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This covers the fighting of battles using the Tactical Core rule set. It deals with the fundamental tactical elements to the exclusion of all else and is therefore the 'core' of the system, built upon the foundations and turn organisation. As such some cuts had been made for the purpose of clarity. The core system lacks any rules to simulate the psychology of the troops in a battle, and assumes they are infallible and emotionless. This is obviously not the case. The psychology rules have not been forgotten and are dealt with as part of the Tactical Augmented rule set, with the introduction of another Roman god 'Jupiter' but first lets deal get to grips with the sphere of Mars (Roman God of War).
The core tactical rules cover regiments and close formations, for skirmishers see the augmented rules. Movement in each turn is devided up into 10 increments of 3 seconds. 3 seconds is allows for a trooper to complete 6 strides in a Quick March (see military step) of 120 beats. The stride length is derived from the Troopers raw Stature Characteristic. This means that most humans in Warspike have a stride of '6' which works out to 6 yards (18 feet). This is the Troopers natural pace, but when in formation this is reduced to '5' to match the slowest Trooper's pace (the minimum for the Army recruitment has been 5'!). This gives a base Stature of 5, which works out at 5 yards of 15 feet per increment.
As each turn is 30 seconds long in game time. A regiment of with a stature of 5 will cover 15 feet each increment, and with 10 increments this means they will cover 150' per turn. This matches the figures for the British Army's traditional Quick Match pace.
This can be doubled up with the Double March at a rate 180 paces per minute. Allowing a unit in close formation to cover 200 yards in a minute (2 turns) or 100 yards per turn. This step works out as 10.
(note: Augmented rules cover formation collapse).
The charge greatly increases the movement per increment, so the regiment to make up ground very quickly and allows for a certain amount of regimental loss of cohesion. The idea of the charge is to get the Troops into combat as quickly as possible as a way to reduce casualties from close range missile fire (more ground covered between reloads). This tactic became less viable as missile weapon reload speeds increased and armour protect was overcome, and was finally made redundant with automatic firearms (which can kill fast than Troops can charge). The charge was used to great effect throughout early warfare, and while it may seem stupid to charge musket fire, the other great effect of the charge was psychological. Most charges won because the other side bottled it and broke ranks. it was the ability to break ranks without combat that endured in the fighter's mind set long after the effectiveness as called into question.
This speed can be modified to account for rough ground and gear carried; being reduced to x3 or even x2 for charging through long grass. The maximum is always x4. No human can go beyond x4 base Stature in sprint speed.
Reducing looses to missile fire is not the only reason to use the charge. The charge is a shock attack and it's primary effect is to induce fear in the enemy. This concept is particularly effective when combined with fast moving cavalry.
This grossly distorts the effect of a charge, especially with regard to conscripts who would often break if charged (even more so is charged by cavalry!). Shock attacks are pretty much neutered without psychology rules coming into play. One of the greatest weapons in warfare is fear, and the skilled use of shock attacks and inducing fear in the enemy is a winning tactic.Once one unit routs it often has a knock on effect.
Tactical core covers a broad spectrum of ranged weapons from throwing stones and spears, though to slings, bows and arrows and crossbows, right up to primitive firearms such as medieval hand cannons to muskets (flintlock, wheellock, matchlock). Tactical Core does not deal with modern firearms. Rules for bolt actions up to fully automatic firearms can be found in the a Augment: Firepower, a supplement to these rules.
If a Player wishes to elect one of their units to fire on the enemy, the first thing they have to establish is 'line of sight'. This means that there is a clear line of sight between the units wishing to shoot and the target. I simple terms imagine you are at the troops level, could you see the enemy from where they are?
Objects and friendly units in between the unit wishing to shoot and the target will block the line of sight. and this will deny the unit from being able to fire.
Work out which models in the unit who could hypothetically see a target. Only those targets that can be seen can be shot at directly.
This is the procedure to resolve shots using ranged weapons, and whether they strike the target or miss, and whether those which land on target cause injury.
Roll to Hit (Basics)
Target: A 'hit' using the above procedure means the centre of mass of a person has been struck square. The centre of mass is primary target area, a circle of about 8" over the chest and upper abdomen (not so much the shoulders, more the rib cage and gut), where the most vital organs are located. Any projectile piecing this vital area is likely to inflict a debilitating if not lethal injury unless very well protected. The human body is not good at resisting piecing impacts, especially bullets, and virtually all 'hits' on unprotected humans will result in casualties.
Volley Fire: Where large number of Troops are concerned it can be particularly tedious to roll each and every shot. If a Player thinks there are so many Troops shooting that is will be a pain in the arse to roll them all up they can use the 'Rule of Averages' to speed up the process. To use this rule all the Troops mush have the same weapons and Marksmanship proficiency.
Rule of Averages
Example: With Marksmanship:6 this would be converted into '60%'. When the unit fires on the enemy 60% of the shooters will hit an enemy. If the unit is in a line of 200 and fire, the 60% will hit there mark, or 120 hits. In reality the hit to shoot ration of the musket era in really low, less than 10%! This is more to do with psychology than actual poor marksmanship.
This allows the dull bits to fly by and for players to concentrate on the good bits. This makes the vast bulk of the force a 'backdrop' to the key events of the battle. Decisive moments can be concentrated on (and with full mental prowess was you are not fatigued) and rolled up in detail. The 'detail moments' are the 'story moments'. It is the detail moments the Players will remember, and it would form the basis of stories for the Troopers.
More on Marksmanship
It takes one increment to fire a missile weapon, which works out at no more than 3 seconds to aim and fire. This leaves a lot of time left in a turn of 30 seconds, 27 seconds to be precise. During this time it seems prudent to reload and have another go, and this is exactly what all this talk of increments is all aimed toward facilitating.
Each weapon has a reload time. According to historical records a Longbow could be fired 10-12 in a minute, a Crossbow 3-5 times a minute, and a musket like Brown Bess 4 times in a minute. This means that in Warspike it takes 1 increment to fire a Longbow and 1 increment to reload (5 shots per turn). A crossbow and Musket takes 4 increments to reload (2 shots per turn).
The reload rate is included as part of the missile weapon's profile.
Any weapon of a given era is designed to inflict serious damage with the aim of putting a trooper out of action. There is no need to roll to damage, it is assumed a successful hit is square in the chest and cause a serious enough wound to put a trooper out of the game. This is termed 'dropped' as the victim is prone and incapacitated (or dead).
Any hit that is under Ballistic Skill strikes the body or head and counts as a 'kill' and the trooper is removed from the game table. A hit that is 'equals to' Ballistic skill strike a limb, and instead 'stuns'. Limb hits are legs, arms and shoulders.
The only way to stop this automatic dropping of Troops is to equip them with armour, and perhaps the greatest anti-missile defence based on mobile cover: the shield.
Power of the Shot
Using Stature and conditioning we can work out the draw strength of a bow. Most modern bows for a novice are 60-80lbs, with proper Longbow going for 100lbs or more. A a rough, and unscientific guess to fill this space for now, the would multiple the Stature+strength by 10. A man with Statue 6 and no mods (not very strong but tall) can pull 60lbs, a regular man with +1 mesomorph which gives a power of 7, can pull 70lbs. The same man with +3 conditioning can pull a bow with 100lbs. A large man (longbowman) with Stature 6 and mesomorph +3 (18 stone) and conditioning of +5 can pull 140lbs. As a rough and ready guess this seems about right.
Through out history humans have developed technologies to protect themselves in war. This has been an armies race, within each advance in armour being trumped but developments in weapons, only to be trumped later by advances in armour. This generally balances out that weapons are only as strong as the need to be to defeat armour, weapons since the stone age have been quite capable of killing an unarmored human with ease.
Shields: Shields are effectively 'mobile cover' which allows the wielder to hide behind. A successful 'on target' hit will often strike the shield and converted into a 'miss' (arrow is sticking out of the shield, so it's a hit but has no effect). Roman shields (Scutum) where very good at covering up, and even better when the tortoise formation was used - offering complete cover and mobility.
A shield has a Shield Cover (abbreviated to 'SC') and an Armour Rating (abbreviated to 'AR'). If a to hit roll is equal to or under SC, then the shot has struck the shield instead of the shield bearer. This does not guarantee protection as powerful strikes can penetrate the shield. If the weapon's Strength is higher than the Armour Rating it can totally ignore the Shield Cover (i.e. Roman Ballista)
Armour: Armour works in a similar way to a shield is plate armour. Plate armour is added to the Shield Cover.
Soft armours are next to useless against the arrow and bullet, so are ignored (instead the Trooper relies on their shield)
There are two armour cover areas, body/ head and limb. Body head stops all hits. The limb armour stops 'equal to' hits.
This may come to light in some Napoleonic wars, see the augmented rule set. The idea is that you can shoot from cover and duck back after firing to minimise your chance of being targeted successfully. The Dodge rules allows you to dive for cover, and handy against grenades and such, and later for getting prone if a Trooper comes under fire from a machine gun.
This covers the resolution of Close Combat as part of the turn sequence. As the opponent is reacting to the Instigator, and actually doing something while the Instigator is resolving their action, both have to be resolved together. The important point to note here is that the first strike is from the Instigator, and is performing an action against the Retaliator. It is written from the perspective of the Instigator as it makes it easier to visualise.
All units (models) that start the turn in base to base contact have to fight hand to hand combat. Even if a player wants a unit to disengage, they still have to fight first, and win by pushing the other side back, before the can disengage safely. Routing will get a unit overrun and killed (Routing is part of the Tactical Augmented Rule set).
This is the procedure to resolve strikes, while in base to base contact. There are two types of attack used in Tactical Core while in these situations and they are the Lunge-attack and the Skilled-attack. Both are resolved using Martial Arts (the Arts of Mars) which is a Reflex bonus added to the Agility stat. If a Trooper does not have a MA bonus, then use raw Agility in place of MA.
Blog Design Notes: Tempo (the Equation of Combat)
Blog Design Notes: Auto-hit (or: Move you Idiot!)
Lunge-Attack: This is exactly what it says. An all-out, all-power attack. Such attacks are assumed to be automatic hits unless someone does something about it. However, while great for finishing off opponents and those who have been outflanked, this attack is very easy to defend against and any warrior worth their salt would be able to automatically parry such an attack, and may even counter. Suffice to say, the Lunge-Attack is not used against an alert professional fighter, as there is no benefit, and the chances are you will be countered, and counter = death.
Making a Lunge Attack
Skilled-Attack: This is very different to the Lunge-Attack, as the warrior using skill to overcome the defence of their opponent, while retaining their balance, they do no over extend themselves, and maintain their defence by keeping their guard up. This skilled-attack is much hard to defend and the opponent does not benefit from the automatic-defence they enjoy against the Lunge-Attack.
Making a Skilled Attack
Once all the strikes have been worked out, the Retaliator can mount a defence. Any warrior with training and on the battle field is proficient enough to deal with basic direct attacks. It is assumed that most attacks on the battle field are going to be defended automatically unless the attacker uses skilled to out smart the defender. That's not to say the automatic defence is always going to succeed it; can be overcome with brute force. The other consideration is that clumsy (Lunge) attacks, are so very poor, that the defender can often counter while the lunger is overbalanced and unable to defend.
Rules of Defence
Counters: The counters outlined above are moves that are both defensive and offensive. The counter deflects the incoming attack and launches a counter-attack simultaneously, the deflection becoming part of the attack moving in. Although the techniques are varied the results are the same - they take down the opponent. Examples of counters of this type are 'The Master Cuts' which are effective against unarmoured opponents, whereas vs armoured opponents the counters are various binds, followed by grapples and takedowns where the opponent is finished off with a dagger through the eye slit or armour weak point. Half-Swording is another counter technique and very effective against armour.
Counter-Counters: These are impossible if you made a lunge attack as you are far to overbalanced to recover. Counters vs skilled attacks are possible but they are not covered in Tactical Core for simplicity's sake. Only those who make skilled attacks have any chance of countering a counter! For more see Tactical Augmented: [link to be added]
In most cases the shield is more than strong enough to stop and attack by a similar size opponent using the weapons of the era. In old fashion warfare the shield is a very important piece of kit, if not the most important piece of kit. It is the one thing that is going to save your life more than anything else (it will even stop arrows).
Shield Cover (SC): This is a rough measurement of the amount of cover a shield gives to the facing side (the shielded side). It is expressed as a number from 1 to 10, with 1 being a very small shield to 10 being a total cover shield. To give an idea, a hoplite shield is SC: 8 and a germanic tribal shield is around SC:5.
Optional - 'two weapon' rule [move to augment]
Technically have a shield is really a second weapon, tool optimised for defence. This means the sword-arm is free from defence duty, and the Trooper can actually counter while the shield-arm is defending. This allows a much faster counter, and any defence roll that is over MA but under MA+SC is upgraded from 'weak defence' to 'combo'.
What if the attacker has a shield too? The combo effect is ignored, and all combos count as regular weak-defence.
All weapons have a reach band (more Foundation: Reach Table) base of the length of the weapon's blade. or overall length minus the grip. The reach of the weapon greatly affects how Trooper approaches combat.
In general terms from the Instigator's point of view; if your Trooper wields a weapon with a length equal to, or longer, than their opponent's - then they may attack their opponent directly (as normal).
If your Trooper's weapon is shorter than their opponents, then your Trooper must deal their opponent's weapon first. Your Trooper can not attack their opponent directly in the case, as they will be countered long before they can get anywhere near to striking their opponent. The primary object is to get past the longer weapons guard, and that means attacking the weapon!
In instances where attacking a longer weapon, the first attacks deal with the weapon, and take down the guard of your Trooper's opponent. Once this is down they can move in and attack as normal, however their opponent will have to drop their long weapon and draw a shorter weapon, or change grip (i.e. use a longsword like a quarter staff).
Example: A group of Landsknechts armed with Zweihänder charge a pike formation. The Pikemen have weapons with a reach band of 17, far longer than Landsknecht's Zweihänder's band:9. If the Landsknechts try to charge the pikes and attack the pikemen directly, they would run onto a mass of pike points - auto hits - and this is not a good idea. Therefore the Landsknechts attack the pikes first, not the pikemen, hacking at the pike heads to make space before moving in, weaving through the ranks of points (it's a bloody dangerous job!). The pikes are so long they are virtually useless to countering, and the Zweihänder are longer than a pikeman's trust, so there is no individual counter rolls! The best the pike men can hope for is to present a united front, and the more rows of pikes the better. The Landsknechs make a MA test and if successful they go straight past a rank of pike points and, if there was only one rank, may then make another attack against the Pikeman himself. This all happens very fast, and is assumed to happen within one turn. Landsknechs are deadly, they are deal breakers, and paid double money (and worth every penny). The Landsknechs have to make a roll per rank of pikemen. 3 ranks of pike points means 3 tests. A single failure results in a stall (no more advancing that turn). Instead of marking how deep each Landsknech has penetrated, simply count them all as repelled. But if one gets through, it curtains for the pikemen, as Zweihänder is a fast and powerful weapon and will mow down Troopers in no time. The Pike men have to drop their pikes and draw a secondary weapon, and with no pike defence, the other Landsknech will quickly close to take advantage.
Notes: A failed attack against the pikes means the formation holds, and a person can not 'move in' without being struck. Moving in regardless results in running onto a pike. It is this ability to keep an opponent at bay that is highly effective (very good when combined is muskets!)
Long vs short: In other cases the defender with a longer weapon will use a guard that keeps the weapon out of play. Guard stances such as 'from the roof' or 'the tail' keep the weapon held back. This stops the attacker from striking the weapon and trying to take down the guard, as is the case with an opponent with a shorter weapon. If the opponent with the shorter weapon attacks a defender using such a guard, they are denied the option to take the weapon out first. Instead the attacker using a shorter weapon has to step in to make up the distance, and as they do so the defender strikes down 'from the roof' or up from 'the tail'. In this case the defender always gets to strike first. By changing the guard the defender has changed the way an attacker approaches taking them on.
These two stances are powerful against opponents armed with shorter weapon.
Notes??? Longsword do not have to do this as they can switch to close combat 'half-sword and grapple at the sword to account for the shorter distance, using the sword much like a quarter staff.
Example: A knight armed with a longsword faces and bandit armed with a falchion. The knight stands his ground with the ox stance and waits to see what the bandit will do. The bandit knows that his weapon is too short to reach the knight, and that if he charges and tries to strike the knight directly he will run onto the knight's sword point - the dreaded auto-hit. Obviously the bandit needs to deal with the longsword first. So the bandit attacks the longsword with an MA roll to move it out of the way and close. As the bandit steps forward the knight lifts his longsword 'to the roof' stance denying the bandit the option to take out the longsword before closing. Now the bandit's only option is to step in and attack directly, but the knight has a Longsword and will get to cut him down before can close. The bandit backs off to re-evaluate the situation.
All this in Tactical can be covered by the simple rule that longer weapons strike first, where the Trooper selects the correct stance. At the tactical level you do not have to know what stances are being used, on that the outcome is very similar from the Tactical view point.
Cont. The bandit comes to the conclusion that he will have to play it fast and loose, and will have to dodge the attack. The bandit closes with a feint and takes the auto-hit, making a dodge test to jump back out in the nick of time, then make an MA test to move the knight's weapon and move in to attack (which is once again an auto-hit unless the knight does something about it). So the bandit is looking at making a MA feint roll, a Dodge roll, another MA roll to deal with the weapon and finally an auto-hit as he closes. The task of making three rolls is daunting, and the knight has other tricks up his sleeve. [Note, this could be simplified to one MA test to take the auto-hit attack with failure resulting in a hit?]
This can also be dealt with if the bandit had a Longsword by simply stepping in. Having two longsword would mean that neither have an advantage of reach and so both have to deal with the other's weapon first. A man stepping into range with a longsword using a plough or ox stance can attack with a quick jab to the face etc. but is also far enough away they can not be attack directly beforehand without the defender having to move in to (and that quick jab is waiting for them). Neither can attack without moving into the range of the other. If one attacks the other has to deal with the weapon or they are hit, but this is not the whole, story. In the worst case if one attacks and the other ignores the strike (armour) and attacks the attacker directly, both could be hit. Armour saves the day. Not good.
Master Cuts: Or even worse, the defender is highly skilled and uses 'Master Cuts' where the incoming attack is stopped and countered in one strike: the incoming attack and the attacker are struck down together. This is the real deal breaker. This is possible because the attacker armed with a Longsword is in range or a defender with a longsword (this can be resolves as a simple MA test to stop the attack and to counter, the extra problem of these Master Cuts for the defender is that it's one move and they are being struck while making their move. Hence no defence rolls, end of combat string - attacker will loose - a master stroke). The logical course of action is to take the weapon out of the equation and move in. It's the taking of the weapon that often leads to a bind and closing to grapple. One makes an MA roll to move the weapon ready to move in and auto-hit, the defence changes to half-swording to gain a new defence and hence MA roll to stop the auto-hit.
NOTICE: Master cuts principle is the one, the counter can not be countered. It is an end of the line. It is also the basis of taking the weapon out of the way and moving in with the counter, while the defender's weapon is moved out of the way. Master Cuts = no defence, but regular slide in after parry can be defended with a change in stance (? dodge or shorter range defence techniques). Master Cuts is a technique to be collected like any other.
The problem with having the shorter falchion is that the knight does not have to strike until the falchion is in range, and by the time the bandit is so close enough to be a danger they are well within the longsword's range and the knight can attack the bandits body directly. This means the MA fail would result in the bandit being hit and taken down, not in the swords crossing.
Change stance, technique and making the defence can all be done with one MA roll. If the stance is beaten, the knight can make an MA roll to change and defend with the half-swording/ grapple technique against shorter weapons or someone that has overcome their primary guard defence stance and techniques.
Cont. Going back to the dodging bandit, they would usually gets an auto-hit once they have made all those rolls and got past the guard stance and closed to a shorter range that the Longsword can not be used at using regular techniques, but the knight (because he has 'grapple-at-the-sword' techniques) gets a defence roll even if his stance is beaten as be pulls back the longsword, grabs the blade and uses it in close as a lever to grapple with.
Example 1: A unit of Romans armed with long shields and short swords attack a unit of Greeks armed with spears and round shields. The spears of the Greeks are longer than the short swords of the Romans, so the greeks go first. The Roman's long shield gives them SC:7 +MA:5 for a combined defence of '12', ten is the max, and all make the roll. The Romans automatically counter the spears and in countering move in. The Greek's round shield gives them SC:5 +MA:5, so they are safe. However, the range have been closed and the Greeks spears are too long! The Greeks have to change grip and use the shield over-hand. We now have two opposing shield walls.
Size (strength) is used to enforce the results of the Martial Arts rolls. Strength is used as a 'backup stat' to Martial Arts. Strength can not improve a hit, but it can ensure the hit has sufficient impact to fully complete the strike (i.e. do some serious damage, like cut off a head or limb). All strikes and combat moves are controlled and regulated by Agility, as Agility covers all movement, timing, balance and skill techniques.
Any failure of a Trooper to defend themselves results in their death unless their armour can defeat the strike. There is no need to make another roll, if the target does not have armour and the strike lands the target is killed (this is because any sword strike that lands as a result of a lunge or skilled attack will inflict a huge amount of damage on an unarmoured human body. Such a blow will stun the target and allow plenty of time for the aggressor to finish them off. The successful, MA test is not just one strike, but a complete attack: all the way to the finish.)
Covers up vulnerable spots, and high risk areas to make it harder to take a trooper down. Good quality armour drastically reduces the chance of getting a quick or crafty kill. Rolls under the Shield Cover are still 'on target', but they do not connect as they are blocked and have an effect.
Some powerful two-handed weapons may have very high positive strength modifiers that may be sufficient to overcome armour. A strike from such a powerful weapon which lands on the armour may break through. The weapon's strength modification combined with the Troopers size is higher than the Armour Rating. In such cases the armour is considered void.
Therefore, strikes to armour (under the targets armour number) can be overcome with 'massive weapons', i.e. two handed weapons and pole arms. One handed Swords can not overcome plate armour, unless used to half-sword or flipped to morte-strike, effectively making them a two-handed weapon.
In Tactical Core shields are assumed to have a very high Armour Rating, and can withstand most hand weapons used in a given era of warfare where shields proved effective. Body armour is a little different, in that it is highly protective in certain situations, such as chain will stop slashing attacks but is next to useless against penetrating weapons like an arrow (hence all the canvas backing) or bludgeoning weapons.
Soft armours stop slashing attacks [note: add slashing attacks to list of counter options]
Slashing attacks are lethal against unarmoured foes. They are the easiest and quickest of all counters, and confer a huge advantage to the sword in a mêlée (that's why they were so popular). Armours such as chainmail and various leathers are designed to counter the sword first and foremost (the shield does the heavy work)
Rigid armours act like a shield, and give a bonus to SC.
However, these armours will not save you if you are grappled [note: add grapple option]. A grapple with always overcome armour, and combined with a dagger (or spike) with void the armour. Daggers are lethal and very common and popular because it is a finisher in many cases against an armoured opponent (pull them to the ground > lock > locate weak point > finish). Dagger require very little strength to inflict a lethal wound.
These are additions rules added into the core rules via Augments.
Copyright © Philip Sibbering 2007-2013. WarSpike™ is a Trademark of Philip Sibbering.
This file last modified 06/25/16