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"Cheesey Min/Maxed Armies and Tactics in Competitive Games" Topic

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13 Mar 2018 7:54 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Whirlwind30 Aug 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

Recently reading this blogpost link made me think about what people think about cheesey/min-maxed armies and tactics. I don't play any games like this so it is all a bit alien to me.

So I wondered:

In the context of points-based tournament and points-based pick-up games, does the idea of "cheesy" and min-maxed armies

a – bother you or not in those circumstances
b – make any sense or not (i.e. the picking of the most effective army within the points system is an integral part of the game)

I find the logic of the blogpost a bit tricky to follow, but the author seems to be saying that picking a super-effective synergistic force based on deep knowledge of the rules is good, but just hearing that the best thing to do in a given set of rules is to pick lots of infantry and charge is cheese-y.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 4:14 a.m. PST

He got out-cheesed and he moans about cheese ? Bad looser.

goragrad30 Aug 2017 4:30 a.m. PST

He has a point – presumably a good rule set would encourage some historically based organization and tactics.

The week 2 game seems to be a case of someone finding a hole in the rule set and passing that on.

Of course, facing that player again I would imagine one could find an organization and tactics to turn the tables again.

But then I am not a Bolt Action player…

Whirlwind30 Aug 2017 4:42 a.m. PST

He has a point presumably a good rule set would encourage some historically based organization and tactics.

I certainly don't know enough to be sure, but I'd thought that green Soviet troops simply rushing forward en masse to try and overwhelm the opposition at platoon level wasn't rarer than a veteran SS Panzer Grenadier platoon armed with StG44s and supported by Panthers. But I'm sure someone with more knowledge could helpfully comment.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

So next game, don't optimize the list to fight a combined arms list. Get rid of the panzerfausts and get more MG42s, including some in sustained fire mode. Get minefields and artillery if the scale of the game allows.

Or the German player should offer to swap armies, using the original Russian list and see if cleverness can win.

It isn't necessarily a points based thing, but points assume that you meet a mix of things. If paper, scissors and rock are all equal points, since overall each has the same chance of winning, if you only have paper and he only has scissors the points systems breaks down.

advocate30 Aug 2017 5:42 a.m. PST

Just bizarre. I'm not a fan of rules which emphasise building the optimum list, but kudos to the young guy, he found a counter the writer's list. And all it took was an infantry company, after all – hardly un-historical. Now, they were able to manage a wave attack and overrun infantry supported by armour, which might raise a few eyebrows – but that's an issue with the rules (though I wonder if it would have worked as well against a more numerous regular German platoon, with lighter armoured support, for example).
I'm guessing from what was said on the blog that the writer never took any advice from anyone else but did his own original research.

Marshal Mark30 Aug 2017 6:21 a.m. PST

I agree that the blogger is a bad loser and a whiner (funnily enough some of his other blog posts complain about whiners and here he is the whiner). He was beaten by what was probably a more realistic and less cheesy army than his own, and then complained about it and bad-mouthed his opponent.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

I'd say that was a little harsh MM. He is actually quite polite about his opponent, even about others who use 'cheesy' armies, it is just that he doesn't seem to recognise that he is doing the same thing.

You won't get away from the min-max ideology in some types of game or gamer. They are the competitive types who's main interest is the game and solving the problem of winning regularly. Let's be honest – that's what real generals do too !!

The problem only really comes up when its stops being a problem solving exercise and starts becoming a contest for Aplha status. Some people can't avoid boasting or belittling an opponent in victory or finding lame excuses when they lose.

Gaming isn't the only pastime where that occurs and a few people never grow out of that attitude – even think of it as a positive character attribute.

Solution : don't play them twice.

Personally, I'm lucky, I don't have to play them once as none of our group is remotely of that ilk.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

I say "Go Jimmy!" Our blogger wants to play a game with a specified, widely available set of rules with a points system and now complains that the kid picked an army which could beat his. If the rules let you pick unhistorical armies, the time to complain about this is before you agree to the game. A company of Soviet conscript infantry with burp guns seems perfectly historical anyway. And there is no virtue I can see in having an army that requires "tactical finesse:" It's just necessary sometimes.

Side question, and I'll never know the answer in this instance: does the blogger's notion of "tactical finesse" involve skillful historical tactics or just fine points in the rules? Because I'd have to say I've seen more veteran gamers exploiting rules quirks than I ever saw reading historical tactical manuals.

And a German players whines about being beaten by superior Russian numbers! The shame!!

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

Sounds like "Jimmy" was working from the same playbook as Stalin.

Also sounds like the German player had an elite force to face him. If we're in 1945 where are the Volkstrum?

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 8:01 a.m. PST

I do not see any fault with what Jimmy did. He merely exploited the rules. The problem is with point based rules. In these rules like some Ancients rules, you can build any army you like with any units you want as long as you don't exceed your point total.

So like Ancients it makes no difference what kind of army you have you can play any other army as long you have the points for it. So we end up with non-historical setups. US Marines versus a Panzer Grenadier unit. A French Foreign legion unit versus a Soviet unit. Two German units fighting each other, Brit. versus American etc.

My suggestion to Whirlwind is to start coming up with historical scenarios to use instead of the point system. You will be happier with the results.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

If the rules let you pick unhistorical armies, the time to complain about this is before you agree to the game.

Well said!

I use points for my scenarios, but they are not the only criteria for force selection. "Pure" points systems already do this, to an extent … the "Russian" player isn't picking from German forces (I hope!). So, adding some more (appropriate) depth to force composition rules should be fine.

I don't mind complexity in force composition rules because it is done "outside" the game. You could do it 5 min before the game or two weeks ahead. It doesn't impact game play. In fact, I am in favor of processes that offload work from the interaction of the game to before or after the game.

I also think force selection should also have some relation to victory point or initial conditions bonuses or penalties. You picked an all small unit infantry horde, which is hard to coordinate … your starting position will not be optimal. You only used 90% of your points, +2 victory points for toughing it out.

Oberlindes Sol LIC30 Aug 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

LSHINPM, as the kids are saying today (at least, I think that's what I think they're saying; I have as much chance of understanding their lingo as my parents had of understanding ours when we were kids). Anyway, here's what split my sides:

"My squads were overrun, my vehicles had been assaulted time and time again, and I was left with a Panther and a commander unit. There was no thought put into it. No skill. No cleverness on his part. This, gentlemen, was an abhorrence to WW2 skirmish games. While I had a finely tuned list, he simply took the most overpowered and cheapest unit he could afford …."

Isn't that exactly what the Russians did after 1943?

emckinney30 Aug 2017 8:54 a.m. PST

It sounds like a rock-paper-scissors problem with the rules. The infantry horde probably would have been mowed down by an all-tank list (I don't know anything about list-building limits in BA). An all-tank list might be vulnerable to an all-infantry force with a lot of panzerfausts, or to a force with tons of AT guns. A well-balanced force might prove to be vulnerable to both the infantry horde and tank horde extremes.

Full Thrust, for all its virtues, suffers from this problem. A soap-bubble carrier with a horde of fighters will defeat a fleet battleships every time (OK, almost). A fleet of dedicated anti-fighter ships will crush the carrier force. The battleships will crush the anti-fighter fleet. A balanced force (guns, anti-fighter weapons, and some fighters) will usually lose to at least the carrier horde and battleship forces--it doesn't have enough fighter defenses to survive the carrier, and its anti-fighter defenses are wasted mass and cost against the battleships.

emckinney30 Aug 2017 8:55 a.m. PST

<quote>Isn't that exactly what the Russians did after 1943?</quote>

Nope. The Red Army's tactical proficiency constantly increased in spite of horrendous losses.

Whirlwind30 Aug 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

My suggestion to Whirlwind is to start coming up with historical scenarios to use instead of the point system. You will be happier with the results.

I don't use any points systems and virtually all the stuff I play is based on historical scenarios. I ask about this as an outsider!

KarlBergman30 Aug 2017 10:22 a.m. PST

I remember a campaign game of Striker (Traveler ground combat rules) that was played years ago. All of the army's but one had built high tech coordinated units. The other player built a lower tech infantry horde. This player proceeded to beat everyone else by virtue of having too many targets to engage, until his last game. That player was also loosing so he unleashed a biological gas attack. A quick check of the hordes equipment revealed that they had no gas masks, wiping out their entire force. Horde attacks can win unless they are countered by something they are vulnerable to. Needless to say the horde's player was quite chagrined when he discovered that he hadn't taken gas attacks into account with his list.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 10:56 a.m. PST

In the Soviet Army it takes more courage to retreat than to advance.

Leadjunky30 Aug 2017 6:33 p.m. PST

Panzerfausts, Panthers, and assault rifles….oh my. Apparently not enough elite fingers to pull the triggers. Sounds like a daunting math problem which is why I don't like BA.

Oberlindes Sol LIC30 Aug 2017 8:32 p.m. PST

@KarlBergman: I don't remember poison gas rules in Striker.

@emckinney: It's possible that Red Army tactical proficiency improved in part because of, rather than in spite of, the horrendous losses. The best tacticians would have tended to survive battles and gotten promoted to small unit leader positions. Of course, the Red Army was also consciously improving its tactics by studying what was happening on the battlefields.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 1:27 a.m. PST

Panzerfausts, Panthers, and assault rifles….oh my. Apparently not enough elite fingers to pull the triggers

Don't forget they were "elite Waffen SS" as the authors also claims.

Well done to Jimmy for beating the blogger at his own game.

DestoFante31 Aug 2017 3:30 a.m. PST

That blog post really encapsulates what I despise the most about the hobby: the whiney competitive mindset, the lack of history, gamey rulesets, army lists.

jdginaz31 Aug 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

+1 to DestoFante

Personal logo PrivateSnafu Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 9:28 p.m. PST

That's BA, it's all about pinning. Have an edge on the number of squads and your odds of winning goes up tremendously. One hit or ten on a unit still produces a pin.

Mick the Metalsmith01 Sep 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

Pinning works in real life too. The school of thought that worships elite units over mass is often defeated in the long run. If one can check an elite unit with one weaker unit, while another weaker unit also remains free to maneuver the elite unit is going to have problems.

Mass and economy of force are basic military principles that must be balanced.

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