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Subject: Q: Definition of "Assault" rss

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Doug Cooley
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In 10.0, "Each area may be assaulted only once per impulse."

I find the use of the term "assault" to be ambiguous. It's used both to describe a type of impulse, but also used to describe the act of combat itself in 11.4.

In regard to the sentence quoted above, does this mean that once some group of units had moved into an area/zone and combat has been resolved that no other units in the activated area/zone can move into the area/zone that saw said combat, or that no other units in the activated area/zone can move and then attack in that zone?

For example, Zone I contains two full infantry divisions and two tanks and is activated for an assault impulse. One division and one tank move into area 9 (making these numbers up, no map in front of me), where there are some Germans. After combat, area 9 is contested. Can the other infantry division and tank move into area 9 if they don't attack?

Now assume the first division and tank took out all German units in area 9 and it's now a free area for the British. Can the other infantry and tank move into and/or through area 9?

I recommend coming up with clear terminology for combat as opposed to impulse type in future revisions if possible as the term for "assault" is used in both contexts in the rules. See 9.5 for another example of a rule that can be confusing depending on the usage of the term.

Thanks in advance.
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Michael Rinella
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I'll be happy to clarify.

You may move into, and revolve combat, within a single area just once during a given impulse. There are no second movements, second chances, or whatever.
 
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Doug Cooley
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I read this clarification as saying that once any unit has moved into an area, with or without enemy units in it, no other unit may move into it later in that impulse. I don't think that's correct if you are moving through free areas (or vacant areas for that matter).

Let me give some examples of situations and you can tell me if they are legal:

1) Two units are activated in an area. Unit A moves through adjacent vacant area X to vacant area Y. Unit B then moves through X and into an uncontested area Z with an exhausted enemy unit.

2) Same as 1, but this time unit A moves into uncontested area X with an enemy unit and they engage in combat. The enemy unit is eliminated (but not overrun). Unit B then moves through X into area Y.

3) Same as 1, but this time unit A moves into vacant X, then into contested Y and chooses not to attack. Unit B then moves by the same path, but attacks (without unit A, which could happen under some circumstances).

4) Same as 1, but this time Unit A moves through vacant area X to vacant area Z, while B moves through vacant area Y to vacant area Z.

5) Two units are in a contested area. Unit A attacks and eliminates the enemy unit in the area. Unit B then moves out of the area.

The problem is the conflicting use of the word "assault" which is (or should be) a "game term" with a very specific definition within the game. This is a common problem in wargaming rulesets. I've even seen the term "range" used in two different senses on two adjacent lines of a list of DRMs in Devil's Cauldron.

In other words, during the Assault phase, assaulting units can assault an area and then assault the units in that area. That's four uses in one sentence and all are actually used in those senses in some part of the rules, often in places where you aren't sure what the correct usage is.

I really don't understand why this couldn't have read "During the assault phase, activated units can move into an area and engage in combat with the units in that area." Much clearer usage, all words clearly understood in context. Why make assault a synonym for so many other easily used words?

Am I making any sense here, and do you understand why I find multiple usages confusing? Wargame rules are technical documents that require precise language to explain complex situations. In this case, the word "assault" is used in too many senses to be precise.

I'm really not trying to be a pain in the ass or a Monday morning quarterback here, I'm trying to clear up language that needs it.
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Michael Lucey
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Rather than attempt to answer yes or no to every situation in your 2 posts I'll attempt to clarify your confusion on the actions.

The assault action is long used area impulse action that enables the player to move units and possibly assault other areas. You assault non vacant locations with enemy units currently in them. The combat is against those enemy units which may or may not be optional. Its far simpler to have one such action than to have movement with combat, movement without combat, combat then movement, combat no movement, no movement no combat or nothing but bridge build/ blowing. See how one catch all takes care of about a half dozen actions?

All the above require the spending of movement points and there are restrictions to the MF expenditure. The actual assaulting occurs anytime you expend MF in a new area with enemy units (called the assaulted area because units can only do it once per impulse). Spending MF in vacant or controlled free areas are not considered assault MF but are within the scope of the impulse. Sometimes you enter an area (mandatory / optional) assaulting while other times you must optional assault to start the impulse if the area you activate is currently enemy occupied. There are restrictions when units are within an area with enemy units. Combat is the portion of the assaulting action where dice are thrown and occurs anytime during the assault impulse, this is why 'combat' is a sub item within the assault action and not separated as its own action/ phase.

Only one new area can be assaulted in an impulse so once units enter a new area (mandatory or optional assault trigger) than no other units may enter the area that impulse. The only confusion with this may be when an optional assault is required in the activated area, which is why 'new area' is an important designation.
 
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Michael Lucey
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All 5 items in your 2nd post are legal actions
1) Legal movement but mandatory assault required
2) B is legal because the area is a free, controlled area. Had the defender survived then the 2nd unit could not have entered the area.
3) Legal because contested so optional assault
4) Legal because all areas were vacant
5) Legal because the assaulting area was the active area and not a new area
 
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Doug Cooley
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In my study of the rules, I've found the clarifying statement in 11.0, which concerns combat rather than movement:

"...no additional units may enter the assaulted area during the current impulse once the assault is resolved."

While the use of the term "assault" is a little confusing ("attack" or "combat" would be clearer, if not as "traditional" in the sense of other area/impulse game rulesets), the intent is clear: Once an area has seen combat during an impulse, you can't enter that area again that impulse.

Note that I am assuming that assault in this case = combat. If assault = movement into a non-free or non-free/non-vacant area, then the interpretations below will be different. In any event, the use of the term "assault" is confusing because it's used in so many ways.

With that, here are the answers to my situations presented below:

dcooley wrote:
1) Two units are activated in an area. Unit A moves through adjacent vacant area X to vacant area Y. Unit B then moves through X and into an uncontested area Z with an exhausted enemy unit.


Legal. Unit B must make a mandatory assault in area Z, and therefore no units may enter it after the assault, and no units are attempting to do so.

Quote:
2) Same as 1, but this time unit A moves into uncontested area X with an enemy unit and they engage in combat. The enemy unit is eliminated (but not overrun). Unit B then moves through X into area Y.


Illegal. Unit B is attempting to move into area X in the same impulse after a combat has occurred.

Quote:
3) Same as 1, but this time unit A moves into vacant X, then into contested Y and chooses not to attack. Unit B then moves by the same path, but attacks (without unit A, which could happen under some circumstances).


Legal. Since A did not participate in combat, area Y was not "assaulted".

Quote:
4) Same as 1, but this time Unit A moves through vacant area X to vacant area Z, while B moves through vacant area Y to vacant area Z.


Legal. No combat is occurring at any point.

Quote:
5) Two units are in a contested area. Unit A attacks and eliminates the enemy unit in the area. Unit B then moves out of the area.


Legal. Unit B is not moving into the area, it is moving out of it. However, it will face an MF penalty, as will unit A.

I'll say it again - the use of the term "assault" must be clarified and limited. Because the impulse type is also called an "assault" and some rules (like 9.5) use it to refer to activated units (as shown in the example of play in the Playbook), it's definition becomes open to question.

I recommend that the designer/developer do a search on the word "assault" to make sure that it's use is specific to a game term as well as precise and clear. BK:N does a very good job of using Assault as a game term, both by capitalizing it when used as a game-term and also in being careful to use it to specifically refer to combat (and as an impulse type).

I also think that the sequence of play that breaks out movement and combat is confusing because there are so many exceptions (activating contested areas and overruns). BK:N keeps Movement and Assault in one "step" of the phase, and while there are many differences between BT:C and BK:N, this part of the game is effectively the same.

All I'm trying to do is make this easier for the next guy. My apologies if I'm a little fixated on it, but I'm trained to be and a good part of my professional career was spent parsing technical documents for clarity and precision.
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Michael Lucey
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You would be correct with my error for item 2 I believe. I did what I said what I was not going to do because I knew I would get your scenario's confused while typing that up. I think I was thinking of stating you'd need a double impulse in order for that scenario to work.

Anyway I remember some issues with the MGMG rules which may or not be related to your confusion. I learned this system back with TAC so I cannot even see where the confusion lies. I've never had a problem differentiating assault from movement and/ or combat. I never say 'I'll do an assault impulse', I just state 'activating area x' and conduct the impulse and use assault to differentiate a mandatory / optional assault once units enter an area with enemy units.

I will admit to being more confused with your confusion then I ever was in learning the system. It would be interesting to see if your confusion is shared by other new players because I always wondered why the MG rule fuss and the lower ratings for that game then I think it deserves.
 
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Doug Cooley
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Scoobysnacks wrote:
You would be correct with my error for item 2 I believe. I did what I said what I was not going to do because I knew I would get your scenario's confused while typing that up. I think I was thinking of stating you'd need a double impulse in order for that scenario to work.

Anyway I remember some issues with the MGMG rules which may or not be related to your confusion. I learned this system back with TAC so I cannot even see where the confusion lies. I've never had a problem differentiating assault from movement and/ or combat. I never say 'I'll do an assault impulse', I just state 'activating area x' and conduct the impulse and use assault to differentiate a mandatory / optional assault once units enter an area with enemy units.

I will admit to being more confused with your confusion then I ever was in learning the system. It would be interesting to see if your confusion is shared by other new players because I always wondered why the MG rule fuss and the lower ratings for that game then I think it deserves.


I'm not a new player, I've been playing AIMs (Area IMpulse games) since the early 90's. MG:MG's ruleset was based *very* closely on BK:N's, by design, and so it had the same problems that earlier ruleset had with organization, but I felt both were quite clear. The biggest problem with MG:MG was that people might see the similar layout and assume similar rules. Personally, I am a big fan of MG:MG myself, although it can be a bit fragile as many things need to go right for the Allies (as they should for this historically failed campaign). None of my confusion comes from being either a noob (see my collection on site) or from an earlier game, it comes from an editorial perspective which does take people unfamiliar with the genre into account, and that's my main concern in this thread.

BK:N did a good job of using Assault as a game-term, a word or phrase that has a very specific meaning in the game. BT:C makes the mistake of using the term "fresh infantry units assaulting an area" to mean units that are in the activated area at the same time it means units taking part in combat, which are two potentially different sets. Look closely at the BK:N ruleset and see how the term is used - it's capitalized and it's use is specific.

An example from a different game, Battle for Normandy, has the rules author using "retreat" as both a game term, then later as a "general" term meaning "moving toward your side of the board" with no way to differentiate the usages.

Regardless, Scoob isn't the person I'm trying to convince of anything, it's the person who controls the ruleset. Mr. Rinella either gets what I'm saying or doesn't and I've done what I can to make the rules clearer. Thanks to all for your good-hearted attempts to enlighten me and I'm sorry for any confusion I've caused by not being clear enough. Either way I have what I needed, so thanks.

Doug
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Norman Smith
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Doug - Assault includes both movement and combat. Assault is the entire process and includes those things that are not Regroup or Pass activities.

An assault action might simply be activating an area to move units from one frindly area directly to another and not fight anything at all - the impulse would then end. Because of this it may have been better for the system to have used a different type of phrase than 'assault'. I suppose it doesn't help that the rules say units are moved one at a time and the first unit that enters is the 'point' unit as this rule suggest that this order of process actually matters - which it doesn't.

The reality is that you activate your area, move your couple of stacks and a tank or whatever into the target area, announce the attack, select your point unit (best) from those that moved and attack.

So just see the 'attack' impulse as a mix of things that can include movement, combat, placing artillery etc but they are done in an order, so once you have declared your combat you will not be moving anymore units into the area in THAT impulse. In your next impulse you get another chance to move units into that area if you so choose as all the freedoms start again.

If units that start the impulse already in a contested area conduct a mandatory attack - then nothing else can enter that area that impulse because you can only activate one area per impulse and you have already done that by activating the units in the contested area. i.e. you have just used up your impulse and must wait for your next one.

Hope that helps and that I haven't missed your point. You can probably tell me more about AI games than I can you. We have been enjoying our face to face games and the units not going exhaused after movement is a nice twist.
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Doug Cooley
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normsmith wrote:
Hope that helps and that I haven't missed your point. You can probably tell me more about AI games than I can you. We have been enjoying our face to face games and the units not going exhaused after movement is a nice twist.


Mostly you reinforced my point, that the use of the term was not consistent and therefore could be confusing. Writing rules is like writing a technical document or an academic paper - the terminology must be clear for the meaning to be clear. That's all. I've been able to parse out what the term means, there's just the one spot where the term is misused, although it took quite a bit of parsing for me to see that the other uses were legitimate in the sense that you (and previous writers of AIM rulesets) have used it.

In other words, I get the rule. I simply feel that it's not enunciated as clearly as I would like. I also agree that "assault" is a poor choice, although that's a matter of taste as I simply don't know how the word is applied precisely in a military situation. As a gamer I think "move into close combat" but that's probably an incorrect guess.

While I haven't gotten this back on the table yet (the new Totaler Krieg edition has my interest right now), I think Mike R did a great job of really tweaking the system to produce an interesting game that stays true to it's period. The sparser use of exhaustion is a very clever and effective way of doing that, as is the doubled-up impulse mechanism to speed the game up (although not the first game Mike used that idea in).

Doug
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Marshall
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dcooley wrote:
All I'm trying to do is make this easier for the next guy. My apologies if I'm a little fixated on it, but I'm trained to be and a good part of my professional career was spent parsing technical documents for clarity and precision.


The "next guy" thanks you! I have the game set up for solo play to learn the rules and have had the same questions as you Doug.
 
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blackbones wrote:
dcooley wrote:
All I'm trying to do is make this easier for the next guy. My apologies if I'm a little fixated on it, but I'm trained to be and a good part of my professional career was spent parsing technical documents for clarity and precision.


The "next guy" thanks you! I have the game set up for solo play to learn the rules and have had the same questions as you Doug.


I just set this game up as well. This afternoon I tackled the 3rd (British) impulse of the November 20th turn, and immediately became confused about how to sequence an "assault" from Zone I into both Zone H and Area 10. I did the Zone H assault first, including Overrun, and then started the assault into Area 10, but stopped when I realized I wasn't exactly certain how the units are to sequence their assaults. I held back the 12th Division and 2 tank battalions from the two assaults, thinking they could move after the assaults, following up whichever assault had the best success and thereby moving on through to a further area. But from what I have read above, the follow up units won't be going anywhere, and should have been involved with one or both of the original assaults. Frankly, as a player new to this system, it is confusing, and I had stopped playing and began to consider putting the game away as a disappointment. But I decided to check BGG first and found this thread. I will have to re-read the above comments and go back to the board to see if it makes more sense. Although new to this system, speaking as a wargamer who has been in the hobby since the 60's, this seems to be a little less clear than it should be.
 
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Michael Rinella
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All I can say is that the area-impulse system terminology has been in place for decades at this point and that less than 5% of the people playing appear to have this problem. There is a dedicated forum at www.consimworld.com where other players or myself regularly answer questions within 24 hours. The Geek I only check occasionally.
 
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Doug Cooley
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Michael Rinella wrote:
All I can say is that the area-impulse system terminology has been in place for decades at this point and that less than 5% of the people playing appear to have this problem. There is a dedicated forum at www.consimworld.com where other players or myself regularly answer questions within 24 hours. The Geek I only check occasionally.


Mike, you might consider using a subscription to more easily see what's happening with your games on BGG if you don't already. CSW is a fine service, but it's lack of threading makes finding answers to questions harder than it needs to be and I consider it to be more a "chat" service than a "support" service as a result. Many designers/developers manage to monitor both sites, might be something to consider in the future.

Doug
 
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Michael Rinella
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When any game comes out, it should be designed so that someone who has never played a game before can understand it. This is just common sense.

No, it really doesn't make sense. My core audience understands the nomenclature. I design for them because they are my market and have been for some time. New players, who are a distinct minority, simply have to catch up. Sorry.
 
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