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The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

September 12, 2005

My Thoughts on Changing the Command Rules

For those of you who have been in the dark, starting when War Drums is released the command rules will have their most significant changes since the game began: out of command units no longer limp along at speed 2. To be honest, the old "Speed 2 Rule" felt to me to me like it was a hold over from the some of the other wargaming rules that reflected larger scale battles. When simulating hundreds to thousands of combatants, especially in Napoleonic style engagements, command really is that important. But the D&D Miniatures Game is about heroic battles, not just any old heroic battles but heroic battles done D&D style. Heroic battles with adventuring parties full of independent thinkers encountering strange and dangerous monsters. Most importantly these heroes don't play around with jigsaw puzzles just to pick the field of battle.

But what effect will the rule change have? I feel that the speed 2 rule has had the most overwhelming effect of lost or poor command in the current rule, to the point of overshadowing the other and more strategic uses of command. What are some of these other aspects of command that are still important?

Rallying -- Unless you are under command you cannot rally from a rout. This is a bigger issue in 100pt play, which I fear may disappear from all but sealed play. But in 200pt play you can count on losing some morale saves some part of the time. Without the ability to rally those basically become "save or die" rolls.
Initiative -- Clearly a better commander lets you pick your time to act. The new 8 figure limit reduces the impact, but there will always be times that going first will always be better. Also, Commander 0 beats no commander in a tie. Would a Commander -1 beat no commander?
Command Effects -- These can turn a mediocre sealed band into a fearsome constructed cross-faction beast. They can also be the tech that turns a competitive constructed band into a champion.
Morale Bonus -- This is more an advantage for the Lawful factions, with their financially accessible commanders with ratings of 5 or more. This can turn a 1 in 4 shot into an even money bet and turn some of the better creatures that will almost never find a route to rout off the board.
Terrain and Setup Initiative -- Not only are the command rules changing, but the setup rules are changing to speed up play. Now players will roll initiative to pick the field of battle and then again to pick their initial positions. Controlling this aspect of the game can turn the tide as much, and possibly more than, crippling the speed of the bulk of your warband.

There is also some spill over to Independent creatures and those with Improved Coutnersong. While the Speed 2 rule seems to be the most overwhelming reason to bring creatures with Countersong into play the new rules really don't break the real benefits that much. Almost anytime you could place anyone under a Contersong sphere they could just Rush to you anyway, defeating the speed 2. It's the lack of morale bonuses and preventing of rallies that provide the real secret power of Improved Countersong. With the new rule Independent creatures can still rally without a commander. This makes those creatures merely overcosted for that ability. But since independents were overcosted anyway the rule is just firing a fresh arrow in the corpse so to say.

And remember, we don't know what the disposition of the Rush rule is. It could be gone, or it could be required when not under command.


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