Sunday, 15 October 2017

ADLG Preparation 2017 - More

Last Tuesday I posted my first attempts at a playing aid for L'Art De La Guerre along with my inspiration and motivation. Since then I have been busy and have now completed most of the basic processes.

The results of my efforts are available to download but use at your own risk. Please leave any suggestions or correction in the comments.

I need to add a few words of warning.  I am reasonably confident that everything is as it should be for all the sections bar the melee pages which is in need of a final review.  I have repeatedly reviewed and fine tuned the set up, movement & shooting sections but I have deliberately not included anything about flank marches.  Overall, I will feel better when the pages have been used during a game.

As I'm nearly ready I put the printed pages into a folder to check that my idea of turning a page between phases of the turn works correctly.  This is what it looks like in use:



You should only read on if you have a strong stomach. It's fair to say I struggled to get my head around the detailed mechanisms of shooting and combat.

This was partly my own fault as I'm trying to learn how the rules work and impose a logical structure at the same time.  The latter isn't always clear in the rules and unfortunately I find it really helpful, if not vital, when learning rules.  Rote learning factors and modifiers in bulk is not my idea of fun.

Shooting - Target Protection
The shooting section was the most straightforward given I'd looked at it before. Even so I still had a few head scratching moments

The target protection rules were not the easiest to structure.  Unsurprisingly, they are based on a combination of the weapon shooting and the target troop type.

Factors are mainly governed by the target troop type with others by the weapon shooting and the target troop type. All the modifiers are governed by the weapon shooting and the target troop type.
  • The use of certain weapons sets the target's protection value (with the exact value depending on the target troop type) whilst all other weapons use the base protection factors which are based on the target's troops type alone.
  • It terms of logic these represent a big "if, then, else" process to set the protection value.
  • It also means looking up a protection value is a two step process focusing on a different attribute in turn: weapon shooting (p 48) then target troop type (p 20) or vica versa.
  • To complicate things further the tables and notes are over 20 pages apart in the rule book and on different sides of the standard QRS! 
I was even more confused because the section on target protection modifiers (p 48) contains rules that modified the base protection value (+1, -1 that sort of thing) and rules that actually replaced the base factor.
  • I know why the authors did this; setting all values to 0 (or other value) is easier that writing a long list of modifiers for each protection level or target troop type.
  • In terms of game flow it's easier if you check the shooting weapon first (p 48) then the base value (p 20) if the former don't apply.  As far as I can make out this is the reverse of the order implied by the rules (p 47).
To finish off the target section there's a small set of "true" modifiers for specific weapon / target combinations with the focus on the weapon shooting.

So the quickest way to work the target's score out turns out to be: roll dice, apply troop quality, check for weapon specific protection, use base protection otherwise, apply "true" modifiers.

The drawbacks, and a lot my initial confusion, came from the way the rules constantly switch the primary focus between the weapon shooting and then the target troop type (if required) and then back to weapon shooting. 

Of course, it remains to be seen if this hard won insight survives the first few games.  I may have got it totally wrong.

Melee
After the shooting section I wasn't looking forward to the melee section.  Not least because I'd not looked at in any detail before.  It proved to be an even bigger tangle of knots than I'd anticipated.  Firstly, the process is multi-step and has to be done in sequence:
  • Dice
  • Quality adjustment
  • Combat Factors
  • Impact - 1st round only
  • Special - 1st round only
  • Terrain modifiers
  • Standard modifiers
  • Difference between scores
  • Armour & 2HW
  • Cohesion loses
  • Furious charge losses
The above list summarises my hard won, current understanding.  I did not realise it was so complex at the outset.  Thankfully most of these are straight modifiers including the combat factors! Nonetheless there are a few quirks:
  • As far as I can see the base combat factor is zero unless it is specified otherwise.  If you know where this is stated in the rule book do let me know.
  • Despite the above there is a long list (p 20) of base combat factors (read modifiers) focusing on troop type and heavily qualified by the troop type of the opponent.  
  • Occasionally the qualification is further qualified by terrain type. 
  • Then there's the factors purely based on tactical situations like attacked in the rear or by scythed chariots.  There's also the special case of LI in the open.
  • Once again the factors are spread across multiple pages (p 20 & 57).
So far so "if it's a wet Wednesday with an "r" in the month then add 1". Very DBx.

Then you get to the first round "specials": impetuous troops, troops "with impact", and a few other weapon based modifiers:
  • The rules use the concept of troops with special abilities (impetuous or impact - which appear to be almost the same to me) and other troops with the ability to cancel the special abilities of their opponents: the wargaming equivalent of Kryptonite.
  • If your troops have impact or are impetuous you start with at +1 and have to check if your opponent has the ability to negate this bonus (p 13-14, 17 & 20).  Naturally, the ability is often further qualified restricting it to certain tactical situations etc.
  • Finally there are four or five situations in which troops gain +1 based on their troop type etc.  Unlike the impact and impetuous modifiers these cannot be cancelled (p 20).
Next comes a series of straightforward terrain and tactical modifiers which I am pleased to say are easy enough and are largely unqualified.

At this point players need to have worked out which side has "won" the melee.  I use "won" advisedly because if either side is using a two handed weapon or has better armour further modifiers have to be applied and in a strict order.

Finally, the winner is declared and cohesion loses calculated. Finally? Well almost!

Just when you thought it was all over the winner can inflict further cohesion losses if it is fighting against foot and can claim the use of a "furious charge". 

A "furious charge" is not generally available. As you've reached the far you will not be surprised to learn that it depends on the winner's troop type, the opponent's troop type, the tactical situation etc.  You get the idea.  I have not included the furious charge conditions in the playing guide.  Partly because I lost the will to live and partly because at this stage in my "playing career" I'm unsure of it's significance.

Summary
I am aware that ADLG is increasingly popular and generally plays quickly. I enjoyed by first game and look forward to playing again later this year. That is if I can get rid of the headache this exercise has given me: I did not enjoy doing this.

Having done the work to get to grips with the detail I think ADLG's popularity must be because the concepts used are very familiar to many wargamers containing, as they do, recognisable elements from DBx, FOG etc. I don't think it's because the rules use simple processes and have a clear logical structure.

At first glance the rule book is very readable but the fact that similar things are in often in two places suggests to me that the rules are the result of extensive and repeated modification (presumably from player feedback) without reappraising the overall structure of the document.

2 comments :

  1. Yes I was really disappointed about how poorly the rules book was written; it almost had me nostalgic for Barkerese. :-( Still, poorly presented rules have not stopped ancients wargamers in the past and they're not stopping them now. Thanks for the QRS - it looks very useful. Somewhat OT, the new PC implementation of Field of Glory is a beauty - the tabletop rules implemented in a nice looking game and with an AI that knows what it is doing. Very tempted to get more of my ancients fix in that direction.

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    Replies
    1. At least Barker had a strong logic underneath the dense sentence construction.

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