What methods to you use for testing house rules or indeed to test if existing rules really work as well as they should?
This weekend I decided to test 3 different ways to play Viking and Blades. I intend to do this for at least another 5 days and do each of the 3 tests using the same terrain and the same armies. I play using the Solo rules available on this site. I set out the terrain with a gentle hill top left, plough in the top right sector - with a road running top to bottom just the other side of the plough. In the bottom left is an enclosure (rough going) and the bottom right just has the 'southern' end of the road running through it.
Armies used were iii/40b Vikings and iii/24b Middle Anglo Saxon. Vikings had 11x 4Bd and 1x 3Bw / Anglo Saxons had 3x 4Bd, 6x Sp, 2x 7Hd and 1x Ps. Deployment of each army was the same for each game.
In the first battle the Vikings CF of 5 followed the existing rules. The Vikings eventually won a hard fought battle 4-3 and the battle lasted 9 rounds. The 2nd battle I used my own house rule of Bd are CF of 4 except on their first contact when they have a CF 5. The Vikings won 4-1 but the battle only last 6 rounds. The Anglo Saxon Bd also adjusted their CF in line with the Vikings. In the 3rd battle I went back to DBA1 and gave the Viking 3x 4Bd (with CF 5), 8x Wb and 1x Ps. The game was very close with the Vikings eventually winning 4-3 in only 5 rounds.
This is a very tricky subject Andy...what one person likes, another person may not. I can only give you my own methods for testing “House Rules”.
Firstly, why have any “House Rules”at all? For me and my little gang, historical results are the most important thing (as well as simplicity). So when recreating an historical battle and the ancient accounts say a certain thing happened, but DBA is incapable of reproducing that event, only then do I resort to a “House Rule” to rectify the situation,so that our little metal figures act and behave as those ancient scholars said they did. Thus we attempt to bend the rules to fit history, and not try to bend history to fit the rules.
My Testing Methods I don’t test by playing a full game with 12 elements a-side, or use any terrain (unless I’m testing a terrain house rule). I just set half a dozen X elements against half a dozen Y elements, and see if the results match the historical accounts. After all, if I’m testing 4Ax against 4Bd, I’m not interested in how well 3Kn does against Sp. I don’t even use dice...instead I use two packs of playing cards, so that each side has the same number of ‘1’s’ and ‘6’s’ (this helps to reduce pure good or bad luck results). I do this a few dozen times to see if I can get a consistent result, then try X elements against other types of elements, and so on, to see if there are any unwanted unbalancing knock-on side-effects. Once I have a mechanism that seems to work, I then see if it can be simplified before describing it in words that are easy to understand.
It’s only when all the above has been done do I reveal it to my wargaming mates, who then (if they are interested) go on to play it out in full 12 elements a-side games with terrain. And if they don't like the new mechanism, then I invite them to come up with their own alternative solution, that gives realistic results, is simple, and has no unwanted side-effects (either that or carry on playing with the current rules knowing that they give unhistorical unrealistic results).
I play Hoplites vs Persians, and I find that lining up 5 vs 5 elements that I'm trying to modify works for a point, but the main thing about that is you're testing to see how long the lower CV unit will LAST vs actually win. For the Persians, you're not really looking to win a combat against hoplites so much as survive long enough for your superior cavalry to wheel around and take the hoplites in the flanks.. When I'm testing 5v5 elements, I'll write them down in a spreadsheet or in a note book, and play through each bound drawing the results from each bound. No mini's necessary and it gets through the mechanics very quickly.
So to Stevie's point, rather than play a whole game, I play 1 whole game to see how long it takes the Persian Cv to get around the flanks vs how long the Sp vs 8Bw will last (no terrain). Then my changes are based on equalling that balance out, so that both sides have a reasonably decent change of winning (albeit with different play styles).
That said, terrain plays a HUGE factor. A hoplite line anchored on it's flanks by terrain is really hard to crack. Also a line of 8Bw sitting on a steep hill is hard to charge with Sp, so having no terrain can be bit artiificial (but takes way less time to see a result).
I'm far less experienced with Bd vs Sp, so not sure of the real mechanics involved. I do like the rear or side support for Sp.. But I think the same testing method applies to see results (more than 1 play through) quickly.
Glad to see you're testing rules in a systematic way though! I do applaud this, although it'll definitely be in the house rules section. There's a lot of wind against further changes to 3.0 in an official sense beyond pretty minor tweaks. I will say though that DBA is so simple, that there's a practical unlimited number of tweaks you can make the basic system to match play style, historical accuracy/desire, and period. Pretty sweet for such a simple system!
I played DBA v1 when it first came out, skipped v2 due to family etc but came back and picked up 3.0 shortly after publication. House rules weren't really a thing in the early days of v1 so am enjoying exploring history with v3.
This is a very interesting thread, both in terms of what you are testing and in terms of how to test.
As a newer DBA player, I also have wondered about the wandering classification of Vikings over the versions, so I look forward to your conclusions. Blades as a catagory continue to raise questions for me. I think of them now as just +5/+3 (with other mods.)
In terms of house rules, most of mine have been at the historical battle/scenario level. They have involved primarily two things: 1- matching the historical constraints/abilities for the armies involved (usually at the command die level) and 2- simplifying/ignoring certain rules to make the game move more quickly. I have found DBA very easy to modify and give historically reasonable results. (Fits my definition of robust core rules.)
Most testing is at the battle level, but the 'small' testing noted in the thread by others makes a lot of sense.
... I did start with DBM years ago, all versions up to DBMM. After that I played a lot of DBA. In Switzerland & also in Germany, France, Belgium & England. Now I also play ADG, Armati & Thruimph. Also skirmishes. Tournaments with other people at home and abroad enrich my takik. Playing house rules with other people has always helped me the most & showed me what I did wrong...
...according to other rules there are fewer problems with blades. There this type of troop is called heavy foot with or without the comment elite...
Post by medievalthomas on May 13, 2020 20:58:40 GMT
My son's high school science project was to test the hypothesis that Blade based armies had an advantage in 3.0. He and his instructor created a methodology to test the concept which involved playing 50 matches and recording the result. These were full games with terrain and complete armies as you need these variables to get a true test. It was based on the playtest system I had developed when playtesting 3.0 which involved over a 100 matches.
Another technique we used in 3.0 playtesting was to refight historical battles using correct army lists (not the fantasy 12 element ones) to see if we could get anything close to the known historical result. Consequently the playtester had to wade through several late medieval battles multiple times.
A large sample size and a variety of playtesters really helps as this will increase the various tactical techinqes employed in order to stress test your ideas.
So try more games with a different players with full terrain variations and in some cases try and reproduce known historical match ups.
I have managed to keep some of the old gang together and we have been playing Knights & Knaves (the ultimate result of all this playtesting) on a weekly bases until the plague hit.
... I don’t even use dice...instead I use two packs of playing cards, so that each side has the same number of ‘1’s’ and ‘6’s’ (this helps to reduce pure good or bad luck results)
Can you expand on the playing card thing? Recent testing for the "Everybody gets rear support" house rule has been plagued with a plethora of 1s for PIPs* so I'd welcome insight into how to reduce pure good or bad luck results.
* “Born under a bad sign, I been down since I begin to crawl. If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all”
Take an ordinary pack of playing cards, remove all the cards above 6, shuffle them, then place a joker on the bottom. Now do the same with another pack to make another face down stack for the opposing army. Instead of rolling a dice, both armies draw cards instead, and place the used card face down on the bottom of their stack. When a joker is drawn, shuffle the pack and put the joker face down on the bottom again.
I only use the cards for PIP’s and combat...for aggression, terrain placement and river conditions (i.e. paltry, shallow or deep) a dice is still thrown.
There is still luck, as you might draw a ‘1’ while your opponent draws a ‘6’, but at least you know that with only four ‘1’s’ in the pack your bad luck will end, and your good luck in drawing ‘6’s’ won’t last. And card counting won’t help much...even if you ‘knew’ there are only two cards left before a reshuffle, and one of them is a ‘1’ and the other a ‘6’, which combat do you decide to fight next?
Some of my mates, like myself, actually prefer to use cards instead of dice in a normal game. My other mates insist on using dice as per the rules...and then they moan like hell when they get bad rolls and claim they only lost because their opponent had better luck!