This is a very long post but for R2E players I think it is a vital read. Hope you can stay awake
The great debate – science versus playability
As I will commit(or not) to FIBUA amendments both in FOUR EMPIRES and in an errata document for Republic to Empire I have been conducting some play testing on the vexatious topic of how easy is it to capture a built up area. There are different and strongly held opinions on the subject so here is a series of dice thrown examples, not made up, not made through a program, but with toys on the table and cubes in the mitt.
BUILT UP AREA: 2B
Defenders: 24 model VETERAN infantry battalion
Attackers: 3 battalion brigade VETERAN, DRILLED, DRILLED.
Terrain: flat with no height advantage.
ATTACK 1 – Charge and shooting
All 3 attacking battalions charged. Defender reaction was OK and defensive fire delivered at PB range. Total shooting losses 5, distributed 2,2,1. The central Drilled battalion failed the charge home check. 2 battalions made it to the attack.
ATTACK 1 – Close combat
All units both attackers and defenders, chose to throw in battalion officers. The attackers also threw in their brigadier.
Bn 1 = 6CGs + 1(Vet) + 2(CO) + 2(Brig ) = 11
Bn 2 = 6CGs + 2 (CO) = 8
Total = 19 dice
6CGs + 3(V) + 2(CO) + 3(BUA 50%) = 14 dice
Attackers scored 12 hits and Defenders 4. Difference of 8. Attacker wins and take 4 casualties whilst defender takes 12. This would mean the attacker has penetrated the perimeter for a total loss of 9 casualties whilst the defender has lost 50% strength and will check resolve for losing the combat.
I then applied the very simple amendment of making the Attacker re throw all hits. This brought the number down from 12 to 5. The total differential was then 1 which is a draw. The attacker was therefore not able to penetrate the perimeter and was disordered. 4 casualties were taken by each side. 2 were given to each attacking unit.
I followed the turn sequence allowing the defenders to reactivate the combat in their phase.
5CGs + 1V + 2(CO) + 3(BUA 50%) = 11
Total was 18 halved to 9 for being disordered.
Defenders scored 5 hits and the Attackers 2. The attackers re throw on hits was all OK so the difference was 3 in favour of the Defenders. This meant 4 casualties to the Defenders and 7 to the Attackers (distributed 4 & 3 over the 2 units). Total Defender casualties now 8. Attacker Bn1 = 8 and Bn2 = 6. These numbers include shooting casualties on the way in. As the Attackers lost this bound they checked resolve. The Veteran unit stayed in the fight but the other bn achieved a waver result and disengaged. In the next round (which I did not fight) the attackers could choose to continue to fight or rest. They were not able to reinforce as both other battalions were disordered/wavering/disengaged. NO OFFICERS WERE HIT AT ANY STAGE ALTHOUGH ALL WERE DICED FOR.
Same set up but 2 battalions failed to attack and only the Veterans were successful. The Defenders caused 2 casualties from fire but the Attackers charged home.
6CGs + 1(Vet) + 2(CO) + 2(Brig ) = 11 dice
6CGs + 3(V) + 2(CO) + 3(BUA 50%) = 14 dice
Attackers scored 8 hits and Defenders 8. Difference of 0. Attacker takes 2 casualties whilst Defender takes 2. This would mean the Attacker had not penetrated the perimeter for a total loss of 4 casualties whilst the defender has lost 2.
I then applied the very simple amendment of making the Attacker re throw all hits. This brought the number down from 8 to 6. The total differential was then 2 which is a draw in favour of the defender. The attacker was therefore not able to penetrate the perimeter and was disordered. 6 casualties were taken by the Attackers and 4 by the Defender. No resolve checks no officers killed.
The Defenders chose to fight in their phase
5CGs + 3(Vet) + 2(CO) + 2(Brig ) = 12 dice
5CGs + 1(V) + 2(CO) + 3(BUA 50%) = 11 dice halved for disorder = 6
Defenders scored 7 hits and Attackers 3 of which the re throws produced only 1 hit. Difference of 6. Attacker takes 10 casualties whilst Defender takes 4. This meant the Attacker had not penetrated the perimeter for a total loss of 18 casualties (including shooting) whilst the defender has lost 6. The attacking unit failed its resolve check and routed.
All 3 attacking battalions charged successfully. The defensive shooting caused 6 casualties 2 apiece but all battalions charged home.
Bn 1 = 6CGs + 2(Vet) + 2(CO) + 2(Brig ) = 12 dice
Bn 2 = 6CGs +2(CO) = 8
Bn 3 = 6CGs +2(CO) = 8
Total = 28
6CGs + 1(V) + 2(CO) + 3(BUA 50%) = 12 dice
Attackers scored 9 hits which when re thrown dropped to 6 and Defenders scored 8 hits. This was a Draw with 4 casualties per side. Split was 1,2,1 on Attackers.
I kept the set up the same and threw again, 28 attacking dice v 12 defending. This time the attackers scored 6 hits after re throws and the defenders 9. Defenders win by 3. 4 casualties to them 7 to the attackers split 3,2,2.
I kept the set up the same and threw again, 28 attacking dice v 12 defending. This time the attackers scored 12 hits after re throws and the defenders 5. Attackers win by 7. 4 casualties to the attackers and 11 to the defenders with the perimeter breached. Again not a single officer was killed in all of the rounds of combat.
From this exercise I conclude that the arguments put forward so far by those seeking a change do not fully take into account ALL of the variables that can affect the result. At the same time, the very first attack appears to vindicate the argument that it is easy (with weight of numbers) to take a BUA.
The subsequent attacks where battalions drop out, the dice go in favour of the attackers, no officers are killed etc goes a long way to rebalance the argument towards the robustness of the original mechanic. I also feel strongly that the argument for change ignores the impact of committing large numbers of troops into an attack and the casualties taking from shooting which are not insignificant. Additionally the quality impact if officers are killed is potentially very damaging.
In true BH style I would also like to offer a counter argument to my own argument! I liked the re throw idea and it worked very simply and quickly BUT I believe, in isolation it swings the advantage too much toward the Defender and so, my solution is this:
If the re throw idea is officially adopted, I will put no limit on the size of the attacking force. This means the current 3:1 limit on Attacker v Defender would be removed and attackers could throw as many troops at a BUA as they wanted. Does this just move the argument to another place? I don’t believe so. The associated risks to attacking officers, adverse quality downgrades, sucking in huge numbers of troops needed elsewhere, poor resolve check results would raise the stakes on the attack of any BUA.
I very much look forward to your comments if you are still awake!
"If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you are probably right"