The Waving Flag: ADLG: Theme Boundaries

Sunday 3 October 2021

ADLG: Theme Boundaries

When I wrote my Art de la Guerre (ADLG) list search tools I contacted various people to ask their advice.  I received lots of helpful comments and some requests for specific search methods.

However, one person asked why I was doing this as the armies in ADLG v4 are already split into rigorous periods.  As ADLG author Hervé Caille explained:

"All lists in the Feudal period now include only medium knights. Heavy knights are only present in the Medieval period. The Dark Ages period has no knights.  Changes in ADLG v4, May 2021"

I have since uncovered a slight problem with this.  Not with the lists themselves but the way they are used as broad themes in competitions.

Ilkhanid Mongol list
I had planned to enter the second round of the 2021 Northern League ADLG competition with an Ilkhanid Mongol army.  In the end I couldn't because the theme was Feudal and the Ilkhanids are classed as Medieval.

This surprised me somewhat as I've always thought of the Ilkhanids as a Feudal army in both date and composition.  The ADLG Ilkhanid list covers just over one hundred years from 1251 to 1355 AD.  To me, this means the list spans the end of the Feudal period & just strays into the beginnings of the (Later) Medieval.

As a Central Asian army it's heavy on cavalry but both medium & heavy knights are available in v4 as mercenaries.  However, the heavy knights are only available for the last twenty five years of the list.  To complicate matters, in ADLG v3 the Ilkhanid list did not allow any heavy knights at all: they are a new option in ADLG v4.

Classification & themes
Clearly the list writers have been consistent and placed the Ilkhanids in the Medieval category.  However, the Ilkahnid list is a boundary case: for the first 79 years the list is best classified as a Feudal list (by both date and composition).  I haven't checked but I'm sure there are other examples and not just at the Feudal-Medieval boundary.

This a classic correspondence problem.  Whilst every list that contains heavy knights is Medieval not every Medieval list contains heavy knights.  The former is decided by troop type and the latter by date.  It's all about which criteria you use for classification and in what order.  ADLG has chosen troop type followed by date and geographic region.

There's nothing wrong with this, as they had to make choices, but if competition organisers are lazy, and use just the base ADLG classification as a theme, certain armies will be doubly penalised.

In this instance the Ilkhanids can't fight in open Feudal competitions, where they are evenly matched, but can fight in open Medieval competitions where they could face wall to wall heavy foot, pikes and heavy knights.

The ADLG authors may have recognised this as they suggest numerous ways to set themes including by date.  To the list of criteria on page 88 I would add geographic region.

To set balanced themes what competition organisers really need is a list search tool that would allow them to easily filter the ADLG lists by period, date & region in any combination.  Any one know of one?

Update: 15:57, Fri 08 October 2021
Resultant discussion on the ADLG forum

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