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The Battle for Hill 218» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Simple Guide to Hill 218 strategy after ~50 plays. rss

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G W M
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I have made my thoughts on this game clear in previous posts - i.e. it is fantastic and one of the most under-rated games on the geek.

My only disappointment has been a lack of strategy posts for the game, indeed only two others as at the time of this posting. I have not written a strategy post before, so am going to try and keep it fairly simple.

These are my collected thoughts on strategy for the game after ~50 plays. Certainly not meant to be definitive and I welcome others views in this thread, indeed that is what I am hoping for, so folks new to the game have a ready reference for strategy 'hints and tips' to level up against more experienced players.

INITIAL THOUGHTS ON STRATEGY

* By far the most important spaces on the board to control are the spaces on each side of the Hill. If you start your turn in control of one of these spaces, and the square is supplied, you can win instantly by Air Striking the opponents base and using Special Forces. Hence defending/attacking these squares is of paramount importance, and should always be your first priority in any turn.

* An early lack of Tanks or Artillery, will likely see you on the back foot for most of the game. This means you lack [1] ranged attack and [2] cards that can destroy without the aid of other cards. If you find yourself in this position, be prepared to try to play out the game and win on number of cards rather than outright victory.

* Having some Infantry coming through your hand is important as they are important to use to advance and/or block squares, and doing this with other cards can be expensive. No disrespect to Infantry, but fodder cards are required!

* Try to save your airstrikes for two main purposes. Either [1] the special forces combo attack described above, or [2] as last ditch defense if you are finding yourself playing defensively. These have proven to be their best uses.

* An obvious point, but you should be trying to remove an enemy unit with every card you play - not always possible, but it is amazing how fast an opponents cards can grow if you forget this. And of course every card you play and remove an opponents, that is effectively a double positive for you, i.e. "you +1 card, opponent -1 card".

* Finally, one of the great subtleties of this game, is having the sense to know when it is unlikely that either player will win and hence the game will be decided on total number of cards in play. Going too early with this strategy may see your opponent get on top of you through aggressive play. Going too late will likely see you too far behind on card #'s to catch up. An obvious time to think about this is if both players have exhausted Special Forces cards and airstrikes are low, as these are often the key winning combination.

Those are my initial musings, really looking forward to others adding their thoughts here so we can make a useful playing reference.

GO THE HILL!!!! - Can't wait for the app, will play it to death I suspect Chad.


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Chad Ellis
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Great thoughts. As you can imagine, I have a few thoughts in reply!

Guy Mullarkey wrote:

* By far the most important spaces on the board to control are the spaces on each side of the Hill. If you start your turn in control of one of these spaces, and the square is supplied, you can win instantly by Air Striking the opponents base and using Special Forces. Hence defending/attacking these squares is of paramount importance, and should always be your first priority in any turn.


Every now and then I try to ignore a unit adjacent to the hill, but it's only ever correct in extreme situations. Even if it's not supplied, a "lone" unit next to the Hill can become supplied by an Artillery which happens to empty out your base, allowing Special Forces to sweep in. This is definitely one of the key positional points of the game.

Quote:
* An early lack of Tanks or Artillery, will likely see you on the back foot for most of the game. This means you lack [1] ranged attack and [2] cards that can destroy without the aid of other cards. If you find yourself in this position, be prepared to try to play out the game and win on number of cards rather than outright victory.


I don't think this is really so bad. If you're short on premium units you need to be more aggressive with Air Strikes and look for a chance to seize the initiative. Remember, it will balance out in time so you can play for a slightly longer game. That said, Special Forces backed up by Heavy Weapons can be just as deadly as a Tank assault. If necessary, throw a unit of Paratroopers behind the enemy base, making it risky for the opponent to continue his assault without slowing down to remove them.

Quote:
* Having some Infantry coming through your hand is important as they are important to use to advance and/or block squares, and doing this with other cards can be expensive. No disrespect to Infantry, but fodder cards are required!


The 'mulligan' rule of taking five cards and putting two on the bottom of the deck was added for this reason. Darwin and I felt that having to waste a non-Infantry unit for your first play in the base was really annoying. The irony is that by the time we published the game our opinion had completely reversed and we were using the mulligan rule to dump Infantry since nearly all our games were decided by taking the enemy base.

I think there's a point in the learning curve where a lot of games end in attrition, so having fodder is important. I also think that with optimal play one player or the other will capture the enemy base the great majority of times so it's only bad failing to draw infantry if you happen to hit a glut of them when you're trying to finish the attack.

An interesting question -- would you rather have no infantry (and thus fewer total cards) in your deck? If the game goes to attrition you'll lose, but I would 100% expect to win if I never drew Infantry.

Quote:
* Try to save your airstrikes for two main purposes. Either [1] the special forces combo attack described above, or [2] as last ditch defense if you are finding yourself playing defensively. These have proven to be their best uses.


I disagree. I think Air Strikes are best used in fighting for the initiative. Having zero left is a lot worse than having one, because certain options aren't available, but I use mine more aggressively than almost anyone else (even Darwin, I suspect) and I think this is a significant advantage for me.

If I don't have Artillery in my opening hand it's probably 80% likely I'll use an Air Strike after your first turn.

Quote:
* An obvious point, but you should be trying to remove an enemy unit with every card you play - not always possible, but it is amazing how fast an opponents cards can grow if you forget this. And of course every card you play and remove an opponents, that is effectively a double positive for you, i.e. "you +1 card, opponent -1 card".


Sometimes there are positional factors that outweigh killing units, but this is a very good rule of thumb. You want to maximize what you get from each play, as Hill 218 is an easy game to lose with indifferent moves.

Quote:
* Finally, one of the great subtleties of this game, is having the sense to know when it is unlikely that either player will win and hence the game will be decided on total number of cards in play. Going too early with this strategy may see your opponent get on top of you through aggressive play. Going too late will likely see you too far behind on card #'s to catch up. An obvious time to think about this is if both players have exhausted Special Forces cards and airstrikes are low, as these are often the key winning combination.


As noted here and on some other threads, Darwin and I had a point where most of our games were going to units left in play but we found that by prioritizing the initiative and aggressive play this shifted radically. Now it's quite rare for one of my games to go to units. Thus, while you're correct that recognizing how the game is likely to be won and adjusting strategy accordingly is an important skill, I think it's even more important to prioritize seizing the initiative (and blunting the enemy initiative when they have it).

Quote:
Can't wait for the app, will play it to death I suspect Chad.


The first developer who wanted to do the App had to bow out due to a massive increase in other responsibilities (new job and a new degree program) but Andrew Gross has stepped up. He has a lot on his plate as well, so we don't yet have a timeline...but I'm looking forward to playing on the iOS Game Center.
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Thanks Chad, I had hoped this post would generate some counter arguments and thoughts on strategy, so players can find some key points under the strategy banner on the game page.

Interestingly I hadn't used the artillery/special forces combo before, so I too have learnt something new, so the thread has already served a purpose for me!

Grea to get an update on the iOS version as well, looking forward to it.

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Derek H
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Guy Mullarkey wrote:
Grea to get an update on the iOS version as well, looking forward to it.GM

And hopefully an Android version shortly thereafter...
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Lee Borkman
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Guy Mullarkey wrote:

* An obvious point, but you should be trying to remove an enemy unit with every card you play - not always possible, but it is amazing how fast an opponents cards can grow if you forget this. And of course every card you play and remove an opponents, that is effectively a double positive for you, i.e. "you +1 card, opponent -1 card".

I may be nuts, but it seems to me that I often *don't* want to kill an opposing unit . The reason is that units can only attack when they are first put on the board. Once they have been placed, they can only supply and support. So if I can put a unit of mine in a square surrounded by my opponents' units, then my unit is effectively shielded from a new attack. If I destroy an opposing unit when I place mine, then that leaves a position where my opponent can just drop a piece in for an easy kill.

Since figuring this out, I have managed to defeat the iOS AI twice in a row, after losing the first 15 times.

So... *am* I nuts?
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Russ Williams
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Bjork wrote:
So... *am* I nuts?

Improving your strategy and tactics so that you win more often? That's crazy talk, man!
 
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I like tu play Heavy Weapons where they destroy nothing (destroy is mandatory when possible with te PC IA), trying to leave surrounded one of mi troops, with both, my and my opponent cards, in a side of the hill. Then, that card can't be destroyed except by artillery and air strike. Repeat the process untill your opponent can't destroy it, and use air strike + special forces for the win!

Look at the Heavy Weapon of this image: ImageID=http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1610697/the-battle-for-hill-2...] and the result: [ImageID=http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1610698/the-battle-for-hill-2...]
 
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