Progress Report: The Guards Counterattack (Take #2 PBEM Special)

Part journal, part analysis, part recovery from deep trauma.

These are my insights from by very first full PBEM game. So they will be very very focused on the PBEM flow of play as I have already done a VASL live game on this very same scenario.

If you are reading this suggest you consider looking at:

  • (Coming Soon) Deep Dive: The Guards Counterattack (Take #2 PBEM Special) for an analysis of how this scenario played out.
  • How this all fits in The Grand Plan.

Personal Journal

Dear Diary … Today I

found a friend.
(Well some old dude on the internet).

My Opponent

What Did He Do Well?

We that is simple. Malorum made it fun.

  • Was flexible in the sequence of play, didn’t get hung up on me taking rolls for his guys.
  • Gracious in allowing mistakes.
  • Highlighting where he thought he might be wrong (and never was).
  • Was a taking notes and learning. Occasionally got snippets of his thinking.
  • From a PBEM perspective was in good communication.
  • Warned me when the flow of gamefiles was going to drop away (when things came up in real life).
  • Was rigorous on rolling over game turn counters (makes it so much easier for creating the AAR).
  • Planted the seeds of some great running gags that we used for the whole game. How will I ever forget the carpet cleaners and the charge of the cheese kranskies? 😀

My Performance & Learnings

What Did I Do Well

  • Did some “sneaky” moves. Cleared out a whole building but left a single SMC way upstair to deny control.
  • Pushed forward the pace of the game sequence wise to save on some back and forth time. Didn’t get hung up on move piece by piece, did moves in groups.
  • Really delivered some great one lines and few good movie references 🙂
  • Pushed harder and more agressively this game. Willing to loose ever man to get there at the end.
  • Tried to force difficult First Fire decisions on him.
  • Made a rule that if I forgot something I would let it pass and live with the consequences.
  • Made another rule that if I saw my opponent make a mistake that was in my favour I would fix it. SAN check he missed taken on his behalf. 100% making it right regardless of the outcome for me.

What Did I Learn, Relearn Or Practice That Was Valuable To Me

  • Rules:
    • Dash
    • Commissar super powers (Damn I love him)
    • More CC rules.
    • Infiltration
  • Tactics & Play:
    • Beserk units. This seemed to be the theme of the game.
    • Triple Point Blank fire is a tough mistress. 3 squads broken off a single DR.
    • Building control can be maintained with a single SMC .
    • Routing up stairs as an option.
  • PBEM Technique
    • Write out your plans somewhere first. It is easy to lose track of what you gameplay is over a 4 week game. You need to stick to your plan.
    • Sometimes you are going to go out of sequence. i..e as the attacker I perform, Advance Phase -> CC phase -> then my defender rally phase -> Now over to you for your rally.
    • Trust in your opposition is essential. You can’t play this game othwise. I had morale checks performed on my troops by the opponent. SAN checks for me conducted totally and resolved by him. It really is a gentlemans game with PBEM. A Matter Of Honour
    • Be patient, sometimes you get pumped up by your master movements and then … then you wait a day.
    • Don’t create complex naming conventions for log files. Just stick with 1,2,3 and so on increments.
    • Restarting with a new log file when it gets too long, so you don’t have to scroll through 4 turns of gameplay to get to your turn 5.
    • If you plan on stitching together multiple log files to one big final file (for an AAR or prosperity), then when scroll through your current log, get to the end of that file first, before you restart to record the next log. Don’t restart your log file with overlaping parts of the previous one. It makes stitching full files together a nightmare.

How To Be A Better Player

How you play games is how you play life.

  • PBEM is a really weird beast. You don’t get stuck in the same emotional declines that can occur when a game is shifting against you in a live game. The pauses in between play allow you to re-rally in between bad circumstances and come back fighting. PBEM makes for a fun game, but ultimately I feel it is a very poor substitute if using it to train against live opponents. Its a whole different ball game.
  • Strangely after the tipping point of the game and my last desperate hurrah to try to engage his units in CC … the only thing that got under my craw was when 2 units poised to go advance into CC were both pinned. Denying them both the ability to advance and engage. Here is the strange bit:
    • If they were broken or elminated on the DR I would have thought, oh well gave it a crack. But I was upset, because they were pinned!
    • So the frustration wasn’t that they didn’t get the outcome I wanted (success in CC) but was totally about my disappointment that the drama of them getting in there to die in a blaze of glory of CC was spoilt, pinned at the very last step.
    • Am I more driven by the heroics of the story than the logic of winning gameplay?? Will this influence me in other gameplay where I choose reckless behaviour because it’s like something out of a bad 1960’s war movie? A bit more emotional control when the stakes are high I suggest to myself.

How To Be A Better Student

And some day a better teacher perhaps (remember everyone starts here).

Because we were both the same level of expertise in this game it was the blind leading the blind. But a couple of things we did and I will continue to do:

  • Advise if you are uncertain about your interpretation of a rule, give your opponent they change to find what you couldn’t. Also allows them to look up the rules and learn too.
  • The single biggest benefit of learning whilst playing PBEM. Take the time to look up the rules or any you were wondering about in this cirucmstance. Without the time pressure of holding up the game you can dig deeper to understand.

How To Setup My Tech Better

  • Zoho PDF reader is great. Stick with it.
  • For PBEM, single window setting in VASL is fine.
  • Learn how to shuffle counters up and down the stack using the keyboard only. Was driving me nuts.

What Do I Need To Learn Next?

  • Route rules revisited – Can still do with an extra re-read. Especially with regards to interdiction.
  • SAN – Read up on how to reduce their SAN, there must have been a couple of opportunities that were missed this game.
  • Applying Covered Arc counters.
  • Read Beserk rules, feel there are alot of what if’s that can come out of it.
  • Read wind and environment rules. Would be good to know what happens when the wind direction changes, on no wind.
  • Effects of fire on Victory conditions 😉
  • CC mechanics revisited – Readup on Ambush and also inflitration. And adviancing into an existing melee.

Be kind to yourself. 🙂

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