I was reading the latest White Dwarf today and made an interesting observation. Don't worry, I have not turned back to the Dark Side.
I was reading a battle report for some Warhammer Fantasy Battles game and realised that they pretty much just crashed into each other after an initial setup phase. Now while this might be typical for Warhammer Fantasy (it was pretty much tactica de jour in 40k) it struck me as odd. Why? I have started playing 6mm grand tactical or strategy games. At this scale - on the same sized table - manoeuvre is necessary, but also an important part of the battle. This sort of manoeuvring is what really tips the advantage. The combat plays out in a pretty straightforward fashion. After all - how detailed can you get when one base represents an infantry battalion?
This follows on from a related discussion on the 6mm Yahoo group about initiative mechanics in rules, and the relevance of these rules to reality. There were various positions being taken, but the thing I took away was that historically position (and the prior manoeuvring) often gave the initiative.
So we come back to the Warhammer Fantasy battle report and by association 40k. I now understand something that has been bothering me about the Games Workshop rules. The bulk of the "manoeuvring" is represented by the initial placement and so represents two forces that have just made contact. Not necessarily contact with sharp and pointy things, but enough contact to draw up battle lines. Any remaining manoeuvring is cramped and somewhat incidental I think. I may be underselling the GW stuff a little here, but it does seems a little contrived now. As a result games are decided by the will of dice - not particularly tactical or strategic, other than a rock/paper/scissors style stacking of odds.
The realisation for me - was that I appreciate the opportunity to manoeuvre prior to contact. Whereas Warhammer Fantasy & 40k put you in the position of T-1 turn before first fighting, a ruleset like Polemos can give you 5 or 10 or more turns before contact. Plenty of time to consolidate position or drive some advantage. Now I appreciate this may prolong a game, but to me it seems preferable to grunt-rushing the enemy.
I like it. :)
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