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Old 01-13-2021, 10:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS Mass Combat Question

Originally Posted by PBarone714 View Post

Are there any changes between the 4th ed. Mass Combat System and the 3rd ed. Mass Combat System? What are the updates, briefly?
"Briefly" would be tricky . . .

They're two completely different systems whose only overlapping mechanic is a Quick Contest of Strategy (or Tactics), which takes different modifiers and produces different results in each edition. Everything else is handled utterly differently, too: the strength, training, equipment, special abilities, and mobility of forces; logistics; reconnaissance; the effects of terrain, fortifications, and strategic decisions; and the aftermath of battle, which now encompasses casualties, "position," and misfortunes. The Fourth Edition system takes a lot more factors into account, and gives players a lot more decisions to make. None of the stats or modifiers are easily translated between systems, beyond leader Strategy skill level.

The goal of the Third Edition system was to tackle fairly large-scale battles, even wars, in which PCs were most likely to be very powerful "super units" who added a lot of punch to their side in battle. A PC might command; that brought in their Strategy skill and not a lot else. The other PCs generally remained fighters, albeit impressive ones. Outcomes were decisive in most cases.

The goal of the Fourth Edition system is to tackle battles too large to play out tactically on a battle map; it can go up to entire fronts and wars, because it's highly scalable, but its "sweet spot" is between squad scale and battalion scale. In battle, PCs take on roles closer to staff officers, handling intelligence, logistics, planning, and leadership with a variety of skills. Those who fall outside those roles can still contribute, but do so by trying heroic actions and side-missions. Combat proceeds in rounds, with choices of strategies similar to maneuvers in personal combat, and there's ebb and flow as forces gain and lose advantage.
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