Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GURPS Mass Combat Notes: Logistics and Lances

Logistics have been separated in the cost of forces in GURPS mass combat. Since MC already simplified much of the tactical elements, Logistics because its own interesting and fun game. Its really about framing logistics to players is about adding Drama to Details (which should be covered in another article).  

Lets Review  

  • MC3 - Building and Maintaining your force. 
    • In my experience, I rarely deal with Raising Costs, and most of the time worry about maintenance costs. As the GM you can ignore the Raising costs since these combat units should already be already raised.
  • MC13 Logistics Costs. Raising a logistic force cost as much as the Unit itself and Half its maintenance. 
    • LS is a stat that measures how much forces it can maintain in thousands of $. The LS to raise is typically equal to raising the force, since we are ignoring this, then the LS to maintain is roughly always 50% of the maintenance cost of the unit (since the Unit's maintenance cost is typically 20% of its cost to raise, and maintaining LS is 10% of its cost to raise). 
    • Typically LS maintenance cost increases Maintenance cost by 50% (more over bad terrain and difficult circumstances). This is because most logistics is calculated with Maintenance Cost, maintenance cost is 1/5 the cost to raise for almost all units (except ships, should be tackled seperately), and the cost to raise a logistics force is x5 of a Logistics force while maintaining a logistic force is 1/10 to raise it. 
    • Administration skill to handle monthly costs. On campaign you can assume the quartermaster is working on this 12hrs/7days a week. Having more Administrators or staff (pages, scribes, cup bearers) will help if you can afford it.    
    • Costs to maintain go up over Terrain and Conditions. 
  • MC13-14 Readiness. Your force is not in constant alert. If they are 'ready' 3 months in a year (mobilizing, re-arming, and updating in 1 month), then you pay them at full at 3 months of that year and half as much 9 months of the year. 
    • Just add the Logistics Maintenance cost to the total calculation because even they are part of the force. with 9 months low readiness, Gross monthly maintenance is (4.5+3) * (Monthly Maintenance + LS monthly maintenance). The logistic force cannot be disbanded without giving yourself a headache scrambling for one, note that LS can serve to replenish losses. In some games other than camp followers, Pages or Servants make up LS (those who are still in training or in On-the-Job training). 
    • In fact if you want to maintain some discipline you may need to rotate forces. that means you will need 6x as many forces or 1/6 as many forces as you have disposable. 
  • MC17 Mounts. In some eras mounts are expected, even if the units fight on foot. The costs are that of riding horses - which are more for gentry. For sergeants cheaper mounts, those with -1 move, are half the price.  
  • MC14 Replacement Cost is equal to half the maintenance cost 
    • Small Wars Manual expects 25% losses for horses on campaign. (Ouch!)
    • in MC36 as survivable loss in a failed encounter would be around 20% and a typical loss even in good win would be 10%! if you expect 10% losses, raise your unit's maintenance cost budget another CF+0.5 and file it under Logistics Force. 

Commanders who Don't like Details!

If your the Logistics Officer you basically end up having to always frame information a peculiar way. For everything you ask for, it gets harder and harder because it appears you are moving the goal posts. To prevent this you have to put it ALL IN before you present information. 

This means if your lord gives you $20,000,000 of resources for raise a force and campaign for X months, you keep calculating down and down. You begin with the number of months, you then pre-calculate the cost of a "Knight" (which means 1 cavalryman, and 4 footmen). 

Example. $20,000,000 (3-5 years of rigorous administration and taxation; ideally after merchantile reforms and infrastructure has made the land more productive)
A Knight aka a Lance is Light Cavalryman, 2 Light Infantry, 2 Bowmen (this is a setting assumption).  That basically boils down to $10.4k to maintain each lance. But there are so many other costs. $10.4 Logistics and Reinforcement costs. That makes $20.8k per Lance. The lord has 200 lances, which translates to $4,160k per month.
The lord has two companies of sappers, thats $1,200k (100 men). In total, $5,360k or 3.7 months of operations, -1 month for rallying and getting back to full readiness.
The lord will need to see how much money he can bring in while these 2.7 months is happening and how his logistics officer can bring in more supplies. 

Useful Notes

  • Sharecroppers families (slaves and indentured servants) contribute $300/mo to the lord's economy. 
    • This is very simplified value is derived from offsetting the raised prices from the value chain and the rising share of the profit as it reaches the lord. This value, despite being in a monetary form would be assumed to be non-cash. 
      • If you want to convert it to cash, you can do so per season at 10% its value modified by a Merchant Roll for the margin of success at improving that at plus or minus 2% gross value with margin of success or failure. If you relied on a merchant broker, only half the profits go the the lord.
    • Typically it is in services, goods, commodities, Shelter and Food, and even social favors or obligations. There will be little cash in the transactions.
    • You will mostly base your logistics and maintenance costs all on how many families or how many micro-economic units it takes. 
    • On campaign, it is assumed 90% of the budget is in the form of supplies and logistical goods. 10% is hard cash for other purposes.  
    • A "family unit" is 2 adults, 3 dependents, and about 24 acres/ 10 hectares half of which is actively cultivated. 
  • In the end accounting for Logistics and Loss Replacement, you work with double the maintenance cost. When you go back to low readiness, you bring this value back down to half.  
  • Medieval Demographics Made easy will come in to play often. 
    • In devastating events many costs are not anymore taken care off so you will see slow time to raise forces, and mismanaged logistics. 
  • Just because a Region can Support X amount of troops, it doesnt mean it can or will be able to. Weather, battles in other fronts, communication, and many other details prevent armies from being mobilies in optimum sizes at any point of time. In points in time that the weather and economy allows for such large numbers assembled is rare and happens a few times in an entire life time. 
  • Simplify - 
    • Don't use Heavy Cavalry as much - I tend not to use Heavy Cavalry, at 20% less TS (which is not enough to matter) and at the same cost (using Equipment Quality modifier of CF+1 for 100% increase in TS and Maintenance) Light Cavalry has a recon superiority over Heavy Cavalry. Recon is very valuable and Heavy cavalry is for set piece battles. If most combat is skirmishes and guerrila fighting then light cavalry would be more important also knights are really trained as recon force with hunting, war games, and various cultural virtues and exercises. 
    • Light Infantry vs Bowmen - the funny thing about light infantry and bowmen they tend to be the same thing. It gets really muddy in their employment and use so when in doubt assume Light Infantry have bows but cannot employ it in the maximum artillery range bowmen can.  
    • So most of the time you just arrange battles between Light Cavalry, Light Inf, and Heavy. Sometimes they have Bowmen, Med Inf, Sappers, and Horse Archer elements.   

Allies: Gotta Get them All!

Allies is one of the most overlooked advantages for logistics. Allies or Manpower is like a Pokemon game, "you gotta collect them all". The right people, with the right fit, and all the HR matters that can distract and highlight the drama of a game. My favorite part of this is this is where the random NPC generators come in handy, the demographics really make skilled personnel rare or time consuming to train. Being forced to ally with dangerous or untrustworthy people is an exercise in politics, diplomacy, and leadership and its a pretty amazing if you manage to survive or get anything done.

Asking the Right Questions

Logistics allows us to ask the right questions or gather the information we need about the setting (basically asking and rolling for answers from the GM). 
  • Can I learn the size of the economy from what I can observe, and the information I can gain from talking to various people? 
    • Its like getting the information if your 200 men can pick off at Region with a city of 10,000! (which would mean the region is about 100k pop and may have reserves of 1k). 
  • Can I learn their state and that of their economy? Can I find their most pressing matters, and where they are having conflicting needs and loyalties? 
    • If that 10k city is in civil war and balkanized, chances are good your 200 men can make a difference. 
  • What can i know about their leaders and key professionals? How is their tradition of warfare fare against my own traditions? 
    • You are stuck with poor grade iron, and they have traditions of Horse archers and ambush tactics OR they have a strong warrior citizen tradition, and each adult male of fighting age is a competent heavy infantry man skilled in the woods near the city. 
  • Is my information secure: economic activities, current political state, and persons at court? 
    • For all you already know, Intell has been gathered about your force and you are a pawn. Know your enemy and know when you are over your head. Note that even if you are weaker, you can negotiate because wasting time and forces on you can be a difficult decision if you play your cards right. 
  • What are the variables I can control, and what are the variables I will assign to others? With my judgement of their character and proficiency, how likely are they to fail/succeed? 

Sample Units that may be Helpful. 

  • A Lance. 1 Light Cavalryman, 2 Light Infantry individuals, 2 Bowmen individuals, and 4x  individual Mounts. $7.6k (everyone has woods terrain feature)
    • TS 1 (0.4 ranged, 0.6 recon, 0.2 cavalry). 
    • Cost Inclusive of logistics, the means there are servants, mules, cart, and supplies. 
    • Costs inclusive of replacement, this means the Knight as has a young squire and page. So there should be very little time to raise.
    • 9 months low readiness, 3 months readiness, makes for $57k a year. 
    • 16 share croppers to maintain. The equivalent of a Wealthy x10 ($5,000 per month!) and 160 hectars or ~400 acres. 
  • Justinian, Bandon. 1 horse archer element, 2 light cavalry elements, 9 Bowmen, 9 Heavy Infantry, and 9 Light Infantry.  (everyone has woods terrain feature)  
    • This may come to play if you plan to run an adventure set in this era (since its well documented). 
    • TS 78 (TS6 cavalry, TS26 rec, TS20 ranged)
    •  $560k per month, with 9 months of low readiness $4,200k a year (the equivalent of a extremely powerful patron or x500 of starting wealth per month). 
    • It takes a the wealth of 1,200 sharecroppers or an economy the size of as many households to support this (like a large town) or 120 sq km or 47 sq miles. This would be about 4% of a medium size Military Province. 
      • As example Large provinces have about 25,000sq km or 9,500sq mi (ex. Calabria, Konya). At 6 people per sq km or 15 per sq mi (byzantine empire post plague of justinian)   
  • Komnenian Kentarchia. 5 Archers, 5 Heavy infantry.    
    • TS30 (TS10 ranged).  (everyone has woods terrain feature)
    • $160k per month, with 9 months of low readiness $1,200k a year (equivalent of Filthy Rich x150 starting wealth). 
    • It takes wealth from 350 sharecroppers or an economy of the size of that many households (about 2,000 people). This would be 200 sq km or 800 sq mi. A very small fraction of a any province and more fitting for one of the many historical towns found in the era. 
  • 25,000sqm km region with a density of 10 people per sq km. 
    • Economy size is 50k families or about $180,000k a year. 
    • If there are 6 rotations of standing forces in a year, and each force is in low readiness at 9 months of the year, then there is a force worth $333k on full readiness at any time. 
    • This is equal to 10 infantry elements of  Heavy Infantry, Light Infantry, and Bowmen. This also has enough resources for 3 Light Cavalry Elements and 1 Horsearcher element.  

Summary of a Summary

  • Use the values above to simplify your preparation for the game. 
  • Since you have a grasp of logistics you have more information to work with in planning a force or engagement, and if you have the same sources as your GM (like Medieval Demographics made easy) would know what questions to ask and can get creative in finding the right information. 
  • With these details, you basically try to win the battle without resorting to full asset mobilization - or limiting the variables you will have to deal with once you mobilize your assets. This should help use logistics against the opponent - since you know the limits of their resources from your own.  

Some notes

  • I also realize that a group of players who are familiar with others play styles and strengths, will be able to cut up the "project" into their various roles and specialties. I always get the most enjoyment in a game when the players have some player-skill roles where they are learning the role or pretty good at it it becomes a enjoyable to see a master at work. 
  • You may need to make a spreadsheet to speed up preparation. You may also simplify units and forget their other characteristics (like Troop or Equipment Qualities) to be able to have more mental agility in resolving these things. 
  • If the player seems to know more about logistics, don't fret ask him what each should mean. The GM has the ability to fudge the answer and defy the statistics anyway. 
  • Currently when I used GURPS Vehicles 3e to build galleys they ended up fairly cheap, what is expensive is the Crew. Even if the crew was struggling wealth for each man (and they were paid good wages except slave galleys later in the middle ages) or even poor, a 50 oar galley of 20 metric dtons would be at least $30k maintenance or $150 raising cost for just the crew. The 50 oar 20dton ship was about 5k the cost. So i had to add modifiers to raise the cost. TL:DR - ship stats needs recalculating. 

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