Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Selecting an Army with IronBow2 - Crusaders (The First Crusade)

Step 0: Get the IronbowII rules (totally free thanks to the Perfect Captain)

(Hint: If you want to save your sanity get all the rules, handbook, army cards, unit cards etc. printed and bound into one volume. There are so many directories and files in the distribution that you'll go crazy trying to find particular pieces of information. There is an A4 version of the rules available in the distribution, which is a mercy. Use that for printing. The default "pdf booklet" format will drive you nuts in no time flat. )


We need two armies - one for the Crusaders and another for the Turks. We'll deal with the Crusaders first.

First decide the year of the battle. I chose 1099 AD, the year Jerusalem was captured.

Turn to page 10 of the IB2 **handbook** (NOT the rulebook) and read the description for the Crusader Army List.

From the description, we note that
  1. The First Crusade can be considered "Rich" (in resources)

  2. All peers and the Papal Legate should be limited to 3 prestige points (does this mean that the C-in-C doesn't get a prestige rating of 4?)

  3. Expedition and Muster sized armies should have at least 30 % of their knights dismounted.

Having noted down all the relevant 'army notes' we now turn to page 39 of the handbook for the army generation procedure.

We also need to find the Army Card for this army . This is the "IBlists1stC-MinTk.pdf" file in the "ListsPDF" folder (I told you to get everything printed out :-P). The Army generation details (not the process .This is in the handbook :-P) are in the "IBlistsGenerators.pdf" file in the same folder. you **also** need the "IBlistsIrr.pdf" file from the same folder. OK with all those pieces of paper printed out, we are ready to create a Crusader Army.

First, decide the size of the war chest. The army card (the "IBlists1stC-MinTk.pdf" file) indicates that crusaders were "Rich" in resources for the year 1099 (the middle entry on the top portion of the Army Card) and that the command structure is "Allied" with "plentiful" commanders.

So now we take the Army Generation tables (the "IBlistsGenerators.pdf" file) and roll a D6 for the war chest size on the "Rich Resource Table" against the "expedition" row. We get a 4 which gives us a war chest of 200 Bezants.

Then we roll another D6 on the "Commanders -Plentiful" table (same file, to the botoom and right of the "Rich resource Table") and get another 4 which indicates a 7 (in Red). This means that the Army will have 7 commanders.

The constraints on these commanders are as follows.
  1. At least one command must be "Irregular" (from the colour Red in the die throw)

  2. Since the Army Card indicates that the Command Structure is "Allied", one in 3 commanders must be a Peer. All peers are considered Allied.

  3. Since the command structure is Allied, one in 3 commanders must be a peer (upto the limit available for the Army) and the minor and major commanders must be distributed "under" these peers (This is very different from the monarchial command structure as we'll see when we select the Seljuk Army).
Thus of the 7 commanders, one is irregular. The other 6 are two groups of 1 peer + 1 major + 1 minor commanders.

OK so now back to the army card.

The Irregular is an "Armenian Hill Chief" (the first option available). From the "IBlistsIrr.pdf", a roll of 2 (on a D6) on the Anatolian Hill Chieftain table gets a chieftain with 4 stands of Armenian Hill Men. That's the irregular command.

We'll have one peer be a Papal Legate (with a Holy Standard - The True Cross? :-) and another be a "normal" Peer).

So let's have the commander lists and the results of rolling for prowess (using dummy names for now and using "IBlistsGenerators.pdf")
  1. His Grace Peter Sibelius, Papal Legate, Bishop of Nice(carrying the Holy Standard; Aggression: 4, Prowess: 2) with subordinates:
    1. Baron Paul de Bussy (Major Commander; Aggression: 3, Prowess: 2)
    2. Sieur Tomas Legrand (Minor Commander; Aggression: 4, Prowess: 2)

  2. Lord Mathieu Backwater, Duke of Leicester (Aggression: 3, Prowess: 1) with
    subordinates:
    1. Lord Mark of Stanton (Major Commander; Aggression: 3, Prowess : 0)
    2. Sir John Uppers (Minor Commander; Aggression: 3, Prowess: 1)

  3. The irregular contingent led by Reuben of Armenia (Aggression: 1, Prowess: 2)
Thus the commander selection is complete.

Now for allocation of troops.
  1. Bishop Peter Sibelius: 4 stands of European Knights costing 24Bezants. Sub commanders:
    1. Baron Paul de Bussy: 4 stands Knight/European costing 24 Bezants.
    2. Sieur Tomas Legrand: 8 stands Foot/archer, 8 stands Pigrim Mob costing 24 + 8 = 32 Bezants (For a total of 80 Bezants)
  2. Lord Mathieu Backwater: with 4 stands of European Knights costing 24 Bezants
    1. Lord Mark of Stanton with 4 stands Knight/European costing 24 Bezants.
    2. Sir John Uppers with 8 stands Foot/Seargeant, 12 stands Archer s costing 76Bezants (For a total of 104 Bezants)
  3. Reuben the Armenian with 4 stand of Armenian Hill men.
Grand total 204 bezants.

Whew!

Impressions about the army selection process - (very) comprehensive but "fiddly", with multiple table look ups and pieces of paper taking about an hour or so. Just like PK before Peter "Gonsalvo"Anderson derived a playing card driven approch in BoB2. (hmm maybe something like that might work for IB2 too? )

On the other hand we can automate this, just as we automated the Bob2 Army Selection process, Then it should take about 10 seconds to generate this army :-)


The army, once selected, feels "just right". The focus on commanders makes itself felt because the player is now forced to select tactics *which depend on the characteristics of the commanders* which is as it should be.


One suggestion I have for improving the army selection process is that the leeway fro choosing armies be somewhat restricted.

[Alert -DETOUR into BoB 2 armyselection procedure. Please skip if not interesting

Again the BoB 2 rules are a good example . For the uninitiated, BoB2 starts with a 'typical' budget of about 60 florins. A pack of playing cards is used with each suite representing a different effect - clubs represent "standard" army units, diamonds represent limited (and thus rare) troops, hearts represent special (and thus even rarer) troops and spades represent a variety of effects from diplomacy to training.

The keys to the system are (a) turning a card costs one florin (b) if the card turned a is a clubs (representing a "standard" unit) you *have to* accept that unit (and pay its cost in florins, reducing the money you have left). The troops represented by the other suites (diamonds and clubs) *may* be taken (but you pay the one florin cost for turning a card anyway). I'll ask Manoj to write up a worked example of the system.

The whole process takes about 5 minutes and you get a army typical of the period but you can never have *exactly* the army you want. The system is NOT repeat NOT the typical PK army selection procedure but was custom designed by Dr Peter Anderson for BoB2 to ensure period feel). In our experience it works remarkable well. In Peter's own words "The player will have only limited control over the composition of their armies. This reflects the historical shortage of both monies and troops available to monarchs during the era covered). Bob2 ALSO has a more conventional points based system but we use the former all the time. We love anything which increases uncertainty. :-)


DETOUR into BoB2 army selection ends ]

I am sure the Pilgrim Mobs or Ahdath weren't necessarily the commanders' favorite units, but they would probably turn up for a muster anyway! Handling the weak units of your army to maximize their potential is what makes a good commander (imo). We threw in some pilgrim mobs and Ahdath even though we could have used the points to select stronger units.



Questions for the Captain
  1. Is it legal to select a peer + 2 minor commanders only ? (or a peer + two major commanders only with no minor commanders) .

2 comments:

The Captain said...

Hey Ravi- "the Captain" here- very neat post and review of the Army Generation system.
To answer your main two questions:

Q1: All peers and the Papal Legate should be limited to 3 prestige points(does this mean that the C-in-C doesn't get a prestige rating of 4?)
A: Yes- we didn't make it emphatic, because there seems to be some question if anyone had the role similar to a C-in-c in the 1st Crus. I'd say give Adhemar overall command, but limit him to 3 prestige, which should give him trouble controlling his commanders.

Q2:Is it legal to select a peer + 2 minor commanders only ? (or a peer + two major commanders only with no minor commanders) .
A: one Major (or Peer) to two minors (or 3 for professional armies). In general you should rather have the minors, as you will have more control over them. The C-in-c would be able to use his +/-2 prestige modifier over them as he sees fit. This really helps, as control is the most important factor in IB2, IMO. We really wanted to be able to simulate one of the hallmarks of Crusades era battles- namely, the ability of some small, nasty armies to stampede much larger ones. After you've played the game a few times, you'll notice that some armies (like Turkish ones) are vulnerable to this, and need to be handled differently. This is also why we produced the Tactical guide, which I suggest you have a look over.

Sorry for all the charts and lists, and the woeful amount of ink you need to spill just to get a game going. But you must realize that we designed IB2 to our own particular tastes (as we do all our games), and with this one we wanted the splash of colour, and the ablility to put the whole thing in a fairly small box. For those with limited resources, I suggest printing it in B&W.

Finally, I think your review is excellent, and would like to have it my reply on our own group as well, if that is OK with you.
Cheers,
-the Captain

Ravi said...

Captain,

"Sorry for all the charts and lists, and the woeful amount of ink you need to spill just to get a game going. But you must realize that we designed IB2 to our own particular tastes (as we do all our games)"

I LOVE IronBow2. I am sick of the "generic" rulesets (from 3000BC to 1600 AD types) and am all for period flavor. Thus your apology is absolutely UNwarranted.

As to the fiddliness and the flipping back and forth, we have plans to deal with that. Most of the India Wargamers are professional programmers and we can whip up a program to the automate the tedium. I'll announce the availabbility of this program on the list when we are done.


"Finally, I think your review is excellent, and would like to have it my reply on our own group as well, if that is OK with you."


It will be an HONOR :-) Please feel free to use anything we of the India Wargamers publish here or anywhere else, for any purposes you deem fit :-)