Regarding terrain and missions. Mostly buildings.

I thought to add something to my low-quality previous post regarding tournament pack. But first a summary of my thoughts regarding balance in a tournament;

  • Hawk’s tournament pack is a pointer, not a steady rule. The pack is meant to be broken if a TO wishes so.
  • To’s rule the tournament. If no one enter the tournament the TO will most likely change.
  • Hawks Tournament pack has the potential to change game balance with just the missions inside and a TO with generally good intentions will not have much problems testing new stuff and still be inside these extreme edges of balance in the pack.
  • The point system a TO uses has rather little effect on a statistical result. As long as you are rewarded more for winning than loosing the point system is actually not that important. Sure for individuals the result can change but not general army-wise.
  • Missions should be based on same objectives for both players. Not different ones. As long as the players have the same starting point you will get, statistically the best player that win.
  • Also, I believe that the amount of important dice rolls in DZC (or any dice game) will mean that adding a few more important die rolls are not showing much effect on the game nor a tournament. So you have a span of unbalance that DZC has no problem coping with.
  • As a final note, terrain, player skill and choice of army will affect the results much more than a slightly unbalanced mission.

I thought to give voice to the terrain part. In a feeble attempt to compensate for my lack of quality posts I will go for quantity instead.

Terrain has a problem in DZC and that is that it is set. It is very easy to have the same set-up for both players in the key buildings. Also I have noticed that a focal point is almost always outside of buildings, removing a very important aspect of the game (destroying focal points), but that is besides the point. But if we are talking weakness’ in regards to DZC this is actually a problem. If both sides are equal then choice of side is pointless. This is one reason why I advocate using area terrain in DZC as a way to make one side more attractive. We swedes also have the rule that in turn 1 you roll for priority and the players can either choose side and start or go second and the opponent chose side. If there is a forest blocking lots of landing zones and areas this can actually mean, and has in swedish games, that people chose to go first to get the side they need.

Area terrain is of course one way but also the buildings themselves. Hawk had one rule I didn’t like at Invasion and that is that buildings were never intended to be within 3″ of each other. This enable the sides to directly be different if one player can have buildings connected to the center building for instance. Placing a couple of buildings together is a good way to vary the five Key buildings in Targets of Opportunities. I’m not talking about the buildings with objectives but the buildings around. With some smart and non consistent a TO can actually make people think very hard about the choice of sides.

We swedes have some variation in the normal buildings but not so much around the key buildings which I consider a problem. Variation among the key buildings and focal point buildings are a really interesting tool for a TO to use to give players the hard choices. As I have written you have a pretty big span where the game is actually balanced because of dice and other factors. Switching around in the Key buildings is a good way to cause variation but at the same time we have lots of problems actually coping with such an situation.

“You building is a large one and closer to your edge while mine is a medium and closer to the center?”

The main issue above is that there is no counter-part. Some buildings in DZC are so big you could easily make them easy access for one player even if they are along the center line. Or you could place other buildings closer to the center buildings on one side. So how can we change the key building’s position?

  • Position is of course one. We usually place 3 buildings along the centerline and then one in the center of each player’s left or right hand zone where Hawks paper terrain give the first cross. But if you only have one building along the center and both of the other are a bit closer to one player but that player have a medium building closer to him but the other player have a larger building but a bit further away? You can also place them closer to other buildings.
  • More buildings. Terrain can not be to much (ok it can but you have to go pretty far for that). You can actually place some buildings slightly in front of a Key building to make sure that that building can’t be targeted from everywhere. It will mean that drive on units that wish to shoot at that building will need to be placed on more specific points of the table. Knowledge on how the opponent will act is one very important piece of information for the players in DZC.
  • Compensate with other terrain pieces. How many times have you seen hills in DZC? I know that Hawk is working on something here. Simon really wanted to hint that something is happening to get different layers in DZC. Woods, small features and hills are just examples on how to create a differentiated battlefield.

That is just some examples. We already have some variation if even you place the buildings exactly the same, one player will most likely have more roads than the opponent.

I think there is much things to do with the placement of terrain still. Especially key structures or points. Do you have the same issue? Are buildings something that must be 100% equal or can we vary the field much more than what we do today? Will not all tables in a tournament be the same or almost if all key features always are on the same spots? Let me know.

2 Responses to Regarding terrain and missions. Mostly buildings.

  1. Sorry, Erick, been meaning to get around to reading this post, just have had other things come up.

    OK, so one of the problems I have when I set up terrain is that I tend to be VERY symmetrical. Very. I am working hard on this, especially as a TO, for the reasons you cite: I want the players to consider carefully which side they pick, and whether or not they go first. I like your suggestion that whoever wins the roll off can decide either which table half/corner he wants, or to choose to go first or second. I think I will implement that in our May 9th tournament.

    But back to symmetry. I find it difficult sometimes to be ~somewhat~ asymmetrical with the HWG terrain sets, especially the road tiles. This is where the Frontline Gaming F.A.T. Mat for DzC really helps, as it is inherently asymmetrical. I own one, and might be picking up a second one second hand from a friend, but not sure I’m going to get it in time for 9 May.

    But back to the tiles: I really wish that HWG had “L” roads, instead of just straightaways, Ts and X intersections. So often there are times when an L turn would be perfect, but I’m stuck putting in a T to make the roads not just deadend willy nilly. Yes, there are some “deadend” tiles, but not enough of them.

    Then there’s the problem of building symmetry in terms of size and placement, but you’ve covered that pretty well.

    In short (too late!) 😛 if you’re like me, it can be hard to set a table “unevenly”, but it takes practice and experimentation, and knowing that the layout will (slightly) favor one player over the other. If it’s too asymmetrical, then I think you could ruin someone’s chances of doing as well as they otherwise could in a tournament, but I guess that’s where learning to pick sides, and make the most of what you’re left with, comes in…

    • A good way is to use small forrests and small features. They doesn’t bother player as much that they’re not in sync and do affect the battlefield.