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Subject: House Rules for Attack to Encourage actual attacking: rss

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Pete
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Our game group loves games like attack, with hundreds of little plastic pieces, a huge game board, and lots of options. However, after playing the game a few times, we found it to have serious flaws. I list below the flaws we discovered and our solutions to them so that others might benefit. Obviously, if you don't like a rule, don't use it.

Issue #1: The game should be called defend because attacking is almost never beneficial.
This is a common complaint on this board and others, and we have found it justified. Considering that you start the game with 24 ground units, most of them infantry, it is extremely foolhardy to attack one of the minor neutrals early in the game. Diplomatic blitzes are far easier, and the neutrals are strong enough to take a serious bite out of your forces. Replacing your forces takes a lot of work, as you are likely to have very little production early on. Battles are simply too costly, and you typically see players do nothing but diplomatic blitzes and reinforceing their frontiers for the first 3 turns.

Solution #1: Cheaper units
I'm sure a lot of you are going to howl at this solution, but we cut all the unit prices in half (round up). That effectively cuts the advantage of the minor neutrals in half as well. As an added bonus, you get to use more of those pieces in your tray (why have over 300 miniatures if you can only field about 50 in a game?) This may seem overly simplistic, but it works out really well, and before you know it players are steamrolling over minor neutrals which they once would not. After all, Germany should run over Poland, not get beaten back like a 2nd hand army.

Issue #2: Diplomatic Blitzing is far too easy.
Again, nothing new here. We've played this game repeatedly and what typically happens is that one player will acquire 3-6 territies on his first turn through diplomatic blitzes (with the threaten to invade card) and pick up so many economics cards and diplomatic moves cards that all the other players essentially ahve to follow suit. This reduces the need to attack, and makes Diplomatic Blitzing your sole concern for the first three turns.

Solution #2: Raise the base roll for success to 8
Heavy handed, I know, but we want more military action, and this is one way to get it. It also increases the significance of the minor neutrals' initial political standing, and by extension the politcal action cards. See also the effects on victory point balance below.

Issue #3: The 'eagle card' rules make the game end too quickly and too abruptly, and players have too much control over when it ends.
Because the game ends automatically on the turn when the 13th eagle card is played, several unfavorable situations arise. First, eagle cards, which are the most powerful, tend to become useless after turn 3 unless you are the player trying to end the game, in which case you play them as much as possible. Second, the players do not know until that 13th card is played when the last round will be, giving the player who plays that 13th card an advantage in planning. Third, because there is a risk of eagle cards becoming a liability late in the game, players tend to play them as soon as possible for fear that they'll not get a chance later, even though the effects are much more useful later in the game. Finally, the game typically ends in turn 3 or 4, before the warring actually starts in earnest.

Solution #3: Dispense with the 13th eagle card rule. At the start of the third through fifth turns, roll 1d4 and add 2. If the number is less than or equal to the current turn, the game ends at the end of that turn.
This is a common game mechanic. It is advantageous in that it gives players a full turn to plan for the endgame (as opposed to the eagle card method which tends to resolve late in the turn) and it provides for a 3-6 hour game (1 hour per turn...none of us want to play more than 6 turns). In addition, when used with the threaded turns option (see below and other posts on this site) it results in a "spend all the oil you got" phenomenon in which players continually vie for a favorable endgame, adding action upon action in an effort to take down the leader or improve positions. The endgames are a lot more interesting this way.

Issue #4:You have to wait too long before each turn.

Solution #4: Threaded turns option.
As has been written by many people on this site, the game really is much improved with the threaded turns option, in which each player takes his first 1-oil action, then they are all allowed the option to take a second 2-oil action, and then a 3rd, etc. Not only does this increase the interest level, but it tends to result in shorter turns. Since you cannot know what to expect in the non-threaded option, you tend to try to do as much as possible each turn (unless you play last).

We also use a rotating "first player" token. The last player in a round has an advantage in that he gets to see what other players have chosen to do regarding additional actions, plus he takes production after his last action. Thus, it is advantageous to be the "last player" and disadvantageous to be the "first player." The status of "first player" rotates clockwise on our table. Thus, the player who had to be first last turn gets to be last the next turn.

Issue #5: Nobody ever takes an action to auction off a trade route
Think about this for a second. You're going to spend oil...you're going to waste an action...and then you're going to let everyone at the table take a crack at an oil route? Would you do this? In 4 games with this rule, nobody ever has. It's bad enough that the thing is going to the highest bidder...it's worse that you've already invested so much into it that even if you win, you are spending more than others would. And once you get a trade route, you become a target for all of the world's submarines!

Solution #5: One random trade route is auctioned off at the beginning of each turn.
Since you're auctioning them off anyway, why not give everyone an equal crack at them. And by forcing the sea routes into the game, you make the navies instantly more relevant.

Adjusting the victory conditions:

Communists: No adjustment
In a standard game of attack, there are rarely any neutrals left at all. The fact that diplomatic blitzes are now harder means that, at the end of the game, there are likely to still be communist neutrals out there. We see a significant rise in communist minor neutral victory points, from about 0-3 to about 6-9 with these rules.

Democracy: No adjustment
Again, the democracies gain a big bonus from the fact that there will be more minor neutrals left in the end. With the increase of difficult of diplomatic blitzes, the advantage of being 'in the middle of the spectrum' is much higher (going from 9+ to 10+ is a much bigger difference than going from 7+ to 8+, for example). This game is far more militaristic, and the victory point penalty for attacking a neutral does hurt the Democracies, but they do not need an adjustment for balance.

Monarchy: Handicap of +3VP/six players, +4VP/five players, +5VP/four players, +6VP/three players.
Monarchies will have the toughest time with these rules, because they make it much more difficult to expand remotely (the diplomatic blitz into a remote territory is almost impossible). Giving the Monarchy player 2 extra victory points per remote-continent territory is far too generous, but the 1 victory point rule makes it almost impossible for them to win. We have found it best to simply give the Monarchy players a flat handicap. The +3VP handicap for a six player game seems to work very well. The others are somewhat untested.

Fascist: Raise troop limit to 5.
Because the armies will be larger all over the map, the 3-unit rule for VP makes the Fascist player's VP total way too high. Doubling the troop limit actually seems to be too limiting, as too many of the minor neutrals have 5 defenders, meaning that the Fascist can get very few VPs by defeating them. Raising the troop limit to 5 seems to result in about 7-10 VP per game, in line with the others powers. However, it is definitely true that longer games favor the Fascists, and shorter games hurt them.

Please post feedback, especially if you have actually tried these adjustments. We've played this way three times and found it makes for a much more competitive game, but it's entirely possible that this is a result of our particular tactics and personalities rather than an actual improvement in the rules. I'd love to hear what you guys experience with these rules.
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Ramon Zarate
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An alternative for issue #3 I might sugest:

When the 13th eagle is played, all players that wish the game to continue can collectively pay 13 oil to avoid the game to finish. If they don't pay the oil, the game is over. If play continues, when the 14th eagle is played, players can collectively pay 14 oil to prevent the game from finishing.... and so on.

I've never tried it my self, I just went to play a modified version of Attack! without the expansion, but I saw this alternative at Eagle Games forums and it might be worth trying out.
 
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Pete
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I really like this option. I'll run it by the guys and see how they respond for Thursday's game...
 
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Pete
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Ramito wrote:
An alternative for issue #3 I might sugest:

When the 13th eagle is played, all players that wish the game to continue can collectively pay 13 oil to avoid the game to finish. If they don't pay the oil, the game is over. If play continues, when the 14th eagle is played, players can collectively pay 14 oil to prevent the game from finishing.... and so on.

I've never tried it my self, I just went to play a modified version of Attack! without the expansion, but I saw this alternative at Eagle Games forums and it might be worth trying out.
I am sad to report that this did not work out very well. 8 turns and six hours into the game, we were still on the third eagle card and completely exhausted. Had we used my method (3-6 turn game max) there would have been more action in the early rounds and more of an emphasis on immediate acquisition of victory points. Waiting around for the 13th eagle card is just plain painful.
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Ramon Zarate
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Well I'm surprised! 8 turns in 6 hours and only 3 eagles?

Hmmmm... now I wonder if we've ever played the same game...

Alas, I'm sorry it didn't work out. I was hoping that people were not going to be able to pay so much oil at even the early stages of the game.

Maybe, as me, you guys should go back to the basic Attack! game just using both maps and the plastic ships, I think I'll never play the expansion again.
 
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Robert Larson
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Very good changes, well thought out. I now use a few of them in every game. Blances the government type well.
 
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Scott G
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Threaded Turns Worked Great!
My friends and I are big fans of Attack! and have noticed the same issues as you. We tried the 'threaded turns' approach and liked it a lot.

You can read about the whole game session if you want:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/113565

I'm not sure about the other options, but we'd all do threaded turns again.
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Justin S.
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Quote:
Issue #2: Diplomatic Blitzing is far too easy.
Again, nothing new here. We've played this game repeatedly and what typically happens is that one player will acquire 3-6 territies on his first turn through diplomatic blitzes (with the threaten to invade card) and pick up so many economics cards and diplomatic moves cards that all the other players essentially ahve to follow suit. This reduces the need to attack, and makes Diplomatic Blitzing your sole concern for the first three turns.


Hmm, yes, a bit slow at first, but usually (in my 2 PLAYER games ) after many nations are taken, heavy war and fighting errupts... we blits to get strong, then a huge war between 2 strong dudes approaches...
 
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Scott Randolph
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My group, about 9 guys of which 4-6 are present for any given game, has not had your experience. We have played 7 times now.

Trade Routes - we allow for the auctioning of specific trade routes, not random ones. The player who goes last in the first round always gets one at the cost of $20 PP because virtually no one has any money left to counter bid. Second, since the auction is for the trade route of the person's choice whose turn it is, and who spent the oil for the action, they ALWAYS have their entire fleet of naval units in that sea area or sea zone. In all cases thus far, the trade route auction initiator also buys another destroyer or two. So far, in all 7 games, a trade route has only been disabled twice, and never destroyed, and the subs doing the commerce raiding are generally destroyed or retire later.

Inter-Player Combat - by round three, we are generally in inter-player combat. Players often use Diplomatic Blitz to create paths toward other players, then build, then strategic move, then attack/move, and start getting near each other by the end of the 2nd round, definitely by the third round.

We have no problem with the 13th Eagle Card. It's an end game strategy, just like eliminating one player. We have had both. None of our games have ended earlier than 6 hours (and we have a 20 minute rule, at the 20th minute from the beginning of a player's turn, that action begun in the 20th minute is the player's FINAL action of their turn), and none has lasted longer than 9 hours. We do add one more Eagle Card to the end game requirement for every player over 4. So, a 5 player game requires 14 Eagle Cards.

The high cost of units is by design, and benefits the Democracy who must focus on strategies other than direct conquest of the world. Generally causes the Fascist to build up an early lead in bonus, cumulative VP's, while also exhausting many harder and harder to replace units. Even a 4 $PP card takes three rounds to pay for the cost of even the loss of [2] Infantry, this is intentional in my opinion. Warfare does not produce wealth, warfare consumes it.

We think the Monarchist has it best. In seven games, the Fascist has won three, the Monarchist has won three, and the Communist has won once.

SFRR
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Niccolo Machiavelli
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My group tends to do the same simple alterations that SFFR does, though we've never made trade routes selectable (always random and hidden). I might go about changing that, unsure.

One thing we never see a lot of his Technology research. Especially with the Black Eagle card that steals research, it makes it far too costly and risky. Has anyone had any solutions to this?
 
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Steve Malczak
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Really late to this party but for what it's worth:

For Technology:

1) Remove the 'Steal Tech' card (or play it as a COPY tech card). This prevents the loss of investment that makes tech so unattractive.

2) Allow players to spend $10 per +1 AFTER the roll as well (this way if they just barely miss it, they can pay a bit more and get it).

3) Allow players to draw 2 techs and pick 1 (discard the other) or if you think that's too strong, allow draw and if you don't like it you can discard again and draw another (but you have the keep the 2nd).

4) We changed Parachute Infantry to allow planes to carry 4 Inf and battle at +1 die on the first round (surprise attack!).

All in all, we see a fair amount of technology in our games now.

It's worth noting that we changed the income as follow too (rather than halving the cost of units):

Income=

10/Capital
1/resource card (basically 1/territory)
Normal value of resource cards and 'sets'. We also allow 3 population card to be used as a wild card for completing a set (example, a 2 Oil, 3 Rail, 2 Factories and 3 Population would all double as one 'set' with the 3 Population taking the place of a Minerals card).

This puts more money in the game and brings all monetary costs down (including tech).
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