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Subject: Sticky Close Combat rss

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Colin Houghton
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Love the game, but always seems odd to me the way medium and heavy troops can disengage and re-engage from/in close combat.

I would have thought that once an ancient medium or heavy outfit engaged in close combat with similar, neither would be able to disengage voluntarily, without a penalty, unless they defeated the enemy or got them to retreat.

Are there any variant optional rules for penalties for trying to disengage from close combat?

Just a thought...
 
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Kevin Duke
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Well, look for rules posted by folks who want there to be flanking bonuses/penalties.
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Colin Houghton
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will do. Merci!
 
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Mark McG
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kduke wrote:
Well, look for rules posted by folks who want there to be flanking bonuses/penalties.


I'm not sure this is well meant advice..

Whilst it may seem odd that Heavy and Medium foot can disengage and engage again, in practice I think you will find this isn't the case. Because the movement factor is 1 (with a few Special exceptions), any attempt to flee by a Heavy or Medium foot unit can be easily pursued. So I think you need to consider the overall effect and not just the individual card play.

The most common scenarios for Heavy & Medium foot in my experience are
- advance into battle, pressing forward to victory or destruction
- reduced to 1 block, attempts to flee
- forced to retreat, and then either moves forward (to engage), back (to flee) or abandoned (too many other critical units that need orders)

The only instance where I can think where foot disengage and then re-engage deliberately is when a unit with 1-2 blocks left is pulled back (usually shielded by other units) and then re-engages as a last effort for victory.
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Steve Duke
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I think the key here is understanding what the scope or level of battle that the game presents.
CCA is really not a 'tactical' game like Men of Iron, for example.

4 blocks down to 2 blocks does not necessarily mean casualties have been taken, but is more a reflection on that unit's loss of morale, cohesion, etc.

But it's why a 1 block unit throws as many dice as a full strength unit. Some folks have a hard time getting their head around that concept but the loss of blocks is not necessarily only due to physical casualties.

Now in CCN, it IS a loss of fighting power and is reflected with reduced dice for reduced numbers of blocks. Some people like it, some people don't, but at least try and understand what is being portrayed and why.

Likewise, things like flanks and disengaging in combat, at this scale, are covered in other things. Could be the card play, could be the outcome of a dice roll.

And attacking a flank unit, while not a huge advantage, is a typical tactic because that unsupported unit cannot ignore a flag and is subject to a momentum attack sometimes. At the minimum, it prevents the defending flank unit from battling back, which is a good thing for the attacker.

I try and look at it like it's all there, I just may not see it at my level as the overall, operational commander. That's my take on it anyway.



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Kent Reuber
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You may want to look at Battles of Westeros. Units that disengage from melee suffer a Parting Blow and there is a concept of flanking.
 
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Kyle Smith
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kentreuber wrote:
You may want to look at Battles of Westeros. Units that disengage from melee suffer a Parting Blow and there is a concept of flanking.


Battles of Westeros is also a great example of why this is an obnoxious, clunky, PITA mechanic. Having played both, I vastly prefer the more naturalistic approach C&C:A takes over the explicit approach BoW takes.

Because if you try to "disengage" in C&C:A, all you let happen is for the enemy to run you down next turn and get the first attack in on you again. Having explicit engagement rules completely destroys the usefulness of light troops, and pretty much negates the concept of harassment in total. I found the explicit flanking rules in BoW less odious than the explicit engagement rules, but since they depended on one another, I'm perfectly happy being rid of engagement even if it means losing flanking.
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sduke wrote:
I think the key here is understanding what the scope or level of battle that the game presents.
CCA is really not a 'tactical' game like Men of Iron, for example.

4 blocks down to 2 blocks does not necessarily mean casualties have been taken, but is more a reflection on that unit's loss of morale, cohesion, etc.

But it's why a 1 block unit throws as many dice as a full strength unit. Some folks have a hard time getting their head around that concept but the loss of blocks is not necessarily only due to physical casualties.

Now in CCN, it IS a loss of fighting power and is reflected with reduced dice for reduced numbers of blocks. Some people like it, some people don't, but at least try and understand what is being portrayed and why.

Likewise, things like flanks and disengaging in combat, at this scale, are covered in other things. Could be the card play, could be the outcome of a dice roll.

And attacking a flank unit, while not a huge advantage, is a typical tactic because that unsupported unit cannot ignore a flag and is subject to a momentum attack sometimes. At the minimum, it prevents the defending flank unit from battling back, which is a good thing for the attacker.

I try and look at it like it's all there, I just may not see it at my level as the overall, operational commander. That's my take on it anyway.





I just wanted to add that I agree with this. When I first came to the this game I stumbled over this and Kevin, esp, helped me to see the light.

The only thing I would fault the rules for is the choice of words at some points which only serve to reinforce the idea that physical casualties are what are behind the removal of block from units. Dispersed, scattered, dissolved, disrupted, etc. all could have been better choices than eliminated and other such terms.

 
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Dave Briggs
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Chou4555 wrote:
I would have thought that once an ancient medium or heavy outfit engaged in close combat with similar, neither would be able to disengage voluntarily, without a penalty, unless they defeated the enemy or got them to retreat.

Are there any variant optional rules for penalties for trying to disengage from close combat?


There is a penalty for engaging the enemy already built into the game.
It's called "battle-back."

Once you commit to battle and don't retreat or eliminate your target, then they get to battle-back. Assuming the enemy has the proper card, that same unit can attack you again in his next turn. Simply put, to your one attack the enemy will possibly get two attacks in sequence. So, once you commit to battle you better hope you defeat the enemy, because they can come back at you with a vengeance.

This is based on a one on one situation. When you have a line of units engaged with a line of enemy units, the results can be decisive and usually disingagement is not an option.
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Colin Houghton
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Ahhh... it's all beginning to make sense. Not a tactical game. Or maybe just in the cards. I have Battles of Westeros and it does seem too rule heavy without adding additional realism... not that Direwolves are real...

I'll just play the game and enjoy the mechanics, not question them!
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Todd Rewoldt
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Chou4555 wrote:

I'll just play the game and enjoy the mechanics, not question them!


I would encourage you to keep questioning mechanics, especially if the reasoning behind the mechanics impacts your judgment of the game. For my tastes all of the C&C games hold up to the questioning, and Ancients maybe best of all. For my play time, the way the tactical maneuvers are handled concurrently in the combat resolutions is refreshing and every bit as "realistic" as if they were parsed out into separate actions or further die modifiers. Mark, Dave, Kyle, Steve, et al, already addressed how this works, just adding a +1 to their posts.

The game mechanics in BattleLore compared to those in Battles of Westeros is of particular interest to me, as I've been (and continue to be ) a big fan of BL and I think the changes made when developing BoW were done to specifically address those who prefer having more explicitly resolved combat situations.
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Kyle Smith
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toddrew wrote:
Chou4555 wrote:

I'll just play the game and enjoy the mechanics, not question them!


I would encourage you to keep questioning mechanics, especially if the reasoning behind the mechanics impacts your judgment of the game. For my tastes all of the C&C games hold up to the questioning, and Ancients maybe best of all. For my play time, the way the tactical maneuvers are handled concurrently in the combat resolutions is refreshing and every bit as "realistic" as if they were parsed out into separate actions or further die modifiers. Dave, Kyle, Steve, et al, already addressed how this works, just adding a +1 to their posts.

The game mechanics in BattleLore compared to those in Battles of Westeros is of particular interest to me, as I've been (and continue to be ) a big fan of BL and I think the changes made when developing BoW were done to specifically address those who prefer having more explicitly resolved combat situations.


I'm not sure Fantasy Flight Games did all their explicit rule chrome in response to anything. It's just how their design philosophy works. Across all their in house game designs I've played, almost every concept in the game has its own explicitly stated rule set. It's just how they conceptualize gaming. Or at least that is how it appears to me.

What continues to impress me about Commands & Colors: Ancients is how very simple rules have 2nd or 3rd order consequences that manage to do a good job of abstractly representing far more depth than you would at first think from a simple rules reading. Or the way numerous rules come together to implicitly represent things like flanking, engagement, command, etc. I would love to know how they manage to conceptualize the rules like that, as opposed to FFG's notion of needing explicit rules for everything.
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Todd Rewoldt
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Namrok wrote:
I'm not sure Fantasy Flight Games did all their explicit rule chrome in response to anything.

I'm not sure about anything FFG has decided with BattleLore & Battles of Westeros

Apologies for the slight to major digression here, but I think it does speak to the original question. Generalities aside about how FFG's gaming philosophies shape their games' rules/mechanics, with BoW in particular the main questions/complaints that tend to arise from those unfamiliar with C&C games when first playing them are (in no particular order):

1) I don't like not being able to order the units I want to when I want to/doesn't make sense that units under duress would do nothing (BoW does away with sections and moved away from the varied and specific Command Cards and shared Command deck of C&C to the more general and more closed player deck of BoW, along with tokens to use for additional orders - essentially giving more options per turn and a greater ability to "see into the future")

2) Why do Heavily armored units have the same hit rate per die as lesser armored units/where are all the die modifiers for flanking, etc. (BoW not only varies the number of dice that units use in combat, but also stacks the die result in the favor of heavier units - double whammy, and as noted, does have flanking bonus and explicit engagement
rules)

3) The first player to X banners is not a realistic way of determining a victor/why do light units count as much as heavy units towards victory? (BoW typically depends on victory objectives/conditions other than removal of units from the board [as opposed to the typical BL/C&C:A scenario depending on unit removal, and occasionally augmented by other objectives]; [bear with me here, I am still a little confused about this next part] in addition to the victory points, there is also a morale track, which tilts to one side or the other based on a few different factors, but one of them being unit removal - light units count as one increment, heavy as three increments, game ends if this tracker tilts too far in one direction [I remain intrigued by this as a way of determining when an army is routed and the other victorious])

4) Units down to one figure/block have the same battle effectiveness as those with no figure/block loss (In BoW...wait, this was not addressed! )

After reading through so many threads on various discussion forums that continue to call up these same points, and then to see BoW get the label of a BattleLore (which is a C&C game, what else are people supposed to think) Game and change the typical C&C rules as it does, the conclusion I drew is that BoW attempts to "fix" perceived short-comings in the C&C games. Personally, it doesn't do that at all for me - quick example, yes heavy units are harder to remove and count for more once removed than lighter units, but aren't you at the same place in the end with those two working against each other? Not a necessary change.

Quote:
What continues to impress me about Commands & Colors: Ancients is how very simple rules have 2nd or 3rd order consequences that manage to do a good job of abstractly representing far more depth than you would at first think from a simple rules reading. Or the way numerous rules come together to implicitly represent things like flanking, engagement, command, etc. I would love to know how they manage to conceptualize the rules like that, as opposed to FFG's notion of needing explicit rules for everything.


Yup, exactly!
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Sami Kilpinen
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Well, I do have to admit I am bothered that heavy units have no defense against missiles whatsoever. In melee, they get battle back, but against missiles, there's not any sort of abstraction in play - their armor and shields are just as good as the tunic of a slinger!

The flanking mechanic (the effects of flanking) seem to be fine in BOW, but rather than engagement simple positioning in relation to a friendly unit adjacent to the target could suffice.

But I'm just thinking aloud.
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Glabro wrote:
Well, I do have to admit I am bothered that heavy units have no defense against missiles whatsoever. In melee, they get battle back, but against missiles, there's not any sort of abstraction in play - their armor and shields are just as good as the tunic of a slinger!

Heavy units had more compact formations, and therefore were easier targets for ranged fire. Lighter units had less individual protection but were harder to hit because they were more scattered, both effects somehow balance out. I like how this (as many other things) has been simplified in the game.
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Colin Houghton
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Missiles versus melee troops. A further digression (of sorts)

I've just watched "Braveheart" again and it made me laugh when the Scots turned their backs on the English archers, bent down and lifted up their kilts. As I recall, only one Scot received a shaft to the buttock. Perhaps there's another factor at play as well as armour, formation and speed of movement. That of fear and loathing (and quaking bow strings) when confronted with ranks of bare hairy bottoms! yuk
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Sami Kilpinen
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franchi wrote:


Heavy units had more compact formations, and therefore were easier targets for ranged fire. Lighter units had less individual protection but were harder to hit because they were more scattered, both effects somehow balance out. I like how this (as many other things) has been simplified in the game.


You're about right there. I slept on it as well, and decided that:
1. Missile fire is calibrated for "medium troops".
2. Light troops use skirmishing tactics and formations.
3. Medium and heavy troops are actually both heavy troops with similar equipment, but heavy troops are actually just more veteran heavy troops.
Now, for sure veteran troops could have more "staying power" than less veteran troops, but their numbers are similarly smaller.

Works for me.

As for close combat, Samurai Battles seems to make more use of "ignoring swords" from lower grade units, I could see that working in C&C:A as well, but there's elephants and some terrain to balance with first.
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Glabro wrote:

As for close combat, Samurai Battles seems to make more use of "ignoring swords" from lower grade units, I could see that working in C&C:A as well, but there's elephants and some terrain to balance with first.


I haven't played Samurai Battles (yet!), but have read through the rules. Ancients' rule set already addresses this in that most light units (Auxilia excepted) do not hit on swords results anyway. One could certainly extend the "ignore swords" hierarchy for Auxilia, Mediums, and Heavies, but I think the die differential between the units already accounts for the armor/weaponry/training differences as much as the game wants to.

Another thing to keep in mind is that with Leaders involved in the battles, the per die hit rate in Ancients is higher than that of BattleLore or Samurai Battles - >=50% as opposed to >=33% (not taking into account the ignore swords hierarchy) - and also rolling more dice (not as sure about SB, but in BL lights roll 2d, mediums 3d, heavies 4d - I think it is the same for SB), leading to much more decisive and shorter-lived clashes in Ancients. Others can speak with much more authority than I, but I believe this is intentional, to model the eras of warfare. But hey, lots of abstractions going on (as with any level of boardgame) and well more than one way to work these things out.
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Namrok wrote:
...What continues to impress me about Commands & Colors: Ancients is how very simple rules have 2nd or 3rd order consequences that manage to do a good job of abstractly representing far more depth than you would at first think from a simple rules reading. Or the way numerous rules come together to implicitly represent things like flanking, engagement, command, etc. I would love to know how they manage to conceptualize the rules like that, as opposed to FFG's notion of needing explicit rules for everything.


I don't know how Richard Borg came up with the idea, but I would say it comes down to experience with many other games; observation of other systems in action; and a desire to do something new that offers a wide variety of results as simply and efficiently as possible.

After a few games, I find it very easy to remember and apply the few modifiers necessary (adding or dropping dice, counting or discounting certain faces) and it's so nice to be able to do this in your head without the rules in one hand a player "aid" in the other. I like to recount what applies or not out loud so my opponent is following along, too. Games are so much more fun when everyone involved understands what's happening.

I also love that the results are on the dice. A toss of the dice tells you immediately what happened. How many losses and how many retreats, if any. No need to look up what "R2D2" (or whatever) means.
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Sami Kilpinen
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Yeah, better than swords, heavies could ignore one flag instead (possibly just from lights). This helps against both shooting and melee, represents their veterancy and staying power, and is not so powerful as to unbalance anything.
 
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Mark McG
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BradyLS wrote:

I don't know how Richard Borg came up with the idea, but I would say it comes down to experience with many other games; observation of other systems in action; and a desire to do something new that offers a wide variety of results as simply and efficiently as possible.


and playtesting, playtesting and more playtesting.

A Borg game means it is a tested game, and that makes a huge difference in my opinion
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BradyLS wrote:


After a few games, I find it very easy to remember and apply the few modifiers necessary (adding or dropping dice, counting or discounting certain faces) and it's so nice to be able to do this in your head without the rules in one hand a player "aid" in the other. I like to recount what applies or not out loud so my opponent is following along, too. Games are so much more fun when everyone involved understands what's happening.

I also love that the results are on the dice. A toss of the dice tells you immediately what happened. How many losses and how many retreats, if any. No need to look up what "R2D2" (or whatever) means.


I really enjoy reaching a level of understanding of a game where the rules are internalised and you can think purely tactically. Not many games where it's really possible to do this but C&C:A is one of them.

I also love that you can understand the game state at a glance and the quick flow that immediately visible combat results gives.

Brent.
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Minedog3 wrote:
...and playtesting, playtesting and more playtesting.

A Borg game means it is a tested game, and that makes a huge difference in my opinion


Absolutely! I could not agree more!
 
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BradyLS wrote:
Minedog3 wrote:
...and playtesting, playtesting and more playtesting.

A Borg game means it is a tested game, and that makes a huge difference in my opinion


Absolutely! I could not agree more!


It must be nice to have the time, space, and friends to help build the empire.

Too bad they are all in Florida and not the South Bay area of Los Angeles...
 
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