Thursday, 8 October 2009

DBMM For The Befuddled :: Impetuous Survey “Results”

At the end of last month I posted a short article publicising an online survey on this area of the rules.  All told, 37 people took the time to complete the survey.  I’d like to thank those who took the time to participate.

I ran the survey because I’d had a few problems in competitions with different interpretations of this part of the rules.  My plan was to run the survey, work behind the scenes whilst it was running and establish the “correct” answers and finally to write another Befuddled guide.  Needless to say things haven’t worked out that way.

Firstly, the extent of the consensus that emerged from the survey was lower than I’d hoped.  Taking just the first question as an example:

Nearly 75% of respondents (27 of 37) thought moves #1 and 2 were legal . In contrast 86% of respondents (32 of 37) thought option #3 was legal.

The results for options #1 & 3 illustrate the contradictory nature of some of the the replies. These options are legal and are covered by the same rule. Element X is acting as an overlap and may chose to move or not (page 30, paragraph 2, bullet 5).  I would have expected the survey results to be more consistent.
Secondly, the written spontaneous advance rules aren’t consistent and very different interpretations of the rules exists amongst players. Outcome #2  above serves as a simple example.  The majority of respondents said this is legal, however a significant proportion didn’t.

In my discussions with more experienced competition players I’ve found strong arguments for and against these moves.  Within the rules the issue turns on one rule on page 30 (paragraph 4, bullet 5) that requires an element to pivot and end parallel to an enemy element at the end of any spontaneous advance move. 
In the published rules there’s no clear definition of parallel.  As a result this rule seems to be interpreted by players in one of two irreconcilable ways:
  1. Parallel means parallel to the elements front, or rear, edge.  This view prevents any flank contact during spontaneous advance such as option #2 above. 
  2. Parallel means parallel to any edge. With this view flank contact is allowed under all circumstances. The weakness is it stretches the implied meaning of parallel a bit and makes the rule itself almost pointless.
A little research showed that the latter interpretation is not what was intended.  It has been pointed out to me that Phil Barker’s recent definition of parallel is as follows:
“If one element's front edge is in contact with an enemy's flank edge, they are not parallel, but at right angles.”
A nice simple definition, not in the rules, but clear.  He goes on to add:
  1. If your front edge hits a corner, or your corner hits a front edge, you pivot so that both front edges are in contact.
  2. If your corner hits a side edge, you pivot until both side edges are in contact.
With this in mind why don’t you take another look at the survey results and see how how many respondents “got it right”.  It seems a touch cynical but I can’t help thinking that some players, possibly with irregular impetuous troops in their armies, deemed flank contacts during spontaneous advance as both legal and one of the compensating advantages of an irregular army.

In principle this extra information should allow me to provide definitive answers to the questions in the survey as most of the contentious moves hinge on this point but it’s not that simple because during my research a degree of “mission creep” occurred.

The only thing missing from Phil’s comments above is a statement on full front edge to flank contact.  I’d not considered including examples of this in the survey because it seemed obvious what would happen – outcome #1 below. However I realised that as written the “parallel” rule almost seems to prevents all front edge to flank contact even when the enemy flank is directly in front of the advancing element.  Outcomes #2 & 3 look strange to me:

I don’t want to produce a guide for the Befuddled when things are so unclear.  There is of course a third possible interpretation of the “parallel” rule which lies somewhere between the extremes above which allows outcome #1; but of course this isn’t in the rules either.  I think, and hope, this is where we’ll end up.

Aside from clarifying one of the basic the mechanisms of the game fixing this will also reinforce an important issue concerning the balance between regular and irregular troops within the game.  Flank contact during spontaneous advance is, and should remain, restricted to prevent lower cost, irregular impetuous troops executing high PIP cost, decisive flank moves for zero PIPs.  At the same time the restrictions should not prevent attacks against an open flank directly in front of you.

In my previous attempts to reduce my befuddlement I’ve always managed to come up with a solution that’s clearer, within the rules as written and accepted by all.  In this case it’s impossible because, I’m afraid,these rules are slightly broken at present.  The good news is that I’ve been told that this issue will be addressed in DBMM v1.1 and that I’ll get firm decisions on all the questions set in the survey. 
So we’ll all have to wait and see what actually happens when DBMM v1.1 is released.

1 comment :

  1. It hadn't occured to me the rules might be intended to prevent flank contacts like #2 in your first diagram - it seemed like a natural thing that aggressive troops might spontaneously do.

    Still, I can see an argument that any spontaneous onrushing is handled by the overlap rules. Conveniently explains who (sc. nobody) decides which way to go!


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