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The question of armies


Oleksandr

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So, I looked through several tables of battle sizes, and noticed that armies in it are razer.. big. I mean, really Big. This correspond to average army sizes as described in chronicles, but problem is, modern historical consensus is that this numbers are greatly exaggerated for added "epicness" (especially on enemy side 🤣). 

It should be noted that when history as real science started to form, armies just reached sizes mentioned in chronicles, thus for a long time this numbers was used without critical approach. This problem still linger.

As example, in Book of battle, Agincourt was given as RL example of large battle (25000 combatants). Modern estimates that i found stated that , of the troops that actually participated in battle (for example, armed servants didn't), there was 1,5-1,7 thousands on English side, and 4-4,6 on French side. And that is battle involving much larger France. And, this is battle from LMA, when population of Britain was around 4 times bigger than during Uther's (in BoU, if i remember correctly, about 1 million people) and especially in Arthur's times. 

Question there not only in historical realism, but in game itself - in realistically tiny army PK's actions and accomplishments would be much more meaningful 😉 😎

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31 minutes ago, Oleksandr said:

modern historical consensus

You have to be careful with modern historical consensus. The modern historical consensus is that the king Arthur never existed in the first place 😆

So, yes, there is a big exageration about the numbers. For epicness. And I think it's a good thing.

In the community, there is basically two tendencies:

  • - the historical approach (like your way), trying to be faithful to the 5/6th century,
  • - the mythical approach, trying to be faithful to the myth of the king Arthur, with all his knights and ladies,

As I said, there was no king Arthur in real history, no round Table, no Merlin, no knights in shining armor, no fair lady under some curse. And yet, it is what KAP is all about IMO.
 

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2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

In the community, there is basically two tendencies:

  • - the historical approach (like your way), trying to be faithful to the 5/6th century,
  • - the mythical approach, trying to be faithful to the myth of the king Arthur, with all his knights and ladies,

Well, KAP already try (quite successfully) to combine realistic and mythical elements, so... why not shift a little bit one component or another?😄

2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

So, yes, there is a big exageration about the numbers. For epicness.

Personally, i think that emphasis on established epic heroes (and villains) could be more interesting than on thousands of nameless, faceless combatants (who mostly stays on background anyway) 😄

Edited by Oleksandr
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Personally, I find the Battle Sizes in Book of Battles II too large, and the examples conflicting with what is stated as the army sizes in Book of the Warlord.

As an example:

Clash is termed as 'a couple of hundred knights', and then it states 'A large raiding force but fewer than all the troops of an earl'. This is pushing it. Only Roderick and some of the Dukes can muster more than a hundred knights. Also, the scale range of the clash is insane, covering from 25 knights to 250 knights, a factor of ten!

Engagement is 'Several hundred knights' (250-750) and 'All the knights of two earls', with the example of 'Clarence v. Gloucester'. Alas, Eldol's land wealth is missing from Table 3.1 in BotW, but assuming the best case scenario and he has £1600, this split into two factions of Clarence and Gloucester is 80 knights each, not hundreds.

This continues to Large (All knights of Logres is quoted as 9000, but BotW and BoU says ~2600) and Huge (all knights of Britain ~20000, where as BoU implies ~5000).

Now part of that is that the number of knights and the population does go up towards Arthur's time, and BoB2 numbers reflect that better. There is a Battle Size for Uther Period in BotW, Appendix J, which cuts down the BoB2 numbers roughly by a factor of 5. I still find the BoB2 numbers high, even for Twilight.

My personal rule of thumb is:
Fight (i.e. normal mano-a-mano): max 10 combatants per side
Skirmish: max 30 combatants per side (i.e. a patrol vs. a raiding group)
Clash: max 100 combatants per side (i.e. two barons going at it)
Engagement: max 300 combatants per side (i.e. two great barons, or an alliance of barons)
Small battle: max 1000 combatants per side (i.e a dukedom gathering its forces)
Medium battle: max 3000 combatants per side (i.e. Logres sends an expedition)
Large battle: max 10000 combatants per side (i.e. Logres fights a defensive, important battle)
Huge battle: max 30000 combatants per side (i.e. All of Britain fighting for the High King)
 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Morien said:

Now part of that is that the number of knights and the population does go up towards Arthur's time

Than again, as i said in another thread, realistically, population should have declined, at least until early Conquest period. And even prosperity that Arthur rule brought couldn't boost population grows that much. And then there was Wasteland and yellow plague...

54 minutes ago, Morien said:

Huge battle: max 30000 combatants per side (i.e. All of Britain fighting for the High King)

That around 3% of whole population, still somewhat to big for single battle. 🤔

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1 hour ago, Oleksandr said:

Than again, as i said in another thread, realistically, population should have declined, at least until early Conquest period. And even prosperity that Arthur rule brought couldn't boost population grows that much. And then there was Wasteland and yellow plague...

IMHO, there might be a small slump in Anarchy, mainly attributable to Saxon expansion, but I doubt it would be a huge drop. Then the population would start recovering through Boy King. Sure, there are plenty of battles, but most of them are between armies rather than a genocidal campaign to murder peasants. Then there is likely a baby boom with Conquest and in particular Romance. The Yellow Pestilence knocks things down again, I agree, and the Wasteland likely knocks the population back to Uther levels, before the recovery starts in Twilight, only to get cut short by Camlann. So I could see maybe double the Uther population just prior to Yellow Pestilence, but not five times higher. And even that doubling would be ahistorically quick population growth, but possible, with the Enhancement of Britain and all that.

1 hour ago, Oleksandr said:

That around 3% of whole population, still somewhat to big for single battle. 🤔

It was a maximum number, not the minimum (which would be ~10000). The battles that would qualify would be Badon, maybe Autun and/or Saussy, and Camlann. All the others would be Large Battles. Besides, it is more of a rule of thumb than a solid criterion. You can have a bigger battle if one of the sides is even bigger. So for instance 6000 Cymri facing 18 000 Saxons would certainly qualify for a Huge Battle in my opinion.

Edited by Morien
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On 11/19/2021 at 6:02 PM, Morien said:

Then the population would start recovering through Boy King. Sure, there are plenty of battles, but most of them are between armies rather than a genocidal campaign to murder peasants.

I'm not sure about this. He faced combined armies of all saxon kingdoms for several years, in the end largest so far saxon army  marched through half of Logres (and some of the most populous parts), most likely plundering all the while. Before this, rebel force, combined might of 12 kings (+many other lords), also wrecked havoc. And saxons and other enemies probably used oportunity to raid while king was busy.

Question there not only in people killed directly, long lasting economic effects (Including on child mortality) and general disruption of life wouldn't help demographics. I mean, it's hard to reproduce while hiding in the forest...

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Other point about this tables, is quite small percentage of knights per army. Even if knight-equivalents from other cultures was excluded (and it's unlikely that most battles expected to be against not-feudal foes). Averages on both tables are between 1/5 and 1/10.

(i must repeat that i think that defeating powerful knight (especially one PK had history with) are more interesting then defeating dozen of random generic footmen. Additionally, fighting personally seams more heroic then sending commoners to fight instead)

While in BoB later royal units said to have 1/7 knight ratio, counting squires (which i wouldn't), as i understand standard feudal obligation still would be 2 soldiers per knight? Even then, in older books, in descriptions of regions and their armies, many examples has much different ratios, some had more knights then soldiers. And this wouldn't be ahistorical. At Agincourt nearly half of french army was (mostly dismounted) knights. I hope that wasn't the reason they acted so stupid... There was cases of all-knight units up to several hundreds operating alone. Another interesting example - Battle of Kircholm (1605), when PLC army had 1000 infantry and 2600 cavalry, of this 2100 winged hussars (de facto knights), with result completely opposed to Agincourt. Especially noticeable given in what era this happened. 

Personally, i think that such RL examples provide good basis for even more knight-centric game. 😁

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
9 hours ago, Oleksandr said:

Speaking of BoB. In rules for fighting multiple opponents you can engage 3 enemy at once. But in BoB there several instances when PK attacked by 4+ enemies (and some counts as X2 and X3). I understand correctly that PK had to fight them in waves, and this would count as single melee round? 

Can you give the page numbers? I am not that well-versed with BoB2 that I would be able to remember those instances based on your description.

Edit: I am guessing this, from surprise table, p. 57: "Unit may either Run Away or Stand vs. Two, but against double the normal number of enemies
from each unit (i.e. versus four opponents each)."

However, it says very clearly in p. 68: "More than one opponent may attack a character at a time: up to three footmen; two mounted men; or one
mounted man and two on foot. Any number of missile units can shoot at a single unit."

So if in the surprise case the PK is attacked by two melee units on foot (for a total of 4 men on foot), only 3 of those opponents can engage him. If both units are horsed, only 2 horsemen can engage him, and if one is a melee unit and the other is a missile unit, all four can engage him.

Speaking of 'x2' units, I consider them to be 'cheating', and I would house-rule it. If they get two attacks, then the PKs should get two attacks: one to defend, the other to fight in melee. But that house-rule is clearly against RAW.

 

Edited by Morien
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Total size of the armies is a background detail that to my mind often doesn’t even need to be specified.   I think the descriptions of battle size in qualitative terms, “the whole armies of two barons,” “all the knights in Logres,” etc. are practically more useful for the GM a lot of the time than worrying about exactly how many people that is.

Medieval literature is capable of having battles with combatants in the hundreds of thousands that nevertheless are decided by the exploits of a single knight, so I personally don’t feel there needs to be a conflict between unrealistically large armies and focusing on individuals, if what you’re going for is mostly genre.   It’s another area where I’d like to see the game lay out different options and discuss different possible feels you could have for your game by twiddling the dials.  “If you want a gritty, pseudo-realistic “historical” Arthur, use Column A.  If you want a fairly exact simulation of realistic numbers for England in the time corresponding to a particular Phase, use Column B, by Phase.  If you want medieval romance, take column B and multiply all numbers by 10… no, actually, make that 100. 🙂” 

I’d sort of like Glory for Battles to be more sensitive to how consequential a given battle is, and how much PKs contributed to the outcome.

Edited by Voord 99
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14 hours ago, Morien said:

Edit: I am guessing this, from surprise table, p. 57: "Unit may either Run Away or Stand vs. Two, but against double the normal number of enemies
from each unit (i.e. versus four opponents each)."

This, + when flanking you face 1d6-2, so from 0 to 4. When you pursue and meet rearguard, or when you attacking enemy camp, you can meet up to 6 opponent.

Question is, after you dealt with this 2-3 enemies you was engaged with, you fight the rest? Because rules for extended melee states that enemies are replaced each time...

14 hours ago, Morien said:

Speaking of 'x2' units, I consider them to be 'cheating', and I would house-rule it. If they get two attacks, then the PKs should get two attacks: one to defend, the other to fight in melee. But that house-rule is clearly against RAW.

Most of such examples has "mob" ar "horde" in their description, so it make sense. Most of them are fairly inferior individually.

(there was one example when it was explicitly stated that it isn't double number of enemies, but very skilled and disciplined ones)

Edited by Oleksandr
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55 minutes ago, Oleksandr said:

This, + when flanking you face 1d6-2, so from 0 to 4. When you pursue and meet rearguard, or when you attacking enemy camp, you can meet up to 6 opponent.

Question is, after you dealt with this 2-3 enemies you was engaged with, you fight the rest? Because rules for extended melee states that enemies are replaced each time...

Camp is a bit of a special case. My reading of it is that each PK would meet 1d6 enemies during the pillaging of the camp, and each of these foes would be fought for one melee round, in succession. So this is more of a case of each PK going to pillage stuff, and running into individual enemies during that time, rather than a host of them jumping him all at once.

Flanking makes it very plain that the normal rules for outnumbering apply. Read page 40. This implies very strongly to me that my initial reading of the Surprise is valid, too.

55 minutes ago, Oleksandr said:

Most of such examples has "mob" ar "horde" in their description, so it make sense. Most of them are fairly inferior individually.

(there was one example when it was explicitly stated that it isn't double number of enemies, but very skilled and disciplined ones)

Sorry, I remembered x2 wrong. I meant 'MM' units. No problem with hordes.

In fact, there is no need for there to be 'MM' units. Just say that it is two guys, one chucking a javelin and the other fighting with a melee weapon, vs. each PK, and I would have no problem with it. Indeed, this is exactly like some x2 units are described, so there is no reason Wotan's Men would get special treatment save to make them more 'cool'.

Edited by Morien
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  • 2 weeks later...
2 hours ago, Oleksandr said:

Slightly off topic, but. So, mounted bonus apply to every attack in the case of the split. How about other such bonuses, like Tyr religious bonus (+5 to sword)?

No. These bonuses (inspiration, religious, magic weapon) apply to the skill before splitting.

Circumstantial bonuses (combined actions, positioning, mounted vs. unmounted) apply after you split the skill.

The easy question is: does this bonus matter on who/where the opponent is, or does it apply to your skill regardless of what you are doing? If the former, after the split. If the latter, before the split.

Example:
You are fighting a horseman and a footman, while on a horse yourself. Clearly, the mounted vs. unmounted applies only on the footman, so it is applied only after you split your skill between the horseman (no modifiers) and the footman (+5/-5 after you split the skill).
However, inspiration gives you +10 (or +5 in 6E) to your skill if you are inspired regardless of who you are attacking, so it modifies your base Sword skill, and then you split.

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