Monday, January 30, 2017

Defense Strategies in Mass Combat

Precis: A quick review of the ways to get a Defense Bonus in Mass Combat

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 TypeForce ConditionAvailable StrategiesDefense BonusHouse Rule Defense Bonus
EncounterMobileAny but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate Retreat
No defenses except Mobile Defense on 1st round;
No retreat strategies on 1st round
No
EncounterEncampedAny but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate RetreatCan't get DBYes
EncounterBunkeredAny but Deliberate Attack or Deliberate RetreatCan get DBYes
PitchedMobileAny; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DBCan get DB with initiativeWith iniative
PitchedEncampedAny; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DBCan get DB with initiativeYes
PitchedBunkeredAny; can't choose Deliberate Defense after 1st round or at all without a DBCan't win initiative so can't get DBYes
PitchedMobile AmbusherAny but DefensiveGets DB even without a defense strategyYes
PitchedMobile AmbusheeMust Rally until confusion is cleared or Full Retreat; can't choose Deliberate AttackLost initiative so doesn't get DBNo
PitchedEncamped or Bunkered AmbusheeMust Rally until confusion is cleared or Full Retreat; can't choose Deliberate AttackLost initiative so doesn't get DBYes
PitchedBesiegerAnyNo
PitchedBesiegedAny Defense except Rally, or RaidCan't win initiative so can't get DBYes

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.

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