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Proposal 2: Shortest Path Derandomization


Players can choose between equally short paths when moving.


Change wording of last bullet item under Movement Restrictions in Rule 4.1.1:


The original rule that forced players to randomly select between equally short routes may have made sense in the solitaire game, but with two players its main effect is to introduce annoying die rolls to randomize Armies' routes.

With the ability to choose between shortest routes, players can select paths which increase the number of spaces ravaged or minimize the chances of interception, but the layout of the board limits the possibilities. The main effect of this change would be to speed up the game and make it seem less arbitrary.

In my experience with the game, there is only one shortest route choice which really matters: the route from the Peloponnesus to Thebes and points north. There is a 50% chance that a Spartan Army moving north will pass through Panactum, allowing the Athenians an interception attempt. To make sure their Army is not beaten up and sent home, the Spartans must either send an Army large enough to win a battle against the forces in Athens, or use their first operation to send troops to Panactum, shielding later Armies which wind up passing through that space.

It has been a long time since I read Thucydides, but I don't remember Athens being regarded as a choke point preventing land forces from marching between the Peloponnesus and northern Greece. The Historical Commentary accompanying the game certainly makes no mention of this. Furthermore, the threat of interception in Panactum limits the Spartans' ability to send small Armies north, something that they did in fact do historically.


Mark Herman: Panactum was an Athenian border defense area (had a fort) and was always intended as a chokepoint. I have no objections in the two player game for the player picking the shortest route, but the Spartans rarely sent small detachments out; it was against their doctrine. Their army was rarely broken into more than two groups, one in the field and one guarding Sparta and watching the Helots. Small detachments were usually achieved by sending a Spartan general to round up some allies ala Brasidas and Glyppas, which the game has a mechanic for. If the Spartans move in a big group, then the Athenians have to be careful. If the Spartans move in small detachments then they are going to get whacked a lot which I think is consistent with the situation.

Chris Roginsky: I am not sure about this rule. At first glance I thought, "Why not?" However, the one thing that really slows down the move is determining the shortest legal route(s). Once this route (or routes) is determined, a single die roll does not seem unreasonable. It appears the rule change is designed to help Sparta. If the Spartan player wishes to avoid a possible interception and battle in Panactum, the solution is simple: plan the manner in which the forces are assembled or send a large Army.

Brian Mountford: I have not had the same experience. When I'm moving, there always seems to be a multitude of equally short paths. And since the rules imply that the route is to be chosen from among all the possiblities, I am forced to enumerate all the paths, and remember them in order so that when I roll the die I know which one has been selected.

For instance, imagine that the Spartans send an Army around the Aegean to do some ravaging. They must certainly pass through Pela. As I count it, there are ten 11-space routes from Corinth to Pela:

Since the interception possiblities for the Athenian Forces in Larisa and Potidaea differ depending on which route is chosen, each route must be enumerated clearly enough that when, for instance, a 5 is rolled (on the ten-sided die we have procured for the occasion), the players can remember which route that means.

Maybe I missed a shorter route. Or maybe I missed yet another 11-space route. When I started, I thought there were only six, but I kept finding more. It took me half an hour to figure it all out. This is lunacy.

Finally, I didn't intend this rule change to help the Spartans. I was merely pointing out that it would, unintentionally, do so, which was OK with me. Because of the errata that a Spartan Army in Panactum will shield other Armies moving through should a battle occur, this rule is not so crucial to the Spartans, but it would still be beneficial. If, however, Panactum is meant to be a chokepoint space, perhaps we can remove the land LOC from Pegae to Siphae. (discussion group) (me)