Saturday, May 10, 2014


After a brief lull, we're moving into our final push of Clockwork Wars development before the Kickstarter launch.  I'm starting to get anxious!

In today's designer diary, I want to talk about Attrition.  In war, attrition refers to a gradual loss of strength and effectiveness of your military presence through the consequence of sustained attack or pressure.  One critical mediator of attrition is supply.  

I always wanted Clockwork Wars to be a (relatively) simple wargame that could still model complex and interesting interactions.  I've tried to keep the "rules of engagement" lean - thus, the one-for-one combat resolution which I've discussed previously. However, I also wanted to include a few wrinkles that would offer players more strategic and tactical options.  As such, supply lines exist in Clockwork Wars, but they don't invoke significant rules overhead.

A tile with your units on it is in supply if it it connected, through a chain of tiles under your control, to either your capital or one of your cities.  If that chain is ever broken, your troops that are out-of-supply must suffer a penalty. The penalty is straightforward:  you lose a Soldier from every out-of-supply territory at the end of every Combat Phase.

This simple rule can have a powerful influence on military strategy, especially, I have found, during the Middle Age (turns 3-4).  The Early Age (turns 1-2) in Clockwork Wars is often defined by players rushing for territories and saving up Influence Points for that first big Discovery.  There are often skirmishes, but rarely major battles.  However, in the Middle Age, most players have successfully claimed a section of the map - but not shored up their defenses.  There will likely be weaknesses in your opponents' "empires."  And if you can exploit these weaknesses, you'll be in an excellent position to take a significant lead in Victory Points as you move into the Late Age.   

Here's an example of how attrition works in practice.  This is actually an excerpt from my first instruction manual:

Purple hex is a Capital (Jules').
Yellow hexes are Shrines.
Red hexes are Towers.
Green hexes are Forests.
Blue hexes are Lakes.
Brown hexes are Citadels.
White hexes are Villages/Cities.

Hopefully you can see how you need to be vigilant in defending and developing your empire, as soon as you see that your opponents are within striking distance.  I've won (and lost) quite a few games of Clockwork Wars because of Attrition.  

As a final side-note, there's a lovely (and quite cheap) Early Age Religion discovery, Monasticism, that allows you to ignore the effects of Attrition.  

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