Domains at War Version 12

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Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Domains at War Version 12

Hello everyone!
While editing and proof-reading occur on our ACKS PDF, I've made progress on Domains at War. I'm exceptionally pleased to report that Domains at War v12 has been uploaded to the site.
This is a major update with several prominent changes:
1. Combat has been simplified. The combat results matrix is no longer needed, and all damage can be tracked with simple counters rather than notepaper if desired.
2. Troops are more clearly differentiated by function and equipment. An army with spearmen in phalanx will now fight differently than a Roman-style legion, for instance.
3. Detailed rules for strategic maneuvering, envelopments, ambushes, meeting engagements, and other situations are included.
4. Victorious armies can now pursue after the battle to deal additional damage. Rear guards can protect an evasive army, as can keeping a cavalry screen.
I hope you'll take a look at the improvements and, even moreso, playtest the game.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

BUMP.
Has anyone had a chance to review?

sean wills
Joined: 2011-07-07 19:39

Good work - on read-thru I like the changes - major improvements that balance simplicity and tactical depth while ramping up both.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thanks for taking the time to give it a read-through.

creases
Joined: 2012-02-13 01:55

I joined the ACKS party late -- I contributed to the PC but ACK was already done when I learned of the project! Is it possible for someone in my position to get access to DOW? I understand if I have to wait for the PDF to go up for sale. Just thought it was worth asking!

Tywyll
Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Ditto.

Mr. Fox
Joined: 2011-12-05 15:13

Hello,
Our gaming group recently took DaW and did a play test. Here are our thoughts, followed by some questions.
Setup:
I reviwed the rules once prior to the session and then went through them with the group. This took approximately 2hrs and covered some elements not directly related to a one-off battle, but things that put the game into context. We decided to play a 1 on 1 battle with each army controlled by 2 players, ie 1 army, two minds. Each army got 10,000gp. One side comprised of Humans, the other, Elves and Dwarves.
Humans: 1x light infantry, 3x heavy infantry (A,B, and C), 2x crossbow, 1x horse archer, 1x light calvary, 1x heavy calvary
Elves/Dwarves: 3x light elven infantry, 1x elven heavy infantry, 1x dwarven heavy infantry, 1x dwarven crossbow
Humans won decisively.
Overall:
Initial reactions are mixed ranging from luke warm to warm and fuzzy. We all feel that it is a solid system with a lot of potential. We also think that our opinions will likely improve with more play and more familiarity with the rules.
Opinions:
-Not a simple system. Lots of detail, special rules, and complexity. Seems to have a steep learning curve.
-Special rules like disengage and wheeling not clear. We were well into the game before we realized that wheeling is a maximum for the phase.
-The game seems to favour quantity of troops over quality ie humans over demi-humans
-Demi-humans seem to be over priced given their performance
-What we call "momentum of success" seems to be very harsh. It became clear that as one side started winning, it did not take long to simply roll over the other side to victory. More units setup more flanks, which forced mor morale checks, which led to more disintegrated units etc, etc.
-Flow charts and cheat sheets would greatly aid new players in conducting a battle.
-Examples, examples, examples. Each special rule needs to have an example. Having examples of a sample battle where most combat situations are addressed would be really helpful.
-A comment or two on the strategic merit of each unit type would be good. Some suggestions on overall strategy would help to bring the players more to the intended play style of the game.
-Zone of Control is an easily forgotten aspect of the game, yet one that seems to play great importance. Stressing it more in the examples would help reinforce that.
-One player noted that it seemed that there was too little choice in commanding the units; they seemed to just respond to what was going on. ie he had no ability to force a unit to stand and fight, given a certain set of circumstances, they simply run away or fall apart. He also feels that demi-humans should have superior morale to humans do to thier cost
-The tokens are a great idea. The ones provided do not print correctly, improving them would be great.
-Calvary units are very powerful, albeit we incorrectly played thier movement granting flank more often then they should have had.
-Hit points seem to be less useful that they appear on the surface. There are many opportunities to break a unit that do not require you to grind it down to 0HP.
Questions:
-How are the armies balanced? Is it by cost, #of units, #of troops? We used money and we don't feel the armies were balanced.
-Where do you measure the 15 degree arc for archer fire from? Is is from a single point or is it 15 degrees from the outer edge? what is the inteded purpose?
-What is a human knight? there is no cost listed
-Can units be upgraded? ie can I take a light infantry and pay time and money to upgrade them to heavy infantry?
-There are a few references to "Ordered Foot". Is this the same as "Formed Foot"?
-Is wheeling intended to limit how much a unit can turn in the movement phase or in a single turn? Are you able to use some our your wheeling limit, move forward and wheel some more? ie a unit has 90 degree wheel. Can it turn 45 degrees, move forward, turn 45 degrees? Can it turn 90 degrees, move forward and turn another 45 degrees?
-How many units can be on one edge of another unit? Can unit A have a unit on its front and two on its left flank?
-Does base to base mean edge to edge? Could a unit contact another with a point of its base?
-Can a unit of archers (crossbow, horse archer, whatever) that did not move and is charged both fire at the charging unit during the missle phase AND participate in the melee phase?
-Could you please explain Unit Front and Unit Depth? Why are they mentioned so often when both the number of troops in a unit and the phsical size of the unit base are both defined? ie a unit of human infantry is 100 troops and 2" x 1 1/3".
Everyone more or less enjoyed themselves. We were surprised at how easily the humans won, but we are going to play the exact scenario over again to see if it feels the same. We will then move into some different army sizes and composition and play around with it. We will see if our impressions change as we get more games under our belt.
It is worth noting that some people base their decisions on first impressions. Adding the examples and insights may make the first experience less daunting, and make it more likely that the group will play it again.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Our gaming group recently took DaW and did a play test. Here are our thoughts, followed by some questions.
APM: Thank you very much for the detailed playtest feedback. I cannot stress enough how valuable this is.
Setup: I reviwed the rules once prior to the session and then went through them with the group. This took approximately 2hrs and covered some elements not directly related to a one-off battle, but things that put the game into context. We decided to play a 1 on 1 battle with each army controlled by 2 players, ie 1 army, two minds. Each army got 10,000gp. One side comprised of Humans, the other, Elves and Dwarves.
Humans: 1x light infantry, 3x heavy infantry (A,B, and C), 2x crossbow, 1x horse archer, 1x light calvary, 1x heavy calvary
Elves/Dwarves: 3x light elven infantry, 1x elven heavy infantry, 1x dwarven heavy infantry, 1x dwarven crossbow
Humans won decisively.
APM: When you say "each army got 10,000gp" what did you use as the "cost" of each troop? The training cost under Conscripts? The monthly wages of mercenaries?
Just from reading the battle roster I am unsurprised that the humans won. They outnumber the enemy 3:2 with 3:1 in archers and 3:0 in cavalry.
Opinions:
-Not a simple system. Lots of detail, special rules, and complexity. Seems to have a steep learning curve.
APM: Yes. It has many layers of additional rules. It's intended to be about as complex as Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
-Special rules like disengage and wheeling not clear. We were well into the game before we realized that wheeling is a maximum for the phase.
APM: OK, good to know.
-The game seems to favour quantity of troops over quality ie humans over demi-humans
APM: It's intended to favor whatever would be favored in ACKS. 150 1HD creatures can normally beat 100 1+1HD creatures, and likewise, one would expect 150 humans to beat 100 dwarves/elves.
-Demi-humans seem to be over priced given their performance
APM: That's probably true, but the prices are not really balanced on the basis of performance. The wages and costs were simply derived from ACKS, where they were (mostly) drawn from historical examples. Thus they are based on scarcity, cost of equipment, and so on.
-What we call "momentum of success" seems to be very harsh. It became clear that as one side started winning, it did not take long to simply roll over the other side to victory. More units setup more flanks, which forced mor morale checks, which led to more disintegrated units etc, etc.
APM: That's true, and by design. In most historic battles, casualty figures are highly skewed in the winner's favor because each battle has a "culminating point" at which point one side or the other will begin to collapse. I'm actually very gratified that this was your experience of the game, as it means the system worked!
APM: In campaign play, if you realize your enemy is about to rout you, you would begin retreating in an orderly fashion. Domains at War does not generally reward you for fighting to the death.
-Flow charts and cheat sheets would greatly aid new players in conducting a battle.
APM: Yes. If there's any particular places where you think they'd be helpful, please let me know. I also think we need graphic images of some of the "push back" "wheel" and so on.
-Examples, examples, examples. Each special rule needs to have an example. Having examples of a sample battle where most combat situations are addressed would be really helpful.
APM: As above. If there are places where an example seems needed, please let me know. I tried to give examples on the rules I thought were unclear.
-A comment or two on the strategic merit of each unit type would be good. Some suggestions on overall strategy would help to bring the players more to the intended play style of the game.
APM: Good point.
-Zone of Control is an easily forgotten aspect of the game, yet one that seems to play great importance. Stressing it more in the examples would help reinforce that.
APM: Yes, it's very important. Thanks for stressing this.
-One player noted that it seemed that there was too little choice in commanding the units; they seemed to just respond to what was going on. ie he had no ability to force a unit to stand and fight, given a certain set of circumstances, they simply run away or fall apart.
APM: Indeed. That is also as intended. And historically that's how most generals felt. "Why are my troops running away?! Stop running away!!" Note, however, that the personal intervention of a hero or leader can swing the tide of battle and increase a unit's morale.
He also feels that demi-humans should have superior morale to humans do to thier cost
APM: The morale values match those in ACKS.
-The tokens are a great idea. The ones provided do not print correctly, improving them would be great.
-Calvary units are very powerful, albeit we incorrectly played thier movement granting flank more often then they should have had.
APM: They are very powerful, yes, particularly when they can charge into the flank. They are, however, fairly fragile.
-Hit points seem to be less useful that they appear on the surface. There are many opportunities to break a unit that do not require you to grind it down to 0HP.
APM: That's correct, yes. HP are great but many units are destroyed by being flanked, forced to retreat and pursued, and so on.
Questions:
-How are the armies balanced? Is it by cost, #of units, #of troops? We used money and we don't feel the armies were balanced.
APM: There is no explicit "point buy" system. It's intended as a tool to simulate the battles that arise in your ACKS campaigns, so the battles will include whatever troops the ACKS campaign generated.
APM: If you want to run "one-offs" cost in gp is usable, but the game strongly rewards combined arms forces that feature a good mix of heavy infantry, skirmishers, and cavalry.
-Where do you measure the 15 degree arc for archer fire from? Is is from a single point or is it 15 degrees from the outer edge? what is the inteded purpose?
APM: It's 15 degrees from each outer edge. The intended purpose is to direct archery fire at the units in front of them. In the absence of this restriction, players will often have their archers "snipe" at battle-damaged units far across the battlefield, off to their flanks, and so on. It's both unrealistic and unpleasant, in that it prevents you from being able to withdraw forces and feed in reserves.
-What is a human knight? there is no cost listed
APM: Sorry. A human knight is a heavy cavalry unit mounted on a heavy warhorse with barding. The heavy cavalry that appear in ACKS are mounted on medium warhorses.
-Can units be upgraded? ie can I take a light infantry and pay time and money to upgrade them to heavy infantry?
APM: Only a certain percentage of light infantry would qualify (i.e. be strong/tough enough). See the rules on Training Conscripts under Raising Armies.
-There are a few references to "Ordered Foot". Is this the same as "Formed Foot"?
APM: Yes. I need to clean that up. Just different terms for the same concept from different drafts.
-Is wheeling intended to limit how much a unit can turn in the movement phase or in a single turn? Are you able to use some our your wheeling limit, move forward and wheel some more? ie a unit has 90 degree wheel. Can it turn 45 degrees, move forward, turn 45 degrees? Can it turn 90 degrees, move forward and turn another 45 degrees?
APM: The wheeling limit is how far you can wheel during the movement phase. You can use some of your wheeling limit, move forward, and then wheel some more. For example, Formed Foot could turn 45 degrees, move forward, and turn 45 degrees. Formed Foot could not turn 60 degrees, move forward, and turn 60 degrees, because that would exceed its wheel limit.
-How many units can be on one edge of another unit? Can unit A have a unit on its front and two on its left flank?
APM: There's no limit save for space. It's certainly possible to have circumstances where you have more than one unit on another unit's edge.
-Does base to base mean edge to edge? Could a unit contact another with a point of its base?
APM: Base to base contact occurs "when one part of a unit’s base is touching another unit’s base." The point of a base touching the other unit's base is still base to base contact. Normally it will be self-evident whether this is frontal contact between the two bases. If in doubt, its contact between those two sides of the bases where the angle between the is smallest.
-Can a unit of archers (crossbow, horse archer, whatever) that did not move and is charged both fire at the charging unit during the missle phase AND participate in the melee phase?
APM: Yes, absolutely! This is actually the specific reason for the rule that "A unit may not missile fire at an enemy unit that is engaged in melee with a friendly unit (including itself) unless the enemy unit became engaged during the movement phase of the current battle turn as a result of a charge." Remember that a "charge" is movement to contact of 2" or more. So basically, if the attacker had to move more than 2" to start the melee, then the missile troops had time to shoot him on the way in; if not, then they didn't have time.
-Could you please explain Unit Front and Unit Depth? Why are they mentioned so often when both the number of troops in a unit and the phsical size of the unit base are both defined? ie a unit of human infantry is 100 troops and 2" x 1 1/3".
APM: Unit Front is how many men are in the front line of the formation. Unit Depth is how many men are in each column in the formation. For a unit of 100 men, unit front is 12 men and unit depth is 8 men. For a unit of 24 cavalry, unit front is 6 cavalry and unit depth is 4 cavalry.
Everyone more or less enjoyed themselves. We were surprised at how easily the humans won, but we are going to play the exact scenario over again to see if it feels the same. We will then move into some different army sizes and composition and play around with it. We will see if our impressions change as we get more games under our belt.
APM: I'd predict the humans will win again, unless they have some terrain to defend against the cavalry and archers...
It is worth noting that some people base their decisions on first impressions. Adding the examples and insights may make the first experience less daunting, and make it more likely that the group will play it again.
APM: Absolutely. Thank you again for your feedback!

Duskreign
Joined: 2011-08-10 17:22

Duskreigns Minion: Examples of a sample battle where most combat situations are addressed would be really helpful.
APM: As above. If there are places where an example seems needed, please let me know. I tried to give examples on the rules I thought were unclear.
Duskreign: What we would like to see is an example of an entire battle including the thinking behind the strategy as the fight progresses (with diagrams). Some of the biggest challenges when starting seem to be things like:
How should I arrange my troops (Troop formation strategies)?
What are the pros and cons to different troop arrangement strategies?
There simply is no way for a newcomer to the game to gauge what is good strategic planning and what isn't. I often felt self doubt with a lot of choices because without a thorough understanding of the rules by seeing it in action I had trouble determining what was effective and what wasn't. For example, the demi human army was built with larger HP's in mind but I quickly learned that HPs can be irrelevant.
I would strongly suggest a Recommended Strategy section highlighting the benefits of quantity of troops vs quality, variety of troops vs non-variety, etc
A comment or two on the strategic merit of each unit type would be good.
Duskreign's Minion- How are the armies balanced? Is it by cost, #of units, #of troops? We used money and we don't feel the armies were balanced.
APM: There is no explicit "point buy" system. It's intended as a tool to simulate the battles that arise in your ACKS campaigns, so the battles will include whatever troops the ACKS campaign generated.
APM: If you want to run "one-offs" cost in gp is usable, but the game strongly rewards combined arms forces that feature a good mix of heavy infantry, skirmishers, and cavalry.
Duskreign: Although DAW is designed to simulate mass combat in ACKS, there are very few resources to help a DM to set up his own world in determining army sizes that are appropriate. I think it could be determined with a lot of number crunching but it would be nice for some quicker methods. Domain is 150,000 families, the expected army size is X people generally split between light, heavy and calvary for example.
Having said that, most DMs will want to test drive the DAW system prior to use in the campaign. Our idea was to say that each side has X gold to spend on an army. Spend it however you want. In our minds, even gold should produce even strength armies. We even went so far as to say one side is human, the other was demi human. I think most people wanting to try the game need some method to create "one-off" armies so they can get a sense of how the system works. I think including this in the rules would be great!
Duskreign's Minion-Could you please explain Unit Front and Unit Depth? Why are they mentioned so often when both the number of troops in a unit and the phsical size of the unit base are both defined? ie a unit of human infantry is 100 troops and 2" x 1 1/3".
APM: Unit Front is how many men are in the front line of the formation. Unit Depth is how many men are in each column in the formation. For a unit of 100 men, unit front is 12 men and unit depth is 8 men. For a unit of 24 cavalry, unit front is 6 cavalry and unit depth is 4 cavalry.
Duskreign: I think the real question Duskreigns Minion is asking is what is the importance of Unit Front and Unit Depth. Since we know troop size and the physical size of the marker is described we can't really see any reason to care about Front and Depth.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Duskreign: What we would like to see is an example of an entire battle including the thinking behind the strategy as the fight progresses (with diagrams). Some of the biggest challenges when starting seem to be things like:
How should I arrange my troops (Troop formation strategies)?
What are the pros and cons to different troop arrangement strategies?
APM: I could see doing this for a simple battle, but I can't imagine an introductory battle that could both explain the more complex troop functions AND also serve as a useful introduction. I'll have to give it some thought.
There simply is no way for a newcomer to the game to gauge what is good strategic planning and what isn't. I often felt self doubt with a lot of choices because without a thorough understanding of the rules by seeing it in action I had trouble determining what was effective and what wasn't. For example, the demi human army was built with larger HP's in mind but I quickly learned that HPs can be irrelevant.
I would strongly suggest a Recommended Strategy section highlighting the benefits of quantity of troops vs quality, variety of troops vs non-variety, etc
A comment or two on the strategic merit of each unit type would be good.
APM: OK, that's good to know.
Duskreign's Minion- How are the armies balanced? Is it by cost, #of units, #of troops? We used money and we don't feel the armies were balanced.
Duskreign: Although DAW is designed to simulate mass combat in ACKS, there are very few resources to help a DM to set up his own world in determining army sizes that are appropriate. I think it could be determined with a lot of number crunching but it would be nice for some quicker methods. Domain is 150,000 families, the expected army size is X people generally split between light, heavy and calvary for example.
Having said that, most DMs will want to test drive the DAW system prior to use in the campaign. Our idea was to say that each side has X gold to spend on an army. Spend it however you want. In our minds, even gold should produce even strength armies. We even went so far as to say one side is human, the other was demi human. I think most people wanting to try the game need some method to create "one-off" armies so they can get a sense of how the system works. I think including this in the rules would be great!
APM: I am unlikely to include a true point-buy system because I don't really believe in them. By and large, they are a false promise of balance because good wargames use intransitive combat relationships (e.g. how many units of Stone do you need to beat Paper when Paper always beats Stone.) That said, I think if you understand the rules and understand ancient tactics army building with gold is easy. So your point that I need to do a better job explaining the tactics is well heard.
Duskreign: I think the real question Duskreigns Minion is asking is what is the importance of Unit Front and Unit Depth. Since we know troop size and the physical size of the marker is described we can't really see any reason to care about Front and Depth.
APM: Ah, I see. I suppose for the purposes of most gameplay they are irrelevant. They are the key factors in how units are built. Units with a Unit Front of less than 12 suffer penalties to attack, and units with a Depth of less than 8 have fewer hit points, for example. I assumed most people would want to be able to get their hands dirty with the underlying mechanics, so I left them as visible mechanics.

teucer
Dwimmermount Backer
Joined: 2012-10-28 11:39

I joined the ACKS party late -- I contributed to the PC but ACK was already done when I learned of the project! Is it possible for someone in my position to get access to DOW? I understand if I have to wait for the PDF to go up for sale. Just thought it was worth asking!


-creases

I'm in the same boat as creases, in my case only having even heard about ACKS because of the Dwimmermount kickstarter (I'm a long-time, albeit inconsistent, Grognardia reader) - but I'd love to have access to DAW. Is there a way I can donate and see the playtest version, or do I have to wait until either the DAW kickstarter launches or the pdf goes on sale?

Tavis
Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

I'll see about putting the playtest versions up for download, but for now email me at tavis@autarch.co and I'll pass on the starter edition draft.

jedavis
Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2012-03-08 01:21

My players have been pestering me about DaW for the last couple weeks, since they're finally getting into hex clearing. This session marked a new hand-waved bodycount of ~1600 orcs, immolated when their village was bombarded by burning pitch via catapult because we had no other way to feasibly resolve it. Will definitely be sending a request via email too :P