In my Mass Combat game, there's been some confusion about when a force can benefit from a Defense Bonus and when it can use the various defense strategies. I was pretty confused myself, and when I went back and rechecked the rules, I realized I was confused because the conditions are pretty confusing. So I want to write about all the conditions and what they require.
Mass Combat distinguishes between pitched and encounter battles, and mobile, encamped, and bunkered forces. As an additional complication, a force can be surprised or ambushed. How does all that effect available battle strategies?
|Battle Type||Force Condition||Available Strategies||Defense Bonus||House Rule Defense Bonus|
|Encounter||Mobile||Any but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate Retreat|
No defenses except Mobile Defense on 1st round;
No retreat strategies on 1st round
|Encounter||Encamped||Any but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate Retreat||Can't get DB||Yes|
|Encounter||Bunkered||Any but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate Retreat||Can get DB||Yes|
|Pitched||Mobile||Any; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DB||Can get DB with initiative||With iniative|
|Pitched||Encamped||Any; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DB||Can get DB with initiative||Yes|
|Pitched||Bunkered||Any; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DB||Can't win initiative so can't get DB||Yes|
|Pitched||Mobile Ambusher||Any but Defensive||Gets DB even without a defense strategy||Yes|
|Pitched||Mobile Ambushee||Must Rally until confusion is cleared or Full Retreat; can't choose Deliberate Attack||Lost initiative so doesn't get DB||No|
|Pitched||Encamped or Bunkered Ambushee||Must Rally until confusion is cleared or Full Retreat; can't choose Deliberate Attack||Lost initiative so doesn't get DB||Yes|
|Pitched||Besieged||Any Defense except Rally, or Raid||Can't win initiative so can't get DB||Yes|
This actually turned out to be more confusing than I intended. Bunkered forces can never win initiative in the Recon contest (Mass Combat 29) but that means they can never win the initiative contest and can only get a Defense Bonus if they're lucky enough to have a mobile force trip over them in a forced encounter battle. Encamped forces can win initiative and force an encounter battle, but if they do, they don't get any Defense Bonus. This makes very little sense.
I double checked the Mass Combat errata and this is apparently how the system is supposed to work, unless I'm missing something.
I think the easiest and most understandable house rule is to rule that encamped forces always get a defense bonus unless they have the No Security posture.