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Subject: Mode madness rss

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Darrell Pavitt
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I believe there is a fundamental flaw in this game (not counting the super-intelligence gathering problem).

The rules state that combat is a function of movement. This is not true: combat and movement are both functions of Time. The problem comes when you actually try to attack anything: The normal cost to attack is 10mp, plus 5 for each successive attack, or 5 points for an unprepared attack at -2 R/S.

You would think that deliberate attack and hasty attack would be the way to go, but no. Hasty attack mode has but 6 mp, deliberate attack has but 10. A hasty attack gives a +5 ratio shift, but can only attack using an unprepared attack (-2): total +3 shifts. It also suffers a +3 shift for anyone attacking it. Compare with mobile defence mode: 10 mp, +2 to attack, -3 if attacked: result, mobile defence can attack at +2 shifts (normal attack, 10mp) which is only 1 worse than the hasty attack mode; it also defends at 7 shifts better! It can also move faster, and even has a better intelligence level!

The problem is that although the modes link movement and combat, only movement is scaled but combat costs are fixed. You could theoretically use admin move mode to drive 40 hexes across the map, then make one normal and 2 follow-up attacks (albeit at -2 shifts) in one turn. In the same time, a prepared attack can barely move five hexes, and only if it wants to make a feeble unprepared attack.

A possible solution:

1) All units have 20 mp.
2) No unit may expend more mp on moving than their mp allowance given by their mode.
3) Any points not spent on movement may be used for combat costs (at the rates given in the rules).
4) Unit modes with more than 20 mp:
Admin mode: each point used to move is worth 2 normal
move points.
Double zone: as admin mode
Triple zone: as above, but every point is worth 1 1/2 move points.

(Errata Note: Position defence modes may not attack (NA on counter) despite having a column on the combat shift table (not official)).

While I'm at it, automatically reduce operational intelligence by 1 every night turn, to account for reduced satellite coverage etc.


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nyhotep wrote:
I believe there is a fundamental flaw in this game (not counting the super-intelligence gathering problem).

Well, I think there are many flaws (in particular the super-intelligence problem) but I don't agree this is a major one.

Quote:
The rules state that combat is a function of movement. This is not true: combat and movement are both functions of Time.

Well, combat and movement are both functions of time, but since time per turn is fixed, the two should be (and are) inversely proportional.

Quote:
The problem comes when you actually try to attack anything: The normal cost to attack is 10mp, plus 5 for each successive attack, or 5 points for an unprepared attack at -2 R/S.

You would think that deliberate attack and hasty attack would be the way to go, but no.

The question seems to be, the way to go to do what? All your counterexamples aren't really about attacking, but instead about marching and then attacking in the same turn. They seem to indicate a need for a very quick attack since you put great emphasis on the need to move before the attack goes in. That would indeed favour a more movement-oriented mode over an Attack mode, but needs to be contrasted to a situation where I assume the attacker are largely or completely in place.

Quote:
Hasty attack mode has but 6 mp, deliberate attack has but 10.

Which enable you to execute exactly what the modes say they will deliver, an unprepared attack (with a 1-hex approach move through clear terrain) in the first case, a prepared attack without moving in the second.

Quote:
A hasty attack gives a +5 ratio shift, but can only attack using an unprepared attack (-2): total +3 shifts. It also suffers a +3 shift for anyone attacking it.

Which is why it's called an Attack mode, not a Defense mode.

Quote:
Compare with mobile defence mode: 10 mp, +2 to attack, -3 if attacked: result, mobile defence can attack at +2 shifts (normal attack, 10mp) which is only 1 worse than the hasty attack mode; it also defends at 7 shifts better! It can also move faster, and even has a better intelligence level!

I'm not sure what any of these aspects matter since, for attacking, they do in no way counteract the fact that the MD still attacks worse than a Hasty Attack. (Another aspect to consider is that MD actually takes more staff points to switch to from, say, AM, than Hasty Attack.) If you're looking for a mode that enables units to shift position quickly for limited counterattacks, I can see why a mode called Mobile Defense would fit the bill. But that doesn't affect the fact that it's still inferior for attacking.

I'm wondering if you're looking for a "killer mode" that is most flexible for all situations. But that is exactly the opposite of what the game conveys. For my money (and certainly in a long game where you are trying to conserve forces), the point is that you need to use a mode where it's important to have its benefits. If my concern is to remove an enemy strongpoint, then I want to attack at the maximum shift possible and minimise my losses on the attack, and that's what the Attack modes will do for me, whether 1 shift, or 2, or more. And yes, that will make me more vulnerable to counterattack. That's as it should be and such tradeoffs are not just a strength of the game but reflect reality.

Quote:
The problem is that although the modes link movement and combat, only movement is scaled but combat costs are fixed. You could theoretically use admin move mode to drive 40 hexes across the map, then make one normal and 2 follow-up attacks

I think you mean 20 hexes, not 40, right? (Since 20MP are taken up by the three attacks.) I have no problem with that, assuming your forces are strong enough to take the extra losses they will receive for not getting the various attack shifts.

Quote:
(albeit at -2 shifts) in one turn.

That "-2" is only the "-2" printed on the counter. Compared to the +5 for a Hasty Attack, that means you're attacking at a relative -5 even with the Hasty Attack's required unprepared -2 shift, and compared to a Deliberate Attack you'll attack at a whopping -8. If you have the strength or intelligence differential to compensate for that, fine! But all things being equal you've just accepted a shift from, say, an average 3:1 ratio in losses in favourable to the attacker (if you end up at +6 on the Basic CRT) to an average 5:6 (if you're at -2). Essentially, you've tripled your relative losses compared to those of the defender and that was just in the first attack. Is that one hex really worth that many troops? It may be, but that's up to the player to decide.

Quote:
In the same time, a prepared attack can barely move five hexes, and only if it wants to make a feeble unprepared attack.

I assume you mean a Deliberate Attack (DA) mode unit (there is no "prepared attack" mode in the game). But that restriction expresses exactly what the mode says, it is a deliberate attack. If I have to move a unit five hexes before it attacks, then, unsurprisingly, I'm not in a position where DA mode can be used and if I have to attack this turn, it's not surprising if weaker modes are similarly effective. Even the unit making the unprepared attack after moving 5 hexes in your example still gains a +6 shift over the AM mode unit. Thanks, but in general, I'll take that in exchange for 5 hexes of extra move, unless the enemy is very weak and I am trying to knock him over before being reinforced. (In the latter case doing the AM attack may be the way to go.)

To summarise, DA (remember - 'deliberate") seems to say exactly what it does, you are spending a turn making that attack, to get the maximum shift. If you make that attack under conditions where it cannot be conducted deliberately because part of the turn is spent moving into place, then it's not surprising that the attack will get negative shifts. That's exactly what the game claims to be doing - combat happens as a function of movement, and getting shifts reduces your mobility. Sounds fine to me.
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George Duff
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The game might benefit from a different view of time and movement rates. Since each turn is eight hours, you might look at the activities of each unit as a series of eight activities, rather than a quantity of movement points.

For example, a unit might spend two hours moving, one hour infiltrating, one hour attacking, and four hours changing mode. This representing an approach march and hasty attack, followed by digging in on the objective.

In this method, the movement point rate for the modes would represent speed per hour. So the terrain costs for movement might need to be re-scaled to make this work. Same with the mode change table.

Opinions?
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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I wrote that so long ago, I have forgotten the details.

Quote:
The question seems to be, the way to go to do what? All your counterexamples aren't really about attacking, but instead about marching and then attacking in the same turn. They seem to indicate a need for a very quick attack since you put great emphasis on the need to move before the attack goes in. That would indeed favour a more movement-oriented mode over an Attack mode, but needs to be contrasted to a situation where I assume the attacker are largely or completely in place.


Ok, let's try an example. Assuming units start in the appropriate mode, adjacent to the enemy. Which is better to attack with, hasty attack or mobile defence?

Lets assume that the basic combat differential is zero, plus whatever the attack shift is. +5 for HA, +2 for MD. The unit in HA can only make a hasty attack for 5 of its 6 mp. On the +3 column (+5 -2 for hasty attack) , giving an 81% chance of taking a TOE loss and inflicting a loss of 1 plus an 86% chance of a second (average losses)

The unit in MD mode has two choices: it can make a normal initial attack on the +2 column for losses of 86%/ 1 +80%of a second on the attacker/ defender, respectively. That much vaunted advantage comes down to a 5% difference either way

Alternatively, it can make a hasty initial attack on the 0 column plus a subsequent attack on the +2 column (only initial attacks are reduced). This gives attacker losses of 2 plus 86% of a third, while the defender must take 1 + 66% of a second plus one more and 80% chance of yet one more, possibly 4 losses!

When on the defensive, the MD unit will have a -1 column shift, while the HA unit will suffer a +3 shift. That's a 5 column advantage to the defensive mode.

So, which mode is more effective at attacking?
The difference in ability is nothing to do with modes per se, but purely in the fact that the HA unit does not have enough MP to make a subsequent attack or a deliberate attack, while the MD can do either.



 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Oh, and while I am happy to concede that anyone attacking in admin mode is either desperate or insane, the fact is that a unit in Admin mode could make 7 attacks (albeit feeble efforts more likely to hurt themselves) in the same time that a unit in DA could make 1.

Why can a unit making a deliberate attack not follow up with additional attacks? That should be what the preparation is for, surely, given that in NDC, any unit can call in any amount of available support which is where you would think the main difference between modes should lie.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Quote:
I think you mean 20 hexes, not 40, right? (Since 20MP are taken up by the three attacks.) I have no problem with that, assuming your forces are strong enough to take the extra losses they will receive for not getting the various attack shifts.


Actually, I really do mean 40 hexes. A unit in AM has 40 mp. It can spend 20 on attacks and still move 40 hexes at 1/2 an mp per hex on a road.

Try this for size: your much vaunted DA unit is 10 mp away from my piddling AM unit. assuming all things are equal (as above), what can you do?

You can move a full 10mp towards me, but are then vulnerable to my attack. You can change mode, but that will require a lot of support or some good die rolls. Or you can sit still.

How bad is it if I attack?

I can move 10 mp and still have enough for 1 initial(10mp) plus 4 subsequent attacks. My -2 is negated by your +2. That gives an average of
1.66 hits on you for every one 1 take. I like those odds.
The best you could do in return is an overrun, 2 hits plus a retreat of 1 hex. But hey, even that is unlikely. unless I roll really badly, (5 rolls of 5 or 6, plus 5 rolls of 6 in a row) you will be engaged (zero MP, no attacks for you, sonny!) Even if you end up half engaged, you only get to attack at +6, so no overrun.

Then there are other factors to consider.
Let's assume you move towards me. My AM unit is away from the front line. Its current fatigue level is zero. Its intel level might have been raised by op int, but it could also still be zero.

You may have been in combat previously (why else would you be in DA mode?), in which case you may already have an increased Intel level and might still be fatigued. Even if you aren't, I get an intel roll against you at the start of my turn, on the 12 column for an unengaged adjacent unit - that's a guaranteed level 3, more likely level 4. That's a surprise shift of +5 or +6 and then there's counter battery fire..

Incidently, I just noticed poor Markus,who always has valuable opinions, made his post 2 years ago.
 
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Hi Darrell! I'm fine with conducting the conversation in long term iterations.
Can't respond to the detailed post as I'm not where the game is right now but perhaps in a couple of weeks.
The site doesn't lose anything after all.

nyhotep wrote:
Oh, and while I am happy to concede that anyone attacking in admin mode is either desperate or insane, the fact is that a unit in Admin mode could make 7 attacks (albeit feeble efforts more likely to hurt themselves) in the same time that a unit in DA could make 1.

Yes, but actually I think it should be like that. A "DA" (Deliberate Attack) is deliberate. It represents the unit going in in carefully planned fashion to minimize the chance of hurting oneself in a feeble effort, and having spent the time to make sure this works. That's why you can do 7 attacks in Admin mode - they would be essentially conducted without preparation, just by racing up to the other side, blasting away with what you have available and pushing on, hoping they're weak enough not to respond.

Quote:

Why can a unit making a deliberate attack not follow up with additional attacks?

Because it spent most of the turn deliberating and planning for that deliberate attack.

Quote:
That should be what the preparation is for, surely, given that in NDC, any unit can call in any amount of available support which is where you would think the main difference between modes should lie.

Well, I'd think the main difference would be what the unit itself can do effectively. Whatever contingencies it plans for it should be able to handle. A unit in Admin mode, for example, plans for no contingencies, that's why it will be in trouble when attacking what amounts to more than a few kids that will run away when shot at. (But if it runs into kids a few times along the road it will be able to blast through them all the time without losing a lot of time.) The reason why more support can be called for more careful attacks is, again, because there is enough

So, to some degree, this does fit in with what you said in your original post. Yes, strictly speaking, both combat and moving take time, so time is the underlying variable. But since combat (including combat preparation) and movement are both expressed in terms of time, they can to some degree be treated as directly interchangeable (i.e., combat becomes a function of the movement cost).

A similar approach is used in the system employed by Tunisia 43, there are no explicit modes, but doing prepared attacks automatically means you can do fewer of them.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Actually, I like the CNA system, where units can push harder and accomplish more, at a cost in morale and cohesion. The much simpler system in Gulf strike is also good.

I don't think my solution was a perfect one, in fact its rather clunky, but has the advantage of not requiring any other components or tables.
 
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George Duff
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nyhotep wrote:
... The problem is that although the modes link movement and combat, only movement is scaled but combat costs are fixed.


I agree, I put my solution in the files section.
 
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