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The Art of War
Mike Mearls

F antasy novels and movies often end with huge fights, as two armies representing the forces of good and evil face off in battle to determine the fate of the world. Though D&D has always been focused on individual characters, the game has taken a number of different approaches to rules for mass combat over the years. (In fact, the Chainmail rules for fighting medieval battles with miniatures were one of the key inspirations for the original D&D game.) When we've talked to players about the options they're looking for in D&D Next, a set of rules for mass combat has been at the top of many gamers' wish lists. Battlesystem, a set of rules for pitting D&D armies against each other, is our response.

An optional part of the core system of D&D Next, Battlesystem is based on the standard D&D combat rules and assumes the use of miniatures and a grid. It uses the stats for monsters and characters mostly unchanged. If you know the combat rules for D&D, you're already 90 percent familiar with how Battlesystem works.

The big changes in the rules focus on scale. Large battles naturally take more time than single combat, so a round of combat in a Battlesystem mass battle takes 1 minute. Battlesystem uses a combat grid divided into squares measuring 20 feet on each side, and scales up the number of creatures a single miniature represents. A miniature in Battlesystem represents a "stand"—a collection of combatants that fight as a single group. Ten Small or Medium creatures make up a single stand, as do five Large creatures or two Huge ones. Player characters and NPCs, including powerful monsters, operate as solos, represented by a single miniature. Solos can fight alone, or can join up with stands to avoid becoming surrounded and overwhelmed by large numbers of enemies.

Stands are typically organized into larger units, defined either as skirmishers or regiments. Regiments are orderly ranks of combatants that take on different formations to adapt to the battlefield, from a tight line of warriors with shields linked to repel an attack, to heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, or hobgoblin mercenaries. By contrast, skirmishers are faster and move in looser formations. Light cavalry, scouts, elf archers, and chaotic gnoll warbands are typically organized as skirmishers, engaging in hit-and-run tactics or rushing forward to seize objectives on the battlefield.

Movement in Battlesystem scales up from the existing D&D rules, with miniatures moving in formation by squares. Difficult terrain works as it does in the core rules, as does cover, walls, and other terrain elements. Combat works just like in the core rules too. When a unit acts, each stand makes an attack and rolls damage as normal, as long as it is attacking another stand. Since both sides scale up equally, Battlesystem simulates a number of combatants on each side of a battle attacking each other over the course of a minute with a single die roll, using the combatants' combat statistics.

If a stand attacks a solo creature, the stand takes one attack for each creature in it. A solo can avoid such potentially devastating attacks by joining up with an adjacent friendly stand, relying on the creatures in that stand to protect it. The enemy stand can still attack the solo, but it makes only one attack.

Solos work the same as stands, making attacks and dealing damage just as they would in the core rules. When a solo attacks a stand, it makes one attack per round. However, if two solos fight, they play out 10 rounds of combat per 1-minute Battlesystem round, using the regular D&D rules. A powerful wraith might duel a cleric of Lathander at the center of the battlefield while their armies clash around them. If you want to speed things up, you can roll ten attacks for each solo at once and assess the damage.

Morale plays a key role in large battles. Once a unit has lost half its stands, it must make a Wisdom saving throw or flee the battle. Solos can attempt to rally such broken units.

Rounding out the Battlesystem rules is a set of guidelines for determining victory. When designing the battlefield, the DM creates a set of objectives for each army (drawing on the players' objectives if an army is under their command), giving each objective a victory point value. At the end of the battle, the side with the most victory points wins.

The key element of the Battlesystem rules is their reliance on the core combat mechanics. This design decision allows a DM to build armies using any of the creatures in the game, including NPCs and player characters. With only minimal conversion required—speed is the only statistic that needs to be recalculated for the Battlesystem rules—putting together big battles is simple and easy.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
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Interesting. I hope that facing becomes a part of Battlesystem. It's a little easier to ignore facing when dealing with individual characters, but when you are using shield walled units, it becomes quite a bit harder to ignore. Abstracting AC to the front vs the back of a phalanx unit makes all the difference of whether to charge a cavalry unit into the target (additionally the set to charge concept of adding a counter attack that interrupts the charge before it is resolved).

Battlesystem has the potential to add some interesting tactics without scaling up the complexity too much. I'd like to see these types of things addressed. The community definitely wants a faster smoother game, however I think by adding the complexity for mass combat you are opening the door to also satisfy the exception where some of us want a more tactical game, even when that means dropping some of the simplicity. Some would argue that that door should be closed. I take the opposite opinion: t... (see all)
Posted By: Nachofan (5/19/2014 12:04:25 PM)


It seems very interesting.
A huge battle is a optimal diversion or end for a campaign, and this battlesystem sounds good.

We attend other informations on movement, visibility, comunications among units and naval battles.

For now is OK.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (5/4/2014 12:15:56 PM)


I posted it on the forums, but what might fix the problem for stacks of different sized creatures is something like this:
-Medium creatures get 2 attacks vs. large stacks, and 4 vs. huge. (You could change that to 3 and 5 if you prefer).
-Large creatures get 2 attacks vs huge creatures.
-Large creatures get 4 attacks vs. a solo, and huge creatures get 2 attacks vs. a solo.
-Creatures get their normal 1 attack vs. creatures of their own size or smaller, and medium creatures get the normal 10 attacks vs. solos.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (5/3/2014 6:28:47 PM)


If a stand attacking a solo is still going to make as many attack rolls as creatures in the stand, that doesn't speed up combat at all, which is what I would hope for from a mass combat system. It's literally just normal combat. Instead consider a single attack roll, with a hit being full damage (eg, regular attack x10), a miss by less than 5 being half damage (eg, regular attack x5), and a miss by 5 or more being a total miss.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (5/1/2014 2:14:37 PM)


Not exactly the same. A battlesystem round is 1 minute instead of 6 seconds, so there is a factor of 10 that's being eliminated in stand-on-solo. When it's stand-on-stand, it's a factor of 100 (10 creatures * 10 rounds/minute).

To break it down:
* solo on solo (or PC on NPC): 10 attacks/minute in normal D&D, 10 representative attacks/minute in BattleSystem. (The ratio is not reduced.)
* solo on stand: 10 attacks/minute in normal D&D, 1 representative attack/minute in BattleSystem (the ratio is reduced by a factor of 10)
* stand (of X creatures) on solo: 10 X attacks/minute in normal D&D, X representative attacks/minute in BattleSystem (the ratio is reduced by a factor of 10)
* stand (of X creatures) on stand (of Y creatures): 10*X attacks/minute in normal D&D, 1 representative attack/minute in BattleSystem (the ratio is reduced by a factor of 10*X)
Posted By: longwinded (5/1/2014 7:54:31 PM)


Welcome back Battlesystem!
Posted By: Pyrate_Jib (5/1/2014 11:18:17 AM)


The number of creatures per square at larger sizes is weird. We're still using the same miniatures in Battlesystem, right? A large miniature is still 2x2 squares and huge is still 3x3 squares, right? So if a square in battlesystem is 20x20 instead of 5x5, those minis are occupying a 40x40 or 60x60 space and a stand would be far more than 5 or 2 creatures. That would only apply if you were using a 1x1 medium mini to "stand in" for a large or huge.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (4/30/2014 11:46:05 AM)


The size/# of creatures vs. attacks ratio is throwing me off.

Since they say that a stand vs. a solo gets one attack per creature, we can assume that a stand attack does normal damage, not normal damage * # of creatures. Damage can't be scaled up by number of creatures since that would then be multiplied by multiple attacks vs. solos.

So, a group of 10 goblins is a stand and so are two huge creatures. If they go after each other, they each get one attack even though there are 5 times the number of goblins. And we've already determined that damage doesn't scale. So those goblins are getting the short end of the stick by a factor of 5:1.

Frankly, that all seems that the system is gaining a bit of simplicity at the cost of a huge amount of consistency with the normal rules. And in such a way that will really penalize any player who's character is solo.

If damage and HPs were total from all the units in the stand, then you only need to make ... (see all)
Posted By: Blue23 (4/30/2014 8:24:15 AM)


I think when a stand of ten creatures hit makes ten attacks against a solo, you apply damage our individual hit. So going alone means you get ganged up on.

As for goblins vs a stand of two huge creatures (say, two stone giants) the reason you don't scale up their damage is because the stone giant damage is also not scaled up. A hit from the stone giants does not result in 2x damage of what a single stone giant can do. Also, the stand of giants does not have two times HP. If the goblins do enough damage to kill one one giant (103 points of damage) it's actually two giants that die (206 points of damage). In this way, it's like the goblins are doing double damage and the giant is doing half damage, to roughly approximate the difference in combatants.

The real question is, in a ten round fight who is likely to win in two stone giants vs ten goblins, since that is the level of abstraction. If the goblins go first then in the first round they 10 attacks vs the 4 sto... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/30/2014 10:57:23 AM)


You have a well reasoned response. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to match up with what Mike wrote.

If the HP and damage of a stand is what a single character has, then one giant hit will kill the entire stand of goblins, while one goblin hit will barely annoy the stand of giants at 103 HPs. The giant's stand has 1/2 the HPs that separate giants would have, but the goblin damage is 1/10th of what separate goblins would have. When you adjust for both, the goblins are doing 1/5th the damage they should.

EXCEPT in the case of solo heroes. Because those goblins get all 10 attacks. So they are putting out ten times the damage.

Now, the damage against heroes is the correct amount. It's that stands get shafted (or enhanced) when fighting against different sized stands.
Posted By: Blue23 (4/30/2014 8:28:25 PM)



Yes, you have it exactly right. The system is broken when large and huge creatures fight anyone other than their own size category.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (5/3/2014 6:21:44 PM)


This is a great idea! Hopefully this goes through a lot of playtesting before being impletmented (Hint: Send it to us alpha testers! Please! Like, ASAP!) so that the system hits the ground running. I think this has the potential to be unique enough to not only bring in new players, but entice some who jumped ship to return.
Posted By: gwise (4/29/2014 4:41:03 PM)


The way I see running a full-fledged battle in an RPG:

The DM assigns a difficulty for the characters' side to win (or to achieve different goals), and they can help improving the odds (fulfilling the requisites for the goals) by:
-Enrolling allies and getting equipment, either with their treasure or with quests (diplomatic or otherwise).
-Participating in their side's strategic planning (a quest may be necessary to grant them the right to do so). This could involve Int or Wis.
-Leading units to achieve certain goals (defeating the enemy leader or one of his followers, saving an important NPC, sabotaging the enemy war-engines... This could involve a quest to achieve the appropiate rank, or just some in-battle task to rally a group of warriors). This would need a lot more Cha, and it could be the place where Battlesystem rules would fit for me.
-Fighting their own fights inside a battle, with their own goal-quests , like defeating, saving or pursuing an NP... (see all)
Posted By: nirnel (4/29/2014 12:53:39 PM)


Any chance of being able to literally scale this up/down and/or add complexity?

Are there optional rules for larger and smaller units and time-scales? What about unconventional units? Could this be used in naval or aerial attacks? How would you treat siege weapons or artillery? Do you have any rules for supplying forces? For morale or troop condition going into combat? What about overland travel of armies? Or facing rules for units?

I know for sure this isn't for everyone and I wouldn't necessarily expect it to be in the core rules, but, for instance, my campaign utilizes a take on 'Road to Urik' from Dark Sun and many of these considerations would need to be in place to make such an adventure interesting. I know most people aren't bean-counters to the level I am with some of this stuff, but things like supply logistics, morale from battle to battle, troop conditions and unconventional tactics are half of what make strategic/tactical games compelling, especially ... (see all)
Posted By: OskarOisinson (4/29/2014 11:23:09 AM)


I'm hoping for scaling rules, but I'm prepared to house-rule if necessary, because I'm not expecting scaling rules.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (5/3/2014 6:30:42 PM)


Sounds like the rules of "Cry Havoc" from Skip Williams in 3e. Great Rules but had some "recalculation" to do... if you'vre simplified them that could be great and adaptable to any versions of DnD. I can wait to see those rules!
Posted By: Panics (4/29/2014 9:41:21 AM)


Sounds good to me. 'Would seemingly allow for quick, easy resolution.

There are, however, ways to involve pcs in big battles without Battlesystem - The Battle-of-Emridy-Meadows strategy is to send pcs on specific quests that are pertinent to the outcome of the clash of armies. This gives the players the feeling that they're a part of something much larger than themselves without the worry of new rules.

Another strategy that I've used is allowing each player to make the attack rolls for the monsters that are attacking his/her pc. I've had as many as 80 monsters on the grid at once, but with 6 people making their attack rolls simultaneously, the resolution was quick and easy. (In normal encounters, I, of course, roll the monster attacks.)
Posted By: Steppenwolf41 (4/28/2014 10:42:43 PM)


This system honestly sounds like you guys came up with the laziest solution to "scaled up" combat possible. It doesn't seem to address any of the actual problems with large scale combat in DnD nor does it provide a better solution than what dozens of homebrewers have already come up with.
Posted By: manaknight69@hotmail (4/28/2014 10:04:47 PM)


This post honestly sounds like you came up with the laziest comment possible. It doesn't seem to address any of the actual problems with Battlesystem nor does it provide a better example drawing from what dozens of homebrewers have already come up with.
Posted By: Gravediggeh (5/3/2014 9:31:37 PM)


Well this is totally frekin awesome! THANK YOU! Gonn have to try this out later.things that I like are that a solo is likely to get swarmed facing ten enemies by himself unless there is a big level difference. I like how everything scales up so there is no stat conversion for movement etc. I like how spells work with this. For example, a 20 ft radius fireball could hit four adjacent stands, wiping out up to 40 enemies in ine blow! So cool! (I'm guessing spell casters will almost allways be solos, or maybe a stand of wizards can only target one other stand, preventing one stand from launching ten fireballs).

Wisdom saves to prevent running sounds perfect, and I guess a rally check would be a charisma check. Sounds really cool. Simple and elegant, and integrative from individual to large scale. Sounds fantastic guys!
Posted By: moes1980 (4/28/2014 6:05:57 PM)


Sounds cool, except for the 10 solo attacks? WTF?! Really, 10 attacks? You guys are seriously considering this?! And the 1v1 solo will actually be 10 rounds for 1 round of stand attacks? I think this is unecessary, if we want to do 1v1, we won't do mass battle.

I think heroes and solos are heroes and solos for some reason. Just give them a 1 for 1 attack vs stands and against stands; and act like any other unit. Too bad for the mooks if they don't feel good about this ;) And balance the game accordingly.
Posted By: Ayar (4/28/2014 5:42:08 PM)


I think one thing to remember is that the stand of ten figures will not have ten times number if HP. Thus, a solo fighter taking on a stand of goblins (1 vs 10 goblins) can while out all ten goblins if he dishes out a mere three points of a damage. Infact, a level one fighter with great weapon style (dealing three points of damage even on a miss) will auto kill ten goblins if he goes first! But, if the goblins get to go, you check what they need to roll to hit (possibly a 16) and roll ten dice. Any die 16 or less is removed. Out of what's left (say three hits) roll damage (3d6-3 for short swords, let's say). If you want to speed it up and you can just take the listed damage value and times it by the number of hits (3 damage times 3 for 9 damage). A level one fighter with 12 HPs taking 9 damage is gonna hurt.

It's quick and easy, and it shows that a level one solo fighter can't just take on a regiment of goblins ( I.e. Several stands of goblins of something like 50 goblins) ... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/28/2014 6:25:18 PM)



I can see your point, I just don't like WIS being a kind of catch all (and often poorly defined) ability...It already aggravates me that the chief ability score for clerics is ALSO the chief ability score for perception, resisting tons of effects (ie: will saves), and reading people in conversations ...Just because you're a religious PC doesn't in any way make you more observant, IMO. Clerics often noticing that an ambush is about to happen before a ranger, rogue, or fighter is just goofy.

CHA is everyone's dump stat, unless your'e a bard or sorcerer. CHA needs to be more relevant. CHA also influences bluff, intimidation, and diplomacy skills. That's closer to 'morale'.

What DnD really needs is 'perception' as it's OWN ability, like in the 'S.P.E.C.I.A.L.' system in the fallout video games. But that'll NEVER happen. 6 ability scores is as DnD defining and 'sacred cow-ish' as rolling a D20.
Posted By: seti (4/28/2014 3:21:46 PM)


I agree with others: anything that requires rolling 10 attacks at once is not a good idea. There needs to be a better way to scale up "solos" with the ~10 units per piece mechanic. Nearly anything would be.

Keeping the normal d20 combat rules is presented like it's a major coup, but anything other than that would be a terrible idea anyway. I think it's pretty safe to assume that most people who run big battles have been doing something similar already. That's old hat.

This is the first thing that I've seen that really screams "4.0 skill challenges!" to me: i.e. a good idea implemented badly that will likely take a lot of revision before it works. Hopefully they'll get it right before no one cares anymore.
Posted By: nukunuku (4/28/2014 2:45:48 PM)


(wow, it actually let me reply to you)

I wonder if maybe instead of making 10 d20 attack rolls, stands could make one, but roll a really swingy damage a D20, or 2D20, etc. That'd cut down on all the rolling, and represent the idea of 'ok, ten arrows are many hit and do damage?'
Posted By: seti (4/28/2014 4:02:07 PM)


Except that a miss on one die means all ten attacks missed out f a series 10 segments of scaled down combat. Essentially, missing that one attack roll would mean that one hundred attacks against a solo all missed, which is kind of silly.

You could skip the roll to hit part and just do a swingy damage type, but then you abstract out differences in AC vs to hit mods. You could recalculate that difference into the damage roll as a bonus, but now, what is more easy, to constantly recalculate damage mod on a swingy damage die based on differences of ac vs to hit or, to just roll a fist full of d20s to hit with no additional calculations or conversions?

Also, the swingy damage die will mean that a lucky roll by 10 orcs might take out a solo dragon in one hit. Therefore, I think it's better to roll the ten attacks, watch most attacks miss, then a roll a few damage dice for the ones that do hit. Swingy damage die will mean battles are own much more by luck rather than b... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/29/2014 11:08:42 AM)


@Seti: can't reply to your posts directly for some technical reason.

Morale used to basically be a modified level check. It was based on HD, something like +1 per 4 HD. It was further modified by characteristics of the monster, such as being especially fierce or having magic powers beyond it's HD (basically a AD&D's version of a monster level adjustment). These are basically the same rules for determining an undead's turning resistance, and were the reason for the somewhat jammed-in turning tables for clerics and paladins in later editions.

For Battlesystem it was also modified by the conditions of the unit it was in: a bonus for each rank/row of the unit, a bonus for a particular leader, a bonus if it was a charge or stampede, and so on.

When 3rd edition consolidated the saves and created a will save, it was a bit odd that morale (at least what little of it remained, from the undead turning rules) didn't use it. It looks like they are now finally g... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (4/28/2014 2:27:58 PM)


I'm not crazy about the way stands interact with solo PCs. Rolling 10 attacks seems like a lot of work... Didn't we lean that rolling a bunch of attack is no fun from the 20 rats with advantage in the Caves of Chaos?
I would much rather see some sort of swarm template. I understand it gets too abstract for some as the swarm is down to a couple hit points and still dealing major damage, but you could have a multiattack that only functions when above half HP, or the damage could be tied to the current HP..
Remember last week's article? I though you wanted to make things easier on DMs...
Posted By: Osgood (4/28/2014 2:24:27 PM)


I wonder what it would be like to deal with armies like Devastator from Transformers: individual guys merge together to make a larger thing. Instead of stands--what if you had, say a Pike Wall or a Cavalry Formation as it's own "creature" with size and stats of its own and then dropped them into the regular rules. You get a bunch of clerics and rangers and fighters and bards with raised spears protecting against a wall of charging orcs, they lose their individual classes and merge to form a pike wall. Those same guys breeching a castle gate to get into the lich's lair become a whole different unit. It'd be interesting to see military units statted up like "monsters" of their own maybe?
Posted By: Grimcleaver (4/28/2014 2:23:13 PM)


I am very much in favour of this idea. Phalanxes, shield walls, bow/gun double or triple lines, cavalry wedges, etc. would all perform very well as singular units. Perhaps these could have some sort of threshold or requirement? Say, each unit needs a commander and X discpline/morale to create the formation and the formation breaks with morale or numbers drop below a certain thrshold. Shouldn't be hard to track, could be boiled down to a single save each turn but would make formations MUCH more interesting.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (4/29/2014 1:50:43 PM)


Seems like a good formulation of (basically) scaled-up D&D or the old Battlesystem rules. I do like the stand abstraction better than prevision abstractions -- such as the 3.5 "mob" which was like a swarm, but of humanoids, or the original Battlesystem grouping with its emphasis on ranks and orientation. The scaled math may throw some people a little bit. I also like that 10 character round per round 1 battle round make it easier to integrate a party into a battle. (Battlesystem for mass combat and movement to get the party to their fight, 10 rounds of D&D as we know it for the party fight, and a few quick roles to describe what happened elsewhere while the PCs were busy.) It doesn't read very well, but in practice I think it will be quite simple.
Posted By: longwinded (4/28/2014 2:19:53 PM)


The good in this--I would love to buy some Stand minis! The bad, it's weird stands all get damaged evenly, that there's no attrition as individual units are lost (I'd like to see a cumulative damage penalty as you lose units as well as hurt units moving slower than fresh units). I'd also like to see weaker stats for the sides and rear of a stand along the same lines as units in the 3.0 minis game.

I'm mostly frustrated that this version of Battlesystem clings so hard to the map and minis. I'd like to see a dynamic version of Battlesystem with narrative gaming in mind--where you've got allied forces wheeling to face enemies and setting down pikes, or being in trouble getting attacked from both flanks and rushing in to save them with cavalry without having to just abandon using the rules at all and handwave.

Honestly what's really needed are a set of conditions for stands of units, what negative effects they give and the challenges required of the PCs to remove them... (see all)
Posted By: Grimcleaver (4/28/2014 2:11:01 PM)


This version of Battlesystem is actually a pretty significant step forward in abstraction, actually. like older historical war games, the previous iteration of Battlesystem was all about maps and minis. It was first and foremost a classic war game to which you could at D&D elements. It was fairly abstract given what it was going for, but what it was going for is very different from what you want now.

For example, you had to spend feet a movement for actions like breaking ranks (in this article's parlance: converting a unit from regiment formation to skirmisher formation), say, to more quickly squeeze through a breach or get around an obstacle. You also had to spend movement to re-orient a unit by 45% as they march, because it's a long line of fighters, and one end of that long line has to move faster than the other in order to wheel around without breaking ranks. This is why I usually lump mass combat rules in with flying/spacejamming rules and naval/vehicular combat rul... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (4/28/2014 3:02:31 PM)


Now this, if functional and sound, will be AWESOME! - John
Posted By: Seanchai (4/28/2014 10:20:01 AM)


The rules sound pretty good here, and I'm glad you're resurrecting the BattleSystem name.

Now, how about some useful information, like the RELEASE DATE? :)
Posted By: sgt_d (4/28/2014 7:23:54 AM)


1. So two hill giants take only a single attack from a group of archers, whereas one roc bird would take 10 attacks? There's a certain limit to how much abstraction I'm comfortable with and this is kind of near the edge. The whole solo/stand thing forms a strange breaking point both in terms of actions taken and attacks taken. It looks weird to me.

2. If stands and solos (usually) make only one attack per round, how does this interact with creatures that can make multiple attacks per round normally? An owlbear normally makes three attacks for 7 damage each. Ogres make only a single attack for 13 damage. Under normal circumstances this means a group of owlbears would defeat a group of ogres in a fight... but if we switch to the Battlesystem it's the other way around? Is this how it works?

3. How do spells interact with these rules? What does a Fireball do to a stand? Does healing magic affect a stand? If I summon 9 critters, can they act like a stand or are they di... (see all)
Posted By: Belphanior (4/28/2014 7:21:02 AM)


Mike should have said, "the stand MAKES one attack for each creature in it." The wording of what he said about units checking morale is weird, too. Until I read your criticism, I just read it to mean that a stand would flee if it lost half its HP. Nice job catching him napping!
Posted By: RadperT (4/28/2014 11:24:19 AM)


I agree with your points 1 & 2. It doesn't immediately follow that an arbitrary 10 medium creatures, 5 large creatures, or 2 huge creatures can be well-modeled by a "representative" creature who gets one attach against a similar "representative" creature. It seems to benefit larger creatures (regardless of other benefits such attack bonus) by basically giving the free "fractions of an action" over their enemy. At the very least, it would affect the challenge rating of the stand, which is relevant for adventure planning. It would make more sense if you reduced the ratio: that way, you could have your 2 medium humans attacking 1 large troll to represent a 5:10 stand ratio. At the same time it would be worthy and actually acknowledged that it was representatives fighting each other, or one owlbear making his three attacks to the ogre's one.

Of course, this means there's not much improvement in using stands over using single creatures.

(see all)
Posted By: longwinded (4/28/2014 4:16:07 PM)


As per point 2, for the owl bear stand you would make three attack rolls, since that is the stat for the owl bear. If all three attacks hit you would do 21 damage against the stand of ogres. The ogres would get the one attack for 13 damage against the owl bears. So yes, the owl bears would likely still win. And remember that the owl bear stand will have a HP value equivalent to one owl bear, the ogre stand will have HP equivalent to one ogre, and a stand of ten orcs would have HP equal to one Orc. This means that the stand of two ogres dishes out 13 damage in a single round, they will kill ten orcs with "one" attack (I.e. One stand of orcs would be removed).

If you ran a single ogre as a solo (maybe it's an ogre with 8 barbarian levels) then it would take ten attacks from a stand of orcs to represent how he is being swarmed. However, if the solo can normally kill two orcs in a single round of combat, then in the scaled up version he will be able to take out two st... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/29/2014 11:36:47 AM)


It's too bad Mearls explained this so poorly that it took over a week for you guys to make sense of it. I'm also impressed with the analysis Blue23 & Fuzzypaws added near the end above. What I observe is that giving stands of Large & Huge creatures less attacks against a solo models the ratio of their Fill to a Medium creature's Surround (DM Guidelines, page 5). Not exactly, but they probably started with 3 for Huge & 6 for Large and/or fudged the numbers because you have to be able to calculate the number of actual troops on the fly. For me, the fact that heroic characters attack, ninja-like, 10 times a minute every moment of the engagement requires more suspension of disbelief than the apparent clumsiness of larger creatures. I think the relative deadliness of differently sized stands will be fine-tuned further, but was beyond the scope of Mike Mearls' presentation of what his design team are working on (especially any discussion of solos larger than Medium).
Posted By: RadperT (5/2/2014 10:18:20 PM)


Can't wait to try this out at some point. I like that the system is not too complicated and that it works with familiar rules. Great decision! Keeps the game and story flowing. I am curious how magic/spells are factored in or troop type, if it is(?).
Posted By: Sands666 (4/28/2014 6:53:30 AM)


P.S. Also - 10 medium creatures in a 20' square area - that seems like an extremely "loose" formation. Then all creatures in the stand attack a single opponent? Generally, troops in formation gain resilience but only gain attack power more slowly (only the fron troops can attack), which is a major reason why big battles take longer than skirmishes to finish...
Posted By: Balesir (4/28/2014 5:37:21 AM)


Sounds like it matches the normal scale of one creature per five feet. If you put 9 creatures down on a five foot battle grid in formation they would take up a 15x15 foot square. Toss in one more fig and it will grow to something like 18x18. Rounding it up to 20 just makes everything more easy. Also, since each turn represents 10 normal combat rounds, I can see stands having a larger footprint. That is, the amount of activity that happens in one turn means that stands can actively control a larger footprint then when a combat round is only 6 seconds. So even if you think of a stand as comprising of two ranks of orcs, five in each rank, it's 20x20 foot square represents not the physical space but also the distance in which melee can start given the one minuet per turn scale. Thus, being base to base indicates maybe a 40 foot gap between two groups of enemies, but given that the turn comprises of ten scaled down turns, the two sides have plenty of time for them to charge and engage in me... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/29/2014 11:55:19 AM)


OK, so this is similar-but-different to what could be done in 4E using the "swarm" rules and implied levelling for multiple creatures (although that could have done with some guidelines that never got published), but isn't this version going to hit some scaling issues? The "solo does full damage but takes damage per creature in the stand", for instance, means that two huge dragons (say) act completely differently depending on whether they are used as two solos or combined into a "stand". Also, stands of large or huge creatures are much less dangerous to PCs/solos than stands of medium/small creatures, since they only multiply attacks by 5/2 rather than 10? And gound scale is roughly x4 while time scales x10? Seems like the scaling is going to cause quite a few problems, here...
Posted By: Balesir (4/28/2014 5:32:50 AM)


I'd take (an attack from) 10 orcs over 5 ogres or 2 grizzly bears. The main thing that bothers me about units typically being able to move 150 feet is that it's happening ON their turns & not between them. As far as formations, Mearls didn't say you could only put one marker in a single square; in fact, his statement about combining "solos" (champion would be a better word) with stands implies otherwise.
Posted By: RadperT (4/28/2014 11:12:48 AM)


About "even larger battles" - I'd say you would not have to play out the parts of the battle with which the characters have nothing to do and could just storytell the other parts of the battle for 5000+ battles.
Posted By: MagicSN (4/28/2014 4:17:26 AM)


I get the impression that the battle-mat in use represents just a portion of the whole battlefield, with the outcome in the limited representation reflecting the overall results for the total battle (similar to the battle system used in Legend of the Five Rings).

If you've got war-game minis on a smaller scale and can therefore conduct a conflict on a larger battlefield, you should be able to House Rule a scaling of the combat rules.

I'll echo some other commenters here: optional rules for hexagonal grid or measuring-tape/line-of-sight would also be appreciated.
Posted By: Komomachi (4/28/2014 10:20:47 AM)


If PCs are leaders of armies, they may want to actually have rules for how it works, rather than DM fiat. In other words, if the flow and results of the battles are just a backdrop, then sure, the DM can just tell them what happens. But if leading armies and making tactical decisions is *the point* of the campaign/adventure, then we want actual rules for it.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (5/2/2014 7:40:10 PM)


To me, RPG's is more of warfare and less about dungeon crawling. So this is good news.
Posted By: Jonir (4/28/2014 3:51:24 AM)


I'm happy to see these rules, but for very large battles I feel these rules are insufficient. A roman legion was 5000+ men, which would be somewhat unwieldy to handle with 500+ stands.

Likewise, from fiction, battles in the War of the RIng often had 10,000 to a side.

I do hope that considerations for even larger battles are built into the game.
Posted By: maplealmond (4/28/2014 2:48:14 AM)



Why is morale a wisdom thing? Charisma seems a better stat for both upping morale, and diminishing it...
Posted By: seti (4/28/2014 1:22:01 AM)


I'm sure many tables will enjoy mass combat rules in DnD. I don't see myself using them ever, but I am glad they will exist. I always figured if it actually came up in my campaign, and everyone really wanted to play war, we'd just play a tactical board game about war...Instead of playing DnD that day.

I'm much more interested in knowing what's happening with the rules I'm used to having in DnD. Also, the rules I want... For example, what's up with 5e psionics?
Does every class get to add extra dice to their various D20 rolls once per encounter like the fighter does?
Does the monk have automatic access to fighter 'exploits' (or whatever you're calling them) like 'trip' or 'push' or 'knock prone'?
Are spells going to be organized and printed by class and level (the best way) or just spewed out in alphabetical order in a chapter of the PHB called 'Spells' (the horrible way)?
Can clerics heal AND attack or cast a non-healing spell in a round, like they cou... (see all)
Posted By: seti (4/28/2014 1:18:52 AM)


Sounds like a fun option that my group is almost certain to try! One question, though: I know it says that the use of miniatures and a grid are assumed, but my group intends to use theatre of the mind for standard play - will this be a workable option for Battlesystem? Since the system is described as being a slight variation on standard combat, my hope would be that TotM should work as neatly as it does in regular combat?

I guess the only thing that's got me wondering is where Mike says Battlesystem "assumes the use of miniatures and a grid," which strikes me as unusual since regular combat doesn't make that assumption.
Posted By: BadMike (4/28/2014 1:02:57 AM)


I ran a home brew game just like this with players rolling 5d20 to hit, on their turns. As they took damage the d20's lessened.

Count me excited for this.
Posted By: tiles (4/28/2014 12:37:01 AM)


One other thing I'd really like to see are simple rules for determining and influencing the results of much larger battles in a short period of time. Something conceptually like the mass-battle rules from the BECMI Rules Cyclopedia. I'd love to be able to set up some initial conditions and then make a few key decisions on tactics, and then roll a few dice and see how it works. There is no reason that you couldn't zoom in to a more tactical level like this as part of the overall battle, and its results influence the rest of the battle (just like you do with solo-vs-solo fights).

I'd just like to see the scale go up from here to large armies clashing.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (4/28/2014 12:27:05 AM)


Why squares and not hexes, I wonder?
Posted By: RadioKen (4/28/2014 12:15:49 AM)


Why square OR hex at all? Most miniature war games don't even use grids.
Posted By: Azzy1974 (4/28/2014 1:20:25 AM)


Well, tape measures scare some people off.
Posted By: RadioKen (4/28/2014 11:09:22 AM)


I plan on using tape measure for both mass combat and regular play. Essentially, no grid, just measure with tape measure for everything. I will cut out some templates for area affect spells and rule that if only half your base is covered by the template then you get advantage on your saving throw. It does seem weired that all formations will be facing either straight down the field of battle or sitting at a 90 degree turn, and nothing in-between.
Posted By: moes1980 (4/29/2014 12:08:31 PM)


"Regiments are orderly ranks of combatants….   Skirmishers…move in looser formations….   Movement in Battlesystem scales up from the existing D&D rules, with miniatures moving in formation by squares….   Combat works just like in the core rules." The default use of a square grid seems to indicate that Mr. Mearls does not expect facing to augment the basic rules in mass combat. I admit that I'm not a wargamer, but the possibility that a line of units (I'm still not sure what word to use) might whirl from their intended facing, to avoid being flanked within the space of a minute, doesn't create any cognitive dissonance for me.
Posted By: RadperT (5/1/2014 4:46:08 PM)


Well, this seems straightforward enough. Speed and ease of play seem to be the primary considerations. I would like to see how stands being defeated translates into casualties after the battle, and (hopefully) rules for morale and how the PCs can affect it will be presented as well. Sounds sort of like classic ADnD Battlesystem, which was not bad, but did not get a lot of use at the table. Hopefully making everything port straight over stat-wise will help with that.
Posted By: Clansmansix (4/28/2014 12:10:16 AM)


Posted By: BendBarsLiftGates (4/28/2014 12:06:32 AM)



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