Collins Epic Wargames
A few days ago I was asked by Mats Larsson a backer on the new Polyversal Kickstarter campaign about the pros and cons of different configurations and sizes of battlegroups and this got me thinking.
Before I go into giving my thoughts on the question I think it’s worth going over some of the basics first, so let’s start at the beginning
Polyversal is a unit based game and a unit is made up of 1 or more model, the only stipulation is each unit contains 1 type of model – so a unit might be 1 medium tank, or maybe 3 small tanks, but it can’t be 1 medium tank and 2 small tanks
Your units are deployed in battlegroups and each battle group contains between 1 and 7 units, one of these units is the commander
You activate units during a turn and they carry out the orders you have assigned to them (usually at the start of the turn)
So far so good, but next we have to think about the turn sequence which follows the following process
- Issue orders – for units within command range of its command unit you can issue orders, those outside are stuck with the order they had last turn
- Pick a commander and determine initiative
- Activate units within command range
- Activate units outside of command range
Steps 2 and 3 are the important ones as you do those steps multiple times, so once you have placed your orders each player picks a commander and rolls a dice equal to the commander’s effectiveness dice and whoever rolls highest (there are a few modifiers) wins the initiative and the difference in dice rolls is the number of units in that battlegroup that can be activated.
Now you can pick the same commander more than once and you can pick commanders in any order and even return to commanders later in the turn (as long as that Battlegroup has units in command radius that haven’t activated yet)
Once you have activated all units within command radius players take turns activating units outside of command range.
Actually we should discuss command range as this is an important mechanic, the command range is equal to double the commander’s effectiveness dice in inches so a commander with a D8 effectiveness has a command range of 16” and don’t forget a commander’s effectiveness dice can drop during the game so command range is fluid
So taking all this in mind what are the pro’s and cons on building battlegroups of different sizes
Big battlegroups, well I see these as fulfilling 2 roles on the battlefield, attack and defense. Having 7 units in 1 battlegroup when you’re attacking means that you will be able to activate a lot of these units at once (if you are lucky with initiative rolls) but usually it’ll take a couple of phases to get them all activated. This isn’t as bad as it sounds as it does give you the chance to activate a few units to sucker your opponent out, before you activate some more and do a counter attack. The downside to big battlegroups is keeping every unit in command range as the battle progresses.
However, a big battlegroup in defense is a great option as you can place some units on Overwatch and know that they’ll keep this order even if they fall out of command range.
Small battlegroups I see as fulfilling 2 roles on the battlefield, recon and flanking. Having small 2 unit battlegroups scouting ahead of your main force is a great tactic, they can grab objectives, disrupt enemy battlegroups and generally be a pain in the arse to your opponent. Having scouting units on the flanks is another time honoured tactic (hey if it was ok for the Romans its ok for us). The benefit of smaller battlegroups is you know you’ll be able to activate them all at once (most of the time) and it’s easy to keep them all in command range. The downside is they are fragile and your command units will often find themselves coming under fire as they won’t have units up ahead able to screen them, which is something bigger battlegroups can do.
So which size is better big or small, well neither really. What is important is designing your battlegroups to carry out specific tasks on the battlefield and choose the size of battlegroup to carry out that task