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Let's talk Game Theory a bit...

Discussion in 'Access Guide to the Human Sphere' started by DaRedOne, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
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    Hello everyone, this is going to be a long post.

    This saturday I was playing with one of my friends and we started discussing how each person has a different playstyle and how it affects the decisions and listbuilding we make. Usually, this type of distinction is made in a three way style, and often each style works as a counter to the other in a classic rock-paper-scissors kind of way. Discussing with my friend, we arrived at the following three styles:

    Pusher: An agressive player that likes to press the advantage, generally going first and focusing on removing as many pieces from the enemy as possible. A pusher will spend their first or even second turn more worried about starving the enemy of orders than fulfilling objectives, and usually will try to get to the objectives on the second or even last turns. Pushers enjoy AD troops, agressive infiltration pieces and large links for the extra bonuses that allow them to dominate the Active turn. Pushers usually beat Castlers.

    Castler: A defensive player that likes to play the ARO game, usually preferring to choose the board side so they can always have the best ARO positions. They play it safe and always go for objectives first, usually with smoke cover or camo infiltrators, as they know their reactive game is good enough to handle the killing part. Castlers do not like to leave their side of the table, as they like to heal models and keep their order supply steady. Castlers usually beat Stallers.

    Staller: Stallers are the mixed style players, who don't go as agressive as Pushers but don't go full defensive either. Their whole game is 'stalling', making the midfield harder for the oponent, using expendable ARO pieces, anything that can allow them to hold back until they can find a breach in the enemy defense and switch to full attack mode. Stallers like to use small fireteams for their smaller footprint, and generally play more with Mines and other indirect forms of attack. Stallers tend to beat Pushers.

    This is first and foremost a theory that I don't know if it holds water or not, so I'd like opinions. This is not a discussion about which style is 'best' as I believe that is pointless, but rather if this kind of analysis can be made in infinity, either taking into consideration the players or the lists they make.
     
  2. itsuncertainwho

    itsuncertainwho Well-Known Member

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    No offense, but I have always despised the idea of classifying players by play style. Other games might lend themselves to this type of classification more easily than Infinity.

    Game type and army composition is going to be a major factor in how someone plays. I can bring two lists to a tournament and depending on which list and what the game is I can shift into any one of those categories. Playing infinity boils down to aggressive, defensive or objective focused play by default. I would even argue some players change categories by turn based on the mission. Focusing on play style and who will beat who seems like a fallacy at best.
     
  3. Contaminator

    Contaminator Brigadier of Baguette Brigade

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    On an extremely superficial level this makes sense. But I think as soon as you start to poke at this idea a little it falls apart. I have seen peoples strategies shift mid turn. They are planning to try to to take advantage of the situtation based on the result of one or two rolls. If it goes one way they end up being defensive, if it goes another they are suddenly all in aggressive. At best this might be helpful for newer players to try to envision a counter to a play style if they are struggling with it. But I don't see any need to try to classify player types.
     
    #3 Contaminator, Mar 5, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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  4. Abrilete

    Abrilete Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, even the mission and the table can make you play differently.
    As a Tohaa player, the same Rasail profile (for example) is going to be played differently if the table is more open or more closed, or if I have to go and grab an objective, destroy something/someone, or hold terrain.
     
  5. itsuncertainwho

    itsuncertainwho Well-Known Member

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    The rabbit hole of Infinity game theory for me starts with the mission and my list composition. These are the factors I know. This is then very quickly altered by classifieds, the opponents army, initiative order and how I chose to setup my chosen list based on these factors. These random factors really shift things around. @Abrilete makes a very good point also about the table layout and how it can impact play.

    I run Morats the vast majority of the time and as such I tend to build lists with multiple fireteam options. I chose who is deployed linked and if they stay linked on an order by order basis. These fireteams are a huge factor in how my play style changes throughout a game. As @Contaminator said, this can shift from aggression to objective or defensive focus based on the outcome of a single order.
     
  6. Teslarod

    Teslarod Trebuchet Enthusiast

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    @DaRedOne you do have a point there. Am I assuming right your inspiration is the similar system for Chess Grandmasters?

    What I have to disagree with is that every Player is one of the above. Most Infinity Players are just in it to roll some dice and have fun. They slap a list together because they want to run troop X and Y on this particular beatiful day instead of beating the other guy to raise their ELO rating.

    The second problem is that Factions and Sectorials dictate playstyle to some degree. NCA builds a better castle than Steel Phalanx, there simply aren't that many long range options in SP.

    Now that that's out of the way, I do agree that certain Players do better with a Faction that enables a certain playstyle. For myself that is a list built around an agressive HI/TAG Rambo piece or Link.
    Trying to make Infinity fit into Rock Paper Scissors doesn't seem to work for me. Yes some matchups certainly give you an edge against a different extreme, but there are many well balanced list concepts with no particular strenghts or weaknesses, those imho depend more on the particular Mission you're playing.
     
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  7. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
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    This does show that you have a playstyle, even if your tactics change, your style remains consistent: multiple fireteam options so you can better adapt to the changes in the table and the game as they happen.

    As I said in my own post, I don't think the theory is foolproof, but I do think it is possible to create a similar model for infinity, as I have noticed that each person does bring their own style to their army or sectorial. For exempale, using your own posts we can tell you have a flexible style of play and your tactics change with each game, but that is what you do, it doesn't mean every player has that same focus, and to think everyone does would be wrong.
     
  8. loricus

    loricus Satellite Druid

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    I think what you say makes sense, but it better describes behaviors than entire playstyles. How you behave should be decided during deployment then redefined when you start each turn. You should be able to regear to any of those styles and probably more.
     
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  9. Wolf

    Wolf https://watchwolf.net

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    Some of the replies here seem oddly aversive and I wonder if people are maybe reading too much into the language @DaRedOne used? I think didn't he was offering any moral judgements about different play styles, just offering some observations about preferred style. That seems fair enough to me, but then I'm well known as a dirty aggro player, so what do I know? :grin:

    I think it's reasonable and natural to talk about aggressive or defensive play in any game, and am interested in the way DaRedOne is categorizing different tactics. I can see that a first turn Rambo is obviously aggressive, and having a link team dig in with Foxhole for ARO.s is obviously defensive, but things aren't always so straightforward.

    For example, I'd say that laying Mines is a defensive tactic because they depend on the opponent's activities to activate; but if you include a Minelayer with CH: TO Camouflage in your army list to can lay Mines well forward onto the battlefield, which is a pretty aggressive tactic.

    The more I think about it, the less straightforward it seems - is a tactic still defensive if it's being used aggressively? Maybe we need a more complex model that doesn't just use a single axis?
     
    #9 Wolf, Mar 6, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
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  10. Stiopa

    Stiopa Trust The Fuckhead
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    First of all, I'd rework the DaReOne's theory a bit. Defensive gameplay in Infinity is, in fact, stalling. No unit can stop enemy assault, as active turn burst advantage and access to multiple attack options (when dealing with entrenched trooper I can choose from linked HMG/Spitfire, AD, Camo, elite unit with far superior BS, etc) as well as the ability to dictate engagement range. ARO units aren't roadblocks, they're speed bumps. Their role is to slow enemy down, restricting his maneuverability and making him lose orders without achieving much in terms of objectives or kills. Additionally this should leave the attacker with too few orders to prepare a proper defensive position. Then launching a counterattack upon an unprepared foe.

    What's more, place on spectrum between "focused on attack" and "focused on defense" changes very often. My original battle plan might be for a full out offensive; it probably won't survive first contact with enemy forces, so I'll have to readjust; I will change it on a turn-by-turn basis, in accord with how me and my opponent stand when it comes to casualties and objectives.

    Let's take this list for example:

    [​IMG] Shock Army of Acontecimento
    ──────────────────────────────────────────────────

    GROUP 1[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]10
    [​IMG] KNIGHT OF MONTESA Spitfire, Chain-colt / Breaker Pistol, Shock CCW. (2 | 50)
    [​IMG] NAGA Hacker (Killer Hacking Device) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 30)
    [​IMG] NAGA (Minelayer) Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 27)
    [​IMG] PEACEMAKER Heavy Shotgun + AUXBOT_3 / Electric Pulse. (0 | 21)
    [​IMG] [​IMG] AUXBOT_3 Heavy Flamethrower / Electric Pulse. (- | 4)
    [​IMG] REGULAR (Sapper) MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 22)
    [​IMG] REGULAR (Minelayer, Sensor) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 14)
    [​IMG] REGULAR Lieutenant Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
    [​IMG] REGULAR Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
    [​IMG] REGULAR Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
    [​IMG] TRAUMA-DOC Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 14)
    [​IMG] PALBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3)

    GROUP 2[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]6
    [​IMG] BULLETEER Spitfire / Electric Pulse. (1 | 23)
    [​IMG] MULEBOT Hacker (EVO Hacking Device) Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 25)
    [​IMG] PATHFINDER DRONBOT Combi Rifle, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 16)
    [​IMG] FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8)
    [​IMG] FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8)
    [​IMG] FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8)

    6 SWC | 299 Points

    Open in Infinity Army

    It can work both in assault and defense, depending on who starts first. It gives me multiple attack options, and also allows for defense in depth. I can either leave the forward strike force in place so that enemy has to deal with them first and go for objectives, or use them for a deadly alpha strike. What I'll do depends on the table, opponent, initiative, and finally luck.
     
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  11. Herr Hörn

    Herr Hörn Well-Known Member

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    I'm always really into game theory, so this thread is really exciting for me.

    As it seems, most people are able to adapt playstyles as needed, and that's natural. I don't think of this idea as an "Every player is one of these types and can never play any other style" but it comes down to more slight preference. If given a quite open-ended mission, what kind of units does the player pick? Personally I always err on the side of more defensive units, mines, and other defensive measures, making me a castler or a staller.

    I feel however that Staller is kind of a weird type. I think it should be more divided into different "tags".
    The main ones would be offensive or defensive. Do you mainly believe in winning by being an unstoppable force or an immovable object.
    Then onto that we can add other tags, such as "extremism or toolbox" where extremism is that you prefer to put as much points into your strategy as is reasonable, and toolbox is that you prefer to have an as wide array of choices to do different things as possible. The first option is more prone to fielding 150+ pts links or 100 pts TAGs, whereas the second might field as many different things as possible.

    Then there is the approach to missions. Assuming the mission is not to kill the opposing force, players usually either divide into those who seek to claim objectives as soon and as many as possible, versus those who seek to begin with stopping the opponent from being able to achieve the objectives firsthand before claiming them for themself. I dunno, call it "antagonist or buttonhunter".

    Of course, none of these are binary, but rather a spectrum where you can fall to either side or in the middle. Furthermore, you may adopt different tags to play differently depending on situation, mission, or army. Whenever I bring out SAA I just run straight towards my opponent, but that never really happens otherwise.

    However, I know from personal experience that whenever I'm list-building without a mission in mind I always tend to take as many different options as possible, with cheap links and an emphasis on good defensuve units. Whenever I'm picking deployment or initiative, I prefer deployment over initiative. And when making my game plan, it involves setting up safe zones on my table half where my opponent cannot push through so I can move freely to claim the objectives and withdraw to safety before his turn. As such, according to my own system here, I would be a Defensive Toolbox Buttonpusher, summarizing my general gameplay behaviour, my way of listbuilding and my method to win games.


    @Wolf I think that very few options are inherently offensive or defensive. In the case of mines, it really has to do with how you intend tl use it. Is the mine places there to hinder your opponent going forward, or to allow an opening for you to push through?
    Now, naturally, it will probably be both, but I'd argue there is ne of those two options which will be preferable to you in a majority of situations, and that will be indicative of your "main" playstyle.
     
    #11 Herr Hörn, Mar 6, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
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  12. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
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    Thanks for the input guys!

    As I said in the beginning, but maybe it was not clear, I do not think my original theory was foolproof, but I do think some kind of similar analysis can be made into Infinity playstyles. The problem with an Axis Analysis is that it becomes less of a rock-papper-scissors thing, but I guess it does become more precise.

    Perhaps splitting the types into two axis: Defensive-Offensive and Generalist-Extremist would make more sense? Based on what @Stiopa , @Ioricus and @Herr Hörn have said?

    Something like this:

    Defensive-Offensive: Indicates whether a player is more likely to rambo pieces or focus on their attack models in the active turn. Also whether a player likes to have initiative more than deployment and so on.

    Generalist-Extremist: Indicates whether a player is more likely to use expensive pieces and more focused lists or if they are more likely to build their list with a 'take all comers' mentality, trying to cover all bases when they build.

    Again, I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm just trying to find a good and easy way to talk about listbuilding and so on. By having an easy classification I can help the surprisingly large influx of new players in my community to find their favored style more easily, then later they can adapt more.
     
  13. Herr Hörn

    Herr Hörn Well-Known Member

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    No theory can become perfect, there will always be exceptions and situations where it no longer applies. However, one can get som understanding of the game by trying to create some general "rules".

    I guess we do lose a bit of usability in the analysis by removing the idea of that "against this opponent, players playing like this will have a better chance of winning" but I don't know how often that plays in in Infinity as it seems to me that the one who wins is the one who's plan succeeded, and I haven't played enough games to see a pattern there.

    I think an axis is a good idea though, as it allows for more combinations of types.

    If we were to break down Infinity into parts where people might differ in behaviour, what would those parts be? We have "game plan" (offensive/defensive) and "list-building" (generalist/extremist). Are there any more parts to infinity that could separate the player-types clearly?
     
  14. ZlaKhon

    ZlaKhon New scale enthusiast

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    I have a hard time finding myself in these descriptions.
    I play several different factions and my list building usually revolves around making the faction shine by focusing on what they do well. The „game plan“ for my Ariadna is very different from my Steel Phalanx. This doesn’t mean that I would always pick the faction best suited for the missions played at a tournament, but that within the constraints of the missions (think highly classified or biotechvore) I want to focus on the good stuff.
    Trying to force a playstyle onto a faction, which it wasn‘t designed for, can still work out relatively well in infinity as execution is still the most important factor in winning, but if you plan to finish a tournament with thee major victories it is probably not the way to go.

    As soon as the game starts, I try to stop worrying about anything but order efficiency.
    Essentially each turn I ask myself what I can currently accomplish in a given situation and how it helps me win the game. Of course my Ariadna lists with two (almost) full combat groups and alpha strikers such as Uxia, Dog Warrior and 2 Spetsnaz HMG are designed to cripple the opponent so much in the first turn that the rest of the game is just a formality. But maybe in a given setup this isnt as efficient as a more defensive turn, in which some Irmandinhos grab objectives, some mines get dropped and my impetuous units advance while remaining in safe positions without easy LoF.
    To me the measure of how good a player is would be if they can identify all reasonable options and can evaluate their efficiency (within the limitations of infinity being a dice game). Of course an important skill is to constantly update these considerations (at best after every order spend) to avoid following a strategy, which was already invalidated by the outcome of a previous action.
    So in my personal world view the very personal aspect to separate players would be their affinity to risk. Would you choose a very safe option (shooting someone in the back, laying some mines, activating some antenna, healing someone,...) or a high risk option (rampage with a squishy alpha striker, who has to spend some orders to get in position akd may die due to a lucky crit, investing several orders jus to put a template on a link, ...) provided that both options would have the same risk/reward ratio.

    This way of looking at the game has helped me a great deal to clean up my thought process. So I would suggest that instead of wondering what type of player you or your opponent might be, you should consider what type of situation your opponent and yourself are in and how you can use it to your advantage.
     
  15. Scactha

    Scactha Member

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    Another approach to building a theory would be to ask what tools a player prefer and what armies they feel fit? That says something about their mindset from the start. Obviously the tactical situation is ever changing, but I´d say most players have a rough strategy they feel comfortable with even though the tools shift appearance.

    Myself I dislike attacking with big footprints. Link teams, offensive Rems and Tags rub me the wrong way because it's harder to protect them once they are upfield. On the other hand I like them in defense as their reach is bigger.

    On the offense I prefer small footprint, ease of access, but also disposable tools. Thus offensive troops that e.g. doubles as missions solvers are anathema. As such Malignos, Noctifers, Rasail and AD troops are my favourite picks.

    In summary I do want to attack and defend, but how about I approach this is my personal preference. I think this is recognizable in most players. Locally we have a player that wants to drain the defense with a stream of warbands and wouldn´t dream of sending up some expensive model on the attack unless the area was mostly cleared. Another is the reverse. He likes massive links charging upfield, crushing any response on the move. A third loves his long range weaponry. Snipers and launchers on every perch.

    As such, I see alot of personal strategy. More seldom something that fits a general approach on offense/defense. To me it´s the tools.
     
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  16. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
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    This is close to what I've been trying to come up with. It's an interesting point, but the biggest issue I guess is categorizing things in a way that makes sense and can be quantified or at least qualified somehow. The whole point of the discussion is to try and fing 'categories' or 'labels' that can be assigned to players and/or lists. In a sense, I see that we need to split the reasoning into two:

    List building: what one takes and what they consider when building lists. This generally takes some different approaches but I guess this is where the Generalist/Specialist axis comes in, but there could be an Expensive/Expendable axis too or perhaps an Elite/Horde one.

    Actual tactics: I know a lot of people say they adapt and change and so on, and it's true, but nobody is 100% adaptable and everyone has preferences. In this way, there should be a similar thought to the above. Perhaps an Objective/Killing axis in oposed to OrderSpam/Elite axis?
     
  17. Wolf

    Wolf https://watchwolf.net

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    Morat Commander feel comfortable with following strategy:
    Morat run toward enemy; if Morat still alive; Morat kill enemy.
    Strategy is rough; but so is war.
     
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  18. eciu

    eciu Easter worshiper

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    Unless you a Nomad with BS13 and mimetism ^^
     
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  19. Solar

    Solar Well-Known Member

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    I think some people certainly have playstyles and a character on the table, whether it's preference, natural comfort, personality or just a belief that those tactics are superior. I certainly think you can anticipate what someone will do based on past experience with them and their "style."
     
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  20. zavros

    zavros Well-Known Member

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    I agree that players tend to fall into certain play styles based on the models they bring. I tend to like high order lists that involve a lot of board control (hassassins and usa basically). Under your play styles, It would be a mix of staller and pusher.

    I've been writing a guide that goes into detail on list building and this is something I've had to think about a lot.

    I've noticed similar patterns and I think they are more associated with what the list is doing and what mission the list was built for. First and second turn also plays a big role in how your list is going to function that game but some lists definitely function better when going first/second.

    For something like Frontline here's a couple game plans I've thought about or seen used in tournaments.

    Long Range Castle. These lists tend to be made of HI links and tags, but it works with just about anything as long as it has some models that are tough to push into. The game will revolve around long range firefights on your turn, then partially hiding on your opponent's turn to force them to spend orders coming to you. These types of lists really want to go second.

    Rambo Castle. You castle for most of the game, but you can throw away a rambo model or 2 (usually infiltrators or drop troops) to drain as many orders as you can without exposing most of your army. You still spend most of the game sitting back, but instead of long range fights you push flanks instead and try to damage their order pool. These lists are fine going first but probably prefer going second.

    Infiltrator Spam. Lots of camo markers spread out in zones on buildings and other hard to reach places. You don't really spend orders moving up into zones so you can pick up small skirmishes here and there with minimal orders. Your looking to drain orders from your opponent both on your turn and their turn with minimal losses. It's sort of like a castle but a lot more flexible in how aggressive you can be since your have a lot of models already in a good position. These lists are fairly flexible in going first or second.

    Warband city. Push the board with lots of smokes and impetous models and try to trade up with all of your models. It can punish castles that don't leave out models to aro or bad deployments with grouped models. The benefit is you have a lot of orders to work with so pushing to your opponent's side of the board isn't as hard as with other lists. These lists really want to go first most of the time, second works if your opponent doesn't set up properly on their first turn.

    Pure Rambo. Your going to kill all of your opponent's important models with an insanely strong rambo model (for ex. Sphinx or Achilles), the plan is similar to castle rambo but instead your trying to keep your Rambo model alive by pulling back to a safe spot at end of turn. You could potentially win the first turn, but usually you end up killing a few things each turn until your opponent is out of good options. These lists prefer going first, but second can work well if your opponent isn't able to damage your order pool.

    Midfield Brawler. You basically kill any infiltrators your opponent left out in the midfield and then set up in the midfield to make it hard for your opponent to counterattack. It consists of moving models to the midfield and setting up suppressive fire lanes after killing 1-2 things. Your spending a small portion of each turn advancing into zones so you don't have to spend your potentially limited orders later. First or second works fine, they are looking to fight on both turns.

    This isn't comprehensive but I notice that for the most part people follow these trends. Armies tend to mix these strategies together and can shift between them pretty easily. You could go even further and break down models by what roles they fill for these strategies.
     
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