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Initiative Advantage - Counter Strategy Needed


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#1 Marximus

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:17 AM

I played my first full game a few days ago and scored a fairly lopsided win.  Part of this was due to misreading the game rules (e.g., jump troop suppression mistakes) but the biggest factor, by far, seemed to be the fact that I won initiative four times in a row - despite rolling less dice than my opponent every time.

Now, I know this is a bit of a statistical anomaly and should balance over time.  However, the advantage gained by winning initiative seems dramatic.  Maybe I am missing something but this is how I see it.

At the end of the game turn, all units remove any reaction markers.  As such, no units start with reaction markers and all may take two actions during the unit phase - at least in theory.  In practice, the side winning initiative will always have the benefit of taking two actions.  The side going second now has a choice - react and lose one action in their unit phase or do nothing and allow the side with initiative the advantage of an unopposed first attack or maneuver.  Meanwhile, the side with initiative can react with impunity during their opponent's unit phase, knowing that all reaction markers will be removed at the end of the game turn.  Thus, in practice, it seems that the side with initiative not only gets the advantage of first move but also gets an extra action.

Again, the initiative advantage should be mitigated by probability.  However, given the short turn length of most games, 3 - 4 "bad" dice rolls could severely hamper one side's chances of winning.

Am I overstating the role played by initiative?  Are there reliable options for a player to take after successively losing initiative?  Are there other factors that mitigate the advantage of initiative? 

If this is a rules problem - and I know I have not played enough to make that claim - is there a fix? 

After our first game we discussed the idea of distinguishing more between command markers, reaction markers and suppression markers.  As it now stand, any of these markers on a unit reduces one action during the unit phase.  Our idea was to provide that a reaction marker did not reduce the number of actions available during the unit phase.  Every unit could react once per game turn unless suppressed.   That way, the side going second could react during the first player's unit phase and still take two actions in his own unit phase.  Of course the number of actions in the unit phase would still be reduced if the unit was suppressed or issued an order during the command phase.  In this way, both sides would remain more or less equal and the initiative advantage reduced.

I'm probably missing something so please feel free to chime in - especially if you have tried a similar fix and found it wanting.  Also, if the fix is unnecessary (which I really do hope), let me know.  Thanks.

P.S.  This is intended to be a hate-free/non-critical post.  I love the game (as my bank account can attest) and only want to play it to its full potential.



#2 felkor

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:25 AM

"seemed to be the fact that I won initiative four times in a row - despite rolling less dice than my opponent every time."

Rolling less dice *should* mean you win initiative more.

If you lose initiative, that generally means you have more orders in the command phase.  That means you can make several actions that  your opponent cannot react to.  Using the command phase wisely is important for the reacting player.  Also, if the reacting player suppresses an enemy unit during the command phase, that unit can't be regrouped (because their command phase has already occurred), so that is another advantage.

In my last game, I had 2 CombatPlatoons with Additional Resources.  During the Command Phase, I bombarded my enemy with Long Toms and piled on the suppression markers.  When the Unit Phase came about, it didn't matter much who had initiative, as my opponent could not do much (including react) with many of her units.  There's plenty of ways to work to the advantages of being the reactive player, or to use tactics where it doesn't actually matter that much who gets initiative.



#3 blkdymnd

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:33 AM

 Yeah, I just think you need to play a bit more and let the odds even themselves out.  There is oly a slight advantage to the player winning initiative.  The second player 90% of the time will always have more command phase orders, which evens out the action that happens in the unit phase.



#4 Shadow4ce

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:49 AM

Both of my esteemed colleagues are correct, but I will further clarify…

Marximus said:

 

 the biggest factor, by far, seemed to be the fact that I won initiative four times in a row - despite rolling less dice than my opponent every time.

Now, I know this is a bit of a statistical anomaly and should balance over time.  

 

 

As Felkor said, this isn't an anomaly, but actually a statistical probability. Page 28 of the rulebook, determining initiative, reads…

"To determine initiative, each player rolls his Command Pool and compares the number of "hits" rolled. In the event of a tie, players must reroll until there is no longer a tie. The player who has the fewest "hits" is now the Initiating player for the game turn."

Marximus said:

 

However, the advantage gained by winning initiative seems dramatic.  Maybe I am missing something but this is how I see it.

 

 

 

The rule continues…

"He also generates a number of Orders equal to the number of "hits" he scored. His opponent is now the Responding player, and generates Orders equal to the number of "hits" he scored. The player with the most Orders therefore goes second, but will have more options in the Command phase."

In both rules quotes above, I bolded and italicized the part of the rule which pertains to what Felkor and Blkdymnd meant. 

 

Having more options in the command phase will give the responding player the ability to suppress more of the attacker's units before the Unit phase, possibly rendering the ones he gave commands to completely devoid of any actions, and rationing the options of those which werent ordered. It also allows you the opportunity to fall back from an untenable position. Or a myriad of other fun options, depending on your Platoon Special Orders and your Hero/Unit Soecial Abilities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#5 McPherson

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 11:41 AM

Marximus said:

I played my first full game a few days ago and scored a fairly lopsided win.  Part of this was due to misreading the game rules (e.g., jump troop suppression mistakes) but the biggest factor, by far, seemed to be the fact that I won initiative four times in a row - despite rolling less dice than my opponent every time.

As others have stated you rolling less dice by having less units will give you an advantage in gaining initiative - this is meant to help balance out you have less units available to spread your orders in between and your army is easier to supress as you have less units.

Marximus said:

At the end of the game turn, all units remove any reaction markers.  As such, no units start with reaction markers and all may take two actions during the unit phase - at least in theory.  In practice, the side winning initiative will always have the benefit of taking two actions.  The side going second now has a choice - react and lose one action in their unit phase or do nothing and allow the side with initiative the advantage of an unopposed first attack or maneuver.  Meanwhile, the side with initiative can react with impunity during their opponent's unit phase, knowing that all reaction markers will be removed at the end of the game turn.  Thus, in practice, it seems that the side with initiative not only gets the advantage of first move but also gets an extra action.

Your theory is true except for the fact that the game is designed around the Command phase where the player can use the orders they have successfully rolled for, if you have won the initiative you have rolled less orders therefore while you are going first you have less orders available in the command phase.  This is your main balancing feature for initiative I have seen during my games.

Take two forces, one allied one axis, each has a hero commanding it and has a total of 5 units so has a pool of 6 dice each turn.  Allied player rolls 1 success and the Axis rolls 3, Allied player has Initiative and 1 order, Axis player is responding and has 3.

The Allied player has first choice on where to spend their 1 order during the order phase, if they chose a take action they are gaining a reaction marker on the unit that takes action but they can use that action to damage and supress the axis forces.  The Axis now have a tactical advantage in their order phase as they A. Know the Allies have no orders coming that can cause supression and B. Know that this is their best chance to hit the allies without reactions and cause supression before the allies can use their '2 actions in the unit phase'

Why is causing supression so vital?  Well it reduces the number of actions a unit can take by 1 like a reaction marker but it can stack it's effects with a reaction marker, so say your allied player uses their initiative to activate a BBQ squad to move it into range without provoking a reaction from the axis player, the axis player now has the option to use their orders to put supression markers on that unit (Even if they dont damage it because of cover & saves) this reducing the available actions of the unit to 0 unless they roll off the supression.

So to answer your query there is (in my opinion) an advantage to going both first and second and looking at the rulebook Andy Chambers believes the same thing (For a prime example of this philosphy look at the pictures and text on page 29)  There are advantages to having the initiative, there are also advantages to not having it.  Other advantages to going second include using the Regroup order to remove all supression markers off your unit after they have attacked it thus gaining the opponent a Reaction marker from making a Take Action order and you not gaining a supression OR Reaction marker from the regroup order. 

In the end if your clever you can make the most out of either going first or second.  And if you build your army right you can focus on holding the initiative every turn (few, expensive resiliant units) getting the most orders (lots of units) or if you are cheesy lots of orders and initiative - 2 platoons each with a command section (2 free orders) with Black ops Bazooka Joe (1 Free Order for him and his unit) and 1 minimum order if you roll 0 orders you can get enough orders for every unit and fill up 300 points with 4 or 5 rolls a turn - getting the best of both worlds at a cost of limited choices.

Hope that helps!

 - End of Line -



#6 felkor

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 12:37 PM

Even if you have 2 command squads, you still only get 1 free order in the Command Phase.  It doesn't stack.



#7 Shadow4ce

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 12:56 PM

felkor said:

 

Even if you have 2 command squads, you still only get 1 free order in the Command Phase.  It doesn't stack.

 

 

Yep, good catch. Command Squad Special Ability, page 54…

"A force that includes one or more units with the Command Squad special ability in play may issue one additional order in the Command phase."

It's the, "one or more" part that delineates it. 



#8 McPherson

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:58 PM

felkor said:

Even if you have 2 command squads, you still only get 1 free order in the Command Phase.  It doesn't stack.

 

Thank you for catching that - its the price I pay for typing that out at midnight :P

 - End of Line -



#9 Marximus

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 03:02 AM

Thanks for all the feedback and advice.  I plan to get a few games in this week and will try paying more attention to the command phase.  Neither of us used the regroup order during the game so I will be interested to see its impact in our next game.



#10 Major Malfunction

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 03:22 AM

Marximus said:

I played my first full game a few days ago and scored a fairly lopsided win.  Part of this was due to misreading the game rules (e.g., jump troop suppression mistakes) but the biggest factor, by far, seemed to be the fact that I won initiative four times in a row - despite rolling less dice than my opponent every time.

You should be winning if you are rolling less dice… the player with the fewest hits wins.

Marximus said:

After our first game we discussed the idea of distinguishing more between command markers, reaction markers and suppression markers.  As it now stand, any of these markers on a unit reduces one action during the unit phase.  Our idea was to provide that a reaction marker did not reduce the number of actions available during the unit phase.  Every unit could react once per game turn unless suppressed.   That way, the side going second could react during the first player's unit phase and still take two actions in his own unit phase.  Of course the number of actions in the unit phase would still be reduced if the unit was suppressed or issued an order during the command phase.  In this way, both sides would remain more or less equal and the initiative advantage reduced.

I believe the intended balancing factor to getting more reactions is the fact that the player that didn't win initiative is getting more orders… sometimes a LOT more. It's possible to see 14+ units in 300 point games, and the player rolling higher can perform those orders with no reactions allowed by the enemy! At medium range (12-16 inches) this can result in a firestorm of epic proportions between shooting orders and activation shooting piled on top.

Keep playing. You will see strategies emerge such as holding orders to keep reactions or castling up to magnify reactions.



#11 icevvind

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 04:34 AM

Hi there,

I got a question based on some of the replies above. A platoon with one or more command squads gots one addional order per command phase, and the core rulebook sais in page 30 that "Each player may issue a number of Orders equal to the number of hits he rolled in the Initiative phase (with a minimum of one)." So, if i roll 6 dice and none hits, do i still got 2 orders? I mean, a minimum of one plus one extra for the command squad?

 

Thanks in advance



#12 blkdymnd

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 05:08 AM

icevvind said:

Hi there,

I got a question based on some of the replies above. A platoon with one or more command squads gots one addional order per command phase, and the core rulebook sais in page 30 that "Each player may issue a number of Orders equal to the number of hits he rolled in the Initiative phase (with a minimum of one)." So, if i roll 6 dice and none hits, do i still got 2 orders? I mean, a minimum of one plus one extra for the command squad?

 

Thanks in advance

Correct



#13 bsantucci

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 05:11 AM

I have played many games. I do not find gaining the initiative makes that much difference. If you do make a reaction in opponent's  half of the turn, you only get one action in your half.






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