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Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fortress America Strategy Guide, Part 2: Game board, Natural Defence

Welcome to the 2nd part of my guide to the 2012 edition of Fantasy Flight Games 'Fortress America'.

In this article we will take a look at the game board, with an emphasise on the natural defence of territories, and the need for Combined Arms.
This is a shot of the current editions game board. It is nice and fairly easy to read. The mountain areas are clearly marked, but some City territories are a little hard to visualize as defensible territories due to the way they are marked, the City icon being small when compared to the territory.

Why this matters is because FA favours the defender by allowing them to strike and inflict casualties on an Attacking force, before that force can return fire, and secondly by penalising an Attacker which doesn’t take 'Combined Arms' into a fight (CA is a minimum of 1x Infantry unit, 1x Mech, 1x Air).

The extent of these two factors is not always easily recognizable, but changes as soon as we mark all the territories on the board (in Red) where the Attacker is penalized by not having a CA force.

Now we have a better look at the board, we can see how important retaining CA is. Three other factors also make themselves clearly visible.

Firstly, the Southern Player has a clear shot up the centre of the board where he doesn’t need CA.

Second, the Eastern Player also has a 'back door' to the Chicago/Indianapolis/Cleveland area.

Third, the Western Player is surrounded by a circle of red.

Before we look at what this means for the Invaders, we will discuss the effect this has on America, as it is America who is most concerned with Defence.

America starts scattered. Two units in each city makes it very difficult to organise any form of a real defence. They key to America is to consolidate to as small an area as possible. Victory for America is survival, victory for the Invader is taking Cities. In a future article I will discuss the defence of cities in depth, for now we are concerned chiefly with the over all strategy.

If we are concerned with tightening our defensive belt and consolidating our forces, the natural area to do so is marked on the map below

This basin uses the Rocky Mountains to the West, and the varied mountain ranges on the East as natural defences, and limits the amount of non-red territories to 3 in the centre.

These look weak, but as we will see in the Southern Players brief below, images can be deceiving.

The Southern Player

As a general rule of thumb, Invaders are more concerned with needing Combined Arms to TAKE territories than they are about defensible positions.

So we will look at the map in the view point of attacking.

At first glance the avenue of attack is easily identified – straight up the middle. Undoubtedly a classic strategy and I will discuss such in future articles, but its not as easy as it looks. In fact its often the opposite.

As we know, this article, and the map is concerned with defence. All the natural areas of good defence are marked with red.

The centre approach isn’t red, which means it isn’t a good defensible position. As the attacker must take and hold a territory in order to advance through it, this means his forces may have to defend from any attack. The centre approach isn’t designed to hold such an attack naturally, and worse, if we look at the surrounding areas, they are all red.

Any force moving through here will not be best suited to strike back at its attackers.

Further consideration of the surrounding areas reveal that this natural choke point is in a valley of key American cities which America doesn’t want to lose, and places that will be assured to be reinforced.

If we take the southern area, this is bordered by St Louis and Colorado Springs, and the northern territory is even worse, it also connects with Denver.

Simply considering the Cities alone, that means the northern territory in this channel could in theory be attacked by a force three times it size (15 v 5), and a force which as its attacking into normal territory doesn’t need Combined Arms!

This example hopefully aids to show the importance of all our red marked territories as key territories in FA.

The Eastern Players 'Back door'

While at first sight it would appear to be a nice approach to the American players cluster of cities in the north, if we have learnt anything from the Southern Players example is that this path is not an easy one at all.

The entire route is one which is not defendable, and in turn means the attack doesnt need CA. While any counter attack, is one made against areas that do require CA. The end result is a long and dangerous treck simply to meet more defended red territory. In summary, one route to probably avoid.

The Western Player

Welcome to breakout!

Completely surrounded by red areas makes the Western players advance slow and difficult. Two tricks to remember are, firstly punch through. Don’t get stuck fighting up and down the mountain ranges, simply make like an arrow and head through. Secondly avoid the South.

Invaders cannot move through each others zones, so if the Southern player takes San Diego and Phoenix, this will force the Western player to break his first rule – don’t fight up the mountains!

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this article interesting and I hope it goes some way to demonstrate the natural defensive qualities of the game board that aren’t always obvious on the first look.


1 comment:

  1. I find my invader game moves better if I allow the Western invader to take both San Diego and Phoenix, and focus the Southern invader into Texas and northeastward from there. This takes pressure off the Eastern invader, who invariably faces the stiffest defense.