Saturday, 21 September 2013

Mangu versus Mirish - Double Envelopment - Double Edged Sword!

Summer 994 - In the Forest of Tears

"Your Highness, I bring news from the front."
"Well, tell me. Have we driven Altengard before us? Where are the prisoners? Why do I not hear the lamentations of their women?"
"Your Highness, the news from the front is this ..."
We deployed our troops to face their numbers. Our shieldwall was strong and our mercenaries keen to see the blood of the enemy. Their army deployed with woods on either flank.
Then we deployed our secret weapon, but they did not fear it and it was soon vanquished.
Our cavalry wing drove all before it. The Altengard knights were ground into the dust. Jarl Godwin led the charge and he bloodied his blade well in this battle.
Then it all went wrong. Godwin fell to the lance of Graf Manfred von Spittlebucken in a heroic duel that the skalds will sing of for many years. He lies grievously wounded in his hof even now. The Altengard army must have had magical help, for our wizards could do nothing against them and soon fled the field. Our levies fled at the first sign of trouble. They had barely broken a single spear before they chose to rout. Only our huscarles stayed and fought. Lord Uhtred stood to the last and fell with all his bodyguard, surrounded by the corpses of his enemies. It was a glorious death and he must already be feasting in Valhalla.

"Your Highness, shall I permit the emissaries from Altengard in to accept our surrender now?"

Tereken's permanent losses:
1 Mounted Huscarles
2 Huscarles
3 Levy
Godwin the hero (left after failing the Keeping the Hero Happy roll)
Lord Uhtred (general)

National Morale
Tereken suffered total morale failure and is now at peace with Altengard.

You know how some days things never go right. This was one of those days. I rolled high for Reaction Tests and low for all attacks. My dice rolls were ridiculously extreme. I still managed to rout the Altengard cavalry, but that was almost despite my dice rolling rather than on account of it. Then, when it came to major pursuit I rolled enough sixes in a row to make a D&D player happy. I wish I had been generating a character at that point! The end result was total defeat for Tereken, and I can only apologise to Sean for messing up his army in this way.

To be honest, I did not think that Tereken could win this one, but I did hope to bloody Altengard's nose. I thought that having 5 levels of Wizard in the army might make a difference, but they only got the chance to cast one spell and failed that abysmally thanks to only rolling 2 successes on 5 dice, while Steve rolled 3 on 3 dice. Ho hum! The hero did some good work, which was nice, but it was not enough on its own to win the battle.

The imbalance in this battle has got me thinking once more about casualties. Only the loser in a battle can permanently lose units, and the chance of permanent losses is high because battles only end when all the loser's units have routed. The winner can have only a single unit left on the battlefield and yet they get their entire army back. The argument for this that I have heard before is that each turn is a season, so they have plenty of time to recruit new troops. If that is the case, then surely the loser does too and it does not feel quite right. I feel that there should be a chance for the winner to suffer permanent losses too, because victorious armies in reality suffer attrition, and nations can be bled white.

The question is how to do this without unbalancing the game in the other direction. My initial idea was to apply the Casualty Recovery table to the victor, as well as to the loser. All units from the victor's army that routed must test as if pursued by a slower enemy. This means that they would only be permanently lost on two failed dice. The problem with this is that the loser's army gets back all unpursued units, so it creates a situation where each army is treated differently.

My second idea, which I am tempted to test, is to have all routed units test, regardless of whether they are pursued or not. Those that are not pursued (on both sides) get to add one to their Rep for purposes of this test, although a 6 is still a fail. This will increase the chance of casualties on the loser's side a bit, but will also mean that the winner's army has a chance of permanent losses, hopefully balancing out in the end. What do people think of this idea?