as possible but in position to make a concentrated attack - preferably on invaded cities. That means token opposition to slow the invaders down and cause attrition in the early to mid game (slowly losing territory to gain time), concentrated opposition in the late game when the victory objective count becomes critical (and there is no place left to retreat to).

Frankly I think it is a testament to the game's balance quality that so many people for over two decades have thought it necessary to make balance "suggestions" for both sides, that so many of those people have changed their opinion with more experience (sometimes even switched sides on their opinion), and the debate on which side (if any) has an advantage still continues. Articles like the above mentioned one are neat blasts from the past showing the types of discussions that raged back then, of the see-saw opinions that caused some people to dismiss the game early, while others saw enough merit to the game to stick with it long enough to realize what needed changing was more how they played the game than the game itself. And that kind of thinking past the first impressions to recognize quality is something normally thought of for complex Euros and monster economic simulation games.

--edited for late night brain fog typos
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I have been contacted by Perrin Tong and have now uploaded his article from Battleplan #7.

Enjoy!
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