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Old 03-04-2017, 06:24 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Default [Mass Combat] Mass Combat in Action

A few times in the past I've asked questions about Mass Combat, but last night was my first chance to actually use it in play. Here's a quick post about how it turned out.

The Setting: We are the House of the Raven, a collection of adventurers attempting to climb the social ladder and make a name for ourselves. I am Terry, wizard, warrior, and leader of this group. During our adventures we discovered a vein of mithril buried in the mud of a dangerous, goblin infested swamp. We approached some political allies of ours, and formed an investment group to finance the collection and working of this mithril. Myself and my companions were to handle the on site operations at the mine, including administration and defense. As goblin attacks were to be expected, we requested and were granted funds for a defensive force stationed in the fort. Five months into our mission, after the first of the defensive fortifications had been created, a strong force of goblins organized and marched against us.

The Forces: Our defensive force was small, being limited by the living quarters we were able to construct. They consisted of two elements of heavy infantry, two elements of bowmen, one element of light infantry, two elements of miners, and an element of light artillery. Most of our forces were trained and equip specifically for jungle combat. Our party was seven strong (five PC's and two important NPCs). We ranged from 150 points (newest party members) to 300 (Terry, surviving since the beginning of the campaign three years ago), and as such contributed a significant amount of TS to our forces.

I put together a spreadsheet to calculate TS, Logistics, ect. The full details can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

The enemy marched upon us with massive numbers, with the most accurate count we got being 1500 strong against our 70. They had among their numbers large ogres, with thick enough hides to count as armoured elements, and wyverns to claim dominance of the skies. A few elements of orcs provided the heavy infantry to their force. Their elements were all trained for jungle operations. Their weakness lay in their equipment and supply, both of which were in a terrible state of affairs.

The Battle: We received reports of goblin movement out in the jungles two months before the battle took place. We considered marching out to track down the enemy, but decided the risk of the mine being destroyed while we were gone was too great. Instead, we stayed at our fort. We were immobile, but still Patrolling in the hopes of spotting our enemy and ambushing them.

The goblin force gathered its strength and marched upon us in the dead of night. Working through the reconnaissance Contest we discovered our military commander (Brook, a wizard and skilled strategist) had yet to finish training the Intelligence Analysis skill. They were 40 hours away from completing it, and would have it finished by the end of the month. The enemy claimed +1 for being friendly with the locals (they are the locals), but our GM spared us the -2 for being hostile, because the humans in the area were friendly with us as well. The enemy possessed both Recon and Air superiority, but our single flying mage was able to contest the air enough to lower their bonus from it to a +2 rather than a +3. Jungle is the easiest terrain to ambush in, doubly so at night and going into the roll we were all nervous. Our choice to keep our patrols out seems overconfident considering our enemy. The roll was made, and we lost by 6. We were surprised, but not ambushed, thanks to the resistance our flying mage was able to put up in the air.

The enemy marched against us directly, and chose a pitched battle (Removing the edge they gained in surprising us). We took some time to calculate our relative strengths and weaknesses in the different catagories, and to compare total TS. The enemy had us massively outnumbered, and claimed a +4 for having between 2 and 3 times our TS. In addition they had significant air coverage, total cavalry superiority, and some armour superiority (I count as armour as well, with powerful protective magic). This gives them a +10 total. We were able to contest them on Fire Superiority thanks to our bowmen and wizards, so neither side had an edge. Our forces had total artillery superiority for a +3. As we were defending an encamped location, engineering elements mattered. Our enemy failed to bring any, so our two elements of miners claimed us full superiority for another +3. We subtracted our bonuses from the enemies, and found they had a total of +4 to their commanders Strategy score.

Despite being encamped, our loss of initiative means we do not get to claim a defense bonus during this battle. The bonus to the location comes out in our engineering forces though, so nothing more is said of this.

Round 1: Knowing we are in serious trouble, outnumbered and outmaneuvered by our enemies, all PC's are distributed throughout the forces to command different elements, and we all choose to take a full +3 to our risk modifier. We all make attempts for Significant Actions. Of the 4 PC's who aren't commanding, two succeed for a +1 each. We read through our options and settle on a Deliberate Attack for our first round to leverage our superior artillery support (in the form of mages throwing fireballs and lightning storms), and gain a +2. Our enemy chooses to Raid to take advantage of their superiority in air, recon, and cavalry elements for a +3. They are given the chance to change due to our deliberate attack, but do not. The enemy claims a total of +7 to their strategy skill, while we claim a +4. Our commander has a skill of 13, but also took a risk modifier of +3. Theirs is competent with a skill of 13. So the final count comes out to +0, resulting in a flat skill roll of 13 vs 13. We roll an 11 while they roll a 12, beating them by the barest margin! As a result our deliberate attack presses forward, gaining us a position bonus of +1. Our side suffers 10% casualties (giving a penalty of -2 to strategy) while theirs suffers 15% (Giving a -3). We all get lucky and roll higher than 9 on our misfortunes of war check.

Round 2: Our position has only grown stronger this round, and a Deliberate Attack still seems like our best option. Likewise, our enemy chooses to Raid again. This time we have an additional +1 from our position bonus, and our enemy has suffered 5% more casualties than us, giving another +1. We once again take maximum risk as we command our elements, and significant action gives us another +2 this round. The final skills at the end are our 15 against their 13. We roll and get a 9 vs their 12, a solid victory by 5! Our advance into their lines continues, and we inflict another 20% more casualties to them. Our own forces suffer 10% in return. At the end of the round we've also increased our position bonus by +2, setting it to +3 total. Unfortunately two members of the party are hit by misfortune of war, one of whom is our commander. They suffer 7 and 6 injury, but are able to keep fighting.

Round 3: We've secured ourselves a solid advantage over our foes, and continue with a Deliberate Attack again. Now at a significant disadvantage (Our skill ends up being 6 higher than them this round), the enemy begins to flee and makes a Full Retreat. We stay near max risk and push our attacks with significant actions, claiming another +2. Our rolls are against tied skills of 13 again. This time we roll an 11 to their 10, and the enemy is able to escape, with their Full Retreat reducing their normal 10% casualties down to 0%. Likewise they inflict no further casualties on us. One more party member suffers the misfortunes of war, and takes 8 injury.

After the Battle: Our commander succeeds their leadership roll and rallies our forces. We hold the field, figuring that the goblins have plenty of bodies to spare anyway, but our own men are limited. We regain 5% casualties by seeing to the wounded quickly. We loot the field and regain $10 000 from our own casualties, plus $100 000 of supplies from the enemies. We used the cash to replenish our forces.

Comments and Observations: I noticed a few things with Mass Combat with this battle. First, it's critical to have at least some elements in as many different types as possible. If you have a type the enemy doesn't have you get a huge +3 to your Strategy skill.

Second, as powerful adventurers we are were able to bring a ton of TS to the table compared to our actual army. Being attacked at night halved our normal troops TS, but most of our PC's are capable night fighters, so they accounted for a good half of our total TS.

Third, significant actions are a game changer! Every PC is able to potentially give a +1, and the misfortunes of war are relatively minor (two failures risk taking you out of the fight, but one is almost always acceptable). The commander being able to take +3 for a +3 to skill is huge as well. Since the enemy force didn't have an important NPC at the helm, we assumed it couldn't take positive or negative risk.

Four, battles are almost always determined in the first one or two rounds. If our first roll had failed, we would have been at a penalty going forward, which we might not have overcome. On the other hand, battles seem easy to disengage from if things are going poorly, so attacking, retreating, then reengaging seems like a valid tactic.

Overall, we're very happy with how mass combat worked out. It let us fight out a huge battle without just hand waving the results, and the results seemed about right (Small well trained force defeats huge but poorly equipped and supplied army, but just barely). We'll be using mass combat more in the future!
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I run a low fantasy GURPS game: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdo...YLkfnhr3vYXpFg
World details on Obsidian Portal: https://the-fall-of-brekhan.obsidian...ikis/main-page
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Old 03-04-2017, 10:32 PM   #2
mlangsdorf
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Mass Combat in Action

Since I've been running a Mass Combat game for a while, I've been evolving my own spreadsheet which is here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...7HKWsvxU2LiMY/

Couple of notes, and why I think it is superior:
* The Element List Page lets you add special element types with non-standard rules. For instance, in my game, orc troops cost $2K less per month to maintain but are all Night troops, and I just added them as separate troops in the tracker. But the force rosters do lookups from the Element List, so you only have to type in the values one time.
* The individual subforce listings (ie, Trahaern Force or Skyler force) are linked back to the Full Order of Battle and to each other, so you can split forces up by adjusting the Count column on one page and have it automatically tell you how many elements of that type are Unused. You can also use this to record casualties: reduce the number of elements assigned to the Trahaern force, and it shows up as Unused on the Full Order of Battle, and you can then reduce the count there.
* You can copy, or even link, a subforce listing to another subforce list, on line 8, and then lines 9 and 10 will automatically calculate TS and Class superiority bonuses for EACH force, including (class) modifiers. You said you had trouble in play calculating that stuff and my sheet offers a solution.
* If you put the word "siege" in cell A4, it calculates TS and Class superiority for a siege, ignoring cavalry bonuses and calculating engineering bonuses instead.

I suggest you take a look at it and see if you can leverage it for your campaign.

As far as your battle goes, I'm surprised the enemy passed up the opportunity to take you by surprise. An encounter battle would have probably worked in their favor, and forcing you to Rally on the first turn would have kept you from gaining PB if you had won the Strategy contest.

The rest of your experiences mostly match ours, though "each force commander ... must choose a Risk Modifier" (MC p 33), so the enemy commander should have had to choose. But he could have just chosen 0.

I have seen a PC commander get knocked out of a fight due to Misfortune, but it's only happened once in the about 30 rounds of battle that have played out through the campaign, so it's pretty low risk.

Session notes from my own Fantasy Mass Combat game are written up here: http://noschoolgrognard.blogspot.com...bel/New%20Dawn
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Old 03-05-2017, 12:26 PM   #3
VariousRen
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Mass Combat in Action

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
Since I've been running a Mass Combat game for a while, I've been evolving my own spreadsheet which is here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...7HKWsvxU2LiMY/

Couple of notes, and why I think it is superior:
* The Element List Page lets you add special element types with non-standard rules. For instance, in my game, orc troops cost $2K less per month to maintain but are all Night troops, and I just added them as separate troops in the tracker. But the force rosters do lookups from the Element List, so you only have to type in the values one time.
* The individual subforce listings (ie, Trahaern Force or Skyler force) are linked back to the Full Order of Battle and to each other, so you can split forces up by adjusting the Count column on one page and have it automatically tell you how many elements of that type are Unused. You can also use this to record casualties: reduce the number of elements assigned to the Trahaern force, and it shows up as Unused on the Full Order of Battle, and you can then reduce the count there.
* You can copy, or even link, a subforce listing to another subforce list, on line 8, and then lines 9 and 10 will automatically calculate TS and Class superiority bonuses for EACH force, including (class) modifiers. You said you had trouble in play calculating that stuff and my sheet offers a solution.
* If you put the word "siege" in cell A4, it calculates TS and Class superiority for a siege, ignoring cavalry bonuses and calculating engineering bonuses instead.

I suggest you take a look at it and see if you can leverage it for your campaign.

As far as your battle goes, I'm surprised the enemy passed up the opportunity to take you by surprise. An encounter battle would have probably worked in their favor, and forcing you to Rally on the first turn would have kept you from gaining PB if you had won the Strategy contest.

The rest of your experiences mostly match ours, though "each force commander ... must choose a Risk Modifier" (MC p 33), so the enemy commander should have had to choose. But he could have just chosen 0.

I have seen a PC commander get knocked out of a fight due to Misfortune, but it's only happened once in the about 30 rounds of battle that have played out through the campaign, so it's pretty low risk.

Session notes from my own Fantasy Mass Combat game are written up here: http://noschoolgrognard.blogspot.com...bel/New%20Dawn
Looks like a nice sheet, I'll have to pull some of your features into mine! I wrote up a special one for my own group because we're using a modified version of the logistics rules, and it does the calculations for which town we're drawing supplies from and at what distance. It's worked out really well, and let us use Mass Combat to represent static defensive forces (like our own guard force) as well as armies marching far away from any supply.

I think the enemy failing to commit to an encounter battle was just a lack of understanding what it was. There isn't a good description of the differences in Mass Combat, so he went with a pitched battle because it seemed to be a full engagement rather than just skirmishing.

Risk modifiers are so huge that I think we'll be seeing our commander cap out their risk every time, unless we already have a huge edge over the enemy. For individual PC's it's less important, because even with max risk and all the bonuses, you're rolling at a 10 to give a +1 to the commander.

How have you dealt with important NPC's in your games? Are they able to take significant actions as well, or do you limit that to PC's only?
__________________
I run a low fantasy GURPS game: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdo...YLkfnhr3vYXpFg
World details on Obsidian Portal: https://the-fall-of-brekhan.obsidian...ikis/main-page
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Old 03-05-2017, 12:44 PM   #4
mlangsdorf
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Mass Combat in Action

I actually house-ruled that the commander's Risk Modifier doesn't apply to Strategy rolls, because I think it's importance in the standard rules is too much. It has more influence that most strategy modifiers. I just let the force commander try for significant actions like anyone else.

I do let NPCs try for significant actions. Every enemy force has at least a named force commander, and often a subordinate commander or two. I think the most they've faced at one time was four named NPCs on the other side.

The current version of my spreadsheet actually has multiple commands on it, some garrisons and some field forces. As it's currently configured, Trahaern's force is a mobile force, Skyler's and Aisling's forces are mobile forces that doesn't have any troops in them, and the Garrison Force and Training force are encamped. The Orc Cmpy and Orc Elite tabs are sample orc forces, and can be mobile or encamped forces depending on the circumstances.
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