Army balance in competitions

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timmy1
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by timmy1 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:02 pm

Nik

Understand why you don't like them.

I do think that Divisions should not qualify for 3rd moves (as was suggested earlier). If that was removed and they were limited to mounted BGs with a general I think that would remove a lot of the imbalance. It is also a very simple change.

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Oh, to throw something back for the mounted chaps to go with the stuff I mentioned above I'd probably also want to go with artillery hitting them on 5+ not 4+ to remove an incentive I dislike.
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by timmy1 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:26 pm

Boo! It is the one thing that keep mounted honest, IM(nv)HO

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by Sarmaticus » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:52 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:Oh, to throw something back for the mounted chaps to go with the stuff I mentioned above I'd probably also want to go with artillery hitting them on 5+ not 4+ to remove an incentive I dislike.
Good idea. The only example I can think of of artillery massacring cavalry is Ravenna where the French had hours to do it, were also enfilading their targets and had nothing else at which to shoot. Even so, thatvjust provoked the Hispano-Italian cavalry to charge out and get beaten by the superior French mounted.

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by petedalby » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:14 am

I suspect that a third would be dropping the 3rd move.
Or you could keep the 3rd move if, say the mounted started with no enemy within 12MU?

This would still allow a rapid redeployment if you have defeated all of the enemy in the area but restrict the current ease with which mounted can disengage from the battle.

On Challenge - why not go with 900AP and 5 x 3?

Like Don, I suspect that 900AP on a 6 x 4 just allows more mounted.
Pete

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by daveallen » Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:00 am

We used 5 x 3 tables in the Central London club competition. The effect was to make the greater manoeuverability of mounted largely irrelevant. The lack of separation meant that foot and mounted lines clashed almost simultaneously. Winning the foot combat meant you won the game before any victorious cavalry had time to intervene.

The main reason for using a smaller table was to get games with inexperienced players to finish quickly. In this it was remarkably successful.

On the other hand, 900pt competition games would guarantee even more incomplete games. In fact since most draws seem to occur between foot armies that take too long to close, I'd suggest that 900pt singles games would push more players to use mounted armies just to improve the chances of getting a result. Thereby increasing their dominance.

Dave

PS on a point of etiquette, could I ask people to please sign their posts - your mates might know that silly profile name is you, but the rest of us don't have a clue who we're talking to...

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:37 am

petedalby wrote:
I suspect that a third would be dropping the 3rd move.
Or you could keep the 3rd move if, say the mounted started with no enemy within 12MU?

This would still allow a rapid redeployment if you have defeated all of the enemy in the area but restrict the current ease with which mounted can disengage from the battle.

I think it'd just be cleaner to drop the 3rd move if any change was to be made in this area.

I went back and had a look as to why the 3rd move was introduced and, somewhat ironically given the current debate, it was all part of a series of changes made in response to the play testing feedback that suggested that mounted troops were just not worth taking, especially in C17th (TYW and ECW in the main) games :shock:

As one of the other changes was removing the turn and move of most infantry mounted were essentially given a double bonus on manoeuvre so there is probably an argument, after a few years post-publication play, that this was excessive and that dropping the 3rd move could be a useful corrective (as I think no turn and move for infantry certainly seems right).
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:39 am

daveallen wrote:We used 5 x 3 tables in the Central London club competition. The effect was to make the greater manoeuverability of mounted largely irrelevant. The lack of separation meant that foot and mounted lines clashed almost simultaneously. Winning the foot combat meant you won the game before any victorious cavalry had time to intervene.
Well that latter effect is woefully inaccurate from an historical point of view - and ensuring the game allowed that to happen was a factor in some of the design decisions.

I can, however, see why you would want it in the circumstances you describe :)
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:28 pm

petedalby wrote:
On Challenge - why not go with 900AP and 5 x 3?
As it would give a different dynamic to a competition I'd say it'd be good to run one like that regardless of any other issues :D
Nik Gaukroger

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by petedalby » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:37 pm

I think it'd just be cleaner to drop the 3rd move if any change was to be made in this area.
Fair enough.

I like your proposal to change the artillery factor vs mounted to 5 as well. That should see artillery used more historically - ie vs foot. Now if you could just stop them firing over LF as well.....
Pete

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by kevinj » Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:08 pm

I’ve been following this one with interest but haven’t had the time to put together my thoughts on it until now. Sorry it’s a bit of an essay!

Firstly, I believe that armies don’t win tournaments, players do. That said, part of the preparation for tournament success is the design of an army that will enable you to execute your plan and give you an advantage (however small) over other players of similar skill. The problem arises when a player develops a composition/battleplan that is seen as potentially dominant and this pushes other players to imitate it.

In Fog AM we have seen this with the “swarm” style of armies that were much copied until people realised that it was not a guarantee of success and it took a skilful player to use the army well. A number of the V2 changes have also reduced the effectiveness of this style of army. The other army style in Fog AM that has raised issues is the “Grit and Air” (copyright Mr Briggs) type that features typically 4-6 BG of hard-hitting mounted types and a load of skirmishers. These armies give their users a chance to win if their punch connects, but also a very good chance to avoid a significant defeat if it doesn’t as the rest of the army just melts away to the sound of the Benny Hill theme tune. In the hands of a competent player this is a proven winning strategy but as such has spawned numerous imitators with the result that many Fog AM tournament games consist of fruitlessly trying to pin down skirmishers. I think the current trend towards mounted based armies supported by dragoons and artillery is the Fog R equivalent of this army type.

I don’t think that the opinions being expressed are an overreaction to a single tournament. I think it’s a trend that has been building for a while that was highlighted by Warfare where the top 3 places were dominated by armies of this type. It’s worth noting however that the 3 players concerned are all highly ranked and it’s no surprise to see them there. The problem is not so much that these people are doing well (they’ve all proved they can win with other army styles) but that the “successful formula” will be copied leading to an increasing number of unsatisfactory games for those who don’t take the same approach.

As someone who is involved in organising tournaments, my aim when setting a theme is to allow people sufficient scope to use an army they want and to have a number of enjoyable games over the weekend. If a particular style of army is perceived to dominate this reduces the opportunities to do this which will lead to players drifting away to play games that are more fun. This has been happening with Fog AM although the V2 changes have slowed it down and I’d hate to see it happen to Fog R which is still the best set of Renaissance rules that I’ve played.

I agree with Nik that the lists are currently too permissive in order to allow for a wide range of historical options and that what has been missed is the constraints to prevent people cherry picking to achieve an optimised list. If more lists had the kind of constraints that the Ottomans and Poles have then maybe those two wouldn’t be seen as handicapped as they are at present. I think the Royalist Rapid Raider option in the Early Royalist list is an ideal example of providing an option for which there is a historical precedent without allowing a free choice of inappropriate goodies. However, as we know rule/list changes are a longer term solution and it’s worth looking to see what can be done now to prevent a potential exodus of players.

I’m not convinced that more points alone is necessarily the answer. It might allow you to buy a centre and 2 viable mounted wings, but the reality is that there needs to be a reason to do that and not spend the extra points on more mounted/artillery. I think table size changes are the best option here as they can be implemented without any rule/list changes. However, I don’t think 800/900 points on a 5x3 table is right either. I think that would just encourage players to stuff the centre with superior foot and lead to a succession of dull slogging matches. I’d like to try 6x3 which I think would allow the mounted armies some room for manoeuvre but would make it harder to run and hide, giving the infantry armies more of a chance.
PS on a point of etiquette, could I ask people to please sign their posts - your mates might know that silly profile name is you, but the rest of us don't have a clue who we're talking to...
One of the funniest posts ever was one where someone with a cryptic username asked "daveallen" to provide his real name!

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:57 pm

kevinj wrote:I’ve been following this one with interest but haven’t had the time to put together my thoughts on it until now. Sorry it’s a bit of an essay!
Well worth waiting for 8)

Firstly, I believe that armies don’t win tournaments, players do. That said, part of the preparation for tournament success is the design of an army that will enable you to execute your plan and give you an advantage (however small) over other players of similar skill. The problem arises when a player develops a composition/battleplan that is seen as potentially dominant and this pushes other players to imitate it.

In Fog AM we have seen this with the “swarm” style of armies that were much copied until people realised that it was not a guarantee of success and it took a skilful player to use the army well. A number of the V2 changes have also reduced the effectiveness of this style of army. The other army style in Fog AM that has raised issues is the “Grit and Air” (copyright Mr Briggs) type that features typically 4-6 BG of hard-hitting mounted types and a load of skirmishers. These armies give their users a chance to win if their punch connects, but also a very good chance to avoid a significant defeat if it doesn’t as the rest of the army just melts away to the sound of the Benny Hill theme tune. In the hands of a competent player this is a proven winning strategy but as such has spawned numerous imitators with the result that many Fog AM tournament games consist of fruitlessly trying to pin down skirmishers. I think the current trend towards mounted based armies supported by dragoons and artillery is the Fog R equivalent of this army type.
I think you have got to the heart of the issue here. I hope we can learn from the FoG:AM experience.

I don’t think that the opinions being expressed are an overreaction to a single tournament. I think it’s a trend that has been building for a while that was highlighted by Warfare where the top 3 places were dominated by armies of this type. It’s worth noting however that the 3 players concerned are all highly ranked and it’s no surprise to see them there. The problem is not so much that these people are doing well (they’ve all proved they can win with other army styles) but that the “successful formula” will be copied leading to an increasing number of unsatisfactory games for those who don’t take the same approach.

As someone who is involved in organising tournaments, my aim when setting a theme is to allow people sufficient scope to use an army they want and to have a number of enjoyable games over the weekend. If a particular style of army is perceived to dominate this reduces the opportunities to do this which will lead to players drifting away to play games that are more fun. This has been happening with Fog AM although the V2 changes have slowed it down and I’d hate to see it happen to Fog R which is still the best set of Renaissance rules that I’ve played.
One thing to avoid is thinking that there must be an "official" solution from the rules authors or that any given competition format is set in stone. IMO AM suffered because, for reasons I really don't properly understand, it was felt that competition organisers should not introduce changes even where there were clearly recognised issues and thus the game was damaged because of it - earlier intervention could have mitigated this. Similarly there was great resistance to moving from 800 points on 6x4 despite clear examples of successful comps using different set ups (not least Hammy's 650 on 5x3 format).

I agree with Nik that the lists are currently too permissive in order to allow for a wide range of historical options and that what has been missed is the constraints to prevent people cherry picking to achieve an optimised list. If more lists had the kind of constraints that the Ottomans and Poles have then maybe those two wouldn’t be seen as handicapped as they are at present. I think the Royalist Rapid Raider option in the Early Royalist list is an ideal example of providing an option for which there is a historical precedent without allowing a free choice of inappropriate goodies. However, as we know rule/list changes are a longer term solution and it’s worth looking to see what can be done now to prevent a potential exodus of players.
If people think that some additional constraints would be a good thing I'm more than happy to work on that - on the clear understanding that anything produced would remain unofficial unless there was a change in publisher policy and something official could be produced. Suggestions welcome.

I’m not convinced that more points alone is necessarily the answer. It might allow you to buy a centre and 2 viable mounted wings, but the reality is that there needs to be a reason to do that and not spend the extra points on more mounted/artillery. I think table size changes are the best option here as they can be implemented without any rule/list changes. However, I don’t think 800/900 points on a 5x3 table is right either. I think that would just encourage players to stuff the centre with superior foot and lead to a succession of dull slogging matches. I’d like to try 6x3 which I think would allow the mounted armies some room for manoeuvre but would make it harder to run and hide, giving the infantry armies more of a chance.

Kevin
Sounds good to me - 900 points on 6x3 anyone?
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by donm2 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:36 pm

Guys,

I am not sure any of these suggestions would put me off fielding a cavalry heavy force. Starting closer together, just brings artillery into range of more troops. Reducing the score to hit cavalry from 4 to 5, I see as an encouragement to use more cavalry.

I still think the problem lies with force mix. Infantry armies can only work with two strong cavalry wings and I suspect that will only be possible with more points. 900 points is used in doubles competitions and you don't see many of those games ending in draws.

Can I also point out again, that the dates chosen for this years Warfare excluded many of the irregular armies we saw last year. Remember that the other Don won last year with Japanese.

Don

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by timmy1 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:24 pm

Dave

Sorry but I have to disagree with your statement 'On the other hand, 900pt competition games would guarantee even more incomplete games'.

All

I have seen that lots of the draws occur because there are too few troops on the table to risk getting stuck in. It is why I stopped playing Swedes - you could not get a good enough shot protection from the mounted without spending too many points on the mounted and having no centre. I believe 900 points on 6' x 4' tables would be the simplest thing to try. If after 3 or 4 comps all we get is draws, let us stop and try something else but I believe that change alone would go some way to reversing the trend.

I would also like Nik's 1 AP of foot battle troops per heavy/medium gun rule tried out as well but that does place an extra load on the list checker's shoulders.

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:39 pm

donm2 wrote: I still think the problem lies with force mix.
If I may just repeat what I said in a post above:

"If people think that some additional constraints would be a good thing I'm more than happy to work on that - on the clear understanding that anything produced would remain unofficial unless there was a change in publisher policy and something official could be produced. Suggestions welcome."

:D
Infantry armies can only work with two strong cavalry wings and I suspect that will only be possible with more points. 900 points is used in doubles competitions and you don't see many of those games ending in draws.
It had crossed my mind that I hadn't heard complaints about too many unfinished games in doubles which are generally (wholly?) run at 900 points. My experience of doubles is that any time saved by having 2 people moving the grater number of troops on table is more than lost by the time taken by the 2 players arguing over what to do or checking that their partner is doing the right moves :lol:
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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by daveallen » Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:39 pm

donm2 wrote:I still think the problem lies with force mix. Infantry armies can only work with two strong cavalry wings and I suspect that will only be possible with more points. 900 points is used in doubles competitions and you don't see many of those games ending in draws.
Having two players per side does rather speed things up. As I found out at the Oxford Doubles :oops:

The extra 100pts represents about 15% more troops on table which can only increase the time taken over each move. Even a modest 10% time increase would mean an extra 20 minutes per game. By all means let's try 900pts, I promise not to say "told you so."
donm2 wrote:Can I also point out again, that the dates chosen for this years Warfare excluded many of the irregular armies we saw last year. Remember that the other Don won last year with Japanese.
Don't think it did exclude the Japanese, or many other irregular armies, people just decided not to bring them. Incidentally, the Japanese don't usually have two strong cavalry wings either...

Dave

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by kevinj » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:26 am

A few thoughts on some of the views expressed:
One thing to avoid is thinking that there must be an "official" solution from the rules authors or that any given competition format is set in stone
I agree that table size and theme are up for grabs and don't require rules changes/official sanction. So if I want to define a theme as "Infantry battles in Western Europe, 1620-1650" and specify that armies must contain a minimum of 6 BG of Foot Battle Troops (excluding Artillery), that's fine. I'm happy with changes due to table size (such as using 10" flank sectors on 5' tables or larger deployment distances on deeper ones). But (other than for playtesting) I wouldn't want to go down the route of competition specific rule changes (or "interpretations" or "clarifications") which were a blight on competitions in the past.
I am not sure any of these suggestions would put me off fielding a cavalry heavy force. Starting closer together, just brings artillery into range of more troops
With a 3' deep table a large rough or difficult terrain feature (available in all terrain types except Steppe) can make one flank unfriendly to cavalry on a placement roll of 1-4. The artillery is more at risk because troops start closer. There would probably be more need to defend it than there is currently.
Reducing the score to hit cavalry from 4 to 5
I still don't think we should do that. It's been debated extensively elsewhere and no compelling case has been made for the change.
Can I also point out again, that the dates chosen for this years Warfare excluded many of the irregular armies we saw last year.
Last year's army mix:
Early Gustavan Swedish 4
Early Thirty Years War German Catholic 3
Hungarian-Transylvanian 3
Early Thirty Years War German Protestant 2
Jurchen, Later Jin and Qing 2
Early Danish 1
Early Ottoman Turkish 1
Japanese 1
Knights of St John 1
Later Imperial Austrian 1
Later Ottoman Turkish 1
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1
Thirty Years War Danish 1

And this year's:
Later Thirty Years War German 6
Later Imperial Spanish 5
Early Thirty Years War Swedish 4
Later Thirty Years War Swedish and Weimarian 2
Thirty Years War French 2
Early Thirty Years War German Catholic 1
English Civil War Parliamentarian 1
Hungarian-Transylvanian 1
Jurchen, Later Jing and Qing 1
Later English Civil War Royalist 1
Later Ottoman Turkish 1
Mongol 1
Scots Royalist 1
Thirty Years War Danish 1
Having two players per side does rather speed things up
That very much depends on the players :twisted: I very much agree with Nik that some pairs introduce more delay with their "discussions" than is saved by having 2 people to move the stuff.

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by Maniakes » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:35 am

Just want to say that I think it's important to have any rules changes extensively play tested before they are introduced. It's easier to "break" a set of rules than you might think - and once changes are introduced they can have their own inertia and not get revised even when it's clear they are counter productive (I think we saw examples of that with DBM). That is why I like the idea of trying different competition formats first, rather than revising the rules - the risks are lower. If the changes work then great and if they don't then there is little lost - we'll still have a good weekend (I enjoy just about every FoG:R game - even when I'm getting thrashed!) and we won't use that format again

Dave P

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by alasdair2204 » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:57 am

I still think its a list issue rather than a rule issue

only 4 lists (I think) with a lot of heavily armoured cuirassiers are Later German, Early German Catholic, Early German Protestant and Danish these tend to be the troop type that cause most problems and allow you most mounted, if you took these lists out might solve the problem, that said I only play with 2 heavily armoured cuirassiers

just a thought, would rather stay with 6 by 4 but I have always prefer the manouvre

cheers

Alasdair

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Re: Army balance in competitions

Post by gibby » Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:19 am

Yep,

A big part of the problem is lists, and then some minor niggles magnify them.

Don't get me wrong though, I like seeing lots of Cuirassier on the table but preferably on both sides so that there is a proper stand up clash of wings. Not the hunter killer packs that are seen.

So I think I am squarely in the camp of not tinkering with the rules quite yet and instead explore the options such as 900pts although I think 1000pts and an extra 15mins would do it for me.

cheers
Jim

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