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Subject: Dear Richard Borg....WHY??!!.....WHY??!! rss

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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Recently I purchased Commands & Colors: Ancients

It is everything I hoped for but......there is a small but:

The thing I never liked about Battle cry and Memoir '44 was the fact that even units that suffered losses could still role a full hand of dice like if nothing happened. This never made sense to me at all.

In Commands & Colors: Ancients, the individual unit caracteristics are a fantastic evolution to the game and reason I bought the game. However I hoped for an evolution in the none sense making battle resolution as well and I can't understand why they went into so much detail as far as units caracteristics are concerned without developing the combat resolution: still units that suffer 75% losses can roll a full hand of dice....

Maybe someone has thoughts about this and can explaint to me why...
WHY??!! WHY??!! WHY??!!


PS Apart from that, I can highly recommend C&C:Ancients to anyone is is still highly enjoyable. Now I am developing my own combat resolution system (with normal dice as the GMT dice crap) where units that suffered losses are less effective. When I finish playtesting I will post a new thread to share the outcome.
 
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Billy Compton
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Well, for WWII, the idea is that most of the firepower of a squad of men comes from the machineguns... The BAR 30mm, 50 cal, etc. And if someone manning the MGs gets taken out, someone else will replace that spot and keep the "big guns" firing.

I can see how this applies to infantry, but as to other units? Good question.
 
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shumyum
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I can't speak for Richard but here's my take:

They aren't losses. They are a measure of how close the unit is to "breaking". It seems especially apropos to the ancient military, but I'm no expert.
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Hi Justin,

Very interesting, maybe 4 units do not represent size but do I have to think out of the box: it has to do with breaking level. Hmmm. Mybe this will make the exisitng combat resolution more appealing for me.
Thanks!
 
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Neil Carr
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shumyum wrote:
I can't speak for Richard but here's my take:

They aren't losses. They are a measure of how close the unit is to "breaking". It seems especially apropos to the ancient military, but I'm no expert.


I agree, you aren't slaughtering every last man at these scales, your breaking up their formations. If it was a computer game you could include animation of the formation breaking and running off the battlefield, but as a boardgame you just see them dissapear.
 
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Wayne Simmons
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shumyum wrote:
I can't speak for Richard but here's my take:

They aren't losses. They are a measure of how close the unit is to "breaking". It seems especially apropos to the ancient military, but I'm no expert.


First off I have to say I agree with the original sentiment of this thread, why does a unit who's taken 75% damage to the same damage as a full unit. However, reading the statement about WWII era "manning the machine gun" and thinking about that in context of ancient era I'd have to say that the tactics of the time allowed for only 20 or 30 percent of the unit to actually engage in combat anyway (the front line of a formation). So saying the losses represent the unit's likelyhood to break is accurate.

Also from a game mechanics point of view, I think it helps even out a "turn based" game. Battle Cry and Memior are both turn based and if units were taken down immediately the person to go first would be at a huge advantage. The only solution is remember who got hit for how much and not change their attack until a turn later, which simulates a "simultaneous" attack, but makes the game mechanics much more difficult to learn/play.

I haven't played C&C: Ancients so I can't comment but that's my theory and I'm stickin' with it!
 
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George Kinney
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I've never considered them casualties, just a completely abstract count down towards that unit no longer being effective.

Besides, all turn based combat systems are inherently flawed since no-one just sits patiently on a battlefield taking casualties until it is their turn to return fire with whatever manpower they have left.

In the end, you must make compromises to represent a simultaneous series of actions with a turn based framework. In this case the compromise is that you never consider troop numbers, just whether they are still viable or not.
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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I haven't played C&C Ancients, but it may be that as a unit with a certain frontage takes losses, guys in the back ranks move up to replace the fallen in the front ranks. So as the unit gets closer to breaking, its ability to inflict losses isn't degraded.

(In fact, that makes more sense to me than the "most of the firepower of a squad of men comes from the machineguns" thinking, or the all-or-nothing nature of units' abilities in M'44.)
 
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I'm in the "it's a general metric of the unit's condition" crowd.

For ancient battles, most of the casualties likely occurred in post-rout killing of a retreating army, so the idea that the blocks represent unit motivation and morale works well -- especially since the "Rally" card brings back blocks! This last point suggests that Borg really did mean for the blocks to represent morale and unit cohesion.
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Jeff Coon
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NeonElf wrote:
Also from a game mechanics point of view, I think it helps even out a "turn based" game. Battle Cry and Memior are both turn based and if units were taken down immediately the person to go first would be at a huge advantage. The only solution is remember who got hit for how much and not change their attack until a turn later, which simulates a "simultaneous" attack, but makes the game mechanics much more difficult to learn/play.


That is an excellent point. The beauty of these games is in their elegant systems. Trying to add simultaneous movement and diminishing attack rolls for damaged units would add a level of complexity that would be very unwelcome. Sacrifices in realism (or even common sense) have to give way to gameplay, otherwise you're playing a wargame. laugh
 
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Tim McCoy
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I prefer assigning Cohesion Points(like more detailed tactical ancient warfare games) to each unit and reducing them as casualties are taken instead of removing blocks. When a 'hit' occurs the affected unit retreats one move. When all the Cohesion Points are gone the unit Routs. As was stated earlier the front rank of the unit in ancient warfare did most of the fighting with the rear ranks providing reinforcements as casualties up front mounted. The unit thinned due to casualties but did not lose its formation/'shape' until Rout.
 
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Pretty much as above. In ancients, I see the loss of individual figures/blocks representing the morale erosion of that particular unit and the number of flags/medals/banners lost as the erosion of the army's morale.


In many cases, the battles in the game end before the most serious killing began historically. That is when the victoriuous troops, cavalry in particular, rode down the broken and fleeing fragments of the enemy army.

Just off the top on my head:

Although it adds nothing to the game play, if one wanted to extend an ancients battle to a historical conclusion, you could implement something like this:


Once one side has earned enough banners to win the battle, the losing player no longer plays any Command cards since none of his units are in command. They are routing. So instead, each turn he retreats all of his units towards his own board edge by the shortest route at their normal retreat movement rate. Routing units that retreat off their board edge on their own turns have escaped.

The player who won the battle continues to play cards to activate sections or units. Close Combat attacks and Ranged attacks are rolled as normal but units that are forced to retreat off the board by Flag results count as killed.

Routing units never attack or battle back[/u]. In fact, the routing player is prohibited from even touching the Combat Dice.


Like I say,unless one is playing a "house" campaign in which one battle's losses affect the next battle's starting forces, it doesn't make a difference.

John



 
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Jeffrey D Myers
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Nice variant, Scrib. Do the victorious units sing "Don't Fear the Reaper" as they chase the routing units?

Such routs occur in 3W's _Ancients_ when a panic limit of losses is exceeded. Panicked units can be rallied by leaders in that game, however, but this is rarely terribly useful.
 
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Mark Crocker
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First off...it's a game...and it's looking for balanced play. If you have an infantry unit that has taken 3 hits and is down to one block, you have but two choices. Stand and fight at full dice strength, or retreat. Standing and fighting, at least gives a chance to do damage, but leaves you vulnerable to elimination...giving the opponent a victory banner.
If you couldn't fight at full strength, then you would have no choice but to retreat...changing the whole dynamic of the game.
 
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James Boyd
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Don't think of the "losses" as actual casualties of men dead or dieing. Think of them as loss of cohesion and morale. The dice you roll for each unit is the minimum level expected from them to remain on the battlefield.
 
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Jeff Paul
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Yes the cohesion argument is a good one. And sure, only the front ranks are fighting

But, let's say we have a unit that has suffered 75% "cohesion loss". That means the unit has been in combat for some period of time and 75% of your buddies are not where they should be. Or NCMs are screaming at them to get back to the line. Chaos abounds everywhere.

And yet your unit still has FULL combat effectiveness. I dunno. Maybe it is just the wargamer in me - but I would have liked to see some modification there (and I do like how the warriors work - one extra die till they take a hit).

However, as others have said, this is a simple abstraction game. It works. It is fun. And more fun than M44 (to me). But there is that little thorn in my side that cries "WHY??!!....WHY!!!???..."

:-)
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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TnT! wrote:
But, let's say we have a unit that has suffered 75% "cohesion loss". That means the unit has been in combat for some period of time and 75% of your buddies are not where they should be.

Well, it may mean that 100% of your buddies are where they're supposed to be, but they're 75% of the way toward deciding to break and run.
 
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kuhrusty wrote:
TnT! wrote:
But, let's say we have a unit that has suffered 75% "cohesion loss". That means the unit has been in combat for some period of time and 75% of your buddies are not where they should be.

Well, it may mean that 100% of your buddies are where they're supposed to be, but they're 75% of the way toward deciding to break and run.


Rusty has the gist of it. I can't remember the loss numbers I've read that were typical in ancient battles, but the 4 blocks of an infantry unit probably represent a few percent each. That is, to accurately represent the number of troops in a unit, you'd need, say, 20, and then the unit breaks and runs after taking 4 hits. Add or subtract a block or 2 for veteran or green units, as far as to what it takes to break the unit. Thus, the blocks on the map show, as others have pointed out, how close the (much larger) unit is to breaking. Again, as others have said, the formation is maintaining the same frontage and thus, combat power.

That's my understanding, anyway.
 
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Mike N.
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Justin is right.

Among the ancients, a squad (or phalanx or cohort) wouldn't stand there and get totally chewed to pieces. They'd retreat like madmen when they were no longer able to hold the line (or they'd surrender if surrounded).

I'm sure the same thing is true for most other types of warfare, too. Real life ain't Warcraft or Age of Empires. No one sits there until every last unit is killed.
 
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shumyum wrote:
I can't speak for Richard but here's my take:

They aren't losses. They are a measure of how close the unit is to "breaking". It seems especially apropos to the ancient military, but I'm no expert.


I think you're right, Justin. The figures aren't absolute percentages of the unit's strength, but rather the amount of punishment a unit can take before it loses it's effectiveness and breaks/routs/runs away.

In some of the Battle Cry games that I've seen Richard Borg run at conventions, his Infantry units are mounted thus: A four-man flag stand with three men mounted on individual bases in a second rank behind. Casualties are taken from the individual stands first, leaving the larger, four-figure stand the last "hit" to be taken. Cavalry units are mounted similarly, with a large, three-figure stand taken last.
 
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POvidiusNaso wrote:
Justin is right.

Among the ancients, a squad (or phalanx or cohort) wouldn't stand there and get totally chewed to pieces. They'd retreat like madmen when they were no longer able to hold the line (or they'd surrender if surrounded).

I'm sure the same thing is true for most other types of warfare, too. Real life ain't Warcraft or Age of Empires. No one sits there until every last unit is killed.


I've been reading Xenophon's Anabasis, and the battles he describes proceed exactly like this. For example, in the battle that starts the whole story, between Cyrus's mixed force of Persians and Greek mercenaries on one side and his brother's force of Persians on the other, the Persian flank facing the Greeks pretty much disintegrates on contact, breaking and fleeing. When Cyrus is killed later in the battle, his side disintegrates, leaving the Greeks all alone. However, since the Greeks themselves manage to hold formation, they take basically no casualties -- and the Persians, unwilling to test themselves on a coherent unit of several thousand hoplites, don't engage.
 
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Richard Borg made an improvement in C&C:A with Battling Back.
You are immediately punished if you send a 75% depleted unit attack another unit... Sure, it usually gets the first blow, but then has quite a lot of chances to immediately evaporate and earn the enemy a banner...

The thoughts about cohesion are quite right.
The GBoH series gave cohesion and troop quality much more importance than their size : that helps when you are commanding Macedonians against loads of Persians (that can be twice or more numerousvthan you)...cool
 
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shumyum
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It's been said a couple times already but I'd just like to emphasize a key point:

A one figure unit may be able to attack at full force, but it is nowhere near as effective as a full-strength unit. This is because elimination is directly tied to victory conditions. You can only rarely be agressive with a one figure unit and very often you are going to waste one of your precious orders on retreating it (which effectively makes it *worse* than powerless).

How this corellates to real-world warfare can be up for debate (I suppose it would have something to do with command effectiveness), but there are definite consequences to taking a unit down but not out.
 
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David desJardins
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TnT! wrote:
But, let's say we have a unit that has suffered 75% "cohesion loss". That means the unit has been in combat for some period of time and 75% of your buddies are not where they should be.


No, not even close. It means that maybe 7.5% of your buddies aren't where they should be. When that figure rises to 10%, the unit breaks and loses its combat effectiveness (represented by unit destruction, in game terms).
 
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Andy Daglish
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Modern theory suggests there's a very slight decrease in effectiveness of combat units as losses are taken, up to a certain point past which the unit suddenly ceases to function.

A classical example is provided by Oedipus, who killed his father after running away from his three guards, and then turning to eliminate each one in turn. Here one unit outnumbered the other by 3:1, but the front line strength of each unit remained the same throughout the engagement, the larger unit suffering a tactical disadvantage in manoeuvring to exploit its greater strength.


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