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Reinforce first, then combat or the other way around?

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/13/2010

I'm working on a war game (in some aspects similar to RISK). As I guess you all know, in RISK you first get your reinforcements and then you can attack. In this way, you can launch massive surprise attacks by putting all your reinforcements in one zone. This leads to a lot of action where the control of zones rapidly changes in between players from turn to turn.

I was thinking to build game less focused on action and maybe a little bit more on diplomacy and tension. Neighboring zones build up armies similar to an arms-race and the players have a chance to react on the enemies build-up. To simulate this I was thinking that reinforcements arrive AFTER the attack-turn. In this way, you cannot launch surprise attacks, but only use the armies you had in your zone at the start of your turn.

The problem with this is that the game might become to locked-down.
I can't make up my mind which is best: reinforce first, then combat or combat first, then reinforcements.
What do you think? Any comments on pros and cons?

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Not unheard of

Blood Feud in New York works that way (Combat first, then reinforcing), and that game is allegedly designed to favor being aggressive. So I think it can work, and I think I personally like Combat/Reinforce better than Reinforce/Combat.

- Seth

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
There is more to that than

Reinforcing before combat also limits your expansion range, and make the areas you just acquired more vulnerable to counterattack. If you reinforce after combat, you'll be placing all your armies in your frontiers, so they'll be hardened enought as not to be regained by the enemy. That makes the front even less dynamic (contrary to your statement, Risk is quite still for my liking). I'm also thinking about reinforcing immediately after attacking, not after everyone has attacked (as in Risk). If you are reinforcing like in Risk (a reinforcements-for-all phase), you should probably focus in the players order, because there is no before or after.

Keep thinking!

JHouse's picture
Joined: 04/03/2010
Castle Risk

If I remember right, castle risk used the combat first then reinforcements system which lead to players building up large armies and then eventually attack. Because you're receiving your reinforcements after combat it becomes a defensive game by nature.

Joined: 04/14/2009
Just playtest it! :)

Will the mechanics of how you reinforce change at all depending on the before or after combat idea? If it's done the same way, couldn't you simply try it out both ways during playtesting and see what you like better?

Hmmm....I wonder....would it screw things up too much if there were some situations where the players reinforce before combat and other situations where they reinforce after combat? I'm just mulling the idea over in my mind, but let's say there's something simple, like "bad weather" and a player's reinforcements can't get to the front lines in time? In that case, an offensive might need to be delayed, or simply carried out with fewer soldiers. Then, after combat, they arrive on the scene? Seems like it might be an interesting thing to do...mess with when a player can reinforce... I dunno...might be lame.



Joined: 06/02/2010
A la Diplomacy

If your idea is to aim more for a game that centers less around action and more around diplomacy/tensions between players (which, imo, is the best thing about games like Risk), then perhaps a slightly different approach would work.

Instead of players obtaining reinforcements separately, what if reinforcements were done at the same time? For example, at the beginning of a turn, all players receive their reinforcements for the turn, and place them simultaneously. To do this, players would be required to secretly write down how many and in what region they would like to place reinforcements. Once everyone is done, all orders for reinforcement are completed together.

This is similar to a mechanic in Diplomacy, in which players declare attack, defense, and support positions in secret and then execute everything at once. Doing things in this fashion while encouraging players to talk out alliances and border guard reductions before each turn most definitely makes it a diplomacy game ripe for backstabbing and manipulating.

Alternatively, what if you tried adding in a "move" step, along with a rule that restricts placement of reinforcements in newly acquired territories? Thus, a turn might be move/combat/reinforce.

Joined: 05/21/2010
game balance

One odd (and very refreshing) way to play Risk is that when you turn a set of cards in, the armies you receive can't be placed until you end your turn.
The idea is that they have to spend the turn in boot camp.

But for your question: Unless the reinforcing troops upset the force balance hideously, I'd go for reinforce before attack. Any other strategy is just poor planning or panic. (usually both...)

red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009
separate phases

One similar option is to split up the reinforcement and attack actions into two separate phases. Everyone places their armies in turn for the reinforcement phase. And then during the attack phase, each person attacks in turn. So combat/ reinforcement is done separately.

One benefit is that no one player has an overwhelming army suddenly on the board. Downside is it might make your game longer/ slower.

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