Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Army's Stomach

I am trying to now get back in the swing of things, blogging-wise. After a heavy workload summer, I am back to the usual schedule of desperation and famine; full-time work still eludes my every advance, like a smart woman.

So, I am writing this post as a way to get back to blogging regularly, again. I still have a backlog of things to post about, complete with photos, but today's post is text heavy.

If you have been following my blog for the past couple of years, you know that I am trying to start an imagi-nations campaign, but have been thwarted by a now dead desktop, which has the custom map on its hard drive. I am THIS close to having it fully repaired, but I need a new monitor now, in addition to the internal hardware that has been or still needs to be replaced.

Anyhow, while this delay has been going on, I have been intermittently working on fleshing out and/or cleaning up the campaign rules. Much of which has yet to be posted on the "official" campaign site. However, I am working on the logistical rules, and have a revision in mind. See below.

The current campaign rules for logistics require a lot of math calculations before, during, and after a turn. Since the campaign map is nodal, with each node been a source of supply (of various sizes and capacities for supply) players, and myself as umpire, would have to calculate how much supply was available to a given army within about four nodes of a force's location. This means we'd be calculating up to 20 or more node's worth of supply for EVERY player's non-garrison force on the map.

I never liked what I had thrown together for these rules. Yes, they are more "realistic" in a sense, but they are also far too complicated to expect to last and broken/abused rules really do not belong in a campaign.

Thus, my new idea...

Begins with the premise that an infantry battalion's supply is about equal in cost (a term to describe the many factors involved in delivering needed supplies to a particular unit) to that of a cavalry squadron or artillery gun (with crew). Not everyone may agree, but in MY campaign, this happens to be true.

Next, each node, complete with population center of small to very, very large (non-technical terms), can provide a given amount of supply, roughly equivalent to other population centers of the same size. Larger population centers give proportionately more supply than smaller ones.

Meaning that a village will provide the same amount of supply as another village, but a major town will provide even more.

Now, we just need to make it easier to track how a force is supplied during a campaign turn of approximately one week of time.

Some may argue that logistics is unnecessary for wargame campaigns and can be left out, but I disagree. Logistics IS a major part of military planning and the early 18th century campaigns that did not succeed were usually the victims of poor logistical planning or execution.

I want my players to have to chose where to strike and be subject to attrition if their preparations are lacking. I also want to give them the opportunity to hurt other players by razing lands as a means to reduce another player's ability to feed his troops.

Hence, the proposed revision of the rules is:

1) Armies, of any size, must be supplied over the course of a turn, otherwise they will be subject to attrition.

2) Garrisons do not require supply neither do they absorb supply. Garrisons are handled differently if the location is under siege; see the appropriate rules for sieges.

3)  Population Centers provide the following amounts of supply:
  • Capital City: 16
  • Major City: 12
  • Minor City: 10
  • Major Town: 6
  • Minor Town: 4
  • Village: 1
4) Supply is provided locally. This means that a given force is considered as being fully supplied if its size does not exceed the supply capacity of its location. If otherwise, then the force must be within three nodes of a magazine that can sufficiently supply it, else the force will be subject to attrition.

5) Magazines may be purchased by the players during the Winter phase of the campaign. They will each provide a given amount of supply, with several magazines purchased and placed in a single location to increase its effectiveness.

a) Magazine capacity: 16

6) Magazines will provide supply up to three nodes away, with a diminishing capacity the further away from its location. In same location, 100%; 1 node away, 75%; 2 nodes away, 50%; 3 nodes away, 25% (all values rounded down).

7) As a force moves during a turn, it must check against the location's supply capacity. If the force exceeds the local supply capacity, then a check for any magazine within three nodes is made. If the force both exceeds local supply and does not have sufficient magazine capacity, then it will check for attrition losses for each battalion/squadron/gun not in supply. Only those units which exceed supply are checked for, not each unit in the force. The owning player chooses which of his units are in supply. However, only one Attrition Roll per unit per node is allowed. This means that if a player first rolls against his infantry, but there are still rolls to be made, they then must be rolled against his cavalry. An exception is that players may always choose to save his guns by forcing infantry or cavalry units to make additional rolls.

8) Attrition losses are taken at the end of the turn, before any battles are fought.

9) The logistics rules only apply to armies when marching outside one's own territory. We assume the troops are being fed one way or the other within home territory.

10) Attrition losses are handled like combat losses. Some are permanent. Some will go into the casualty pool. Some may go into replacement pool from the casualty pool. Replacement pool figures go back into units, based on the player's desires.

Example, player A orders his Army of Observation, composed of 8 battalions of infantry, 4 squadrons of horse, and 2 guns to move to a spot four nodes away.

The path tracks through a minor town, a major town, a village, and ends in a major town with a magazine. This means the supply value of that path is 4, 6, 1, and 6; the army supply requirement is 14. With the help of the valuable magazine the actual supply capacity is 8, 14, 13, and 22. This results in 7 Attrition Die rolls, six for the first node and one for the third node of movement. Attrition Die rolls can result in 0-2 figures lost per unit. The owner of the army selects to roll each of the Attrition dice against his infantry battalions as he has 8 battalions, which is greater than the number of rolls he had to make at the first node.

Note: I want players to have to take attrition an attrition losses into account. The economic system I plan for the campaign requires that players make choices and not be able to do everything they could wish in a given campaign year. The idea being that since historical commanders had to make do with limited objectives each campaign, so should they...but if they choose not to, then they will also pay a price in attrition for. So, a player might raise several extra regiments instead of stockpiling supplies in magazines, but they then risk losing large numbers of troops due to lack of supply.

Incidentally, well really by design, this means that protecting one's line of supply is vital and failing to do so will potentially have severe consequences.

I solicit responses and suggestions, but know that I am fairly well happy with the mechanics of this system.

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