Asymmetrical Battles

A place to discuss historical battles, scenarios and campaigns
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Greyhawk Grognard
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Asymmetrical Battles

Post by Greyhawk Grognard » Wed Jul 29, 2020 10:17 pm

I was wondering if anyone had experimented with battles with uneven sized armies.

I realize that Triumph! was originally designed for tournament play with identically-sized armies, but especially in a campaign setting, unevenly-matched battles are going to be common.

I was thinking about tinkering with the victory conditions, and making the points required for victory proportional in some way, but honestly haven't played around with the math enough yet to see if it's workable.

Has anyone else done anything in this direction?

Thanks,

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Re: Asymmetrical Battles

Post by chris6 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:19 am

Up to now we did not tried uneven point armies.

My guessing would be, that if you go for proportional point values to get for winning this will increase the chances of the smaller army to win just on a lucky blow or 2.

With uneven armies I would prefer to go for scenarios like defend or proper retreat or maybe get to the other side to the playingfield. Or simply one ot the nice scenarios from the book: One hour wargaming
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Re: Asymmetrical Battles

Post by FanatiChris » Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:47 pm

Asymmetrical battles would be typical of campaign-style gaming, where armies carry losses from preceding battles, can add allies, and/or recruit up loses between battles, depending on how much territory you still controlled. You can also end up with slightly asymmetrical armies through several of the Battle Card options. For one off gaming, I could see developing a scenario based system combining uneven armies, specified objectives or victory conditions and turn-based time limits in order to provide reasonable balance.

Manufactured scenarios could include things like:

1) a 48 point army against a 24 point army defending a ford or bridge on an impassible river for at least x turns.
2) a rearguard type action with uneven forces and a turn-based time limit.
3) An advance guard type action, where lesser forces have to establish their position against a strong enemy while they wait for their vanguard to come up (rolling each turn for arrival).
4) A strong defensive position that must be held, where attacker has numerical advantages to offset the disadvantages posed by the defensive position.
5) A free for all meeting engagement, where each side only deploys 1/3 of its force and then rolls for random arrival of the balance of its force (entering on a roadway to the rear). Arrivals could be individual elements or small groups of elements or perhaps the entire balance of the force depending on how you want to set up the arrival options.

Not quite asymmetrical, but I once pondered a scenaro for an Aztec vs. Otomi "Flower War" in which each Otomi casualty resulted in removal of its Aztec antagonist based on the concept that the Aztec warriors were done for the day and engaged in leading their sacrificial captives to the rear.
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Re: Asymmetrical Battles

Post by Greyhawk Grognard » Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:50 am

I love that idea of the Aztec warriors degrading when they defeat enemy units. There's a battle card waiting to be written.
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Re: Asymmetrical Battles

Post by David Kuijt » Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:04 am

Greyhawk Grognard wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:50 am
I love that idea of the Aztec warriors degrading when they defeat enemy units. There's a battle card waiting to be written.
There are all sorts of attrition, and all sorts of systems used to reduce it (like the manipular rotation of the Romans). Modern military historians have established pretty well that actual casualty rates in most battles ran around 3-5% before the army broke. In other words, less than 1/20th or even 1/30th of the army was killed or wounded. All the other casualties caused in a battle occurred during pursuit after the army broke and ran.

There are other similar cases where successful warriors were promised a reward and the promised reward had a (reported) deleterious effect upon their performance. I can think of a Roman case, a Chinese case, and IIRC the NK Egyptians collected uncircumcised phalli (proving that they were not taken from slain Egyptian soldiers) for a promised reward. But as a game designer interested in military history, this sort of attritional effect does not seem reasonable to represent at the army level. I might put it in (in a battle card or equivalent) in a skirmish game or a game representing combat at the squad level. But it really happened all the time. Looting of bodies would always occur; soldiers would always carry everything they owned on themselves; so on average killing someone and taking his stuff would double your wealth in a moment. That provides a strong counterincentive for continued personal risk.

It all sounds to me like a great rule for a skirmish game or a squad game. But like manipular rotation to refresh tired soldiers at the front line, it's a detail I wouldn't try to represent in a game where a unit represents thousands or tens of thousands of warriors. Note that some Aztec battles were enormous affairs, with 60,000 warriors on a side or even twice that.
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Re: Asymmetrical Battles

Post by FanatiChris » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:35 pm

I agree it probably doesn't translate well to a pitched battle at the 60K-sized army level, but the twist with a Flower War scenario isn't that you're trying to represent soldiers distracted from the fighting by opportunities to loot or pillage, etc. From what I've read, Flower Wars were fairly well staged, almost ceremonial battles initiated by the Aztecs against the Otomi and other tribes specifically for the purpose of taking captives who the Aztecs could sacrifice to appease the gods after a particularly bad famine or other social catastrophe. Aztec soldiers participated to earn social status/glory for taking captives, and once the captives were taken, they typically left the fighting area to escort their captives to the rear so that they could get credit for them. Makes you wonder why their opponents even showed
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