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Dragon Dice™ as Mass Combat System

 
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Terrainosaur
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Location: Omaha, NE

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:54 am GMT    Post subject: Dragon Dice™ as Mass Combat System Reply with quote

My D&D game is a war campaign called "The Marshals of the Dark Wode". The Player Characters recruit allies in the war, prevent the enemy from recruiting, and conduct missions in and around battlefields. It's a 4e game based on Heroes of Battle. I needed a way to simulate large-scale battles, without narrating results. For example if the PCs recruited some dwarf units in the last adventure, the PCs' side would have dwarf units added to it.

I'm using Mighty Empires as a campaign map:



The idea is to resolve the results of the mass battles at the end of each session without detracting from the activity in the RPG. The PCs aren't represented in the battles since the battles are hundreds of troops on each side, not skirmishes or warbands.

I looked at a lot of games including Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer Invasion, Hordes, Battlelore, Titan, Disk Wars, Magic the Gathering, Warlord Saga of the Storm, Bladestorm, Leviathan, and of course the old AD&D Battlesystem. None fit the bill.

What I needed was a fantasy game that quickly resolved mass combats, had many races, and is still available for me to buy. Dragon Dice™ seemed a match. As an added bonus, it's based on Dungeons & Dragons.

We've fought a couple battles and it's worked very well. The war has begun!

Here's what I did to make this work:
  1. The players run their side in battles. As DM, I run the other.
  2. Each battle has a story. The players don't choose their units. Sometimes the set-up is predetermined.
  3. The armies are single-race. Coral elves of the Dark Wode are being attacked by goblins from the desert.
  4. Dragon Dice™ set-up, turn sequence, and victory conditions remain the same.
  5. The only rule change is no doubling of magic.
  6. Each side is missing an element in a battle, like no missile troops or no melee.
  7. I printed four pages of aids for the players and put them in two plastic sleeves. These include turn sequence, icon descriptions, the spell list, etc.

Concepts are introduced slowly. So far only we only use 1 and 2-health units. This eliminates SAIs and reduces complexity. During the first battles there were no magic units. I haven't introduced racial bonuses yet and may not. "Double that in this case" isn't a visible thing to the players, whereas everything else is right in front of them in the form of dice.

We've fought two Dragon Dice™ battles so far and they went very well. I'll post about them next.
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Terrainosaur
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:11 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. Across the Hexes River
“In the first battle of the war, goblins of the desolation surged forward, their cavalry leading the way. Elven archers met them with steel-tipped volleys.”

Goblin Storm of Claws (36 health)
Swampland City at home and frontier.
Home Army: 9 points of cavalry, 8 points of heavy melee.
Campaign Army: 9 points of cavalry, 8 points of light melee.
Horde Army: 2 points of cavalry.

Coral Elf Wings of Steel (36 health)
Coastland Tower at home. Coastland Temple at frontier.
Home Army: 10 points of archers, 4 points of archery items, 3 points of cavalry.
Campaign Army: 6 points of archers, 6 points of cavalry, 5 points of light melee.
Horde Army: 2 points of heavy melee.

Summary: The players chose first turn, and they rolled a 5 - Missile for their home army. They shot at the goblin army and killed 12 of the 17 health there! At the other end, they decided to stick around and try to fight the goblins at their home but since the elves have basically no saves they decided not to do that again. The players pulled the other two armies into reserve, advanced their home terrain to the 8th face and shot down all but 7 health of the goblin army before I declared the battle over. It only took 25 minutes. Now they're ready for more!
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Terrainosaur
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:18 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

2. Under the Eaves
“In the east, lead infantry elements of the goblin army move ahead, into the forest they dread. The elves have home-field advantage, but are outnumbered.”

All terrain is Coastland.

Goblin Tromping Feet (39 health)
Home Army: 3 points of cavalry, 8 points of light melee, 8 points of heavy melee.
Campaign Army: 2 points of cavalry, 8 points of light melee, 8 points of heavy melee.
Horde Army: 2 points of heavy melee.

Coral Elf Forest Regiment (34 health)
Home Army: 4 points of archers, 4 points of cavalry, 8 points of heavy melee.
Campaign Army: 4 points of archers, 4 points of cavalry, 8 points of light melee.
Horde Army: 2 points of heavy melee.

Summary: Outnumbered, the players dug into their recruitment pool. They brought almost everything they've recruited so far: a dwarf footman, a treefolk pine, and a steel bucker. This evened the score. I gave them their dice and let them set up their own armies. They put all the archers into one at their home terrain.

At the start of the game the terrains were at magic and missile ... not a good start for the goblin army! But the plucky goblins got first turn and rolled a lot of face icons for several turns, killing 6 points of elves with no blood of their own spilled. Then the elves took the tower with their archery army. The players had been convinced they couldn't win, then went on a killing streak. By the time the players won, it was 19 dead goblins to a total of 10 dead elves. This game took about 15 minutes.

Dave is a player who only like RPGs, not board/dice/card games. He kept saying "We lost" right up until they won. He asked, "How did we win?" Joel said, "We took the tower with our archers."
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Matthias Maccabeus
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:15 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad it's working out for you. The one time you showed it to me, I thought that it had some very cool potential.
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Terrainosaur
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:42 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

3. Surge from the Desolation
“The goblins of the Desolation have tested the elves of the Dark Wode. The goblins bring forth their death mages.”

Goblin Black Magicks (36 points)
Swampland City at home and frontier.
Home Army: 4 points of cavalry, 6 points of heavy melee, 12 points of magic.
Campaign Army: 4 points of cavalry, 8 points of light melee.
Horde Army: 2 points of cavalry.

Coral Elf Wode Guard (33 points)
Coastland Tower at home.
Coastland Temple at frontier.
Home Army: 4 points of archers, 4 points of cavalry, 6 points of heavy melee.
Campaign Army: 4 points of archers, 4 points of cavalry, 6 points of light melee.
Horde Army: 4 points of heavy melee, plus one dwarf footman.

Summary: This battle introduced magic and racial benefits. (Dragons aren't used yet.) The players won the initial roll and chose not to take the first turn, but to keep the coastland. During the game the goblins kept reanimating dead but the elves kept advancing the coastlands. Eventually they advanced them both and won.

The elves lost 8 health and the goblins 11 health. The game took 35 minutes. The players are 3-0.
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