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Old 01-27-2017, 01:12 PM   #1
ericthered
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Default Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

I'm looking at doing a mass combat game in a setting inspired by early Yrth (IE, during the banestorm). I want species to be a big deal: Elves are not the same orcs, who aren't the same as goblins, and Halfings really shouldn't do as well when you stick them in a shield wall.

I know mass combat isn't meant for wargaming, but I think at least something can be done to reflect that this unit is made of elves while this one is made of orcs.

Ideas I've had so far:

A good number of the optional features are very useful:

Existing Features:


Impetuous: Any race I want to indicate as 'savage' probably ought to have this. Orcs certainly make the list. Of course, this is likely to be the case with a good number of human elements as well.

Terrain: A great option. Its almost immediately obvious that elves have the forest terrain ability. The same might be said for dwarves underground. Doubling it in some cases seems a little excessive though. I'm not sure what other terrains different species would have though. Reptile men seem like they might have it for their local environment, but I'm not sure.

Nocturnal or Night: This is very promising, though in banestorm the places it shows up are interesting. Orcs (orcs!?), elves, and dwarves are fully handicapped by the dark at night, but goblins are not.

Racial TS modifiers:

This is for races that are substantially more or less suited for war than humans. This is by and large about size and strength. If it comes up, a bonus or penalty may be given for DX, but I don't see that coming up. I'm not using troop quality for this because I want more range than that, and I don't want to be constantly undoing my math to see if the halfing phalanx has maxed out its bonus.

This is also kind of folding in the ogre element to do things besides swing huge clubs, and giving the "Super-soldier" feature a lot more granularity.

I'm thinking of applying it twice as hard to some element types as others: primarily those meant to be in the heat of battle, rather than skirmishers.

Right now I'm thinking:
Halfings: -37.5%
Goblins: -25%
Reptile men: +50%
Dwarves: +25%

Yes, it works out to about -12.5% per +1 ST. that was something I arrived at slowly.

The Question

Any thoughts on the above? Any thoughts on how to make different fantasy races fight differently in combat? Or at least feel like the type of unit is important?
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Racial TS modifiers:[/B]
This is for races that are substantially more or less suited for war than humans. This is by and large about size and strength. If it comes up, a bonus or penalty may be given for DX, but I don't see that coming up. I'm not using troop quality for this because I want more range than that, and I don't want to be constantly undoing my math to see if the halfing phalanx has maxed out its bonus.
I don't really see how troop quality doesn't work here? A troop of halfling Heavy Infantry would just be one or two levels of quality lower than their training and gear would otherwise suggest. An across-the-board penalty or bonus doesn't make much sense either, I think - a bunch of halflings won't make good Heavy Infantry, but they'll probably be great Light Infantry - the ability to sneak about and fire more accurately would more than compensate for low base damage, I would think.

I'm also confused about the reference to "undoing my math to see if the halfling phalanx has maxed out its bonus". What do you mean here?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered
This is also kind of folding in the ogre element to do things besides swing huge clubs, and giving the "Super-soldier" feature a lot more granularity.
If you want to give Super-Soldier more granularity, why not just do that? If you think ogres' great size and strength really equate to being better as all types of troops, but not twice as much better, just create an intermediate step, "Impressive Solder" or something like that, that gives +50% to TS (or whatever you think is appropriate), with a similar increase to Raise and Maintain.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

I'm only somewhat familiar with Mass Combat (read it some, but don't own it myself), but Racial TS Modifiers is the way I'd go - but I'd use different modifiers for different roles. Going off typical fantasy stereotypes, dwarves make great heavy infantry but poor cavalry or skirmishers, while halflings make poor melee fighters but are excellent ranged combatants. In scenarios where stealth is important, halflings might get a positive adjustment to TS, while dwarves might get a negative one. For elves it would depend on how Banestorm elves are - Tolkien elves would basically get a boost to TS regardless of role, because they're better at everything, while D&D elves would be somewhat-similar to halflings.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
I don't really see how troop quality doesn't work here? A troop of halfling Heavy Infantry would just be one or two levels of quality lower than their training and gear would otherwise suggest.
Quote:
I'm also confused about the reference to "undoing my math to see if the halfling phalanx has maxed out its bonus". What do you mean here?
These two are connected. I raise a unit of halfling heavy infantry. These are the biggest, bravest halflings I can get from the village, so they are raised as "Good Quality Halfling Heavy Infantry". Which means they are Average Heavy infantry. Marked as halflings. If I raise them a level, they become either Elite halfling heavy infantry or good heavy infantry. Which has a difference in cost. And I can never raise this unit past "Good" to "Elite". Every-time I work with troop quality I have to make sure that the "Halfling" Troop quality modifier is in the right place, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to mess that up sometime.

Another concern is that using this scheme I can't raise the lowest level of halfling infantry at all. I have to make something up for when you pull a bunch of halfling peasant levies together. Is that a good place to get heavy infantry? No, but sometimes you need pikes, which are similar, so enemy calvary doesn't make a mess out of you.

Quote:
An across-the-board penalty or bonus doesn't make much sense either, I think - a bunch of halflings won't make good Heavy Infantry, but they'll probably be great Light Infantry - the ability to sneak about and fire more accurately would more than compensate for low base damage, I would think.
That's true... note that I said that

Quote:
I'm thinking of applying it twice as hard to some element types as others: primarily those meant to be in the heat of battle, rather than skirmishers.
Now that I look at it though, the numbers given are the heat of battle numbers, not the basic ones. I may just ignore units that don't do a lot of shoving in battle. So Halflings can be bowmen, skirmishers, and so forth without penalty, but have problems when trying to win a stand-up fight.

I'd still like to give some effect to reflect smaller overall weapons, and I love the idea of ogre bowmen showering massive arrows, but I suppose giving the smaller races an edge on their kinds of fighting does make sense.

Quote:
If you want to give Super-Soldier more granularity, why not just do that? If you think ogres' great size and strength really equate to being better as all types of troops, but not twice as much better, just create an intermediate step, "Impressive Solder" or something like that, that gives +50% to TS (or whatever you think is appropriate), with a similar increase to Raise and Maintain.
Mostly because I can take care of the small races at the same time. Though the above does have merit.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

Another thought to consider, when you have smaller races, halflings, goblins etc you can have a lot denser formations. While a Hobbit pikeman for example might be half as strong as a human you could conceivably pack four times as many into a formation.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
These two are connected. I raise a unit of halfling heavy infantry. These are the biggest, bravest halflings I can get from the village, so they are raised as "Good Quality Halfling Heavy Infantry". Which means they are Average Heavy infantry. Marked as halflings.

If I raise them a level, they become either Elite halfling heavy infantry or good heavy infantry.
I wouldn't bother with the whole "Good Quality Halfling Heavy Infantry (really Average)" business. I'd simply note them as Average Quality Heavy Infantry.

I'd say that the Troop Quality levels are pretty agnostic on what actually leads to the quality level - Poor, for example, lists as examples of "'police' or 'parade ground' armies...; units of well-trained but unenthusiastic conscripts; and enthusiastic but very inexperienced troops.". That's a pretty broad range of possibilities, who might need rather different training and leadership strategies to improve them, but they're all Poor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered
Which has a difference in cost.
I would argue that there really shouldn't be a cost difference between a unit of Heavy Infantry that's Poor because it's a poorly-trained and inexperienced band of human militia, and a bunch of reasonably well-disciplined halflings who are just never going to hit as hard as an equal number of humans. What matters is, they will fight at roughly the same level of effectiveness. Why would a commander pay more for the halfling band, just because they're technically more skilled or whatnot? A general who shells out a bunch of cash on halfling Heavy Infantry on the grounds that they're just as well-trained as an equal number of humans would be getting much less effectiveness for their money. Logically, if a unit is less effective in a given role, they're going to have to reduce their asking price, or be pushed out of the market by more-effective units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered
And I can never raise this unit past "Good" to "Elite".
There's two solutions to this - either say that no, you can't - the best-trained and lead halfling Heavy Infantry will just never be as good as the similarly lead-and-trained human version, or say that you can raise them to Elite, but it takes extra-special training. Again, the system is pretty flexible in defining exactly what sort of training and leadership is required to convert a unit to a higher quality level. As the GM, it's reasonable to say that the cost to raise and maintain an Elite Heavy Infantry halfling unit is +250% cost instead of the usual +200% (or whatever modifier you like).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered
Another concern is that using this scheme I can't raise the lowest level of halfling infantry at all. I have to make something up for when you pull a bunch of halfling peasant levies together.
I don't think this is particularly necessary, really. "Poor" quality already covers a wide range of possible levels of badness. The quality hit the halflings take from their low ST is probably eclipsed by the hit they're taking from not having any proper training in working together, or bracing for a charge, or anything like that, that human conscripts would suffer from just as much.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

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Another thought to consider, when you have smaller races, halflings, goblins etc you can have a lot denser formations. While a Hobbit pikeman for example might be half as strong as a human you could conceivably pack four times as many into a formation.
With half of the reach for each spear. Pikes are usually stacked as deep as possible anyways, so you effectively only get half of the increase. That does give you a 2 to 1 numeric advantage, but I don't know if it'd be worth it. Reach matters. As does weight. Historically armies were always looking for bigger folks to put in formation. Most famously Grenadiers.

Quote:
but I'd use different modifiers for different roles. Going off typical fantasy stereotypes, dwarves make great heavy infantry but poor cavalry or skirmishers, while halflings make poor melee fighters but are excellent ranged combatants
I've been wondering how to properly handle the dwarves "Slowness". That might be one way. I was initially considered declaring some especially fast elements to be calvary if they're up against the slow plodding dwarves, but penalizing certain roles might work just as well. Its a decent idea.
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
I would argue that there really shouldn't be a cost difference between a unit of Heavy Infantry that's Poor because it's a poorly-trained and inexperienced band of human militia, and a bunch of reasonably well-disciplined halflings who are just never going to hit as hard as an equal number of humans. What matters is, they will fight at roughly the same level of effectiveness. Why would a commander pay more for the halfling band, just because they're technically more skilled or whatnot? A general who shells out a bunch of cash on halfling Heavy Infantry on the grounds that they're just as well-trained as an equal number of humans would be getting much less effectiveness for their money. Logically, if a unit is less effective in a given role, they're going to have to reduce their asking price, or be pushed out of the market by more-effective units.
Yes, if the commander goes out an hires some heavy infantry from whichever population he wants, he pays market price. That should totally be true for most situations.

That's not the case for this game. This is Banestorm during the Banestorms: populations are being dropped in the middle of a foreign land and having to fend for themselves. So I'm assuming sometimes the best choice IS to build a sheild-wall out of halflings.
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Accounting For Race in Mass Combat

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
That's not the case for this game. This is Banestorm during the Banestorms: populations are being dropped in the middle of a foreign land and having to fend for themselves. So I'm assuming sometimes the best choice IS to build a sheild-wall out of halflings.
Fair enough, but I would assume in that sort of circumstance, the Levy feature would be common if not universal, so cost to Raise would tend to be irrelevant. And the adjustments in cost to Maintain are pretty easy to explain - your halfling Heavy Infantry unit might be Poor quality, but they also eat only half as much as the same number of humans would, so you have to feed them less. Similarly, that unit of ogres are treated as Good quality, but they also eat more to maintain that muscle mass, and thus cost more to feed.

Still, if this doesn't satisfy you, I'd suggest that, rather than making custom racial modifiers which you have to remember, I'd just make up couple new special features, "Role-Suitable" and "Role-Unsuitable". The first would apply to any unit primarily composed of a species that would be particularly good for the role, adds +50% to TS, +50% to Raise, and +10% to Maintain. The second would be the reverse, a unit mostly made up of a race that just wasn't cut out for it, reducing TS by -50%, Raise by -50%, and Maintain by -25%.
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