Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Concept: Siege Resolution via Dice

While I, slowly, repair my downed desktop (which has all of the critical files) before starting the 1708 campaign, I am revising and extending the campaign rules.

To this end, I am working on a off-table way to resolve the all important sieges that inevitably will take place during the campaign. These need to be covered off-table because 1) we don't have any terrain for a siege in 25mm, 2) no one really wants to spend their limited game time to handle multiple siege battles between campaign turns, and 3) with players who do not live local to me, this method could be used via Skype.

So, after being inspired by Roger Underwood's off-table siege rules, but then deciding that they likely would work best for a two player campaign and not for an eight player campaign, I wanted create my own system. Of course, the off-table method would require die rolling, but in keeping with the tactical rules (Beneath the Lily Banners, 2nd Edition), the dice used would be limited to d6's wherever possible.

Also, I really liked the matrix that Underwood's rules utilize, but felt it a bit complicated for players who were not as detail oriented as myself. Instead of four exclusive choices per player per siege stage, I wanted to have players allocate their forces via a binary, similar to the "guns vs. butter" argument used in introductory Economics classes.

In this way, players could control the major factors that would determine the outcome of the siege, using their table top forces, without setting up terrain, figures, or making a lengthy drive to the game. Note, I expect we will be able to handle one or two battles per player per campaign turn, but siege battles could run into several per player per turn, and the additional time and fuel required would break the campaign. Another note: one of the players lives over 30 miles away, so fuel costs must be considered.

While I am not, as yet, ready to publish the system here, I am becoming more comfortable with what I have worked out thus far.

The attacker and besieger both seek to improve their circumstance, but also hinder the other. Their individual resources include: troops on hand, leader skills, equipment (siege trains), supplies (for the defender), and morale. Yes, I am including morale as a resource as it represents the expenditure of will to overcome an obstacle or endure a hardship.

Each player must allocate the above to a pair of choices they are presented with at each phase of the siege (more on that in another post). Resources allocated to one choice cannot be used for another, but each allocation bears an associated cost (quite apart from the opportunity costs) as well as the potential for a specific benefit.

For example, a garrison commander may allocate troops to reinforce or repair sections of the walls that have been damaged or even breached. However, those troops cannot also then be used to conduct a sortie during that same campaign turn. Forces used in a sortie may delay the besieger or even perhaps damage/destroy his siege equipment. Yet, those troops who sortie might suffer greatly at the hands of the besieger's covering force, adding to the garrison's attrition losses.

At this point, I believe I have finalized the number of phases of the siege and what choices are available during each. I must still determine the numbers of dice to be used, how generals' skills (or even what skills they should be) interact with the system, and how morale tests are to be made.

More to come...


  1. You've certainly piqued my interest with this one.

    When considering resources, would you include available supplies for the attacking force? If the defender has had time to implement a scorched earth policy, he can make things much more difficult for the attacker.

    1. Yes, the logistics for the campaign are nodal, not based on consumption of goods, in general. Armies require support along their designated line of communications, with about three nodes to their rear providing direct support.

      Garrisons rely on consuming supplies that are expressly stored there by the player, gathered at the last minute by the garrison, and also a basic allotment of supplies based on the size of the city. The players will be using their nation's resources to purchase the first type of supply, if they wish, amongst the economic costs of their forces.

      Essentially, Player 1 purchases 10 supply points, placing 5 each at cities A and B. City A is a medium sized city and generates a random number between 8-12 (purely for this example), and the governor, seeing an approaching enemy force, sends his cavalry and dragoons out to gather last minute supplies, gaining 3 more. Each garrison battalion consumes 1 supply point a campaign turn at full rations, so this particular garrison may hold out as much as four months (17 supply points)which is 16 campaign turns, assuming the besieger does not get lucky and blow up the magazine, the garrison does not sortie (sorties may use up supplies), and the besieger is never able to exploit a breach in the walls.

      As far as "scorched earth" goes, this is the early 18th century and the countries are far too civilized for that. However, a city may be razed by a general with a low personal honor score, causing problems for nearby enemies and also his own nation's government.

      Were I a programmer, I would just program this to be resolved via a java program through a dedicated website, but alas, I have no programming skills.