PDA

View Full Version : SB_SCW "Somosierra Pass I" help



jztemple
23 Nov 08, 18:05
I played this scenario as the recommended Nationalist. The task, as is so common in Squad Battles, is to take defended enemy positions. However, the total objective location points are far less than the troop points involved, so minimizing causalities is important.

I don't play the SB series as a regular and honestly I play it for the purpose of education about the time period as well as the mental diversion, not for the competition, which is why I pretty much always play solo. However, I do like to at least beat the AI and in this case I suffered a major defeat. The problem is that I don't know how I would have made my attack any differently.

From my Nationalist starting positions I advanced, mindful of the limit of fifteen turns and constrained by having no armor, no smoke and almost no artillery. Oh, and the enemy can observe practically my entire approach route. I would have felt more positive if I was leading the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

Basically I was trying (in my self-evaluation) to put too many troops into too small an area. Hexes were overstacked and due to time constraints I found myself moving troops non-"On Ground" which no doubt contributed to more casualties. In the end it looked like this:

http://home.cfl.rr.com/boxwood/SomosierraPassI.jpg

So my question is, what could I have done better?

Mike Cox
24 Nov 08, 00:58
Well I think you need to move quickly and get deep around the town. More higher value objectives are in the south of town. I would bypass the up front objectives with your initial units and let the follow on units deal with them.

I played out a few turns (though I took the northmost objective pretty easily) and you can use the terrain to move south unseen if you stay away from the crest lines. Also the Republicans have reinforcements so if you can see them you are in position to interdict them with your limited arty.

Also you should try cycling the HMG's off the crest for a few turns to regain effectiveness.

I would also try and avoid that overstacking, but you know that.

jztemple
25 Nov 08, 18:28
I played the next scenario "Alto de Leon I" and suffered only a minor defeat. I was adjacent to two objective hexes when time ran out. If I was using the Variable Ending option I might have gotten a draw.

As scenario designers, how much do you concern yourselves with the possibility that someone might select that Variable Ending option? Does it affect the way you balance the scenario at all?

Mike Cox
25 Nov 08, 19:37
I can't speak for the others, but I like variable ending for PBEM. However, in playtesting we do not use it in the balancing. If the attacker needs a little bit of help (not that uncommon in PBEM) variable ending makes a bit of difference.

Mike Cox
26 Nov 08, 00:38
I played Alto I tonight. I was patient and tried to get eyes on the target before using my arty and mortars. I worked around up north while that was happening and ran into his reinforcements. Turned into a running gun battle to get to the hill.

Once the arty did it's work we moved in with a few units that had advanced cautiously were able to move in and clear the ridgeline in a few turns. Time ran out with a minor win. (30 points)

Be patient. Prep the target. Move in with fresh units when the opponents are low on ammo, fatigued and preferably pinned. If you see leaders, they are a priority. Even if you do not kill the leader, you'll keep him busy rallying.

Gnaeus
26 Nov 08, 03:23
I'm finding unnecessary stacking to be a killer, even with mainly bolt action rifles.

I've had pretty good luck by choosing an assault hex carefully to minimize potential enemy lines of sight, and making sure that all enemy units with a line of sight and within effective range are at least disrupted, to limit overwatch fire. The assault target must be pinned, of course. The turn before the assault, I try to get three or four friendly units in hexes close enough to the assaulting hex to move in with enough action points left to assault. If the assaulting hex is clear terrain, you can move adjacent units into the hex in ground mode. Otherwise, I have to get them out of ground mode, move them into the assaulting hex, and hit the dirt. With any luck, I end up with one or two undisrupted units in the stack with one or two disrupted units, all with sufficient movement points to assault. It's better, of course, if the assaulting hex has some protection. I'm only stacking when absolutely necessary.

If there are two or three units on an objective hex, I look for adjacent hexes with protection values, and accept that I'm going to have to stack to set the assault up.

BTW, I've been playing with the variable ending, since the playtesters are obviously much better at this than I am. ;) There were some WW scenarios that I just couldn't figure out how to win in the allotted time even after three tries.

FastPhil
26 Nov 08, 13:44
I'm finding unnecessary stacking to be a killer, even with mainly bolt action rifles.

Unnecessary stacking is always a killer :D



BTW, I've been playing with the variable ending, since the playtesters are obviously much better at this than I am. ;)

I think the word is oblivious? :bite: I would not make any such categorical statement like that and it would be counterproductive to do that. There are some very good playtesters (players) like Mike, Jao, and Ozgur and then on the other spectrum you have me:clown: I give balance to the force. I have the most rated games on the SB Ladder(also most likely the Modern Battles Club also) and play on the PZC and the Blitz but probably am lucky at being 50%. Liking the system (playing a lot) and being a reliable contributer are essential-being a tactical genius is not.:horse:

Gnaeus
26 Nov 08, 16:47
I think the word is oblivious? :bite: I would not make any such categorical statement like that and it would be counterproductive to do that. There are some very good playtesters (players) like Mike, Jao, and Ozgur and then on the other spectrum you have me:clown: I give balance to the force.

OK. I'm worse than three out of four playtesters. ;) When I was a beta tester on another game long ago, I think the general aim was to reward good play with a minor victory and great play with a major victory. Or if you're trying to stroke the customer's ego, you make barely competent play (or worse) a major victory.

Obviously, there's tremendous variability in particular outcomes. That being said, if a scenario is designed for PBEM as well as AI, I assume that if I can't beat the AI after three tries, I'm missing something. That's OK. I'm not taking the final exam at the Army War College and no one's going to flunk me out and not sell me any more games. At least I hope not.

Just trying to get a little tactical discussion going for the benefit of casual players like me.

jztemple
27 Nov 08, 00:34
I played Somosierra Pass II this evening and won a Major Victory as the Nationalists. The game did run one extra turn but I had the MajV locked up at turn 15 anyway, helped by one stack of two squads that in a single turn won three assaults! My tactics were better this time, helped by the kind suggestions above, but sheesh, what an ugly fight.

TheBigRedOne
30 Nov 08, 11:21
BTW, I've been playing with the variable ending, since the playtesters are obviously much better at this than I am. ;) There were some WW scenarios that I just couldn't figure out how to win in the allotted time even after three tries.


I'll agree with Phil here. I've been fortunate enough to be involved on the team since Winter War, and there's a pretty good spread of players that do some of the testing. Oz is the current gold standard, in my opinion. If he can't win a scenario, no-one can.

I like to think of myself as the playtester to see how robust the scenario is on both sides when said player makes stupid mistakes, as I often do.

There are many ways of playing SB, some are more tactically realistic, some are a combination of brute force and speed, some aggressive, some passive, it's why I enjoy the game so much. I always try to learn from every PBEM I play, taking my opponent's strengths and encorporating them.

Gnaeus
30 Nov 08, 19:13
I like to think of myself as the playtester to see how robust the scenario is on both sides when said player makes stupid mistakes, as I often do.


Since the scenarios have been tested by playtesters who make "stupid mistakes," I must be making unusually stupid mistakes if I can't win a scenario in three tries. ;) Seriously, I don't think the variability in people's response to a particular scenario is necessarily a matter of "smart" or "stupid." The scenarios are essentially tactical problems and there will be occasions when the player just doesn't get the solution that the scenario designer had in mind.

For some reason, my attempt at a little self-deprecating humor about my tactical competence has been interpreted by the playtesters as a criticism of their ability to balance the scenarios. Just so we're clear here: I think the scenarios are generally well-balanced and the playtesters have done an excellent job of making sure that the scenarios provide a challenging gaming experience for casual players, while not being so difficult as to be frustrating. This is particularly difficult for scenarios designed for both solitaire and PBEM, although the relative simplicity of the game is a virtue in this regard.

For myself, I find that an extra turn or two can occasionally make the difference between a draw and a marginal victory, and my fragile ego needs that reinforcement since I get it so seldom in real life. Plus, I like the uncertainty of the variable ending, which penalizes piling up huge stacks on the last turn to take that one last victory hex.

Joao Lima
01 Dec 08, 09:08
... The scenarios are essentially tactical problems and there will be occasions when the player just doesn't get the solution that the scenario designer had in mind. ...

And that is absolutely on the spot. Sometimes what seems obvious then turns to be not so obvious. Playtesting reveals many things, but sometimes the scenario solutions are just not that obvious and once out, people will generaly feel it to be unbalanced either too easy, or too hard.

I must say that I do understand your comments. And if playing in PBEM I would recommend trying the variable ending, it prevents some gamey tactics also.

TheBigRedOne
01 Dec 08, 16:05
Since the scenarios have been tested by playtesters who make "stupid mistakes," I must be making unusually stupid mistakes if I can't win a scenario in three tries. ;) Seriously, I don't think the variability in people's response to a particular scenario is necessarily a matter of "smart" or "stupid." The scenarios are essentially tactical problems and there will be occasions when the player just doesn't get the solution that the scenario designer had in mind.

For some reason, my attempt at a little self-deprecating humor about my tactical competence has been interpreted by the playtesters as a criticism of their ability to balance the scenarios. Just so we're clear here: I think the scenarios are generally well-balanced and the playtesters have done an excellent job of making sure that the scenarios provide a challenging gaming experience for casual players, while not being so difficult as to be frustrating. This is particularly difficult for scenarios designed for both solitaire and PBEM, although the relative simplicity of the game is a virtue in this regard.

For myself, I find that an extra turn or two can occasionally make the difference between a draw and a marginal victory, and my fragile ego needs that reinforcement since I get it so seldom in real life. Plus, I like the uncertainty of the variable ending, which penalizes piling up huge stacks on the last turn to take that one last victory hex.

I don't think anyone took what you had to say as criticism, besides, it's the scenario designer who has the ultimate say in how the scenario shapes up. Blame them! :laugh:

The stupid part comes into play in certain aspects of the game, not actually 'being stupid'. Leaving a guy standing up in sight of the enemy, moving a stack of vehicles that you think is only one truck (which is what I did in the last round of the WW tourney), taking a soft-skinned vehicle and putting it too far forward so it gets smoked, causing you to lose points. That kinda stuff.

Fact is there is always a fine line between balance and historical accuracy. Some battles are one-sided and balancing them would truly neuter any historical semblance. There is a lot of talk when play-testing a scenario about what could enhance the scenario for balance, but the designer has to take into account the actual historical situation as well. Smoke, for instance, tends to be a big discussion point. Smoke can be a huge asset for the attacking player, and could really change the balance of a game, especially in some of the SCW scenarios where you are just charging straight ahead towards a town, like Somosierra Pass (I playtested II and III), but there are very few instances where smoke would be truly historically accurate, given the situation, conflict, availabilities, etc. If you give the offense smoke freely, a defender would probably struggle to win much. There's always that balance to keep, especially when thinking about PBEM playability.

You mentioned some Winter War scenarios. Given the conflict, there were many one-sided skirmishes, especially by the Finns using their tactics of guerrila style warfare. I'm not familiar with the scenario you are playing in SCW, but it could be a situation where you just can't win because of the circumstances and have nothing to do with your ability. If you play every scenario and lose, then perhaps you are doing something fundimentally wrong, but I doubt it. I did a lot of losing early on in my SB career, but that was mainly due to learning the engine.

For me I like to think about the historical situation when I'm playing and see how I'd tackle the problem, not much for caring about the winning or losing aspect quite as much. I've played enough scenarios where I got a 'win', but tactically speaking didn't play very well, or simply got lucky and took an objective late in a game when I wasn't making great progress elsewhere. I've played scenarios well that I've lost, especially in PBEM against a good opponent. That's what makes the game fun for me, just continuing to sharpen my skills, meeting some good guys and playing some interesting scenarios.

Gnaeus
01 Dec 08, 23:08
Fact is there is always a fine line between balance and historical accuracy. Some battles are one-sided and balancing them would truly neuter any historical semblance. There is a lot of talk when play-testing a scenario about what could enhance the scenario for balance, but the designer has to take into account the actual historical situation as well.

I'm assuming that the scenario designer adjusts for unbalanced historical situations through the victory conditions. For example, in SCW scenario 007, Alto de Leon III, you can pretty much get a major victory by taking the first ridge line. If a scenario is truly unbalanced, it should probably be mentioned in the scenario description, particularly if it's listed for PBEM. I'd be a little annoyed if I invested a couple of weeks in a PBEM, only to find out that the scenario was completely unwinnable.


For me I like to think about the historical situation when I'm playing and see how I'd tackle the problem, not much for caring about the winning or losing aspect quite as much. I've played enough scenarios where I got a 'win', but tactically speaking didn't play very well, or simply got lucky and took an objective late in a game when I wasn't making great progress elsewhere. I've played scenarios well that I've lost, especially in PBEM against a good opponent. That's what makes the game fun for me, just continuing to sharpen my skills, meeting some good guys and playing some interesting scenarios.

I play these for historical insight as well. Although I have to confess that since these are tactical problems, I can't help trying the scenario over a couple of times if I fail the test against the AI in order to try to figure out where I went wrong.

Gnaeus
02 Dec 08, 00:55
Sometimes what seems obvious then turns to be not so obvious. Playtesting reveals many things, but sometimes the scenario solutions are just not that obvious and once out, people will generaly feel it to be unbalanced either too easy, or too hard.

I've found the SCW scenarios really well done. Both the designer and the playtesters are to be complimented.

I've read a good deal on the Spanish Civil War and lately I've been reading Beevor's Battle for Spain. The game does a good job of depicting the attritional nature of the battles.

Joao Lima
02 Dec 08, 09:33
I've found the SCW scenarios really well done. Both the designer and the playtesters are to be complimented.

I've read a good deal on the Spanish Civil War and lately I've been reading Beevor's Battle for Spain. The game does a good job of depicting the attritional nature of the battles.

Well thanks for that. I'm glad you're enjoying it.