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Proposal 7: Voluntary Siege Marker Placement


Forces can voluntarily place Siege markers on themselves, allowing them to duck battles.


Add new wording at the beginning of Rule 5.2.1 (Conducting A Land Battle):

Before a land battle is resolved, if either side has a Force (not an Army) occupying a fortress space, that side may voluntarily place a Siege marker on the Force (representing a retreat behind the walls of the fortress). The land battle does not take place. During the Siege Resolution Segment, the Siege marker is treated exactly as if it had been placed during the Siege Determination Segment, and a siege may occur. Note that a player may place a Siege marker on a Force even if the two sides in the battle occupy different spaces. Such a marker is likely to be removed at the beginning of the Siege Resolution Segment; the marker's only effect would be to prevent a battle.

Change the wording of Rule 5.3.1 (Long Walls Of Athens):


I have developed various silly Spartan strategies over time designed to force the Athenians into several unfavorable battles at once through strategic placement of a Spartan Army. For instance, if the Spartans move to the Macedonia space, the Forces at both Pela and Larisa will be forced into battles. Even better, if the Spartan Force stays in place at the end of the turn, Athenians SPs will keep showing up in Pela and Larisa turn after turn, in accordance with the Post Combat Movement Table, losing battle after battle to the Spartans until every SP in the area is eliminated.

Plans like these work because, according to the rules, Forces will always sortie out to do battle no matter what the odds. It doesn't seem realistic that one strength point in Pela would march overland to Macedonia to face certain defeat at the hands of a larger force. If the Spartans want to defeat the force in Pela, they should have to move to Pela, not camp out in the next valley and hurl taunts.

Furthermore, the Athenians ought be to able to force the Spartans to besiege Pela to take it. Siege markers are automatically placed if the Force is four or more SPs weaker than the Army. If the Force is physically able to retreat to the fortress when faced with such odds, why can't it do the same no matter what the SP differential?

Because the Siege markers are placed at the start of land battles only, naval battles cannot be avoided. That made sense to me, but if we wanted to allow navies to avoid battle as well, we could allow Siege marker placement at the start of a naval battle.

Because the Athenians can use voluntary Siege markers to avoid battles in Athens and Piraeus, the Long Walls of Athens rule can be rewritten to involve fewer exceptions. In its rewritten form, it allows the Athenians to sortie out to battle adjacent Forces if they choose. This seems more realistic than the rule that Cavalry ZOI's do not extend out of Athens during the combat phase, which prevents Athens from battling adjacent forces, no matter how small, even if they want to. The third bullet of the Long Walls Of Athens rule has been eliminated, because the No Battle errata render it unnecessary. The optional rule given in the general errata that the Athenians pick a leader if none is present during the Combat Phase may no longer be necessary, since the Athenians will never have to fight if they don't want to.


Mark Herman: The reason for the siege rule change wasn't entirely clear to me. I assume that the Spartans have a cavalry unit and are four SPs total so they force the combat. However, wouldn't this Spartan force due to 5.4 have to go home on a regular basis, neutralizing its ability to kill the returning Athenians? Please let me know how the Pella gambit works.

Brian Mountford: Yes, rule 5.4 would still apply, but if the leader has a strategic rating of 2 there's a 50% chance of staying. If the Army does go home, the move can be made again the next turn. In addition, the single Spartan Hoplite SP left behind in Macedonia can hold its own against the Force in Pela, and would also have the advantage over the Force in Larisa if the original battle succeeded in eliminating at least one Hoplite SP. These battles are a little risky, and a Spartan loss would result in hostages. But if hostages are not an issue, and the Bellicosities have not descended into the danger zone, it's usually a good idea to fight many battles with even slightly favorable odds, since on average your opponent's Bellicosity will be driven down.

The Spartan Army would not need cavalry, because the Forces in Pela and Larisa have cavalry themselves, which would force a battle. Unless I misunderstand the rules (a distinct possibility), they don't need four SPs to have a battle in the combat phase; Force size is only relevant during interception.

In general, voluntary siege marker placement seemed like the most elegant way to close what seems to me to be a loophole. I'm certainly open to other ways of accomplishing the same goal.

Chris Roginsky: I would disagree with the optional placement of siege markers. In this game each turn is two years. By moving an Army to a space, you are committing the Army to strategic control of the space for that turn (i.e. 2 years). Cavalry units will effectively extend control of the occupied space to each of the adjacent spaces (over land lines of communication). If the opposing player wishes to contest this control, he will move an Army to battle the invading Army and control of the area will go to the winner of the battle. An essential part of this control is the elimination of any opposing units in the area controlled by the Army (i.e. the ZOI).

Do not think in terms of the hoplites in the fortress conducting a suicide assault. Rather view the situation in terms of the invading Army eliminating the influence of the hoplites in the fortress space; the only game mechanic to reflect this is to conduct a battle. Allowing units to "hide" inside fortresses seems inconsistent with the general concept of the game as I see it.

Taking your example of moving an Army to Macedonia, this is a strategic decision you made on how to play Sparta. Like any other decision in the game, if the Athenian player does not like the consequences then it is up to him to deal with this situation. The very fact Athenian units are returning to those spaces means control of the area (i.e. the ability to keep a force in that space turn after turn) will take some effort on your part.

Regarding the long walls of Athens, the rules are fine just the way they are written. Allowing a cavalry ZOI to extend out of Athens/Piraeus during the movement phase gives Athens the flexibility to intercept moving armies. On the other hand, during the combat phase, if Athens wishes to remove an invading Army, then it must do so by assembling an Army and physically moving it to the occupied space (hence cavalry ZOIs do not extend out of Athens during the combat phase). This in effect simulates the Athenian Army physically leaving the fortress to do battle. Similarly, by not allowing ZOIs to extend into Athens/Piraeus, the Athenian player has the luxury of assembling armies without the fear of interception.

Additionally, Athens has the ability to be able to avoid all naval combat and most land combat by simply doing nothing (the advantage of having a fortified capital). I would, however, propose the following rules clarifications to the Long Walls of Athens (5.3.1):

I would also suggest the following additions to rule 5.3.1:

Brian Mountford: I'm not quite sure how allowing units to hide inside fortresses can be "inconsistent with the general concept of the game." After all, it was Pericles' main battle plan. The Spartans marched into Attica, eliminating the influence of the Athenian army, as you say. But they discovered that the Athenian army didn't magically disappear, and wouldn't come out to play, so after burning a bunch of stuff they went home. Yes, many Athenians disagreed with Pericles, and wanted to march out to meet the enemy, but those were the people whose stuff was being burnt. I don't think the people whose homes were inside the walls had any problem staying put.

Hiding is what fortresses are for. That's why the Greeks built fortresses. Except the Spartans; they thought it was cowardly to hide. Evidently, no other city state had similar qualms.

In most game situations, hiding in a fortress doesn't protect do much to protect a Force, either. If the enemy Army has a decent leader, the hiding Force is likely to get eliminated completely, a much harsher result than what would occur in a battle. And there's no risk of casualties on the part of the besieger. Voluntary siege markers would only be placed if the enemy were in an adjacent space, and so unable to besiege, or if the Force were in a coastal fortress with a naval supply line.

Finally, the Long Walls rule is, as you mention, fine the way it is. The only reason I was suggesting a change was that, if voluntary siege markers are allowed, it can be made better and cleaner, giving the Athenian player the choice of whether to fight or not, rather than arbitrarily setting a number of strength points by which the Athenians must exceed the Spartans. (discussion group) (me)