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Frustrated with the activation war

 Post subject: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:50 am 
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I now see it as the biggest weakness of the alternating activations system. It’s not bad enough to make me want to go back to I-go, you-go, but its effects are long-reaching. How many EA players ever see Hellhounds or Ogryns? How many daunting detachments get canned so we can buy time with yet another 100 point scout platoon? I’m not here because I get excited over a squadron of Sentinels; it’s the thought of tanks by the dozen that gets me salivating for 6mm.

So I’m sad that it’s a bad idea to field fun formations and we have to eat our veggies by taking the little ones, otherwise we’re reckless, irresponsible players. The target is an average formation value of 250-300 points. For armies that get a lot of their offensive work done by 500+ point formations, that’s very restrictive. Among other things, it means we end up with a lot of sameness in 3,000 point lists. Which is probably why we’re constantly inventing new army lists, because it’s easier to break out of our routine that way vs. doing something different using the same list.

Is game size the problem? Should we play more 4,000 point games? Or does that just mean taking four more Sentinel squadrons and the two barebones infantry companies necessary to unlock them? Just how badly does it end if you try to take fewer, larger formations?

Sorry. I’ve been trying to finally organize my pile of unpainted IG stuff into a couple of armies so I can fill in the gaps with new purchases and get some paint on them, and coming up with the lists has been frustrating.


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:53 am 
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I find that 4K games are more fun and works better for bringing more expensive units.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:09 am 
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4k does tend to see a few more toys come out to play I find, not sure if that is just because it is a change and and people throw caution to the wind a little.

One thing you could do is play something other than the tournament scenario. Something like a meeting engagement (where more forces are in advanced positions) would likely see action from the get-go, more like a tournament game from turn 2 onwards.

That said I have found myself wondering occasionally if there are list construction rules players could agree to lessen the effect. Something like a penalty for activations above 8, or a straight up limit. Never came up with anything I thought worth a go, not that I tried too hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:33 am 
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It could be that some of these cheap units are too cheap because they weren’t priced with activations in mind.

But is it a real advantage, or have we just convinced ourselves that it is? We have data from titan lists playing non-titan lists, but they’re not quite the same as lists with big units against lists with lots of little units. It’s probably real; the single blast marker from shooting adds up, and clipping can also swing things in favor of the smaller formations.

You’re right though, more scenario variety is probably the shake-up I need!


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:24 am 
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Not being a prolific EA player (unfortunately) but being quite interested in the rules system, I've had similar thoughts about activations. Besides the issues with large Guard formations, activations seem to be a really game-y part of how Space Marine forces act (and, to a lesser extent, Eldar). The game still works finely! But it's one of those little niggles that I seem to dislike for being a bit counter-intuitive and game-y rather than modelling reality.

Another downside of the current rules is that (much like WH40K is currently) commanders don't really do a lot for an army besides the Supreme Commander. They're there for bonuses but not so much commanding, and there's little incentive to protect your command structure, unlike in real life. So, why not combine activations with commanders?

My idea was that commanders give you activation points, rather than units having them by default (for example, Space Marine captains give you two activation points per captain taken). It takes a certain number of activation points to activate a detachment; if you don't have enough points, the unit must take a Hold action. It could be one point per formation but I kind of liked the idea that it takes two points if the points come from a commander not in that detachment.

Because you could then have more activation points than formations, it seems sensible to also allow activation passing: spend an activation point to 'miss' an activation. Primarch (here, on Taccoms)'s Heresy rules allow passing like that, too. Not being able to pass seems very artificial to me (but I could be the odd one out!).

Ironically, the EA rulebook seems to suggest that tournament lists are the unusual way to play :P


Anyway, some food for thought,
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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:48 am 
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try that activation system from that WW2 game where you put the order dice for both players in a bag then withdraw them blind to decide activations. can copy it to EA with no change in other rules/list/points

(yeah, im cpt. specifics this morning, im assuming someone else knows what it's called though Flames of Bolts or one of that lot)

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:58 am 
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Interesting thread. I have not played in any tournaments but we do regularly use the tournament scenario and initially we did try and make the gamey high activation count type forces. However after a few games this became dull. And we now tend to field what we like and just have fun with it. And surely fun is the point??

Our most recent 3 games of Epic my main opponent has fielded a White Scar Army that has intentionally been Fluff heavy (loads of bike and assault, fast attack hit and run) First game was against an IG army and he got smashed. Next two were against SM then DA. BUT we were both fielding lists that were basically no use on the tournament scene. My DA was mainly Termies................

Even bent the rules slightly and had Imperator titans in 4K SM forces. Which lead to some interesting combat situations....

I dont think that the game/rules need changed to make playing with the fun toys more viable. I think its an attitude thing, make it fun, and defo try scenarios.

That said, the Imperator was unstoppable and lead to a swift victory.....

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:06 pm 
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We stole an ability and concept from another game where your commanders on the table as part of an unbroken formation added +1 to your roll in the strategy phase. Seems to give that extra depth to the game in preserving forces , command structure, and also made SM Captains actually worth using.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:07 pm 
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The tournament scenario is a big factor. Having more activations late in the game then your opponent allows you to stall and grab victory conditions that they can't defend. Trying another scenario definitely helps.

If you want to try a different activation system here's a quick synopsis of what I've compiled for an EA Battles Book:

Quote:
Random Player: Create a deck of cards, one for each formation (red for one player's, black for another's) and shuffle them in the initiative phase of each turn. Flip the cards over one at a time, a player who's card is flipped chooses one of their formations and attempts to activate it. If a formation is broken before it activates remove one of the player's cards from the unflipped deck and reshuffle it. In the end phase, after rallying, rebuild the deck, removing cards for broken formations.


CaptPiett and I have tried this quite a bit with his EA Cold Wars playtests. It definitely adds some fog of war.

Quote:
Random Unit: Create a deck of cards, one specific card for each formation ("this Tactical formation is the Jack of Spades") and shuffle them in the initiative phase of each turn. Flip the cards over one at a time, a formation who's card is flipped must attempt to activate. If the formation is broken, flip another card. In the end phase, after rallying, rebuild the deck, removing the cards of broken formations.


Haven't tried this one yet.

Quote:
Alternating Activations (lower activation weighted): Alternate activating formations one at a time. A player may choose to pass (force their opponent to activate another formation) only if they have less unactivated formations than their opponent.


This is Dirtside II activation's mechanic. I've tried it a few times and like it. It will favor lower activation count armies more than EA's system as the player with fewer activations can stall now.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:31 pm 
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I find bigger games definitely helps - it makes the impact of a 500+pt formation less and it means that the difference in activation count matters less. 4k is deffo my preferred game size, or even 5k.

The game still works well up to about 10k...

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:28 pm 
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As a long time gamer, who added Activation to SM1. IGOUGO not only favors the first player, but does not seem to be very "realistic". While one player is sitting there getting pummeled. And can only use on Snap Fire[SF] ( or called Opportunity Fire in more advanced games). That is not a game, IMO. Why are you not reacting to your opponents moves and fires, etc. ?

Understand the way we play UA.

You can use Chess as a good example. That is basically Unit Activation[UA] ... Normally after playing wargames starting in the '60, like AH, SPI, GDW, etc., plus playing 1 to 1 scale "wargames" from '79-'90 as an Infantry Officer. IGOUGO is like using a Brown Bess vs. an M16. Yes, it will kill some one. But no where good as something like an M16 or AK, IMO.

You use Order Counters [OC], like in SM1 & 2. That gives you an accounting of your UA ... AND as importantly you opponents. Once a unit is activated, the OC is flipped over to the order side. After a unit has completed UA. The OC is remains right side up It keeps track of who did what or is doing an activation.

The beginning of a turn. After rolling off to see who activates a unit. And any Leadership, etc., bonuses add to that roll. If you use that. The "winner" of the roll off activates 1 of his units. Now, that unit can Move and Fire, or Fire or even Fire and then move. Based on OC Again OC are paramount.

Review OCs :

First Fire[FF] - Fire only. +1 to hit. And if having not fired, a unit on FF, you can SF at any enemy unit moving with in your "Line of Sight"[LOS].
Plus has to expend 1/4 of it's movement in your LOS.
That counts as that unit's Activation. And an SF counter is placed next to that unit. Also SF does not get the +1 for FF.
Any surviving units that came under FF can complete it's UA.

Advance [AV] Unit moves at 1/2 max speed and gets no +1 to fire. Infantry can't fire Heavy Weapons.

Charge [CH] Unit moves at max speed and gets a -1 to fire. Infantry can't fire.

Fallback [FB] Unit can't fire. Only can move at AV rate away from closest enemy units. Towards his side of table.
Must move at least 4cms away from enemy.
Any unit that fires on a unit on FB, the firing unit gets a -1 to hit.
So yes, if firing unit is on CH and fires at a unit on FB. The modifiers are cumulative ... so that becomes a -2. And if on FF, and fires at FB. Then the +1 for FF is nullified by the FB -1 ...

Use Cover Mods ...

I can explain why all those mods occur but it should be "kind of" obvious (?).

Once both sides complete UA of all units. Then roll off for next turn, etc., ...

Now I know some get upset that your opponent may have more units to UA. But that is a fairly "realistic" occurrence. Each side in a battle rarely have the same amount of units.

That comes to my point of one thing I see after gaming UA with those who are only used to IGOUGO Many fail to do some things to effectively play UA.

Make a plan based on your Victory Conditions/Objectives and your units capabilities.

Prioritize your UA. Based on that plan and the current situation.

Target the unit(s) that are the immediate threat. Or may interfere with you overall plan.

Use Supporting Fires like Artillery[FA - Field Arty], Aircraft[CAS - Close Air Support], Off-Board assets to suppress, attrite or destroy enemy units that are the immediate threat or in the way of your overall plan.
E.g. Before you bring on your CAS. Destroy or Suppress and Enemy Anti-Air assets. So your CAS won't be getting shot at will make the attack.

Activate FA, CAS, etc. on enemy heavy weapons, etc., before you UA units that may be assaulting and/or moving within range and LOS of enemy units.

I'll save how to use units that can make Pop-up Attacks with UA. If any are interested. But many who are wedded to IGOUGO ... may not need/want to learn ...

Always do what works for you ... not me ...

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:17 pm 
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This is a bug bear of mine too.

Ive been aching to try either the Bolt Action "bag of dice" or deck of cards version for ages to see what it does to people's army lists.

Bolt action players tell me it works well and thats super competitive like the EA tournament scene, with both high and low activation armies having advantages and disadvantages.

We gave dice bag a go once and it worked mechanically, but it was with new players and they wanted to learn how to play in tournaments so we never did it again.

I think one of the other problems is EAs rule that just one BM causes a -1 to activation for all units regardless of size. If it were 25 or 50% suppressed before the activation roll was effected it would make larger more robust units more attractive.

Hell, i might even impose some changes at the local meet up im arranging as see how it plays :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:32 pm 
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Blip wrote:
I think one of the other problems is EAs rule that just one BM causes a -1 to activation for all units regardless of size.

Another problem is you take 1 BM each time you come under fire, so from some limited perspectives there's more advantage in shooting with a larger number of smaller formations just to break things (these formations themelves are also far easier to break, however).

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:10 pm 
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Yep, agree. We actually started playing mini-geddon locally with half size units (down to a min 100 points) and we house ruled no BMs just for coming under fire. 3 unit formations were actually playable and it was a lot of fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated with the activation war
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:13 pm 
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DS II has an "under fire" chit that could work in EA too. You get it every time you'd get a BM from coming under fire, but you can only ever have one on each formation. They give the formation a -1 to activate but don't go towards breaking it. After the formation activates (pass or fail) you pull the marker.

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