2GM Tactics: Core Concepts & Rules [Part 1]12 Jun 2017 0
Last week we brought you an introduction to a new card-based wargame we've been playing – 2GM Tactics. We've been play-testing it some more since then and in today's update we'll be breaking it down into what we think are the key concepts and factors one should take into account when learning. This will be part one of a two-part article on this topic.
As before, these concepts mainly relate to the 'Battle Royal' version of the game. Many things can and do change when playing with the scenarios – whether generic or historical. We will write a dedicated entry on scenario-play as soon as we can.
Some of the points below may or may not have been covered in last week's article as well, but this is a more formal discussion of the mechanics and what they mean.
Respect The Dice
The first thing you must learn is to respect the dice. Despite all of the strategy-talk and ideas below, to do anything active in 2GM with your units requires a dice-roll. This means you are within the realm of the RNG gods, and they must be treated with honour and respect. We recommend sacrificing a small, slightly lame goat.
Seriously though, games with a heavy emphasis on dice-rolling can develop a bias towards anything that allows you roll multiple dice at once. More rolls means more chances for you to get the result you need. In the base set at least, there aren't any cards that allow you to roll additional die, but cards that allow for re-rolls would supplement this. Furthermore, strategies that involve a lot of cheaper units + equipment would mean that you'd be rolling the dice more often as well across all your possible activations.
As we mentioned in the last article, 2GM is first and foremost a card game – a lot of your strategy is defined by how you design your deck, and many gameplay elements are expressed via cards or card-based interactions/mechanics.
There are a lot of lessons you can draw from other dedicated card-games, from Magic: The Gathering to LCG's like A Game of Thrones or the recently cancelled Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. Some of the most important ones are:
Economy: You use action points to deploy troops, equipment and to play support cards. That means the key to any strategy revolves around you being able to generate as many of these points as you can. Outside of special/overriding rules, the HQ will bring in a static 1 a turn. In addition to this, you can get AP from very specific cards called Command Groups**, which generate AP depending on their place on the board. Finally, a player gets 1 AP for each row you have a unit on in an unbroken chain from your deployment line forwards, called the 'Supply Line'.
** The Italian and UK expansion factions instead have a unit called 'Radio Link'. It provides just 1AP a turn regardless of position, but comes with the 'Synergy' Keyword which gives bonus AP for multiple 'Synergy' units being on the field at the same time.
Deck-building: In 2GM, you build a deck before taking it into battle – different scenarios have different deck-building rules, but the basic ‘Battle Royal’ variant has no restrictions other than a 120 Point AP limit on your deck. Each card has a deployment cost which not only determines how much you have to pay for it in the game, but also how much that card is worth in your deck. In practical terms, you’re probably looking at around 50 cards per deck.
How well your economy develops really depends on luck of the draw and how quickly you can get your AP generating units out. In addition, you want to be pushing your frontline forward. At the time of writing, there appears to be nothing in the rules that says your supply line has to be free of enemy units – thus, as long as you have units in a row and the chain is unbroken, you still get the AP from it even if the rest of that row is occupied by enemy units. There are two additional sub-concepts connected to economy that are extremely important:
Cost –Curve: Keeping in mind what we’ve said about economy & dice-rolling, the ‘cost- curve’ of your deck must be kept in check. After the start of the game, at minimum you’re looking at a typical minimum AP Income of 2-3 per turn, which means stacking your deck full of all the big powerful units (The US has a card that costs nine. NINE!) is going to result in a lot of turns where you don’t play anything. We're currently testing decks with an average cost-per-card of 2.4 (US) and 2.6 (German).
Synergies & Combos: From a deck-building perspective, you want to choose a 'theme' or a specific play-style that will offer a guiding hand in terms of what cards to include. 50 Cards Isn't actually that many, and there are at least double that in terms of card options. Unfortunately, one of 2GM's weakest areas is offering built-in mechanics that cater to different play-styles. The General cards are an exception, but they're problematic and we will go them in Part Two.
As an example, the US and German factions both have access to cards that allow for "deep-striking" infantry, so there is an obvious archetype there but very little within the card-pool that caters to that strategy as something to build a deck around, it's just one option out of many.
Still, there are plenty of other cool interactions that can you can play around with: Transports can carry artillery pieces and infantry, tanks can provide cover of their own and some Infantry units can be equipped with special gear so that they can heal either other infantry, or vehicles. There are also plenty of individual support cards that offer one-off combos as well.
Other Key Concepts
Movement: Everything has a movement range (including some that are ‘0’ and need towing), and terrain can effect movement as well. ‘Hard’ terrain requires a unit to spend all of its movement points to move in, through and out of tiles that fit this description. There is also impassable terrain either for Infantry, Tanks or both. Movement is done either horizontally or vertically from one square to the next – there is no diagonal movement unless a unit has the ‘Motorized’ keyword.
Movement itself has little tactical depth in and of itself in the sense that there are no rules for flanking, or surrounding an enemy, or anything of that nature. Movement essentially serves as a means to get your units in range of other units, to move into/out of terrain/cover and to make sure your supply lines are secure for maximum AP generation.
Range, Fire & Equipment: All units have a maximum range for their main weapon. Any additional equipment assigned to them at deployment will have its own range and combat stats. Range is calculated the same way movement is (as in, no diagonals). Every unit can fire each weapon it is equipped with once, barring any overriding card abilities.
Weapons have an Impact score/rating, a penetration value and a damage value. Impact denotes the minimum number that needs to be rolled in order to score a hit, and then a second number for critical hits. Your penetration value needs to be equal to or higher than a target's armour value to do damage, and then the damage value simply denotes how many wounds a unit takes on a non-critical hit. If you score a critical hit, you wipe the unit off the board regardless of damage dealt or health.
Crucially, there is no line-of-site in this game. You cannot have your shot blocked no matter where you are or what you're doing. There are some support cards that can actively affect an attacking unit's range, but these are rare.
Terrain, Cover & Attack Modifiers: Terrain is a massive factor in 2GM. Natural terrain, like forests, hedgerows, mountains etc... is randomly generated at the start of a battle. This can have a huge influence on strategy from the start – some terrain will give defensive bonuses while others will hinder movement. There are additional terrain cards that can be 'bought' and deployed by players prior to the start of the game. These are usually defensive in nature are are used to try and shore up areas that need defending, or to try and force movement patterns you can predict and prepare for.
Cover can come from either terrain, or from certain interactions like the one between Tanks and Infantry. In gameplay terms, 'cover' gives a negative modifier to any units attacking the unit in cover, modifying their impact rating for that attack. The specific modifier depends on the ability being used. Infantry unit's 'Hit the Dirt!' ability only effects the normal hit chance, not the critical hit chance. A smoke grenade or artillery smokescreen affects both. Bought terrain will specify on the card what it does.
Wounds, on the other hand, negatively impact the wounded units' own Impact rating, making it harder for them to land hits on anything. This can mean that, between wounds AND a target being in cover, it can get quite hard for an individual unit to successfully attack another unit. Forcing those negative modifiers onto enemy units - either by wound or by effective use of cover - is central to most strategies in 2GM. Another tactical tool is to use Supressive Fire - when two or more units attack the same unit, it gets a 'Supressive Fire' marker which reduces movement by 1, and imposes a negative modifier onto their attack Impact rating for one turn.
That's all for part one of this look into the key concepts of 2GM. In Part 2, we will talk about Generals, general Victory conditions as well as some key FAQ decisions and other analysis of the game.