Version 1.87 – Gameplay Notes

I have been playtesting with various players in the last few days and am happy with the results so far.

The low morale Pikes turned out to be a great reminder for all players about the under-used rally ability. The change also nicely stutters the start of each campaign battle or at least gives Commanders something interesting to think about.

The removal of long-range grapeshot came with a bonus. Namely, the addition of long-range cannon fire, starting at range 2. It might seem obvious, but I was stung more than once with this and my opponent managed to rack up multiple locked hits unexpectedly. Damage may have been greatly reduced for range 2 targets, but now the cannon fire keeps going for quite a ways. I also liked that battles were not overly focused on the cannons. That was a very welcome change.

With the controversial SF penalty for falling back, it has been a mixed bag, but overall far more positive by far. My battles have definitely felt more intense and exciting.

The downside is that it can sometimes be anti-climatic if your opponent retreats their weaker units and leaves you with the objective prize. However, this can be a realistic outcome sometimes. Regardless, the battles now have a more conclusive feeling to them. The victor gets to savor the win more, the losing commander gets to bitterly watch his keep (or whatever) be overrun and taken. It sets the stage for a more intense next battle,  where the Commander that lost, really wants be the victor the next time around. I like this.

That said, I just had a fantastic battle with Rotamouche where I was a bit stronger (or luckier) and overtook the area around his keep, but just barely. His deeply injured commander had to retreat and leave the fighting to his remaining units which also fell back, but just a bit. I had the dilemma of going for a keep kill (not easy with injured units) or trying to finish him off. Since I was already surrounding his keep (and his Commander was far away, behind a small army of troops)  I decided to start wearing down the Keep. Well, this also had the effect of wearing my troops down and then Rotamouche counter-attacked when our sides were somewhat equal again. I thought victory was mine but now I am not sure what will happen next. We are still fighting (at time of writing this), and if he manages to push me away from his keep will he have enough to take over my keep? I am quite pleased with our seesaw battle. This was exactly what I was hoping for with the SF fallback penalty. A spectacular and intense battle all around one of the keeps. Previously, I almost never had first battles this good, as one side would usually fallback at the slightest hint of unfavorable adverse conditions. I feel the Campaign battle experience is now as I had originally hoped (when I had originally created the campaign). They are now utterly perfect.

I’ve also noticed that more battles now go to completion. There is certainly a lot more commitment to battles now. So all in all, I feel that grapeshot change, the pike morale and the SF fallback penalty – are three ideal tweaks for our aging game. I think 2018 will be a great year for Musket Smoke battles.


Musket Smoke, 1.87 update

I hope that everyone is having a good new year so far. I have been busy with making iOS applications for a long time now, and so it’s nice to finally dust off my hobby app and spruce it up a bit. This is the second update within two weeks. This particular update is for the loyal Dukes who have stood by Musket Smoke for all these years. From now on, my focus on updates will be for the loyal Dukes. I feel that I have done plenty enough for new players, as many past updates were just for them.

There are two major issues that I wanted to address with this update. The first was way too many easy fallbacks in the campaign, just to save an SF unit. The second issue, that affects every battle in and out of the campaign, is overly defensive play because of the cannon’s long long-range grapeshot. The change to Pike morale in the campaign was just to add a tiny bit of realism. The morale change should also shake up and make each campaign battle more interesting.

So the update was mainly this:

• Range 1 grapeshot only.
• The player that falls back no longer gets an SF unit reward.
• Pikes units lose 1 confidence (campaign only).
• Artillery Run battle has changed. No more race, some trees added.

The biggest change with the 1.87 update was the range reduction of grapeshot. This was done to better balance defensive options across all units and not unrealistically ‘over-depend’ upon cannons for defense.

Initially, I enjoyed the over-powered cannons as much as anyone but as time passed it hurt the larger game as a whole. We want more tactical movement in general (protecting flanks, etc) and less fear to close the ranks and melee lock with our opponents. Every single battle in both Mini Maps and the campaign will be deeply affected by this change. I’m looking forward to all the fresh new aggressive battles!

Siege cannons were also overpowered because when you combine the move and fire capability with range 2 grapeshot it becomes effectively range 3 grapeshot. The advanced cannons can still move and fire but now only with range 1 grapeshot. The Cannon Showdown map will now be a better battle, more realistic and the cannons will really need their troops for support when things get hairy.

The next biggest change affects the campaign. If you fall back you get no SF unit reward. Your winning opponent will still get an SF unit if you fall back. This only affects the Commander who chooses to leave the battlefield.

For too long I was overly focused on worrying about new players and the snowball effect (a strong player gradually becoming too strong due constant rewards, which hurts the campaign in terms of fun competitive battles). Now I believe it’s time to reward the strong players and Dukes who have stuck with us all these years. This rule change will make the campaign more intense and dramatic for experienced players, and hopefully, keep newer players from being too reckless.

So again, I am concerned with the snowball-effect anymore. Not at all. This is a new change in thinking. I even considered ending the campaign if the user fell back. Instead, we have this ‘bonus life’ of the player can continue without a pat on the back and a reward. There should probably be only 3 bonus lives as this is a computer game, but right now that has not changed. You can still fall back as much as you like. The fallback is SUPPOSED to be painful for the loser and now it is.

With a completed battle objective, win or lose, both sides will still get re-enforcement SF units. However, if a commander screws up and needs to survive to fight another day then no SF reward. This will reduce the frequency of overly casual fallbacks because someone doesn’t want to risk losing an SF unit. Now if you fall back you are CHOOSING to lose an SF unit for the right to continue fighting another day. So now there is a significant price for screwing up or a cost for playing too casually.

Why this is good? Because it should liven up the games quite a bit. Just make sure the rule is honored. Do not let your opponent off the hook. If your opponent concedes then force him to fall back. Your WIN reward is that he doesn’t get an SF re-enforcement. Don’t let him con or guilt you out of your reward. I know some players might say “Hey, you win, ok.. you can kill my keep”. Don’t be suckered and conned out of your reward by these guys. That is just using psychological tactics to minimize their losses. In this case, it’s better to go for the throat and try to kill another SF unit or the Commander.

Honor your opponents and the spirit of the game by forcing fallbacks and not accepting bribes for easy wins. The campaign will be a LOT more fun with high stakes if you take turns making each other fallback, with some battles resulting in a completed win where both sides get re-enforcements.

As to worries about the snowball effect, we have the four horsemen handicap rule to address lopsided SF units in later battles. Or the losing side can just up the stakes and play riskier in an attempt to even the odds, which is always fun. Sometimes it is just better to go out with a bang or a valiant attempt at a comeback. Also, keep in mind that the opponent with more SF units has more to lose. Things can change pretty quickly if you kill an SF unit and then force a fallback. Now suddenly the SF difference has changed by 2.

Another significant change to the campaign is the idea of conscripted pikemen. We can now assume that pikemen didn’t really want to be part of the battle as much as the other regular troops. So they all have slightly lower confidence than the others. What this means to battles is not as significant as it first sounds as they can still do a rally to bolster confidence to normal levels before each battle. So what is the point then? Well, first it’s a turn or two wasted for pikemen to get into position if you want confident pikes. However, you now have the tactical option of just rushing in with some fear in your spines and taking chances with lady luck. This will be a significant and interesting decision that each commander must make before each battle. If you want the initiative in battle, then you pay for it.

Also SF Pikemen now just have a +1 confidence as well (down from the old +2 confidence). So this also slightly adds to the value of winning a battle vs losing it, when both sides are rewarded for a completed battle.

Before I get to the summary, I want to make a special shout out to the deeply respected top Duke Mentors. Thank you, and I hope that you continue your good work, especially now that it’s optional. “gazzalw” is the hero of the day here! However, I also appreciate everyone who participated and is still participating. Especially Duke Mentors with at least 2 digit points (10 an above). There is nothing more welcoming to a new game when grizzled old Duke level players help new players get a chance to make some kills and get settled into the game.

So in summary, I can hardly wait to play Musket Smoke 1.87! Mini Matches were starting to get a bit stale for me because the long-range grapeshot was producing an overly defensive playstyle. So I will definitely play all of the mini maps again, deeply enjoying the more aggressive playstyle. Likewise, I can hardly wait to see how the dramatically new campaign plays out now.

The whole game should feel refreshed. Every battle will be affected by this grapeshot change and the campaign will be entirely new. With hesitant pikemen, less defensive play, and SF units that won’t fall back when things get interesting, the campaign battles should be a whole new tactical game.

Now the only question is… Who will dominate the new style mini matches? Which Commanders will develop a bloodlust for SF units in the new campaign? Who will be the great conquer?  We shall see…

Happy New Year!

( btw: I did not add any advertisements, I’m not getting any money from them. WordPress added them automatically because this is a free blog. It’s annoying, I know. )

Musket Smoke, 1.86 update

Merry Christmas!

Update Details:

  • A new map added for Mini Matches.
  • Campaign’s first battle artillery units changed.
  • Training mode is no longer enforced.
  • iPhone X UI updated.
  • Removed video recording ability.
  • Rematch button added.

Thank you everyone for your patience. I finally managed to get some free time to address my hobby app – Musket Smoke.

I will probably add more maps later as well. I just wanted to get this one out quickly to fix the iPhone X UI issues first.

The first battle of the campaign should be a little less defensive now without the howitzer and siege cannon. I’m looking forward to trying that out and also the new Mini match map that should be an interesting open map fight.

I’ve had a few reports of people abusing the enforced training mode. So that has been removed. Also I didn’t mind removing it since it seemed to annoy more people than it helped.

Now that iOS 11 can easily record any app we no longer need that video record feature. I don’t think anyone was using it anyways. So I re-added the old rematch button that used to be there. If you have multiple matches going on the rematch button might sometimes decide to match you with one of them instead of the last person in that particular match. Let’s just call that an intended feature for now.

Hopefully everyone is doing good, and having a decent holiday.

Next update planned out..

I offer apologies for recent in-activity with Musket Smoke development.

A new job just has me tied up for a while with some important tasks. I actually have some new map designs for mini matches and a few spruce up tasks all queued up. It’s just bad timing right now. One of these weekends I’ll be caught up and will give Musket Smoke some refreshing update love.

It’s just a matter of time. In the meantime, I deeply appreciate faithful players helping to keep the online community alive.


Woodie Dovich

iOS 10 has changed some things..


I like that you can drag down your iOS 10 notification to read the entire damage report now. (Or 3D touch if it’s on the lock screen.) This is a welcome change.

Also some of you may not be aware but iOS 10 Game Center has made some radical changes.

  • No more Game Center App.
  • Apple is phasing out the ‘Friends’ paradigm.
  • Friends (and recent opponents) are still there found in ‘Recents’ so you can still start friendly matches, but you can no longer make ‘new friends’.
  • No changes to ‘random’ matches.

The system in iOS 10 replacing friends requires iCloud to be turned on and lets you send a match request to anyone via email, or iMessage, or whatever social media. If the person receiving the match request doesn’t have the game they get directed to the App Store.

The help video in the game is now obsolete with iOS 10 and needs to be replaced.

A Summary of recent changes.

You can see what is in 1.84 in the next update section.

Summary (includes 1.81-1.84)

  • New player training zone. If your units get disabled then you are not training the new player correctly. Read the mini guide.
  • You can once again attack and fall back, unless your attack kills an SF unit.
  • No rain.
  • Individual campaign battles can potentially award 1 ELO point.
  • Duke Mentor leaderboard – for Mentor Matches.
  • No more muzzle smoke from Artillery.
  • Toned down artillery in campaign. Added SF Cavalry.
  • New players can start 7 free Mini Matches.


I’m now done with the tweaking and changes. Likely this build will be it, unless there is a bug that can’t wait. Don’t be shy about sending me an email if you have any questions or concerns.


Musket Smoke, 1.83 update

Training mode should not have been allowed to be activated for experienced players. My apologies for any games hurt by my mistake.  😦

The 1.83 update: 

  • Removed rain.
  • Only new players can turn on training mode.
  • Training mode auto turns off when player is not a new player.
  • Training matches award no ELO points. (Treated as a friend match)
  • Campaign matches vs new players do not award the 1 ELO point bonus for winning a campaign battle objective. So if your opponent is a ‘Musketeer’, ‘Private’, or ‘Lance’ then you get no bonus point.
  • A training mode warning indicator, for both sides to see.

Training mode mini Guide:

The concept is simple, but often misunderstood mainly because to some of our experienced players do not have english as a first language (or even a second). So I’ll try and provide more detail below.

This new update shows what is training and what is not. So instead of ‘Round 8 Summary’ in the dialog, you will see ‘Round 8 Training‘. This is important as training mode is not a match. It’s not a battle and it’s not where you show how to make unit kills.

Training mode is letting the new player engage more with the units and make some progress. The new player gets to see the attack indicators show attack targets, make a series of attacks until finally they get to remove some of your units from the board. This also lets them see how scoring works. Not everyone plays solo or even does the tutorial. Plus almost every new player is quite apprehensive about their first online experience.

Training mode is only half the match. It continues until the player has defeated 5 units. Then training mode turns off and you can once again make multiple kills.

If you can’t attack then just move your units and enjoy letting the new player figure out how to defeat units. You can’t attack because you are attacking the new player rather than training them. It means that you are doing it wrong.

Training mode is not a match. It is ‘taking turns’ to defeat units.

Training mode is all about the new player getting to experience some kills in a live arena.

Again training mode is not a match. It is training mode. Please do not quit the training mode. This is for your opponent, not you. There are no ELO points to be gained for both sides. The reason you can’t attack is because it’s not your turn to attack.

I want new players that don’t yet have a sense of the game so well, to have a few kills in live online mode. That means for the first half of the match that you take turns getting kills.

I kill. You kill. I kill. You kill.. etc..

Training mode is training the new player, not the experienced player. Let the new player make some kills. Be generous and let the new player have a turn at killing. It won’t be for long, only new players with less that 30 pies will be able to activate training mode. It will then automatically turn off forever after they ‘graduate’.

Why do we have training mode? Because only 1 new player in 100 sticks around after you kill them quickly. Lets see how that stat changes after you help train new players. Also only 25% of our experienced players are honouring Mentor Matches. Training mode is here to enforce protection of new players. To help them ease into the game and eventually become regular players for you to play against. This is for your own benefit.

Training is not really the correct term here. This is before training. This is just letting your opponent have a feel for the battlefield vs a live opponent and how to do some basic attacks. Like a charge or a flank attack. If you kill a player 10-0 or 10-1 once or twice, then you hurt Musket Smoke and the community as that player will not come back. The analytics show this to be true.

How to properly handle a training mode match:

  • Don’t over kill. Doing so disables your whole army for a round or more. Be smart and don’t fight against what training mode is designed to prevent.
  • If your army is disabled, it is because you trained incorrectly. A good trainer never has disabled units.
  • Sacrifice your weaker units to keep scoring parity.
  • Just play patiently and watch the score. Wait. Let your opponent have a few rounds to figure out how to kill a unit.
  • Enjoy the extra challenge vs a new player and try to make sure they can enjoy the match as well. Remember it’s not worth any ELO points, so let the new player have fun! It IS training mode after all. Both players will always be aware that this is a special training mode.
  • Feel free to win (if you can), but don’t feel the need to be overly competitive.


Rain might come back one day.

Future rain might have a short burst, say 1-5 rounds long where artillery can recover from after it stops. However, muskets will stay wet. There will also be looming dark cloud warnings before the rain comes. It should be more random. And not every match, there should be sunny days as well. Also it should never rain in the first half of the match. The overall atmosphere should be a looming dark cloud that is threatening the battle and so players should start preparing and adjusting for the coming rain. Alternatively, white maps could have snow instead and the effect could be movement reduced by 1. Footprints might also be a nice visual effect to compliment the snow.

Special thanks to armin1962 and cochie-pigy for giving me feedback on the rain.


A few thoughts on recent ELO changes

ELO points are hard earned in the campaign. A bit overly hard earned I thought as campaigns can sometimes be quite epic. Still its a dramatic change to allow a potential bonus point for individual battles. The focus of the campaign should remain a battle between SF units as winning the campaign is worth even more ELO points. Plus winning a campaign (the war) always feels great. Still not enough value was given to the objectives which used to pay with Special SF units, but that was not good for the health of the 2 player battle. So now we have a potential ELO point for each battle if the objective can be won (and the opponent doesn’t fall back).

So this means you will still get 2-4 points for winning a campaign (and 1 for losing), but also each battle objective is potentially worth 1 bonus 1 ELO point.

So how will this play out with the individual battles?  First of all you get no points if your opponent falls back.

Winter Keep: Usually this battle ends in a fallback, so probably no bonus point here. Unless you take out the keep you get no ELO point. I’ve taken out the keep myself a few times, but it is rare. It’s good that it’s rare actually otherwise too many bonus ELO would be awarded.

Howitzer Bridge: This battle has a much higher chance of earning you a point. These battles are often close. The problem though is that it will be dead obvious that you will win in the next round when your howitzer is 2 hexes from the bridge.

The Wheat Fields: This battle is fairly rare to score by taking out the ammo hut. But doing so is often sudden and fairly easy. So there is a higher chance of getting that precious ELO point here because there are many places to hide. Beware the player with the extra leader unit. Also keep in mind that the new SF Cavalry does 4 damage to the hut, and a leader unit does 6. I scored a kill with my SF Cavalry unit recently and the confidence promotion made him capable of doing 5 damage to the building. Then I distracted the enemy with a huge crazy attack while the one SF Cavalry unit took the hut single handedly.

Cannon Showdown: This battle has a fairly high objective win ratio, so this one is one of the best maps to have a decent potential for a bonus ELO point. I’m thinking to reduce this to just a 1 vs 1 cannon battle soon.

The Breach: This battle is often a great chance to earn an ELO point. It is very common to win this map via taking out the Keep. So this is probably your best bet on getting a bonus ELO point.

Artillery Transport: Now that there is value in moving to the right, this battle should be a bit more interesting with the potential for an ELO point hanging in the air.

The Big Siege: There is no objective point here, so it’s not possible to earn a bonus ELO point at the moment. I am open to suggestions on improving this map. What would be a good objective on this map (for both sides)?  Send me an email.

Naarden: I am not sure yet, but there might be a bonus point here too if you defeat all 10 muskets and get 10 green points. No promises.

Not everyone is going to like letting you earn a bonus ELO point, especially the extra competitive players but I think if you want to GET these bonus points you need to also GRANT them (by not falling back). If you don’t let your opponents score bonus points then they will do the same to you. Players that show each other more respect and good will likely have a bit of an advantage in the leaderboards. Think deeply before you snub someone out of a hard earned ELO point. That said, the choice is yours to make and not granting a point is also a valid decision in the game.

Don’t be angry if someone denies you a bonus point, but remember who it was and feel free to do the same to that specific person. But keep in mind it will not always be a snub. Some will simply prefer the original low scoring matches, and that is fine also. Likely bonus points will be quite rare as many people will fall back frequently because they feel an SF unit is threatened, the commander is in Danger or they have no hope of winning the particular battle and don’t want to drag it out AND watch you score a bonus point. So there are many valid reasons to fall back.

The new rule that removes the fallback button (if any unit attacks) will also improve chances for a bonus point.

So to dominate the Top Commander Leaderboards you need:

  1. Tactical skill.
  2. Lots of participation (more chances, plus even a loss pays 1 ELO)
  3. Be a good sport (enhances chance for bonus points).
  4. Protect your SF units, and also try to defeat opponent SF units.

It’s still possible to dominate by sheer force of will and just kill everything that moves in the campaign, but now there is also a slight reward for being a good sport (when possible).