2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

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skc
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2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by skc » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:51 am

At a first glance of the rules, the following two queries. (I've yet to play. Lockdowns): :?:

(1) RIVERS: Looking at the 36 Terrain Cards there does not seem to be an instance where rivers will run right across the board length from one short edge to possibly the other, or to a sea. There were a number of instances where battles were fought across rivers. Also a river typically runs into the sea. This seems to me unhistorical.

(2) DEPLOYMENT: (P14) At least half troop points must be deployed in center sectors, esp Line troops. While this was often the case, it was not always. For instance Rome at one stage would deploy a large Command on one of the flanks. Seems unhistorical.

Please can more advanced players give some explanation on this, and will this possibly be considered for future Editions?
Thanks in advance.

Overall am quite excited by the look and feel of these Rules. Time and energy have reduced my play of DBM400 (I still love that large 6+ hour DBM game, but...) and I turned to DBA & BBDBA for something a bit more manageable. However I have never related to the "chess-like" DBA (esp 12e) as an historical ancients simulation, and really miss DBM with it's feel for a "C-in-C standing on a hilltop, trying to control it all."
Just perhaps these rules may be the set I'm looking for?
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Rod
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by Rod » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:43 pm

Hi and welcome.

Regarding rivers, keep in mind the battle cards are designed to generate interesting relatively common looking battlefields for the purpose of a meet up game.

Not many battles took place in an actual river, running a river across a battlefield would generate a situation where players might choose to try and force their opponent to cross at a disadvantage and it is not necessarily historical. Many generals when faced with this situation would choose to wait, look for another point to cross, and or use subterfuge to achieve a crossing first before engaging. That or the river was so paltry as to not really interfere with the troops and combat.

Alexander did not fight across the Hydaspes he found a way to cross and then attacked. The battle of Asculum is a case where one side requested free passage across a river to have an honorable battle, otherwise both armies would have moved off since neither army would try to force a crossing in the face of the enemy.

Regarding the deployment, the battle takes place between the mass of the two armies. You can still weight the battle line on one flank by adding more troops like the Theban tactics used against Sparta and in cases where a player rolls below their armies maneuver roll they can place an additional force in flank march.

Also keep in mind, these cards are for generating random battlefields, there is nothing to stop you creating any historical battlefield and deployment scenario. I do this all the time for our Grand Triumph scenarios and make sure you take a look at the GT rules for playing a triple sized battle.
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David Kuijt
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Jan 15, 2021 4:36 am

Thanks for trying the rules; hope you like them. Some short answers to supplement what Rod wrote:
skc wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:51 am
(1) RIVERS: Looking at the 36 Terrain Cards there does not seem to be an instance where rivers will run right across the board length from one short edge to possibly the other, or to a sea. There were a number of instances where battles were fought across rivers. Also a river typically runs into the sea. This seems to me unhistorical.
Very few battles between relatively equal enemies were fought with a big barrier between the two armies. If there was a big barrier between the two armies that would put one side or the other at a significant disadvantage, the side with the disadvantage would usually choose not to fight. In the real world there was a complex meta-game between the two armies as they danced over a period of days or weeks trying to get the other side to fight at a disadvantage. Simulating that is very difficult.

If we wanted to create a game with perpendicular barriers, we would perforce be required to have a complex pre-battle game where both sides attempted to outmaneuver each other and force a battlefield of their choosing. A game of bluff and maneuver and limited information and logistics and supply, where the final result of the game would be the creation of the battlefield. That would be a very interesting (and difficult!) path to take.

But it would have totally violated one of our guiding principles -- that the game could be started and ended in something like an hour.

Most of the times Biblical/Ancient/Roman/Dark Ages/Medieval generals were faced with a situation where a river divided their troops, they did not fight, they avoided battle and went around (like Alexander at the Hydaspes), or one general was too confident that the other couldn't get across and the second general did and was well across before the battle started (like Alexander at the Granicus, according to Diodorus Siculus; or like the Battle of the Medway between Brits and Romans), or it wasn't really a battle it was an ambush (like Stirling Bridge) or the battle was so complicated that simulating it as a normal battle is clearly a disservice (like Fornovo, 1495 AD).

So in addition to all that stuff, if you are trying to have a battle that is playable in about an hour, having a line between the two armies that is a river means that both sides take an advantageous position and sit and wait. That gives a very boring battle where (in most cases) whoever attacks loses. So both players wave their little swords across the river and call each other names trying to win a meta-battle of patience and taunting. We've put a lot of work into making sure that there is no "fortress" situation. Perpendicular rivers create fortress situations.

skc wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:51 am
(2) DEPLOYMENT: (P14) At least half troop points must be deployed in center sectors, esp Line troops. While this was often the case, it was not always. For instance Rome at one stage would deploy a large Command on one of the flanks. Seems unhistorical.
What is a "large command"? You can deploy half your freaking army on one of the flanks -- that's certainly a large command.

In practice there is a lot more freedom than you think; I believe that when you try the rules in practice against another opponent you'll see that. And the big thing is this -- the rule you cite above goes a long way to prevent the very peculiar "offset" or "missed" deployments that happened a lot in Armati, the DBx series, and lots of other legacy games --- and were never features of actual historical battles. Smart players in legacy games could deploy such as to put the other player in a significant disadvantage right at the start of the game by using the rock-scissors-paper aspect of the game to deploy in an advantageous but very non-historical way (Romans with all their legions on both wide flanks, and nothing but skirmishers and a few mounted in the center, for example).

Hope this helps; hope you get the chance to play against a live (vaccinated) opponent soon!
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by skc » Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:48 pm

David & Rod,

Thank you for your detailed reply.
Whilst not 100% happy about the 'river' option I guess with the <1hr game time limit it would be impractical anyway, and point taken re: historical. (at least they can still be used as flank cover)
I overlooked that, <1hr time limit. Must say, I did not take to the shorter game times of DBA (one game I had was over in a bound!) and may likely feel that about Truimph! 48pts too. However I guess the larger 144pt will give a more substantial game. (Whilst shorter games are great for learning, tournaments, time constraints, etc, I'm essentially an old DBM player, who enjoys the odd 4-6hr+ games. (but which I find difficult these days.):
I'll hopefully get some games in eventually, and then have a better idea of all the in and outs. (Vaccination? Not sure if at all this year! 3rd world. but then who knows.;)
Overall looks quite exciting and innovative.
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David Kuijt
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Jan 16, 2021 5:12 pm

I love the Grand Triumph games myself; they hit a very nice inflection point between a bigger game with more detail, but still with a reasonable time frame -- 4-6 hours as you report in DBM/MM was never to my taste.

I'm going back to the Third World later this month (i.e., the USA, whose coronavirus response could be uncharitably characterized that way); I'm unsure if I will have access to a vaccine before September or so. I have hope that my academic institution will be able to go back to in person classes in the Fall 2021 semester, but things aren't getting any better.
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by skc » Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:55 am

Yep U may be right. US does look somewhat 3rd world these days! (at least Africa's "death ratio" is less. Maybe the 'jungle juice', the sun, or just not good reporting)
I found BBDBA 36e sort of filled the gap, but I could never get used to the staggered and too fast movement, the equal elements, the square board,(at least for 12e) etc. To me it strikes me as more 'chess-like' than an authentic Ancients simulation. (after all it was originally designed as a "beer & pretzels" game to pass the time around the bar) Anyway I'm sorting my armies so that they're easily convertible between BBDBA & Truimph! Hoping to observe that German guy on the FB page with his attempt at TTS tonight.
Anyway thanks again. (& do consider maybe slipping in some lengthways river into the random Terrain cards at a later stage. I guess rules are alaways work in progress.)
Now to try sell Truimph! to the Klub!
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Bill Hupp
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by Bill Hupp » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:16 pm

I can’t add anything to what Rod and David have commented on the game itself. But I can give you my perspective as a historical gamer, interested in historical battles rather than the tournament game.

I believe the Triumph! Authors have brought the DBA core model to its logical best. What it does it does extremely well, which for me makes it a great base to do the rest of my gaming around. I don’t really care for any of the random terrain set up systems, but this one is very, very good. That being said, we never use it in our group.

Observations based on your comments (none of these approved by the first world authorities)

1- it’s a great system to teach others. Take two 48 point historical opponents that your student is interested in. Set up a historical battlefield that has the open terrain you’d see in a tournament (terrain can distract from the core mechanics). Use the QRS sheet from the game and the rules themselves to teach - they’ll get the hang of the rules very quickly, quicker if they have never played DBA before and developed that little rules twitch (just kidding!)

2- Some armies are great in 48 points and others really need more points particularly for historical battles that involve more recognizable sub-commands.

3- the simplification of the terrain rules down to groups/how many command points you need to move the troops through it, really works for terrain heavy battles. Set up a small unbalanced game/scenario with the historical terrain you are interested in (a river or a village) and try it out.

4- Change whatever you want for historical battles, the system holds up. We’ve got a bunch of grognards in our group that want to tweak things for historical reasons and I just try to limit how many we do at a time, as it gets too hard to keep track. I went pretty crazy with the SoA Telemann Battle Day game and it worked great.

5- I’ve taught the systems to my grandkids as young as 10 and it’s a game that they can get. The Q&A when teaching them was very interesting,

Bill
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by skc » Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:00 pm

Thanks Bill for that insightful advice. One point you touched upon which I overlooked is; every time I moved from DBA to DBM and vica versa, there was always that, shall we call it, "rules twitch." The two sets although similar were also different in many ways. I found teaching someone DBA could actually confuse them when they played DBM.
Using this set the basic rules mechanisms stay the same no matter what size the game gets.
One thing with the Klub all still playing DBA is that I've set up my armies so that to change from a 48/144pt Truimph! to DBA12e & 36e is relatively easy.

I envision one day trying say a 240pt which would may equate to a 400pt DBM. (still got to work it out. I still love the odd big 4-6+hr DBM400 but jumping between that and DBA there is of course, the abovementioned "rules twitch.") Besides I've always found DBA an unrealistic simulation of Ancient battle.

I too am mainly Historical gaming. I was on the DBM Tournament circuit but got tired of 5x DBM400 games a weekend, the tricks by the "win at all costs" players, including terrain and time manipulation etc. I gave up after one handicap tournament, where the top rated player in the country blatantly cheated about 3 times during the game. (he thought I was a beginner and didn't know the rules) My plea to the 3 (!) umpires fell on deaf ears and a letter of complain to the Union had no result. The sad thing is that the youngsters were picking up from these guys that this "win at all costs" attitude, was the way to be on the table and probably in life to.
Must say I've had my most enjoyable games since, but using same historical period armies, no artificial 3hr time limit, and no serious competition circuit to prove oneself on.
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by Bill Hupp » Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:48 pm

I would say the rule I experiment the most with is the command points rule. I love the simplicity of the 6 sided die and the variation it brings, it helps make every game tense.

But that being said, it does cause certain conservative behaviors that don't look all that historic to me on the table top. That disappears by the way with the bigger version of the game with 3 commands. I really like the way that was put together.

So when experimenting with 48 point historical armies (which make for great convention and training games) I will slightly tweak the command point rules. The easiest way I have found to do this is to give players a limited number of command point chips. I've done this with Mongols and it gives them the flexibility to have more 'independent' commands. It has acted more as a command point 'floor' than anything else. We have also experimented with average dice and +1's for certain turns of the game. It doesn't take much IHMO. I have considered counting some of those command point chips used as victory points for the other side as a balancing mechanism.

In the medieval period, forcing historical set ups with 3 battles is the most frequent way I have fixed the tendency for forces armies to be set up completely in a line to avoid command point failures.
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Re: 2 Questions re: Historical Accuracy Rivers & Deployment

Post by skc » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:58 am

Yes sometimes needs some tweaking. In DBM has a system that allows Regular Commanders to be able to pass command die rolls around between the commands. i.e. If you got say a 6, 2,3 for each General then you could allocate the 6 to the General most in need. Irregular Commander armies however were stuck with the same colour die per command. (but then we did pay points for the C-in-C and Sub Gnls.)
I see in DBMM there are "Brilliant" "Poor" commanders etc which got more or less command points. But then again those Generals cost points. (I saw some mention of something like that in Truimph! but maybe I'm mistaken.)
The age old 'see-saw' between simplicity and realism I guess.

As long as one plays with the rules strengths and weaknesses in mind, I guess it all works.
Unlike some guys who are constantly looking for the 'perfect' rule set (which doesn't exist!) to suit THEIR world view. We have one guy who hates the randomness of the die so much that he has invented his own dice-less set for Ancients. It is quite brilliantly done, but I feel is a little sterile and that lack of 'chance' in war just doesn't exist. His set is called "Optio" and may be accessible via the Society of Ancients website. (He's on the committee)
Another guy in the Klub brings out his own "ideal" sets for WW2 & Boer War and is constantly tweaking them (often in mid game!).

Each to their own I guess.
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