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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hex War Games - Strategy Part IV - Most Efficient Defense

This article will describe the most efficient arrangement of units for defense.  I have heard this referred to as the "optimum defense", but I consider it the most efficient as that is what it is: It provides the best maximum coverage with minimum exposure to fire.

Most Efficient Defense
The most efficient defense consists of units with one hex distance between them.  It is rare a player has enough units to perform the "ideal defense".  Usually the player has a limited number of units to cover a given area.  The objective then becomes, how best to make use of these units.  The Most Efficient Defense (MED) does just that.  A sample of the MED is shown below:
Most Efficient Defense
Normally, games have a zone of control (ZOC) which prevents units from moving from directly between two units on the first turn.  Thus, on the first turn, each unit may only be attacked by the units directly in front of it.  If a unit does manage to penetrate in the space between two units, it now finds its self being attacked from the front and the rear, an unenviable situation.   In most cases, a good player will have a "reserve" unit hopping between the gaps and bringing withering fire down on any unit attempting to move between two units.

In a purely mathematical exercise, a line of X units can "take up space" equal to 2X+1 hexes wide, but can only come under attack from 2X opponents on the first turn. Thus, 3 units would form a line capable of defending line 7 hexes wide, but they would hold off 6 units on the first turn.

Breaching MED
The MED is a great static defense for holding space with limited units.  However, being outnumbered 2:1 every turn will eventually lead to a breach, as depicted below:
MED-Breached
 If left without maneuvering, the defense falls apart.  Each of the remaining units can come under attack from 5 sides, and a 'corridor" exists which leads to the hard of the units.  Units are rarely immovable.

The best counter to the situation where a breach occurs is for each unit to move one hex to "close the gap". If performed, this effectively restores the line to its initial condition, albeit it the 'ends' of the lines are shortened by one space.  In the example diagram, the two units would move one hex closer and the situation is restored.

Proactive Movements
Many defenses are not static, but allow the units to "move".  The MED forces the opponent to choose an area of attack, and the defender may quickly react to "close the line" into an ideal or hybrid ideal at the point of greatest threat.  The following diagrams shows how the lines can quickly collapse to protect from a threat from any direction.

Collapsing lines to the Left (Collapsing to the Right is a mirror image)

Collapse to the Center
 This brings the maximum amount of firepower and depth to quickly come to aid of units under attack.  If necessary, units may also "collapse backwards" to achieve the same results with a loss of one hex of territory.

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