About a year ago, my best friend and I had a Bacchanalian weekend full of Manoeuvre, culminating in our starting to break apart the game quantitatively, as a step towards handicapping the different armies in very precise ways. Well, as so many of these sort of projects go, we never got back to it after that first big push. So, rather than wait to make further progress that will never happen, I'm going to just share the spreadsheet we created with the community. While we didn't get to finish our full analysis, I think you will find even the raw data very worthwhile:
A few high-level takeaways from our work are below. I don't claim to be a super expert, but I have played a couple/few dozen games and won a tournament at GMT West a year or two ago:
1. There is a fairly clear pecking order between the different armies, in a few different groupings. We sensed this pretty accurately during play, but looking at it quantitatively added more depth and concreteness, along with some surprises, to the assessment:
(In order, the below numbers are averages representing: Full Strength per Unit, Reduced Strength per Unit, Movement per Turn, Attack, Defense):
France - 6.625, 3.75, 1.25, 7.5625, 5.2
Great Britain - 6.625, 3.375, 1.25, 7.625, 5.225
Note: France is just a hair better, but these two are evenly matched. Neither has a weakness, and they are significantly better than all the other powers.
Russia - 6.25, 4.875, 1.25, 6.75, 4.9231
Note: A strong third that is a clear step better than those below it, the Russians are incredible resilient (far the best Reduced Strength of any army) makes them one of the most fun powers to use (along with the Ottomans) to try extreme tactical approaches that are optimized for them specifically.
Ottoman Empire - 6.625, 3.5, 1.5, 6.5625, 3.825
Prussia - 6, 3.5, 1.25, 7.0313, 4.55
Note: The Ottomans are a blast to play with all their cavalry and an extremely strong and straightforward hand of cards. They also have a strong Full Strength army. Prussia is fairly balanced - albeit a little weak on Full Strength - but have two strong cavalry that can create big problems when used well.
Spain - 6.125, 3.875, 1.25, 5.8438, 5.225
Austrian Empire - 6.25, 3.25, 1.25, 6.0294, 4.05
United States - 6, 3.375, 1.125, 6.2188, 4.525
Note: These three are all miserable, with no notable strengths. Spain's best asset is their defense (both in rating and redoubt cards); Austria is the most plain-vanilla army in the game with little of distinction; the United States is just plain awful. Although, playing their Ambush cards can prove enjoyable!
We wanted to do a formal handicapping of the armies to allow for ongoing competitive play, but it really requires quantitively interpreting the HQ cards which we did not get around to. It would be a great project for someone else to pick up.
2. The best general strategy around playing your cards is to cycle through them as quickly as possible. Of course there are times when you want to coordinate a couple of cards for a decisive and critical attack. But in general, the more you are "doing" the better off you will be. When you draw two or three cards for that weak infantry sitting in A2 (chess notation) and there are no antagonists one or two squares away, just discard them and try to get cards more relevant to the action. Not only are you wasting moves and meaningful opportunities for tactical manoeuvre if you try to bring them up for an attack, not only are you "blocking" yourself from drawing cards that might correlate to more vital pieces that can have an immediate impact and cause trouble for your opponent, but you will almost certainly not succeed with your lumbering attack. Why? Because any opponent with a pulse is going to catch on to your slow advance and know you are coming up to use attack cards! Thus, they will be prepared for your attack and likely negate it in one way or another. Why bother?
The beauty of cycling through cards is that a much higher percentage of your plays cause trouble for your opponents and make them worry about countering you as opposed to executing their plan. In addition, by cycling through the deck quickly you get ANOTHER PULL at the deck. Whereas a slow-moving opponent will only get a maximum of five unit cards for their best piece, if you get into your deck a second time you will get up to TEN cards for your best unit! Sure, you get more cards for your weak units as well. But since you're cycling quickly, you really don't care. I've heard some players talk about the "advantage" of being the last to exhaust your deck, to be able to "decide" when nightfall happens. Rubbish. As Sun Tzu said, "Opportunities multiply as they are seized." Plodding through the deck - especially at the end of the game - is going to leave you vulnerable to being outmanoeuvred, turn after turn after turn.
3. Cavalry with good Pursuit numbers are devastating. Not visible in the above analysis is the impact of Pursuit (France and Great Britain are the strongest here, then Prussia, then Ottoman, then Austria. The cavalry of the other armies all have inconsequential pursuit numbers.
Why is Pursuit such a Big Deal? A good player in this game will "feint" smartly, positioning themselves to take attacks that are under 2-to-1 and retreat, in order to force their attacker into a poor board position where there can be a better counter-attack. Cards with a pursuit of 1-4 or 1-3 (and, to a lesser degree, 1-2) make it much harder to retreat strategically. It forces the defender to stand and fight more often (weakened, no less). This is another aspect we wanted to better quantify. The math wouldn't be too difficult but would also need to incorporate the two movement of the cavalry as well (making strong Pursuits even more powerful) in order to compare a pursuit attack with a conventional attack.
4. Unless you're a good, experienced player, beware of redoubts. I'm quite convinced redoubts are the worst card in the game for most players, unless you're lucky enough to draw them toward the end of your deck when nightfall is approaching in order to entrench. People treat redoubts like they have Superglue on them. Once a redoubt is down, players feel compelled to "stick" the unit in them, not wanting to "waste" the defense. This can be a big problem, for a few reasons:
- Players hold the cards for the unit in the redoubt for DEFENSE purposes, hoping to "surprise" an attacker and flip them on an attack. The problem is, most players simply ignore the unit in the redoubt for much of the game, targeting more accessible units instead. That means that cards for the unit in the redoubt are jamming up the hand of the player and preventing their other units from making attacks. At some point, they will get frustrated and just attack out, thus losing the redoubt. They should have simply done that from the beginning.
- Players don't take advantage of holes in their opponent's lines that simply stepping out of the redoubt would create. "Cannot. Leave. Redoubt." Even with experienced players, I've found I can treat the redoubt largely like a lake square and leave gaping holes in my back lines. Sure, you can't get too cocky and get 3-way surrounded including the redoubt (that can get ugly) but other than putting yourself in position for a coordinated attack, in my experience you can march around the redoubt as if it were a stump in the ground and it is unusual the opponent makes you pay for it.
- The redoubt is a magnet for an OVER attack. Opponents will see a redoubt and treat it like a magnet for a coordinated attack. Before long, that +3 defense bonus is bloodily negated as two or three units attack in unison, hitting it a lot harder than they even need to. Why? Because the redoubt LOOKS intimidating. Sure, the +3 makes a difference, but the psychological impact on inexperienced attackers has a much greater impact. It is usually an either/or, so if your opponent isn't just ignoring your redoubt for a while (typically more experienced players), they are coming after it with enough firepower to potentially do a lot more than just flip your unit (typically inexperienced players).
Personally, I generally use the redoubt as a blind, either attacking out of it if the opponent is ignoring me, or proactively attacking with that unit or others if the opponent is subtly trying to knock me out.
Alright, that's all the Manoeuvre strategy I have in me tonight. I hope you find the spreadsheet worthwhile, and your mileage may vary on my strategy points. While I believe everything I said, the emphasis and sarcasm is for your entertainment purposes only.
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- Having played this only once, I will say that it seemed clear to me that fast deck cycling is the way to go. I constantly discarded cards for units that were still in the back in favor of digging for more leaders, events, and attacks with units that were in the thick of things. My opponent did not, and got hammered as a result.
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dknemeyer wrote:Players hold the cards for the unit in the redoubt for DEFENSE purposes, hoping to "surprise" an attacker and flip them on an attack.Really? That seems obviously dumb. The whole value of the redoubt is that you are relatively secure from overwhelming attack, if you're getting +5 from terrain and redoubt you don't much have to worry about the opponent suddenly getting 4x against you. So you don't need the defense cards for the units there.Quote:The redoubt is a magnet for an OVER attack. Opponents will see a redoubt and treat it like a magnet for a coordinated attack. Before long, that +3 defense bonus is bloodily negated as two or three units attack in unison, hitting it a lot harder than they even need to.I think that's great when my opponent does that. The +5 defense means I don't have to worry about a total wipeout, and my opponent has burned his hand and a bunch of good cards for his front-line units, so now he's much more vulnerable and less threatening. All just to kick me out of a redoubt that I basically got for nothing.
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Warbanner wrote:Having played this only once, I will say that it seemed clear to me that fast deck cycling is the way to go. I constantly discarded cards for units that were still in the back in favor of digging for more leaders, events, and attacks with units that were in the thick of things. My opponent did not, and got hammered as a result.If you play it more, you'll discover that one of the big disadvantages is that you then let your opponent control when the game ends.
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- Kevin Duke(kduke)United States
- I would say all parties might benefit from playing it more.
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- Anytime you want to play on Vassal, I'd be happy to "benefit" from rolling you!
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- James Luksich
- I would actually be up for a game against a more experienced player, so far my only games have been against friends and family. I would like to see how the game is played by an experienced player.
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- Craig HebertUnited States
DaviddesJ wrote:If you practice your manners, you might even get your own column when you grow up.Warbanner wrote:Having played this only once, I will say that it seemed clear to me that fast deck cycling is the way to go. I constantly discarded cards for units that were still in the back in favor of digging for more leaders, events, and attacks with units that were in the thick of things. My opponent did not, and got hammered as a result.If you play it more, you'll discover that one of the big disadvantages is that you then let your opponent control when the game ends.
There was no reason to call his comments "dumb". Why not enter the adult world and just say you "disagree".
Seems a tad bit more courtesy than you exhibited to the poster, who was merely sharing his thoughts and opinions.
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