[STRATEGIES] How to defend in Commands Colors Ancients?

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In our previous article, we discussed the main principles of launching an attack in Commands Colors Ancients (later abbreviated to CCA). Today is the time for analysis of the more difficult task – how to repeal the invader?

As far as defending is concerned, it can be either a locally prepared action, where your weaker wing is withholding the attacker and buying time to move forward with stronger part of your forces somewhere else. Or it can be a totally unbalanced scenario, with you having not only fewer troops but a card handicap – like 4 Command Cards      vs 6 ones. Whatever the situation, adoption and implementation of the below principles will allow you to achieve a decent result which sometimes might even result in victory!

Again, Disclaimer: just as I said in first article, I will repeat it here: there is no magic formula in Commands & Colors system, which will allow you to win the scenario. Flexibility, planning, quick reaction to crisis situations is always a key pre-requisite to success. However, why not augment those chance by adhering to some of the below principles?

1. Delay the opponent to build your hand

What possibly counts most when defending is usually time to prepare before the inevitable onslaught. The sad truth is that you would probably have fewer cards, like four, which means it will be very hard to be ready for each possibility. Still, you would like to be ready to react properly – as a minimum, to be able to activate each section with at least one unit.

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Top: the initial hand of defender, randomly drawn; while full of very good cards, that one is not overly flexible in defense. Bottom: the same hand after couple of rounds of play. The ordinary section cards provide many more possibilities regardless of unit types there.

Keep the flexible cards in your hand – section ones – and use the ones like I am Spartacus or Darken the Sky as soon as enemy is within the range. You do not need fantastic orders which can order only fraction of your units. You need flexible hand to be able to react in all three sections.

2. Use light troops!

Those underestimated troops, often regarded with disdain are perfect soldiers for defense battle, and more than often can buy you time to prepare for main thrust:

  • they are very mobile and can move the farthest distances in the game – Light Cavalry ordered with Move-Fire-Move can cross 8 hexes!
  • they can often pass through friendly units
  • every one of them has a range combat
  • the probability of card ordering them is highest from all types of units (there are 4 Order Light, 3 Order Medium and only 2 Order Heavy cards; only Light Units can use Move-Fire-Move, practically 90% of your forces activated by Darken the Sky will be Light
  • they can evade; a great ability augmented with caltrops in Expansion 4

 

Those units will be like a pack of flies attacking from all direction, escaping counter-attack attempts and wearing down attacker before the inevitable hand to hand battle. Of course, you need to remember to position them well so they can always evade – a light unit without the path to escape is usually an easy prey for heavier units.

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Although Romans are outnumbered and “outgunned” they are not without chance for inflicting serious losses on Persians (click to enlarge)

Above example is exactly what I was referring to:

  • Light units can focus their fire on most vulnerable units – Chariots, Elephants and Cataphracts with leader
  • Should they be attacked, they can easily evade (as proper space was left for them) and use caltrops to inflict loses (we assume this rule is in effect here)
  • On the other hand, both Elephants and Chariots are positioned in a way which can be very painful for attacker should many flags be rolled against them

So do not despair if you are defender and your forces are mainly composed of light troops. They can do magnificent job on the battlefield.

3. Terrain is your friend – use it!

That point is directly connected to the previous one. Many times a properly used terrain might negate the numerical and qualitative advantages of the stronger side. The light troops are specifically suited for such a task – terrain usually does not reduce their dice! Let us see couple of examples depicting it – I think the pictures would be best to convey what I mean:

3a
A true beauty – supported Auxilia on the hill, with leaders covering its back. It will be hard fight for Punic army. Auxilia will use it maximum 3 dice while attacker 2 dice per unit (click to enlarge)
3b
Another beneficial feature of terrain, which especially suits light troops – woods. Each Heavy and Medium unit will have their dice reduced to 2 (click to enlarge)
3c
Nothing stops better the cavalry then rough terrain. The Auxilia on top right is well suited to repel the Elephant / Cavalry onslaught. The center is also decently prepared for foot attack (click to enlarge)

In all above examples the inferior troops, thanks to the proper usage of terrain features nullified the advantages of the attacker. Use this wisely and you may be sure the attacker will have hard nut to crack.

4. Protect your leader

Being on a weaker side does not only mean that we will probably have smaller number of troops but usually also imply fewer leaders. As such, commander is much more valuable to defending side than to attacking – although loss of such important figure is always painful.

4
The same defending force in compact and wide formations. While in compact the front of attack is smaller, the depth will allow the Persians to resist the initial attack and maybe even get some victory points in counter-attack! (click to enlarge)

With that in mind, please, make sure that your precious general has always a place to retreat to and is well protected. Being in second line, giving the bonus to attack/defense (hit on leader) is great place for defense. On the other hand, a straight, thin line (I know, I refereed to it in previous article) is simply invitation to disaster. Also, if you could keep your general on a hex across two sections that will give you even more flexibility.

 

Easier said than done of course. But with the screen of light troops (see recommendation 2) you really should have time to position your force wisely.

5. Surprise your opponent – attack!

In earnest, usually in CCA scenarios the defending  side is gonna to succumb to the stronger attacker. Not always, not with the same probability but more often than not the outnumbered will be defeated.

Having this at the back of my head, and having nothing to lose, I personally devised a strategy in which my overall inferior troops will create a local advantage and… attack enemy! That is actually what pretty often happened in history, when weaker defender sallied against the overconfident and complacent attacker. And believe me, that also works on the board!

5
Local opportunity occurred after unwise Roman move; such moments must be seized immediately to put pressure on attacker and force him to respond. Initiative is a key! (click to enlarge)

That might not yield the so dreamed victory but I prefer to lose fighting vigorously and bloodily rather than being slowly ground to powder by meticulously planned attack, which will give me few opportunities for victory points. Also, that is the method to gain initiative which is always a good thing.

Of course, that recommendation is in direct opposition to point 1) but as said earlier, you really need to adjust your behavior to the situation. You may defend most of the game and then sprung a trap with Double Time and wreak chaos in enemy lines!

Summary

As you might see, some of the key principles for successful attack have also usage in properly manned defense. Above remarks are pretty straightforward and simple, however often overlooked or disregarded by new players. Still, discovering them through experience and play is a great endeavor – just as the whole CCA game! Enjoy that wonderful title!

Original post here
Published with direct approval from the author.

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