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Thread: The Battlefield

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    The Battlefield

    We have some long-experienced players, students of military history, and just all around creative people here. I am curious as to what people's favorite strategic and tactical warfare systems are.

    If not other systems, how satisfied are you by the Birthright resolution rules? (off the battlemat; just the BRCS units and conditional modifiers)

    What suggestions do you have for amending these?

    I recognize the value of BR's abstract system, allowing many explanations and much GM-arbitrated conditionality. However, desiring a more comprehensive resolution system, I would like to see more and better conditional modifiers (multiple battlefield terrain areas, weather, fatigue, discipline, effectiveness of commanders and communication systems, etc.).

    I also think the lack of a logistics system, though quite understandable, leaves a lot to be desired in warfare that is normally determined by logistics issues--in that logistics determines fielded army sizes, concentrations/formations, and strategic targets. Not having supply lines to worry about, fields to forage, or much reason to skirmish, I think we have more pitched battles in BR than is realistic.

    But what do you all think?

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    I read it a very long time ago, but I remember enjoying Cry Havoc system for battles. Fields of Blood is probably worth a look into too (I have it, but I don't remember the combat system at all, I can give it a look this weekend if you are really interested).

    Edit: I have just remembered that the Command & Colors battle system can be probably pretty interesting too to get ideas. Try to get a peek on BattleLore or other board games using it, they are usually very well rated (checked on BoardGameGeek.com).
    Last edited by Vicente; 03-28-2008 at 10:45 AM.

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    Senior Member The Swordgaunt's Avatar
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    I use(d) a system originally developed by Green Knight and a mutual friend of ours. I have since expanded it a bit to allow for more versatility and nuance.

    The system uses battle-cards for each unit, and the battlefield is portrayed by laying out sheets of paper. This allows for maneuvering on the field, and thus a more interesting portrayal of the battle. The system also puts some emphasis on deployment. Combat is resolved through comparing scores for melee, missile, charge, defence and morale, and rolling 2d6.
    -Harald

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    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    Before anything else you have to decide how detailed you want the system to be...and how much of a board-game your trying to make.
    Cheers
    Bjørn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

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    Alas, I'd love to play board games, pushing columns or minis around on a map, but I don't have a group with which to do that at the moment. I do expect I may when I move back closer to friends and family in a year or two and I'd like that kind of thing then, but in the meantime I'm limited to online/PBEM stuff--which, yes, is a huge limitation.

    That's one of the reasons I'm working on a layered BR system (sort of like the BR computer game, though I hope to do much better than that) that I can introduce new people into with a relatively limited and fast-moving scope, and then more advanced versions.

    I have Fields of Blood, which I've skimmed but haven't read cover to cover in detail. I like a lot of its options for formations and battlefield maneuvers, and some of the ideas for assets of provinces and so forth, but I find the overall system too cumbersome. Too much calculation at the province level as well as to generate unit statistics.

    I also have White Wolf's Spoils of War, which I've read even less of at this point. That book seems good mainly as a near-academic presentation of what warfare was like, and less a resolution system.

    I have seen Cry Havoc, and I'll try to check it out in more detail.

    It is currently my opinion that the BR unit stats are a good and workable start to a better system. I'd mainly like to see more tactical detail and options in the system; both a quick resolution system, and one that can be delved into in more detail if there is the time and desire. I'd also like to see a logistics system for the first time.

    I have company over again this weekend, but perhaps next week I can post some of my ideas for introducing logistics in a simple, abstract manner that can still heavily influence warfare. I throw in supply trains, depots, and foraging, in addition to the pillage that already exists. Most of these things, though, can be assumed by default until they are attacked/contested. Even without getting into the super-detail of drawing everything up on the map and playing out exact points of attack, a more abstract logistics system can still make generals worry more about supply and force strategy to be affected in major ways by these needs.

    Thanks for the input so far. I'd like to hear more about the Green Knight system

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    Senior Member Lawgiver's Avatar
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    The few mass battles we've done have always been done on a skirmish level with the PCs and roleplayed/dictated on a larger scale based on the PC performance and discussions/planning levels pre-combat sequence.
    Servant of the Most High,
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    We've also used some custom made system, which was pretty simple. It was used when we didn't delve into BR.

    You'd group/train a unit with same statistics, weapons, armor, THAC0 (talking about 2e), so they'd deal a group damage. A hit with a unit with broadswords would do like a 3 dmg against, let's say, 1HD+3 unit (though this doesn't matter, it could be 2HD unit or any other). We didn't use cards, just some representation of a unit, like a mini. Maneuverability was not a problem, wherever and whatever you wanted to move or do was not a problem. Just apply some simple rules and logic.

    Things I didn't like was that the system was a bit unbalanced. Your unit could have died in a few lousy dice rolls, and some bonuses didn't apply, while others were exaggerated. You had like a commander that was 3rd level and he'd give +1 dmg and that meant three successful rolls to wipe a unit. I don't have to mention what bonuses a 5th or 7th level commander would get. Sure your units would advance, but they wouldn't be a 6HD. Max we had was maybe 4HD or 3HD+3.

    So, I tried to devise a system that would take some more info, and cut those bonuses to something useful but not too much. Also, to take into account number of hits you can score when you lose a part of a unit, some drop in dmg when a unit is in play etc. The system had one tryout and had to be recalibrated, but I never got around to it.

    The way I see it, battles are important, especially on a domain level. You want a fair chance and not to be cleaned in a round or two. You also want your movement on a battlefield, maybe some "special" attacks. All realistic.

    We had a discussion about a lot of things. For example, how much would a few mixed units need time to come from province A to province B to help relieve a siege. Then, what amount of damage would different archers do against certain armor used by (heavy) cavalry, if any.
    You have to watch for simplicity and all the right factors to come into play, give a chance a player deserves.

    About other games and their rules, all of my friends said that combining the rules from the board game "Game of Thrones" would be fantastic mix. Never tried it, though. Shame.
    Rey M. - court wizard of Tuarhievel

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    When constructing group combat rules, it is best to not base all the stats off of a single typical character and have those stats represent the group. 20 men in group attacking 20 men in group B will have very average die rolls, plus the ability of groups to allow injured men to fall back into positions where they can aid another (easier to do when you're winning the combat) means that 20 men have a staying power more like a lucky version of that typical character than the normal version.

    Here are the skirmish rules I use, based on some typical group member. The group's hit points reflects about half of the group, plus is augmented by AC, since its effect is to reduce the number of hits, hence hit points lost. Likewise attack is a single figure - damage - which is done to anyone they attack.

    I use these skirmish rules more often than the war cards (although the art will be familiar) but only because the size of most battles is better suited to small group combat than large group combat. I like the war cards, they are effectively large counters from a standard wargame.

  9. #9
    I sort of like Legend of the Five Ring's mass combat system. It's not perfect, sure, but the whole concept of "heroic oppertunities" where the heroes have a chance to do something awesome that might turn the tide of the battle is a really cool one, and one I think could be adapted for Birthright pretty easily.

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    Senior Member Mirviriam's Avatar
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    We used an old battlemaster's game pieces & mat. Generic everything unless the players put in the effort to groom their units. At first they would spend time enabling all sorts of things to buff all of their units - they were a little discouraged when units were dying off. We allowed them to combine units in the campaigns to speed up recovery of units.

    Eventually they started grooming a few select units & deploying them later to ensure higher survival ability. This had some repercussions as the common man of the realm did not want to be fodder for the units. I found a bit of compromise in treating a routed unit as stackable with other units till reaching edge of the map & rallying - though they were subject to all the same damage suffered by the fighting capable unit until retreating past that unit.

    Any unit with a lieutenant, commander, pc unit got a bit more flexibility - just we kept the system streamlined as our second campaign was 9 players & two DMs.

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