Saturday, 21 July 2012

An Assyrian Writes...

The thoughts of the Assyrian commander at the Apocryphal Well:

"I've been following your reflections on Parum Pugna and those who have left comments on our battle. As I've not joined any of the means of leaving a comment on the site I thought I'd share a few thoughts in response which you can post or not as you think.

The issue seems to centre around the total destruction/disintegration of the Assyrian Army and Pyrrhic losses of the Egyptians and whether a halt should have been called before that point perhaps by some form of Army Morale system.

The rules deal with morale, I think successfully, differently to some others.

Let me give some examples:

At the beginning of the battle the Assyrian Horse Archers suffered 3 hits from one round of firing. Knowing that all units cease to exist [as an active unit: they go back into the box but in reality men don't just disappear] on 7 hits this felt to me as commander that they had suffered 50% casualties though this represents effectiveness not deaths. Many rules call for a morale test at this level of casualties while others call for a test for heavy casualties from one round of fire. Parum Pugna rules don't - they don't have to because their commander either uses them more carefully or risks losing them altogether. This key unit wasn't withdrawn from danger successfully and soon was gone.

In the first stage of the battle the Egyptians were to some extent wrong footed and their left wing became their vanguard and it was crushed by Assyrian cavalry aided by light troops. Many rules would have called for an Army morale test at this point and the Egyptians may well have either withdrawn as a whole or found several units running away. With Parum Pugna the morale effect was on you the Egyptian Commander, I guess it was the low point of your game, some players might have given up at that point without morale rules forcing their hand. You chose to try and pull the game around and reorganise and this you did in effective fashion among other things making it a far better gaming experience..

During the fighting with the Assyrian heavy cavalry the Assyrian commander was killed. Many rules would have called for an Army morale test at that point. Parum Pugna didn't. If I'd had lost a morale test at what was the highwater mark for the Assyrians I could have felt cheated of my success. Instead under Parum Pugna it just made it that harder to win because the general's bonuses which are a key factor in bolstering units aggression and defence were lost while the Egyptian general helped keep the vital chariot formations in being.

Now to the Assyrian fight to the death and whether this is more a wargamery [ugly word] thing or not. The battle was very close and so until the last couple of moves it did seem worth continuing but I think there is a more telling point. The argument seems to be that the surviving Assyrians at some point would have left the field to save their skins. My argument is would they?

First they were armoured infantry so how were they going to run away from light missile troops and more especially the chariots? There are no rules to say the chariot horses were more exhausted than the infantrymen. They faced death or slavery so had little to lose in going forwards rather than backwards.

Second the battle was for a vital water supply. Without access to water how far could they have got through the desert if they had opted to march away and were not pursued?

Third, we are the Assyrians one of the cruelest races of history. If we had returned successfully to the main army and our king and reported our defeat how many of us do you think would have met with welcome smiles and cups of wine and how many of us would have been impaled to encourage the rest of the army to march against the terrifying Egyptians?

Fourth we were Northerners, the Egyptians soft Southerners would we really run away?

So in conclusion, I think you should leave the rules alone. The inclusion of morale in the pips and the morale swings of the players works well enough. It was a cracking game in all respects where both players probably think - I'd like to fight that again only this time I'd do this instead. Parum Pugna is too elegant a system to need an Army morale mechanism superglued onto the side."

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