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Subject: Wargame Newbie - What about counterstacks? rss

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Roland W. est. 1984
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Hallo,

although I have a lot of wargames in my collection I only played a few of them (last one was Fading Glory, excelllent game).

I am looking for some games at the moment and what "afraids" me are counter stacks. I just try to understand at the moment is : How do you keep track which units are in each stack? Just played Paths of glory once and it was a very very very big problem. Are there "tricks" or is it not a big deal and even gives some kind of "fog" of war for the opponent? Are players normally allowed to look into the stacks of the opponent?
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Warren Bruhn
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Normally, yes, players do get to look at the stacks of opponents. The exception is when there is some kind of concealment marker on top of the stack, or when counters are face down for concealment.

Stacking gets to be a more serious problem when there are multiple status markers on units in the stack, and the players will hopefully not get those status markers mixed up and put them on the wrong unit.
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Roland W. est. 1984
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But it is "normal" that there are 5 different units and status markers on one space? And this is the case in many many spaces on the map? Looks very complicated to me ... If you just have to much to remember to play "good"...
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K G
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evil_puck wrote:
But it is "normal" that there are 5 different units and status markers on one space? And this is the case in many many spaces on the map? Looks very complicated to me ... If you just have to much to remember to play "good"...
That sounds like a lot for one hex, though I suppose some games allow it. "Terrible Swift Sword," if I remember correctly allows two units with their respective strength markers and then a leader might be on the stack too. Five total counters sounds good to me, but I`m sure others have differing opinions.

As for inspecting a stack, some games prevent it except when the stack is attacking.
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Brent Pollock
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ASL 'Kill Stacks' can look like this:
- one leader
- three squads
- each squad may get two support weapons
- each unit might get marked for DM, Firing, Fanatic, Pinned, and you will have to shuffle things as the turn progresses and the markers need to be updated.

Exhale lightly while playing and DO NOT BUMP THE DAMNED TABLE AGAIN OR I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU!
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I hate games with giant stacks. Starship Troopers had them. USN has them.

It makes games pretty much unplayable.

Task Force counters are one (cumbersome) solution. Computerizing a game is another.
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Lance Runolfsson
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Stacks BLOW I hate them. I can tolerate two counters in a hex but prefer just one. Yet there are games that I try to play that have bunches of function markers that can wind up stacked on a single unit in a hex. Don't know what I would do if multiple units with multiple function markers were the case. I'd probably just squirt lighter fluid all over it, set it on fire and watch it burn.
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Hunga Dunga
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Normally, yes, players do get to look at the stacks of opponents.

Actually it depends upon the game. OCS games only give you limited visibility into a stack, others games no visibility at all.

If you're playing a game that doesn't use markers, stacks are usually more manageable. But if you have counters that can be in different modes as well as having more than two step losses, stacks can get unwieldy!
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Bartow Riggs
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Stacks? What Stacks?

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Tom Stearns
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There was another thread where the OP stated he didn't like the long set up of war games. Now a thread about counter stacks. What the heck is going on? Setting up the game is one of the great things about playing a war game. And counter stacks are awesome. If we didn't have counter stacks we wouldn't get to use our nifty forceps tweezers now would we? All you noob wargamers are welcome to the club. But please, learn to adapt to the wargame environment. Next thing we'll hear is complaints about long and complicated rules. Or have we already had that one?

Wargaming is an experience that begins with breaking the shrink wrap, opening and then smelling the box, fondling the contents and inspecting them, unfolding the map and looking at it, reading the designer notes, then reading the rules, punching and trimming the counters, taking your time setting up the game, learning the rules, playing the game, using tweezers, rolling die, looking at CRT's, TEC's, and numerous other charts, then gently organizing the pieces as you put it away after completing it. I'm sure I have missed several steps along the way. Maybe we need a "How to wargame" thread that will answer some of these rhetorical noob questions or statements.
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Mike Windsor
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BartowWing wrote:

Stacks? What Stacks?



You think that's a counter stack? I'll show you a counter stacks.


Take a look at Murmansk, Odessa, and Sicily. In a few turns, Central Europe would look like there were skyscrapers on it.
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Roland W. est. 1984
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I was not complaining about setup.

I did not play a game so far with large stacks. If ALL the units are the same in one stack I would not see it is a problem. I think it is ok when the opponent not 100% knows what is going on there... but if you do not know yourself what units you have and can use it is just annoying and I have not fun looking at the stack every time before my turn. I just did not play a game with more than 3 units/hex so I thought it is legit to ask.

Complicated rules are ok. If they are written in an understandable way (still want to play fields of fire, but the 1st edition rules are crap...)
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Pelle Nilsson
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Nothing too bad about stacks, but when you have the luxury of hexes big enough to put counters side by side I think that is a good thing.
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Jason Sadler
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Organizing your forces is one of the wargaming skills.
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Jason Sadler
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Multiple kills stacks on top of each other in a buildings with burning floors, residual fire, acquisition markers, etc. ASL can get pretty silly.

WBRP wrote:
ASL 'Kill Stacks' can look like this:
- one leader
- three squads
- each squad may get two support weapons
- each unit might get marked for DM, Firing, Fanatic, Pinned, and you will have to shuffle things as the turn progresses and the markers need to be updated.

Exhale lightly while playing and DO NOT BUMP THE DAMNED TABLE AGAIN OR I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU!
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Bill Lawson
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I love counter stacks!
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Robert Stuart
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Neopeius wrote:
I hate games with giant stacks. Starship Troopers had them. USN has them.

It makes games pretty much unplayable.

Task Force counters are one (cumbersome) solution. Computerizing a game is another.


Many excellent games have small stacks. Three hex-and-counter games that come to mind:

Ardennes '44.

Bastogne: Screaming Eagles under Siege.

Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles.

Then, there are a number of very fine block games for which stacking isn't really an issue, because of the nature of blocks.

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Lucius Cornelius
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billyboy wrote:
I love counter stacks!
Like a brick house!
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Jonathan Holen
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I was worried about stacks, but I think once you start pushing counters around you realize it isn't so bad.

That's been my experience.
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Mike Hoyt

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I have less and less patience with stacks, and markers. Shuffling through my own stacks to see what I have is a pain. MMP and The Gamers are particularly prone to this and it's a major turn off for me.

Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles was mentioned. It's an exception for me. The game is so good that I can overlook the stacking, and the hexes are big enough, the counter density low, and the marker load minimal that's not really a problem anyway. Not to mention short scenarios.
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Kev.
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I like to make patterns with my stacks.
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WBRP wrote:
ASL 'Kill Stacks' can look like this:
- one leader
- three squads
- each squad may get two support weapons
- each unit might get marked for DM, Firing, Fanatic, Pinned, and you will have to shuffle things as the turn progresses and the markers need to be updated.

Exhale lightly while playing and DO NOT BUMP THE DAMNED TABLE AGAIN OR I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU!


By ASL kill stacks he truly means the later meaning...Those stacks are highly undesirable in competitive play because they become an instant focus for the enemy because the huge payoff for a single good die roll.
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Warren Bruhn
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Hungadunga wrote:
Warren Bruhn wrote:
Normally, yes, players do get to look at the stacks of opponents.

Actually it depends upon the game. OCS games only give you limited visibility into a stack, others games no visibility at all.




I'm not familiar with these games. (Where have I been the last 20 years?) I don't think I've ever played a wargame in which the players were unable to inspect one another's stacks. I suppose a rule like that is a form of "concealment light."

Would probably be even more fun if the player was unable to inspect his own stack!



P.S. You are welcome to introduce me to those kinds of games, Hungadunga.

I was recently playing a game of The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen. Hexes were small. Counters were colorful and nice to look at. It was possible to have up to five units in a hex, along with leaders, markers for improved positions and entrenchements (for each unit separately, not for the whole hex), men at work markers (could be for each unit), road blocks, rearguards, step loss (most units indicated step loss by flipping the counter, but some had transport mode on the other side), loss of organic transport, paratroop or glider delay, column (one unit in a hex could be in column), artillery in contact or contact pending (for each indirect fire battery), suppression and cohesion loss (for each unit in the hex, and units could have both of these conditions), blown bridges, and light or heavy barrage. I may have forgotten some other marker.

Sound like a lot? Usually units were not stacked more than one or two deep. That wasn't always true in the cities, but there were large hex maps of the cities if the players wanted to get these stacks off of the small hex map. Tweezers were needed. And information could be lost if a counter got accidentally flipped or a stack fell over. It would not be possible to play this without allowing enemy inspection of stacks.

Nice game! But I can understand why someone used to the clarity of a chess board would have trouble understanding why grognards put up with stacks like those in TDC. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, like beer!

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Bill Lawson
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Warren Bruhn wrote:


I'm not familiar with these games. (Where have I been the last 20 years?) I don't think I've ever played a wargame in which the players were unable to inspect one another's stack


I'm really surprised you've never played a game with this rule. I own lots of different games that have this rule. Some going back to the 80's.
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WBRP wrote:
ASL 'Kill Stacks' can look like this:
- one leader
- three squads
- each squad may get two support weapons
- each unit might get marked for DM, Firing, Fanatic, Pinned, and you will have to shuffle things as the turn progresses and the markers need to be updated.


HAHAHA you're allowed to make those stacks and if you're my opponent I highly encourage it! Just wait and see what happens when I roll snakes on you.

A good friend of mine was playing ASL SK for the first time... moved up 3 good Soviet squads, the CiC and a Maxim gun. He didn't realize that I had LOS with an MG34. Leader-directed and I rolled a '3'. By the end of that phase there was a lonely Maxim gun and a broken half-squad... and nobody else alive in the space. Welcome to the war, man!
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