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Subject: Help my partner’s issues rss

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John Rogers
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So I am relaying some issues my primary gaming partner has with CCA and am wondering what the greater C&C community thinks. Before I continue a quick background would be helpful.

• We have played all (8) of the currently published C&C games
• He has played CCA ~40x and M44 ~100x (me: M44 70x and CCA 80x)
• His favorite is by far and away M44; his least favorite is BL
• Theme is paramount for him followed by (his) logical implementation
• He prefers variability, terrain, and the ability to mitigate
• He prefers to NOT switch sides but rather go to the next scenario

We wrapped up a summer sampling of the C&C series last night, playing a handful of scenarios from each iteration every Friday. We went backwards through time from M44 to CCA. He enjoyed most of it, even BL (his least favorite: and he hates magic) but last night he was visibly frustrated and upset.

We played a sampling of Alexander the Great Battles including Issus, Gaugemala, and Hydaspes, the latter two as epics. He insisted upon playing through as the Persians/Indians each time out (again not switching sides) regardless of his comments and attitude. The scores were 8-1, 12-6, 13-10 all in favor of Alexander.

Afterward we discussed his beefs. Here they are:

• Leaders are too powerful. The inspire, bolster morale, can order lines (card dependent), and give additional die (depending on leader). He believes the game greatly exxagerates the impact of leaders.

• Heavy infantry are too dominate. Whoever has the most hevaies “always wins”. Evading isn’t good enough. You should be able to overwhelm heavies in close combat with a large number lights (more on that in a moment) but you can’t because of battle back (more on that in a moment). There is no way to mitigate the advantage of more heavies. Why even play. Just count the number of heavies and move on.

• Battle back is ridiculously powerful, particularly for heavies and leader inspired units. If you surround one heavy unit with 5 light units in close combat you should be able to beat them but you can’t. The lights will roll 10 dice total to the heavies 25 in defense and they hit on 2/6 sides vs 1/6 for lights (regulars with no inspiration).

Now my suggestions have been to a) never close combat with regular lights, b) play the light for range to soften heavies and bring bigger units in to finish the job, c) do a better job of line cohesion.

His favorite iteration is M44 and he often compares the two. He feels he can easily mitigate unit weaknesses via terrain and maneuvering, which he feels are sorely lacking in CCA. He never feels hopeless in a M44 scenario but often feels so in CCA. I think his brain works best with the gunpowder forward iterations where range and terrain play a more substantial role and where disparity between units is much less and nearly symmetrical.

I suggested at the end just forgoing future plays of CCA and focusing on the iterations he likes best. You don’t have to like everything! But he wants to like Ancients he says. So I said I would post here and see what help you can offer him.

Thanks.

Edited to substitute his name with he.
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Mark McG
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my suggestion is that he reads some books on Ancient warfare, because I think from them he will see how the game brings those books to life. Heavy Infantry was exceptionally dominant, and if he looks at some battle like Cunaxa, the dominance of Heavy Infantry is clearly demonstrated. Cunaxa is also a pretty relevant battle to show the importance of leaders, the death of Cyrus rendering the victory to Artaxerxes.

The battles of Alexander are also a good indication of just how formidable personal leadership was in Ancients.

I do think that if you try and play Ancients like it was M'44 (or Napoleonics like it is Ancients) then you will not do well. The games seem similar because of the mechanics, but you do have to adjust to find the right tactics. Personally, I'm yet to win a game of Tricorne. My Napoleonic tactics don't work there because the shock value of close combat attack isn't there.

FWIW, M'44 is the game in my view with least similarity to the period. At a regimental/battalion scale it has some proximate value, but below that the ranges are ridiculously short.
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Well, I would say that there are many C&C games and that your friend should play the ones he likes the most, but here are some thoughts.

First, playing without switching sides several battles against Alexander is not very fun! Those battles are very unbalanced, and then I don't know if those three battles reinforced the issues your friend has with CCA, or if he had them already anyway. Does he feel the same playing Successors battles?

* Leaders were very powerful. Many battles saw the side that was winning rout because their leader was killed or injured. Again, playing against Alexander or Caesar is tough, due to their bonus and the usually unbalanced scenarios to their favor, but those scenarios are exceptions. Many people playing other iterations of the system think that leaders have the right power in CCA!

* Heavy infantry are too slow (move 1 and have fewer cards to order them). So if your army has fewer, you must plan to avoid the enemy's through maneuver. Of course on defense you must evade from them, but on the attack you should outflank them, or put pressure on other parts of the line. If you keep going as normal and face them with lighter/weaker units, then you are making a mistake. In fact, in Successors battles the battle is often over before the lines of heavies join the fight!

* In CCA, battle back is the 'armor' of the heavies, since they are hit with the same probability that lighter units are (there are no more green or blue faces on the dice), but other units simply attack them in close combat less often afraid of their battle back. But this is something you can control almost 100%. Never attack a strong HI/MI that can avoid flags with lighter/weaker units. As you said, wear them down with ranged attacks, go first for the unsupported ones, etc.

And about the terrain issue, M44 is more about individual units looking for the optimum location, and CCA is about formations that maneuver in the plains. I find much more interesting the maneuvers, strategy wise but also because I don't need to check distracting terrain effects. But others prefer individual units fighting for terrain. So as I said, to each his own C&C!
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Russell InGA
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Lights don't melee. Lights are for missile fire. The way lights beat a heavy is by Evade and Missile.

I haven't played with Alexander so I don't know how balanced those scenarios are. If you're not going to "switch sides and play again", then check the balance at the Ancients website and play more balanced scenarios.


And if your friend likes M44 the best and you're OK with it, then play that. (I have not played M44 and believe I would probably dislike it.)
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John Rogers
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franchi wrote:
Does he feel the same playing Successors battles? In Successors battles the battle is often over before the lines of heavies join the fight!!

We haven’t really. We tend to go to the ones where players know the names. So your Hannibal, Alexander, Caesar, Marc Antony, Pompey, Spartacus etc. scenarios or those that are pop culture level known like 300 or the big ambushes.

I did suggest a few successor battles for next time as they are basically symmetrical in their composition and set-up. I’m forwarding all of your responses btw.
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Randy N
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John Rogers wrote:
We played a sampling of Alexander the Great

• Leaders are too powerful. The inspire, bolster morale, can order lines (card dependent), and give additional die (depending on leader). David believes the game greatly exxagerates the impact of leaders.

• Heavy infantry are too dominate.

If that's the case, never have your friend play against Julius Caesar especially coupled with the "Julian Legions" rule. He makes Alexander look like a chump!

Julian Legions rule
When the Julian Legions rule is in effect, all Roman Heavy infantry (red square symbol) and Medium infantry (blue triangle symbol) units are armed with pilum and sword and will follow the rules for Ranged Combat units, per the Marius Legions Rule. The unit has a range of two hexes and will roll 1 battle die when it holds or moves only one hex. It may not use Ranged Fire if it moves two hexes.

In addition, all Roman Heavy infantry (red square symbol) and Medium infantry (blue triangle symbol) units may move one hex and close combat as normal, or may move 2 hexes and not battle.


Julius Caesar Rule
When the Caesar leader is attached to any Roman unit, that unit will battle with one additional dice in Close Combat (including battling into or out of terrain hexes that reduce the normal number of dice used). When attached to a Roman foot unit (except War Machines), the unit may move two hexes and Close Combat against an enemy unit.


Caesar is God!!!
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Randall Shaw
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Makes me wonder what abilities Hannibal would have had had they done some for him...shake
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If your friend refuses to switch sides and complains that he cannot win vs. the Macedonians, he is missing some essential aspects of the game:
- many battles are not meant to be balanced
- many battles in reality were already unbalanced form the start
- some aspects that he considers as overpowered actually match what history tells us about ancient battles (in the case of Macedonians they did have a formidable steamrolling military machine that nobody could counter at that time).

So the only way to evaluate who played "better" (barring bad luck) is to switch sides and compare the total banners earned in the two playings of the battle.
I think that your friend willingly placed himself in a situation where he is bound to complain about the game, because as a constant he chose the side which will rarely win.
I would blame his stubbornness as the first factor of his frustration.

There are some battles, though, which are quite balanced (e.g. Raphia) and which don't need to be played twice switching sides.
And you also can introduce some house rules to "balance" an otherwise unbalanced battle - the most simple one is to assign a lower number of banners in order to win to the underdog.
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John Rogers
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Robin wrote:
If your friend refuses to switch sides and complains that he cannot win vs. the Macedonians, he is missing some essential aspects of the game:
- many battles are not meant to be balanced
- many battles in reality were already unbalanced form the start
- some aspects that he considers as overpowered actually match what history tells us about ancient battles (in the case of Macedonians they did have a formidable steamrolling military machine that nobody could counter at that time).

So the only way to evaluate who played "better" (barring bad luck) is to switch sides and compare the total banners earned in the two playings of the battle.
I think that your friend willingly placed himself in a situation where he is bound to complain about the game, because as a constant he chose the side which will rarely win.
I would blame his stubbornness as the first factor of his frustration.

There are some battles, though, which are quite balanced (e.g. Raphia) and which don't need to be played twice switching sides.
And you also can introduce some house rules to "balance" an otherwise unbalanced battle - the most simple one is to assign a lower number of banners in order to win to the underdog.

One of his biggest complaints is that he feels like there is always a chance for him to win playing M44 despite the side he is playing vs “the fix is in” in Ancients. To him, the units are fairly symmetrical in strength M44 so taking the terrain is usually the key to winning. If he has less units, he looks to hide in and hold terrain. If he has more units, he looks to surround the weaker player (no battle back so he isn’t “punished” for this “logically correct” maneuver in his mind) and either pummel or push them out of the terrain. In short, he plays Ancients as if it were M44.

Late last night he looked up and sent me a few videos on how heavy phalanx were weak and vulnerable from the sides and behind and could be beaten if surrounded and attacked from these vulnerable positions. However, he feels the game punishes him with the battle back rules (particularly lights) when doing this historically valid counter move. My counter was the troops in M44 are no more vulnerable in defense or weaker in offense when battling someone behind them. He did not respond except to say fieldworks are only good for front-facing defense; he would not comment on the units inherent abilities which is what his issue is in Ancients.

Addressing his complaint that more heavies will every time, I went through every official scenario and counted how many times one side historically beat the other with fewer heavies (a little better than 30% overall; about 50% in the base game and more than that in epics) and his retorts were a) what about actual game play wins? and b) are you counting just heavy infantry or all red blocks because only heavy infantry is the problem?

Sheesh! Well I can’t really answer a) because there isn’t a tracker somewhere with thousands of plays/outcomes (to avoid a small sample size) for every battle to look at and b) is just a silly position because if the battles have zero heavies for instance he would complain about whoever had the most mediums to lights etc. I expressed both of these issues to him and he said M44 has an online implementation with tracking (good for M44!). He has yet to respond to my comment regarding no heavies (I think he realizes he is in a tough spot on that one).

But yes he is stubborn and once he has an opinion on anything it is quite difficult to shake him from it. He looks for confirmation bias a lot and even when he is somewhat right, he often exaggerates where he is right to the point of it being the key to the entirety of whatever we are discussing. He has an enormously difficult time admitting when he is wrong and often thinks he is right from the jump. I’ve been working with him for years on this issue. This is just another example of it.
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Mark McG
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John Rogers wrote:

Sheesh! Well I can’t really answer a) because there isn’t a tracker somewhere with thousands of plays/outcomes (to avoid a small sample size) for every battle to look at

https://www.commandsandcolors.net/ancients/maps/scenario-sta...

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Mark McG
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he seems to moved beyond any logic.. this is zealotry now, and whatever result is presented will be made to reinforce his belief.

Clearly the Roman Empire should have been defeated by barbarians everytime.
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Minedog3 wrote:
John Rogers wrote:

Sheesh! Well I can’t really answer a) because there isn’t a tracker somewhere with thousands of plays/outcomes (to avoid a small sample size) for every battle to look at

https://www.commandsandcolors.net/ancients/maps/scenario-sta...

6717 plays

I looked here. Apart from a few, most scenarios have less than 50 plays so I’m not sure if the sample size is big enough for most single battles. Not sure what the threshold number should be but I’ll show him.
 
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Minedog3 wrote:
he seems to moved beyond any logic.. this is zealotry now, and whatever result is presented will be made to reinforce his belief.

He essentially said the same thing about you after your first response! I mentioned the likelihood of hypocrisy in his retort and heard nothing back on it.
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John Rogers
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Minedog3 wrote:
John Rogers wrote:

Sheesh! Well I can’t really answer a) because there isn’t a tracker somewhere with thousands of plays/outcomes (to avoid a small sample size) for every battle to look at

https://www.commandsandcolors.net/ancients/maps/scenario-sta...

6717 plays

What do the green and red arrows mean? How can you tell which side is which?


I think I figured it out. Thanks again.
 
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John Rogers wrote:
One of his biggest complaints is that he feels like there is always a chance for him to win playing M44 despite the side he is playing vs “the fix is in” in Ancients.

This only proves that your friend is very good at playing Memoir 44 while his understanding of Ancients tactics and strategy is scarce. It's just a matter of practicing. Memoir 44 has its good share of incredibly unbalanced scenarios (should I mention Omaha beach or Arnhem bridge?) The more you play, the more you perceive opportunities in what initially seemed a hopeless situation. I can guarantee your friend that it is going to be exactly the same in Ancients. Nobody is born learned. But in the near future, I humbly suggest to give him the side with more heavy infantry (don't' tell them, but I always use this trick with my skeptical game buddies ) And BTW, I like (and play) both Memoir 44 and Ancients a lot.
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M44 is hardly a wargame.
The unit differences are about nil and the games rely upon the various terrains a lot.
There is no battle back, so you can attack with a single block unit without fearing any immediate punishment.
CCA is much more comparable to real unit interaction.
Battle back is an essential improvement, which prevents people from playing stupid and sending badly shaken units against dangerous units such as heavies.

M44 scenarios are so far from reality that they are easy to design as balanced.
CCA tries to keep with the true historical odds.

Comparing M44 with CCA, putting aside the basic system similarities, makes little sense.
And if your friend actually prefers M44 over CCA, I would believe that he is not really inclined to play serious wargames.
Imagine if M44 made the difference between M3 Shermans and Pzkw V Panthers, where one needed about five of the former to kill one of the latter?
Or if M44 had German puny 37L AT Guns face Soviet T-34 tanks in 1941 : the guns were dubbed "door knockers" because, barring a rare critcal hit, their AP ammo couldn't penetrate the thick tanks' armour?
M44 is incredibly poor in reproducing, even in an abstracted way, WW2 combat and bad when it comes to unit representation - it is akin to playing toy soldiers.

It is a nice game for kids, however - my son discovered boardgaming at the age of 5 with M44 and we had a lot of fun playing it.
But CCA, while still belonging to the simple side of wargaming, is a much more instructive game about historical dynamics.
I personally think that it can even compare to more complex games such as Great Battles of History which, even though they go in much finer detail, lead to similar results and perception of the way ancient battles developed.

I would stick to M44 if your friend prefers it and play CCA with people who are more interested in a more pronounced historical feel.

Btw, your friend's arguments about heavy units show, also, that he isn't good at playing CCA - you never close combat a non depleted heavy unit with light ones (you must shower on it missile fire, evade if attacked, etc.) and you must try to move away from up front units with one or two blocks remaining (something that you do much less playing M44).
The time heavies reach the enemy's line, they will have lost some blocks and will be more vulnerable than they started the game.

To really see the dynamics of fast, light units, try Carrhae (53 BC, Expansion 4) and see the Parthian bow cavalry exterminate the slower troops of Crassus. That is, if the former keep at distance and refuse Close Combat.
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You mentioned he liked the symmetrical nature of M44. I think that is a significant statement. Ancients is rock, paper, scissors with the different types of units and how each functions.

Ancients is my favorite iteration of CnC and M44 is my least favorite. So I'm on the opposite spectrum from your friend.

I think a lot of good points have been made here. The best possibly being he needs to play M44 and not Ancients.
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Russell InGA
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I think Robin is a little harsh in his critique of M44 (although much of what he says is exactly why I am not interested in playing it).

Both of these are GAMES. They should be played for the joy of gaming! M44 is no more or less "ridiculous" than any number of other games that purport to have "theme". If it's challenging and fun, then that's a WINNER!

Like I said previously, if you guys enjoy playing M44, then play it! Don't worry how much of a simulation CCA is versus M44.
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John Rogers wrote:
but last night he was visibly frustrated and upset..
a bad sign.

Quote:
• Leaders are too powerful. The inspire, bolster morale, can order lines (card dependent), and give additional die (depending on leader). He believes the game greatly exxagerates the impact of leaders.
Alexander at Gaugamela is the most powerful example. The list of similarly effective heroic leaders is very long, stretching across many battles and several centuries.

Quote:
• Heavy infantry are too dominate. Whoever has the most hevaies “always wins”. Evading isn’t good enough. You should be able to overwhelm heavies in close combat with a large number lights (more on that in a moment) but you can’t because of battle back (more on that in a moment). There is no way to mitigate the advantage of more heavies. Why even play. Just count the number of heavies and move on.
You can't battle back if you don't stand. Retreat is the same for all units. Heavies tend to set up in remote hexes, so are difficult to deploy, which is a standard CC scenario design technique. If a heavy attack s an Aux, and the aux stands, it will roll six dice before the heavy rolls five.

Quote:
• Battle back is ridiculously powerful, particularly for heavies and leader inspired units. If you surround one heavy unit with 5 light units in close combat you should be able to beat them but you can’t. The lights will roll 10 dice total to the heavies 25 in defense and they hit on 2/6 sides vs 1/6 for lights (regulars with no inspiration).
From its invention, a warrior in bronze armour was unstoppable, except by another. Are you forgetting flags?

Quote:
He never feels hopeless in a M44 scenario
I felt hopeless reading them.

Quote:
But he wants to like Ancients he says.
I'd start him on Latin grammar and see how he goes.

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rules_heretic wrote:
I think Robin is a little harsh in his critique of M44 (although much of what he says is exactly why I am not interested in playing it).

Both of these are GAMES. They should be played for the joy of gaming! M44 is no more or less "ridiculous" than any number of other games that purport to have "theme". If it's challenging and fun, then that's a WINNER!

Like I said previously, if you guys enjoy playing M44, then play it! Don't worry how much of a simulation CCA is versus M44.
I was essentially speaking from a wargaming perspective, as the OP's friend was presenting historical arguments to contest the CCA mechanisms.
As said, I enjoyed M44 a lot (even though I mostly play ASL and more complex games) and played it often with my son when he was a kid.

I agree with you that what we look for in games is fun.
At that level, M44 is certainly not ridiculous if it provides fun, which it does.
And the most precise wargame is still just a game, with plenty of abstractions and shortcuts to make it playable - even ASL and its 200 page rulebook is mostly Hollywood fun.

However, I find that CCA gives more a feel of how and ancient battle would develop than M44 does for WW2 combat.
I also find that the battle back system of CCA is a progress over M44 or Battle Cry, as it leads players to be careful about exposing shaken units to danger.

I think that the point that many here express is that one doesn't need to say that a game is broken, just because one doesn't know how to play it properly, or imposes illogical constraints in relation with wrong expectations.
The only answer to that type of judgement is to suggest that such a person played the games he likes and which dynamics he grasps well.
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Btw, about leadership and the power of heavy units, the GBoH system wargames give a lot of importance to leadership (the game sequence is based on the best leaders claiming initiative, keeping it and influencing their troops) and to shock in combat.
It is a much more complex game, but it does rely upon similar considerations about ancient battles.
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gohrns wrote:
You mentioned he liked the symmetrical nature of M44. I think that is a significant statement. Ancients is rock, paper, scissors with the different types of units and how each functions.

Ancients is my favorite iteration of CnC and M44 is my least favorite. So I'm on the opposite spectrum from your friend.

I think a lot of good points have been made here. The best possibly being he needs to play M44 and not Ancients.

I should restate this. He corrected my verbiage. He likes how there is little disparity between the units i.e. tanks and men can both fire with a max of 3; it’s not heavy 5 light 2.

He LOVES variety whchh he feels is achieved more in M44 via its terrain and theaters. He can fight in the desert, tropics, snow, cities, forest etc. He also likes playing with the various doctrinal difference (like Marines vs Japanese) so he is cool with some disparity (he would call it variety). As long as he feels as though one side isn’t overly powerful and unstoppable (which is how he perceives heavy infantry to be).

Sorry for the correction. My bad as a communicator.

 
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TELL HIM TO JOIN BGG! Dpangrywowdevilshakegoo
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rules_heretic wrote:
TELL HIM TO JOIN BGG! :D:p:what:;):angry::wow::devil::shake::goo:

I’ve tried that for 10+ years. He has a profile but never uses it and he doesn’t recall the password. He wouldn’t use it anyways.
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gohrns wrote:
Ancients is rock, paper, scissors with the different types of units and how each functions.

For the record I agree with you. Here was his direct response...

“Ancients is not rock, paper, scissors. If range combat was actually effective it would be.”

My response was

“Range is effective when used properly but not nearly to the level of heavies or mediums in close combat. That’s something that Borg has consistently gone back to from Ancients all the way up to Napoleonics. Swords are extra sides in close combat only.

It just so happens that in Napoleonics you also get 2 infantry sides which starts to give range a bit more of an edge (plus terrain and loss of men cuts dice down). Even in Tricorne it is all one side each except for flags which is two which means more sides hit (not counting flags which are AWESOMELY DEVESTATING) in close combat.”
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