What Does a Game Model

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What Does a Game Model

In Saga, a game represents a skirmish between two forces, each of about 25 to 75 men. Each figure represents a single man and nothing really abstract is going on. These skirmishes can be raids, border disputes, and acts of revenge for some perceived slight that is big enough to raise a sweat and shed some blood, but not so large that you have called out the clan and raised an army (say, at least 200 men per side).

For those using Saga to play out actions in The Hundred Years War, I see the game representing a skirmish splintering off from a chevauche√©. Again, about 25 to 75 men per side with the goal of getting in, getting stuck in, and and getting out. No sieges, capturing and holding terrain, or any of that.

The supplement The Raven's Shadow put forth an interesting concept with the Strathclyde Welsh as a faction: that activities could be taking place off-board and affect the battle on-board. Carrying forward that concept, I see how it can be used for Meso-American warfare, which did not really go in for skirmishes or small forces, per se.

John Pohl writes, in Aztec Warrior: AD 1325-1521:
Once the battleline had extended itself, [the officers] then walked up an down the rear using whistles and to get the men's attention and barked out orders of attack or withdrawal depending upon the progress of the battle.

So, if you imagine that each side's battlelines are just off of the board, beyond their baselines, you start to get the concept of how Meso-American warfare can be represented.

Hostilities generally opened with a mutual barrage of arrows, darts, and sling bullets at 50 yards in an effort to disrupt formations. The Aztecs employed bowmen and slingers from conquered provinces who could be deployed as mobile units either at the front of the line to instigate combat after which they retired to the rear, or directed to the flanks to lay down harassing fire. Frontline veterans were reliant on their superior armor and heavy, broad shields to withstand the rain of enemy projectiles; but sufficient injuries would soon inflicted among the youngest and most lightly armed troops, so that a charge would soon become a necessity.

So this is the essence of skirmishing in front of the battlelines. Missile troops out to harass the enemy, superior troops out to protect the missile troops and charge when the enemy is starting to waver.

Aztec war was a running war. The vanguard depended upon sheer inertia to try to smash through the enemy line and downhill attacks were considered optimal. The subsequent impact must have been horrific. Once troops on both sides had recovered, however, combatants would disperse widely into one-on-one engagements so that they could swing their deadly weapons unhindered. Slashing and parrying with the macuahuitl and shield demanded a tremendous expenditure of energy and so men were circulated every 15 minutes in order to keep the center strong.

So, that is the concept of what a game in A Meso-American Saga represents. The missile exchange to soften the enemy, followed by a charge to break their units. Doing so represents potentially softening this portion of the enemy's battleline so that a gap can be exploited. That exploitation takes place after the game's end, and could be played out with a set of rules designed for larger battles. But the game models the attempt to soften a portion of the enemy battleline.