Game Play and Rules Questions

Discussion on the 1879 miniatures and tabletop battles rules.
TarlimanJoppos
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:18 pm

zayven wrote:I'm trying to put a force together for a skirmish, but I'm not sure I'm clear on how the controllers work. There are three different model listings, which I assume are Regular, Veteran, and Elite (they aren't listed as such in the stat blocks, however). Are they all considered level 1 commanders for the purposes of controlling zombie units? If so, do they have to be integrated into the unit like other level 1 commanders? My impression from the commander description on pg 57 is that level 1 commanders don't have their own stand and must be in contact with the unit to provide command benefits. But Samsut controllers are also listed as skirmishers. Do they have to be integrated into the unit to issue commands to zombies or do they have a command range of a higher level commander?

Tarayshlamtum (undead controllers) have a control range equal to their Rank in inches. They do not have to be in stand contact with the unit, and do not take half the damage that goes to the unit the way a base-contact commander would. The Ranks also determine Morale of the tarayshlamtu, which in turn devolves upon the undead, since they're essentially extensions of the controller's mind. There will be more about this in the forthcoming Samsut Forcebook.
zayven wrote:Also, are you going to be posting some game materials on the website at any point? There's no army/unit sheet in the book and it would be nice to have some examples of various army compositions (especially for the Samsut, since they seem to have a lot of similar units that might need to be integrated a bit more skillfully to make an effective force).

Yes, there will be free downloads as soon as I have time to breathe :). A T.O. form will be among them.
Andrew Ragland
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zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:52 pm

So I ran through a quick skirmish with my son earlier to get a feel for the game. Here are some initial observations:

1: Morale is REALLY important. Having to make Morale checks when you lose 25% of a unit's hits makes things really difficult for smaller units. We had a few 8 model units that ran afoul of this several times. It also seems to mitigate the effectiveness of charging (more on that in a bit).

2: The overall system is quick and easy. The first few rounds dragged as I had to keep referring to the rules for various situations, but once I got the hang of it, things moved quite fast.

3: A bit more detail on Commanders would be good. I know that Commanders lose the "skirmisher" quality when they're incorporated into a unit, but I couldn't locate ruling on how their Saves apply to the unit. Can their Save be used in lieu of another model's? In other words, if an 8 model unit with 1 commander attached takes 6 hits, do you only rolls Saves using the regular models or can you substitute the commander's roll for one of the other regular models? If so, does the Commander's Save apply to him alone or can a failed Save be distributed throughout the unit as normal? Or does the Commander only roll his Save when the number of hits exceeds the number of normal models (so in the above example, 9 or more hits)?

4: Cavalry is DEVASTATING. One 6 model regular cavalry lancer unit with a captain commander obliterated three Samsut units singlehandedly. This was largely due to the fact that we were playing on a completely open field, which maximized the cavalry's effectiveness. I read and reread the charging/melee rules several times just to make sure I wasn't doing something wrong, but it looks like we did everything correctly. Coupled with artillery (which we didn't use), the British forces seem incredibly powerful compared to the Samsut. We were a bit limited by the number of figures we had available (basically bits from various games lying around my house), so we couldn't make use of all the cheap Samsut units. I'm guessing that the Samsut are supposed to offset the British advantage with sheer numbers and their longer ranged weapons. It will take some trial and error for us to put together an effective Samsut force. Skeletons proved far more effective than I expected due to their absence of Morale, and I now see why the zombie troops are so cheap (they're fodder to keep the bloody cavalry from overrunning everything).

All in all, we had fun with it. It was a very once sided affair for the first few turns as the British infantry got diced by skeletons and shot up by railgun volleys. For a moment, it looked like the Samsut were going to walk away with an easy victory, but then the cavalry lancers wiped out the Ardite infantry along with the force commander. In the span of two or three more turns, the unit wheeled around and mowed through the rest of the Samsut force's unguarded flank.

God and Queen Victoria, heathens.

zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:58 pm

Oooohhhhh.....

Page 50: Half the hits taken go to the commander to be saved against.

Does he save against each hit individually or does he only get one save per attack? In other words, if the unit takes 6 hits and 3 are assigned to the commander, does he get to roll his save once or three times?

zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:06 pm

Wait, wait, nevermind.

For some reason I was thinking that a unit could only make a number of saves equal to the number of models in the unit, which is clearly not the case.

Okay, sorry for my confusion.

TarlimanJoppos
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:57 am

Cavalry being that effective against infantry on open ground is historically accurate. I'm not surprised by the results of your engagement. I see from your subsequent posts that you've got the commander save rules sussed. Note that the skirmisher aspect of the commander is lost only when the commander is in direct command of the unit, i.e., in base contact. Putting the commander in base contact allows Hits to flow over to the commander, which is both good news and bad news. The commander can direct a unit from a distance, but only provides Morale advantages at that point. We could do a bit of an edit for the next edition to make that a bit more clear. The undead do in fact serve as sword fodder, and if used as screening forces can keep the British cavalry off the living units. Try using artillery in a future battle and let us know how that works for you. And yes, the lack of Morale for Skeletons essentially turns them into slow artillery, a sort of fire-and-forget walking missile.

We're working on the British and Samsut Forcebooks, which will introduce a new advantage for the British, and a few advantages for the Samsut. The idea here is that the Samsut start out the war with the forces they use for ritual wargames between city-states, get lucky once or twice but otherwise find it heavy going, then bring out heavier forces that they don't usually deploy against each other. You'll be seeing heavy cavalry and airborne forces for the Samsut. Meanwhile, the British get magic. The OBV officers are expensive in terms of points, but one OBV officer can do the work of an entire unit of cavalry when pitted against skeletons or zombies. Ideally, each Forcebook will sway the tide of battle, as all sides involved seek new advantages.
Andrew Ragland
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zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:46 am

Cool. Looking forward to seeing the new content.

A few more questions:

1: The section on designing models states that a model gets one attack regardless of how many melee weapons it carries, but there are some models that specifically have the "2/3 melee attacks" special quality (some commanders, cavalry lancers, etc). Do such models always get to make multiple melee attacks or only under special circumstances (during a charge, for instance)?

2: On the same subject, the cavalry lancers are armed with both a lance and a saber. Considering that the lance is a TN 4 and the saber a TN 6, why would anyone ever use the saber? The description of the lance says that it is typically used once and then discarded, but I didn't see anything else about its usage in the rules. The description of the lancers, on the other hand, says that they're expected to use the lance unless they dismount. Is the lance a one-time use weapon?

3: Unformed units suffer a +2 TN penalty on Morale checks. Am I correct in assuming that this applies to all post-melee Morale checks? It seems clear enough, but I just want to double check because this means that units are going to be failing LOTS of Morale checks after melee engagements. Still, I suppose that emphasizes the importance of veteran/elite units and ensures that melee battles won't drag on forever.

4: When determining casualties for the purposes of Morale checks, do you round up? If I have a unit with 10 models and they suffer 2 casualties, do I round that up and treat it as 25% or do I round up the unit size (so round the 10 model unit up to 12 when factoring casualty %). Also, how does having a commander in base contact affect this calculation? If an 8 model unit has a commander attached (9 models total), does losing 2 models still trigger a Morale check? This may seem like a nit-picky question, but it came up several times in play.

5: Are there rules anywhere for combining units of a similar type? For example, if two regular infantry units are reduced to half strength, can they combine and reform as a full strength unit? I can see why you couldn't do this with different type units or units of different rank (both for practical and bookkeeping purposes), but I would think that comparably trained soldiers could integrate with each other relatively easily. I know there's a rule for unformed units having the same stats when they fail Morale checks to move through each other, but I couldn't find anything for deliberately forming a new unit.

6: Do units have to make an immediate Morale check when a commander within range or in stand contact goes down? I could see why they wouldn't need to given that they're trained soldiers ("stiff upper lip" and all), but considering that troops in the 1879 rules are rather skittish, it seems like a conspicuous omission.

Sorry for the barrage of questions. I'm enjoying the game, but just want to make sure I'm getting all the little details right.

TarlimanJoppos
Posts: 335
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:17 pm

Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:11 pm

zayven wrote:1: The section on designing models states that a model gets one attack regardless of how many melee weapons it carries, but there are some models that specifically have the "2/3 melee attacks" special quality (some commanders, cavalry lancers, etc). Do such models always get to make multiple melee attacks or only under special circumstances (during a charge, for instance)?

Models with multiple melee attacks get to make that number of melee attacks per turn if they are in melee. You've paid the points for the advantage. It's not conditional unless it explicitly says so in the model description.
zayven wrote:2: On the same subject, the cavalry lancers are armed with both a lance and a saber. Considering that the lance is a TN 4 and the saber a TN 6, why would anyone ever use the saber? The description of the lance says that it is typically used once and then discarded, but I didn't see anything else about its usage in the rules. The description of the lancers, on the other hand, says that they're expected to use the lance unless they dismount. Is the lance a one-time use weapon?

There needs to be a rules clarification here. We debated about losing one lance per unit per Hit inflicted, but the bookkeeping on that would get complicated. The lance is meant to be used in charging, and the saber in melee. If you're in melee, the lance isn't useful.
zayven wrote:3: Unformed units suffer a +2 TN penalty on Morale checks. Am I correct in assuming that this applies to all post-melee Morale checks? It seems clear enough, but I just want to double check because this means that units are going to be failing LOTS of Morale checks after melee engagements. Still, I suppose that emphasizes the importance of veteran/elite units and ensures that melee battles won't drag on forever.

Yes, that penalty applies to all Morale checks made while unformed. This makes Commanders much more useful as they can rally units within range, and reflects the historical fact that green troops tend to scatter after the first impact with the enemy.
zayven wrote:4: When determining casualties for the purposes of Morale checks, do you round up? If I have a unit with 10 models and they suffer 2 casualties, do I round that up and treat it as 25% or do I round up the unit size (so round the 10 model unit up to 12 when factoring casualty %). Also, how does having a commander in base contact affect this calculation? If an 8 model unit has a commander attached (9 models total), does losing 2 models still trigger a Morale check? This may seem like a nit-picky question, but it came up several times in play.

For the casualty percentage trigger, you have to cross the border. If your 10-model unit loses 2 models, it's suffered 20% casualties, and does not make a Morale check. If it loses 3 models, however, it's at 30% casualties and must make a Morale check, because it's crossed the 25% border. The commander does not count as part of the unit for the Morale check trigger, but does grant a bonus to the unit for the Morale check equal to the commander's rating. Also, it may not be clear in the book, but if a Commander in base contact with a unit is killed, the unit must make a Morale check, under the rule applying to friendly units within command radius.
zayven wrote:5: Are there rules anywhere for combining units of a similar type? For example, if two regular infantry units are reduced to half strength, can they combine and reform as a full strength unit? I can see why you couldn't do this with different type units or units of different rank (both for practical and bookkeeping purposes), but I would think that comparably trained soldiers could integrate with each other relatively easily. I know there's a rule for unformed units having the same stats when they fail Morale checks to move through each other, but I couldn't find anything for deliberately forming a new unit.

I would rule that you make a Morale check to see if the two partial units can coordinate into a formed unit, to parallel the rule that says you have to make a Morale check when combined units try to separate. I would only allow this for units of similar type and rank, as you pointed out. If both half units had a Lieutenant, the extra officer is counted as a model but not as an officer. Only one Lieutenant can be in command at a time. This sorts out the bookkeeping for having an officer that's integrated with the unit and not on a separate stand.
zayven wrote:6: Do units have to make an immediate Morale check when a commander within range or in stand contact goes down? I could see why they wouldn't need to given that they're trained soldiers ("stiff upper lip" and all), but considering that troops in the 1879 rules are rather skittish, it seems like a conspicuous omission.

Rule is at the top of page 58. If the commander goes down, the troops must make an immediate Morale check, regardless of experience level. The more experienced the troops, the more likely they are to hold together at the loss of their leader, but even today, if the lieutenant gets hit, there's a brief period of sorting out. The sergeant has to be quick to assume command and keep the troops together, and that quickness is reflected in the experience level of the unit.
zayven wrote:Sorry for the barrage of questions. I'm enjoying the game, but just want to make sure I'm getting all the little details right.

This forum is for just such a barrage. Not a problem. Eventually, I'll compile the rules clarifications and such from here into errata, and then those will go into the next edition.
Andrew Ragland
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zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:10 pm

Thanks for all the clarifications! I did actually find at rule about the death of commanders causing morale saves when I played earlier today.

After another game that wound up fairly indecisive, I had a few more questions.

1: I see rules for joining a melee, but is it possible to fire into a melee? We had the opportunity come up a few times during the game, but didn't allow it as we couldn't find a specific rule for doing so.

2: What happens to excess hits assigned to a commander? If, for instance, a commander with 2 hits in a unit suffers 5 hits and only makes a successful save against 1, he would still suffer 4 hits and be removed, but what happens to those remaining 2 hits? Are they applied to the rest of the unit?

3: I know this is a deliberate design decision, but Samsut zombie units seem especially vulnerable due to the necessity of the control models. It seems like the Samsut player is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't when it comes to putting them in the unit. If the controllers stay detached from the unit, they're vulnerable to flanking cavalry. If they attach to the unit, they don't last long in melee. We had a couple instances where near full-strength units were rendered useless because the controller was killed.

I was a little unclear on how to assign commanders when building the Samsut force. Every zombie unit had a controller and I saw the chart that says how many undead units must be in the army based on the force commander's rank, but do the Samsut get the same number of commanders per unit as the British (a captain for every two units, a major for every six, and so on)? Having more commanders on the field to spread out the controller radius would help mitigate the problem of losing units when the controller goes down.

4: Artillery felt really underwhelming. We were using standard cannonballs rather than cannisters or mortar rounds, so maybe that would make a difference. Maybe it was the way it got deployed in the engagement. There weren't a lot of melee Samsut units, so the battle never really came within range of the artillery (there was a lot of cavalry, so most of the action was on the flanks).

Thanks again for the clarifications! Hopefully more questions will be on the way soon!

TarlimanJoppos
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:54 pm

zayven wrote:1: I see rules for joining a melee, but is it possible to fire into a melee? We had the opportunity come up a few times during the game, but didn't allow it as we couldn't find a specific rule for doing so.

If you fire into a melee, all Hits scored are divided evenly between the sides involved. If there's an extra Hit left over, it goes to the enemy.
zayven wrote:2: What happens to excess hits assigned to a commander? If, for instance, a commander with 2 hits in a unit suffers 5 hits and only makes a successful save against 1, he would still suffer 4 hits and be removed, but what happens to those remaining 2 hits? Are they applied to the rest of the unit?

Any HIts in excess of the capacity of any model are lost. In this case, the remaining 2 Hits are discarded rather than falling back to the unit.
zayven wrote:3: I know this is a deliberate design decision, but Samsut zombie units seem especially vulnerable due to the necessity of the control models. It seems like the Samsut player is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't when it comes to putting them in the unit. If the controllers stay detached from the unit, they're vulnerable to flanking cavalry. If they attach to the unit, they don't last long in melee. We had a couple instances where near full-strength units were rendered useless because the controller was killed.

From Ross: The intent is for the controller to control multiple units and to use them and any other as shields so that they do not get picked off. I would never, never attach my controller to a unit as you have noted, it is almost certain death. In most of our playtests controllers were able to use their units as screens for protection. Also remember even the lowly level 2 controller should be going into the battle with 2 skeleton units and 2 zombie units. Locking up those fast cav units is the job of the skeletons.
zayven wrote:I was a little unclear on how to assign commanders when building the Samsut force. Every zombie unit had a controller and I saw the chart that says how many undead units must be in the army based on the force commander's rank, but do the Samsut get the same number of commanders per unit as the British (a captain for every two units, a major for every six, and so on)? Having more commanders on the field to spread out the controller radius would help mitigate the problem of losing units when the controller goes down.

Ross: I think you are buying too many controllers. As above, the low level controller should have 4 units assigned at the beginning of the battle.
zayven wrote:4: Artillery felt really underwhelming. We were using standard cannonballs rather than cannisters or mortar rounds, so maybe that would make a difference. Maybe it was the way it got deployed in the engagement. There weren't a lot of melee Samsut units, so the battle never really came within range of the artillery (there was a lot of cavalry, so most of the action was on the flanks).

Ross: Sounds like the artillery is not situated for best effect. When fielding arty, the player has to wait for the enemy to come to him. He can take long range shots with ball rounds to whittle down an advancing unit. Canister is for the close in carnage. Granted the light weight arty is not very effective. Remember that you choose your force with your tactics in mind. Having a bunch of cav and infantry and a field piece means that unless the player is very patient, waiting for the enemy to approach the artillery, and uses his cavalry to harass the enemy early on, the opponent will spend most of his time reacting to the cav instead of approaching the arty. and as the example shows, the arty will just sit there. If there were not a lot of Samsut melee units on the field, what was there? In the end there is nothing more satisfying than having a 12 pounder fire a canister shot at point blank range and essentially vaporizing the attacking unit.
Andrew Ragland
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zayven
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Re: Game Play and Rules Questions

Postby zayven » Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:13 pm

I'm sure that 12 pound artillery is very awesome. Unfortunately, the rulebook only contains rules for a 3 pound artillery piece, which can't even hit anything beyond 12 inches.

The Samsut force was about 3400 points or so. There were two 12 model skeleton units. If I recall, there was one zombie railgunner unit and three zombie crossbow units along with a group of ardite infantry and one cavalry unit. The British force had a lot of cavalry, mostly because we were restricted by the models available (cannibalized from another board game).

I'm feeling a bit more confused than before about Samsut controller units. What, exactly, is the point of the regular Ardite Zombie Controller if they're not supposed to be attached to a unit? The stat blocks (page 186-187) say nothing about them having a command radius, so how are they supposed to control multiple units? You say they should have 4 units assigned to them, but I don't see how that's possible given the description of the controller models. As level 1 commanders with the controller quality, don't they only have a command radius equal to 1"? Or are they not level 1 commanders? It's very unclear from their stat block, especially since they all look the same. They aren't even labeled "regular," "veteran," and "elite." And the stat block says nothing about them actually being commanders, which would give them a command radius. It just says that they're controllers, but the controller listing (page 129) says that a model with the controller quality is only considered a controller when it's part of a unit. Even if a regular Ardite controller IS a level 2 commander, which would give him a 3" command radius, that's not nearly enough to control 4 units effectively.

Actually, there are a few confusing things about the Samsut stat blocks. Why does the Ardite Infantry Waklum (pg 192) cost the exact same amount of points as the Ardite Infantry Nesum (pg 193) despite having a shorter command radius, fewer hits, fewer attacks, and lower morale? Meanwhile the Ardite Infantry Nesum on pg 194 costs nearly 50 points more than the version on 193, despite only having a 1 point improvement to Save. The mixing of cavalry with infantry units in the Ardite commanders section also makes it difficult to follow the unit progressions, and it doesn't help that most of them have identical pictures.

It would also help if there was more of a description of how Samsut forces are constituted (maybe even a step by step process). While slapping a British force together is relatively straightforward, Samsut force composition is a little mystifying. There are multiple versions of skeletons, multiple versions of melee zombies, multiple versions of ranged zombies, and then living troops on top of all of that. It's a little confusing because the difference between many of those units is so granular that it's not immediately obvious why you would favor one over the other when you're constructing a force.

Some rules or guidelines for building smaller forces would also be helpful. It's all well and good to say that each side in a conflict should have 4000-6000 point value, but that's a LOT of models, especially considering most of them are not even available yet. I built two forces yesterday with a total of about 180 models between them (scrapped together using miniatures from my War of the Ring board game and its expansion), but that still left me with only about 3400 points per side. Again, throwing together a smaller British force is pretty easy, but I don't even know where to start making a smaller Samsut force. It almost seems like anything less than a 4000 point Samsut force is doomed to be ineffective unless it's built to conform to a specific scenario setup.


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