Tactical Command

GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]
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Author:  Sable Wyvern [ Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]

New game, new opponent. Back down to 1,750pts for this one. I avoided starting this report before the game, after the last one stalled. That means no pretty introduction, but at least this time I know I can finish it. Most of the work is already done.

This one was extremely slow, but that was my opponent's fault, not the game (it literally took him nearly 30 minutes to decide which unit to place first). Fortunately, I'm patient, and had no other pressing matters to attend to.

Sorry, first couple of pics are sideways. I'm too lazy to fix them. I set up my grav units on my left flank, then concentrated all the rest towards the middle, conceding the right objective, but intent on taking the other two.



My opponent did much the same in reverse, but had his grav in the centre, leaving slower formations on flank. I immediately thought that was like to be a mistake.



My lighter grav units sweep in to take the open objective on that side of the field.

My Valgaross super heavy grav tank pushes forward in the centre, and takes a lot of incoming fire from unexpected overwatch. It's imobilised. Not an auspicious start.

My Janus walkers dash forward into a position where they're ready to assault, while Ares walkers advance in support. Centre objective secured, for the moment at least.

More heavy firepower a bit further back.

My Encegon and Marghaast tanks advance just to the right of my walkers

Meanwhile, OPFOR light grav tanks move forward a little, but the rest of their forces in a position to contest the centre remain in place (most of them used overwatch).

OPFOR is advancing unopposed on the other flank, but I'm not too concerned. They've effectively conceded two of three objectives to me early; all I have to do now is hold them, and these guys are well out of the action.

Then, I realise most of his tanks actually have range on me. They're still poorly positioned, I think, but they're not useless out there. My Encegons take heavy fire and accrue some some stress. With a mainly plasma-equipped force, I can't return any effective fire.

Not much damage done over the first turn. My Encegon tanks and the enemy Deliverer heavy tanks are degrading from stress. My imobilised Valgoross fails it's repair check, and is going to remain stuck in place.

Author:  Sable Wyvern [ Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]

I'm surprised again by the enemy's centre. Trembling before the advance of my mighty Leviathan, they neither advance nor hold their ground, but instead rush into cover in the plaza, laying a withering volume of fire into my lead Ares walkers as they do so. Fortuitously, the Ares suffer little more than stress.

I move my Marghaast heavy tanks forward to screen my Encegons, who are trying to rally. The enemy is moving through the open nearby, but are beyond plasma range, so I can only send a few ineffective missile salvos their way. The enemy has an extremely strong aegis network, and I had no expectation of landing a missile hit.

As always seems to be the case, my rally roll comes up a 1. Fortunately, in this case, regaining one stress is going to be sufficient to prevent my Encegons from scattering at the end for the turn ... assuming they can avoid taking any more.

My grav flankers rush the plaza, spitting plasma with fury. Janus walkers follow up with an assault, while a second Janus wave moves into position. Unfortunately, OPFOR holds strong, and the damage inflicted is minimal.

My command Typharks advance up behind the Encegons, while the other Typhark platoon holds position in the woods.

OPFOR continues to creep up the flank, and my Marghaasts take an insane amount of fire, racking up the stress, but they're not taking any real damage, and my opponent is both impressed and frustrated with the way they're screening so effectively.

Meanwhile, my heavy firepower advances steadily up the centre. Disappointingly, OPFOR have given them nothing to shoot at.

In the end phase, my Valgaross finally gets itself mobile again. My position seems strong, and OPFOR have allowed me to consolidate into a strong position holding two of three objectives. The next turn feels like it is likely to be bloody, and possibly decisive.

Author:  Sable Wyvern [ Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]

OPFOR keep pulling back. They fight a bloody fighting withdrawal, but the have ceded the plaza to me.

One of my Marghaasts finally goes down, but they'e continued to screen my Encegons effectively, until my repaired Valgaross enters the fray, taking over those duties and eliminating a Horatius platoon in the process.

My lead assault platoon of Janus walkers similarly screens the grav tanks and second Janus wave. Several are destroyed, and the rest will end the turn combat ineffective, but they've enabled me to seize the plaza. As the enemy continues their attempted envelopment on their left flank, their right is crumbling.




The enemy manages to draw out my reserve Typhark platoon, who failed to do as much damage as I had hoped to the lead walkers, and my command Typhark platoon had to move into a slightly vulnerable position to maintain command and control.

However, at this point, I ask my opponent whether or not they feel it's worth continuing, and they agree their position is untenable.


Author:  Sable Wyvern [ Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]

Despite my opponent's snail pace, this was my most enjoyable game of Polyversal so far. I helped keep myself entertained while he was thinking by maintaining a live commentary over on the Specialist Command discord.

Part of the enjoyment probably stemmed from playing well and getting the win, but it was also a very tactical game, where manoeuvre really seemed to matter. The Typhark platoon I held on my right flank did basically nothing all game. But it was doing something the entire time it sat there doing nothing. It sat within striking distance of an objective, and made my opponent plan around it's presence and it's potential. I'm always impressed with any game where you can get a "fleet in being" effect, either shutting down part of the battlefield or forcing some kind of behaviour just by having a unit threatening that it might do something.

I was also able to make effective use of my grav mobility, while my opponent didn't. After the game, he immediately said he saw the same error I did in his setup (although, the superior engagement range on his vehicles meant it had less of an impact than I was expecting).

I screened extremely well. Moving my Marghaasts forward and making the decision to give my Encegon's rally orders had a big impact. This game definitely convinced me that rallying is definitely worthwhile, if done correctly. I also rallied on Ares platoon back up to d8 Effectiveness in the last turn, which would potentially have had a significant impact had we gone on to a fourth.

There is no doubt that my opponent being new to the game played a significant role in the result. They advised after the game that they were quite intimidated by my Leviathan, which is part of the reason the kept pulling back -- and it is tough, but it doesn't actually put out that much firepower. But this game also showed me that manoeuvre can play a big part in the game. My opponent also commented that at no point did they ever feel the luck of the dice had an impact.

Overall, I've walked away feeling Polyversal can definitely have a considerable amount of tactical depth. It's still very gamey in a lot of ways, but when a game makes you feel that manoeuvre is a critical component, it always (for me at least) makes it more immersive and feel just a bit like you're actually commanding real forces (even if any rational assessment makes it clear it's not a remotely realistic game).

My opponent also agreed that it is incredibly easy to pick up and play. Many of the nuances take time to make themselves apparent, but the mechanics are extremely easy to get a handle on.

A Word on Initiative
My other opponent (not the one I gamed with today) really dislikes the initiative system. Not enough to be a dealbreaker, but they don't like it.

My feelings aren't as strong, but I do feel that, since the die roll is influenced by your Effectiveness and Stress, there's an implication that good rolls should be rewarded. Instead, you can end up arbitrarily penalised for having quality troops who avoid taking effective fire.

One solution would be to just roll an unmodified d8 (or d6, or whatever) for initiative, and ignore effectiveness and stress. I'm not a huge fan of this; I like Effectiveness and Stress being accounted for. However, this would at least be an honest way of admiting, "Initiative can be random and arbitrary ... sometimes you'll get the results you want, sometimes you won't."

The previous game we played, we allowed the player with initiative to pass and give the opponent one activation, or activate any number or units up to the amount they won initiative by (so, if you win initiative by 3, you can get your opponent to activate one unit, or you can activate one, two or three yourself).

This mostly worked, but I got the sense that one of the reasons that game ran so slow was because both of us would regularly choose to activate one or two units, when by the book we should be doing an entire Battlegroup. This resulted in lots more time spent working out initiative, and what do with it once you had it.

For today's game, we tried something different.

When you win initiative, you get a number of activations equal to the number you win by. (I roll five, you roll two, I have three activations).

You can then split those activations between you and your opponent any way you want (I decide you get two, I get one OR you get three, I get none OR etc ...) and decide which player does their activations first (you do yours first).

This worked really well. There is a clear and obvious benefit for winning initiative, and you don't have to roll initiative more often, so the game still moves at much the same pace (unless you're playing against the ultimate example of Action Paralysis, as I was today).

There is then a slight complication with overwatch (which actually applies to RAW initiative too).

If you have X activations you have to use, you have to use them on the nominated battlegroup unless every remaining unit in that battlegroup is on overwatch.

To prevent a situation where a player can stall indefinitely, we also of ruled that, if every unactivated unit in the Battlegroup you nominate is already on overwatch at the time you nominated them, then you have to activate at least one of them.

An overwatch unit activated as a normal action (rather than as an interrupt) gets a normal fire action (which is a rule we already had in place).

Author:  ForgottenLore [ Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GAme 3 [8 Mar 2021]

Awesome report.

Hope I can actually try the game sometime.

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