Making the steppe more welcoming

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lawrenceg
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Post by lawrenceg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:53 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:

I will again say that this is actually irrelevant for a terrain system that is only there to facilitate artificail equal points games. What such a system needs to do is be able to generate a table on which a rnage of armies can have a chance on and if there is some sort of historical veneer than all the better. Who may or may not be the theoretical invader is not, IMO, an issue.
I second this and would add that it should also give games that can be interesting for both players.

I would encourage people to report from actual experience what kinds of armies they have used against what other kinds, whether they felt they had a chance and whether it was an interesting game.

My early experience with mainly protected HF versus shooty cavalry was that I had no chance and it wasn't much fun. This may have been because I hadn't worked out what to do in that situation.

My recent experience with mainly protected MF and an IC versus shooty cavalry is that I felt I had a chance and the games were interesting. THis might mean I've worked out the correct tactics, or that MF is intrinsically better than HF for this match-up. I won't know until I try the HF again.

Nik's initial suggestion would have made things easier for the MF army. One should bear in mind, though, that super shooty cavalry is expensive, so steppe armies have effectively paid for whatever terrain advantage they get.
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Post by nikgaukroger » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:14 pm

lawrenceg wrote:
nikgaukroger wrote:

I will again say that this is actually irrelevant for a terrain system that is only there to facilitate artificail equal points games. What such a system needs to do is be able to generate a table on which a rnage of armies can have a chance on and if there is some sort of historical veneer than all the better. Who may or may not be the theoretical invader is not, IMO, an issue.
I second this and would add that it should also give games that can be interesting for both players.

Absolutely - thanks for saying this as it is very important.

I would just add to your addition that we do, however, have to accept that there will be occasional games where a combination of terrain (where it goes, etc.) and troops means that this will not always happen even under a good terrain system - but hopefully the terrain system used would make this a rare occurance.

I'd also add that I think creating a good terrain system is a pig of a job and may even be a moving target as players change the style of armies that are popular :?
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jlopez
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Post by jlopez » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:16 pm

My experience with HF and shooty MF armies against LH/cav bow armies boils down to the skill of my opponent as a player. If he's competent then he's virtually guaranteed a draw if he feels he can't get a win. As the infantry army (MRR, Free Company) player I felt I had to take all the risks for a remote chance of a winning.

Basically, my conclusion is that, should I face a competent player with a steppe army in a competition, I would play for a draw unless I had to beat him to win the competition. If it's going to be a boring game for me, I feel it's only fair to share a little of the pain with my opponent. However, since I don't like wasting my time or money I prefer to give open competitions a miss.


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Post by lawrenceg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:30 pm

jlopez wrote:My experience with HF and shooty MF armies against LH/cav bow armies boils down to the skill of my opponent as a player. If he's competent then he's virtually guaranteed a draw if he feels he can't get a win. As the infantry army (MRR, Free Company) player I felt I had to take all the risks for a remote chance of a winning.

Basically, my conclusion is that, should I face a competent player with a steppe army in a competition, I would play for a draw unless I had to beat him to win the competition. If it's going to be a boring game for me, I feel it's only fair to share a little of the pain with my opponent. However, since I don't like wasting my time or money I prefer to give open competitions a miss.


Julian
How much terrain do you think you would need for the competent opponent not to be guaranteed a draw?
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Post by paulcummins » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:33 pm

I would say its not so much how much terrrain, but where it is.

The old 'ill take all the terrain' steppe option can get a bit unstuck when you get 5s to move it all into useful places.

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Post by jlopez » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:44 pm

lawrenceg wrote: How much terrain do you think you would need for the competent opponent not to be guaranteed a draw?
It's the reverse, I would want as little terrain as possible. I reckon an open table helps more than an one full of obstacles your infantry has to struggle through or go around. Let's face it, you are never going to catch or shoot up enemy LH/cav controlled by a competent player. He's not intereted in committing suicide so when things get hairy he'll fall back so your only realistic option is to push him off the table and terrain is a BAD thing when you want to do that.

Once again, this is not about terrain. The fundamental problem is that the game objective is the enemy army and some armies are very difficult to pin down as they were historically. What you need to be looking at is a way to encourage both players using mismatched armies to actually want to fight it out rather than avoid taking risks. Fiddling with the terrain rules will not achieve this.

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Post by philqw78 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:47 pm

a way to encourage both players using mismatched armies to actually want to fight it out
Give 2 attrition points for BG evading off table. :wink:

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Post by jlopez » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:57 pm

philqw78 wrote:
a way to encourage both players using mismatched armies to actually want to fight it out
Give 2 attrition points for BG evading off table. :wink:
Assuming you get that far.

I prefer a points system where both players of a draw (failed to break the opposing army) deduct 5 points from their respective scores. That might just encourage some players to get on with proper, manly and decisive hand-to-hand combat rather than dancing around wasting everybody's time while they litter the battlefield with assorted missiles and horse droppings. :)

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Post by hammy » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:58 pm

jlopez wrote:
philqw78 wrote:
a way to encourage both players using mismatched armies to actually want to fight it out
Give 2 attrition points for BG evading off table. :wink:
Assuming you get that far.

I prefer a points system where both players of a draw (failed to break the opposing army) deduct 5 points from their respective scores. That might just encourage some players to get on with proper, manly and decisive hand-to-hand combat rather than dancing around wasting everybody's time while they litter the table top with assorted missiles and horse droppings. :)

Julian
To be honest if you are going to win a tournament then you really need to break your opponents army in all but one game anyway. The extra 5 points for a win is almost the same thing.

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Post by lawrenceg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:08 pm

jlopez wrote:
lawrenceg wrote: How much terrain do you think you would need for the competent opponent not to be guaranteed a draw?
It's the reverse, I would want as little terrain as possible. I reckon an open table helps more than an one full of obstacles your infantry has to struggle through or go around. Let's face it, you are never going to catch or shoot up enemy LH/cav controlled by a competent player. He's not intereted in committing suicide so when things get hairy he'll fall back so your only realistic option is to push him off the table and terrain is a BAD thing when you want to do that.

Once again, this is not about terrain. The fundamental problem is that the game objective is the enemy army and some armies are very difficult to pin down as they were historically. What you need to be looking at is a way to encourage both players using mismatched armies to actually want to fight it out rather than avoid taking risks. Fiddling with the terrain rules will not achieve this.

Julian
I agree with this.

Luckily I am playing at a competence level where I have nothing to lose by taking the risk, so I can still get an interesting game out of it.
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Post by jlopez » Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:20 pm

hammy wrote: To be honest if you are going to win a tournament then you really need to break your opponents army in all but one game anyway. The extra 5 points for a win is almost the same thing.
Not even that. I lost my chance for top place in no less than three competitions because of drawing once each time with infantry armies against well-played skirmish armies. As long as the points system makes a draw a LOT better than a defeat players will sensibly prefer to get go for that rather than attempt a risky attack.

Julian

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Post by lawrenceg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:37 pm

jlopez wrote:
hammy wrote: To be honest if you are going to win a tournament then you really need to break your opponents army in all but one game anyway. The extra 5 points for a win is almost the same thing.
Not even that. I lost my chance for top place in no less than three competitions because of drawing once each time with infantry armies against well-played skirmish armies. As long as the points system makes a draw a LOT better than a defeat players will sensibly prefer to get go for that rather than attempt a risky attack.

Julian
Well, I suppose that is potentially three competent owners of skirmish armies complaining that they missed out on the top place because they got one draw against a foot army.


Giving a points penalty for a draw will not discourage an outmatched army from playing for a draw unless a draw is worth lessthan a loss. In that case the tournament winner will be the one whose marginally inferior opponents were most suicidal.
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Post by hazelbark » Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:04 am

Playing for a draw. Aren't we back to the old time question and bounds played issues? :twisted:

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Post by shall » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:16 am

LH Steppe armies are the difficult one to deal with in any rules as in reality they would often fight a wide ranging moving battle outside the confines or our artificial 6 x 4 table. They don't really fit a tabletop wargame that well, so the challenge is to find a good practical balance for them in terms of effectiveness and fun in use. This either comes through some opportunity for nice open tables or allowing wide ranging off table flank marches for LH - we opted for the former as the better solution.

Personally I find the balance quite good at the moment. In any ruleset you find some games where the terrain is very unsuitable - the defensive mountain range is another one that comes up from time to time. Facing a LH army on a plain is just one of these challenges. A useful prespective to take is also to sit on the other side of the table and say how you would feel with the LH army without some potential to create a nice open steppe terrain. It is not that easy to win big with a LH shooty army. With much more limited Steppe potential i think they might disappear from use. At present they are not dominant in any way - they just have competition potential for their own reasons.

If you fear fighting a steppe army on the plains then take and IC and enough LH to get 3 PBI. Then there is a good chance you can fight them in something rougher instead. This is what my Britons have for instance. If you choose to have low PBI then of course you run the risk of fighting on a flat table every time you face one of these armies, and need to plan for that in your troop selection. Its all part of the trade-off in playing the odds as you design the army.

It would be interesting to see some of these "impossible match ups" posted here in more detail. I suspect there is an army design, deployment or tactical solution to most of them.

Si

PS FWIW, in testing we had Steppes less extreme for a while and Terry I did a lot of terrains for different match ups and found it made life too tough for the steppe armies, we then overshot the otherway and came back to where it is.
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Post by madaxeman » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:31 am

shall wrote: PS FWIW, in testing we had Steppes less extreme for a while and Terry I did a lot of terrains for different match ups and found it made life too tough for the steppe armies, we then overshot the otherway and came back to where it is.
The bit I'm surprised about is the "combining hills + other bits to soak up multiple terrain choices". That seems to give steppe armies an extra edge.
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Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:35 am

madaxeman wrote:
shall wrote: PS FWIW, in testing we had Steppes less extreme for a while and Terry I did a lot of terrains for different match ups and found it made life too tough for the steppe armies, we then overshot the otherway and came back to where it is.
The bit I'm surprised about is the "combining hills + other bits to soak up multiple terrain choices". That seems to give steppe armies an extra edge.
As I said in an earlier post, combining makes no difference whatsoever to the available number of "bad going" pieces in Steppes.

There is only one permitted terrain piece (1 gentle hill) that can be combined with any of the others, and it is itself good going.

Hence combining it with one of the others makes no difference at all to the available number of "bad going" pieces.

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Post by madaxeman » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:03 am

rbodleyscott wrote:
madaxeman wrote:
shall wrote: PS FWIW, in testing we had Steppes less extreme for a while and Terry I did a lot of terrains for different match ups and found it made life too tough for the steppe armies, we then overshot the otherway and came back to where it is.
The bit I'm surprised about is the "combining hills + other bits to soak up multiple terrain choices". That seems to give steppe armies an extra edge.
As I said in an earlier post, combining makes no difference whatsoever to the available number of "bad going" pieces in Steppes.
There is only one permitted terrain piece (1 gentle hill) that can be combined with any of the others, and it is itself good going.
Hence combining it with one of the others makes no difference at all to the available number of "bad going" pieces.
It can leave the non-initiative player with a choice of just 3 bits of broken ground, which they put down after seeing the initiative player deploy 1 Open and 4 minimum sized 1x H(G)+Brush, 1xbrush, 1xGully and 1xBroken Ground.
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Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:22 am

madaxeman wrote:It can leave the non-initiative player with a choice of just 3 bits of broken ground, which they put down after seeing the initiative player deploy 1 Open and 4 minimum sized 1x H(G)+Brush, 1xbrush, 1xGully and 1xBroken Ground.
True, but my point is that the combining isn't really an issue because an extra gentle hill would not be likely to be particularly helpful anyway.

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Post by jcmedhurst » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:03 am

Hate to repeat myself :-) , but most people are still complaining about the player with initiative being able to choose all of a certain type of terrain.

Why not just allow alternative picking of terrain, as with the compulsory pieces. Initiative player gets first dibs, then non-initiative and so on until all pieces wanted or required have been chosen. This is a minimal amendment to the system that gets rid of the most egregious and unrealistic gaming of the terrain, without removing the advantage of the initiative player. Simple, straightforward and a minimal change.

Any more serious change would probably have to be balanced by giving the initiative player the first move, which to my mind is a much more bizarre element of the initiative system. Alexander v Darius, Caesar vs Pompey at Pharsalus, Caesar almost anywhere in fact, saw the better commander taking early and decisive action; your CinC is a TC is because he probably possesses better breeding than brains, and is unlikely to be the one dashing forward to pin back his opponent in an early and aggressive advance.

The counter-example to this are the situations where the better commander had an excellent defensive position or wanted to draw his opponent out from one, and the rather dim opponent rushes forward to his total destruction. Varus at Cannae, Belisarius on the defensive at Daras, Saladin at Hattin and so on. Maybe we should decide first move by a separate dice roll. Thoughts?

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Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:21 am

Perfectly reasonable suggestions. By all means keep them coming. However, it must be appreciated that we are not going to be making any amendments to the rules for several years.

My experience of rules writing (and rules maintenance) is that there is always clamour to amend this and that in a set of rules. It is rare, however, for players all to agree on what needs amending, or what amendments should be made.

In DBM we made fairly frequent amendments. Some people saw these as improvements, others felt that the game deteriorated. Quite a lot of people felt that the amendments were too frequent.

You cannot please everyone.

However, both the lessons of the past and the improved production values of the FOG rules militate against the frequent issue of amendments.

By all means let's have this discussion, but let's not overemphasize the urgency.

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