Friday, March 31, 2017

BattleTech: Defense of David Rules

It was a good thing that I forgot some details as the campaign needed a lot more work to make it playable. There are still a few things behind the scenes that needs to get done before we can start but now the framework is done. I will not be posting our full roster until the end of the campaign. The reason for this is when we ironed out the rules, we made the campaign secret. I will get into how this work in a bit. I will be repeating some of the stuff that was in the Introduction. I want all the rules to be in one place and some of the rules have slightly change or have been clarified. In any case, here are the rules:

This campaign is a fight between Draconis Combine and Federated Suns. Each side will get 55,000 battle value points to build their force. Both sides will also get 36 million C-Bills for supplies and repairs. Each point of BV not used will be converted into 10,000 additional C-Bills. The Federated Suns will have to split their force and C-Bills into two; a planetary defense force and a relief force that is on its way to the planet. The Federated Suns can split their force and money in any way they want, it doesn't have to be 50/50 and the Draconis Combine will have no idea what the split is. Both sides force is further divided on the map into elements referred to as Lances which will be 4 mechs, 4 combat vehicles or 4 of any combination of the two. The map will show the movements of Lances on both sides.

Time in the campaign is track by strategic turns which is one day. At the start of each strategic turns except the first, Federated Suns rolls a d20, adding that value to the reinforcement running count. When the reinforcement count reach 100, the relief force has jump into the system and will make planet fall in 12 days. At that time the Federated Suns will have access to both forces and C-Bill totals, and it will now count as one force. Each player may give each of their Lances a single order per strategic turn. A Strategic Move is the amount of distance the Lance can move at the rate of its slowest member. The following are the types of orders that can be given to a Lance:

Fight/Scout - Can move up to its strategic movement to engage a fight. The type of order given will affect the type of battle and win conditions. Also if a side wins while given a Scout order, they get to see the stats of the enemy involved in that fight.
Defend - Can not move but will get a bonus to initiative if engaged.
Repair - Can not move but will get to spend C-Bills to repair, reload and upgrade vehicles in the Lance.
Move - Can move up to 2 times its strategic movement.
Fast Move - Can move up to 3 times its strategic movement, can't move next turn.
Dropship Move - Lances can load up into a drop ship and move into a new hex. This takes 2 turns unless you control the space port in which case it takes a single turn. Draconis Combine have 3 Leopards(dropships), Federated Suns have nothing until the relief force arrive. When that happens Federate Suns will get access to an Union dropship.

The orders for each Lances will be written down in secret and revealed simultaneously.

This is a hex map based campaign using a single continent the length of about 8,000 km. A strategic movement is calculated by how many hexes the slowest vehicle can cross in an eight hour period. Both sides has a HQ base that will allow them to do full repairs and supplies anywhere on the map. If this base is captured by the enemy, then half of the C-Bill stock is lost and that side will only be able to do field repairs. The location of these bases will be chosen right before the campaign starts. The Federated Suns based will be hidden, meaning the Draconis Combine will not know where it is. When the relief force arrive, the Union dropship will act as a second base for Federated Suns. In addition, Federated Suns can setup other hidden bases if they wish. These other hidden bases will be locations where one or more Lances are waiting to spring a trap for a Drcaonis Combine unexpecting force to walk into. There are three other key locations on the map besides the 2 HQ bases. The spaceport which allows a Dropship Move order to be perform in a single turn and two factories. If a side controls a factory then they will receive a 20% discount on the C-bill cost of repairs and supplies, and their mechanics get a 20% bonus on time to finish the work. If one side controls both factories then the bonus increases to 30%.

One side will achieve victory if they can drop their opponent down to 20% of their starting battle value amount. For Federated Suns this is 20% of the planetary force until the relief force arrives in which case it becomes 20% of the combine force. This includes any mech or combat vehicle that can still function in some capacity as well as captured enemy mechs and vehicles.

Other Tidbits -

Any time Federated Suns is the defender, they will get for free three 28-man infantry platoons.

Tech teams can provide 8 hours of work per day. Each Lance has 2 tech teams assign to them. These are the numbers we will used to look up how long it takes for repairs and refits to happen.

Injured pilots can heal 1 point of damage after 2 days of non-combat rest due to the medical teams both sides have access to. Non-combat orders are Move, Repair, Fast Move and Dropship Move, and they don't get engaged by the enemy.

And finally the map itself:

Dots are cities, S is the Spaceport, I are Industrial Cities(which is where the factories are), - are badlands, T are forests, blue lines are rivers, ^ are mountains, curve lines are hills and blank areas are plains. Each hex is equal to 300 mapsheets across.

And that are the rules of our campaign. I still need to make my list and a few questions has come up recently that needs to be resolved. All that should be done quickly and the campaign can begin. Any changes or additions to the rules will be put on the nexus page which will go up sometime next month. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top 10 Differences Between Flames of War 4th and Team Yankee

Version 4 of Flames of War is finally here. A quick scan of the new rules tells me that Battlefront has adapted the Team Yankee rule set into the newest edition of Flames of War. Which is fine by me as I think the Team Yankee rules are easier to learn and use. Cause overall they are both essentially the same rule set, might as well go with the simpler version of the two. Taking a closer look at the rules however, I notice while Version 4 Flames of Wars has the same framework of Team Yankee, there were some easy to miss significant differences. I thought I would make my top 10 rule differences between Team Yankee and Version 4 to help people get into the game. Also if you never played Team Yankee as a Flames of War player, hopefully this guide can still be useful to you as there is a sea of changes between Version 3 and Version 4.

#10. Mistaken Targets - If you never played Team Yankee then something new you need to get use to is that the shooter gets to assigns hits, with some restrictions. To balance out the attacker picking the juiciest targets allowed, the defender on a +3 may swap all the hits on two teams. At first glance Version 4 Mistaken Targets rule (beside being better written) looks identical to Team Yankee's. However, there is one additional restriction that isn't in Team Yankee. In Version 4, hits can only be swap once! I'm not entirely sure how much this will make a difference. I need to see it in action and take some time theorycrafting to really understand what this change means. But in the mean time keep this difference in mind.

#9. Aircraft Spotting - Aircraft is very different in Version 4, if you haven't played Team Yankee. They now behave mostly like other units. A Team Yankee player will be used to the aircraft rules. Something that can be easily missed is that ground units can not spot for aircraft's artillery and vice verse. It makes sense in that communication between the ground and aircraft was probably very limited in World War 2.

#8. Repeating Bombardment - A couple things a Version 3 player needs to know about artillery is that staff teams is no longer used and the spotter picks a point on the board (not a unit) to be a target of the bombardment. There are three things different about doing repeating bombardment in Version 4 from Team Yankee. The first is that the spotter (who could be different from the one who did the initial bombardment) doesn't need line of sight to the aiming point!(there is a penalty for not having line of sight to the aiming point, but it doesn't stop the bombardment) Second, infantry and Gun Team hit by a repeat bombardment have to re-roll successful saves! Third, moving the artillery also removes the range in marker. This third one is something for a while I thought was in Team Yankee but its never mention in the actual rules. Version 4 on the other hand makes it loud and clear moving means losing the marker.

#7. Bombardment - To do a bombardment first you need a spotter, who does need to see the aiming point. The spotter can be a member of the artillery, Formation HQ or a specialist Observer. A Team Yankee player might notice the one thing not listed. Unit Commander! I know it will take me a while to get use to unit commanders not being able to spot for artillery. But that isn't the only change from Team Yankee. In Team Yankee spotters can only spot for a single artillery unit but there is no such restriction in Version 4. Spotters are still limited to 3 attempts but in Version 4, for example if they range in on the first attempt, the spotter can use their second and third attempts for a different artillery battery.

#6 Move Orders and Reserves - Not Team Yankee players will need to get use to movement order. They are a group of abilities that any unit can do and require a check to perform. One of these movement orders, Blitz move, has been extremely useful in Team Yankee for reserve units. It gave the possibility of move or shot units to arrive from reserves and still fire. This will not be an option in Version 4 because it block units from using movement orders until they are on the board.

#5 Reserves - How you pick what goes into reserves is completely difference from both Version 3 and Team Yankee. The rule in Version 4 is that no more than 60% of the agreed point total may be deployed on the table with the rest going into reserves. That means it no longer matters how many units you have in your list. In theory this should force closer to a 50/50 split between on the table and reserves. While this does prevent taking several cheap units to manipulate what goes into reserves, I'm not sure how much this will change stuff in actual games. I know it will change how people build some lists but beyond that I need to play a few games to see how this will truly affect the game.

#4 Commander Re-rolls - This would be a rare case that it would be better to have never played Team Yankee. Version 3 players are used to their HQ giving re-rolls. Team Yankee removed all those rules so its a little surprising to me to see that they are back. Failing to remounted bailed out tanks, rallying from pinned down or Last Stand Test can be re-rolled if the unit is within 6 inches of the commander (and line of sight to unit leader). Just when I was getting use to not worrying about when can I do re-rolls, its back.

#3 Starting Step - The Starting Step between Version 3 and Team Yankee is quite similar. However Version 4 is vastly different in many ways. First reserves is now before aircraft. Team Yankee has it the other way, which can frankly was mistake on the designers part and caused issues that had to be resolved in FAQs later. With reserves happening first, Version 4 no longer have those problems. A far more significant change is that the Formation more check has moved from the beginning like it is in Team Yankee and Version 3 to the middle of the Starting Step. This means you will have a chance to remount bailed out tanks, before dealing with the Formation morale. This rule change is quite beneficial to armor user. In Team Yankee, if you only had tank units in your formation and every tank was bailed out, you had to check whether you lost the game before you could remount. In Version 4, you roll for remount first and if you get enough success you no longer have to worry about auto losing.

#2 Last Stand Test - Both Team Yankee and Version 3 have a rule that the last remaining infantry team in an unit need to make a check every turn to stay in the game. Version 4 has greatly expanded on that concept. Now what triggers a morale check also triggers the Last Stand Test. For infantry that means they need to start taking Last Stand Test when reduce to 2 teams instead of one every turn. For tanks which are normally immune to this rule are now affected. Lone tanks now have to check every turn or get destroyed, unless they started the game as single team (or they are warriors). And still lone non warriors/non commanders tanks that are bailed out also have to take the Last Stand Test. Another thing to keep in mind is that when unit leaders died, you immediately pick a new one unless no one was within 6 inches of the leader. If that happens then the unit remains leaderless and until the unit leader is replace that unit will have to make Last Stand Test no matter how big the unit is. This is a huge change. All the different ways this one change can impact games is almost too many to count. I thought this was the biggest and most significant difference in Version 4, until I read ...

#1 Formation Morale - In Team Yankee you need at least a single unit that is apart of the Formation to be in Good Spirits for the Formation to be consider in Good Spirits. Version 4 requires 2 units instead of just one. If that wasn't bad enough, a Formation not in Good Spirits in Version 4 is auto destroyed! There is no roll from the commander to stay in! The only bright side to Version 4 is that looks at both units on the table and in reserves while Team Yankee only checks units on the table. So you won't auto lose because of reserves but once everything is on the table this will end games much faster than either Team Yankee or Version 3 did.

If you are a Version 3 player and do not know what Formation are, everything but your support platoons are in your Formation. Combat platoon, Weapon platoons and sometimes Regimental/Brigade Support comprise your Formation. If you never played Team Yankee, this is only a taste of the differences between Version 3 and Version 4. It will probably take sometime to get used to the vast differences.

I have only skimmed the rules but these are the 10 things I thought were by far the biggest changes from Team Yankee. Still I'm more excited to try Flames of War again now than I have been in quite a while. When I get some games in I can provide more detailed thoughts on Version 4. Until then, I hope this was helpful and thank you for reading.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Random Links - Manga, Claymore, Sisters of Battle and Shieldmaidens

Have you ever read or watch something that reminds you of something else, which in turn reminds you of something else, which in turn gives you an idea for something else entirely? I get that a lot. And over the weekend it happen again, starting with a manga One-Shot.

An One-Shot manga is a comic that either tries to tells a stand-alone short story or tries to raise interest in a new series that author wants to write. I know some of my favorite manga series started as an One-Shot like Berserk and Seven Deadly Sins. In both of these cases the One-Shot was not connect to the series but was very similar to what ended up being the first chapter of the series. I've recently read Arcadia of the Moonlight One-Shot and it seems to me to be more of the pleading its case to be a new series kind of One-Shot. Its a science fiction boy meets princess and decides to help her story. Cliche but manage to perk my interest so I would like to find out more. The plot was rushed but then again you don't have a lot of time in an One-Shot. I don't read a lot of manga anymore. The only reason I read Arcadia of the Moonlight was because it was by Norihiro Yagi. He wrote one of my favorite manga comics in Claymore.

Claymore is a dark fantasy series about its heroine, Clare out to get revenge on a powerful enemy. Clare is a Claymore, a term used by citizens of the country to refer to a supernatural warrior from the organization. Thought to be half-human, half demons these warriors are expert sword masters with supernatural strength, speed and a range of other powers. They earn their name from the fact each wields a large Claymore sword. The warriors of the organization are also all female. Their uniform is pretty simple with a grey/off white/silver color (I found a wiki that says the uniforms are grey but they look closer to an off white or silver to me). Yet it works for them. Reminiscing about my love for Claymore, I was suddenly reminded of another all-female organization.

Phil has been trying to drag me kicking and screaming back into the 40k universe. I hear a lot about the state of the 40k from him and what's new with his 40k armies. As much as I love Eldar and Blood Angels, it wasn't enough to bring me back to the game I started the hobby in. However Sisters of Battle is a different story. Getting to play Sisters of Battle again is probably the one way I consider going back to 40k. Phil knows this and has giving me all the rules I need to have to play them. Phil has also mention to me kill-team rules which is a way to play without having a full army. I still have what little of Sisters of Battle I own before I quit though none of it was ever completely painted. A compelling reason to at least look into kill teams is that I would have 20 to 30 models I can work on before I would need to spend money on 40k again. I started with a red and purple color scheme but since I never finished painting a single model, I could easily go with something different. Related to thinking about if and what to paint my Sisters as, I've also been thinking about colors for my fantasy Sisters like army in the Shieldmaidens. I need to paint the Cloud Giant in my New Year's purchase soon and I hadn't settle on the Shieldmaidens' color. I was leading towards a light green and purple but I wasn't really happy with that.

With Claymore, Sisters of Battle and Shieldmaidens all on my mind, it occurred to me that I could borrow Claymore's colors to solve my problems. 'Light green and silver' or 'purple and silver' looks better in my mind than 'green and purple'. I also solved a problem I hadn't gotten to yet with how I was going to handle rank and/or unit specialization (by unit specialization I'm talking about things like the Dominion Squad and Seraphim Squad in Sisters of Battle). I knew I was going to have one character with red in her outfit and she was going to be some type of officer. The red would be unique to her so how would I distinguish other officers? If I'm going to have special units or military branches within the Shieldmaidens, how will I distinguish them as well? The answer is to paint the entire army two colors with one being silver. The other color will depend on rank and special units. Silver will be the main color with the second color as highlights except for officers whom this will be reverse. Higher the rank, the less silver on their uniform. Sadly I only have two models to try this on and they both most likely officer characters. My Sisters of Battle models would be a good place to try out this color scheme on the average warrior.

I still have a lot to work on with my Shieldmaidens. I haven't decided whether to mirror them on an existing army or makeup my own force and fit something into it later. And of course there is the issue of finding models for them. Nevertheless some aspects of the Shieldmaidens are now resolved because I read a random One-Shot and my mind went into overdrive. Its funny how that works. Thanks for reading about the inter working of my thoughts. Until next time!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Topic of the Week - On Painting Miniatures

Topic of the Week is a question pose by Vince Venturella to the Warhammer Youtube community to encourage interesting discussions. The questions are sometimes Warhammer and/or Gamesworkshop specific while other times they are more general relating to the hobby itself. This week topic is the latter. The topic for this week is On Painting Miniatures. Vince ask "would you still paint miniatures if there was no game involve", "what is the value of painting to you", "is painting a choir" and "your feelings on pre-painted miniatures". I didn't think I would do a responds for this topic because I really hate painting. Still, after thinking about it I realize my answer is more complicated than that. So here is my written responds.

I'm going to start with the pre-painted miniatures part as my answer to it has change over my time in the hobby. I started the hobby with Warhammer 40k. I hated painting then as much as I do now, maybe more so. I really wish the 40k models were pre-painted at the time. I didn't have a lot of model and what I did have were either not painted or partly badly painted. Over time I develop a narrative for my forces. I've always enjoyed crafting stories and making one within the 40k universe help connect me to the game and to my miniatures. As I got a better picture of what my cast of characters look like, I got further away from a "default" look of 40k. It wasn't something I thought about at the time but if GW did come out with pre-painted miniature after I came up with my own narrative, I'm not sure I would want them anymore because they no longer fit into my story. When I move from 40k to fantasy, I had completely divorce my miniatures from the official setting. All honestly I didn't know Warhammer fantasy even HAD an official setting until years after I got into it. I kind of thought it was a make-up your own kind of setting. In any case, not only was I going with my own color scheme, in some cases I went with different miniatures and/or conversions. Examples of this is me swapping the traditional colors for the Chaos Gods because I want my favorite color to match my favorite Chaos God. Also I modified my Nurgle theme into more of a corrupting Nature. When my army is this unique and different from the "default" setting, pre-painted miniatures does me no good. Making miniatures my own is really important to me now and if I get into a new game, I would want to put my own twist on the models. This is why I have had very little interest into getting into the X-Wing game. Some settings are so big and important that the main reason to play the game is the setting itself. Ignoring the setting of Warhammer to me is one thing, trying to do that with Star Wars doesn't feel right. I love Star Wars but if I'm putting my limited funds into a miniature game, I want to play something that feels right crafting my story. So that's why when I started the hobby I really want to buy pre-painted models but now I avoid games that has them.

On the main topic, would I still paint if there was no game involved? That depends if that includes games I make up. I always thought I would be playing miniature games at some point in my life. Before I learn about Warhammer 40k I thought I would have to make the game myself and somehow find pieces for it. Now that I think about it, there is no way I can divorce the game from the miniatures because if these types of models were out there, I would develop a game for them if one didn't already exist. It would have taken me longer to get into the hobby but I think I would eventually find my home here. I do not enjoy painting at all. I do enjoy seeing my story come to life on the table. Despite my lack of enjoying painting, I have notice my painting skills have gotten better over the years. This is really surprising to me as I paint so irregular and infrequent. I do spend a lot of time thinking about painting in terms of what colors I should use for certain units and in general what colors I see walking around that I would like to use on a model. The most common example of this is seeing a car drive by me with a unique color scheme and I'm trying to imagine what would an unit of knights with that color for their armor look like? I'm not trying nor have any desire to be a better painter. Instead it is a by product of trying to get my vision on the table.

One of my goals for this year is to paint more often. It is not an easy goal for me to achieve given how much I dislike painting itself. Yet so much of what I want to accomplish is reliant on me getting a lot of painting done. And that I think pretty much sums up my relationship with painting. Thanks for reading.

Topic of the Week link -

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Team Yankee Tactics: Encounter

I recently played a game with the Encounter mission. Our game ended disappointingly suddenly with the destruction of the Soviets force along with Tracy's lack of ability to get any reserves in. He was extra frustrated because his previous game had the same mission and ended in a similar way. We both had new test lists and were sad that the game ended before we got a chance to get a feel for our lists. At least that what I thought at the time. Thinking back on it, I think I did learn something about my list. However, more important I think I learn the Encounter mission is far trickier than it appears and I though up some advice to think about when playing that mission. I just want to say that I will be using examples of what I think Tracy did wrong in our game. I'm not trying to insult his playing. In fact I would have probably behave in the same way. It was only after witnessing the game going very wrong and contemplating on it that I came up with these ideas.

The first thing I need to tackle is the elephant in the room when dealing with a lot of this missions, list building. Tracy said next time we should just play a game with everything on table so we can properly test out our list. At the time I agree with him but now I think that is the wrong way of thinking about it. 7 out of the 9 Expanded Missions has at least one player dealing with reserves. Reserves is very much a big part of the game and if your list has troubles with reserves then its not a good list. Up until now I only thought about reserves in how many units I have in my list (and by default, how many units need to go into reserves). I now know that I need to put far more thought into how my list deals with reserves. Neither of us had very reserve friendly list as we both struggled with deciding with what to have on the table and what to put into reserves. Here are the things I think you need to think about for reserves:

1. A strong infantry unit on the table. - Infantry are very hard to remove in the game. Having some infantry start on the table means it will be unlikely for you to take (and failed) a formation morale check before most of your army can come in from reserves, even with bad rolling. You have to consider that you might not get anything from reserves until turn 5 while your opponent have access to nearly everything with some bad rolls for you. What you start the game with has to be able to survive for a long time and infantry are the best units for this goal. You don't want to auto lose the game because of a failed formation morale check when you only have 30% of your force on the table.

2. A game changer unit in reserves. - By game changer I mean an unit of 3 main battle tanks from NATO forces or 5 - 7 T-72s from a Warsaw force. I think the reason you want to do this is twofold. One is that if they not on the table, they can't get destroyed! When you have to deal with reserves, there is a good chance you will be out numbered on the table. When you are vastly out numbered, main battle tanks make easy targets. Second, when you are hurting, out numbered and with your back against the wall and you only got 1 thing coming in from reserves, you want something that can make a different. In addition to their natural power, main battle tanks coming in from reserves has a good chance of getting side shots on enemy MBTs.

3. Try to have a balance force on the table. - Since what you start with on the table could be the only units available until turn 5, you should try to craft a list that can have a balance force on the table. Its pretty obvious that your list should be balance so it can deal with armor, aircraft and infantry. But what some people, including myself don't factor in is that you need to have a balance list after taking away your reserve units. That means you should already have a good idea what is going into reserve and what's going to be on the table regardless of what your opponent has.

4. Make adjustment based on your opponent's list. - That said, you need to pay attention to what is in your opponent list and if your opponent has to pick their reserves first, be sure to consider that as well and make adjustments to your normal plan as need be. If your opponent puts all their aircraft in reserves, then you should be safe with putting your Gophers in reserves as well for example.

These are four things that I think will not only help with Team Yankee in general but in particular should help with the Encounter Mission. And they are all things I never consider to do until now.

If your not familiar with the Encounter Mission, it splits the table in middle such that both players have an entire long table edge deployment zone. The key elements of it is that both players have scattered reserves, have to defend two objectives place by the opponent that can be taken on turn 1 and no one knows who has first turn. That's why I started talking about reserves. How you handle reserves is extremely important, maybe more so than some other missions with reserves. Something that is really easy to miss is that the objectives are in a location where that if you are controlling your opponent's objective to win, your opponent's reserve can flank you. The fact that you can immediately take the objectives leads to the incentive to rush across the board to do just that. It's easy to forget that your opponent has the chance to get new units on Turn 3 and will definitely get something in on Turn 5. Or you might think you have reserves of your own so it evens out. If this is your thinking then you need to remember that while you are in your opponent's deployment zone, your reserves might have trouble lending support arriving from your own board edge. In our game Tracy rushed two units of T-72s to my side to put pressure on me and it look like I was in a lot of trouble. But me getting back to back reserves of Leopard 2s and Leopard 1s who got flank shot lead to all of his T-72s getting wiped out. You should always based your tactics on the strengths of your force and what your opponent is capable of, but I think a general rule of thumb is that for Encounter you should resist the temptation to rush for objectives for the first few turns.

If in the first 4 turns you get obliterated, it is pretty easy to get demoralize and give up. Before you do take a deep breath, relax and take a serious look at the state of the game because you may not be as bad off as it seems. Unless your reserves can't hurt your opponent like Shilkas and Gophers against Main Battle Tanks, then its a good chance you still have a large portion of your force ready to come in. In our game Tracy lost 8 T-72s in one turn, completely wiping out 2 units and failed to get any reserves of his own. He thought he had no hope of defending both objectives. The thing is that I wasn't going to win on my next turn as I wasn't near any of his objectives. He still had his T-72 HQ on the table and infantry in a building that I had no hope of doing meaningful damage to. In reserves he had an unit of 4 Hinds and 2 units of 6 Carnations and he was going to get at least one of those units next turn. The Hinds would be risky to use as I still had most of my Gepards and the untouched Redeye Teams on the table. His biggest threats were the unit of 2 Leopard 2s and an unit of 3 Leopard 1s. The carnations if lucky can deal with both of them. If Tracy didn't give up, I would have moved the Leopard 2s up to try to control an objective to win. In retrospect, this would have been bad because now Tracy's carnation would of had the opportunity to get on the flank and with 6 guns the averages say he should wipe out the Leopard 2s. Even if he couldn't get on the flank, 6 carnations has a decent chance of taking out a single Leo2 per turn. And dealing with the Leopard 1s would have been even easier. It would have been an uphill battle to win but Tracy had the tools to handled the board in his reserves.

The last point I want to bring up is that the scattered reserves in Encounter is not as random as it appears. A concern I've heard about and had myself is that your reserves are unreliable because its random where they will arrive from. However a third of the time you can place the unit anywhere on the table edge. Also objective tends to be near the corners to make defending them as hard as possible. That means if you are worried about being able to contest an objective, you have a 2/3 chance of getting to arrive where you want. Failing that, the enemy should still be in range of the arriving unit's weapons, assuming firing lanes are available. Terrain can change this, but in general I don't think you have to worry about the scattered part of reserves in this mission.

These are all my thoughts on the Encounter mission. I hope it can be useful in our own games. If have your own advice on this mission or if any of my advice here help you, please tell me about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Summoners Journal #3 - The World Boss

It's been a while since my last episode and I haven't really made all that much progress. I've still been playing almost every day. My issue has been that I've not been very active when I do play and I'm at a point in the game that my current play style isn't advancing me anymore ... or so I thought. There is one way my play style can still make a difference, I just haven't been trying it yet.

Before I go into that I want to go back to where I left off in the last episode. I has hyping up the Light/Dark scroll because whatever I got would have been fairly rare. However I was less than overjoyed with a Bearman. Not that he is necessarily bad, its just that I have no interest in him. The most common way to get monsters is by summoning them with scrolls. The most common scroll you can earn is the Unknown Scroll. An Unknown Scroll earns you one random monster of grades 1 to 3 stars of the Fire/Water/Wind type. After the Unknown Scroll, the next type of scroll is the far rarer Mystical Scroll. The Mystical Scroll gives you a random monster of grades 3 to 5 stars. The thing about these scrolls is that you can only get Fire, Water or Wind monsters from them. In terms of rarity, the next types of scrolls are Fire, Water and Wind scrolls which acts like a Mystical Scroll but only summons one type. So you can't get Light or Dark monsters from the most commonly found scrolls in the game which makes them far rarer than other types of monsters. Its not until you get to the even rarer Light and Dark Scrolls that you actually have a chance of getting one. Like Mystical Scrolls, Light and Dark Scrolls summon monsters of grades 3 to 5. I'm getting to the point in the game where I'm beginning to sacrifice 3 star monsters for other purpose. Even though I have no interest in a Bearman and have sacrifice other Bearman of different types, I'm keeping the Light Bearman just because Light/Dark monsters are that rare.

After my last episode I was seriously considering change my play style. Relatively speaking, I've been in the same place in the game for 4 or 5 months now. Techniques other experts suggest didn't appeal to me but I was beginning to think I have no other choice if I wanted to advance any farther in the game. And then I unlocked the World Boss. The World Boss operates in a completely different way from anything else in the game. To fight the World Boss you use 10 to 20 monsters at once and you can fight the World Boss three times per day though a monster can only be used against the World Boss once a day. Its also not a "fight" in any sense of what you normally do. Instead the monsters you use in the battle is assign a score to them. The score is based on a number of factors and the score of all your monsters is added up to determine how much damage you did to the World Boss. Higher the damage, more the reward you get from fighting it. Some of those factors include the grade and level of the monster, the grade and level of the runes the monster has equip and how many of the monster's skill has been upgraded. Normal combat effectiveness doesn't matter in the World Boss. Improving the overall power of the monster helps get better rewards from the World Boss.

Because of the World Boss I can play how I like and still make progress in the game. I now have a reason to advance 60 monsters as far as I can. The higher tier World Boss rewards are quite valuable and well within my ability to earn them. I had moved away from collecting and powering up as many monsters as I could to focus on a smaller group, but now a large volume of monsters is the key to doing well against the World Boss. It also doesn't matter what type of runes I give my monsters as long as they are the strongest I have. Nevertheless this will be very slow progression. When I first started playing the game and learn most of its mechanics, it never occurred to me how slow this part of the game is. After 8 months of playing some experts will still consider me in the "early" game. I suppose this is fine as long as I have a goal in the game and haven't gotten myself burnt out.

This is another one of those topics that finding a comparison to miniature gaming doesn't quite work. The amount of effort that goes into maxing a monster's strength in the game is insane. Once a miniature is assembled and painted, its done. There is no need to go back over it outside of repairs and rare touch ups such as change a model's base for some reason. If repainting miniatures was more of a thing then I could make a comparison. In a way the work that goes into a monster is similar to the work of building an entire army in a miniature game. 8 months in and I'm still not close to having a single monster maxed out. Yes I have a few monsters at the highest grade and level, but that is just one part of the monsters strengths. Next time I think I will go over combat strategics as that should be a topic with a lot of crossover with miniature gaming. Until then, thanks for reading.