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Going First Advantage


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#1 Trasvi

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 03:54 PM

 I've been trying to get other people at my game club into Dust Warfare. I have both the original and the revised core sets and a few extras, so quite a few models, and I've played about 10 games of it so far.

One thing that has been coming up that has been turning people off is the incredible advantage of going first, especially multiple times in a row.

I understand that the idea is that the reacting player uses his extra commands to remove/place suppression, but in the games that I've been playing the ranges involved have been such that the reacting player generally has very little in range to do this. Short range units like the BBQ squad seem especially disadvantaged by this. The last three games I won initiative every single turn, even when rolling 6 dice to 1, which led to me slaughtering my opponents.

Obviously everyone else is subject to the same phenomenon. How do you counter it so that the reacting player has a fighting chance? What kind of strategies can I use or teach to overcome going second?



#2 blkdymnd

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 04:38 PM

 You must just have some weird dice luck, because there is only a slight advantage in going first. Here is why:

If you are going first, you have less overall orders in the command phase.  So say I have 8 units and you have 10.  I roll 4 hits and you have 6.  I go first with my 4 orders.  I can freely do one action with no reaction from you.  Maybe I suppress a coup,e of your units, a casualty or 3.  Now it's your command phase.  You now have 6 orders that I can do nothing against.  Odds are you're going to suppress more than I did.  So when it comes to the unit phase, I might actually be at the disadvantage because I probably have units that can't perform an action due to reaction markers from the command phase and suppression from your command phase.  And those that I can now activate, you're getting the first reaction against.  Whe it finally comes to your unit phase, I get the final reactions, but may not be able to do that with much by this point.

The whole system is well balanced to do 2 things.  A. Since he who rolls the least hits is the acting player, it gives the underdog a fighting chance to act first.  And B. it balances out because the 2nd player usually gets to act with overall more units in general.



#3 Trasvi

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 07:47 PM

 The way we found it working is that the initiating player was in a very good position most of the time to do both actions and a reaction.

If the reacting player took full advantage of all his commands, the best he could hope to do was to put suppression markers on a handful of units, and end up with a lot of reaction markers. The initiating player could take very few commands, attempt to shake suppression, and act with impunity as most enemy units already have reaction. The reacting player then has suppression and reaction on many units. Even if their units shake suppression, the initiating player can still react with no penalty as reaction markers are then immediately removed. 

 



#4 Shadow4ce

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:41 PM

Trasvi said:

 

 The way we found it working is that the initiating player was in a very good position most of the time to do both actions and a reaction.

If the reacting player took full advantage of all his commands, the best he could hope to do was to put suppression markers on a handful of units, and end up with a lot of reaction markers. The initiating player could take very few commands, attempt to shake suppression, and act with impunity as most enemy units already have reaction. The reacting player then has suppression and reaction on many units. Even if their units shake suppression, the initiating player can still react with no penalty as reaction markers are then immediately removed. 

 

 

 

I followed your logic (albeit situational how much I agree with all of it - as the reacting player doesn't have to issue orders, and if I'm that player and my opponent doesn't issue any, I usually don't either unless I need to suppress something, like say jump troops which I can't react to their movement anyway), until your last sentence. I have know idea what you're talking about there, as reaction markers aren't removed until after both players' Unit Phases are complete. 



#5 Trasvi

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 01:02 AM

Shadow4ce said:

I followed your logic (albeit situational how much I agree with all of it - as the reacting player doesn't have to issue orders, and if I'm that player and my opponent doesn't issue any, I usually don't either unless I need to suppress something, like say jump troops which I can't react to their movement anyway), until your last sentence. I have know idea what you're talking about there, as reaction markers aren't removed until after both players' Unit Phases are complete. 

You're right, I misspoke. But there is a much much lower penalty for the initiating player to react at the bottom of the unit phase, than for the responding player to react at the top of the unit phase. For the initiating player to react, this only stops him from reacting again later (and often he won't have an opportunity to react anyway, so it's no loss at all). For the responding player to react, this lessens his actions in the unit phase.

When you're the responding player, and you don't issue orders in the command phase, how do you overcome the advantage that the initiating player gets in being able to possibly take 2 actions and a reaction per turn?



#6 Trasvi

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 01:41 AM

 -- Just to clarify: I'm genuinely interested in whether other people find this a problem/to what extent, and/or if it can be overcome by using various tactics. The principal issue is that in the last few demo games I've run, one player has won initiative for nearly the entire game and used this advantage to win significantly, to the extent where both players remarked that it seemed unfair. This is hampering me from getting more people playing, and I do want to fix that.



#7 Shadow4ce

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:40 AM

Winning initiative is strong in this game. We can all agree on this I believe. 

 Winning initiative more than three times in a row is insanely lucky. Three times is very lucky. Usually, the amount of dice rolled as you start to annihilate your opponent shifts the initiative to them. Then they can roll you. 

Heres how I mitigate losing initiative, separated by phases…

Initiative Phase: First of all, I tend to not leave anyone hanging in the open at the end of a turn, unless they played a crucial role in eliminating a, "must die now" enemy unit, or they are, "juicy bait" next turn.

Command Phase:  If we both rolled high, chances are my opponent will issue a few commands, and those units, while getting an alpha move or strike, will not be a reactionary threat, and might very possibly be in the open. I'll give commands to shoot whatever I can in this instance, hopefully crippling his unit phase assault plans, but I'll leave units able to react near units I've issued commands to.  Now, if we both roll low, and my opponent doesn't issue many commands, I'll only shoot targets I think I can wound, and I'll issue regroup orders where I feel it is necessary, quite possibly undoing some of my opponents shoot commands, leaving him the choice to shoot and suppress them again, or brave his assault vs guys who can still react.

Unit Phase: I'll probably have a fair number of units which are suppressed if my opponent did their job right. However, the fact I lost initiative usually means I had more units to begin with, which means I probably have a fair number of units free and clear. I'll start by shooting my long range stuff, snipers, Artillery, Walkers, and kill/suppress whatever I want to assault. Then I'll attack with impunity, knowing my opponent can't react with the units I want to kill. If my dice betrayed me, and I didn't get the needed suppression, I'll hunker down and just shoot from cover with whatever I have vs whatever I can hit. 

Now, as far as someone getting lucky several times in a row, especially if they outnumber me, I get in touch with my inner Sherman, proclaim, "War is Hell" then play another game. Luck happens in real combat too. Sometimes it's for you, sometimes not. 

In all the demos I've done, only one game went brutally against anyone, and the player who lost is still playing. The player who won, didn't like the game for the very reason you postulate. There will be games that go that way. However, I've now played this game well over 60-70 times. I can only remember about 5-6 (less than 10%) where the outcome was one-sided from the early game to the end (turn 2 on). At least half of those were one player making critical mistakes at a very bad time, 25% were lost in list building (bringing superman to their opponent's kryptonite). Another 10% was due to dice failure on attacks on one side and/or fire dice on the other side (e.g., my opponent's Rhino & Hammers rolling 8 hits in an attack when hits = misses vs my Ludwig once was hilarious to me, devestating to him). I've only played in or witnessed 2 games where initiative was won by one player on every crucial turn which lead to that player's victory. 

In the vast majority of games I've played or watched, the initiative mechanic, combined with good tactics, caused the games momentum to shift back and forth enough to where the clear winner couldn't be accurately determined until the last round or two. Which makes this one of the most balanced games I've played in 34 years of miniature gaming. 



#8 scott242

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:13 AM

One thing to keep in mind: If your opponent goes first in command and tries to suppress a bunch of your stuff, the second player can make great use of regroup orders .  Since you're going second, you have more orders-may as well use some regroup orders to deal with incoming suppression from this phase.  No reaction marker penalty for regroup order, if I'm not mistaken.  To put it more briefly: They'll probably spend more orders suppressing you than you will clearing that suppression…so in this situation, they end up with a handful of reaction markers and you end up clean.

The real advantage is going first in unit phase and having an extra shot at reactions during your turn.  Opponent may avoid issuing orders in command phase so that they can keep their guys open to the extra reaction in your unit phase.  If this is the case, I'll use attack orders to try to prevent later reactions from the most dangerous stuff and reposition defensively, rather than charging into something's reaction zone.

I've always seen going second in the unit phase as the time to get your guys where they need to be rather than trying to attack.  Especially if you have a mobile force, being able to react to your opponent's positioning and get set up for the next time around is huge.

Of course this all falls apart if you're already in close range with everything, but by that point you really should have a plan anyway…



#9 Craig in NH

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:29 AM

I honestly haven't run into this problem myself, as math seems to have just worked out in all my demo games, but I can see where it would  be an issue if one player, against all odds, kept winning initiative over and over again.

Maybe the old LOTRs Initiative rule, where ties go to the guy who lost last turn, would be enough of a curve breaker? It would be a shame to mess around with the whole process further, as I (and I think most fans of the game) really think the entire command and reaction interplay is where the game shines . . .



#10 Guest_Not In Sample_*

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 10:07 AM

I have never seen it as much of a problem. Even with one side getting an unusual amount of initiative wins, the games are still usually close and  come down to who played their hand best. The game is usually won in terrain placement and the battle builder more than who goes first, IMO. The problem is that people see one player winning every time against another and try to find a game imbalance to be the reason… the problem is that the person wins everytime because they are just a better tactician and this game rewards high level tactics. I don't come close to to winning first turn every time or all game long, but it has been a very very long time since I have suffered a defeat… and I use different lists every time I play. My other buddies split most of their games taking turns winning. Going first is an advantage for a good player… an advantage that should swing to the other player once his units start dying…. if he's a good player, he now has that advantage…. this advantage can be negated by the reactive player with good tactics though and so the better tactician wins most of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#11 jb11

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:01 AM

The reaction rules seem to really benefit the player going first:

  • Your reaction markers are removed at the end of the turn meaning you don't lose an action if you react.  When the responding player reacts they lose an action - meaning they get 2 actions: the reaction and then the one they have left in their turn.
  • The initiating player's units will already have had their turn: this means you will often get 3 actions: the two during your turn and then a reaction to your opponent.

The only reason I can think not to react if your are the initiating player is you might get a juicier target later.

This combined with the i go you go mechanic seems to put a lot of weight to that initiative roll.



#12 blkdymnd

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 04:24 AM

jb11 said:

The reaction rules seem to really benefit the player going first:

  • Your reaction markers are removed at the end of the turn meaning you don't lose an action if you react.  When the responding player reacts they lose an action - meaning they get 2 actions: the reaction and then the one they have left in their turn.
  • The initiating player's units will already have had their turn: this means you will often get 3 actions: the two during your turn and then a reaction to your opponent.

The only reason I can think not to react if your are the initiating player is you might get a juicier target later.

This combined with the i go you go mechanic seems to put a lot of weight to that initiative roll.

Suppression is the great equalizer.  



#13 Guest_Not In Sample_*

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:32 AM

The going first advantage is usually amplified when the players are new to the game. Inexperienced players tend to be affected by this part of the game mechanics more than veteran players. Another thing people not to have enough of is cover. There should be plenty of cover and only enough room for walkers to get into laneways and then only in certain laneways… there should always be areas that walkers can't get into (unless they have jump) because of impassable objects, etc. Can there be an advantage going first… certainly. Should it be a problem… not really. As others have said, you shouldn't have it every turn. If you do its unlucky dice… In any dice game, dice can screw you… its just a reality. If you roll nothing but blanks all game long, who goes first wouldn't matter at all either since you would lose because the dice screwed you. It happens. Personally, there are time when I prefer to go second. Like when I am playing allies with an air drop themed list. In this situation I will have all my units dug into cover and I'm praying to lose initiative. You go first, don't do much because I'm using the terrain properly and then on my turn I am free to air drop my units because I don't have to worry about you going right after I drop them and killing them all. Now I have extra units on the table and more dice to throw so odds are, I will go first now and I can take advantage of the air droppers a little better since this turn they can act. If you end up going first, at least now they can react.

You have more orders as the reactive player. For newer player this doesn't balance out the iniatiating players advantages because, well, they are new players. The command phase is a devastating phase for the player that knows how to co-ordinate his forces, who doesn't treat every unit as a seperate entitiy, and for who plans ahead and looks further than just what can these particular guys do to those particular guys. Regroup orders, special orders like "take charge" and "for the motherland" can make your command phase game changing events. Its easy to get units like BBQ squad into range. If you are allies you have transports, air drops, smoke screens and piggy back tactics… you have 16 point recon boys with 16" guns to shield your short range stuff, you have jumping walkers, etc. If you are axis, you have blitzkrieg orders, assault zombies and gorillas that can't be suppressed, gorillas that can take orders anywhere, the same cheap 16" recon troop shields, the same piggy back techniwues, etc. SSU has even cheaper meat shields, super fast moving choppers, walkers that shield walkers that carry units on them, commisars that are spread over the army giving units assault, badass, and an extra gun and wound, etc, etc,etc.

There is only so much you can do from outside of 12" range, once you get inside that you give up reactions. While to newer players, the initiating player will get to react more, if the responding player reads the table right and puts his efforts in the command phase in the right places, they will be able to suppress the units that can hurt them the most in the unit phase, etc, making the advantage for going first a much smaller advantage than it is when you first start playing the game. There is still an advantage to going first, it just won't be as big as an advantage the more experience you get with the game. And unless the dice are just being cruel, its an advantage that you will have as well. If you do well in the battle builder and terrain placement and deployment steps of the game (which have a lot less to do with the dice) then you will be in a better position to weather those couple unlucky turns where the dice betray you. In the end, if the dice just hate you all game, then there's nothing you can do about it. If you can't roll a hit or make a save all game, you will lose even if you go first each and every round… its the way of things. In the end, people get more turned off in the the learning steps of this game, just because its new to them and they want to be turned off. Everyone wants to believe that the games they have been playing already are the "good games". A 40k fanboy will look for reasons not to like the game…. a warmachine nut will look at this game and say the first player has too much of an advantage and go play a game of warmachine where the player that goes first wins 80 per cent of the time and say that warmachine is the most strategic game ever. Someone that loves Malifaux the most will talk about how his card based game is the greatest every time a dice roll happens that he doesn't like or that doesn't come out his way. Its the nature of gamers in general and many of us have been guilty of it at one time or another whether we think that we have or not.

I don't worry about convincing people that its a great game. They can try it and like it… or don't and go back to the game you think is better… I don't care anymore. It's too much effort to play salesman for new games. If the game is fun, peole will play it, if people play it, more people will play because there are a lot of sheep in wargaming circles so if everyone else is playing it, so will they. If you are having fun with warfare, that the major thing… if you are not having fun then there's no point in playing. I personally think its one the best games I have ever played and a game that plays close almost every time, often hinging on that one crucial moment where fortunes are won or lost… just like in the real world. The reality is a spectator can find fault in any game if they want to… no game is perfect, warfare included. We all have our biases. Someone can watch a game of warfare and call it unbalanced and then go play a game of 40k where only a handful of internet approved army lists even stand a chance of competitively winning and say "6th ed is soo amazing". Its all biased… just like after 15 years of GW games I am now biased against them, I read 6th ed 40k and thought, "what a bunch of recycled apocalypse and fantasy horsecrap"… I am also clearly biased as you can see.

 



#14 blkdymnd

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:56 AM

 ^^ what he said.  I agree on all points.  Get a bunch of games in and you'll see there's little advantage going first.



#15 Trasvi

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:42 PM

 Coming back to this after a few more games, and I'm beginning to see the light. I think the major thing was coming to Dust from a GW games perspective, where there is never really any sense of cooperative firepower between units. Now in Dust Warfare I say to everyone: "Suppression is REALLY IMPORTANT. More important than causing casualties." If someone screws up, I can say 'they should have had covering fire' or something similar.



#16 Zinger5656

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:56 AM

You can also try to fix initiative by your army list.  The more units you have on the table, the more dice you roll.  So having guys on reserve, or spending the right points on the battle builder for fubar for example limit the amount of dice rolled for initiative.  You can bring your units in slowly to roll less if you feel initiative is that important.  I do agree however, that it is not.  I've got a few games under my belt now, there are times that I want to go second.  In a game yesterday with MaverickG, I wanted to go 2nd so that once I moved Markus around to the side of a building to grab a key position in the last turn, Mav didnt have a turn to move and fire on him.



#17 Guest_Not In Sample_*

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 02:11 AM

This game is al about using your army in a coordinated way… if you are not, and you are using your army as a group of individual units, then you are swimming against the current every time. Its all about setting up control zones where if the person steps into this laneway they are facing reactive fire from these guys, these guys, those guy, this tank, or those guys. You are using co-ordinated fire to suppress and neutralize this unit so that you make a hole for your assault unit to jump through and bring the hammer down. You are pounding away with multiple units at that damage resilient heavy armour unit dug into hard cover with a hero attached for extra wounds not soo much so that you kill them but so that you heap on extra suppression on them so that, even with a hero, it is unlikely that they shake them off or so that they will not be able to react so that your assault unit can get into close range next with cover negating weapons and 15-20 dice and make them vanish. You are using units as shields for other units, you are playing piggyback and leap frog (since you are free to move soldier units through friendly soldier units) so that your troops move through their buddies and shoot and then their buddies move back in fron tof them and shoot and then they are shielding them from fire again. You are spreading out your command unit so that the medic can heal on the front and the mechanic can repair in the rear while using other soldier units, vehicles and terrain to keep half of the spread out command unit in cover from the enemy… you are setting up feints with units to provoke a reaction from the enemy and rob them of a later reaction to the real threat… you are doing all of these things and more and your opponent is doing the same and the game is just soo exhiliarating because of it. When two opponents really know what they are doing this game is phenomenal and when spectatators actually see the game for how it really is instead of through the eyes of another wargame, there is usually no going back. To quote Yoda, "You must unlearn what you have learned".

This game is easy to learn, you can usually have all the rules down by the 3rd turn of your first game for the most part. The depth comes later. The more you play, the more lightbulbs that go off, the more tactics you develop, the more tactical the game reveals itself to be, and the more awesome it becomes. Its very much like chess in one respect… you can know how all the pieces move around the board and technically know how to play chess…. but you still don't actually know how to play chess… you can know the rules of chess and think you know the game until you play that person that shows you that you never really knew the game at all. But you keep playing and learning and before long, you do know how to play chess.



#18 Shadow4ce

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 08:49 AM

 And that me boyos - Fire & Maneuver, is the whole key to this game, and why I love it so!  Experience with this game forces you to either effect real-world platoon-level tactics and enjoy yourself, or lose miserably constantly to those who do. 






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