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More thoughts on X10

by Ville Lähde

A few moths back - quite a few, that is - I sent some suggestions for additional War machine rules to be used in the X10 module. The Nomad War IMC is nearing conclusion, and I decided to recount my experiences. For the most part the additions worked well and made the war much more interesting.

With the new rules the Nomads make quick inroads into Darokin, which helps to create the sense of urgency in the conflict. However, as soon as/if Glantri and Alfheim join the war, the Nomad assault will inevitably falter. Their units are able to break even the strongest Nomad sieges against large cities (most likely Darokin city and Corunglain).

The Ylari tip the scales somewhat, however - if the Ylari manage to besiege Selenica, this will draw a lot of forces away from the western front. Still, conquering the city will take a lot of time (weaker Darokinian forces can hold out quite long against the Ylari horsemen, as horses are not so useful against sieges). The Ylari, if they commit wholeheartedly against Darokin and ally with the Nomads, can send perhaps two armies to the western front. They are useful against the elves and the Glantrians, but it will still be hard for the Nomads to win a quick & dirty victory. Some suggestions in the module book are downright laughable (Like the idea the Nomads would attack and conquer Alfheim/Rockhome quickly. Like they were that stupid as to attack the Canolbarth!) If the DM wants to keep up the atmosphere of impending disaster, the Nomads clearly need allies on the western front. The most likely candidates are the Shadowelves, the Orcs of Thar, or perhaps the Ethengarians or Atruaghini. (I ended up with the last for campaign-specific reasons.)

In "my" war the timeline was something like this:
1) The first months: Intense nomad advance, Akorros falls after a heavy siege. Heavy nomad and Darokinian losses
2) Corunglain and Darokin are besieged. The Darokin elite legions are too strong for the nomads to try quick victory, so the sieges prolong.
3) Glantrians liberate Corunglain, Darokin & Glantri start gathering troops against the Darokin siege.
4) Elves join the mobilisation, but Nomads and their allies (Atruaghini) make a pre-emptive strike against the relief force before it attacks the Darokin siege. (This was the only way I could prolong the war long enough. Otherwise Darokin would have been liberated much sooner.
+ Ylari break through the Selenica passes and besiege the city + Civil war in Karameikos, the legal government wins. Nomads in the country are destroyed.
5) Darokin City is liberated after weeks of battle.
+ Rockhome dwarves close the passes to Selenica. Selenica falls to the Ylari.
6) The Darokinians replenish their forces and start besieging Akorros with the help of Glantrians. The elves and the Karameikans attack the Ylari around Selenica, and start besieging the city. The Ylari are trapped in. Fresh troops from Ylaruam try to open the passes that are blocked by dwarves, but fail. (3 Ylari armies against 2 dwarf armies, and the Ylari were beaten to pulp. Horses are less effective in the pass, and the dwarves are experts in mountainous terrain.) + The Northern Reaches armies attack Ylari coastal cities, but are beaten back by the Ylari.
7) In Ethengar a civil war erupts. Eventually Batu Khan is victorious (du to campaign-specific reasons), and two Glantri armies that tried to exploit the situation are defeated.
8) Thyatis attacks Ylaruam and besieges the capital. Northerners ransack the smaller towns. The Ylari in Selenica negotiate a peace treaty and are allowed to return to their country to fight Thyatians. The Thyatians buy the help of the Northerners and defeat the Ylari armies. Ylaruam falls to Thyatis.
+ The fledgling Selenican Defence League (Alfheim, Karameikos, Rockhome) decides to capture the Ust-Urt Valley, so the Thyatians can't control all the land trade routes.
9) The Allied expeditionary force invades the Pramayana Delta and advances towards Sayr Ulan in order to draw Hosadus's elite guard out of the city (by threatening the Nomad supply lines). In Darokin the Darokin-Glantri-Shires-Ierendi-Minrothad-coalition forces prepare to liberate Akorros. The battle will be hard, though, as the Nomads still have two regular and two reserve army groups left in the area.
- The war has been going on for nearly 6 months now, and winter is near. The Nomads must de broken before winter, since warfare like this isn't possible in wintertime. IMC this race against General Winter worked very well to create a sense or urgency for the PCs.

Actually, in "my" war, there were some important things that favoured the Darokinians - all of them due to the PCs
1) The Ylari didn't ally wholeheartedly with the Nomads. They just tried to conquer Selenica.
2) Glantri allied with Darokin as soon as possible. One week later would have been much worse.
3) Same as above with the elves. They came just in time to help beat back the Atruaghini.
4) The Karameikan civil war ended with the Black Eagle and the Nomads being beaten. A "second front" behind the Darokinian lines would have been very bad.

NOTE: IMC the two sides didn't engage in a headlong charge ageist each other, they conserved their forces. Different strategies might provide different outcomes, but still I think the Nomads wouldn't easily get a quick victory over Darokin. If they managed to defeat a lot of troops on the field, most of their armies would be so weakened that besieging the Darokinian cities would have been much harder. And if the Darokin Elite legions and the Nomad armies fought each other in the opening weeks of the war, it is actually likely that the Nomad advance would have been stopped. So I suggest strongly that the elite Darokinians are kept in the large cities (preferably Corunglain and Darokin city) in the early stage.

Some further notes on the rules:

- Use the Tactics table only as a guideline. I think it isn't very well made. For example, nobody in their right mind would choose the "Attack" tactic. Some results are very odd. I think rewriting the table might be in order. Anybody up for the job?

- Drop the stacking limit when it seems to be illogical. The wider limits proposed in my earlier additional rules work well in the beginning of the war, but later on even they don't make much sense. Especially when the units are depleted - if you wish, decide a TROOP NUMBER limit instead a unit limit.

- The rules about routed units returning home and being reinforced back to full strength work well and should be used IMO in this module. Without them, it is even harder to keep up the Nomad pressure. But:
1) There should be some BR loss for the reinforced units. I didn't use this rule, but I think it is a good idea.
2) An overall troop limit should be placed for both Nomads and the Darokinians, when they reinforce depleted units.
3) Some units "return" from rout in a very bad state. IMC I had a Nomad division return with 20 troops. Rebuilding such a unit shouldn't be allowed, or at least is should take more turns.