Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hex War Games - Strategy Part XIII - Furthest Back First

With all things being equal, players should begin their turn moving and attacking with the unit furthest away from a conflict first.  This is not always possible, but it should be the first consideration.  Why?  Because it provides more options and better reactions to the upcoming battles.  This is particularly effective in Unit-By-Unit games.

The Situation
The attacking units are A and B, the defending units are 1 and 2, as shown in the diagram below.  

Initial Position
 The following rules apply:

  • Every unit may move up to 3 hexes and make 1 attack
  • An attack may be 50% successful
  • A successful attack destroys the defending unit
  • Every unit has an ZOC which stops movement (Interrupting ZOC)
From the initial position provided, the attacking player may move either unit A or unit B first.  These two options examined in detail below.

Moving A First
If Unit A moves first, the following diagram shows the end position of the units.
Unit A Moves First
Regardless of whether the Defender at position 1 is destroyed by Unit A's attack, the furthest positioning Unit B can travel is the hex shown due to movement limitations.  If Unit A's attack is unsuccessful, unit B may attack Unit 1.  Thus, Defender 1 has a 75% chance of being destroyed at the end of the combat round.  However, Unit B has a 50% chance of making an attack at the end of its movement, only if Unit A's attack is unsuccessful.

The Attackers could do much Better.

Move B First
If Unit B moves first, Unit B may attack Defender 1 at 50/50 odds.  There are two possibilities here, Unit B is successful or unsuccessful in the attack.  In a worst case scenario for the attacker, Unit B's attack is unsuccessful.  In this case, Unit A may then move into position and attack as shown in the diagram below:

Unit B Moves First But Attack Unsuccessful
This diagram looks like the one before it, except in this case both Unit A and B make an attack.  The odds of Unit 1 being destroyed haven't changed, 75%.

However, this configuration will only occur 50% of the time.

Move B First - Attack Successful
The real advantage here is if Unit B's attack is successful.  In this case, Unit A may now move adjacent to Unit 2 and make an attack against it.  In this case, there is a 50% chance Unit 2 will also be destroyed.  The diagram for this position appears below:
Unit B's Successful Attack
Final Analysis
The following table summarizes the results of the combat odds based on if unit A or unit B is moved first:
Defending Unit
Odds of Defender Being Destroyed

From this example, by moving Unit B first the attacker gains significant options tactically.  By moving Unit A first, the attacker removes these options.

There are times when this advice may be ignored, usually due to tactical considerations.  Perhaps there is a counter attack capability of Unit 2 which Unit 1 does not have?  Are there enemy units capable of attacking Unit B next turn if it advance too far?  It remains up to the player to decide if the tactical issues outweigh which unit should move first.  But generally, the player's first instinct should involve moving and attacking with the unit furthest back first.
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