Supply Lines - Rules Clarification/Revision

In Tavis's recent playtests, some confusion arose between the interplay of supply lines moving along multiple rivers. In an attempt to address the variables that might occur in measuring length of supply lines, I've revised the rules. Please let me know if you think this is easier to use than the current rules.



Determining whether a supply line is overextended is a simple matter. Just count the number of 6-mile hexes between the army and its supply base. Count each barren or desert hex as four hexes. Count each jungle, mountain, or swamp hex counts as two hexes. Count every two hill or woods hexes count as three hexes. Count every four road or three settled hexes as just one hex, and do not count hexes where the route runs along a navigable waterway at all! If the total count exceeds 16 hexes (96 miles), the line of supply is overextended.

An army with an overextended supply line is out of supply until it shortens its supply line to within the permitted length.

EXAMPLE #1: Marcus’s army departs from Cyfaraun, marching along an old imperial road for 32 hexes (192 miles). Every 4 road hex counts as 1 hex, so the length of the supply line is (32/4) 8 hexes. The army’s supply line is not overextended.

Marcus’s army then enters the harsh desert of the Waste, travelling 3 hexes. Each desert hex counts as 4 hexes, so the length of the army’s supply line is now (32 / 4) 8 hexes from the road and (3 x 4) 12 hexes from the desert, for a total of 20 hexes. Its supply line is overextended, so Marcus’s army is out of supply!

EXAMPLE #2: Baal the Terrible’s army departs its supply base in Zidium and marches 30 hexes (320 miles) along the coast of Celdorea, and then 3 hexes inland across settled terrain towards Dappakosea. Since every 3 settled hexes count as 1 hex, and hexes where the route runs along a navigable waterway are not counted at all, Baal’s army’s supply line only counts as 1 hex long.  

For purposes of measuring their line of supply, elves treat forest terrain as settled, while dwarves treat hills and mountains as settled. Beastmen, who have little need for food or drink, eat anything, and forage rapaciously, treat all terrain as settled.

But how many ships do we need t build and man to hold that coastal supply route?

Also, if you’re trying to be clear, “Count every four road … hexes as just one hex” isn’t the same to me as “every road hex counts as 1/4 hex”.

Until I saw the examples, I wondered what happened if you crossed just three (or two or one) hexes of road.

Personally I think using fractions is needlessly complicated. Any confusion is immediately cleared up by the examples.

I do have to say that the rules for navigable water-hexes (costing 0 supply distance) immediately raises a whole host of other questions…

Can you share what troubles you? Any questions I can circumvent in advance are better than questions I have to answer in the forums later...

While waterways are much easier to transport supplies through than land, there is a limit.

How many boats do you need to properly supply an army of a given size? A giant army would be hard pressed to support itself if it got all its supply from a few small riverboats going up and down a narrow creek.

Is there a limit to water-way based supply distance? For example, lets say that my supply base is on one side of a mountain next to a stream that leads to the ocean and I send my army over the mountain to attack my foes who are close to another river that also leads out to the ocean, but on another side of the continent. Wouldn’t the distance of, for example from Virginia to Chicago via the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi be a significant distance that might cause the army to be “out of supply” unless significant supply bases or resources were devoted?

Can’t speak to your other problems (well, I can, but Alex will do it best), but I can say that your concern about “number of boats” is outside the realm of bothering to worry about! There are civilian merchants that will be dedicating their trade vessels to selling your army stuff - that’s where the boats come from. It’s the same reason your army becomes a market if it’s large enough.

This is a lot like worrying about the number of horses available in your market area to make caravans to carry supplies to your army. It’s just beyond the scope of worries.

I have a feeling that the response to your distance concerns is going to be “Call it like you see it, Judge.” A little creek that only a few riverboats can navigate doesn’t count as a “Navigable Waterway” for Domains at War. That’s why you only map rivers - i.e. things that are tens to hundreds of yards wide.

Likewise, a supply route from Virginia up the Mississippi is only going to work if you control the Mississippi. And if you do control Louisiana / Mississippi / Arkansas / and Southern Illinois, or that territory belongs to an ally, then of course you’re in supply.

Of course, that’s a really long supply line for your enemies to send a small army and disrupt. They only have to occupy a barony along the mississippi to disrupt your supply.

And suddenly I want to use a map of North America for my next ACKS game… The Siege of Chicago just has a nice ring to it.

Okay, so Nerdnumber touched on some of my concerns, but maybe Maticore has got the right idea, and I’m getting too far into the weeds. I’m mostly thinking of circumstances where the waterway-based supply line runs through territory I do not explicitly control. How vulnerable am I? How many ships are needed to blockade or break my supply lines? Can it be done from shore? Are the ships necessary for supply or disruption even available in any of the markets in the region? Again, maybe I’m just overthinking this…

The inspiration for the rule is that historically armies were best supplied when they were supplied by sea or river. Having de facto unlimited supply along navigable waterways makes rivers and coasts much more important. That said, we could certainly say "count every 8" or "counter every 16" if unlimited seem abusive. 

Beyond that, mMaticore has responded better than I could have. A large-sized army is a city on the move. There are camp followers, smiths, tool makers, merchants, wagons and so on which aren't precisely modeled because doing so would be quite painful and tedious. We dont worry about ships for the same reason. (And I have an above-average tolerance for such things).

If you end up needing to worry about blockade, I might improvise from the rules for Blockading with Ships - one ship can block 2 unit capacity worth of stronghold. So reduce the amount of supplies getting through by 2 unit's worth per ship. 

PS It's important to note that D@W isn't be designed as a wargame to play without a Judge, it's being designed with a Judge in mind. A Judge-free wargame is designed to be airtight but it has a closed space of actions available. D@W is designed to be open, with a Judge making rulings from a solid and realistic baseline. The open nature of it will ensure that no matter how complex I make the rules, they won't cover everything. In fact, the act of writing a rule actually increases the space of action which in turn begets more rules. For instance, "wolf riders are too cheap" -> "they should cost more to supply" -> "to alleviate the cost they should be able to feed on captives" -> "if they can feed on captives, they should be able to feed on corpses" -> "some units should have a problem with this" -> "but not units of different races or chaotic alignment" etc. The rules are fractal. So at a certain point, we just draw a line and hand it over to the Judge.



My exact inspiration for most of what I said was the small sentence in the supply section that reads something like “your supply is automatically cut off if it goes through an Occupied domain.”

That means that your enemy can capture a domain behind you to cut off supply. I’d extrapolate that to mean you have to negotiate with the king of Louisiana to allow your supply ships through, and if he joins on your enemy’s side, then suddenly you’re out of supply. Guess you should have built a road through west Virginia, sucker.

Well put. I think the reality is that I have to spend some time actually trying to play with them in campaign before passing judgement.