Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hex War Games - Strategy Part VIII - Zone Of Control

Upcoming discussions will deal with Zones Of Control (ZOC).  This article will discuss several types of ZOC found in games.  I'm sure there are variations on these, so it is by no means inclusive of every possibility.  I've included some games I'm aware of for typical examples.

Zone Of Control
A unit's zone of control consists of the six hexes surrounding the unit.  Every game has differ combinations or rules regarding zone of control.  The degree of impact on the ZOC will differ for each game.  There are four areas of ZOC may affect:
  • Combat,
  • Movement,
  • Supply,
  • Command
Zones of Control can have multiple impacts on combat depending on the game.  I've categorized the most common as the following:
  • Passive - Units do not need to engage in combat
  • Active - Units must attack enemy units which end in their ZOC.  Alternately, some games declare that every opposing unit in the zoc of a friendly unit must be attacked, but not necessarily by the unit exerting the ZOC. (example: Artillery could count as an attack).
There are several forms of movement Zones of Control:
  • Interrupting: Units must end their movement upon entering the ZOC of an enemy unit.
  • Locking: Units may not leave a ZOC except through combat effects.
  • Fluid: Units may move through enemy ZOC, but at an increased movement cost.
  • Open: Unit has no ZOC effect on movement.
Supply & Command
ZOC may also affect supply and command of units.  The type of ZOC a unit may have is as follows:
  • Disrupting: Supply and/or Command lines may not pass through the ZOC of enemy units.
  • None: ZOC's have no impact on Supply and/or Command
Sample Games
Memoir'44 (or at BoardGameGeek)- Is a simple form of hex based war games.  I would classify it more in the Tactical category.  The units in this game effectively have a Passive, Open ZOC with no supply or Command limitations.  Effectively, every unit may move freely from one hex to another without penalty.  The only limitation is two units may not occupy the same location, so if blocking the lines of retreat more damage can be done on the unit.  It is a game with the simplest  form of ZOC available.

Weewar - A computer based Hex war game.  It has a Passive, Interrupting ZOC, there are no command or supply limitations in the game.  Units must end movement as soon as they end adjacent to an enemy unit, but they do not need make an attack.  One aspect of  the game which differs from others is that units exert ZOC against all other enemy units, even Sea and Air units.  In most games, Air units usually ignore ZOC effects.

A screenshot of a sample game is below.  The Blue Wheeled Unit (Raider) can normally move 4 hexes on plains terrain.  However, Red's units permit the Raider to move adjacent to them, but force the raider cease movement.  The shaded regions indicate areas where the Raider cannot move.
Interrupting ZOC from WeeWar
(Shaded areas cannot be reached)
Tac Air - Tac Air has one of the most restrictive ZOC I've seen in a game.  First, there are units representing supply and command units.  In the picture below, the NATO (Green) 2/35 unit is "In Command", but "Out of Supply" Since the ZOC from the 1/22 and 3/22 Pact (Brown) block the unit from getting to the supply unit.  The move was not without consequence, as the Pact's 1/22 unit is Out of Command, but In Supply.  Furthermore, since Tac Air has an Active Combat ZOC, both the 1/22 and 2/35 units must attack each other during the combat phase.

ZOC effects on Supply/Command from Tac Air
Russian Front - Russian Front is a great game covering the battles on, as the name implies, the Russian Front.  It also has one of the most unique ZOC rules I've encountered.  Unit's have a Fluid ZOC, it costs extra to movement points to enter hexes in enemy ZOC.  However, in order to engage in battle units must enter the same location as an enemy unit.  The tricky part is, once a unit is engaged in battle, it loses it ZOC.

This simple change means the Most Efficient defense does not protect as effectively.  Once an enemy unit moves into two friendly unit's location, the remainder of the enemy forces can flow in around them without hindrance.
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