Info and data for fans of the play-by-mail games Duel II, Forgotten Realms, and Hyborian War from Reality Simulations, Inc

Composing your army

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by Vincent Wong

This article deals with two aspects of composing your army in FRPBM. Firstly, tactical aspects in getting the best mileage for your composition, Secondly for the fun of your fancy. However, we will look into great details for the first part and touch lightly on the second as we all need very little suggestion for imaginations what we can do.

Lets take a look at what we start off with in various positions, with that then we can have a better understanding what to do if you are in that particular situation. We have to remember that not all realms are created equal, just different.

Starting
Human
Communities:
1 Town
1 Village
1 Town
2 Settlements
3 Villages2 Village

2 Settlements

1 Village
4 Settlements
Total
Treasury:
3636363636
Total
Orders:
1212121212
Total
Gold
Production:
2424242424
Total
Hexes:
23346
Composition:Town:

4 Garrison
1 Heavy Infantry
1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmisher
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison

1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmishers
1 MilitIa

Town:
4 Garrison

1 Heavy Infantry
1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmisher
1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers

1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison
1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison

1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison
1 Light Cavalry

1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison
1 Light Cavalry

1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison
1 Light Cavalry
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison

1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Village:
2 Garrison
1 Light Cavalry

1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Settlement:

1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers

1 Militia

Settlement:
1 Garrison
1 Skirmishers
1 Militia

Composition
Cost:
6766696867

Alternate Main Characters:

Character
Type:

Items Type:

Lord
Mithral Weapons
Enchanted Chainmail
Arch Mage

Javelins of Lightning
Cloak of Protection

High Priest
Enchanted Weapons
Enchanted Platemail
Master Thief

Enchanted Bows
Boots of Speed

Character
Cost:

135

130

135

130

Choosing your starting composition is very important to your critical success factors. Please keep in mind there is no right or wrong composition maybe just a little better or little worse compared to your neighbouring realm. Choosing your realm sometimes you need to keep in mind the kind of challenge you want to give yourself. Do you wish to prove to yourself that you are good? Or Simply to win the game no matter what? If you are looking for a challenge then treat the game like a game of golf with handicaps; and if you simply just want to win then you choose the best composition you can have yourself.

The game starts off with a default of Lord for the main character, this will go for most standby positions as they are defaults, unless the position has been run by another player from the start. Personally, I have tried most combinations except for the Master Thief, and I would like to try that in my next campaign if possible, but then I have to see if I have the opportunity to do so. I normally would prefer to start with a High Priest or Arch Mage, then you will start your force with a strong magic attack.

The reason I have put out a table showing the starting combinations is to show that various starting situations have their own unique strenghts and weaknesses. Starting from a Town and Village, you have the strength to immediately begin conquering communities from the word “GO”; corversely on the otherside of the spectrum, you lack the strenght to start conquering let alone defend yourself – in this case your best advantage is coverage. Most likely your communities will be spread out and looking at your starting units you have plenty of scouts but no heavy hitters; and hopefully plenty of luck.

Understanding your weakness and strengths is the starting point in composing your army, and to make better armies a good understanding of what and how combat happens that will assist you in choosing what troops you need. The neat thing is that you start off with neutral human troops and characters (War of the Avatar Scenario), this will allow you to adapt to your locality. And if your area is populated with predominent alignment troops you can focus your army into 2 types Neutral and Good, or Neutral and Evil units. Personally I prefer to add a 3rd group – strictly neutrals this is in preparation for summoning of my avatar (having a neutral set of troops following my main character I have the freedom to choose the Avatar of my choice whether evil, good or neutral.)

My suggestion is to immediately supplement where you are weak so that you improve in that area otherwise it becomes an Achilles heel for you. For positions that can’t recruit any heavy hitters (units with 3 hits and above) the best supplement is numbers – get a few of the same, archers are good for a start. And for positions that do not have coverage, is to send more scouts as early as possible. Lets put the game into three stages burrowing some terms from Chess: Openning, Middle Game, and End Game.

Openning Game: Early in the game your best chance in getting units that wield magic is characters like wizards, priest. and witch doctors unless you are lucky enough to recruit a wandering band of uncommitted units with magic casters, while avoiding crafting items. Look at the terrain, if on difficult terrain go for faster moving units, avoiding slow units that are slower than 40MPs but will generally cost a bit more gold. Make a rule of thumb, recruit a character every 7 or 8 units of standard troops. Your credo will be Expand, Expand, Expand. You must be faster than your immediate neighbour. Slow units at this stage doesn’t help. You have to constantly keep in mind, to prevent attrition of units due to recklesness of combat. Always use superior forces to overwhelm your enemies, this has 2 benefits – firstly – reduce your casualty rate (that means you will be recruiting to increase the size of the army and not replacing lost units), second all your units will gain experience (that will mean better combat results in the future.)

Middle Game: This is when you have establish a safe place to build from, you can start to build a backup force. You can begin to consider slow units for you to leave behind. Alternatively, build a very fast force to patrol the area. So that you can respond to any threat without pulling your main forces from expansion duty, your backup force should be able to respond from one end to another, it should consist of fast troops like Medium Cavalry, Light Calvary, and some magic wielding characters. And if you are building a slow defensive force such as a pike force you can begin to supplement your troops with items (arrow of directions, balistae, oil of burning, etc.)

End Game: This will be sometime near turn 20. The changing of Balance of Power when Avatars start popping out. If you plan to bring a strong avatar out. Start doubling your scouting force. This can be done with recruiting tons of Light Cavalry in turn 16 or 17 (remember it takes one turn for unit to come out before starting to move, it would be better to recruit them at the fringe of your realms so that you can begin capturing hexes immediately.) The reason you want to do this is to increase the amount of points you can have for summoning your avatar by increasing your hexes owned. It is a fine balance you have to do, the more avatar points, the less gold you have to spend later in increasing its hits. Having lots of units owned will accelarate the experience points you earn moving you closer to the top as well. Towards this end, you can begin increasing the ratio of characters to standard units. maybe like 1 to 5 or 4.

Organizing your forces is just as important as what troops to recruit. A good understanding of movement and how movement is conducted in the game will definitely help. My suggestion is to make squads, and combining a few squads into platoons, and two or three platoons into a main force. Most likely in the game you can build about 3 to 4 main forces, more than that would mean a trade off somewhere. You will have to balance your gold you need to summon your avatar or to make more main forces. Remember a main force can be easily wipe out by a lone strong avatar, so choose wisely.

A squad should typically strong enough to capture a village or a moderately defended town. It should be at least a sizeable force to large force with a well balance force. Personally, I prefer to make fast cavalry squads composing of the following: 3 med cavalry, 2 cav arc, 2 light cavalry, 2 priest, 1 wizard, with an optional Bandit, and some items boosting defense or attack. As a side note, try using the unit with most experience and hits as the leading unit, leading all other units and items including characters like wizards or priest. There is a tendency for players to use their characters to be leading units – as they usually are condition to think characters as leaders, I personnally use them as support troops rather than leaders since they have only 1 hit point, the chances of them dying is a lot higher, thus making the chances of reorganizing your troops when you leader dies higher.

Have a very experience squad to be a platoon leader, leading a few squads. Having such a command structure allows you to break and rejoin any squad anytime. If for example, along the way to your main target your platoon spots an interesting target you can break off a squad to capture the target and rejoin the platoon without diverting your platoon in the following turn. Also I find experienced units tend to survive most battles, so reducing the need to reorganize should the leading unit dies.

If your force is not organized, then you will always spend too much time and orders to reorganize your forces, and when your leading unit dies, you will have a hell of a time reorganizing your forces, typically wasting several orders. While an organized army will need maybe only 1 or 2 orders.

The second aspect of the game is purely for fun without real regard for winning. I have known players who role-play their realms, for example one can play a evil character only using evil and neutral align units. Or, a player who uses only cavalry, or only elves or half-elves. Or a racial bigot who uses only humans, etc. If you really want a challenge go for strictly non-magic units, like a barbarian who despises all magic users. The fun is really be able to hold your own while maintaining your personal principles and objectives on the game.

Happy Gaming.

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