Navigating the Deep, Dark, Bitter Woods
Here I detail my own strategies for playing several different Bitter Woods
scenarios. Disclaimer: They work for me, your mileage may differ.
The Campaign Game: 22 Turns,
from December 16th to December 26th.
The PBEM Tourney Scenario:
8 Turns, from December 16th to December 19th.
The WBC Tourney Scenario: 6
Turns, from December 16th to December 18th.
Once you've got a feel for how I play the various scenarios, here are several other general factors that might impact
how you play this game.
|Mode: Face to Face (FTF) vs Play-by-E-Mail (PBEM)|
FTF play brings to it it's own peculiarities. Regardless of actual
tournament rules, there is always a time limit - you have to sleep sometime
and your opponent has his own schedule! You can't generally keep shuffling your units and you
certainly can't shuffle your opponents pieces. There is some etiquette
involved from how you do your move to how you roll your dice. Some
people like using tweezers, others don't. You can't 'play out' your
move, i.e., physically set up your possible advances without getting some
strange looks. You have to remember where your opponents pieces started
when he does his move as I've heard of several situations where enemy units got to
places they couldn't get to at the beginning of the move. Shuffling
units shouldn't somehow bequeath them extra movement points!
PBEM, on the other hand, is your moment to shine. I exclusively use
ADC2 and am now quite accustomed to it. Make sure you save your game
files early and often! There is no excuse for tactical mistakes when top
rated players face off. If you are tired - don't play! If you
aren't interested, set it aside and do something else! You should feel
free to play through as much of your turn as you see fit in order to figure
out if a particular move is worth making. For non-tournament PBEM play,
the key decision is whether or not to play at all. If you decide to
play, stick to it. If a match has been decided, it's sometimes
worthwhile to inform your opponent so as to not waste too much further
time. Of course, against a top player, you take the risk of being wrong
so be careful. My classic PBEM wargaming memory was a posted VITP game
where the US player, halfway through, declared his strategy effective and
victory assured. Needless to say, he ended up losing. He doesn't post much
Playing without time limits allows for optimal moves. In timed
events, one doesn't have time to do all the endless factor counting that is
prevalent in most wargames at the highest levels of play. On offense,
I will figure out the odds I want and then try to 'shove up' enough factors
to get them. I generally don't have time to figure out my opponents
potential counterattacks and try to minimize those odds. On defense, I
just play 'by position' and don't worry to much about potential odds as I'm
ok just knowing I can't be surrounded. Exception: When defending
the VP hexes, I will take into account the number of factors my opponent can
bring to bear.
Clearly, my better played games are all PBEM. FTF play has seen me
make some horrendous plays that I find somewhat embarrassing. (Several
times my US left their artillery in range of German units
thus negating any chance for defensive artillery support. Oh, the
shame.) Nevertheless, I believe the time has come and gone
for 'unlimited duration' matches as too many people will spend 45 minutes
(or more!) on one move.
Playing someone with known tendencies, or limitations, will shape the way I
play. When matched up against people with relatively less experience, I
tend to play defense more conservatively; I'm figuring that their 'offensive'
errors will pile up and eventually be the cause for their defeat. When
I'm the Germans, I tend to play more aggressively because I'm assuming they
won't always choose the right way to respond to a particularly involved
offensive threat. If your opponent is a known 'jerk', and I've come
across a few (fortunately not in BW), I will try to just get the game over
with, as soon as possible. Regardless of the game outcome, not having
'fun' makes the game a loss.
|AREA rated vs non-AREA rated Game: |
In a non-rated game, and I've only been in a few for BW, I tend to 'let it
all hang out'. This is the time to try out 'crazy' ideas. I'm not
a fanatic about AREA but, since it's the only independent, documented evidence
of your skill and dedication to the game, I prefer to play with AREA.
(In my early days of TRC I had some bad experiences with non-AREA
One thing to keep in mind is that the preceding guidance is really very
subjective and reflects my own experiences. The key thing to keep in mind
is that if the game isn't fun anymore for you, you need to move on and not waste
anyone's time. Bitter Woods continues to be a fascinating game for me,
especially now that I'm playing more campaign games. I would like to see a
broader variety of players starting playing PBEM but I'm still seeing new
things being done all the time so I guess we haven't exhausted the intellectual
BW capacity out there!