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Subject: Specially difficult to win rss

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Marc Puig
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Until now I have only played six times, none of them a victory and most of them decisive defeats. I have the feeling that between the SOS this one is specially difficult to win.

.

Somebody more agree with me?
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John Welch
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Hello Marc - yes, Keep Up the Fire is a tough one to win so don't feel bad. I think there are some SoS games that are tougher than others to win and for different reasons. In this game, getting the Relief Army to the Legations is extremely difficult and a lot of it has to do with the timing - waiting to build strength and speed while watching the timer to defeat tick down is a real nail biter.

As for the Legations, trying to maximize each Nations bonuses is one of the keys to a better chance at victory. I was aware that the close combat mechanic would be brutal but wanted the players to experience just how bad it could have been (and often is for the player :-)

All I can offer is to keep up the fire and let me know when you get that first WIN!
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Marc Puig
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Thanks for you answer, John.

I agree it is extremelly difficult to get ready the relief army to attack the chinese army. Only one gameplay I was close to Beijing.

Was it really so difficult for the international relief army to arrive to Beijing?

One thing I would add to your words about the legations is that it is very important recollocate them and the international gun during the movement segment, specially once you begin to lose defenders. I think I have made wrong decisions about it in my gameplay and it has affected the end result. So, THERE ARE DECISIONS.
 
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Wes Erni
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This is my ninth SOS game and it does appear to be the toughest. I just purchased KUTF this week, but had used my new found computer skills to research the game extensively online (including studying the rulebook), and quickly played 13 times. I had 5 Moderate defeats (two of which I never came near Peking) and half of my eight victories were on the last card or two. I really don't see any way to increase that percentage much.

Where I can help you Marc, is in the Legations. The great fun in playing KUTF is defending the compound. Using the different characteristics of each Legation Unit is a blast. Actually, too much of a blast -- in 13 games I've only had two "one in six" chances of decisive defeat and I have never had any risk of my Legations being wiped out.

The trick is form Legation "teams". The French and U.S. are your "Fire team" -- in the first stanza they do all my long range shooting. The "Teutons" (Austian/German) are my #1 melee specialists -- I will get them killed off as fast as possible. I know that sounds strange, but it is the number 1 reason I simply annihilate the Chinese in the second stanza. Some games I get the Germans killed off before I have to lose that German CP (sweet). I don't do this willy-nilly, but in a very calculated fashion. The Teutons give me the very best bang-per-buck in melee and once one is killed the other becomes a suicide bomber. One Teuton CP can lure a Boxer "4" all the way into the street and then automatically kill it (now that is an heroic action). This doesn't just kill the Boxer, but effectively "kills" all the succeeding (better) armies that could otherwise be swarming you in that direction. I sometimes can repeat this trick many times in the game (nice to give the Boxers a taste of their own medicine). However, the "suicide bomber" is only a pleasant by-product of the "Open Wall" strategy.

In the second stanza, the International Gun simply dominates play. It sometimes forms an ultimate Fire team with FR/US (or more rarely with the IT), but usually it is reserved for melee. By keeping an "Open Wall" (no defenders facing an enemy that moves to the wall), the I.Gun just sidles in to position and very efficiently "blows away" the Chinese in melee -- NO casualties. It feels like I have a time machine and found a German Wirbelwind, rather than an ancient muzzle loading cannon. My second Melee specialists (British/Japanes), now promoted to #1, handle the occasional overflow. The Russian/Italian just tries to stay away from any melee, taking sporadic extreme range "potshots". Some games I suffered terrible losses in the first stanza (3 times having 20 or less CP at halftime), but in those games (with two! open walls), I hardly suffered any casualties in the second stanza. The only difficulty is the Boxer "Blitz" (advance two boxes). You must be ready to handle any of the remaining "Blitzes", the variable cards can be invaluable (as can the return of the suicide bomber). I rarely get away "clean", usually something goes awry, but I have ranged between 11 and 35 CP remaining and only had to sweat two rolls (in the Legation -- I am constantly sweating in the Relief front).

Unfortunately, I never receive much reward for my Legation work, the best I have ever achieved is a "Moderate" victory (61 VP tops). I keep checking the rulebook for more ways to garner VP's, but I never find any. I have never done any "Cathedral" defense in the first stanza because those two actions spent cost lives at that point (and I have even regretted saving the Hanlin Library).

I certainly don't mind losing nearly 40% of the time (skill and experience will make you a heavy favorite in all of my other SOS games), but I rather wish I could actually win a Decisive victory (preferably by skill). I also think the game could be more of a nail-biter at the Legation if the "Open Wall" defense was not as attractive (I can't think of a siege where having no defenders on a wall was good). Of course, all of my commentary assumes I haven't missed some key rule that invalidates my argument, I have never "bounced" any of this off anyone who has played the game.

Some ideas for John:

1) The I.Gun can't be used to melee. Kills the "Open Wall" instantly and you can certainly justify it.
or
2) The I.Gun is "captured" if ever alone with an enemy unit. Goodbye "Open Wall" again, and realistic.
or
3) All enemy units advance one extra space if unopposed by a Legation unit. Takes the luster off "Open Wall" and can be rationalised.
or
4) Make the Victory conditions: 60+ Decisive, 50-59 Substansive, 40-49 Moderate, 30-39 Minor, 29- Pyrrhic. I have enjoyed many an SOS game where the the chances of losing are no longer very high, but the gameplay is very enjoyable and the chance for a Super-Decisive victory are reasonable. KUTF is very enjoyable (moreso with the Legation), but the Legation results are now somewhat irrelevant, the Relief force decides the game (though interesting, the Relief force has too high a Luck-to-Skill ratio for a stand alone game to me).
or
5) Make the game more strategic. Right now the only Relief/Legation choice is with the "Keep up the Fire" marker (ALWAYS try to save it for the drive to Peking or VP's). How about:
Every turn the Relief force fails to "engage" (fight a battle) the Chinese Blocking force, the next turn the Chines attack the Legation from EVERY side (an extra Boxer "5" the first stanza, Qing "6" the second). However, the game doesn't end with the last card played, simply re-shuffle all the cards (and toss in the unused variable cards for good measure) and continue playing with the Legation receiving ONE less action on every card (lack of ammo/morale).
I don't know if this makes much historical sense (the Chinese planning was "chaotic", to say the least), but WW1 was full of premature offensives -- launched to relieve pressure on allies a lot further away than here. The extra dimension to the player choices seem fascinating, but I have done no playtesting.

I think Keep up the Fire is a really great game, I enjoyed every playing (even my defeats) thoroughly, and learned (as usual) quite a bit about the period -- I just wish the high tension level came more from "surviving" the siege, than "relieving" it (again, I may have egg all over my face from missing something in the rules).





!

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Marc Puig
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Thank for your answer, Wes.

Really, you´re a game breaker.

There is so much information in your answer that I think I´m going to copy it in a word and keep it together with my KUTF game.

During my 6 gameplays I have felt that legation movement and

international gun was very important to win the game, but never thought

someone arrived to such a deep combination of legations.

I need more time to swallow all the information, but right now it

makes me think about 3 things: 1) I need to deep in the game. 2) there

are gamers who says that SOS series are games mostly related to lucky.

Reading your answer I can see clearly than there is more than lucky

here, there are decisions and strategy. 3) Some of the games in the

SOS series find someone (apart of the designer) who deeply understand

the game. For example, I remember Hitchkennedy as an authentical expert

in Soviet Dawn.

Thanks for your answer again, I´m going to use it during my

gameplay.
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Marc Puig
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GameBreaker wrote:
This is my ninth SOS game and it does appear to be the toughest. I just purchased KUTF this week, but had used my new found computer skills to research the game extensively online (including studying the rulebook), and quickly played 13 times. I had 5 Moderate defeats (two of which I never came near Peking) and half of my eight victories were on the last card or two. I really don't see any way to increase that percentage much.

Where I can help you Marc, is in the Legations. The great fun in playing KUTF is defending the compound. Using the different characteristics of each Legation Unit is a blast. Actually, too much of a blast -- in 13 games I've only had two "one in six" chances of decisive defeat and I have never had any risk of my Legations being wiped out.

The trick is form Legation "teams". The French and U.S. are your "Fire team" -- in the first stanza they do all my long range shooting. The "Teutons" (Austian/German) are my #1 melee specialists -- I will get them killed off as fast as possible. I know that sounds strange, but it is the number 1 reason I simply annihilate the Chinese in the second stanza. Some games I get the Germans killed off before I have to lose that German CP (sweet). I don't do this willy-nilly, but in a very calculated fashion. The Teutons give me the very best bang-per-buck in melee and once one is killed the other becomes a suicide bomber. One Teuton CP can lure a Boxer "4" all the way into the street and then automatically kill it (now that is an heroic action). This doesn't just kill the Boxer, but effectively "kills" all the succeeding (better) armies that could otherwise be swarming you in that direction. I sometimes can repeat this trick many times in the game (nice to give the Boxers a taste of their own medicine). However, the "suicide bomber" is only a pleasant by-product of the "Open Wall" strategy.

In the second stanza, the International Gun simply dominates play. It sometimes forms an ultimate Fire team with FR/US (or more rarely with the IT), but usually it is reserved for melee. By keeping an "Open Wall" (no defenders facing an enemy that moves to the wall), the I.Gun just sidles in to position and very efficiently "blows away" the Chinese in melee -- NO casualties. It feels like I have a time machine and found a German Wirbelwind, rather than an ancient muzzle loading cannon. My second Melee specialists (British/Japanes), now promoted to #1, handle the occasional overflow. The Russian/Italian just tries to stay away from any melee, taking sporadic extreme range "potshots". Some games I suffered terrible losses in the first stanza (3 times having 20 or less CP at halftime), but in those games (with two! open walls), I hardly suffered any casualties in the second stanza. The only difficulty is the Boxer "Blitz" (advance two boxes). You must be ready to handle any of the remaining "Blitzes", the variable cards can be invaluable (as can the return of the suicide bomber). I rarely get away "clean", usually something goes awry, but I have ranged between 11 and 35 CP remaining and only had to sweat two rolls (in the Legation -- I am constantly sweating in the Relief front).

Unfortunately, I never receive much reward for my Legation work, the best I have ever achieved is a "Moderate" victory (61 VP tops). I keep checking the rulebook for more ways to garner VP's, but I never find any. I have never done any "Cathedral" defense in the first stanza because those two actions spent cost lives at that point (and I have even regretted saving the Hanlin Library).

I certainly don't mind losing nearly 40% of the time (skill and experience will make you a heavy favorite in all of my other SOS games), but I rather wish I could actually win a Decisive victory (preferably by skill). I also think the game could be more of a nail-biter at the Legation if the "Open Wall" defense was not as attractive (I can't think of a siege where having no defenders on a wall was good). Of course, all of my commentary assumes I haven't missed some key rule that invalidates my argument, I have never "bounced" any of this off anyone who has played the game.

Some ideas for John:

1) The I.Gun can't be used to melee. Kills the "Open Wall" instantly and you can certainly justify it.
or
2) The I.Gun is "captured" if ever alone with an enemy unit. Goodbye "Open Wall" again, and realistic.
or
3) All enemy units advance one extra space if unopposed by a Legation unit. Takes the luster off "Open Wall" and can be rationalised.
or
4) Make the Victory conditions: 60+ Decisive, 50-59 Substansive, 40-49 Moderate, 30-39 Minor, 29- Pyrrhic. I have enjoyed many an SOS game where the the chances of losing are no longer very high, but the gameplay is very enjoyable and the chance for a Super-Decisive victory are reasonable. KUTF is very enjoyable (moreso with the Legation), but the Legation results are now somewhat irrelevant, the Relief force decides the game (though interesting, the Relief force has too high a Luck-to-Skill ratio for a stand alone game to me).
or
5) Make the game more strategic. Right now the only Relief/Legation choice is with the "Keep up the Fire" marker (ALWAYS try to save it for the drive to Peking or VP's). How about:
Every turn the Relief force fails to "engage" (fight a battle) the Chinese Blocking force, the next turn the Chines attack the Legation from EVERY side (an extra Boxer "5" the first stanza, Qing "6" the second). However, the game doesn't end with the last card played, simply re-shuffle all the cards (and toss in the unused variable cards for good measure) and continue playing with the Legation receiving ONE less action on every card (lack of ammo/morale).
I don't know if this makes much historical sense (the Chinese planning was "chaotic", to say the least), but WW1 was full of premature offensives -- launched to relieve pressure on allies a lot further away than here. The extra dimension to the player choices seem fascinating, but I have done no playtesting.

I think Keep up the Fire is a really great game, I enjoyed every playing (even my defeats) thoroughly, and learned (as usual) quite a bit about the period -- I just wish the high tension level came more from "surviving" the siege, than "relieving" it (again, I may have egg all over my face from missing something in the rules).



I have used some of your ideas in my game, specially the teams. I haven´t won, moderate defeat, but I have arrived (for the first time) till the last card.

Thanks again. Good gameplays.





!




I have used some of your ideas in my game, specially the teams. I haven´t won, moderate defeat, but I have arrived (for the first time) till the last card.

Thanks again. Good gameplays.



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Marc Puig
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My first victory, a Pyrric one, but a victory.

It is specially usefull the fire team, long fire team USA and french.

I have moved them from one place to another several times and the result has been a victory.

The strategy works, Wes.
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John Welch
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Congrats Marc!
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Ralph B
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Wes, your long post is very interesting reading, and I doubt I could ever have come up with your 'suicide' strategy on my own.

I have what I am sure is a dumb question about:

"Some games I get the Germans killed off before I have to lose that German CP"

How can the Germans get killed off if they still have non-zero CP?

Probably, I'm misinterpreting your statement or the rules.
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Wes Erni
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reviewboy wrote:
Wes, your long post is very interesting reading, and I doubt I could ever have come up with your 'suicide' strategy on my own.

I have what I am sure is a dumb question about:

"Some games I get the Germans killed off before I have to lose that German CP"

How can the Germans get killed off if they still have non-zero CP?

Probably, I'm misinterpreting your statement or the rules.


I was (rather obtusely) referring to Card #7 (German Envoy murdered) that eliminates a German CP -- its small potatoes, but I got a kick out of losing the Germans before that card is drawn.

I haven't played "Fire" in over 3 years -- it was flawed, but a lot of fun. I drew up a design for the Siege of Rhodes using the Fire outline (very similar multi-national "tower defense"), but I never did any deep research (my usual routine -- that is why I only "co-design"). Some day I will return to "Fire" -- after I finish all my playtesting duties (like 2018 or so).
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Ralph B
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Wes -

Thanks (again) for your latest reply.

I have played two games so far, but I had not seen the German Envoy murdered card yet.

I see what you mean, now.

Ralph
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Ralph B
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Other than the strategy suggestions made in this discussion, has anyone tried out any homebrew rules tweaks to make winning a bit easier?
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