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Subject: Quick but strategic medieval/fantasy wargame combat rss

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Daniel W
Australia
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So I'm working on a gaming project of my own. Call it a fantasy spin on Freedom in the Galaxy. However, I am a little dissatisfied with the combat resolution. I've looked over the advanced/2.0 variants as well as Down with the Empire, and the combat, for all it tries to add strategy, boils down to throwing a bigger pile of units at the other guy. Which is effective (I have the rules for Pax Romana, found after much Googling and BGGing, on hand as my current resolution mechanic) but a tad boring.

First question - Am I wrong? Are CRTs secretly the most amazing and tense thing ever and I'm just missing it? I know they're designed to be somewhat realistic, which I definitely appreciate.

Second question - Combat mechanic for this game. Here's my wishlist:
1) Quick enough to be resolved as part of a larger game
2) Allows player decisions beyond Attack and Retreat to affect results
3) Fantasy units (pegasus knights, dragons, wizards etc) that are interesting and varied and create strategic and tactical decisions (i.e. more than just a different picture on a strength number chit)
4) Terrain is a consideration

I have this crazy mental image of nine terrain cards laid in a square for center, left and right flanks, and a no man's land between the two armies, chits on the cards for maneuvering and positioning, but that might be a bit ambitious. Again, I could be very wrong. It certainly doesn't sound quick enough for what I need.

I look forward to the suggestions; thanks in advance!

May your dice never falter!
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Jason Cawley
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For what you are after, I suggest borrowing a couple of mechanics from a sci fi context, specifically the old GDW game Imperium. I will describe the key mechanics and how it maps to your fantasy context.

The combat procedure was that the defender places his unit first, but only up to the attacker's number of units if the defender has more. Then the attacker must place one unit opposite each defending unit, pairing off against an opponent, in effect. Next the side with the most units can place his excess opposite any of the enemy units, including many vs one being allowed. Alternately, excess can be screened, paired with nothing - then they won't be shot at but also don't shoot that round.

There are two combat ranges, long and short. The first round all shots are long. After that there can be additional rounds at long or short, as described below. In your fantasy context, long would mean any kind of missile combat and short would mean melee. There is only one range for all pairs for the while round.

Besides a short and a long attack factor, each unit is also rated with one defense factor used against either type of attack. In Imperium that was "screens", in your context it is armor, same idea.

The pairs each fire at each other. In Imperium that is simultaneous, though of course some units have stronger long range attack etc. In your context you might want to allow some form of "first fire" to some units, to denote speed or range more minutely; if both had that, they would simul fire etc.

Now the key point. There was a simple CRT fir each of long and short attacks, attack vs defense yielding one number. You just had to roll that number or higher to hit, and a hit took out the enemy unit. A few biggest units took 2 hits to KO. Hits were significantly harder with the long than with the short fire table, vs the same defense. Roughly, equal attack and defense was 5-6 to hit at long, 4-6 at short range; higher defense cut those by 1; attack might need to be 2 higher than defense to raise it by 1, etc. Importantly, hits became impossible vs well defended units for weaker attackers, so lots o littles was not optimal. And there are no adds - each shooter only gets its one shot.

Round is over when everyone has shot. Remove the dead.

Next, each side rolls a die with +1 for the more numerous side. Winner picks the range for the next round. Ties it stays whatever it was last round. The winner can instead pick "break off" - that results in one final round at long range then the side so choosing retreats from the battle. The retreating side shoots with a 1 penalty in the break off round.

Fight 3 rounds, or until one side is dead or breaks off if you don't want ties (Imperium used the latter).

What works about it? It allows tactics, force composition choices and races, specific match ups matter, gives a trump role to uber units but not too much so, gives important edges to numbers of units but one that weakens if they are individually too weak, etc.

Basically it lets you have heroic unit differences. But it is still fast and clean and not a whole different game every time you have a battle.
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Daniel W
Australia
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This...is excellent. Though I'm not able to find the full rulebook, I did find a summary at http://files.geekdo.com/geekfile_download.php?filetype=appli... - is this what you're talking about?

I can see a lot of possibilities here, especially if I work in a few special abilities here and there to mix things up. There are commanders as well, so I will have to think about how to best implement differences in commander quality.

Happy for any other suggestions, of course!
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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How much variation do you have in your unit types?

For quick, but good resolution look into Battlemist. (The game was later re-done in a second edition as Runewars, but you want the combat system from Battlemist.) The rules document is in PDF form here: Battlemist Rules Scan. You want section 3.3.2, combat, starting on page 15.

Units in Battlemist had a "rout" number and a "kill" number. You rolled a d10. If you beat the rout number you routed one enemy unit, enemy's choice. If you beat the kill number, you killed one un-routed enemy unit (unless he had no un-routed units), again the player who took the casualties chose. Combat took place in order, with archers first, then cavalry, then infantry (and monsters).

There was also a limit on number of units that could fire each battle round, and an "overrun check". If your army took two casualties in the preceeding round and had no footmen left your army was overrun. You immediately lost the battle and all remaining units in the space were killed.

There's more to it than that; read the rules for a further elaboration. It was a very good combat system, while still being quick-resolving, and thematic for a fantasy/medieval setting. It forced tough choices on the players, too, and was easily modified by "spell effects". It could work very well for your game.
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Daniel W
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Hmm. I'm not a fan of the arbitrary number limit, and I do like the variety I can create with the Imperium system. I might work a rout/retreat mechanic into in somehow, but it's a great foundation on which to build, and simple enough to understand.
 
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Imperium is available as a download on

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/60170/CTG00Traveller-I...

Bit pricy for a download which needs to be printed out but if you can buy a physical copy its well worth it.
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Kent Reuber
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Have a look at Wizard Kings. It has a tactical system with left right and center flanks. The rules are available for download.
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Daniel W
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Ah, the rotatey block system! For a hex-based wargame, I can see this working a treat, but I mulled it over for application in mine and decided it was a) cost prohibitive (big wooden blocks aren't cheap), and b) size prohibitive (the board would need to be HUGE, as it has ~50 distinct spaces and reasonably sized armies). So, as cool as they system is... =(
Thanks for your ten cents worth though!
 
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Kent Reuber
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You don't need to use blocks necessarily. You could, for example, use counters to mark each army on the main board and have the units of the army held in a separate area. Units could be simple counters with normal and reduced strength, or you could use markers to track strength. When two armies enter the same hex, just move the units from the holding boxes to the battle board.

Here's what I did for Columbia's 3rd edition Napoleon game, because I thought the board was too crowded.

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Jason Cawley
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Imperium's page is here - http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3661/imperium

You don't want the "reimplemented" 3rd edition - they bolixed up the beautiful combat system in that one. You want the original 1977 edition.
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Peter Collins
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kentreuber wrote:
Have a look at Wizard Kings. It has a tactical system with left right and center flanks. The rules are available for download.


Wizard Kings doesn't have that mechanic. Quebec 1759 had the first rudimentary version. Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 is more sophisticated, especially the newest version with the terrain pieces.

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Peter Collins
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kentreuber wrote:
You don't need to use blocks necessarily. You could, for example, use counters to mark each army on the main board and have the units of the army held in a separate area. Units could be simple counters with normal and reduced strength, or you could use markers to track strength. When two armies enter the same hex, just move the units from the holding boxes to the battle board.



The Struggle of Nations had a sophisticated version, where your forces are kept off map on unit displays, represented by the commander on the map. There were rules for attrition and supply and all. Combat was more complicated than a simple CRT.

It was strategic, but not quick. Maybe not exactly what you're looking for.
 
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Jason Cawley
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God no, Struggle is a horrible model. The game was flat-out unplayable.
 
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Daniel W
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Given how much I liked JasonC's suggestion immediately upon reading it I might take his word for it. =)

By the way, how does the hit and armour roll work? The summary I read is infuriatingly vague on that front. I was going to rig it as you roll equal or under your combat rating, with a penalty equal to the enemy's armour. So a HtH of 4 against an opponent's Ar 2 would be 4-2=2 so 1 or 2 to hit. Or does Imperium do it differently?

Also, as all units will have a "Decimated" status before being fully destroyed, would a rule that says a 1 if your to hit is 3 or higher, or a 2 for five or higher, equals unit destroyed outright, be a good idea? Like so:

Control Points Needed For Victory
Atk v Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Dam X X X X X
2 Dam Dam X X X X
3 Kil Dam Dam X X X
4 Kil Dam Dam Dam X X
5 Kil Kil Dam Dam Dam X
6 Kil Kil Dam Dam Dam Dam


Also, I have some ideas to mix it up a bit more...will post as I develop. =)

Compiling my multiple posts.
Reading the Waterloo rules...I had a very similar idea to how they do terrain. Once I've had another look at my notes after a day or two I'll put it up here.

Edit: Having another look now and I am INTENSELY torn. I love the differentiation you get with Imperium's HtH-Ran-Arm stats, and I love the flanking/overrun/morale/reserves mechanics of Waterloo, but the units are too simple for my tastes. I'm wondering if there's a way to mash the two together...I'm happy to take ideas; I'll mull it over on this end.

Edit, part deux: Okay, so I think the Waterloo battle layout with the Imperium combat mechanics (defender puts forward, units attack each other, damage as needed) and using archers instead of Waterloo's artillery will work. Now I just need a morale mechanic - not a fan of Waterloo's 50/50 chance.
 
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