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Zalamence
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Attacker and flags Tue, 07 November 2017 19:47
Imagine yourself securing a medal: lone, 1-figure infantry unit is just at your reach and you get to roll 3 dice. What's the worst that could happen? Three armor symbols? No. Usually the worst result is no hits and some flags that let the opponent freely move the unit to safety.

I think most of us are familiar with this event, having played as either the lucky retreater or the unlucky attacker (or both). Regardless of which side I happen to be on when this occurs, I feel unsatisfied by the outcome. So I started thinking about a variant.

From the base game rules:
Quote:

After all hits have been resolved and casualties removed, retreats are resolved. For each Flag rolled on the target unit, the unit must move one hex back toward its own side of the battlefield. Two flags push the unit back two hexes, etc.


A simple change would be that the attacker gets to decide which flags force retreat. If you roll a flag that spoils your turn you can choose not to take it into account and treat it as a miss.

What this does is that some randomness and risk in attacking is lost, and the player whose turn it is gets more power. It is of course a matter of taste if this change is good. But I think it could make the game more enjoyable; after all, a great deal of criticism against M44 is about how luck and randomness play so significant role.

In a separate thread, an issue was raised about artillery (or other type of) fire support being counterproductive when simultaneously advancing with infantry. Your support might accidentally stop your infantry taking ground by forcing the enemy to retreat, which thematically is a poor game mechanic. So by choosing which flags take effect you could ease taking vital hexes and optimising chances for armor overrun, for example.

What are your thoughts on the subject? More specifically, do you see any obvious downsides to this variant? Do you think the attacker should make the decision about treating flags as misses before rolling or after seeing the results? Is it too much if the attacker could choose to keep one flag but leave the rest, if any, without effect?
      
Major Duncan
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Re:Attacker and flags Wed, 08 November 2017 10:15
I see your point, and it is very annoying for the attacker, but I just see it as part of the random swirl of combat. A weak, reduced unit slipping away to fight another day.

It happened in a bizarre fashion to me last week in a game of Cadets of Saumur with my brother. He was assaulting the French left flank medal objective and an engineer had moved adjacent. I got a full three dice attack and scored 3 hits. Good start. My second three dice finale, wasn't; 1 miss and 2 flags. Not to mind, my artillery would finish him off with 2 more dice; 2 flags. A turn or two later I had another 1 dice artillery attack on the resilient engineer, and yes it was another flag to even take him out of range of the artillery!

I went on to win the battle, but the engineers survived, and were a talking point after the battle. And I imagine it will be one of those future 'Do you remember that lone engineer that survived 6 shots?' moment. Those weird sort of things just happen now and again.

Giving the choice of retreat to the attacker is decidedly not historical. Under fire it is the defender who makes that involuntary decision due to a loss of morale. I see your point regarding a pre-attack barrage. In that case I can see some merit in allowing the attacker to ignore retreats, but only if the hex is to be subsequently closed assaulted. Troops tend to dive for/stay in cover during a bombardment. I try to avoid this by saving my artillery for last as it can normally fire on the unit if it has been retreated. But I agree that this doesn't feel right; assaulting first and them firing supporting artillery.

[Updated on: Wed, 08 November 2017 10:16]

      
JJAZ
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Re:Attacker and flags Wed, 08 November 2017 17:59
Many things could be said about the mechanics of troops and flags rolled on units.

I personally like the game as it is as you point out sometimes it favours you sometimes not.

If I would mention 1 thing however , it would be artillery or big guns in bunkers firing horizontal or backwards, if you ever have seen a bunker like that it has mainly a smaller radius to fire then a 360 degrees radius.

Often units that get behind artillery in bunkers on a way to a possible objective get pecked away, now that is a shame isn't it Razz
      
Major Duncan
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Re:Attacker and flags Wed, 08 November 2017 18:45
And on the issue of artillery and bunkers, it annoys me that troops in bunkers are as vulnerable to artillery as anywhere else. The simple 'artillery suffers no terrain penalties' sort of works everywhere else, but I think bunkers should get at least a 1 dice benefit, but not below 1 combat die.
      
Jon Washington
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Re:Attacker and flags Wed, 08 November 2017 19:52
In real life, both sides would be rolling combat dice. The defenders aren't just standing there getting shot at. So to make it war-accurate, both sides should be rolling dice with the only advantage for the attacker being a surprise.

In the current rules, the attacker has all the advantage. The attacker even "decides" when the defender retreats. I think your rules would give even more advantage to the attacker. "No you can't retreat into the woods now and here comes another attack."

There is so much about the game mechanics that is not historically accurate but, to me, that what makes it a fun game and not a reenactment.

      
Major Duncan
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Re:Attacker and flags Thu, 09 November 2017 10:22
Jon Washington wrote on Wed, 08 November 2017 18:52


There is so much about the game mechanics that is not historically accurate but, to me, that what makes it a fun game and not a reenactment.


Totally agree, but it is interesting to me how well this game creates the historical feel and results of an engagement. In my recent game of Cadets of Saumur the Germans tried to battle over the river all game (all day historically) and lost. The French were on the brink of defeat, as they were historically, but they held for that 'day'.

I remember playing and loving Squad leader many years ago. It was a far more complicated game, but many a reviewer told me that although the game mechanics gave a good impression of the actions they were totally inaccurate in reality. Design for effect they called it, and I thought, boy some effect! and kept playing. I feel much the same way about M44.
      
Zalamence
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Re:Attacker and flags Thu, 09 November 2017 19:21
As a general note, I didn't bring this up to make the game more historically accurate, but more enjoyable.

I play according to the official rules, but I still like to think which things could be improved. You have already raised some good points. One thing I find strange is that minefields do not affect retreating units but frozen rivers do.
      
Major Duncan
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Re:Attacker and flags Thu, 09 November 2017 19:41
Zalamence wrote on Thu, 09 November 2017 18:21

As a general note, I didn't bring this up to make the game more historically accurate, but more enjoyable.

I play according to the official rules, but I still like to think which things could be improved. You have already raised some good points. One thing I find strange is that minefields do not affect retreating units but frozen rivers do.


Not for the defender!

Official rules work fine, but I play with a few simple house rules.

Yeah, minefield retreat is odd. I don't see why the unit can't just retreat through them, taking damage as they go. I mean the minefield is there, but don't get me onto the "when is a minefield not a minefield debate again!" A normal unit advancing would be taking care, hence the move no further rule, but a retreating unit is not so picky, but isn't penalized.
      
Zalamence
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Re:Attacker and flags Fri, 10 November 2017 20:19
I still think (even playing the defender) that having some lone weak unit escape just because someone rolled extremely unfitting result is not fun. Don't you think it's cheap when some player carefully sets up for an assault and basically "wastes" the turn due to retreating enemies? I like winning, sure, but it certainly feels better if the win was about superior strategy and sound tactical decisions.
      
Jon Washington
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Re:Attacker and flags Fri, 10 November 2017 21:40
Sounds like you need a house rule where you roll twice on weak units or weak units don't retreat? Maybe play a game that isn't driven by dice? I don't mean that as snark. In this game, superior strategy only gives you an opportunity, the dice decide.

I will agree that a weak unit getting to run and hide behind some trees when you don't have another section card to continue the pounding is frustrating. Smile
      
5 star general
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Re:Attacker and flags Sat, 11 November 2017 19:03
Look at it this way, the defending commander seeing the superior forces, orders his unit to retreat, which shows up in the dice roll.
      
Major Duncan
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Re:Attacker and flags Sun, 12 November 2017 17:18
I think zalamence gets the mechanic of what's going on; he just doesn't like it. I can understand that. When something in a game really detracts from my enjoyment of it I just houserule myself happy. Minor annoyances I live with.
      
Zalamence
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Re:Attacker and flags Sun, 12 November 2017 19:11
Yes, definitely. I posted to suggest a fix to an issue. But if you don't think there's anything to fix, it's not surprising to find little traction. I suppose I should still give it a try in some game and see if something unexpected comes up.

[Updated on: Sun, 12 November 2017 19:11]

      
Zalamence
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Re:Attacker and flags Tue, 14 November 2017 19:23
Somewhat relatedly, here's a list of factors that affect retreating:

1. Lots of terrain types block retreats, either because they are impassable or movement by retreat is unallowed. (examples: escarpments, ocean) Units on baseline or in some cases at the borders of the map cannot retreat.
2. Friendly and enemy units block retreats.
3. Lots of terrain types allow the unit to ignore the first flag of a roll.
4. Some terrain types allow the unit to ignore all flags.
5. Flags from Air Power and Barrage cannot be ignored.
6. Some special units may retreat 1-3 hexes per flag. Also, some special units can ignore the first flag.
7. Japanese infantry must ignore the first flag, and in some cases more than the first flag.
8. Combat cards can keep the unit from retreating, even when flags may not be ignored.
9. Nebelwerfer may fire incendiary rounds that may not be ignored.
10. Flags from Flame Thrower Tanks under certain conditions may not be ignored.

I bet I didn't remember every factor; Air Rules probably have some addition. I think it's interesting that some more recent units have bonus power in forcing the enemy out, whereas the classical bonuses centered around added choices in retreats (i.e. greater number of hexes to retreat to, or the choice between retreating or not)
      
    
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