Table of Contents
Foreword and acknowledgments:
- Troop strength
- 3-5 Stacks
- Diverse Locations
- Low Target Profile
- Multiple Zone Attacks
- Concentration of Fire Power
Card Spot Economy:
- Why create the easy card spot
- The whole point of the game strategy
- Bonus Monkey
- Other Conquerors
- Miscellaneous Plays
Foreword and Acknowledgments
The Strategy of the Stacks, discussed here pertains to the settings of 6 players, Escalating spoils on the Classic Map. Why 6 players on the Classic Map? Because 6 players is the ideal number for the strategy to be played optimally. In other words 7 or 8 players could deny you strategical locations more often then not while too few players would deny you of the optimum goal in scoring. Too few players also simplifies the strategy where there is much to be said for complications in our strategies. You want to work the least possible for the max paycheck. But you don't want to be completely lazy about it. That's why, 6 players. Also 6 players trading in cards assist, ideally, in the "Card Spot Economy."
Why the Classic Map? Because, a standard map has to be designated for the learning of the strategy. That “Official Map” is the Classic Map. The strategy will also work on other small to medium maps but large maps could pose a problem because more stacks would be required and in the time it takes to build them, they could be lost turning the strategy of the stack into another type of game strategy. The ideal map for this strategy is then one that allows for the quickest game possible in the fewest number of rounds. 9 to 11 rounds is ideal for this type of game strategy. If it takes more than this number of rounds to win the game, then the map is too large for this strategy to work properly.
The Strategy of the Stack is one of patience and calculations until the final end game. I often refer to this strategy as a “Roulette Wheel” strategy but that does not mean that it is completely a random strategy when it comes to winning. For just as in the Roulette Wheel, bets can be placed even as the wheel is spinning, so also can adjustments be made in calculating the outcome until the final moment when it is announce, “No more bets can be placed.” Up to that point you have every opportunity to place your bet and position yourself in the game for the maximum possible advantage in the game outcome.
At this point there are two acknowledgments that I would like to make. One is that all of this material is learned in the SoC Training Program and is in fact where I get my material from. I highly recommend the SoC for new players to the site. It is all written down already in the Manual, "The First 4 Moves" and I am only rewriting what I have learned in my own words and way of writing in the hopes that a rephrasing of the game strategy may provide deeper insight into the strategy itself. Throughout this blog there are links to other threads, like the one just above. Be sure to seek them out.
The second Acknowledgment is to all the Instructors/Advisers who have helped me along the way in acquiring this knowledge and skills. Thank you all, for your patience and for just being there.
Most new players to this game of world domination see quite clearly the fact that if they have many regions (territories) under their control then they receive more troops in the form of population bonus troops or BZ (Bonus Zone) troops with which to attack with per turn. What they do not clearly see, is the fact that with out troop strength there is no control of many regions or BZ's. It is not the control of many regions that give a player his troops strength but his troop strength that gives a player his many regions. A player can have all the regions he wants but if he can not hold on to them then what good is it to have many regions if he is bound to lose them again to other players?
In Escalating Spoils games however it is not even the many regions that matter but the number of troops at the players disposal. In Escalating Spoils, The spoils trade quickly makes the regional and zonal bonuses of little consequence in the game as Spoils sets would soon be worth more and outnumber the amount of troops that one could receive from Regional and BZ bonus troops. The question then is how to conserve one's troops strength and increase it's count efficiently and quickly in order to win the game. This is where the strategy of the stacks come's in. If regional and bonus zones are quickly made of little consequence by a strategy that defeats it easily then this strategy is what we must learn and understand and play in games with these settings.
One final word about troop strength is that if it makes sense to increase in troop strength rather than in regions then assaulting large stacks should be considered out of the question. Even with the attacker odds with three dice, the attacker can still expect to lose as many troops as he is assaulting. Therefore assaulting regions with fewer numbers of troops on them becomes the way of gaining and collecting spoils. Best would be a region with no stack on it. This would be a region with only a single troop on it. The odds are then the best as it is 3 dice to 1. No player can expect to maintain a high count in troops strength if he spends his troops assaulting regions with high probabilities of loss. This is what the stacks represent. A high probability of loss to anyone who assaults them; Prematurely.
3 to 5 Stacks:
There are really two objectives to reach with the strategy of the stack; Insured Survival and Potential Assault Strength. But within these two objectives lies yet another objective which is both a byproduct and the point of the Strategy in itself; "The Card Spot Economy!" We will examine this in detail later on and see how they all work together in the formation of The Strategy of the Stacks. But first let me define the meaning of the word stacks for the newer players. Stacks are simply any regions with more than one troop on them. Thus any region with only 2 troops on it is a stack and the strategy of the stack is to develop and increase only a few (3-5) regions throughout the game map with many troops on them in waiting for The time to Strike out and win the game.
Ideally there should be between 3 to 5 stacks. This does not mean that you can not have 6 or even more stacks throughout the game map but that the strike effectiveness of a stack is greater when the stacks are fewer. This is because you can pile up more troops on fewer stacks then you could on many stacks. You could have 6 stacks for example of 5 troops each or 3 stacks of 10 troops each. The 3 stacks with 10 troops each would deliver a stronger, powerful and more effective strike to enemy forces then the 6 stacks with only 5 troops on them. It's the same total number of troops but the concentration of power is greater with the fewer the stacks. But 6 stacks would provide a better survivability factor. So it is a question of finding just the right number of stacks to create.
The first and most important of these objectives is Survivability. Obviously if you do not survive to the end you just don't win the game. Survival is the first stage of the game upon which all your early moves or first few moves in the game, must be based on. Survival is then of the utmost consideration and the best reason for the strategy of the stack. Survival is accomplished in two ways. Diversity of Locations and Low Target Profile. These two work together in providing the player with an atmosphere where the other players will think twice before assaulting one. First lets consider “Diverse Locations.”
To assault a players stacks and waste one's own troops to make the elimination of that player easier to still another player does no good to the assaulting player. Especially in a terminator game. So having stacks where other players do not have access to all of your stacks would tend to make other players consider whether they should attack the stacks that they do have access to. After all, no one wants to hand the game over, or make it easier for another player to win it, but rather we all want to win the game for ourselves. Diversity in locations helps with this.
Diversity of locations is simply having the stacks spread out over a wide enough area as to make them difficult targets to hit by other players even when the spoils set to trade in becomes high enough to start taking out the players stacks. Those players who have stacks clustered together within a few zones will make likely targets for elimination before those that are spread out far and wide throughout the game map. That is because in all likelihood those stacks will be more easier to eliminate. And in a terminator game that may be all that is required for that player to be eliminated for score.
The time to consider the locations of your stacks is right there at the beginning of the game, in the initial drop. When Automatic Drops are used you need to select the drops that you best want to develop by deploying a single troop on it right from the start. Thus right from the start you develop a stack of 4 troops and that is stronger by one troop then a stack of 3 troops. So right from the start you need to start developing your stacks location by choosing those regions where you want your stacks to be strong at. This is also why it is not recommended to card in the very first round. But simply to stake your claim.
Diversity of location may not be the only consideration for another player to try and eliminate you, as spoils in hand is the absolute number one reason for elimination. For if you have spoils on hand then that is all that it takes to be considered for elimination by another player. But obviously if you have spoils on hand yet are widely spread out and hard to kill, then you may yet survive to use your spoils over those who have spoils in hand, yet whose stacks are so clustered together as to present an easy target to the other players. Having sufficient number of stacks spread out throughout the game in this situation then makes one better off to have spoils on hand and survive long enough to use them.
Low Target Profile:
In the Strategy of the Stacks you want to avoid being removed from a zone. The best way to accomplish this is to present a big enough target that is to say high in troops, so as to make other players want to avoid even coming into contact with that stack. This in effect produces a Low Target Profile. Anyone wanting to Card will naturally want to card on the Easiest of regions and the easiest is that region containing only one troop on it. That region with just the one troop on it then has a high target profile. It is the region that will be targeted more often than not by as many players possible, that have contact with that region. But stacks are generally avoided for carding purposes because as mentioned earlier they represent a high risk of loss in troops strength for the assaulting player as well.
In game situations where there are no regions containing just the one single troop on it for the purpose of carding, then that region containing the least number of troops on it will then have the highest target profile on it. In this manner the strategy of the stack is superior to any strategy where you leave 2's and 3's behind on the regions that you conquer for when there are no 1's then your stacks of 2's and 3's will be targeted for carding and spoils. The strategy of the stack then is to maintain a low target profile by providing your stacks with the most troops on them so as to not be considered a target during the early course of the game. Low target profile insures survivability of the stacks till the end of the game.
So then, in the initial first round (and throughout the game), when you have two regions side by side, by reinforcing just one of the regions with all the troops (2 troops) from the adjacent region, you would give the region with the 1 remaining troop on it a high target profile but would also give that other region with the 5 troops on it a Low Target Profile. For who would want to card on a stack of 5 troops where there is a region right next to it with only a single troop for carding with better dice odds and minimal risk of troops lost? Giving the other players easy targets that way, increases the survivability of the stack of 5 troops by giving it a Low Target Profile.
Naturally the more stacks that you build, the less troops that each one will receive. So in this case having less (stacks) is more because the less stacks you build the more troops they get and the lower the target profile they will have. But also the highest risk of engagement in the end game. If one would not attack a stack of 3 over a single troop on a region for a card then less likely that one would attack a stack of 30 for that very same reason. The more troops on a stack the lower the target profile will be for that stack. It would only be assaulted once at the end of the game for the purpose of winning the game and not for any other reason.
Multiple Zone Attacks:
Now we arrive at the second part of the strategy of the stacks and that is the assaults. At the same time that you are trying to simply survive the game with the strategy of the stacks you are also preparing for your eventual assaults. The whole point of the game is to win and this can only be done with the proper assault at the correct time. This is one of the reasons why the strategy of the stacks is simply superb. Because it encompasses so many goals at the same time. It's aim is for a singular type of win yet gives you every opportunity to arrive at the possibility of that win through various assault vectors (angles).
The initial position is of course paramount to the strategy. The classic map can basically be divided into three sections; Middle, East and West. Having at least one stack in each of these divisions is then important to the eventual strike as it is then easier to assault within the respective division. But within each division what you really want is to be in an area that has the most regions connecting to one another. In the case of the Western Division, it is obvious that North America has more connecting regions than South America. So if given a choice between building a stack in North America or South America, you always want to go with North America. A good article to read would be, "The North America Question." It provides more insight into this strategy.
With the exception of perhaps Africa (not in all cases) you basically want your offensive stack to be located in the northern hemisphere of the game map. The logic behind this is that you simply have more options. More options for carding and more options in the eventual assaults for the game. That's because where there are more regions closer together, there will always be more possibilities of attacks. More ways to attack or to block a potential attack even, that is. Having these options is what gives one a say in the game and that say is power and possibility to win the game.
Therefore, having severally dispersed stacks throughout the map is not only a defensive posture but one that assist's in the final attacks in the end game. But it is the dispersed stacks throughout the game map that have any value. If you can not reach a target, or reach it as easily, then you can not destroy it as easily. One may try to destroy a target that they can not reach or reach as easily as when they have multiple zones of attack options, only to discover too late that the attack had failed before it ever began. Often we do not take into our calculations that all troops and regions that we must over come to kill our targets must also be considered in the final attack.
Concentration of Firepower:
As mention earlier in the part where we covered the ideal number of stacks; The fewer the stacks the greater the concentration of firepower, Here is why. One of the reasons for this is the fact that you need to attack with at least 4 troops in order to have equal odds of assaults against the defense. When just one die is rolled against another, in case of a tie the defender always wins.
The highest number that can be rolled is a six and if it were just one die each, both attacker and defender, then the defender has the better odds of winning the defense than the attacker the assault. That's because the defender always wins in case of a tie. To offset the defender advantage we try to roll the maximum number of dice thus allowing the attacker at least equal odds in the attack. The extra die makes up for the defender tied win. Otherwise this is a defenders game. In other words if the attacker and defender both roll 3's then the defender wins. But if the attackers second dice is higher than a 3 then this offsets the defender odds of winning that roll.
It should be noted here that assaulting with less then 4 troops is to resign the attacking position and the battle to an inferior roll. Three troops versus three troops makes the defender the winner by giving the defender the winning odds of the game roll. Therefore all assaults should end when the attacker is down to his last three troops in that battle. The three troops still can serve as a defense (using 2 dice) but as an assaulting force they simply don't have the advantage that three dice can afford. To continue to attack with only three troops is tantamount to committing suicide with your troops on the battle field. It is almost always a lost proposition. Only under certain exception should this even be attempted. And those exceptions will be discussed further in the final chapter of this work.
The fewer the stacks the greater their glory or the faster their shame. But the fact is that with fewer stacks there is more firepower available because the initial 3 troops that starts off another stack can then be afforded to the fewer stacks on the map. The more stacks available require at least 3 troops on each before they can use the 3 dice advantage. Thus while more stacks may have a certain advantage in some situations, fewer stacks will provide the maximum amount of fire power needed in other situations. The decision is one that is basically made at the beginning of the game but also continued throughout the game by combining or dividing stacks where possible or simply neglecting the development of other lessor important stacks throughout the game. One does not really need to develop every single stack available.
At this point I will end Part I of this work and reflect on thoughts and opinions that anyone may have and choose to share. Everybody has them whether they voice them out or not. I simply would like to see if anyone is even interested in reading what I write and if it seems like no one is even reading what I write at all, then why continue?
Thank you for reading me, and please let me know if I should finish Part II or if it's simply not worth it.
To be continued...
The Strategy of the Stacks, for beginners and intermediate players.
Card Spot Economy
Why create the easy card spot:
Why create the easy card spot and the whole point of the game (strategy), are probably the same question, but I will attempt to separate the two and go into more details of the strategy in this way. As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons for creating the easy card spot. First of all, by creating the easy card spot, you draw attention away from your stacks by providing a high target profile for that region thus preserving your troops strength on adjacent regions. But more importantly, by creating the easy card spot you help to create the 'Card Spot Economy.'
The card spot economy is how the spoils trade is increased. In a game where no one cards the spoils trade is never increased. And really the increase of the spoils trade is the whole basis of the strategy. As the spoils trade increases for everyone, they increase for you as well. Some one has to trade in at 4 troops and then some one else at 6 and so on and so on, so that you can trade in at 10 or 12; Or if you are the first to trade in at 4 troops then the next time that you trade in (after receiving 4 troops), it will be for 20 in a six player game. Participating in the 'Card Spot Economy' by giving and taking (even if only for a set that gives you just 4 troops) is essential for the economy to grow and prosper.
By leaving regions with just the 1's on it, you actually encourage and participate in the 'Card Spot Economy which in the end is the whole basis of the strategy of the stack. Any other strategy that tries to save regions from being taken by other players eventually rides up the cost of troops strength which is another point of the strategy, while inhibiting the economy of the spoils trade in economy. The game setting is what sets up the strategy and in an escalating spoils game, what you want is the spoils to escalate. This is why one would want to help create and participate in the 'Card Spot Economy."
We need to remember that the strategy is not about regions or even about controlling bonus zones but about maintaining a high troop count and increasing it as the game goes along. While having bonus regions, does assist in troops due per turn, gaining or keeping those regions is not really the best thing to do in an escalating spoils game, if one wants to remain strong and grow even stronger. The Card Spot Economy is the absolute best way to go about it and this is what we need to encourage in this kind of strategy for this kind of game setting; A working, ever increasing 'trade in' carding economy, by creating and taking part in the 'Card Spot Economy.'
The whole point of the game strategy:
The Strategy of the Stacks can be liken to the building of a super structure, a Tower if you will. As you build this tower, you locate only one side of the structure. Also you are not alone in the building of this tower but others are working to build it with you as well occupying other sides of the tower. You participate in the building process by providing the easy carding spot for others while maintaining a high troops strength spread out through various stacks in the game. Everyone else is also doing the same. But the structure can only go so high before it must eventually collapse under it's own weight. To which side will the structure collapse to and how can you help topple it over and away from you is the whole idea to the plan. Remember that everyone else is trying to do the very same thing. Like a game of 'Jenga' if you will.
The strategy of the stack is the easiest and best way to accomplish this. The structure must eventually fall and those who are unprepared for that eventuality, will suffer harm when it does. While those who have prepared and readied themselves for the event will stand to gain the most from the "economic collapse" to come. By creating and participating in the 'Card Spot Economy' and maintaining your troops strength high, you are in fact preparing yourself for that eventuality. When the time is right and the spoils trade is high enough, it will fall on some one to take full advantage of the situation. If that person is you and you are not so strong enough because you played contrary to the strategy then you simply will not be able to win the game when the wheel of fortune stops on you. The opportunity to win will then fall on the next person in succession able to win the game by being strong enough to do so. The first player with a high enough troop count and the right spoils trade in, is the one who will go on to win. If that person is not you then it will be the next player in line after you. Being ready for that eventuality is the whole point of the strategy. This is what it is all about. A Singular event and making yourself ready for it by playing with the Strategy of the Stack which means creating and participating in the Card Spot Economy.
The topic of the Bonus Monkey is more fully covered in the thread, "The Bonus Monkey is your friend... All 3 Parts." But in briefly mentioning this, I would simply point out that the bonus monkey seldom wins these escalating games because at the time of the end the bonus monkey does not have either sufficient troops strength or position (stacks) to make much of an effect in the outcome of the game. In other words the BM simply will not be fully ready for the game win should the wheel of fortune stop on him that he could be the one to topple the tower over on everyone else, and win the game. More likely is the case in BM games that another player will make the kill first on a player that has already been weakened much by the BM himself who has made it easier for some one else to win the game.
I personally enjoy games where players strive to control some small Regional Bonus Zone such as South America or Oceania because in the process they also weaken other players while setting up the momentum of the game. These are situations that require special attention but when done right, it actually assist one in winning the game. The challenge would then be, being in a game where everyone knows this about the BM except of course for the BM himself. lol. At any rate, it is an extremely rare thing to see a BM actually win a game. This does not mean that a BM can never win for odds were made to be broken but it is indeed rare to see this happen. There is a way to be a BM and win but you will have to read the article, "The Bonus Monkey is your friend... All 3 Parts" to find out how this is possible as I will not go into that here except to say what I have already stated above.
Other Conquerors or other types of conquerors who are basically the same as a BM because they are going for an eventual BZ (Bonus Zone) only it is usually one of the more larger ones on the northern hemisphere of the map. These types of conquerors may be unpredictable because their goal is not just the gaining of the BZ but the actual conquering of the game map, bit by bit. The BZ is simply incidental to the plan. But they may and often do strike in unpredictable patterns in unpredictable directions. This strategy is contrary to the strategy of the stack because it weakens the number of troops in the game. Both their own and that of the other players.
The objective of the game is the same; To conquer the world. But while other Conquerors go about that objective right away and bit by bit the player who plays with the strategy of the stack is waiting patiently for The time to Strike. The patient strategy of the stack is superior to that of the BM or other Conqueror because when the time is right there is no gamble or anything left to chance. You are not just conquering regions for some one else to take away from you later on, or helping another to win the game, but actually eliminating other players for their cards and the opportunity to win the whole game in a single round when the time is right and not before.
That is how the game is won after all; By eliminating a player, when the time is right, and gaining that players spoils for a mid-game spoils exchange or next turn spoils exchange that will then win you the game for sure. In this way you build on your conquest and not chance them away to another more surely. The strategy of setting out to conquer the map right away may seem exciting and daring but is one filled with flaws bound to come back and bite the conqueror on the tush. You actually end up weakening yourself and making it easier for other players to win. The best thing that can be done when encountering other conquerors like this, is to simply try to avoid contact with such players in the game if you can (by moving your stacks away), or negotiate a peace settlement in the game for a few rounds anyway. All one need do to see the logic of the conqueror is to watch their troop count. Those numbers tell the whole story.
While the strategy of BM's and other Conquerors may seem exciting it is not certain. The strategy of the stack is certain as it is a strategy involving survival which is a consideration that BM's and other Conqueror's put aside for the sake of the conquest. Eventually the spoils set trade in becomes so high that players who stick with the plan of the strategy of the stack, even if they lose a stack to a BM or other Conqueror can still end up eliminating other players in the game and eventually win the game. The thing to do is to stick to the plan until you see the angle or opportunity to win the game.
Basically this part is about failed kills and other tactics, how to decide when to, "Go for it and how." But also it is about watching for who may try to attempt a kill before you do and what to do about it. This part could even be extended as time goes by to include so many tactic and ways to do things, so if I were you I would Check out this thread from time to time to see if there is anything new added to this part of the article. Most likely if I do add to this part, I will also include a comment announcing the revision and added information.
[This part of the article is still being written 333]