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A Few Acres of Snow» Forums » Variants

Subject: En passant, or how does chess contribute to an attempt to break the Halifax Hammer rss

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Clyde W
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Despite trolling this thread I am cautiously optimistic this trick might help. I might be able to playtest it out this weekend.
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Tom
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luish wrote:
how about blanking the Gaspe card on the british deck, as he did with Kenebec on the french deck?

No, just assume that while travelling from FtB to Gaspe you go the long way around the whole Nova Scotia, not this short way on the eastern coast, so there are plenty of cards to block it I've corrected my earlier post. It's only right, because in reality FtB is located on the western coast. So let's treat it this way.
I was afraid FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac-Quebec could be a too easy shortcut for the British until now. But with huge chance of blocking between FtB and Gaspe it's ok.

Therefore FtB does not block Louisbourg-Quebec. Only Gaspe and Tadoussac do.

Oh, and there's almost a consensus already on the forum to place the bateaux in the British initial deck regardless of other changes, so it won't hurt either.
 
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I have to admit, based on your most recent post, I'm not sure I 100% understand your vision here.

Under your rules, let's say I get lucky as Brits and settle FtB. Then I immediately attempt to siege Gaspe after it comes back into my hand. What card blocks this action?
 
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clydeiii wrote:
I have to admit, based on your most recent post, I'm not sure I 100% understand your vision here.

Under your rules, let's say I get lucky as Brits and settle FtB. Then I immediately attempt to siege Gaspe after it comes back into my hand. What card blocks this action?

Port Royal or Louisbourg, considering only initial French deck. Also Halifax and Canso, if settled by the French.

Ft Beausejour is located on the coast nearer to Port Royal, not on the coast nearer to Gaspe. So the route between FtB and Gaspe leads around the whole Nova Scotia. That's also why FtB cannot block Louisbourg-Quebec route. It's on a different side of the peninsula.
 
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solkan1 wrote:
Ft Beausejour is located on the coast nearer to Port Royal, not on the coast nearer to Gaspe. So the route between FtB and Gaspe leads around the whole Nova Scotia. That's also why FtB cannot block Louisbourg-Quebec route. It's on a different side of the peninsula.
Huh? I don't know the real-life geography of the thing, but according to the FtB card, there's a direct line between (I assume the eastern portion of) FtB and Gaspe.
 
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clydeiii wrote:
Huh? I don't know the real-life geography of the thing, but according to the FtB card, there's a direct line between (I assume the eastern portion of) FtB and Gaspe.

I guess it is just poorly depicted on the board, not that it's important, but in reality FtB is in fact on the western coast (nearer PR).

For the game it doesn't make any difference, except for this variant. It's still direct from FtB to Gaspe, only can be blocked now. It is better when it's treated this way, because there will not be an unblocked FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac shortcut towards Quebec.
 
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solkan1 wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Huh? I don't know the real-life geography of the thing, but according to the FtB card, there's a direct line between (I assume the eastern portion of) FtB and Gaspe.

I guess it is just poorly depicted on the board. In reality FtB is on the western coast. For the game it doesn't make any difference, except for this variant. It is better when it's treated this way, because there will not be an unblocked FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac shortcut towards Quebec.
So by this logic it seems only right that there's no connection between FtB and Gaspe at all... I mean, why is there a connection between FtB and Gaspe but not Port Royal and Gaspe, by this logic?
 
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clydeiii wrote:
So by this logic it seems only right that there's no connection between FtB and Gaspe at all... I mean, why is there a connection between FtB and Gaspe but not Port Royal and Gaspe, by this logic?

To be honest, there's zero logic in the cards connections in this game. By the same logic Louisbourg connects to Quebec, but Gaspe does not.

For the ability to block the route FtB-Gaspe, let's just assume it's this longer way around the peninsula. It's probably still similar distance to the one from Louisbourg to Trois Rivieres or maybe even shorter.

There's high probability that the totally unblockable FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac-Quebec would be as broken as currently Halifax-Louisbourg-Quebec is. It seems to be too short, to me at least. So if you failed to block the first British move of settling FtB from Pemaquid (by not having PR card on hand), the whole rule of blocking would be absent. It has to be this longer route.
 
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Warren Smith
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An elegant, creative, thematic proposal. Thanks for sharing! Will be watching this thread closely.
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Ken Dilloo
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Tom, maybe it would be more productive to just give a rough map of what blocks what, in your variant? Let's start there and fine-tune our abstacted shipping lanes later?
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h00sha wrote:
An elegant, creative, thematic proposal. Thanks for sharing! Will be watching this thread closely.

Thank you!

Quote:
Tom, maybe it would be more productive to just give a rough map of what blocks what, in your variant? Let's start there and fine-tune our abstacted shipping lanes later?

I will certainly create a map with connections and blocking points, I'm just very busy during the next couple of days.

For now, the sequence of locations is:

Boston
Pemaquid
Port Royal (only as a blocker, not as a starting location or final location)
Fort Beausejour
Port Royal (as a starting location or a final location, as well as a blocker)
Halifax
Canso
Louisbourg
Gaspe
Tadoussac
Quebec
Trois Rivieres


You need to determine the starting location and final location of a move on the list above (e.g. Pemaquid and Halifax). Every location between them on that list is a blocker, if its card is on your hand (in this example, blockers for route Pemaquid-Halifax are: Fort Beausejour and Port Royal).

Another example, because there's a reason why PR is written twice: when PR is the starting point or a destination of a move, you use the second entry.
So, e.g. an assault from Pemaquid on Port Royal -> the blocker is Fort Beausejour.
Another example: an assault from Pemaquid on Fort Beausejour -> the blocker is Port Royal (hence the first entry of PR in that list, it's between Pemaquid and FtB).

Another one. Starting location: Port Royal, final location: Halifax. You use the second entry of PR as a starting location and Halifax as a final location. None of locations are between them on the list, so there is not any blocker.

Route between Louisbourg-Quebec: the blockers are Gaspe and Tadoussac.

Route between Ft Beausejour and Gaspe: the blockers are Port Royal, Halifax, Canso, Louisbourg.

And so on. I hope this helps. I will provide a map in a couple of days.
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bigloo33 wrote:
Tom, maybe it would be more productive to just give a rough map of what blocks what, in your variant? Let's start there and fine-tune our abstacted shipping lanes later?


Yes, I would like to try this very interesting idea, but I'm a little confused. A entire list would be useful. I don't think that there are plenty of cases to cover.

Also: this is to be used with 2nd edition rules, right?

Any other change?

Thanks!
 
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Paulo: I think the sequence of locations in the post above yours covers most of the cases which can be encountered in the game. I will make a map on Tuesday at the earliest.

I think you can use whichever base rules you like better, it's not like this variant changes the entire game. When fighting on land, it's still the same game it was without the Naval Capture rule.

I could suggest to add Bateaux to the British initial deck, it's a tiny change that Tim has always been proposing. It promotes a settling strategy for the British.
If you feel the British money engine is too strong, I'd suggest adding also Trader to the British initial deck. It'll slow it down a bit, as the British will then have to trade fur once in a while. This card should promote British settling as well, in order to make the Trader more effective (with more furs).
These two more cards in the British initial deck also decrease the probability of having on your hand cards suitable to settle Halifax or FtB on turn 1. But it's still possible, of couse.


If this rule is proven to be insufficient even with Bateaux and Trader in the British initial deck (and British still always win), then I have another idea which can be added to this one. However, the game was pretty much balanced bar the combination of British thin deck and naval sieges, which I think is substantially weakened with only this Naval Capture rule. After a couple of plays we will see which one of this two: thin deck or unstoppable long-range naval sieges, were the bigger problem.

Now the latter problem is probably addressed. If it turns out the thin deck is still breaking the game, the additional solution I have in mind will address it.
 
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Supply to Fort Beausejour either came from Fundy Bay or St-Lawrence Gulf. Either way, they had to walk to get there because the water was not deep enough to bring large ships to Beausejour from Fundy Bay.



The Fort has been rebuilt, you can see it's star shape on google maps.
An interesting wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Beausejour
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Yes, I've read that. That's why I said it's located on the coast nearer to Port Royal than the one nearer to Gaspe, while coming up with the idea of treating the connection between FtB and Gaspe as this longer route around the whole Nova Scotia.

I'll try to elaborate why I opt for this, because it indeed may look weird at first glance. If FtB is treated as location that is located on both coasts, it bears two consequences. The first one means that you can reach Gaspe from it without any possibility of it being blocked by the French. So, depending on the French drawing in his first hand Port Royal or not, it could be settled by the British on turn one and then the whole rule of naval blocking would have not any use. Therefore, the British could then just besiege Gaspe, then Tadoussac and then Quebec. Not much longer than the Halifax Hammer (only one location more to besiege and generally weaker locations to conquer than LB). So I'm afraid that even in game without any variants, if you made Louisbourg unconquerable, a winning strategy would exploit exactly this path (Gaspe Gauntlet?).

The second consequence is theoretically pro-French, as it adds FtB as an another blocker between Louisbourg and Quebec, but it would not be of any use since the British could exploit the unblockable shortcut of FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac.

If this variant is meant to eliminate the winning strategy and it makes conquering Louisbourg more difficult (Port Royal blocking actions from Pemaquid and the French quickly settling Canso, so it can block Halifax-Louisbourg) and also conquering Quebec from Louisbourg more difficult (Gaspe and Tadoussac blocking), it must not leave any other shortcut that can be exploited by another dominant strategy. I don't know if you agree with me (I'd like to know if you do), but I believe FtB-Gaspe-Tadoussac route would be broken too, because the whole mechanism could have been used just once and it would be decided not by the French player, but by luck, if he draws PR on turn one or not. More or less a flip of coin (PR in starting hand or not) would decide if the British win quickly or not. And that's why I opt for treating the connection between FtB and Gaspe as this long sea route, starting from Fundy Bay, then around the whole peninsula, then St. Lawrence Bay etc.

If we treated FtB as located on both coasts, the only solution would be to modify possible connections on FtB card, not allowing it to connect to Gapse. But I would like to avoid changing the cards until it's proven it's not possible to balance the game within current components as printed.
 
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And here's the map. Forgive me my graphic skills: I tried. The black route is the current one, accordant to the list of locations. The yellow is a possible modification, if there's a need to add one more blocker between Louisbourg and Quebec.

The rule is the same as in the list above: you need to determine starting and final location and every location between them is a blocker. Note that PR is not blocking itself; PR is blocking FtB and FtB is blocking PR.

[ImageID=http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1308627/solkan1?size=original]
 
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Tom, has anyone tested this yet? I was hoping to, but haven't. Tried to brush up on my hammering skills, on Yucata (really like playing the French more, and don't hammer much from the start), in prep of testing this, but ran out of time.

One thing I think needs to be kept in mind, from your post above, is that eliminating this route shouldn't be the objective, IMHO, but just make it difficult, or non-guaranteed, provided good French play. I think this is important, because the French essentially have more tools in their toolbox, and to completely remove the biggest tool, from the Brits, might be short-sighted. Also, now Quebec isn't the most sure path to victory with the hammer. Although, it is the quickest, if undefended.

Not to muddy the waters, but just finished up a hammer game where my opponent didn't defend well, but he was still able to raid NYC down to nothing right before I rolled over an unforted Quebec. As daunting as it seems, I am not sure an elaborate fix is the answer, although, I really like this idea.....
 
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I guess if someone tested it, he would post a report, a short one at least... So, probably nobody. Or maybe someone did?

I currently play with two beginner players, so the best I can do is to try it in solo games, and I'm not the expert player either. The most valuable report could only arrive from two advanced players who can test it face to face at least a few times, trying different strategies each time.

I agree that the FtB-Gaspe route shouldn't be elimianted, and it isn't It just gives the possibility for the French to block an attack somewhere between FtB and Gaspe. If this route was unblockable, adding the whole Naval Capture action wouldn't make any sense, as it would be superfluous, given the totally unblockable British path if only French player doesn't draw PR on turn one (a flip of coin determining the whole game).
 
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Sorry, I was referring to any direct route to Quebec. It is actually safest to just collect points, or Coastal smash Crunch gulpand develop out.

The Novia Scotia path, and military in general, shouldn't be too neutered. I fear this may do that, but it requires testing. That is easier said than done.
 
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So basically the crucial problem is solely the thin deck after all, not thin deck combined with the Halifax-Louisbourg-Quebec route?

I have an idea how to make the deck thicker and not thinnable below some constant minimum size, but that idea isn't as clean as this Naval Capture and changes the rules considerably. That's why I wanted to present and test this one first.

But maybe it needs to be said that everyone who intends to play a game of aFAoS face to face can easily add this rule, without memorizing new rules. Just keep in mind that you can block a naval assault, in accordance to this post: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/9097569#9097569
And that's it. If every person who thumbed up this thread plays just a one game with this additional rule, we will have more that enough material to analyse.

If people expect a ready, tested and working fix in order to start using it, then it's never going to happen. Waiting for someone else to test it enough to declare that now the game is fixed and ready to play flawlessly is like waiting for Godot.
 
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solkan1 wrote:
I have an idea how to make the deck thicker and not thinnable below some constant minimum size, but that idea isn't as clean as this Naval Capture and changes the rules considerably. That's why I wanted to present and test this one first.


I believe Tim's (out4blood) suggestions were exactly in that direction: to make the english deck thicker, let the deck get thinner easily as someone looses territories, and slow the british merchant money machine.

I like this Naval Capture suggestion very much, indeed, I haven't tried it yet (it is a lot easier to play at Yucata than with an actual board nowadays). But I have to admit that like it more as an idea than as a working rule, since it makes the french hand to be more defensive (with holding cards to prevent attacks, it slows down the cycling of the deck).
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Well, it is the combination of the two, really. Or, the thin deck with the power of the British cards and the ability to cycle faster.

It is also the speed at which the British player can take PR, then LB. If Quebec is well defended, attacking there carries a small bit of risk that isn't there with other, post LB, routes. That is why this idea is fascinating, is that possible added element of risk, going military/Nova Scotia. Whether this increases the risk to unviable, is the issue.

I will try to test, but local FtF opponents are tough to come by, now, for this game.
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Warren has asked that I opine on the matter. I am flattered at his request, but not having played this variant, my opinion is not going to be much better than anyone else's.

That said, I do see some issues. Mainly, around the 12-point game ending condition. By French settling useless areas like FtB and Canso, they can essentially force British to reduce those locations before they can siege Quebec. In this scenario, French no longer even need to purchase military because they don't need to defend. By developing enough locations, they can ensure they have more points than the British when the game hits the 12-point cap. And the cap will be reached before they ever hit Quebec.

PR, Halifax, Canso, L-burg, FtB, and Gaspe = Game Over

It's possible for the British to be ahead in points by this time, but not if the French ignore the military threat and just develop west.

So in order to even have a hope of making this work, I think you need to figure a way around the 12-point cap, either by making it an option for the player who is at 12 points, or increasing it to allow a path to Quebec.


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Thank you, Tim. I'm still thinking about this variant and what you described is certainly a valid issue I haven't thought about before.

I think it's an interesting suggestion to make the 12-point cap an option for player who reaches it because I believe it would also work with standard rules, when it's not exactly fair that the player who conquers or raids a location to gather 12 points, loses straight away because he has less points in total. The only question I see here is if it wasn't designed on purpose, to sometimes slow down military advances of one player and force him to settle/develop. It was obviously not an issue in HH, but maybe was included to prevent such a situation in a variant of HH with a not thinned deck, which was probably originally playtested.

I was also thinking about fixing the other side at the same time: to increase the total number of French discs instead, if their developing strategy proves to be too fast (and this idea I'd try to apply to every potential fix that weakens HH, not only en passant, especially since increasing the number of French discs one by one is quite easy to playtest, even in just one FtF game between two seasoned players - one playing the weakened HH and the other the developing race).

I've finisheed my studies lately, so now I'll have some free time to try this out.
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What Tim described is a game-breaking issue indeed, favouring the French this time. Two solutions to weaken En Passant I've thought about:

Moderately weaker - when the opponent counters your attempt to settle or besiege and you lose the card with settler or military/ship symbol (ship as a besieging card, not the transporting one), you can play another card with settler or military/ship symbol to enforce settling or besieging. Now, French player can block also this second attempt if you surpassed two or more of his locations and he has another card of those locations in his hand. The British player can now play the third card with settler or military/ship symbol etc.

Much weaker - the blocking cards played by the opponent only weaken the attempt of your siege by adjusting the siege track by 1 point in favour of the defender per each blocking card played at the moment of starting the siege. Effectively, it would mainly support the French player if he didn't fortify Quebec (you cannot exceed the siege track, so it wouldn't have any effect for an already fortified Quebec) and also would considerably strenghten the defense of Trois Rivieres - so supports the French nevertheless. And just for the improved defence for TR (if the French player "is prepared", so the thematic aspect of this variant is kept) I'd play even this much weaker variant in my FtF games. Settling wouldn't be blockable in this proposal.

I'd suggest to try one of those combined with "no governor for starting locations" rule.
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