Invader vs. Attacker Deployment Roll

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In DBA, each army is assigned an aggression factor that is used as a modifier to help determine whether the army will be the attacker or defender in a particular game. As used in DBA, aggression is not a measure of the army's military prowess or battlelust, but instead reflects the liklihood that a particular army would venture outside its region to raid or conquer the territories of others. Thus Agricola's Early Imperial Romans have an aggression of 3, whilst the warlike Caledonians have an aggression of 1. The use of aggression to determine attacker and defender neatly resolves the question of who deploys first and sets terrain in DBA, but it is based on the fiction that the invader will also always be the attacker. This was not always the case historically, as many invaders often picked the battlefield on which to make or receive an attack. Consider for example, the defensive deployment of Agricola (the invader) fighting the Caledonians at Mons Graupius.

The following methods are offered as variant rules to distingush DBA invaders from attackers:

Method One by Chris Brantley

This variant rule, inspired by Chris Pagano's proposal in the Fanaticus Forum, simulates the distinction between invader and invaded and attacker vs. defender by use of two die rolls. The first die roll (1D6) is modified by each army's aggression factor with the high score assuming the role of invader. The terrain type of the invaded is then used for terrain deployment purposes. The players then each roll an unmodified 1D6, with the high result assuming the role of attacker (reroll ties). The defender must then lay out terrain using the terrain type of the invaded army, and deploy normally.

In those cases where the invader is also the defender and a BUA is required, here are two options to prevent the invader from taking unfair advantage of the opportunity for BUA placement:

  1. BUA is always friendly to the attacker and must not be deployed in the defender's deployment zone.
  2. BUA is held by the defender (invader) and can be deployed normally.

In the instance where the BUA is held by the defender/invader, then the local denizens may be friendly to the defender/invader (1-3) or hostile (4-6). In the second instance, the denizens will not fight to protect the BUA against the attacker/invaded. Players can elect to determine whether the BUA denizens are friendly or hostile before begining the game, or can wait until the attacker/invaded attacks the ungarrisoned BUA (creating uncertainty as in the case of fording rivers).

Armies that have been depleted by casualties and defeats are less likely to assume the offensive unless in desperate straights or uniquely motivated. Hence in campaign games, players can modify the die roll to determine "attacker vs. defender" by a -1 for every two elements reduced from the normal twelve.

Method Two by James Doty

From what I read in history, choice of the battlefield was based on each general's need to protect his strategic position (maintain control of an area, gain supplies, communication, etc.) and gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield (select high ground, use poor terrain to restrict enemy movement/facilitate own ambush, etc.). Even when two armies were quite close to one another (especially during the Roman civil wars), they might not fight a battle because one side or the other felt at a disadvantage.

The current DBA rules allow for the defender to always set up terrain. In campaigns, the "defender" is the one stationary, or in his own territory. What if this is changed, at least as a house rule, so that after the determination of the location of the battle (i.e. the terrain type and aggression factors), each side rolls again to determine which general is successful in bringing the possibility of battle on ground of his own choosing? So for example, the Thracians and Athenians roll to see whether the battle will be in Hilly (Thracian) or Littoral (Athenian) terrain, but then each side rolls again to see who actually sets up the terrain.

The second die roll would be modified by several factors:

+1 for side that remained stationary in the area (for campaigns)
+1 for the side who owns the terrain
+1 for better general/general with more prestige
-1 if an army is out of supply

Example: Thracian and Athenian player each roll a die and add aggression factors. The Athenian player rolls higher, and is the "invader." The terrain placed will be hilly. The players each roll a die again, and the Athenian player rolls higher again. Now the Athenian player places the hilly terrain. Naturally he will place less than the maximum amount of terrain in order to assist his Spear in closing with the Thracian Auxilia. He has to place at least one steep hill, and he chooses 2 other features (a road and a forest for example) to place on the board.

What does this represent? The Athenian army is punishing the Thracians for a recent raid in the vicinity of Amphipolis. The army chases the Thracians into the hills, and by a stroke of luck, foresight, and skill, the Athenian general manages to catch the Thracians at a point of disadvantage and attacks.

I would advocate that this method of setup be assisted by some allowance for offering or refusing battle as well, so that the Thracian may decide to run for it, and try to offer battle in a more suitable location, at some penalty.

Marty Schmidt: You may need to standardize the size of the terrain features so that the defender who's territory the fight is in isn't totally hosed by the attacker picking 1 element base square of bad going and two roads.


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Last Updated: 18 Oct. 2004

Questions, comments, suggestions welcome.
Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.