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  1. #1
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    This is in response to a posting on a list for the Shattered Dreams pbem,
    but I thought the members of br-L might have some good input on it. My
    response is at the bottom.
    Flame me if you don`t like the crossposting. :)

    On Mon, 4 Nov 2002, Morg wrote:
    > I think the turn 1 blitzkrieg fashion is a result of the years of PBeMs and
    > the history of games folding aafter turn 3 (if they make it that long). I
    > wasn`t around the BR scene in the earliest days, and maybe I`m way off base,
    > but I would suspect that the first few PBeMs to hit the internet were rather
    > different than the norm we see now.
    >
    > Why do PBEMs fold? Well, mainly because of the immense amount of work it
    > takes to resolve a turn.
    > So, disect a turn, and what have you got? War Moves, just as Herbert
    > mentions.
    >
    > If however, the players understand the vlaue of a long term campaign, and
    > adjusted their style accordingly (the first step is to realize that Raenech
    > didn`t just suddenly take over, and that little rebel Willie has been
    > running around for a good length of time - an iconic concept that I think
    > many of the players tried to express in the pregame set up of Dreams, yet
    > the turn 1 blitzkreig still occured unfortunately) then the pace of the game
    > would clip along fairly quickly I suspect.
    >
    > Having run PBeMs in the past, I noticed the trend you mention, and every
    > player worthy of his salt tries to stuff as much action and `do-ables` into
    > each turn as they can, attempting to squeeze as much life out of each
    > precious action as they are able. If however, the basic precept of the
    > player was similar to what you discuss, then I think the DM would suddenly
    > find that his time to process turns has significantly dropped. Instead of
    > resolving 13 free actions, 1 domain action, 1 lt action, and numerouos war
    > moves for each player, the turns would be smaller and more streamlined,
    > allowing a faster turn around, and thence a longer game.
    >
    > War Moves are the priamry reason for PBeM heart attacks IMO. Most players
    > don`t understand how the war card system is suppose to work, and when you
    > add the hundred and one decisions that need to be made in each phase, their
    > use over the internet becomes very limited and at the very least, very time
    > consuming. Now, if a DM has to resolve 3 war each turn (that`s 4 moves for
    > each player involved, plus additional "response moves" ie.
    > stand/retreat/movement), you have just multiplied the work load by whole
    > heck of alot. (My math sucs, so I won`t even try ot figure out the actual
    > ratio.)
    >
    > It`s much faster for the DM to resolve a "Create Holding" action, than it is
    > to resolve a war. No doubt about it.
    >
    > SO in my mind, I think the solution to this phenomenon is not to alter the
    > time frame of the turn phase (though the 1 action=1 year concept is
    > appealling in several aspects), but to change instead, the root style with
    > which the masses play the game.
    >
    > No easy task.
    >
    > Morg

    I think some of the problem is the video game roots of some significant
    portion of current PBeM players. I tried The Gorgon`s Alliance, and kind
    of didn`t like it for this reason- strategy seemed to revolve around
    Create Holding, Rule, Rule, Rule, Rule, Muster Troops, Blitz. Repeat,
    vary slightly. Maybe I was playing it wrong, but I doubt it, because this
    is the strategy I see people using in PBeMs. It will take a big stick to
    curtail this.

    There are a lot of common house rules already- one of them is limiting
    province Rules to 1/[given time period]. Another is a lag from Muster
    Troops to the troops being available, usually on the order of 1 month/GB
    muster cost. These combat the BR:TGA strategy from above.

    We can take this further. If you REALLY want to curtail the first round
    blitz, make Declare War a 12 GB action the first turn. Reduce the cost by
    1 GB/turn. After 3 years, it will be down to normal cost.

    Or, more seriously, make Declare War and Move Troops variable cost. 3 GB
    each in winter, 2 in spring, 1 in summer and fall. In winter it costs 3
    GB and 3 RP to declare war, and 3 GB buys you 10 province-units of
    movement (5 in hostile territory). Give reasonable bonuses to defenders
    in those months, too. Then start your game in the winter- you`ll have six
    months of harmony. The silence will be deafening.

    I think a part of the problem, in addition to the Sudden PBEM Death
    Sydrome, is that the first turn is really your best opportunity to declare
    war. Most landed regents in Anuire are barely breaking even on income vs
    maintenance, especially with house rules like the Court Costs chart which
    say everyone needs a 6 GB court to do Decree and Diplomacy at regular
    costs with no penalty. You start the first turn with a treasury though,
    so if you succeed at a war your first turn, you`re all right. If you
    wait, your treasury gets eaten away to nothing while you try to Rule up
    your domain to a sustainable income level, and it`s years before you can
    try anything. Most pbems don`t last years, so that comes in again.

    There`s a final part of the puzzle I`m seeing. Create Holding is easier
    to resolve than a War, because it`s a single die roll. Fix that.

    The attacker can prepare a plan of advance- what provinces he will advance
    through. If you`re feeling generous, let them adjust it week to week.
    For every province in which the defender offers battle, do the following:

    Both sides get a d20 roll. Add to each the sum of the war card Attack
    Values for the army (or some more appropriate number, this is off the top
    of my head), give a bonus to the side that has better terrain or
    fortifications. +5 maybe.

    Battlewise blood ability gives a +3 bonus. Isn`t there a proficiency in
    the Rules book for war? Strategy, maybe. A successful proficiency check
    gives a +3 bonus.

    Roll both dice. High sum wins. Low man gets routed back a province, or
    captured if there`s no line of escape. Cross off some units based on how
    much he won the roll by (maybe 1 unit per 4 or 5 spread on the roll).
    Done.

    Reduce the sucker to some chart look up, addition, and two die rolls (4 if
    both sides have the strategy proficiency). Obviously I made these numbers
    up off the top of my head, and they`ll need tweaking, but this has a
    couple of effects. It makes wars way faster, good for the DM. It makes
    them more random and allows less room for anal-retentive control of every
    fricking unit- bad for the player, so they`ll want fewer wars.

    PBeM isn`t like the tabletop game, where you can sit with a couple of
    buddies, shoot the breeze, and push your units around the board. Battles
    make a nice change of pace in tabletop. DMs in PBeM end up resolving a
    damn lot of battles, basically sitting by themselves staring at a couple
    of emails and wondering why they volunteer for this, and they need to do
    it fast or people who aren`t in on the battle wonder why the game isn`t
    progressing. And they have to do it turn after turn.

    Only you can STOP the first round blitzkrieg. :)
    --
    Communication is possible only between equals.
    Daniel McSorley- mcsorley@cis.ohio-state.edu

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  2. #2
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    The fastest way, IMO, to eliminate the turn 1 blitz is to strike down the
    ability to military units to destroy holdings. This means irregulars could
    be raised in the former ruler`s law holdings of 2 or better, and infantry in
    3 or better. With allies back in those territories, this possibility
    increases.

    Further, I`d not allow investiture without the consent of the defeated
    landed ruler. The best you can do without his acquiesces is control the
    territiory and tax the people. No RP, no counting the province in contest
    actions, and no levies.

    So, if Avanil grabs Endier, then Guilder Kalien could sit back in Seaharrow
    in Boeruine and keep resistance alive in Endier. It would give new meaning
    to the status of being occupied.

    Slow the pace of war and the ability to absorb conquered territories and you
    quickly begin to present the dilema of all RL conquerors: biting off more
    than you can chew.

    What if Ghoere decided to move into Endier (pushing Avanil out) and restore
    the province to Guilder Kalien. Ghoere could leave a garrison, Kalien could
    just resume his rulership, and Avanil would have gained little for their
    trouble. Especially if the cost of maintaining the occupation forces was
    larger than the tax revenue (which it almost certiainly is).

    War is generally a short term gigantic expence, balanced, one hopes, by the
    long term benefits of conquest. In BR, you can turn around and start
    getting a return on that investment right away.

    Wars of aggression should require diplomacy actions to convince the estates
    to support you (or effectivly make higher taxes and possibly other actions
    immpossible). You may have to get several bodies behind you either because
    of the size of your realm or the fact that you don`t have allies to do it
    for you. I would make Medoere consult with the estates, the temples, and
    the nobility before doing much of anything militarily (besides defend).
    Each consultation would, in effect, a full diplomacy action. This is one of
    the side problems of having a duel realm.

    One question I always like to ponder is, "how unified is a realm
    organizationally?" Is Roesone a collection of seven provinces, each
    independently ruled by Marlae? If so, she has to convince each province
    separately of each policy initiative. Or is Roesone a single polity which
    spans seven administrative units ruled collectively from Marlae`s court?

    Its possible to make buying a new horse take two years if you want it to.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  3. #3
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    On Mon, 4 Nov 2002, daniel mcsorley wrote:

    > Or, more seriously, make Declare War and Move Troops variable cost. 3 GB
    > each in winter, 2 in spring, 1 in summer and fall. In winter it costs 3
    > GB and 3 RP to declare war, and 3 GB buys you 10 province-units of
    > movement (5 in hostile territory). Give reasonable bonuses to defenders
    > in those months, too. Then start your game in the winter- you`ll have six
    > months of harmony. The silence will be deafening.

    Excellent suggestion, for tabletop games as well. For those who want to
    see a more feudal-style, summer-only army, consider increasing maintenance
    costs by the same multiplier; then it becomes prohibitively expensive to
    always keep a large army in being, forcing one to raise it anew each
    spring. I`m not sure I`m happy with that last part of the idea, but it
    sure would keep armies smaller. I think I might use it if I made it apply
    only to those troops located in provinces not invested to their commanding
    regent for at least a certain period of time, perhaps a full year;
    supplying troops in winter in foreign lands that armies have been marching
    around in all summer and fall is supposed to be a major headache.

    > There`s a final part of the puzzle I`m seeing. Create Holding is easier
    > to resolve than a War, because it`s a single die roll. Fix that.

    For PBEMs, I feel this is an extremely good idea. The war mechanic in
    standard BR is perhaps the hardest thing to translate to an email-only
    campaign (only RP bidding comes close), given the immense amount of
    back-and-forth interaction it assumes happens easily and rapidly.

    > Reduce the sucker to some chart look up, addition, and two die rolls (4 if
    > both sides have the strategy proficiency). Obviously I made these numbers
    > up off the top of my head, and they`ll need tweaking, but this has a

    Off to a good start -- the concept is quite sound. For a more detailed
    set of numbers, look at Solmyr`s "Birthright War Machine", based loosely
    on "The War Machine" from the D&D Companion Set:

    http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Fortr.../brwarmach.html


    Ryan Caveney

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  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ryan B. Caveney" <ryanb@CYBERCOM.NET>
    Sent: Wednesday, November 06, 2002 2:37 PM


    > Excellent suggestion, for tabletop games as well. For those who
    > want to see a more feudal-style, summer-only army, consider
    > increasing maintenancecosts by the same multiplier; then it
    > becomes prohibitively expensive toalways keep a large army in being.

    Ryan mentions some ambivalence when suggesting this modification. One thing
    you might do is add one exemption: troops in garrison. Troops that go into
    winter quarters (and therefore can`t move) pay normal maintenance. Using
    troops in an active way, even just relocating them, costs the greater amount
    of maintenance.

    I also don`t allow levies in spring or fall turns. Well if someone
    insisted, I suppose you could raise levies, but I`d impose the effective
    province loss for the next four turns to reflect the lost inputs to
    agriculture. Its cheaper by far to hire mercenaries.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  5. #5
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    On Wed, 6 Nov 2002, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    > Troops that go into winter quarters (and therefore can`t move) pay
    > normal maintenance. Using troops in an active way, even just
    > relocating them, costs the greater amount of maintenance.

    OK, I think I`m sold. =) Making sure to note -- as I`m sure you intended,
    but I think deserves an explicit mention -- that occupation of enemy
    provinces, counting as a law holding or anything else actually useful
    counts as "using troops in an active way" even if no interprovince
    movement is involved. Riding around outside in the snow means a lot more
    work for the chirurgeons and stableboys, and means you eat through your
    supplies much faster.

    > I also don`t allow levies in spring or fall turns. Well if someone
    > insisted, I suppose you could raise levies, but I`d impose the effective
    > province loss for the next four turns to reflect the lost inputs to
    > agriculture. Its cheaper by far to hire mercenaries.

    Yes, definitely. Taking large numbers of farmers away from the fields at
    planting or harvest time ought to be a major disaster. There should also
    be a loyalty loss to go along with the GB/RP loss, to reflect the
    resentment caused when the regent forces people to starve themselves.


    Ryan Caveney

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