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Senior Captain
Active Since: Mar 5, 2018
Last active: 2yrs 6mons 28days ago

Awards and Achievement Stats

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Rank and Stats

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Rank: Senior Captain
Class: Grunt
Score: 2728
Honor: 83(43)
Diplomacy: 1000(0)
Games: 353
Turns Taken: 3305


Enemies of Diplomacy Image
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The 'B' Squad Image
Opponents defeated: 490
Current streak: 6
Longest win streak: 40
Longest losing streak: 35


Map - Balkan Peninsula - Bronze Medal ImageMap - British Isles - Bronze Medal ImageMap - NUKES! - Bronze Medal ImageSkill - Assassin - Bronze Medal Image

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Gender: Male
Location: New York
Favorite Settings: When every one of my opponents goes AWOL...
Favorite Map: Conflict Africa
Interests: World domination through passive aggressive tweets.
Quote: Dice are like the US Congress. Everyone agrees that they suck.

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Thu Aug 2 10:48:30 2018

My Early Lessons In Major Command

I'm approximately 700 turns in, as of the writing of this post, and I'm finally showing signs of figuring out how to win games in Major Command. I'm eager to share what lessons I've learned thus far in the hope that other new players will find their outcomes improved.

MC Strategy is Starkly Different Than Other Strategy Games

I came to MC as a novice in risk-like games, but with plenty of experience in other turn based strategy such as Civilization and Axis and Allies. I've been most successful in real time strategy including Tribal Wars and the Age of Empires franchise, in both of which I have, at points, been a top ranked ranked player globally. Accordingly, when I first began playing Major Command, I had expected to begin winning fairly quickly. I had anticipated finding shared principles between MC and other games I had excelled at and intended to apply that experience in MC to immediate effect. As it turns out, I was quite wrong. I began dropping games right away, losing in ways that I had difficulty forecasting. I was struck by the suddenness of my losses and had to comb through game records to figure out where I had screwed up. Even then, it was hard to divine my cause of death in some games. After several weeks of getting whooped in game after game, some themes emerged:
  1. Momentum
    I had found it hard to identify who was ahead or had momentum in my early MC games. That is likely because current strength is not defined by one variable, e.g. # of troops due next round, but a collection of variables instead: Cards and value of reserves, the number of troops stacked on a territory bordering an opponent, how many points of entry (degrees of freedom) a stronghold has that you are either defending or attacking, the rate of escalation of reserves, etc. Evaluating momentum and relative strength was something that I only began developing some skill at after some 500 turns and earned some experience across game modes. Momentum in a flat rate game is very different from momentum in an escalate game. I've learned to carefully inspect the brief and review all variables of momentum before taking my turn in each game.

  2. Volatility and Chance
    I had discounted the volatility of MC that good dice rolls and cards add to the game, qualities that are less pronounced in Axis and Allies and games with more transparent indications of who has the lead. This contributed to my making errors of judgement, spreading my defenses too thin, leaving my armies too exposed to attack from a stack of troops that had yet to be deployed, and discounting the power of good or bad dice. In short, I was playing too aggressively, rushing to capture commands that I couldn't reasonable expect to hold. I have found subsequently that a more conservative strategy, especially early in the game, yields a higher win rate. I am now taking more time to capture commands, waiting until I can move enough troops into choke points to have a decent chance to maintain my territory through the beginning of my next turn.

  3. Diplomacy
    Diplomacy in MC is a double edged sword. I only realized this after accepting proposed treaties that, on their face, appeared favorable, protecting my commands, yet in the long term, proved a major impediment, preventing me from easily and inexpensively collecting cards while limiting enemy troops due. My default had been to accept and request as many treaties as I could. I've since learned to be much more selective about what treaties I engage in.
    Diplomacy is also worth being careful of for another reason: Borders across which there are pacts are often less well defended than hostile boarders. For obvious reasons, boarders enjoying longer treaties frequently have lower troop counts than those with shorter agreements. It is possible for players to exploit these poorly defended boarders by taking paths around them, attacking through territories not included in the agreements, often by using territories held by 3rd parties. Similarly, 3rd parties are not bound by your agreements and can use the poorly defended territories as paths of least resistance to break commands.
    Finally, there is yet another instance of diplomatic agreements offering hidden opportunities: Agreements are invalidated the moment one of the two territories included change control. This can provide an opportunity for a player who has a decent stack of troops on one side of the boarder to suddenly launch an assault through a previously protected choke point. This can happen either by accident or by design, with multiple players collaborating to exploit a diplomatic work-around. Consequently, it is worth reviewing diplomacy before you take your turn, and worth discussing opportunities to exploit agreements with other players.

  4. The Law of Large Numbers
    I'm not sure how I didn't learn this lesson earlier, especially considering its centrality in Axis and Allies: Maintaining a large stack of troops (or multiple large stacks) can be an enormous advantage, even if it means sacrificing the total number of territories and commands you control. The larger the troop count in a territory, the less likely an opponent is to want to tangle with it or invest troops in surrounding territories. This can allow you to buy time, building larger and larger troop counts while enemies avoid you. Towards the end of games, these large stacks of troops can be used, in combination with deployments and the turning in of cards, to suddenly spring audacious assaults on unsuspecting opponents that can and frequently do, wipe opponents out, changing the course of the game in a single string of attacks. This principle applies to all game types. I've learned to hold onto my large troop stacks, using them as deterrence against would-be aggressors, and wielding them to create decisive swings in momentum.

  5. The Power of Knocking Opponents Out
    Following on the topic of sudden and decisive attacks, it is worth separately discussing the strategic potency of eliminating an opponent. Besides the obvious advantage in depriving an enemy of opportunities for future turns, in escalite and escalate games, cards are of enormous importance. If you can wipe out an enemy while they have cards, you gain access to those cards. If the sum of the cards you earn this way and the cards you already held exceeds 5, you can instantly turn them in and deploy the reserves, thereby creating large changes in total troop count and possibly extending a string of decisive assaults. I've learned to watch for these types of opportunities and now carefully monitor enemy reserves and total troop counts, looking for chances to capture cards and immediately turn in.

  6. The Power of Simulation
    Many high achievers across disciplines share one technique in common: Running mental simulations in advance of performance. Professional drivers imagine driving the track over and over again, golfers play the course in their minds, ski jumpers visualize their run from approach to landing. This practice is just as applicable in MC. I've found higher win rates following applying a few simple visualization techniques: Map out your attacks, imagining your armies moving from territory to territory, decreasing in total number as they encounter enemy forces. Consider in advance how you will path, where you will move all, one, or some of your troop-stack so as to maximize the impact of your turn. At they very least, I've found this helps me to avoid accidentally ending my attack with my larger troop counts far from the battle lines where their strategic value is diminished. Similarly, during reinforcement, simulate how you will move your armies prior to keying in the orders.

If you have thoughts or comments on the contents of this post, I'd be very interested to hear them. I'm still quite new at the game and am looking to improve. Thanks!



engelbrekt1390 Image


Wed Apr 15 10:25:17 2020
Wow.. your back..!!??. I hope. Engel
micky Image


Thu Jan 9 04:36:07 2020
Hope you are ok Bear! Gone without a word = not like you
sannheten Image


Thu Apr 4 18:24:55 2019
Congrats on topping the Consecutive Defeated Opponents list!
micky Image


Fri Dec 28 10:18:34 2018
Bear! Wow, you won that triples, 12 players game for us! Well done! and Thanks :)
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