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  #21  
Old 10-05-2015, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Redwilde View Post
Along the Oldman River, how likely could you arrange a DBA-sized battlefield with naught but the river and a gentle hill for terrain and no other patches of scrub, wood, or rough somewhere on the field?
DBA can't do coulees, which are "negative" hills. But leaving that aside for the moment...

On the Oldman River, no chance. Rivers are imbedded a hundred feet or more below the main surface of the prairie -- the favorite theory for that has to do with MASSIVE volume of the river during meltoff of the most recent ice age, and then coulees created mostly by wind erosion down to the level of the water. So the Mississippi river idea of water at the same level as the ground never happens.

There are no hills, gentle or otherwise, between the Black Hills (foothills to the Rockie Mountains) and ... the artificial ski hill created in Saskatchewan somewhere on a landfill. Very gentle rises in some areas, but nothing that would create hill advantage. Coulees excepted.

The sheltered riverbed is wooded, mostly. Some clear. Hard to say how dense the woods would have been back before farming, though. Anywhere protected from the wind, with easy access to water, would have been prime farming turf back then.

The expanse of coulees on either side of the Oldman River would extend much more than a DBA mapboard. The (early 20th century) train trestle crossing from one extended ridge of a coulee to another on the other side is a mile long (seriously, a mile-long railroad bridge), so the whole area from where the coulees start to where they end (with the river meandering in the middle) would be two miles or more; maybe twice the scale of a DBA mapboard. All of which would count as weird negative hills, going down to where the river is.

I'm not sure any of this should generalize to DBA, though. The coulees in Southern Alberta are a unique feature that I've never seen anywhere else on this continent or in Europe.
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  #22  
Old 10-05-2015, 03:05 PM
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Redwilde Redwilde is offline
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So not counting the negative hills, even if they were positive large plateaus they sound larger than a DBA-legal gentle hill, it sounds like any battlefield with the river would also include other bad going.

While the geographical details and peculiarities will definitely vary among various steppes, it is the nature of rivers that they will have more growth in their vicinity than might be the case not near the river, plus possible streamlets, other bits of bog, etc.

So for DBA terrain placement, it seems highly unrealistic to lay out Steppe terrain with a river and a gentle hill and not a single piece of bad going.
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  #23  
Old 10-05-2015, 06:23 PM
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So not counting the negative hills, even if they were positive large plateaus they sound larger than a DBA-legal gentle hill, it sounds like any battlefield with the river would also include other bad going.
Not sure I would go quite that far. But I would agree that many battlefields with rivers would also have other bad going. Usually on the actual river, not separate.

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Originally Posted by Redwilde View Post
While the geographical details and peculiarities will definitely vary among various steppes, it is the nature of rivers that they will have more growth in their vicinity than might be the case not near the river, plus possible streamlets, other bits of bog, etc.

So for DBA terrain placement, it seems highly unrealistic to lay out Steppe terrain with a river and a gentle hill and not a single piece of bad going.
Marsh isn't a feature of the cool, relatively dry grasslands (steppe) with which I am familiar. The groundwater is relatively far down, and the atmospheric humidity is low, and flooding (beyond flash flooding in dry creekbeds) is infrequent, so no marsh.

Patches of woods near (on!) the river would be fairly common, but not universal. To be a DBA patch of BGo, the woods would have to be fairly extensive. It would happen on rivers sometimes, but I wouldn't say "highly unrealistic" not to have it. When I was in central Turkey a summer or two ago there were some rivers with large stretches untreed.

It would be interesting to define a River differently, though. A river could have a patch of Woods or Marsh that it passes through, rather than separately. Not all rivers would have such a thing -- Arable rivers could be farmed down to very close to the river edge, and sometimes that's where the best farmland was.
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  #24  
Old 10-05-2015, 06:53 PM
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It would be interesting to define a River differently, though. A river could have a patch of Woods or Marsh that it passes through, rather than separately. Not all rivers would have such a thing -- Arable rivers could be farmed down to very close to the river edge, and sometimes that's where the best farmland was.
Yes, it would be very interesting and thoroughly appropriate to allow a river to pass through not-slopey area terrain.
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  #25  
Old 10-06-2015, 11:37 AM
El' Jocko El' Jocko is offline
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Originally Posted by david kuijt View Post
Jack may have a point about "too much terrain" in the DBA terrain generation system, but the idea that battles with significant terrain are odd or unusual (or rare!) hasn't been proven.
I agree that terrain was common on ancient and medieval battlefields. I'm not trying to say that battles were typically fought on a "pool table."

But I would still assert that for most battles, the primary fighting occurred in open terrain. Rivers may be crossed--but that happened before the real fight began. There may be woods and steep slopes on the flanks of the battlefield or to an armies rear, but the main clash rarely occurred in woods or on steep slopes.

Fighting on gentle slopes seems pretty common. But even here the DBA terrain system falls flat. My sense is that it would be more realistic if the entire DBA battlefield sloped up, gently, from one base edge to the other. Or if a single, very large, gentle hill, occupied one army's deployment zone.

Like I posted before, there are a couple of exceptions to the no-fighting-in-terrain rule. The first is an intentional ambush like Teutoberg Forest or Myriokephalon. Fighting in bad terrain is common for ambushes. The other situation is when one army sets up in a defensive position behind natural or man-made bad going--and the attacker decides to attack across the bad stuff. Both of those happened on occasion, though not that often.

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  #26  
Old 10-06-2015, 11:42 AM
El' Jocko El' Jocko is offline
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Any good terrain system must support historical terrain. It must also reduce the likelihood of munchkin bizarre terrain. Tools that reduce one thing (like the "roll for edge" on a standard square-board game) can and do have an impact upon the other. And as you know, the downside of "roll for edge" is that the munchkins choose radially symmetrical terrain (an X or diagonal ridgeline) rather than horizontally symmetrical terrain. An improvement, but not a large one.
Absolutely. A good terrain system will prevent players from creating bizarro terrain. Just getting rid of the die roll for board edge isn't enough by itself to create a good terrain system.

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  #27  
Old 10-06-2015, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by El' Jocko View Post
But I would still assert that for most battles, the primary fighting occurred in open terrain. Rivers may be crossed--but that happened before the real fight began. There may be woods and steep slopes on the flanks of the battlefield or to an armies rear, but the main clash rarely occurred in woods or on steep slopes.
I think you're right, although I'd caution against observer bias. We look down upon the battlefield as omnipotent gods. Some dude in the front rank might write up the battle differently. And it seems to me that "the main clash rarely occurred in woods or on steep slopes" is a fair description of most DBA battles right now.

Which doesn't mean I'm arguing against improving terrain systems.

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Originally Posted by El' Jocko View Post
Fighting on gentle slopes seems pretty common. But even here the DBA terrain system falls flat. My sense is that it would be more realistic if the entire DBA battlefield sloped up, gently, from one base edge to the other. Or if a single, very large, gentle hill, occupied one army's deployment zone.
Partly this is an issue of definitions. How steep a hill is "gentle" in DBA? Fairly steep, if that hill advantage allows Auxilia to fight even with Spear, etc. etc..

I agree that there are a lot of battles with continuous slope, but I'd guess that most of them wouldn't give a +1 to combat to the uphill side. That advantage is too large.

As an aside, when DS and I were creating the Five Earls battle on the Downs for the Embattled Isle scenario set, we tried to create a gentle slope that was more gentle than a straight +1. While it worked for that scenario, bound-based hill advantage is a complexity that I don't think is really worth introducing for terrain in general. Even if it does give a bit more granularity.
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  #28  
Old 10-06-2015, 12:30 PM
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Choosing to fight on rough ground is a very English thing.
Hastings, defend the hilltop.
Crécy, defend the ridge.
Agincourt, defend the mud plain closely hemmed in by woods on either side.

Field Battle with built-in ambush was a specialty of Hannibal, the Romans thought they were advancing towards an open plain battle but...

Battle of Tours, M. Hammer drew up his lines with hills and trees to his front to break up the Arabian cavalry.

That's just a quick run off the top of my head without any digging.

I think overall the terrain rules work pretty well for allowing the side that won maneuver to largely choose a field to their liking.

My only quibble is that there ought to be a hard requirement for some bad going, even if that is pushed off to the far flanks.
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  #29  
Old 10-06-2015, 08:34 PM
Dangun Dangun is offline
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Originally Posted by david kuijt View Post
And it seems to me that "the main clash rarely occurred in woods or on steep slopes" is a fair description of most DBA battles right now.
Here the word "main" is too weak.
I agree with your description of DBA games.

But the historical sources gives stronger evidence than just "main clash".
A fairer description of the sources would be the "vast majority" or "almost without exclusion" of clashes occur in fairly open terrain with the sources having no terrain features worthy of mention.

Hopping a couple of elements into a micro-forest or hiding them in an oversized muddy puddle - quite common in DBA - almost never happened in reality.

The idea that auxilia (ax) would seek out different terrain to deploy in than the legions (bd) would have been absurd to a general of the day, but quite common in wargames. The idea of moving units through forrests while deployed, almost unheard of in the sources. Sources might say a flank formed up next to a river, or beside a forest, but the idea of going into the terrain feature?

PS: If the Battle of Hastings, or Culloden etc. is "rough terrain" I think there may be differences in definition as to what constitutes "rough". They seem to me to be the queen-trying-to-play-lawn-tennis-rough?
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Last edited by Dangun; 10-06-2015 at 08:43 PM.
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  #30  
Old 10-06-2015, 10:14 PM
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Here the word "main" is too weak.
I agree with your description of DBA games.

But the historical sources gives stronger evidence than just "main clash".
A fairer description of the sources would be the "vast majority" or "almost without exclusion" of clashes occur in fairly open terrain with the sources having no terrain features worthy of mention.

Hopping a couple of elements into a micro-forest or hiding them in an oversized muddy puddle - quite common in DBA - almost never happened in reality.
Agincourt? Kephisos (now often called Halmyros)? Courtrai?

"Almost never" shouldn't allow me to think of three examples without even doing any research. All three of the above involve the vast majority of the fighting happening in an oversized muddy puddle.

We're arguing about adjectives (I agree with "majority" but disagree with "vast majority").

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The idea that auxilia (ax) would seek out different terrain to deploy in than the legions (bd) would have been absurd to a general of the day, but quite common in wargames.
There are lots of examples of bad-going troops that spent a lot of time in bad going -- but Roman Auxilia ain't that. The "Auxilia" of the Early Imperial Roman army are quite clearly something that should not be classified as DBA Auxilia. Based upon their behavior, their weapons, and how they were treated by contemporaries and their commanders. They should be Raiders, or perhaps even Blade.

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The idea of moving units through forrests while deployed, almost unheard of in the sources. Sources might say a flank formed up next to a river, or beside a forest, but the idea of going into the terrain feature?
Philip of Macedon vs. Phokia (steep hill)?

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PS: If the Battle of Hastings, or Culloden etc. is "rough terrain" I think there may be differences in definition as to what constitutes "rough". They seem to me to be the queen-trying-to-play-lawn-tennis-rough?
I don't speak to Culloden, and I wasn't the one who brought up Hastings, but historically Hastings had marshy areas in what was later made into the fishpond of the abbey. Nothing major, but not lawn tennis either.
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