Domains at War: Playing to Officer strengths

I was looking at my low level henchman group and saw that, should we get to high levels, my mage follower would have much better strategic skill (+4) than I do but a +0 moral bonus (my fighter is currently on track to about a +3 moral bonus and a 0~1 strategy bonus). While I understand this is intentional to make all classes able to participate in mass combat late game, I’m wondering what the best way to divide one’s forces between high strategy, low moral and low strategy, high moral officers (as well as less extreme officers of course).

I’m thinking the general should be someone with a good enough leadership to give sufficient divisions as well as a high moral bonus to reduce moral rolls from making the entire army route. Looks like the mage isn’t going to be general (though the recon rules require more strategy, so maybe they get the job then?)

Naturally, a higher moral unit like heavy infantry fighting in formation and a few lieutenants would soften the blow of low moral, but that means a unit that wants to march into combat, slowly (where my fighter wants to be anyway). Maybe give the mage a heavy infantry escort? that still hurts their normally good movement, however.

Ranged units might be better, since they don’t need to move as much, but their moral is lower.

I think the main question is thus: What units have the greatest need for high initiative? Moving first (or last, when necessary) can be a significant advantage, but how much of an advantage can vary a bit.

Any other thoughts or theories to share?

Difficult questions, indeed!

In my experience, you will prefer to have strategically skilled commanders on units that are fast, damaging, and expensive. First, a high initiative will allow those units to control the tempo of battle, engaging where and what they want to fight. Nothing is more painful than to watch a unit of cataphracts decimated because your low initiative roll kept them from getting out of an engagement in time. Second, such units tend to have higher base morale scores, so they have less need of an inspirational commander. Third, because these units are expensive, you will seek to avoid having them take casualties at all, whereas high morale is generally most useful in keeping units fighting when they take a lot of damage. (Most of the time, you WANT your cavalry to retreat fast and far!)

Conversely, you will prefer to have high morale commanders on units that are slow and cheap. Since the units are slow-moving, they will not be able to control who and where they fight in any case, so going first will generally not avail them much. Since the units are cheap, you will want them to absorb the brunt of the casualties, which means you’ll want them to have commanders who can keep them fighting even when their are hurting. Most cheap units have bad morale scores, so this is double important.

One final note. There is a carefully-designed interplay between lieutenants, commanders, and generals. The most important characteristic for a lieutenant is his high morale modifier. Per the old adage, “a lieutenant shows his men how to die bravely”.

The most important characteristic for a commander is a high strategic ability. If you have a commander with exceptionally good strategic ability, and lieutenants with good morale modifiers attached to his units, you will have a tough division.

Finally, your general should have both a high strategic ability AND morale modifier, if possible. The US Army recognizes this problem within its own office corps, by the way - the skills that make for a great platoon leader aren’t necessarily those of a great battalion commander, and a great battalion commander may not be able to lead an army.

Interesting… I’m going to have to fit in some ranks of military strategy if I don’t want to end up as a heavy infantry lieutenant! I know both are useful, but with random stats, sometimes a character is ill-equipped for a particular role, but then again, some historic leaders have found themselves thrust into role they were ill-equipped for! I wonder if it would be wise to put a henchman in the general’s position and just act as a lieutenant with the common men, at the front of the line!

One quick question: To what extent can a leader take advantage of military advisement between battles? I imagine a leader who, while still intimately involved in command, understands that one of his advisers (henchmen) has skill in military strategy and thus heeds their advice where possible. Could this leader gain some benefit from their henchman’s strategy rating for purposes of reconnaissance, counter-recon, countering hijinks, etc.?

Great question. This thread discusses a rule you might consider:

“An Adjutant assists a General or Commander in strategic planning. A General or Commander may substitute the Adjutant’s Strategic Ability for his own. There is a -1 point penalty due to the inefficiencies of communication between command and staff.”

This allows you to have the charismatic young General with the wise and experienced Adjutant.