Tactical Surprise

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DBA provides a straight heads-up battle between two armies who are both deployed for battle and aware of their opponent's dispositions.  There is no mechanism in the rules for tactical surprise, as when the Nervi launched a mass attack on Caesar's legions at Sambre as they were dispersed setting up camp.  Tactical surprise connotes a sudden or unexpected attack. The essence of tactical surprise is that the defender is not prepared for the attack and is typically in a state of disorganization, either having to deploy from a line of march directly into combat or having troops dispersed and unable to provide mutual support.  The suddenness and strength of the attack may also cause panic and adversely affect morale.

The following system was adapted from a scenario variant developed by Terrance McPartland to simulate tactical surprise in a Big Battle re-creation of the Sambre.  At the start of the game, the surprised player's elements fight at -1 in combat rolls and are considered out of command control for movement (except for the CnC element itself).   The surprised player keeps a running tally of pips rolled.  When the total exceeds 12, the combat modifier is removed. When the total exceeds 24, the command/control limitation reverts to normal.   In a Big Battle game, tallies would be kept for each command.

In the Sambre Big Battle game, a slightly different system was used.  Tactical surprise modifiers applied only to the Roman Blade elements, which were subject to two penalties:

(1) Roman Blade (only) fight with -1 to combat rolls.

(2) Roman Blade (only) are always out of command.

Each Roman command keeps a running tally of their pips, and when the total exceeds 12, he may choose to cancel either penalty (1) or (2). When the total exceeds 24, the other penalty is lifted.

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Last Updated: 24 April 2007

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