Valormr

Valormr: Rules for Strategic Map Campaigns

When I set out, at the beginning of the summer, to describe strategic-level play in the Valormr Campaign, I hadn’t the idea to write a set of rules. Tony Bath’s prose is completely coherent, and the rules he outlines in Setting Up a Wargames Campaign entirely playable as is. But much of Bath’s text discusses options and different ways the author ran the game, and the rules are more complex in some ways than I want for a simple campaign and don’t do enough in others.

So, I drew many ideas from the venerated text and adapted them to fit my own purposes. This, we might think, was Bath’s intent.

These strategic rules touch the tactical battlefield only at its entry and exit points: deployment and withdraw. I use Chainmail, but another wargames campaigner may use their choice of tactical combat rules. And while the Valormr Campaign is medieval fantasy, the strategic rules may be used in any ancient or medieval setting, fantasy or no.

These rules have not yet been tested in play. I embark, tomorrow, on a campaign that begins with a dragon’s predawn raid on a dwarven citadel and the encroachment of the Chaos Armies into an elven forest. With less than three weeks till summer’s end, this will be more a play-through than a play-test.

Valormr: Rules for Strategic Map Campaigns

For convenience I link the pertinent articles that comprise the rules. Entries marked by an asterisk (*) are not so much rules for the topic as examples from which to draw your own ideas.

Valormr Strategic Map (100 dpi)
The Valormr Campaign Strategic Movement Map, Showing Eastern Darkmeer, the Throrgrmir Valley, and Lands Beyond.
Available in higher resolutions from the Downloads page.

Valormr Orders of Battle

In a wargame, one normally begins with a number of army points, with which to buy figures, respecting general proportions defined by the historical or fantastical context. In a campaign, the points are allotted for the duration, augmented by a small periodic point budget. Forces must be husbanded across the campaign’s several battles.

For the Valormr Campaign, I turned the process around. I sorted through my collection for all troop types and any creature types described in Chainmail. To those I added a couple others but kept additions to a minimum, knowing I would have to assign game stats to them.

With a few human armies on both sides, I foresee the need for up to four human regiments on the table for the climactic battle at least. The size of human regiments is based on the number of troop types I could recruit from the collection divided by four. All the humanoid troops are pressed into service.

Prepared for Inspection
Prepared for Inspection.
Orders of battle may vary depending on your own collection of miniature figurines.

According to the scenario, Anax Archontas raises the Chaos Armies at his leisure. It’s the dragon’s raid on the dwarven citadel that spurs the Forces of Law to muster troops. I separate out the Ellriendi Elves because, though they fight against the Chaos Armies, their priority is the protection of the forest and the secret they guard within.

Therefore, I want Chaos to have point-value superiority over Law, with the Elves somewhere between. I loaded the whole lot of figures into an electronic spreadsheet and counted them up by point value. I then adjusted up or down by adding regiments to armies.

Chaos enjoys the use of the majority of fantastic creatures in the “General Line-Up” (39). These are opposed by Law with heroes and wizards, of which Chaos has few.

The Chaos Armies are named after their commanders. The Elf King and Queen each maintain a royal force. Elf regiments take their names from their region. The province of origin lends its name to the armies of the Forces of Law.

Summary of Orders of Battle
Army Points
CHAOS ARMIES
Anax Archontas (Dragon) 200
Hadewych 480
Solon Theros 120
Annemie Tacx 330
Minke Meine 300
Arkthark (Goblin Horde) 700
(Kobolds) 80
Oberon (Orcs) 320
The Laugher (Gnolls) 180
(Lizard Men) 90
Total 2800
ELLRIENDI ELVES
Elf Queen’s Court 450
Elf King’s Company 400
Groennendr Regiment 600
Grunnthraesir Regiment 400
Elding Regiment 550
Total 2200
FORCES OF LAW
Throrgrmir (Dwarves) 400
Aeskrvald 450
Grallune 400
Lanze 200
Gyrhawk 200
The Heagh (Highlanders) 60
Noerdenheim (Northmen) 80
Arbenshire (Halfolk) 150
Eglidain Burrows (Gnomes) 60
Total 2000

Reading Map

Detailed orders of battle are forthcoming.


Deployment

“All these rules can lead to some interesting and unusual battles and will make a change from the stereotyped affairs of both forces deploying on the baseline” (Bath, 84).

In the strategic rules, we endeavor to limit interference with tactical play. We do impinge on the wargames table, however, in the deployment phase, notably, in the drawing of baselines and, further, in a measured force deployment in the opening turns of battle.

In the citation above, Bath refers to an ingenious matchbox system for strategic as well as tactical maneuver and an engaging scouts mini-game to simulate intelligence gathering. In the Valormr Campaign, we incorporate scouts into the contact dice and forgo the matchbox array for overt moves on the hexagon map. To achieve variation in deployment, we combine orders of march with opposing dice throws. The results range from alert forces deploying on opposite ends of the battlefield to careless leading units marching straight into the opponent’s fields of fire.

Contact and Deployment

“Deployment” is the sixth of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

Baselines on the Wargames Table

Instead of one baseline for each side at opposite edges of the wargames table, we’re going to mark six. We make a calculation to determine each side’s forward baseline, then mark additional baselines at even intervals to the rear baseline.

Calculate Forward Baselines

There are two input values for this calculation. The first is the width or length of your wargames table (T), depending on which way forces face off across the battlefield. Here, I use width. The second is the maximum range of a short bow scaled to inches (R) according to your tactical wargames rules. Subtract the short bow range from the table width and divide by two.

Bf = (TR) ÷ 2

The result is the distance from either edge of the table toward the middle, where the forward baselines (Bf) are marked. Between the two forward baselines is maximum short bow range.

Calculate Baseline Intervals

Now, take the distance from either edge of the table to the forward baselines (Bf), divide it by seven and round to the nearest half.

Bi = Bf ÷ 7, round to nearest ½

The result is the interval between baselines (Bi). We divide by seven instead of six because we want twice the distance behind the rear baseline.

Marking Baselines

From both edges of the table, measure Bf and mark the forward baselines.
From each forward baseline back toward the edge, mark five more baselines at the interval Bi. The sixth baselines, closest to the table edges, are the rear baselines. Number the baselines on both sides from 1 to 6, forward to rear, and again from 1 to 6, from rear forward.

Baselines on the Wargames Table
Baselines on the Wargames Table.

Minimum Distance Behind Rear Baseline

This calculation works on tables at least 28½″ wide. For widths from 32″ to 35″ inclusive, the calculation leaves less than twice the interval behind the rear baseline. That might not be enough, since it isn’t uncommon that a regiment deploys in this space. If your table falls in this range, make the calculation for the forward baselines as above, but for the interval between baselines, use 1¾″, which leaves more room behind the rear baseline.

Precalculated Intervals by Table Length

The following table shows the baseline interval by table width or length. The calculations are based on a short bow range of 150 yards at a scale of 20 yards to the inch. All values are in inches.

Precalculated Intervals by Table Length
Table Width or Length (T) Interval (Bi)
28.5 to 31.5 1.5
32 to 35 1.75
35.5 to 38.5 2
39 to 45.5 2.5
46 to 52.5 3
53 to 59.5 3.5
60 to 66.5 4
67+* 4.5
* A wargames table 67″ or longer might use a 1:10, inch to yards, ground scale.

 Deployment Dice

To start the deployment phase, all commanders roll a dice. The results determine which player has deployment initiative, each commander’s baseline, and to what extent—beyond that of the base deployment—the commander may deploy forces prior to the first tactical turn. Two of the modifiers account for high or low dice throws from the contact phase. Modifiers cannot raise the score higher than 6 or lower it to less than 1.

Deployment Dice Modifiers
Criteria Modifier
Highest unmodified contact dice +1
Scored a 1 or less on modified contact dice −1
Maneuver +1
All opponents in clear terrain +1
All opponents in mountain terrain −1

Deployment Initiative

The commander with the higher score has deployment initiative throughout initial and subsequent deployment. In case of a tie, the commander with the higher unmodified score wins the initiative. Still a tie, dice for it.

Deployment Baseline

Each commander deploys behind the numbered baseline that matches the modified deployment dice. The direction of count depends on the deployment dice.

  • The commander with the highest score counts baselines from the rear baseline forward.
  • Lower-scoring commanders count baselines from the forward baseline to the rear.
  • In case of a tie for highest, all commanders count baselines from the forward baseline to the rear. That is, on a tie of 1s, the forces stumble upon one another at their forward baselines; a tie of 6s, they each halt at their rear baselines.

Three or More Forces on the Battlefield: In the case where more than two forces are in map contact and the engagements are not split into separate battles, the numerous forces are deployed according to their arrangement on the strategic map. Following the story from “Avoid, Delay, Evade, and Withdraw,” the photo below shows Hadewych opposite Ingegerd and Aeskrvald, who, on the strategic map, occupy the hexes to her fore and to her left forward flank.

Deployment Dice
Deployment Dice.

Scoring high on the contact dice (left), Hadewych (top) managed to find more suitable terrain (not shown). To her deployment dice of 2, she adds 1 for the highest contact dice and another for all opponents in clear terrain, deploying on the fourth baseline counting from forward. With a roll of 5 plus 1 for her opponent in clear terrain, Ingegerd (lower left) deploys on her forward baseline. Aeskrvald threw a 4 and has the same plus 1 for terrain, so he deploys on the fifth baseline, counting from forward to rear.

Initial Deployment

Each commander has a base deployment derived from the tactical march formation. To determine his or her initial deployment, the commander adds the base deployment and a number of units equal to the turn deployment—also derived from the march formation (see Summary table below)—multiplied by the difference in the deployment dice.

When more than two forces are on the field, each commander subtracts the lowest deployment dice from his or her own dice to determine the multiplier.

Initial deployment precedes the first turn of the battle. It is conducted in two rounds. The order of the first round is from highest deployment dice to lowest. In the second round, from lowest to highest. In the first round, each commander may deploy any portion, or none at all, of his or her initial deployment. On the second round, commanders must deploy the balance of their initial deployment.

The intent is to allow commanders with higher deployment dice scores to influence the deployment in the first round, while enabling them to observe the full deployment of lower scorers before deploying their remaining forces in the second.

Summary of Orders of March and Deployment Schedules by Terrain
Terrain Tactical March Formation* Deployment Schedule
    Base Turn
Mountain
or Track
Column of figures
(2 × 20 troops)
One company Two companies
Road Column of figures
(4 × 10 troops)
Three companies Four companies
Forest,
Swamp,
or Hill
Column of companies One battalion One battalion
Clear Column of battalions One regiment One regiment
* Tactical march formations are fully explained in “Orders of March.”
Base Deployment:
Based on the tactical march formation. A number of units that are deployed on enemy contact.
Turn Deployment: Also determined by the tactical march formation. A number of units that may be deployed at the beginning of the second and subsequent turns of the battle until the regiment is fully deployed.
Initial Deployment: A number of units equal to base deployment plus turn deployment multiplied by the difference in the contact dice. Deployed prior to the first turn of battle.

Subsequent Deployment

The initial deployment completed, the first turn of battle takes place. The commanders deploy a number of units equal to their turn deployment in a deployment round before the second turn of battle. The order of deployment in these subsequent deployment rounds is from lowest to highest deployment dice. The deployment round takes places before each turn until all commanders have deployed their full forces.

Advanced: March Table

“Here, at the outset, only the leading elements of both armies will be present on the field; the rest will arrive at measured intervals, dependent on march tables” (Bath, 74).

A march table is a schedule of movement showing a unit’s location at specific times along a planned route.1 I take Bath’s usage to imply an abbreviated table, showing only units in an order of march. In the simple campaign, our march tables show only regiments. We assume the commander has sufficient foresight to order companies within the march formation in the way best suited for tactical deployment, so the player chooses in the battle’s opening turns which units to deploy next. In an advanced game, the commander might create a march table, showing each company, prior to marching, thereby determining the order in which units are deployed, turn by turn, on the battlefield.


Notes

1 British Military Terminology (PDF), Military Intelligence Service, Washington: U. S. War Department, 1943. March table: “a combined location and movement schedule for a march,” also, movement table, British (40).


Throrgrmir Citadel Under Construction

“As they mined the ore, the dwarves dug tunnels and built dormitories, treasure vaults, and workshops. Soon they caroused in a drinking hall, and a citadel enclosed the surface entrance to their underground domain.”

—from “Throrgrmir’s Golden Age

Having friends over for tea yesterday, I hoped to show them the dwarven citadel, finished and under siege, with a red dragon installed in its new-gained lair atop the central donjon. But, as construction does, it took longer than expected. So I set up some dwarves hard at work.

Before the few remaining Throrgrmir clans abandoned their once-great civilization. Before the wyrmlings decimated the dwarven population and stole all their treasure. Before the renaissance, before the disastrous civil war, before they built the Throrgardr Gate to prevent the Great Wyrm’s passing. Before the Battle of Throrgardr, before the wyrm invaded the city, before the dwarves dug too deep and woke the primordial wyrm. Before even they built the city, now in crumbled ruin far beneath the surface and the granite dust of uncounted millennia. The Throrgrmir dwarves built the citadel.

On the edge of steep hills, high atop a plateau, the granite structure seemed to grow from the rock upon which it was built. Towering above the valley, throughout Throrgrmir’s long reign over the region, the citadel served as a surface beacon. All who gazed upon its bright facade from the wide valley floor, all who mounted its magnificent stair and entered within its high stout walls were reminded of the dwarven mastery of stone craft, of dwarven strength and ingenuity.

Throrgrmir Citadel Under Construction From Above
Throrgrmir Citadel Under Construction From Above.
At five feet to the inch, the structure is 105 by 125 feet. The entry stair turns between parapets.
Throrgrmir Citadel Under Construction From the Front
Throrgrmir Citadel Under Construction From the Front.
The central donjon is 25 feet square. Its 30-foot height reflects more my own lack of skill—or just the right rock—than that of the dwarves. In the middle foreground is the scale model from which they work.

Avoid, Evade, Delay, and Withdraw

Contact and Deployment

“Avoid, Evade, Delay, and Withdraw” is the fifth of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

A disengagement operation is conducted when a commander wishes to avoid map contact, evade an engagement, delay an opposing force, or withdraw from a battle. Each disengagement operation is explained below.

Summary: When a commander opts for one of these operations, both commanders roll a dice. The dice throws are modified by each commander’s situation. The disengaging commander subtracts the opponent’s modified results from his or her own modified results and consults the Disengagement Losses Table. Any losses are removed from the disengaging force’s assault regiment. Following a disengagement, the two forces are no longer in map contact.

Multiple Opponents: When one force wishes to conduct a disengagement operation while in map contact with more than one opponent, each commander rolls one dice. The disengaging commander’s modified result is used against each enemy commander’s modified result separately. All losses are applied simultaneously. So, if losses from two opponents are 50% or more, the force is effectively destroyed.

Time and Move Points: Disengagement operations themselves cost no move points and, except for the delay operation, take no additional time. The avoid operation requires that the force has move points for the move, which follows disengagement. The delay operation consumes the half period.

No Rest: A force in map contact may not rest during a half period in which any disengagement operation is conducted or any move points expended.

Disengagement: Once disengaged, the adjacent forces are no longer in map contact. A commander may use the maneuver action to force a second map contact in the half period. When no longer in map contact, a force with sufficient move points remaining may continue movement. Unless one or the other forces moves immediately following a disengagement, the forces are again in map contact at the beginning of the next half period.

Cost of Battle in Time and Move Points

A battle, though it may require only a few minutes of combat, takes a half period of time but no daily move points. Much time is assumed to be taken up with reconnaissance and deployment prior to a battle. Afterward, time is spent tending wounded, repairing or replacing weapons and armor, scavenging the battlefield on the victorious side, setting up a defensive position on the vanquished side, and resting.

Disengagement Operations

Avoid

To avoid map contact, a commander must have enough move points to move into an adjacent hex or be able to conduct a forced march. After avoiding contact, the commander must move into an adjacent hex.

Evade

Either after the contact phase or following terrain selection in the deployment phase, a commander may decide to evade the engagement. Following an evasion, the commander may continue movement.

Delay

The delay action is contact with the enemy up to the point of engagement followed by a withdraw. A commander states the intention to delay before the contact phase, thereby foregoing contact and deployment phases as well as the initial exchange of volleys and blows that would normally take place on the wargames table. The delay action costs no move points but takes one half period as if a battle had been fought—which it has, we’ve only cut it short by a few minutes.

Withdraw

By the military definition, a withdraw is an organized retirement from the field. For our purposes, the withdraw operation includes those in which the force is in retreat or rout.

A withdraw is initiated during a tactical battle. Whenever a commander deems the battle is lost, he or she may withdraw. To do so, a number of figures equal to or greater than 25% of the original force must be moved behind the baseline.

Formed in Good Order: When at least 25% of the original force is moved behind the baseline in good order, the force is considered to be formed and in good order.

In Rout: If 25% or more of the original force is routed off the table, the entire force is considered to be in rout for the purposes of the withdraw operation.

In Retreat: Otherwise, the force is considered to be in retreat.

Disengagement Modifiers

Modifiers to the disengagement dice are divided into categories. Each commander considers his or her own condition for each category and applies the best modifier. Only one modifier is applied from each category. For instance, a commander using the maneuver action adds 1 to the dice. If the opponent is unformed, he or she may order an aggressive pursuit, which adds 2 instead.

Disengagement Modifiers Table
Formation Modifier
Formed in good order +2
In retreat −1
In rout −2
Retreat and Rout: See Withdraw above.
Tactics Modifier
Maneuver +1
Aggressive pursuit +2
Rearguard +2

Maneuver: See “Support, Reserve, Maneuver.”
Aggressive pursuit: Immediately after the final turn of a tactical battle, a commander, using the maneuver action, may order an aggressive pursuit of a force disengaging in anything other than good order. The commander’s own force must be formed and must not be fatigued.
Rearguard: May only be applied to the disengaging force. A force unformed or in retreat must be at more than half strength to organize an effective rearguard. A force in rout cannot organize an effective rearguard.

Cavalry Modifier
Cavalry +1
Fresh cavalry +2

Fresh cavalry: Cavalry which has not engaged in melee today and is not otherwise fatigued is considered fresh.

Condition Modifier
Fatigued −1

Fatigued: From strategic movement, like forced march, not battlefield fatigue.

Size Modifier
Larger force by one regiment or more +1
Supported +1

Larger force: Compare the army sizes.
Supported: See “Support, Reserve, Maneuver.”

Strength Modifier
Half strength or less −1

Strength: Consider the engaging regiment only. See “Orders of March.”

Terrain Modifier
Favorable +1
Unfavorable −1

Terrain: Consider the commander’s current hex. Mountains are favorable for a disengaging force, clear is unfavorable. For the opponent, vice versa. Forest, swamp, and hill terrain are neither favorable nor unfavorable.

Disengagement Losses

The disengaging commander subtracts the opponent’s modified results from his or her own modified results and consults the Disengagement Losses Table. Losses are reduced from the force’s current strength.

Disengagement Losses Table1
  Losses
Difference Delay or Withdraw Evade Avoid
8 or more —  Negligible  —
4 to 7 5% —  Negligible  —
0 to 3 10% 5% —  Negligible  —
−1 to −4 25% 10% 5%
−5 to −7 30% 25% 10%
−8 50%D 30% 25%
−9 75%D 50%D 30%
−10 —  Destroyed  — 75%D 50%D
−11 —  Destroyed  — 75%D

−12 or less

—  Destroyed  —

D Displaced: The disengaging force is pushed to the hex opposite the contact. If, for any reason, the force cannot enter the hex, read the results from the line below. Reasons include: the opposite hex is occupied by an enemy force or a non-supporting friendly force, or the disengaging force hasn’t enough points to move into it. If a disengaging force is displaced and a supporting force occupies the hex opposite the contact, the supporting force, if it does not reinforce the disengaging force, is also displaced if it has the necessary move points and the next hex is unoccupied.

Hadewych Evades
Hadewych Evades.

After the terrain reconnaissance earlier, Hadewych chose to evade the engagement. To her throw of 1, she adds 3 (formed in good order, rearguard, unfavorable terrain). Ingegerd rolled a 4. She adds 4 (formed in good order, supported, favorable terrain). The difference (4−8) of −4 reduces the regiment by 10%. Hadewych’s result is also compared to Aeskrvald’s result, which is 6 plus 3 (formed in good order, favorable terrain). With a −5 difference (4−9), Hadewych suffers another 25% losses.


Notes

1 The Disengagement Losses Table and its modifiers are derived from Bath’s section on withdrawing from battle (75-7). I adapted it to cover any disengagement. Where Bath uses a single dice roll, I prefer an opposed roll. So, I stretched out the results range to accommodate wider disparity. The tipping point, where losses increase rapidly, is preserved. The reaper marches before an army in flight.


Engage or Evade

Contact and Deployment

“Engage or Evade” is the fourth of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

Once the opponent’s force size and composition are estimated and the terrain upon which a battle may take place has been surveyed, each commander decides whether to engage or evade.

A commander with a 1 result on the contact dice, therefore unaware of the enemy, does not have the opportunity to evade.

  • If both opt to engage—that’s what we dressed up for—go to the deployment phase.
  • If both opt to evade, they are successful; the forces are no longer in map contact, and play continues on the strategic map.
  • If one opts to evade while the other desires engagement, the evasion is handled by dice throws, which is covered in the next article “Avoid, Evade, Delay, and Withdraw.”
Engage or Evade
Engage or Evade?

With two forces opposite her one, Hadewych desires terrain she can use in her favor. But a gully on her left allows an unobserved enemy approach, and both opponents have the higher ground. Dissatisfied, she evades the engagement.


Terrain Reconnaissance

Contact and Deployment

“Terrain Reconnaissance” is the third of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

Here we use Chainmail’s Terrain Selection rules (10) to get an idea of the lay of the land. The commander with the higher score on the contact dice first draws and places a number of terrain cards, one at a time, equal to the difference in the unmodified contact dice. In case of a tie on the contact dice, use the unmodified dice rolls to decide first draw. Still a tie, dice for it. After the first, each commander in turn draws and places one card until each commander has drawn four cards.

Note that, with a good throw, the contact dice winner may draw and place four or more cards in the first turn. In that case, the opponent then draws and places four cards one at a time. When the contact dice winner draws and places three or fewer cards in the first turn, he or she takes subsequent turns up to a maximum of four cards. Then the opponent draws and places the remainder of his or her cards.

For now, we don’t model terrain. We avoid spending time to make terrain when we aren’t sure yet if the battle will take place. It is this general lay of the land that serves as input to commanders in their decision to engage or evade.

Chainmail’s Terrain Selection Clarification

How eight (or even 20) three-by-five-inch index cards yields terrain on a four-by-eight-foot table mystifies. Perhaps a line or two of explanation is omitted from the rules. Perhaps not, but it makes more sense if we add that the position and orientation of an index card, as laid by a player, indicates the terrain type in that area—not just the card’s space—on the battlefield.

Terrain Selection Cards
Terrain Selection Cards.
Here I experiment with playing the whole deck. Looks crowded.

We model the battlefield based on the cards, scaling up the indicated terrain to fill the space in a logical if not natural way. For example, the marsh card in the middle of the table between a hill card and a river card some distance to either side becomes a marshy area, limited by a hill rising up on one side and a river running through the other. The river continues through the upper part of the marsh to the second river card, placed in an opposite corner. And so on.

Only hills are specified to be “variously shaped.”1 This implies the shape is to be transferred to the battlefield. It stands to reason that the card’s orientation is also respected.

We might be tempted to draw the other terrain cards in particular shapes as well. Straight rivers occur in nature as well as on the wargames table. In play, we discover that the watercourse, while it might run through two cards, is dictated by high and low terrain. We might at least give way to the orientation of the card. Flowing from the first card, the river bends into the second.

Further, as the text instructs, “Terrain is placed anywhere on the table.” It isn’t clear whether the “eight blanks” are considered terrain and meant to be placed on the table, or whether the blank-drawing player is simply deprived of a turn. My table is half the size and my cards two-by-four inches. In first essays, I find that, though there is some power in placing clear between other features, playing the blanks may limit the freedom to shape the terrain.

Notes

1 Aside, the four basic hill shapes I came up with resemble an egg, a bean, a guitar, and a painter’s palette.


Map Contact

Contact and Deployment

“Map Contact” is the second of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

When two or more opposing commanders occupy adjacent hexes, they are said to be in map contact. The terrain between them is a potential battlefield.

Half Periods: Contact is considered to occur within a half-period: morning, afternoon, evening, or night.1 In terrain where forces move only one hex per day, it is the last half of the period. For example, in the afternoon for diurnal movement.

Moves First: All strategic moves for the period are completed before any map contacts are resolved. In the event of map contact in the first half period, the involved forces, assuming they have move points remaining, may continue movement after contact is resolved, whether by evasion or engagement.

Fight on the Morrow: At any time prior to the deployment phase, all commanders may agree to rest.2 In that case, the forces are no longer in map contact for the remainder of the half period. Forces are again in map contact at the beginning of the next half period. If either one of two commanders disagrees, the contact phase begins.

Avoid Contact: A commander may avoid contact in the hex if he or she has enough move points to proceed immediately into another hex. This decision is made and resolved prior to the contact phase. A dice throw is required, and the operation is not without risks. Avoiding contact is treated, along with similar operations, in an upcoming article “Avoid, Evade, Delay, and Withdraw.”

Three or More Forces: When more than two forces meet, the conflict may be divided into separate engagements or conducted as a single battle, as decided by the players. Factors such as table size and number of figures involved versus the number available should be considered in addition to player preference. In case multiple battles are decided, contact and deployment are handled separately.

Battles at Sea

The present system is not useful for naval engagements. We got longships and pirates though, so we could make something up should the occasion arise.

Contact Dice

Upon making map contact, the commanders roll a dice. We use the dice scores with and without modifiers throughout the process, so it’s best to make note or leave the dice on the table for reference. The results determine each commander’s awareness of the opposing force, the hour of contact, and which player draws the first terrain cards and how many.

Modifiers

A commander’s contact dice is modified for each of the following criteria:

Contact Modifiers
Criteria Modifier
More move points than all opponents +1
Smallest force by at least one regiment* +1
Successful scout(s) +1
Captured scout(s) +1
Previous contact this or one period before +1
All opponents in clear terrain† +1
All opponents in mountain terrain† −1

* Here, size considers the entire army; it does not consider strength.
† Terrain modifiers ignore the hex occupied by the commander.

Contact

Contact Table
One Dice Estimation of Enemy Force
  Size* Composition
1† None None
2‡ None None
3 ±50% Basic troop type (infantry or cavalry)
4 ±25% All troop types
5 ±10% All troop types, proportions, plus organization**
6 Accurate Exact plus individual creatures

* Size considers the engaging regiment; the exact variation is determined below.
† Unaware of enemy presence.
‡ Aware of enemy presence but no estimation possible.
** Number of regiments in addition to the engaging regiment and any command units, such as the Elf King’s Company.

That the commander is aware of the dice roll, and therefore the range of the information’s accuracy, is of no consequence, as a commander may gauge the accuracy of the size by the composition details gathered.

Contact Dice
Contact Dice Example.

Taking the dice left to right: Hadewych’s scout is killed. Her contact dice roll is four, to which she adds 1 as all her opponents are in clear terrain, for a total of five. Ingegerd, to her roll of three, also adds 1 for her opponent in clear terrain, total four. Aeskrvald adds 1 for terrain to his roll of five, plus 1 for a successful scout, to make it seven.

Size Estimation

To determine the estimated size of the enemy force, multiple players without a referee need only choose a percentage in the given range, make the calculation, and inform the opponent. A referee or solo player might do the same or roll two dice on the table below.

Size Estimation Table
Two Dice ±50% ±25% ±10%*
2 −50% −25% −10%
3 −40% −20% Accurate
4 −30% −15% −10%
5 −20% −10% −5%
6 −10% −5% −5%
7 Accurate
8 +10% +5% +5%
9 +20% +10% +5%
10 +30% +15% +10%
11 +40% +20% Accurate
12 +50% +25% +10%
* As in the two previous columns, probabilities in the ±10% column are weighted toward more accurate results.

Contact Hour

Take the difference in the highest and lowest unmodified contact dice. Subtract the result from the current half period’s end hour to determine the hour in which contact occurs. Sunrise marks the 1st hour of the day. Thus, depending on the half period of contact and the difference in the contact dice, a battle may take place in any hour of the day or night.

Half Period Ends in Hour
Morning 6th
Afternoon 12th
Evening 18th
Night 24th

Notes

1 Contact occurs within a half period even when forces may move three or more hexes per day. With mainly infantry on the map, moving so far is rare. With more cavalry, moving three or four hexes is more common. But we avoid dividing a period into thirds or fourths in favor of simplicity.

2 This is not an actual agreement between commanders. The agreement is implied by the lack of further action on both sides.


Support, Reserve, Maneuver

Support and Reserve

Support and reserve are roles that may be assumed by forces when an allied force is in map contact. The roles permit the relief, reinforce, support, and exploit operations as explained below.

These rules assume already that regiments serve assault, support, and reserve roles within the same hex. Support and reserve roles may only be assumed by forces of different armies from each other and from the supported force. For example, Ingegerd’s army may support Arn’s army, and Aeskrvald’s army may be in reserve. But Arn could not separate his army into its three regiments, moving each to a different hex and putting them in support and reserve to each other.

The relief and support operations permit two forces to “switch” hexes, a move not normally permissible. The first time per turn a force (commander figure) participates in a relief or support operation costs no points and requires no time. The second or subsequent times in a turn that a force conducts such an operation, the necessary time and move points are required.

Note: There is a difference between the support role and the support operation. I’m open to suggestions for a better term for the latter to avoid confusion.

Contact and Deployment

“Support, Reserve, Maneuver” is the first of six parts of “Contact and Deployment” in the Valormr Campaign.

Support

A force adjacent to an allied force and not in map contact with an enemy force may support the allied force. A force so supported gains a bonus when conducting disengagement operations (explained later) or when opposing such operations.

Relief: A supporting force may switch hexes with the supported force. Their roles are also switched. The support force becomes assault, assault becomes support. The relief may take place at any time before contact dice are rolled or after any disengagement.

Reinforce: If the results of a disengagement operation indicate displacement, the supporting force may opt to reinforce the supported force, thereby preventing the displacement. The disengaging force then takes normal losses.

Reserve

A force adjacent to an allied force currently supporting another allied force can act as reserve to the supported allied force.

Support: Similar to the relief operation above, a reserve force may switch hexes and roles with the supporting force. Unlike relieving the assault force, the support operation may take place at any time.

Exploit: A reserve force may use the exploit operation to move two hexes. The intermediate hex must be the hex occupied by the supporting force, which the reserve force moves through, and the destination hex must put the reserve force in map contact with an enemy force. The exploit operation costs move points only to move from the intermediate hex into the destination hex. It takes place immediately following contact resolution, including after a battle.

Maneuver

A force in a hex adjacent to an enemy force may use the maneuver action. The maneuver action costs move points to move into the figure’s current hex but takes no additional time. Only a formed force which is not fatigued may maneuver.

The maneuver force gains a bonus on the deployment dice and any disengagement dice during the half period. Furthermore, the commander may force a second map contact in the half period, immediately following resolution of the first. A commander may begin the maneuver action, spending the move points and gaining the bonus, at any point during a half period, but the maneuver action ends with the half period.

Hadewych Versus Arn
The afternoon sun glares off the south wall of the Throrgrmir Citadel. With his army, Solon Theros supports Hadewych, whose army stands against Arn. Arn’s army, which is left with only one regiment, is supported by Ingegerd’s army. Aeskrvald in reserve. The battle is fierce. Withdrawing after heavy losses, Arn would be displaced (pushed back one hex) but for Ingegerd’s reinforcement.
Aeskrvald Exploits
The contact resolved, Hadewych maneuvers to provoke the second map contact of the afternoon. She seeks Arn’s destruction. Aeskrvald’s army uses exploit to move into map contact with Hadewych.
Ingegerd Relieves Arn
Immediately afterward, Ingegerd relieves Arn’s beleaguered regiment. Now, Hadewych faces two fresh armies.

Contact and Deployment

Between map contact and the opening moves on the tactical field, play is conducted in two phases: contact and deployment. Each phase is resolved by dice throws, accompanied by commanders’ decisions.

In the contact phase, commanders inform themselves about the enemy’s size and composition and survey the potential battlefield. At the end of the contact phase, commanders decide whether to engage or evade. In case of engagement, forces are deployed and the battle begins.

Reading Map

I thought to have a few words about making contact on the strategic map and subsequent deployment. Turns out the draft has a couple thousand of them on the first topic, and the second isn’t yet fully elaborated. I split the lengthy whole into the following articles:

Oberon  Orc King (left)  Mordred  Thane of Gyrhawk Hold (right)
[Insert caption here…]

Orders of March

“I tend to speak of regiments, brigades and divisions rather than using historical terminology because everyone understands what these modern terms represent.”—Tony Bath, Setting Up a Wargames Campaign

Though speaking of an “elven regiment” irks to some degree, our simple campaign follows Bath’s lead. The advanced campaign may well devise not only differing denominations but varied organizations for armies of elves, orcs, halfolk, and other such cultures.

Before we talk about making contact with the enemy, we must know what our armies look like on the march. Below, I outline force composition, tactical march formations by terrain type, and prebattle formations.

Composition of Forces

In the Valormr Campaign, each commander on the strategic map leads an army—unless its units are separately deployed, as are the elves at campaign start. For our purposes, an army consists of a number of regiments. If necessary, a regiment may be further divided into two battalions. The smallest unit is a company, which is any number of figures of like troop type. A company of four armored foot, for example, or a company of five longbows.

“If, for the sake of argument, each army consists of 30 or more regiments, even if you possess enough troops to match these numbers, on the normal sized board their use may so crowd it as to inhibit maneuver and turn the battle into a simple slogging match” (Bath, 74).

As the number of miniatures in the figurine collection as well as space on the table for them is limited, we limit the force an army may deploy in a battle to one regiment. An army’s first regiment is the assault force. The rules assume that a second regiment, if any, supports the first, and a third and any other regiments are in reserve.

A commander may reassign regiments to these roles at the beginning of any half period. The first regiment, after taking losses in battle, for example, may be reassigned to reserve, the second to assault, and the third support. The assault regiment always leads the order of march, support follows, and the reserve trails.

Within an army, it is necessary to track the strength of each regiment. A regiment’s strength is a measure of its original figure count after losses. For example, a regiment of 20 figures (800 men) engages with the enemy, suffering eight figures in losses. The regiment’s strength is then 60%. Partials of multiple regiments may be reconstituted, and mercenaries might fill the ranks.

Although an army’s subunits might be dispatched across land and sea, we must be careful not to overcrowd the strategic map. These rules strive to keep the army together—or at least avoid splitting it up.

Each unit within a force always maintains unit integrity. That is, figures remain in company formation, companies within battalions, battalions within regiments. If necessary, assume that, within companies, figure bases touch with a half-figure distance between companies, one figure between battalions, and a distance of two figures separates regiments.

Tactical March Formations

Each force, represented by its commander figure, moves across the strategic map, usually in formation. When contact with the enemy is greater than nil, a force moves in tactical formation.

Advanced: Formations by Creature Type

Like different words for regiment, in a more complicated game, we might assume the formations below are most used by humans and devise differing formations for other creature types. In that case, different human cultures as well may then employ other formations to take best advantage of their own capabilities.

A column is a formation of units, one behind the other. A line is a formation of units, side by side. A column or a line may consist of any size unit: regiment, battalion, or company, and it may be as narrow as a single figure. Within the figure, the formation may be as narrow as a single soldier. A column is most often used in marching; a line in battle.

In our simple campaign, a force’s tactical formation is decided by the terrain type through which it moves.

Track and Mountain: Column of figures. Each figure represents 40 troops, marching in two files abreast, twenty ranks deep.

Road: Column of figures. As on a track but four files of troops by ten ranks.

Forest, Swamp, and Hill: Column of companies. Generally, a company forms itself in four files of figures by necessary depth. For example, a company of one to four figures marches in a single rank, five to eight in two ranks, and so on.

Clear: Column of battalions. A battalion, which is half a regiment, marches with its companies, each formed in four files as above, side by side. The regiment’s second battalion follows in like fashion.

Scouts Out

In tactical march formation, a commander may deploy a scout ahead of the advancing force. A scout is assumed to go up to a mile ahead of the force, so for our purposes, remains within the same hex. A scout costs no army points.

On map contact, a commander who has previously deployed a scout, rolls on the Scout table. A successful result indicates that the scout returns with more information than the commander would otherwise acquire. A captured result means the scout has been interrogated and may have given up information about the commander’s force.

Scout Table
Result Scout’s Disposition
1 Captured*
2 Killed
3-4 Unsuccessful
5-6 Successful†

* Capturing commander adds 1 to contact dice (explained later).
† Commander adds 1 to contact dice.

Multiple scouts may be deployed, in which case, the commander rolls multiple times, one for each, on the Scout table. But a commander may add no more than 1 to the contact dice for scouts. A commander may add 1 for his or her own scouts and another 1 for capturing the opponent’s scouts.

Prebattle Formation

The prebattle formation represents the fluid transition from the tactical march to the battle (or assault) formation. If the battle formation is that in which a force engages the enemy, the prebattle formation positions fighting units to more easily maneuver into battle formation once enemy units’ dispositions are known. In the ideal situation, a force transitions from prebattle to battle formation as it crosses into enemy missile range. For, once under fire, units must move quickly to engage the enemy or be depleted before their force is brought to bear.

When enemy contact is made, a force assumes a prebattle formation. When possible, in prebattle formation, units are formed outside enemy missile range, including that of catapults. Often, it is the prebattle formation which is deployed behind the baseline on the wargames table.

Base deployment

The commander decides the prebattle formation. These rules stipulate only the base deployment size, which is derived from the tactical march formation.

From the base unit of the march formation, a force’s base deployment is of the next larger unit.

Tactical March Formation Base Deployment
Column of figures, two by 20 troops One company
Column of figures, four by ten troops Three companies
Column of companies One battalion
Column of battalions One regiment

Deployed units may be positioned by the commander anywhere behind the baseline. Other units of the engaging force, at this point, are still in tactical march formation as they arrive. This base deployment may be modified by the results of the “contact dice,” which we get into next.

Initial Deployment
Demonstration of Base Deployment.

From a column of battalions, the Aeskrvald Prince deploys an entire regiment behind his baseline (foreground). On his right opposite, Annemie Tacx deploys from a column of figures, four by ten troops, to three companies on her baseline (background). On Aeskrvald’s left opposite, Minke Meine, from a column of figures, two by 20 troops, deploys a single company.

Deployment from a column of companies (not shown) is similar to that from a column of battalions. Columns of figures are shown for demonstration purposes only. Figures are not placed until their deployment.