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Subject: How to form a good squad? rss

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Todd
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Hi All,

As I'm working on my 'random' scenario generation for SMG, I finally got around to writing down my soldier statistics like the spreadsheets used in the files section. As I was going through the troops, I was trying to think of how to form good teams of figures. Does anyone have any suggestions or guidelines they go by to create their teams? Any help in reading the soldier cards to know what the guy is good at?

Currently we just throw a bunch of random riflemen into the mix after we've picked our leaders and special soldiers (i.e. MG, rifle grenades, etc). During our last game, my youngest son was almost totally wiped out due to a constant draw of kill results from his deck. It was quite a bummer and that was what motivated me to get that spreadsheet together.

I suppose I'm fishing for the wisdom of the better players to help us out.

Thanks for your time and suggestions,
Maus
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Tom Boyd
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Since I supply both squads for my games, I use a spreadsheet that breaks down the numbers a couple of different ways, and try to make them as evenly matched as possible.

I usually start with a leader & MG for each side, and then start filling in holes. For example if my US Sgt & .30 cal team have lots of Shoot cards, & my Germans are loaded with Moves, I pick US riflemen with lots of Moves & Germans with lots of Shoots, etc... Once I feel like I've got a good selection of actions for each side, then I compare things like hits/wounds/kills/ranges, etc, and tweak as necessary. It's a bit different than if I was only creating my own squad, and trying to guess what I would be up against, but a fun exercise.
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Scott Smith
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Well there are two ways to look at it. You can either build a squad and then decide how to play it, or you decide how you want to play and build a squad to fit that style.

For the build a squad example lets look at what happened to your youngest sons squad. Handing out squads and then deciding how to play them is probably the way most people will play the game. A) it is easier B) I think in most cases at this point one player will own most of the stuff and have people over to play. Unless you know your friends styles really well it might be hard to design an squad for them. So it falls to the player to figure out what to do with the squad they are given. This can be hard for a new or young player so it may fall on the more experienced player to give them a hand. In the case of your some if he has a bunch of kill icons in his damage deck it would behoove him to close to close combat as soon as he can because then he is drawing all those kills to kill you not himself.

The figuring your play style and then building is harder but will likely yield you better performing squads. If you know you like to stay back and shoot you may focus on getting guys with decent ranges, more "hits" at long and short range, and lower damage icons (more pins and zips than wounds and kills). If you want a squad that shines up close, find guys with more and better maneuver cards, more kills for those hand to hands, more card draw so you have initiative in those hand to hands etc...

For pick up games you may just want to try and balance the squads out. Balance the actions, damage types, weapon types as best you can so you can use any style to moderate success. Either that or build specialized squads but let the people who get them know what they are good at.

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Brian
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You'll always be more satisfied building specialized squads and it is well worth the initial effort to do this. I like to build basic 3 man fire teams for a number of reasons:

1. You have flexibility tactically, such as longer range suppression fire to pin enemies down for your assault team to deal with up close.

2. You can use this model to play a 2 or 4 player game easily without modification since one player may easily handle 6 soldiers, or a 4 player scenario with the same fire teams easily introduces new players to the experience when each member of a team only has 3 guys to figure out. (Adding a leader for each player in addition is equally easy to do.)

3. With a ready made tactical specialization in mind, the participants immediately understand how their contribution fits into the overall strategic aim of their team.

4. Ready made squads may be written down and referenced after orders are drawn in order to maximize mission efficiency.

I also think in general it is more important to balance the overall damage results rather than focusing more on balancing actions because I find it easier to use a leader to hold something that you anticipate being in short supply of later on rather than relying on chance to balance out a serious mismatch in damage. Whatever the action mismatch is, I'll adapt to the situation on the action side.

The damage mismatch is the most important balance factor in surviving long enough to use whatever action imbalance is inherently present in the situation IMO since it seems to me like you always have more options with actions during play, but the damage results are simply absolute.

If I don't get the ideal action I want right now, I can do a lot of other things that are still useful, if I'm dead that's it. So if I was to build a contact combat squad of lethal assault soldiers I'd load them up with move and move again actions, mad fight and cover skills with hides to match, hit+ weapons, a leader with good draw and hold ability for initiative purposes, and very few shoots or looks (use those for the long range guys). Then I'd move fast, hide often, hold a shoot action, lob some grenades and then hit+ attack just before contact.

If I placed the balance issues in a hierarchy based on answering the question 'does this guy's stats fit the tactics of this fire team?', it would be: (IMO, others may disagree with equal footing), damage results, hits, range, actions.

If nothing else, designing your squads intentionally with mission specific goals that lead to much more satisfying results on average is a worthwhile 'deck building' adventure. You can never, ever have enough soldiers to do this and you will always be tweaking your tactic oriented squads over time as you acquire new ones. Have fun!
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Todd
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Thanks Guys!

I really have a lot of good advice to work through.

I think part of our problem is understanding an individual soldier's strengths and weaknesses based on the soldier and action card mix.

--soldier table--
name
rng: close/short/long/toss
act: look/hide/shoot/move
hit: blast/close/short/long
eff: zip/pin/wound/kill

PFC Corn rng:11/6/10/6 act:2/1/2/2 hit:-/4/3/4 eff:4/1/2/-
Pvt Simms rng:11/5/10/8 act:-/-/3/4 hit:6/2/3/- eff:-/4/-/3
--

For example, our PFC Corn seems to be a well rounded soldier. He has decent range, a good mix of all actions, hits well at all ranges and has no 'kill' effects. So he could be put in just about any team.

If we compare him to Pvt Simms, with the limitation of shoot and move actions, lots of blast hits and short range hits, AND the pin and kill effects, I would suppose he would best be used in a close assault team. The thing that throws me off is his range values are comparable to Corn and he has a sight distance of 21 vs Corn's 14.

Any insight on reading a soldier's card mix?

I'm going to attempt to put together some of those ready made teams of 3-4 soldiers for different types of styles. Maybe I'll label them 'Long range', 'Close combat', and 'Rounded' and we can go from there.

Maus
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Brian
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Maus wrote:
I think part of our problem is understanding an individual soldier's strengths and weaknesses based on the soldier and action card mix.
Me, you, everyone's problem at first. You may already realize that stat sheets are useful and I recommend them, but they sometimes don't tell the whole story. (All the blue and white boxes and specific balloons need to be charted as well.) This sometimes overlooked important aspect of the VP formula contributes confusion during one's first attempts to build squads for tactic and mission specific functions.

It is sometimes difficult to realize a soldier's true worth when two similar VP soldiers just don't seem to balance out in the stat columns. (One of them has much better hits or something than the other and everything else is basically the same. Then you realize that one of them must drop grenades on himself but the other one shoots at nearest enemy during a move action, so he is able to move and once in a while also throw a grenade without bobbling it, but just doesn't hit as often, at least he's not a menace to himself and those around him with a better chance to hit. The irony, right!?) That works great, makes great sense and also makes the soldiers uniquely memorable in at least a small way every single time.

Getting to know your men is very important. There is a soldier's theoretical potential and then there's actual experience over the board. Just keep playing is another piece of advice that leads to that discovery of what is special about Sgt. Guy (I really want this name by the way, dibs on Sgt. Guy) and will follow the natural course of emergent strategies. Like a social experiment, some of your guys are going to become buddies and even blood brothers. All you have to do is pay attention, they'll let you know who they work best with. Watch them and learn. They already know what they're good at. You just don't know yet, but that's part of the fun, just getting to know them and guess at their backgrounds for why their abilities are what they are.

During play, carefully stack your discard pile. This is order to preserve the story progression phase by phase. Reviewing this record of play punctuated by events will assist your memory of what happened. Use your memory of the soldiers performance during the AAR post-mortem of the game to reassess their performance together. I like to place upside down pin markers as medals next to guys that do particularly well during play as a pair. This really helps with the story aspect and gets dramatic at times too.

Do an AAR for even more depth and insight into a soldier, not just his ability but your own progression with how well you understand what you can count on him to usually do without trouble and who helps him the best. Find those two guys and fit them with a complementary leader. Boom, 3 man fire team.
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Kevin Duke
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Quote:
It is sometimes difficult to realize a soldier's true worth when two similar VP soldiers just don't seem to balance out in the stat columns.


We just have to remember (and have faith) that the Jeff-Man has told us his formula makes it so that equal VP soldiers are EQUAL in overall value. Brian is onto some of it-- what happens in the boxes, how MANY soldiers get ordered, and all the other factors in the game... are all combined in there. It certainly may defy normal spread sheets, though, and I think his other ideas are even better than spread sheets.

Quote:
All you have to do is pay attention, they'll let you know who they work best with. Watch them and learn. They already know what they're good at. You just don't know yet, but that's part of the fun, just getting to know them and guess at their backgrounds for why their abilities are what they are.


With time, you may certainly find you FEEL certain ways about soldiers that defy what's on the spread sheet. And that's okay. No, it's lots better than, "okay." It's just so very rare we hardly know what to do with it.

Is it real?

For me, my higher math goes only as far as batting averages, but I've seen enough of Jeff's stuff to start humming Tinker B's "How to Believe" song when questions like this come up.
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Greg
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I've been taking a harder look at all my soldiers to get a feel for how they balance. One thing about this game is that it takes a bit more looking into than most games in those regards.

You can't just look at the soldier's stat card and say, "oh, this guy is better at sighting, or has better range or can fight better". You have to look at the action cards and even then you have to check out their Hit box stats, their white and blue boxes if they have them, and the Kill/Wound/Pin/Zip ratio at the bottom. You can also look at the talk bubble and see how many "2 soldiers move and move again" or "5 soldiers move" or "5 soldiers shoot" vs. the "1 soldier moves", "1 soldier shoots" etc. So there is a lot to check out.

One thing I notices is one of my soldiers that has a lot of Shoot cards, like 5 of them and good overall Hit box stats, also has like 4 Kill stats at the bottom of his cards. So while he can help add to the offense, he can also get your guys killed with his reckless behavior. So when playing him, I need to think about having a Leader that can Hold some cards and also other soldiers that don't have many more "Kill" stats to add to the one soldier's.

I also found that one of my leader has two Hide action cards with his dog tag number, so he will get an extra opportunity to Hold cards, as my other leaders only have 1 Hide action card.

I think someone else mentioned having fire teams. Maybe I didn't pay attention enough as I was still learning and trying to teach the game, but keeping your short ranged guys together with some grenades can certainly act as your assault team to charge into the mix and do some damage either close up or in close combat, while your other team can move to flank or go for their objective.

Seems like part of the fun of this game is getting to know the individual soldiers and how to make them work as a team, as well as getting think about how their personalities are represented. Like my first example of the big shooter that has lots of Kills and how he can be one of those guys that can be the hero, or put his teammates in danger with his reckless behavior.
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Kevin Duke
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Quote:
Seems like part of the fun of this game is getting to know the individual soldiers and how to make them work as a team, as well as getting think about how their personalities are represented. Like my first example of the big shooter that has lots of Kills and how he can be one of those guys that can be the hero, or put his teammates in danger with his reckless behavior.



And that is EXACTLY what Jeff had in mind!
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Chris Ganshaw
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To me, less thinking and more playing is the best way to come up with a good squad. Sure, make certain there is a good action mix, but then just mix it up with the enemy. But that's just me.
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Greg
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Sure that's the best part Chis, mixing it up with the enemy. But in the meantime at lunch break at work, it's nice to look through the cards and try to find some good mixes.
 
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Brian
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R M Chair General wrote:
Banor58 wrote:
To me, less thinking and more playing is the best way to come up with a good squad. Sure, make certain there is a good action mix, but then just mix it up with the enemy. But that's just me.
Getting to know your men is very important. There is a soldier's theoretical potential and then there's actual experience over the board. Just keep playing is another piece of advice that leads to that discovery
Agree. There again, theory and practice. Once you get enough hours logged in you'll see the strategies naturally emerge between your soldiers. You literally just need to try things and observe. The soldiers will reveal to you who they complement the best and whom they are complemented best by during various tactical operations.

It is immensely satisfying to progress through this process of trial and discovery through astute observation. Looking at stat sheets only gets you half way there, but contributes it's own theoretical aspect to the build procedure. A cohesive, complementary, tactically focused squad is the ultimate reward for working on both sides of the equation. The eventual impact on mission success is very real and measurable for players invested in proper perceptive analysis following their game sessions.
 
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