Draft Complex Battle System
Battles occur between opposing armies that range in size between a few dozen men on a side to many thousands. These forces are grouped into battalions, which are units under the control of a single commander. Each side will also have a general who has overall responsibility for the battle. In very large battles, there may be several divisions each commanded by a general, one of whom is the general-in-chief in charge of the entire army. Additionally, sometimes commanders may have sub-commanders who control individual units within their battalion.
Battles generally begin with the two sides facing each other, with battalions from each side squaring off. A series of contested planning rolls between generals determine which side, if any, has a more favorable starting position.
After battle begins, combat occurs between each battalion. Battalions are either skirmishing, where they are maintaining distance and engaging with ranged weapons or brief melees, or in an assault, where they are in a close, hard-fought melee. Each round generally has a winner and loser, and the loser may have to check morale; on a failure, the unit will become shaken and ultimately break. At the end of a round, both sides choose an engagement type (skirmish, assault, or retreat) for the next round; if the two sides have chosen a different posture, they will make a Mobility check to see which side's choice takes effect.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Units
- 3 Army Composition
- 4 Planning Phase
- 5 The Line of Battle
- 6 Battle Phase
- 7 Morale
- 8 Ending The Battle
- 9 Very Large Battles
- 10 Very Small Battles
- 11 Air Battles
- 12 Artillery and Orbital Bombardment
While there many elements to a battle, it is possible to roughly break the battle into three phases::
- Planning Phase -- (Deployment: Wits + Command or Wits + Warfare, contested against the same rolls on the other side; Wits + command/warfare on Tactics; Presence + command/warfare on leadership). Winning Deployment gives a side a bonus on Mobility, Tactics does so to Combat (Assault or Skirmish) rolls and Leadership grants them synergy bonuses to Morale rolls.
Whether one or the other skill is used depends on army size; armies of less than 700 use Command, while those of more than 1000 use Warfare. Armies between 700 and
- Battle Phase -- You may choose to attack with either SKIRMISH or ASSAULT actions. These roll off on the relevant unit trait plus the commander's skill, with applicable synergy bonuses depending on the situation.
Orderly retreats can only be done if the engagement type is Skirmish. They will succeed at doing so with a mobility roll. Disorderly retreats can be done in the event of Skirmishes and Assaults both. These are also known as routs. During pursuits, the skirmishes roll skirmish + command contrasted against the retreating army's mobility + command.
If the former wins, then they will do serious damage to the opponents. If the fleeing side wins, they succeed at escaping, being able to rally depending on the severity of the rout.
Upon losing a combat roll, all battalions must make morale checks, which are based off Morale + Command. They are first Shaken and then Broken; Broken units that flee can try to Rally, rolling Morale + Command to do so.
- Aftermath Phase -- Battles ends when one or both sides retreat by rout or withdrawal. Casualties are then calculated by staff depending on a few factors.
The terms mentioned above are system terms; ICly, those roles may be called by different names or even combined. Their system definition is here, however:
- The entire forces of one side of a battle; it is led by the general-in-chief.
- Two or three battalions under the command of a general that serves as a sub-part of an army.
- A base unit in the mass combat system. It may be as small as a few dozen men but is no larger than about a thousand men; it is led by a commander.
- The supreme leader of one or more battalions who is responsible for setting the overall strategy of all or some of the battalions in an army or division. Generals may use the Warfare skill in large battles or the Command skill in small and medium-sized battles.
- The battlefield leader of one battalion who is responsible for leading the battalion in combat. Commanders always use the Command skill.
- When an army is more than two or three thousand men, it will need more than one general. One of those generals then becomes the general-in-chief, and the others may be called lieutenant-generals.
- Sometimes, a PC or named NPC will be in command of one of the constituent parts of a battalion; for instance, a battalion of 500 soldiers may include a 100-man Muster company commanded by a PC captain. That captain is a sub-commander, whose rolls affect the overall success or failure of the battalion.
- The series of rolls and decisions made by opposing generals before a battle that determines initial placement, readiness, and general tactics. Planning rolls are either Warfare or Command checks depending on the scale of the battle.
- Combat between two battalions that takes place primarily at range; it may involve the exchange of fire or quick raids that result in brief melees that form or break apart.
- Combat between two battalions that takes place in close, hard-fought melee.
- A battalion that is leaving the battlefield to return to its reserves or some other place of safety. A retreat may be orderly (a withdrawal) or disorderly (a rout).
Battles take place between units grouped into battalions. Units have five traits and may have some special abilities. When a battalion has only one type of unit, it has the traits of that unit. When a battalion contains multiple types of units, it has the traits of the the largest unit in the battalion, with bonuses and penalties for other units present.
Units have five traits rated from 1-10 like character traits. They are:
- The unit's effectiveness in skirmish situations, which often occur at range or involve small, uncoordinated melees that form and then break quickly.
- The unit's effectiveness in an assault situations, which tend to occur close in and involve heavy, sustained melee fighting.
- The unit's ability to close to assault range or prevent an enemy from closing to assault.
- The unit's cohesion and fighting spirit. Commanders test their forces' morale when they lose in combat.
- The unit's ability to engage in fast, disconnect raids to cut supply lines, pillage enemy territory, or disable enemy equipment.
Units may also have special abilities, which affect certain rolls or give them bonuses in particular situations.
Unit Trait Meanings
Like character traits, unit trait ratings mean something qualitatively.
- 1 - Very Poor (Non-combatants)
- 2 - Poor (Impressed Serfs)
- 3 - Below Average (Militia)
- 4 - Low Average (New Armsmen)
- 5 - High Average (Seasoned Armsmen)
- 6 - Above Average (Muster)
- 7 - Exceptional (Vorox commandos, Cyber-corps)
- 8 - Among the best on planet (Brother Battle)
- 9 - Among the best alive (Phoenix Guard)
- 10 - Among the best in history (Alexius' personal retinue)
Mobility is particularly technology dependent; infantry tend to have a Mobility of 3-4, while cavalry tend to have a Mobility of 5-6. Mechanized units tend to have a Mobility of 6-7, while hover units and similar very highly mobile forces may have 8 or more.
- House Armsmen: Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 5, Morale 5, Raiding 4
- Hobelars: Skirmish 3, Assault 4, Mobility 6, Morale 3, Raiding 6
- Legionaries: Skirmish 5, Assault 5, Mobility 4, Morale 4, Raiding 3
- Muster Hoplites: Skirmish 7, Assault 4, Mobility 4, Morale 3*, Raiding 4
- Brother Battle: Skirmish 6, Assault 8, Mobility 3, Morale 8, Raiding 3
- Medium Tank Squadron: Skirmish 7, Assault 4, Mobility 6, Morale 5, Raiding 3
- Scout Tank Squadron: Skirmish 7, Assault 3, Mobility 7, Morale 5, Raiding 5
'* Mercenary units have a special rule called 'Cost-Benefit Analysis'; they have a lower morale than some other troops, but instead of breaking they retreat in an orderly fashion. This represents not the exhaustion of their fighting spirit but their desire to collect a paycheck and not die. In some situations, they double their morale. For more details, see Morale, below.
A mixed battalion has the base traits of the largest unit within its total - the 'main unit'. All other units are 'supporting units' in a battalion.
When a supporting unit has substantially different traits, they may alter the effective trait of the main unit.
If a supporting unit makes up more than a tenth of the total unit strength and has a trait that is 2 points or more higher than the main unit, increase the main unit's effective trait by 1. If they have a trait that is 4 or more points higher, increase the main unit's effective trait by 2! Thus, if there are a dozen Brother Battle with 100 armsmen, the traits of the unit will be Skirmish 5, Assault 6, Mobility 5 and Morale 6.
Similarly, if a sub-unit makes up more than a tenth of the total unit strength and has a trait that is 2 points or more lower than the main unit, subtract one from the main unit's effective trait. Thus, a company of 100 mounted hobelars forced to escort a few dozen legionaries would be reduced to Skirmish 3, Assault 4, Mobility 5 and Morale 3.
Only one supporting unit can provide a bonus to the main unit; if a unit of Armsmen with Skirmish 4 is supported by both a unit of Armored Legion (Skirmish 6) and Ceramsteel Legion (Skirmish 7), they will have a +1 Skirmish, not a +2.
Many units have special abilities. A main unit’s special abilities always apply; only one supporting unit’s special abilities can apply each round, though that can change. That represents that supporting unit taking the lead - heavy cavalry leading a charge, for instance, or Brother Battle standing in the center of a unit so others can rally around them. Some units have special abilities that only apply if they are the main unit, such as Brother Battle (who are fearless when they are the main unit) or Hobelars (who get only limited benefit from supporters when they are the main unit.)
A Complex Example
When a battalion is made up of many constituent units, these rules all still combine. Imagine a unit with 100 Armsmen, 1 Scout Tank, 70 Hobelars and 25 Brother Battle. A Scout Tank 'counts as' roughly 20 soldiers for unit number purposes, so the battalion has a total strength of 225. First, determine the main unit in the battalion; it is the unit with the largest numbers. In this case, the 100 Armsmen would be the main unit in the battalion, and so its traits would start at those of a coistrel armsman - Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 5 and Morale 5.
Next, we see if any of the supporting units in the battalion are substantially better than the armsmen. Do any of the units have a Skirmish 2 points higher? (Yes - the Brother Battle as well as the tank.) The battalion is now Skirmish 5, Assault 5, Mobility 5, and Morale 5. Do any of the units have an Assault 2 points higher than the armsmen? (Yes - the Brother Battle.) The battalion is now Skirmish 5, Assault 6, Mobility 5, and Morale 5. Do any of the units have a Mobility 2 points higher than the armsmen? (Yes - the tank.) The battalion is now Skirmish 5, Assault 6, Mobility 6, and Morale 5. Do any of the supporting units have a Morale 2 points higher than the armsmen? (Yes - the Brother Battle.) Now the battalion is Skirmish 5, Assault 6, Mobility 6, and Morale 5.
Now we determine if any of the supporting units are substantially worse than the armsmen. Do any of the supporting units have a Skirmish 2 points lower? (Yes - the hobelars.) Now we are Skirmish 4, Assault 6, Mobility 6, Morale 6. Any have an Assault two points lower? (Yes - the tank.) Now we are Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 6, and Morale 6. Any supporting units have a Mobility 2 points lower? (Yes - the Brother Battle). Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 5, and Morale 6. Finally, do any supporting units have a Morale 2 points lower. (Again, yes - the hobelars.) We are left with Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 5, and Morale 5 - exactly the same as the statline of a base armsman.
In general, mixed battalions are most effective when they accentuate certain parts of the base unit. If the example unit above was just the tank and the armsmen, it would be Skirmish 5, Assault 4, Mobility 6, and Morale 5 - a little less effective in an assault, but faster and with more firepower due to the support of the tank. If the unit was just the Brother Battle and the armsmen, it would be Skirmish 5, Assault 6, Mobility 4, and Morale 6 - slower, with the armored warrior-monks in the center, but otherwise better in all ways. With just the hobelars, it would be Skirmish 4, Assault 5, Mobility 5 and Morale 4; the more fragile hobelars would not improve the armsmen's fighting ability, but when they flee they may pull the armsmen with them. They would make the unit more effective at raiding out of combat, however, and they are also very cheap, possibly giving a bonus for outnumbering.
Before a battle begins, the commanders of an army will agree upon the composition of divisions and battalions. Unless an army is over 2000-3000 soldiers, it will likely only have one division that will be conventionally divided up into three battalions. Very small battles - less than 200 folks on a side or so - tend to not divide even into battalions, instead having only one battalion per side.
Settling on divisions and battalions is more art than science. Both sides' divisions and battalions should be of roughly equal size; if one side has organized into significantly smaller battalions, fold them together. For example, if Lord Johnson has arranged his troops into 9 battalions of 100 men and Lord Richard into three battalions of 300 men, Lord Johnson's troops should be folded into 3 battalions for mass combat purposes with the commanders of his smaller battalions serving as sub-commanders in the system.
The general rule for battalions is that they should be a quarter to a third of the total strength of the army and not much more than 600-700 men each. If the number of battalions is going to increase beyond four or five to keep within these limits, it is time to start dividing an army into divisions. (See Very Large Battles, below.)
As a battle is starting the opposing generals will make planning rolls. This section assumes that there is only one division on each side; for a very large battle, see the 'Very Large Battles' section below.
During the Planning Phase, each general makes three opposed rolls, a Deployment check, a Tactics check, and a Leadership check.
Some of these rolls can either use Command or Warfare, depending on size. If an engagement has less than 700 soldiers on a side, use Command. If it has more than 1000 soldiers on a side, use Warfare. If it is between 700 and 1000 soldiers, the general can choose either Command or Warfare.
After any of the three Planning Rolls are made, each general needs to determine the Line of Battle, deciding which of his battalions will be placed where on the front lines (there should generally be at least three) and which, if any, will be in the reserves.
The Deployment Check
The deployment roll represents a general's skill at putting his soldiers where they need to be, and includes elements of supply and logistics. This is a Wits + Warfare or Wits + Command roll, depending on the size of the engagement. The general will receive synergy from appropriate blessings and careers. He will also receive synergy from:
- Having more or better intelligence than the enemy
- Having soldiers with a higher average Mobility than the enemy
- Having a higher relevant People & Places skill than the enemy
- Having significantly better supply lines than the enemy
- Having significantly fresher soldiers than the enemy
Winning the Deployment Check gives all a general's commander synergy on Mobility rolls. In the case of a tie, neither side receives synergy.
The Tactics Check
The tactics roll represents a general's skill at developing a plan for once battle commences and having his soldiers follow that plan. This is a Wits + Warfare or Wits + Command roll, depending on the size of the engagement. The general will receive synergy from appropriate blessings and careers. He will also receive synergy from:
- Having soldiers with a higher average Skirmish than the enemy
- Having soldiers with a higher average Assault than the enemy
- Having a higher Command (if Warfare is being used) or Warfare (if Command is being used) than the enemy.
- Having significantly better commanders than the enemy
- Having significantly better communications than the enemy
Winning the Tactics check will give your commanders synergy on all Combat (Assault or Skirmish) rolls. In the case of a tie, neither side receives synergy.
The Leadership Check
The leadership roll represents a general's skill at inspiring his commanders and soldiers to fight. This is a Presence + Warfare or Presence + Command roll, depending on the size of the engagement. The general will receive synergy from appropriate blessings and careers. He will also receive synergy from:
- Having soldiers with a higher average Morale than the enemy
- Having the majority of soldiers fighting to defend their homes
- Having a higher Impress than the enemy
- Having significantly more religious blessing than the enemy
- Having significantly more opportunities for profit than the enemy
Winning the Leadership roll check give your commanders synergy on all Morale rolls. In the case of a tie, neither side receives synergy.
The Line of Battle
Generally, armies in the field fight in a rough line, with a left flank, center, and right flank. Sometimes, a battalion may also be kept in reserve. There are other ways to organize a battle, particularly when someone has been ambushed, when a battalion is defending a fixed position, or in other situations, but they have to be worked out on a case-by-case basis.
Before a battle begins, each general chooses where their battalions will set up, either in the left flank, the center, the right flank, or the reserves. In very large battles, the general-in-chief will choose where divisions deploy, and then the generals of each division will determine the placement of battalions within the division. Ordinarily, generals determine where their battalions will be deployed 'blind', but if one general wins more Planning Phase rolls than the other they can switch the locations of two battalions after both sides have decided upon the line of battle.
The battle phase takes place over a series of Battle Rounds, in which units in the same part of the battle (the left, right, and center) square off against each other either while Skirmishing or in an Assault. Battles generally always begin at Skirmish range.
The Battle Round
Each battle round, the two sides make a contested Combat Roll based on their current engagement type; the loser of that Combat Roll may have to make a morale check, and then both sides declare what type of engagement they are seeking for the next round. If one side wishes a different type of engagement than another, they will make a contested Mobility Roll to see whose choice prevails.
Combat Rolls: Skirmishes & Assaults
Combat rolls in skirmishes and assaults are based on the relevant unit trait plus the commander's Command skill. Thus, in a Skirmish, each side rolls Skirmish + Command, comparing their results, while in an Assault each side rolls Assault + Command. Commanders receive synergy bonuses from appropriate blessings and careers as well as:
- Being ‘overstrength’ by having a battalion that is more than 10% larger than the enemy
- Successful sub-commander rolls (see below)
- Special unit blessings that provide synergy (for instance, Vorox Commandos may grant synergy if they are members of a battalion fighting in jungle or forest)
- Flanking or having an allied battalion flank an opponent. (This can grant synergy multiple times, once for every battalion that is flanking!)
- Having a general who won the Tactics roll in the planning phase.
If there is more than one battalion targeting a single battalion, all battalions on the 'outnumbering' side receive a +1 to their Combat Rolls. Thus, if two of Lord Johnson's battalions are fighting one of Lord Richard's battalions, each of Lord Johnson's commanders receive a +1.
Note that this is different than the synergy bonus for being overstrength; if Lord Johnson's battalions are each 200 men and Lord Richard's battalion is 300 men, Lord Richard will receive a synergy bonus for having an overstrength battalion even though Lord Johnson’s two battalions collectively outnumber him.
Unlike in personal combat, a battalion can damage multiple opponents in a turn. If three battalions attack a single battalion and all three battalions lose the combat, they all must make Morale checks.
Sometimes a battalion commander will have smaller units in his force commanded by a PC or significant NPC. These are sub-commanders, and they make their own Combat Roll each Battle Round, comparing their result either to a named Sub-Commander on the enemy side or to the enemy commander's roll, if there is no opposing sub-commander.
If a sub-commander wins their roll, the commander receives a synergy bonus for each sub-commander who wins. If the sub-commander loses, the enemy commander receives a synergy bonus.
Leading From The Front
In an Assault, a character can get a flat +1 to their roll (on top of synergy!) by leading from the front. This rule applies to both commanders and sub-commanders. If a character leads from the front, each round they must make a Dex + Melee or Dex + Fight check. If they fail, they take a Serious Wound. Characters with assault shields or ceramsteel can ignore the first Serious Wound they take; characters with ceramsteel and a battle shield can ignore the first two Serious Wounds they take.
Winning A Combat Roll
When one side wins a combat roll the losing side is generally forced to make a Morale Check at a penalty equal to the number of VPs scored by the winner. If the losing side has already broken, instead the losing side takes extra casualties as they are ridden down.
At the end of each battle round, units can try to maneuver by either changing the engagement type, flanking an enemy, or withdrawing. If a unit’s opponents wish to stop that maneuver or perform a contradictory maneuver, everyone involved in battle in that area makes an opposed Mobility Roll; the winner of this roll then either stops or overrides the maneuvers of others.
Each commander rolls his unit's Mobility trait plus his Command skill, adding synergy from blessings and careers as appropriate as well as:
- Having significantly favorable terrain (if one side is backing into a ford, the other side will have a mobility advantage)
- Special unit blessings that provide synergy (for instance, Vorox Commandos may grant synergy if they are members of a battalion fighting in jungle or forest)
- Having a general who won the Tactics roll in the Planning Phase.
If a battalion is facing multiple units, it must beat the Mobility Roll of every opposing unit to be able to maneuver.
Changing Engagement Type
At the end of each battle round, each commander chooses the engagement type they would like for the next round. If both sides choose the same type of engagement - Skirmish or Assault - the engagement type changes automatically. If one side wishes to Skirmish and the other side wishes to Assault, however, the side that won the Mobility Roll determines the type of engagement.
If two or more battalions are facing a single battalion that has an open flank, one of them can attempt to flank. To do so, they must succeed at a Mobility Check.
A battalion can only make an orderly retreat or withdrawal from a Skirmish. If they win the Mobility roll, they withdraw from the battle into the Reserves. A unit making an orderly retreat can never be drawn into an Assault unless they mishap or have been flanked; if Battalion A is trying to Withdraw and Battalion B is trying to Assault, even if Battalion B wins the Mobility roll the combat remains a skirmish.
While a disorderly retreat or rout is not a planned maneuver, it is resolved at the same time as other mobility rolls.
A disorderly retreat or rout can occur from a skirmish or an assault. During a rout, the pursuing side rolls Skirmish + Command with appropriate synergy bonuses while the fleeing side rolls Mobility + Command with appropriate bonuses. If the pursuing side wins, they harry the routing soldiers, doing serious damage, while if the fleeing side wins, they escape from their pursuers. Depending on how badly they have been routed, they may then be able to rally.
Battalions can also begin a battle in the Reserves, placed behind friendly lines to reinforce troops in battle. During the Mobility phase of each battle round, a unit in the Reserves can move up to the front, joining a battle in progress whether or not that battle is in Skirmish or Assault.
To move up to the front, the commander of the Reserves must succeed at a Mobility Check with synergy bonuses as described above. If the Reserves commander failed the Mobility check in prior rounds, new checks are made at a +2 bonus for every round the commander has failed their check. Any success is enough to join the battle; by default, the reserve battalion will join the front of the battle, though when appropriate (such as when it has entered the battle due to routing a nearby unit) it can sometimes instead join a battle at the flank.
When a unit finds itself disengaged due to the rout or withdrawal of the enemy treat it as if it is in the Reserves. Sometimes, when there are multiple battalions fighting an opponent, one or more of those allied battalions may wish to maneuver to flank the opponent. To do so, the maneuvering battalion must succeed at a Mobility check just as if they are entering a battle from the Reserves.
Battalions must make morale checks when:
- They lose a Combat Roll
- An adjacent ally breaks
- They are hit with artillery fire, aerial attack, or orbital bombardment
To make a morale check, the commander rolls his battalion's Morale + his Command, with synergy bonuses from appropriate blessings and careers as well as:
- Having a Presence of 6 or higher
- Having an Impress of 6 or higher
- Having a general who won the Leadership roll in the Planning Phase
- Having a significant religious figure or relic
- Having a sub-commander succeed at a Morale check
Morale rolls also have dissonance penalties:
- One dissonance penalty for every broken or retreating allied unit
- One dissonance penalty for every VP scored by enemy artillery, aerial attack or bombardment
- One or more dissonance penalties for a fallen commander or hero
- Having a sub-commander fail a Morale check
If the battalion commander passes his morale check his unit is fine. If he fails, his unit becomes shaken or breaks; see 'Failing a Morale Check', below. Battalions that adopt an Aggressive posture automatically fail their morale checks if they lose combat.
Sub-Commanders and Morale
Sub-commanders can also help or hinder their battalion's Morale checks. They make a Morale check exactly as above; if they succeed, their battalion commander receives synergy, while if they fail, their commander receives dissonance.
Failing a Morale Check
The first time a battalion fails a Morale Check it is Shaken. Shaken units do not take penalties but they are in danger of breaking.
The second time a battalion fails a Morale Check it breaks and routs, making a disorderly retreat as above.
Mercenary units have a special rule called 'Cost-Benefit Analysis.' They have a lower Morale trait than many other units, but instead of Routing when they fail their second Morale Check they instead make a fighting withdrawal in an orderly fashion, first maneuvering from Assault to Skirmish and then Skirmish to Retreat.
Commanders can seek to rally a unit that has become Broken.
A Broken and Routing unit can be rallied only if it has successfully retreated. The round after it successfully retreats, it can make a Morale Check at the end of the round (when other units would be making Mobility checks). If the unit succeeds, it rallies - it is placed in the Reserves and becomes Shaken. If it fails, it disperses and no further attempts to rally can be made.
Ending The Battle
Battle ends when one or both sides retreat, whether by rout or withdrawal.
Casualties depend on how long the unit was engaged in battle and whether or not it was routed.
- Short Battle (1-3 rounds): Very Light casualties.
- “‘Ordinary Battle (4-6 rounds): Light casualties.
- ’Long Battle’’’ (7-9 rounds): Moderate Casualties
- ‘’’Very Long Battle’’’ (10+ rounds): Heavy Casualties.
A unit that breaks and routes suffers one category higher casualties. A unit that is ridden down while routing takes an additional two levels of casualties for every round they were ridden down.
- Very Light (0)
- The battalion has lost only incidental soldiers to death or wounding.
- Light (0)
- The battalion has lost no more than 5% of its soldiers to death or wounds with minimal impact on its fighting capabilities.
- Moderate (-1)
- The battalion has lost no more than a tenth of its soldiers to death or wounds with some impacts on fighting capability.
- Heavy (-2)
- The battalion has lost a fifth or more of its soldiers to death or wounds with serious impacts on fighting capability.
- Very Heavy (-4)
- The battalion has a quarter or more of its fighting soldiers to death or wounds. It is basically useless in combat.
- The battalion has lost a third of its soldiers and is no longer combat-capable. Every further level of casualties below this results in another ten percent of the battalion being dead or captured depending upon the brutality of the victors.
Units that have taken casualties are at penalties to all rolls in future battles until they have had a chance to return to full strength. If a unit that is already under-strength takes additional casualties of its current level or higher, increase the casualty level by one step. For example, if a moderately wounded battalion takes Moderate casualties again, it will then have Heavy casualties. If a moderately wounded battalion takes Heavy casualties, it will instead have Very Heavy casualties. However, if the moderately wounded battalion takes Light casualties, it will remain at Moderate casualties.
Very Large Battles
When a battle gets to have more than two or three thousand soldiers on a side, several generals will be needed per side. One of them will be a general-in-chief; the two opposing general-in-chiefs will make Planning Rolls which apply only to their division generals, giving them extra synergy on their Deployment, Tactics and Leadership rolls.
Each set of division generals then make Planning Rolls which affect their battalion commanders as normal.
Very Small Battles
In a very small battle, the general and commander may be the same person. In that case, they still make Planning Rolls, with the Deployment roll providing synergy as described above instead of choosing who deploys where.
Often, an air battle will be taking place overhead while a ground battle is going on. Air battles have their own separate rules, though they occur in the same round-by-round time scale as ground battles.
Air Unit Traits
Instead of Skirmish, Assault, Mobility and Morale, air units have two traits: Interception and Ground Attack.
- Interception represents an air unit's ability to engage other aircraft above the battlefield in a dogfight or dissuade their attacks using point defense, chaff, and other countermeasures.
- Ground Attack
- Ground attack represents an air unit's ability to directly damage ground units using bombs, machine guns, and other weapons.
Air Battles: Overview
All air units on a side are placed into either the Interception squadron or a Ground Attack squadron. Each round, the two sides' Interception wings make contested Interception rolls; the winner of those rolls can then use their VPs to damage enemy aircraft or provide cover for their Ground Attack squadrons to support ground forces.
Squadrons and the Air Wing
Air battles are fought between air wings, just as ground battles are fought between armies. Those wings are divided into squadrons, which like battalions represent the functional unit of an air battle.
All air battles have at least one squadron, the Interception squadron. They may also have one or more Ground Attack squadrons. The Interception squadron contains all aircraft the wing commander has tasked towards engaging in aerial battles with other aircraft, while Ground Attack squadrons contain aircraft the wing commander has tasked towards supporting ground forces.
Ground Attack squadrons should be roughly equal in size with each other and appropriate for the size of the battalions on the ground. Roughly, every level of Air Power a plane has makes it appropriate to target a battalion of around one hundred people; thus, in a battle where the battalions are all around 300 soldiers, Ground Attack squadrons should be around Air Power 3.
Often, multiple types of aircraft will be in a single squadron. Combine the statlines for these planes just as you would with a ground battalion, with the plane type making up the majority of Air Power supported by other plane types. An Interception squadron with 3 Prop Fighters and a Paladin, for instance, would have total Air Power of 5, an Interception rating of 6 (the Prop Fighters’ 5 with a +1 for the Paladin’s Interception 7) and a Ground Attack of 3.
The Interception Check
Each combat round begins with an Interception check between the two sides; each side rolls Interception + Piloting/. The winner of this roll can use their VPs to either do damage to the opponent’s air wing or provide cover for their Ground Attack squadrons to attack, or both.
Participants in the Interception check get synergy from skills, careers and blessings as usual as well as:
- One synergy bonus for every point of Air Power they exceed the enemy squadron by
- One synergy bonus if the squadron leader has a higher Command skill than the enemy leader
- One synergy bonus if their general won the Leadership check before the battle
- Synergy bonuses or dissonance penalties for Sub-Commanders as described in the main Battle System rules
If the winner of the Interception Check dedicates VPs to damaging their opponent’s air wing, their opponent then chooses which of their planes to apply the damage to. One VP of damage is enough to force an aircraft to flee the battle unless it has Energy Shields. Then, two VPs are required to force the craft to flee.
If the winner of the Interception check really wants to shoot a plane down, it can instead devote 3 VPs to shooting down an aircraft of the enemy’s choice. Such a plane will be shot down; it will not have the opportunity to flee. Most enemy aircraft will be automatically destroyed if they are shot down, but enemy aircraft with the ‘Combat Hover’ ability will instead crash-land and possibly be salvaged at a later time.
Normally, when an aircraft suffers damage from a failed Interception check it flees. However, the squadron commander can choose to have the damaged aircraft remain in the fight; on any further damage, it is shot down.
In addition to damaging their opponent’s air wing, the winner of an Interception check can provide cover for its Ground Attack squadrons to attack. Providing cover reduces the damage done to enemy aircraft by 1, but allows all of the air wing’s ground attack squadrons can attack once following the rules below.
If the enemy has no Interception squadron, all squadrons - even the Interception squadron - are treated as Ground Attack squadrons and attack once according to the Ground Attack rules below.
For example: Don Julio’s air wing has an Interception squadron and two Ground Attack squadrons, while Don Johnson’s air wing has an Interception squadron and one Ground Attack squadron. If Don Julio wins the Interception Check by 3 VPs, he can do three VPs of damage to Don Johnson’s air wing - driving away three planes of Don Johnson’s choice - or he can pursue and destroy one plane of Don Johnson’s choice. Alternately, Don Julio can provide cover for Ground Attack; each of his two Ground Attack squadrons attack once, but he does only two VPs of damage to Don Johnson.
Aerial squadrons that have been given cover by interceptors or who are not opposed by interceptors can make one Ground Attack each round.
Ground Attacks usually target a unit in Skirmish; the squadron commander rolls Ground Attack + Piloting against the target unit’s Skirmish + Command; the Ground Attack squadron is treated essentially identically as a ground unit fighting a Skirmish. The Ground Attack squadron receives synergy bonuses for every extra point of Air Power it has; thus, if a Patrol Bomber (Air Power 3) is attacking a 100-man battalion of armsmen, the Ground Attack squadron will have two extra Synergy bonuses. Similarly, Ground Attack squadrons receive dissonance penalties if their Air Power is too small for the battalion they are attacking.
If the Ground Attack squadron wins the check, the ground unit must make a Morale check at a penalty equal to the number of VPs the Ground Attack squadron exceeded the defenders’ Skirmish roll. If the ground unit wins the check, the Ground Attack squadron takes damage in VPs as described above, representing anti-aircraft fire from the ground.
Particularly brutal commanders may instead direct a Ground Attack squadron to attack a unit engaged in Assault. Such units do not receive a defensive roll; instead, every VP the Ground Attack squadron scores applies as a penalty against the defending unit’s morale roll. However, every unit engaged in the Assault - friend or foe - must make a Morale roll. Thus is, Don Julio’s armsmen are fighting Don Johnson’s legionaries and Don Julio directs a ground attack against the legionaries, Don Julio’s bomber will roll Ground Attack + Piloting. If Don Julio scores 2 VPs, both the armsmen and the legionaries will have to make a Morale roll at -2.
Artillery and Orbital Bombardment
Commanders can also direct artillery fire or even orbital bombardment on the battlefield. Generally, artillery units are off the battlefield, but those marked with ‘Artillery (Close)’ must instead be placed in the Reserves to be able to fire on battalions.
Artillery units should be grouped in batteries of appropriate size for the battalions on the field. Roughly, every level of Fire Power a gun has makes it appropriate to target a battalion of around one hundred people; thus, in a battle where the battalions are all around 300 soldiers, batteries should be around Fire Power 3.
Artillery fire usually targets a unit in Skirmish; the battery commander rolls Artillery + Gunnery against the target unit’s Skirmish + Command. The battery receives synergy bonuses for every extra point of Fire Power it has; thus, if a battery of three Medium Artillery (Fire Power 3) is attacking a 100-man battalion of armsmen, the battery will have two extra Synergy bonuses. Similarly, batteries receive dissonance penalties if their Fire Power is too small for the battalion they are attacking.
If the battery wins the check, the ground unit must make a Morale check at a penalty equal to the number of VPs the battery exceeded the defenders’ Skirmish roll. If the ground unit wins the check, they do not have to make a morale check, but they do not do damage to the artillery battery.
Particularly brutal commanders may instead direct artillery fire against a unit engaged in Assault. Such units do not receive a defensive roll; instead, every VP the battery scores applies as a penalty against the defending unit’s morale roll. However, every unit engaged in the Assault - friend or foe - must make a Morale roll. Thus is, Don Julio’s armsmen are fighting Don Johnson’s legionaries and Don Julio directs artillery fire against the legionaries, Don Julio’s battery commander will roll Artillery + Gunnery. If Don Julio scores 2 VPs, both the armsmen and the legionaries will have to make a Morale roll at -2.