Voluntarily retreating from combat

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EHamilton
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Voluntarily retreating from combat

I've been introducing players at our game night to various elements of the D@W system. I'm also slowly learning the system myself, with the intent of running a fully integrated campaign instead of just independent tactical sessions using the Battles rules.

One question I have, after comparing the two rule sets, is how battles using the tactical system are concluded when one side decides it doesn't want to continue to fight. The draft of the Battles rules says that pursuit begins "when all the units of one army have been destroyed, routed, or voluntarily retreated from the battlemap".

Does this mean that, if desired, an outnumbered army can simply step off the battlemap during the first round of a battle, immediately ending the battle and going directly to pursuit throws?

In some cases, this seems like it would be the most logical decision for a weaker force to make. Even more perversely, an evading army might decide to sit on the bottom edge of the map for a few rounds while the attacking army attempted to close, and then step off right before engagement, in order to maximize the modifier to pursuit rolls! This seems wrong to me, but I'm not sure what prevents it from happening.

A related issue appears in the faster combat resolution method in the Campaigns rule. The start of a battle allows units to be designated as "participating" or "reserve" units. What consequences does this have? Are there any restrictions on how many units can go into reserve? Could I put all of my units in the reserve, effectively making the battle jump directly to pursuit throws?

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

Does this mean that, if desired, an outnumbered army can simply step off the battlemap during the first round of a battle, immediately ending the battle and going directly to pursuit throws?

APM: Yes.

In some cases, this seems like it would be the most logical decision for a weaker force to make. Even more perversely, an evading army might decide to sit on the bottom edge of the map for a few rounds while the attacking army attempted to close, and then step off right before engagement, in order to maximize the modifier to pursuit rolls!

APM: Correct.

In some cases it can be advantageous to do this. However, when an army loses a battle, this is a Calamity. Every unit in the loser's army will need to make a loyalty roll.

Assuming most troops have a morale score of +1, this will result in about 16% losses to betrayal or desertion.

EXAMPLE: Attacking Army A has 18 units, consisting of 6 Heavy Infantry, 6 Light Infantry, 3 Heavy Cavalry, and 3 Light Cavalry. Evading Army B has 12 units, consisting of 4 HI, 4 LI, 2 HC, and 2 LC.

Evading Army B waits 2 battle rounds and then voluntarily retreats. Attacking Army A gets to pursue with his cavalry. He needs (11+2) 13+ with the LC and (14+2) 16+ with the HC. His expected kills are (.4 + .4 + .4 + .25 + .25 + .25) 1.95 or 2 kills. The Evading Army sacrifices 2 LI.

Evading Army B now needs to roll for morale calamities. There are 4 rolls at 0, 2 rolls at -1, 2 rolls at +1 and 2 rolls at +2. The expected losses are:
(.27+.27+.27+.27)+(.41+.41)+(.17+.17)+(.08+.08)= 2.4, most likely 1 HI and 1 LI.

Therefore Evading Army B has lost a total of 1 HI and 3 LI, or about 25% of its force. This is a fairly brutal loss (25%) and not anything that can be sustained.

EHamilton
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In some cases it can be advantageous to do this. However, when an army loses a battle, this is a Calamity. Every unit in the loser's army will need to make a loyalty roll.

This was exactly the information I was looking for! I thought there was probably something like this somewhere in the rules, but wasn't sure where.

EHamilton
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Oh, and while I'm thinking about pursuit rolls... Is it really true that irregular units never get a pursuit roll? The pursuit table only lists throw targets for loose, formed, and flying units.

It seems strange that you can flee from a ferocious horde of orcs and goblins and none of them will attempt to pursue your retreating army. If anything, you'd think their commander's problem would be stopping them from pursuing!

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

No, that's an error. When I wrote the pursuit rues, it pre-dated the existence of Irregular troop types. I will add in categories for Irregular.

Historically, irregular troops were NOT good at pursuit, as they stopped to loot the bodies of the dead. Only highly disciplined troops kept up pursuits very well. But Irregulars should have *some* chance.

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

A related issue appears in the faster combat resolution method in the Campaigns rule. The start of a battle allows units to be designated as "participating" or "reserve" units. What consequences does this have? Are there any restrictions on how many units can go into reserve? Could I put all of my units in the reserve, effectively making the battle jump directly to pursuit throws?

APM: Reserve units cannot be targeted for destruction from losses due to BR rolls. Yes, you can jump directly to pursuit throws, as above.

APM: To put it another way, historically battles only occurred when either (a) both sides thought they had a chance to win, (b) one side was surprised, or (c) one side had to fight because it was defending a particular point.

You are describing a situation (d), wherein one side does not think it can win, is not surprised, and is not trying to defend a particular point. In that case, historically there simply wouldn't be a pitched battle... the weaker army would avoid battle.

Many great generals have been frustrated for years in attempting to get their enemies to meet them on the field of battle.

EHamilton
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I'd also like to ask about the difference between a "rout" result (on shock/morale throws) and a "voluntary retreat" result. It appears that a voluntary retreat requires actually moving off the map, but a rout simply results in the unit "immediately" disappearing without having to physically move through any hexes to get off the board.

This creates unnatural situations where a rout results is helpful, since it allows a valuable unit or commander to quickly vanish off the board and live to fight another day. Maybe minus some deserting wounded troops, but that's a small price to pay for evacuating a 9th level general!

Is it permissible to choose to automatically fail a morale throw, and just let this happen? Or can a unit choose to ignore its usual morale bonuses, in cases where routing is beneficial?

The most realistic implementation would probably be to force routed units to physically run away, as if under the result of a Fear spell. I might end up trying this myself, to resolve the apparent inconsistency between voluntary and involuntary retreat. This is little more time consuming, but is there any other reason it wouldn't work, or why it isn't really necessary?

jedavis.e504
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Routed units typically count as destroyed, though, do they not? Half desert, half return to service, something like that? I don't have the manuscript on this machine to check, unfortunately.

EHamilton
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From my copy of the Battles rules:

Routed units will suffer casualties in proportion to their loss of uhp, as per a damaged unit. However, the unit's wounded do not return to the unit. A victorious army's routed, wounded troops become deserters, while the defeated army's wounded troops become prisoners.

The Campaigns rules replace the calculation based on uhp with a flat 25% loss ratio.

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

Through some recent playtesting in my Opelenean Nights campaign, I found that the casualties from Routed units were not balanced correctly. In the prior version of the rules, Routed wasn't any worse for the defeated army than being Damaged, while being much worse for the victorious army.

Here are the updated rules:

D@W Campaigns:
Routed Units: For each unit that was routed, 25% of its troops (rounded up) are crippled or dead, while another 25% (rounded up) are lightly wounded. 50% of the victorious army’s routed, wounded troops are lost to desertion (round up); the rest return to the unit in one week. 50% of a defeated army’s routed, wounded troops become prisoners of the victorious army (round up); the other wound troops are lots to desertion.
EXAMPLE: A unit of 120 orcs routed. 30 troops are crippled or dead, while another 30 are lightly wounded. If the orc’s army won the battle, 15 of the wounded troops are lost to desertion, reducing the unit to 75 orcs. If the orc’s army lost the battle, 15 of the wounded troops become prisoners of the victorious army and another 15 are lost to desertion. Either way, the unit is reduced to 60 orcs.

D@W Battles:
Damaged Units: Damaged units will suffer casualties in proportion to their loss of uhp. Divide the amount of damage taken by the unit’s starting uhp (round up). This is the percentage of the troops that became casualties. Half of these casualties (rounded up) are crippled or dead, while the other half (rounded down) are wounded. The victorious army’s wounded troops return to their unit in one week. Half (rounded up) of the defeated army’s wounded troops become prisoners and half return to their unit in one week.

EXAMPLE: A unit of 120 orcs (8 uhp) took 2 points of damage, so 25% of the troops became casualties. Of the (25% x 120) 30 casualties, 15 are crippled or dead, while 15 are wounded. If the orc’s army won the battle, it will recover its wounded and become a unit of 105 orcs in one week. If the orc’s army lost the battle, 8 of its 15 wounded become prisoners, and the unit is reduced to 97 orcs.

Routed Units: Routed units will suffer casualties in proportion to their loss of uhp, as per a damaged unit. However, fewer of the unit’s wounded return to the unit. Half of a victorious army’s routed, wounded troops become deserters (round up). Half of the defeated army’s routed, wounded troops become prisoners (round up) and the rest become deserters.

EXAMPLE: A unit of 120 orcs (8 uhp) took 4 points of damage and routed. 50% of the troops became casualties. Of the (50% x 120) 60 casualties, 30 are crippled or dead, while 30 are wounded. If the orc’s army won the battle, 15 of its wounded become deserters while the remaining 15 rejoin the unit, leaving it at 75 orcs. If the orc’s army lost the battle, 15 of its wounded become prisoners and 15 become deserters. The unit is reduced to just 60 orcs.

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

Nitpicky grammarian reading the example for the routed units:

"A unit of 120 orcs routed. 30 troops are crippled or dead, while another 30 are lightly wounded. If the orc’s army won the battle, 15 of the wounded troops are lost to desertion, reducing the unit to 75 orcs. If the orc’s army lost the battle, 15 of the wounded troops become prisoners of the victorious army and another 15 are lost to desertion. Either way, the unit is reduced to 60 orcs."

I would get rid of "Either way" in the last sentence. If someone is not reading closely, it could cause confusion about whether the unit is reduced to 60 orcs regardless of whether the unit's army won or lost.