Saturday, 15 October 2011

Polemos: SPQR Questions and Answers

Some of you may be aware that the Polemos: SPQR rules were published recently. As they were written by my own fair hand (or rather, typed by my own fair fingers, but that doesn’t sound quite so poetic), I thought that, for the benefit of the world and my own sanity, I would occasionally post the answers to questions that people have asked me about them here. The first few are below, but don’t worry, the usual outpourings will be back next week.

Q1. Charging. Under Unit Orders on p17 a charge is one of the orders that does not require TPs to be allocated. On p 21, however, it states at the 2nd bullet point "The Active player announces all charges, expends TPs for charges and marks but does not move the charging bases". Does this mean that TPs are required for charges contrary to p17?

A1. Charging is a move, so unless the bases are already advancing, the TPs have to be paid. If the bases are advancing (which, in play testing, was the normal situation), then the charge does not cost TPs, as charging to contact is contained within the Advance order..

Q2. Changing formation. Does it cost TP to change formation? p21 simply states that a move may involve the base(s) moving forward or changing facing within a group.

A2. Yes, it does cost TPs, I think, because it is a change of order, not a continuation of the order. I'm open to argument on this one, though...

Q3. Flank or Rear attacks. How does a base or group qualify for these? Other Polemos rule sets have the attacking base with the greater part behind the target's front line.

A3. There is always something that gets through, isn't there?

Yes, extend the lines of the base edges in the BD direction. If the greater part of the attacking base is outside these, count as flank attack.

Q4. Routing. Is it OK to simply remove the routing base(s) once the initial rout move is done?

A4. Mostly it is, yes, unless the army is really deployed in depth.
I, however, prefer the morale effect of looking at all the fleeing bases, then into my opponents eyes, and smiling, gently and slightly sadly at him, so I leave them on until they get to the table edge.

Q5. Is the "Composition Table" designed to give a sample/stereotyped 20-base army for each of the forces covered as an alternative to rolling for each separately?

A5. The tables give a standard 20 base army (in fact the play testing was based on these) although the bases are without a training value.

Q6. Are the rules suitable for solo play? If so, how?

A6. Yes, they work quite well solo, I think (but then I would, being mainly a solo player AND the author). The way I’ve played solo is to choose one side and run that for the tempo bidding. You must roll for tempo points first and decide your bid. Then choose an appropriately sized dice and roll for your enemy’s tempo bid. The winner is the tempo player, and everything else flows from that in a fairly straightforward way.

Alternatively, you can roll randomly for the TP bid for both sides, and see what happens. This can land up with some peculiar results, though, but then, ancient battles tended to be a bit odd, anyway.

I’ve found it a slightly strange experience, having these rules published. This may well be because production was dogged by assorted problems. When Mr Berry refers to freezes and flood delaying things, he really is not exaggerating. Although I’ve had rule sets published before, they have been collaborative efforts, while this one was written by myself, alone. Perhaps that is it.

On the other hand, I’ve always disliked reading what I’ve written and got published, be it professionally, articles in magazines or, I suppose, rule sets. So maybe it is simply normal rejection anxiety. I do wonder, however, if this is quite common and stops a lot of good ideas that must be out there reaching the public domain. The nagging doubt ‘what if people don’t like it’ is a real fear and does stop some from setting finger to keyboard.

Still, having got Polemos: SPQR out into the public domain, what you, the public, make of it is really not my problem. I’ll try to answer questions and listen to comments and advice about how it should have been, and, if there is ever a second edition, take those things into account.

In the meantime, I’ll try to concentrate on writing rules for classical Greeks (reading about Agincourt, Naseby and the Thirty Years War notwithstanding, of course). The biggest difficulty I’ve encountered so far is trying not to simply copy large chunks of the Romans rules over and say ‘that’ll do’. Quite aside from the fact that I’ve criticised such behaviour here before, I am trying to keep in mind the fact that warfare was different between these two ages, even if we bung them all into the same ‘ancient wargames’ category, of refer to the whole period as ‘classics’ in terms of the academy.

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