The Waving Flag: Revisiting The ADLG Mega Table

Monday 3 April 2023

Revisiting The ADLG Mega Table

Way back in mid November 2021, I wrote about my latest attempt to:

".. hammer the combat factors [of Art de la Guerre] into my head and the quirks I encountered along the way."

I listed a few wrinkles; many of them stylistic and some logical (shooting factors in a close combat table for example).  I closed with this comment:

"Having done it myself many times, I appreciate that laying out a set of rules in play sheets or tables is a hard task ..."

I ended thus as I had promised myself not to re-invent the mega table.  If you haven't guessed by now, I have now attempted just that.

If you don't want to read about how I reconstructed the table here's a link to a pdf for you.  At first sight it may not look significantly different, but close examination should show numerous small changes and improved readability.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

All other brave souls read on.

Lookup Methodology
In November I didn't say much about the structure of the lookup table but it's worth saying a bit more now.  I ended up with the following column headings:

  • Class (Foot & Mounted)
  • Type (Light infantry, Foot knights etc)
  • Category (LI, CV etc)
  • 26 columns of combat factors (1 for each Type)
  • Abilities (Javelin, Armour etc) 6
  • Special (Tactical bonuses such as "+1 vs LMI in open terrain")
  • First round (One off bonuses such as "+1 vs mounted to front (except El)")
  • Against SCh
  • Impact (When an opponents' Impact is cancelled or negated)

In creating the table I was looking to to tease out the maximum structure from the ADLG text and tables.  Generally, ADLG is written with a base factor, or rule, which always applies followed by exceptions when it doesn't.  My plan was to tease out the former and make the latter as clear as possible 1.

As this animation shows how I tackled the redesign in four stages:

Step by step
First I summarised the numerical combat factors as a text string.  I had separated them for clarity and to tackle the oddity regarding how combat against Artillery & Scythed Chariots is handled in the original table 2.

My first attempt was inelegant.  For example, I couldn't get the text to list the factors concisely and follow a consistent order.  Plus there was an "Otherwise" on nearly every line 3.

Next I split the summary into text preceded by a number representing the "Otherwise" factor.  The penny dropped when I realised the "Otherwise" factor was essentially the base factor and the others were exceptions 4.  This meant that the text now used a consistent order 5.

I then created the table, linking to the original lookup table wherever possible.  Here's a sample section with simplified combat factors:

Notice I've stripped the "+" signs from the factors for the simple reason there aren't any negative combat factors.  Also the combat factors aren't complete yet: for simplicity I decided to deal with the few exceptions (they are really tactical bonuses) elsewhere.

I then added the abilities (Armour, Impact etc).  Again these are the core abilities and applicable to (nearly) all opponents with any exceptions elsewhere 6.

Thus far I had a clean table with a few exceptions missing.  To deal with this, and keep the table clean, I created the first of three "exception" columns:

In the example above 4 refers to a list of exceptions and special cases. It is for "+1 vs LI in open terrain.".  Notice that I've retained the "+" because this is a tactical bonus.

The final stage was to tackle all the first round bonuses and the many effects a unit has on its opponents ability to claim the Impact advantage.

That explains the table structure.  All that remained was to write the various footnotes for the "exception" columns.  I also double checked the table by cross referencing each footnote back to the main table.

Of course, once the structure was set there was a little bit of re-writing to make the text as clear and concise as possible.

There remains a certain amount of duplication in the table ("0 vs HI (except Levy) & WWg." for example) but at this stage I have left it in to hammer home the consistency in the rules.

In the end, I feel that it's a easier table to use (the first five columns should cover many, if not most, common situations) and pleasingly there are surprisingly few additional effects to deal with (especially if you discount 9 & 10 dealing with Scythed Chariots).  I may even start to remember some of them.

Closing Remarks
I'd like to point out that redesigning the table would have been far more onerous without breaking it down in the first place.

Despite promising myself that I'd not get too involved re-inventing the wheel with ADLG V4, I enjoyed this exercise and time will tell if it helps me memorise the combat factors.

If you'd like to see the final lookup table get in touch using the contact form in the footer.  You must have a Google account to use all its features as it uses functions that only work in Google Docs (and not in in Excel).

Update: March 2024
I re-designed the table to fully differentiate between factors & abilities that always apply and those that only affect the first round of combat.  For details see the links below.

Resources & links


  1. I was aiming for a "remember this" and "occasionally apply this" approach. 

  2. The factors given apply to all the unit's opponents and therefore to all rows in the table except one you're reading! Obviously done to save space but switching like this a major hassle and a barrier to learning. 

  3. I had "good" entries like "2 vs Mounted. 1 vs LI & Art. Otherwise 0" but also concise, but "bad", entries like "2 vs Art. 0 vs HCh, Ct & Kn. Otherwise 1".  I thought the repeated use of "Otherwise" was ugly. 

  4. Of course, ADLG doesn't often say that clearly. 

  5. I choose decreasing but the opposite works just as well. 

  6. I've since realised that the Javelin & Impact abilities should be separated as first round effects. This means the Abilities column wasn't perfect. See March 2024 update for correction.  


Zardoz said...

Sigh... and we thought Barkerese was too complex! :(

Vexillia said...

Sadly, all wargames rules are complex. Not all are well written.

ADLG reads well and better than DBx: the layout and writing style is much clearer. There are fewer exceptions to deal with too and each section is usually clear and self contained.

However, ADLG suffers because of the way they choose to tabulate part of the core rules in the Mega table. I believe the table on p22 has been used in its current format in all four versions (certainly in versions 3 & 4). Each shortcoming has been carried forward and, over time, new shortcomings have crept in.

Some shortcomings have probably existed since the earliest versions: the default combat factor is zero but this is never mentioned anywhere I can find. New rules have been "shoe-horned" in to conserve space on the printed page without necessarily thinking about the consequences.

It's use in the play sheet makes things appear more complex than they really are; especially for new, and infrequent, players who rely on the rulebook far more than regular players or those who are able to memorise lots of detail.

Pick of Penang said...

Useful and will hopefully be a bit more easy to fathom, I've often found myself scratching my head (especially if I haven't played for a while) when using various versions of ADLG QRS sheets.

Vexillia said...

Playing regularly, and preferably frequently, always helps. However, I find something with a clear layout helps me resolve the odd issue quickly. If you know there's structure in the rules that's always a bonus.

Vexillia said...

I've just realised that the Javelin and Impact abilities are in fact a first round effects. This means the split I imposed is imperfect. Please bear this in mind if you're using the table in games.

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