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Precontrolling the map

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larienna
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In many war games I played, each player has a starting position, they expand throught the neutral area, face off the other player and eventually win or lose.

There are a few problems with that mechanism:

- The action starts late, the early part of the game consist just in positionning yourself. Players could refrain from attacking and wait more.

- The game takes more time.

- It does not necessarily make sense that there is a neutral zone with unclaimed cities if both nation are fighting on their border.

- I cannot use flipable tiles.

This is the main reason that bothers me, because if a city could only be under red or blue's control, I can make double sided city tokens with a color on each side. Else I would need extra bingo chip to put on the city tile to mark ownership, which is not elegant.

One way to solve this problem is to reduce the number of neutral cities in order to have more double sided colored tiles.

But that means that each player will start closer to each other and probably already be in engagement range.

It will also prevent players the need to spend action trying to capture neutral cities when they can use those action to capture ennemy player cities.

There could still be a few neutral cities, but probably around 20% neutral, and 40% for blue and red.

What do you think?
Is it a good idea?

To put it in chess words, it would be if the game started after the 10 non-capture moves. Or if you chose an openning and started the game there.

Tim Edwards
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If your game is 2 armies

If your game is 2 armies fighting along their coterminous borders, then it makes full sense to me that the game starts with armies AT the border within striking distance of one another and I would totally agree with you that having more than just a few "neutral" cities/strategic points in-between doesn't make much sense.

I guess you could take turns at placing your armies along the border, perhaps with the FULL details of each army not revealed until a later time (perhaps at the starting whistle.) Then you still have a sort of opening game, with strategy and bluff, etc...As a kid, I always saw the opening phase of Risk as particularly interesting, full of threats, implied truces, shifting priorities, and so on. It would be a shame, maybe, not to have some kind of build-up to replace the advancing-together-phase which ought to be tense, strategic, and as much a contest of generalship as the final head-on action.

X3M
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Flags

What if each city has 2 flags? A red one and a blue one?
If it is neutral, both flags aren't occupied.

If red owns the city, red obvious has an unit there, correct?
Place this unit on the [blue] flag. Only the red flag is visible.

The blue player does the opposite.

If you have the city assigned to a player without occupation. I guess some simple chits to cover one of the colours.

Is this doable? It still feels a bit clumsy to me.

I use 6(*18) different coloured chits in my game with 6 players. I had no choice. But with just 2 players, and only the cities. You do have a choice.

What about the pieces, do they have a colour? If so, a forced occupation could be a rule. Unless you also have a fight within a city. Then that doesn't work.

let-off studios
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Varied Scenarios

I think the way you describe your game allows for the opportunity for a number of different scenarios.

Many wargames try to recreate/simulate a previous point in history. In those situations, opposing forces are within varying degrees from one another in terms of striking distance, based on the historic scenario they're trying to emulate.

What's the case for your game? Are you trying to emulate a specific scenario? Do you want the players to think tactically since their enemies are so close to one another? Or would you prefer for the player to develop a long-play strategy, and instead leave a number of neutral territories between them?

Either choice adds or reduces game length, as well as the depth of strategy with which the players can engage. Another advantage of this kind of perspective is that your game could host a collection of pre-made scenarios, as well as guidelines for developing one's own scenarios. It increases the replayability of the game itself.

///

Also, I have one point of contention with your original assumptions, but maybe this is just splitting hairs here.

I think it's important to remember that in most games, the notion of "neutral territory" indicates a rulership that's not one of the players, or a relatively uninhabited area with no ruling faction. It's understandable that a region's rulership hasn't completely allied itself with one or the other most-powerful factions (that is, the players). This justifies in some way the players indiscriminately invading and conquering the local forces.

larienna
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Quote:I guess you could take

Quote:
I guess you could take turns at placing your armies along the border, perhaps with the FULL details of each army not revealed until a later time (perhaps at the starting whistle.)

This is something I have not thought about when not using predefined scenario. A way to setup units. It might not be completely hidden, but it could be alternating between players.

Quote:
What if each city has 2 flags? A red one and a blue one?
If it is neutral, both flags aren't occupied.

Units should be able to leave a city and keep control of the city. So I'll need another marker to mark city ownership when it's empty which is what I want to avoid.

Quote:
I think the way you describe your game allows for the opportunity for a number of different scenarios.

Scenario will be an option. But it's always harder to test unless you have a list of rules for scenario design that works well.

I am aiming for non-historical, so can actually make up any scenario.

Quote:
Another advantage of this kind of perspective is that your game could host a collection of pre-made scenarios, as well as guidelines for developing one's own scenarios. It increases the replayability of the game itself.

I like that, it's just the playtesting that demands a lot of work, unless I have a digital version.

Quote:
This justifies in some way the players indiscriminately invading and conquering the local forces.

Sure, in some scenario, I could create consequences in invading neutral areas. Like the neutral player joining the opposing player for example.

FrankM
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Getting the map set up

There are few different options to delay engagement, which is really just a way of nerfing the first-mover advantage.

Chess method... no one is in striking distance on the first turn

Risk method... players watch each other set up while attacks are not allowed

Stratego method... players set up hidden from one another

Axis & Allies method... starting positions pre-baked, first turn essentially scripted.

I've seen variations on these as well. One game set in feudal Japan (forget the name) used the Risk method but also disallowed attacking certain units on the first turn. My group quickly learned that made those units effective walls in the very early game.

My suggestion would be to lay out a region similar to France and Germany. They share a nice bit of border, but there are neutral wedges at the ends.

You could actually allow several distinct types of setup. Develop one, keeping the others in mind, and only bring them in after you have a working game.

* Pre-baked deployment positions (A&A-like)
* Choice of pre-baked deployment positions (need to choose blindly, then stuck with your option even when it's revealed what the opponent picked)
* Take turns laying units in each other's view (Risk-like)
* Set up hidden from one another (requires a big, goofy privacy screen along the border)
* Bulk of units deployed to the interior, defensive units at the border (almost chess-like)

The last one seems particularly fitting if war has NOT been declared at the very start of the game. Starting the war gives a tactical advantage, but should entail some strategic disadvantage (higher cost to enter neutral territory, lower starting morale, other side gets a gift of a few volunteer militia, etc.).

larienna
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For generic scanario where no

For generic scanario where no position are defined, I could ask player to place a group of units adjacent to a city of their color using german style placement.

It's always tricky to balance first move if you are in combat range. Since my game is move 3 units per turn. I thought that maybe the first player only moves 2 units on his first turn.

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