Thoughts on the v4 Changes
With v4 now out, and the summary of changes from v3 published I thought it would be useful to post some commentary and thoughts on what the changes were and what they might mean
(Full disclosure here - I was asked to help out with the "English to English" translation, making sure the text in the English language version didn't read like Google-translated French-to-English, so I have had sight of these changes for a little while now. I wasn't however a member of the "Direction Technique" core group of players who were consulted or working on the rules changes, so you can only blame me for spelling mistakes, not for rules that nerf your favourite army!)
No longer automatically destroyed if contacted during a pursuit but must evade instead
In clear terrain LI now has a ZoC against all the enemies it can contact: LI, LH, El, SCh and Art
Light infantry armed with grenades, flame throwers, naffatun etc now have the Incendiary ability
- They fire at 1 UD and their target has no protection (except LI and LH)
- They also have a +1 bonus in melee and shooting against Elephants and WWg
- Budget 5 pts
LI gives a bonus for initiative (3 LI count as 1 LH)
LI now ZoC'ing Elephants and Scythed Chariots seems to be the main change here. Logically it makes sense, and it is perhaps best thought of as a small de-fanging of Elephants (which was needed) rather than a power-up for LI. In the real world you'll still want to screen your own elephants with LI anyway, so normal play will mean this change rarely has much effect.
The initiative bonus is useful for some armies too, and gives a reason to take at least 3, maybe even sometimes 6 LF.
Bowmen, Crossbowmen and Handgunners
They can interpenetrate medium and heavy swordsmen (except if Impetuous) as well as other LMI
They can charge all enemies without restriction
The budget of the longbow drops by one point (+1 instead of +2)
Most medieval crossbowmen have the Pavise option
English archers and those of the French and Burgundian Ordonnance become medium swordsmen with longbow after 1415
From 1490 onwards, some armies may have LMI handgunners (shooting at the same factors as Crossbowmen)
Bowmen and crossbow being able to charge will be welcomed by those Elephant armies who were previously forced to engineer some messy, phased charges to get their full line of troops in. In reality putting bowmen into combat is only going to be sensible in extremis, or to try and finish off a much-weakened enemy, so this is more making life easier by getting rid of a slightly complex rule and leaving it to players to take their own risks and make their own mistakes instead!
Longbow were overpriced, especially when fielded in quantity, so a 1pt reduction feels about right. Having more Pavises also feels historical and adds more opportunities for colourful troops to appear on table. A couple of lists gain a new troop type who's propensity for hand to hand combat is a matter of historical interpretation - it will add more flavour for sure. There won't be many handgunners after 1490 either I'd bet
The budget drops to 6 pts or 4 pts if Mediocre
Interesting one... with the positive changes to Medium Spear, Medium Swordsmen were at risk of becoming the bottom of the pile so it seems they have been fixed before anyone noticed! In v3 the choice between Medium or Heavy was always unbalanced in favour of Heavies anyway, so making Mediums cheaper makes that more of a decision rather than a no-brainer to take heavy Sword if you have the choice.
Even for a "Warband" Army this will only free up a dozen or so points, so 14 Warband instead of 12, or 3 more LF - its a nice to have, and makes these armies better, but is not going to win you any games in it's own right. The better-quality Impact Mediums seem likely to be the real winners from this - maybe contesting terrain to secure your flanks (rather than just tossing a few bowmen into it and hoping your Heavies can steam past before they lose) will become more of a thing - which could add more tactical interest to the game too
Their Impact ability in V3 is replaced by a +1 in the 1st round against mounted troops (except elephants) if they are charged from the front (same for heavy spearmen)
The +1 bonus in the 1st round for cavalry charging MI does not now apply against medium spearmen
Almugavars can be Medium spearmen Impact to represent their double armament: long spear + javelins
A clever fix for the Medium Spear conundrum - turning "Impact" into a spear-specific factor neatly sidesteps all of the "Impact is cancelled when...." general rules. They become viable troop types with a role, rather than just being Crap Medium Swordsmen ...but they will have to watch out for all of those extra warbands though
Heavy spearmen and pikemen
Their Impact ability in V3 is replaced by a +1 in the 1st round against mounted troops (except elephants) if they are charged from the front
As above, a nice tidy-up. The changes to regrade many troops as "Polearm" will also help spears in particular become a more credible troop type, which makes sense as they were always the poor cousin of other infantry
They cannot charge or contact enemy to provide support, and cannot pursue
Makes sense I guess (for the handful of armies who have this very niche troop type).
Their combat factor against all mounted troops (except Elephants) increases to +2
They are subject to ZoCs like other units but have no ZoC
They are not unmanoeuvrable anymore, but making a quarter or half turn costs them 2 UD of movement and they are limited to wheels of 45 degrees maximum
WWg can make a quarter turn including a 1 UD slide (see diagram p 32)
WWg's can shoot after moving
During movement, for 1 extra CP, a WWg can become Battle-ready by placing stakes, mantelets, chains etc They then gain an additional +1 bonus in combat against all opponents
A WWg who is Battle-ready must spend 1 further CP before moving off again
Mediocre WWg included in some army lists cannot be Battle-ready (budget 8 pts)
Budget increased to 12 pts
I like these changes - Wagons were just being discovered on the competition circuit in v3, and might have become a bit too popular once people realised how to use them. These changes seem to make them behave more historically, especially the deploy rules. Making them subject to ZoCs also makes them less jello-like too
War wagons with blades (Camillan Roman, Classical Indian, Communal Italian)
These are wagons equipped with blades, pikes and hooks used against mounted troops or elephants
They do not shoot and cannot become Battle-ready like other WWg
They can charge or contact the enemy and conform, but cannot pursue
Combat factor of +2 against elephants and cancel the Impact ability of elephants
Budget 8 pts
A new, niche troop type - time to buy some more models! What's not to like?
Light artillery can move/rotate and shoot in the same turn
Elephants and WWg with artillery can shoot after moving
Roman, Ming and Korean Yi light artillery can fire over some friendly infantry, and now cost +1 ptThese types are called Integrated Light Artillery
Artillery placed behind a fortification is stationary and cannot rotate
Only heavy artillery are now Unmanoeuvrable (costing 2 CP to rotate)
A welcome bump for the Roman (and others) cart-mounted artillery, as well as making Light Artillery usable. They are still toast when contacted by enemy though, so dragging them forward is not without considerable risk!
LH now has a ZoC against all units
All LH can attack any opponent without restriction
LH Impact has the Furious charge ability against foot
Bonus of +1 when rolling for flank march arrival if it consists entirely of LH
Seeing how the LH ZoC thing pans out is going to be interesting - it sounds significant, but LH still fight at a base factor of zero against almost anything that hits them, and you do need to get very close to an opponent to ZoC them.
My gut feel is this will be less significant than it looks at first glance, and its main efect may be to see more bowmen appearing on table to drive off enemy LH - which would be a good historical outcome too in army composition.
Some light chariots can have the Armour ability, as they were well protected (Egyptian, Assyrian)
This is great. The gulf between HCh and LCh was too large in v3, and this creates a sort of intermediate category. LCh are pretty much MCv (not LH) so giving them an opportunity to become HCv is simple and effective
Bonus of +1 against Cavalry instead of +2 in V3 (meaning that they are no longer better against Cv than Cataphracts)
The Impact ability of Heavy Chariots does not count against Knights with Impact but does count if the Knights do not have Impact
Heavy chariots without Impact ability have a budget of only 9 pts
This firmly puts HCh in the "Good Combat Cavalry" box rather than the "These are knights with wheels" box, which is a shame if you liked using them as Knights, but in all honestly is probably more realistic.
It will, with the LCh changes, certainly shake up the meta in the Biblical world of L'Art de la Guerre, which again is good as the paper-scissors-stone between foot, LCH and HCh was (lets face it) broken very much in favour of the HCh. Lots to rethink, and it feels like battles will be more balanced as a result in period - although using Biblical armies in an Open event will be less effective.
Cataphracts now have Impact against foot and mounted except Elephants
The Impact ability of Cataphracts does not count against Knights with Impact but does count if the Knights do not have Impact
Budget 12 pts
A better historical simulation for Cataphracts in period - they still stay worse than Knights though, which is probably right.
Knights now have only +1 combat factor against Cataphracts and Heavy chariots
Changes to their Impact ability mean they retain an advantage over Cataphracts and Heavy chariots in combat (see above)
Heavy Knights without Impact have a budget of only 11 pts
Non-Impact Kn were overpriced in v3, so changing the balance of Knight & Impact costs is a neat fix for this. Otherwise they remain largely unchanged
The Elite quality now represents the presence of escorting infantry
Seleucid, Ghaznavid, Timurid and Sultanate of Delhi elephants have Armour ability instead of being Elite (cost 16 pts)
Elephants must now pursue after melee
Creating Armoured Elephants is a nice extra dimension - the must pursue after melee thing is another subtle nerf for Elephants too - and makes some types of Death Star a little less effective too, as now all parts of it need to be able to win. Maybe we will see more (historical) deployment of blocks of elephants as offensive weapons, rather than them being spread out with intervening infantry?
Impetuous mounted units are not subject to uncontrolled charges against the units that cause them Panic, so horsemen can now better avoid elephants and camels
All medium and light camels with bows in all lists are Mediocre (except Tuareg LH)
Makes sense - bow armed camels now have to concentrate on shooting, and perhaps think more often about evading too. A welcome slight nerf for some of the over-strong Camel armies in v3
Medium/heavy swordsmen units equipped with halberds have been reclassified from 2HW to Polearm: This affects most Chinese armies, medieval halberdiers, Swiss, Scandinavian, Hussites, Vonyuks etc
Polearms have a bonus of +1 on the 1st round against mounted (except Elephants) if they receive the charge on their front edge
If a Polearm unit wins a combat on its front edge against mounted units, +1 is added to the die roll before determining the effect of the combat
Budget +1 pt
Note: Ashigaru with Naginata are classified as medium swordsmen without 2HW or Polearm, as they were considered inferior to those equipped with Yari (who are classified as Medium spearmen)
The sense that this weapon class was needed has been growing for a while, and other rulesets have introduced it recently too so it's good to see it in ADLG. Polearm as slightly sub-par spears (they don't cancel Impact) with an armour-defeating capability is pretty much where they feel like they should be in ADLG. By reclassifying almost all Chinese 2HW and medieval halberdiers as an anti-mounted weapon it also should give a much-needed popularity boost to spears (and pikes), as there will be lots less specialist 2HW spear-chomping units roaming the battlefields of v4 land too
Shooting range is increased to 2 UD
Can't argue with this, from a historical or game balance POV
Impact/ half Bow
A new category to represents cavalry only partially equipped with bow: Some Byzantines, Jurchen Chin etcetc
These units shoot as if they were one level lower in quality: ordinary becomes mediocre and elite becomes ordinary, no change if already mediocre
The unit can evade, has Impact ability and keeps its quality in melee
Impact/Bow were a no-brainer pick, and a bit too common in some lists in v3, so sliding in another demi-grade of this troop type should work very neatly to address both of those issues. Byzantines might need to become proper all-arms armioes rather than mixed Bw/Impact delivery systems too!
Some light chariots (Hittites, Celts, Gauls, Picts, Caledonians etc) and medium cavalry (Numidians, Moors, Berbers etc) may have Javelin ability, but only for shooting
They can shoot at 1 UD, but gain no combat bonus as it is already included in the cavalry's basic combat factor
LI, LH and LMI with Javelin keep the +1 bonus in the 1st round of a melee
Given the short range this looks like a very marginal ability - a scan of the lists suggests it is now standard for all non-bow-armed LCh. I guess a shot at factor 0 agains-t Heavy Foot (followed probably by an evade) is better than not shooting at all though.
The bonus of +1 against all if the unit loses the melee in the 1st round is unchanged from V3, but now applies even if their opponent has Heavy Armour
Cancels the Furious charge of mounted troops when receiving their charge on the front edge
Bowmen, Crossbowmen, Handgunners, Javelinmen, mixed units and MI with bows do not have Missile Support ability
This may have been first on the to-do list I suspect, both as this was overpriced in v3 and also as the Heavy Armour exemption meant it was useless for Romans vs Parthians, and for medieval spearmen, both of whom did sort of need it! It is now a viable 1pt choice.
Mixed units will mourn the loss of that "+1 if losing in the first round" I'm sure, but arguably they were underpriced before and it also does tilt them more towards needing to be thought of as being specialist anti-cavalry formations of archers with a thin skin of fighting infantry at the front, which is probably more historical.
Dismounting types have been revised (see p 21)
Some cavalry can dismount as heavy swordsmen or heavy spearmen with 3 cohesion points
Impetuous cavalry no longer count as impetuous once dismountedIn a limited number of army lists specific types of dismount are indicated in the notes which overrule these general rule For example, Galatian, Gallic, Ancient Spanish and German cavalrymen dismount as Impetuous medium swordsmenMOVEMENT
Removing Impetuous from dismounts and tightening up what's allowed has been needed for a while too - when some armies actively look to dismount their troops as they turn into better specialist infantrymen than it's possible to find in any army list (Elite Armoured Impetuous Swordsmen anyone?) this sort of tidying up has been long overdue.
Other than for Medieval Knight types with a record of fighting on foot when needed, dismounting should mostly be an in-extremis option (tempered of course by the game-balance considerations of countering elephants and fortifications in ADLG) and this seems to make it more like that.
It is no longer required to dice to activate an invisible corps first
Makes Ambushes/Flank marches more exciting, which has to be a good thing
Heavy infantry movement
Heavy infantry (including dismounted knights) may advance 3 UD in clear terrain if they start their movement 4 or more UD from the enemy
A heavy infantry charge against an opponent who evades now advances at normal speed on a 1-4 and +1 UD on a 5-6This prevents the heavy infantry from being slowed down too much by LI/LH when charging
This feels like a biggie, but in the real world it seems hard to imagine this will happen as often as it sounds - a screen of enemy skirmishers will stop an attackers HI after 2 moves anyway, and the defender may not even get a chance to use this rule at all. The real net effects should be that HI get into combat a bit sooner, and can redeploy if they find themselves isolated - both of which will end up tipping the balance ever-so-slightly away from mounted armies, which seems reasonable.
With MF Sword getting cheaper, and the terrain rules pushing more terrain across the whole table too the "only in clear terrain" caveat to this rule change may also become more significant than it feels at first glance. One to watch!
In the case of a slide before a charge or to contact an enemy, the requirement to advance at least 1 UD no longer applies
It is possible to slide into the ZOC of the most threatening enemy to charge it
Tidying up and stopping geometry preventing combat - all good
It is now possible to move forward and extend in the same movement
Each UD moved decreases the number of units that can expandFor example, a group of cavalry units may advance 2 UDs and expand by one unit
A group of LH can extend by 4 units (instead of 3 before)
Moving and extending is nice for mounted troops, and (a little) for Medium Foot too - the cost in MU to do this means it seems hard to imagine this becoming excessive. Again all about speeding up the pre-combat march move phase of the game a little I suspect
A group of LH can contract by 4 units (instead of 3 before)
Units that can evade can now make an evade move during normal movement to exit a ZoC, adjusting their move distance with 1D6. This can cause the units to exit the table, as in normal evade moves
LI and LH can no longer shoot after exiting a ZoC
Mounted units whose rear is in the ZoC of a slower enemy can now move straight ahead up to their movement allowance without going into Disorder for only 1 CP, even as a groupThis prevents them from being pinned by an enemy ZoC on their rear
Not one I'd thought of before, but using the existing evade mechanics to exit a ZoC is interesting - this may help those mounted shooting armies a bit, as they now don't need to wait to be changed away to withdraw.
If they evade far enough I guess HI will find that extra MU of movement quite useful to keep in touch with them too!
Light or medium artillery can be shifted during an interpenetration
If a unit is shifted it cannot subsequently move or rally, unless it is a LI or LH
Tidying up some stuff that was largely FAQ'ed in v3 anyway
Sliding along enemy
Permitted in some very specific circumstances, as indicated on p 41
Looks like tidying, and making sure that some perfectly normal on-table situations are not accidentally outlawed, or abused by over-zealous semanticians wanting to avoid combat!
The charge procedure is detailed on page 43-44
Units in a charging group that have not contacted an enemy and are not supporting a friend in melee may continue the charge up to their maximum movement allowance (see P 44)
No uncontrolled charge if the unit would end up with an enemy on its flank or rear
Uncontrolled charges are now are all performed from left to right or from right to left (to avoid over-optimization)
Running the common sense comb over the existing charging rules to tidy them up, knock off any ugly sharp corners and get them all in one place.
Blocking evade (see p 47-48)
It is no longer possible to block an evade move with a small part of a base, a ZoC is now required
An evade move is blocked if, after its reorientation, the evading unit has an enemy situated at least partially directly in front and this enemy exerts a zone of control over the unit trying to evade
An evade move is also blocked if its path is blocked by obstacles
Light troops can make an additional free half-turn at the end of their evade move
Another step along the long road to outlawing buttocks in element based games! ZoC's blocking evades sounds interesting, but I guess you still need to get behind the enemy to do this so in reality it may not be as significant as it might seem at first glance
ConformationThe rules on conformation have been revised and grouped together in a single chapter (see p 50) Players are invited to read them carefully Here are some of the key points
Conformation is always done relative to the most threatening enemy
Conformation should always be done if it is at all possible
A unit cannot stay in contact corner to corner or flank to flank if it is not taking part in a melee: it must now conform or move away
It is now possible to contact an enemy on the flank or rear even if the unit cannot fully conform because of terrain or other units. This is categorized as an "incomplete conformation"
ZoCs must always be respected and therefore you still cannot attack an enemy from the flank if the attacking unit would enter a ZoC
During a conformation, enemy units cannot now be shifted
LH/LI can move and rally after being shifted, other units can no longer move or rally after being shiftedThis rule is now the same for both conformation and interpenetration
Lots of tidying up and streamlining of a part of the rules that often confused newcomers by the looks of it, with a dose of extra common sense as well
Melee and support
LH, LMI and mixed units can now charge all enemies without restriction
A unit can be in melee or in support position
Support is now divided into simple support (a contact by a corner or flank) and melee support (contact with the unit's front against the enemy's flank or rear edge)
A simple support gives a +1 bonus in combat
A melee support gives a +1 bonus + combat factor
This makes multiple attacks more effective if the units involved are stronger. For example, if an MI is attacked on the front and flanked by an archer the attacker will have a +1 bonus for melee support (because the archer has a combat factor of zero against MI)If the unit providing melee support is an MI Swordsman this bonus increases to +2 and if it is a Pikemen the bonus increases to +3
Being hit in the flank by a good unit will hurt more than being hit in the flank by a crappy one. Can't argue with that !
LI are no longer automatically destroyed if they are contacted during a pursuit: they must evade
Units pursuing and contacting a new enemy must conform immediately in the pursuit phase wherever possible
If an enemy is contacted on the flank or rear by a pursuing unit (except LI/LH) while it is already in melee or in melee support it loses one cohesion point
Tidying up as above
Fortifications and Obstacles
Some lists may have obstacles and/or fortifications
Obstacles are ditches, stakes or pitfalls
Their budget is half a point but they do not provide cover or a combat bonus against foot units
Niche change that will not affect many lists I imagine
Some lists can have a Sacred Camp (budget 2 pts)
It represents the presence of a holy person (Pharaoh, the Pope), priests, a religious symbol etc
A Sacred Camp adds +1 to the army cohesion but counts 6 pts of loss if it is captured
A bit more flavour for some armies - nice!
TERRAIN AND SETTING UP
Gentle hills have a peak and (optionally) a crest line
Steep hills must have a peak and a ridge line
Visibility behind a hill has been redefined and simplified (see p 71)
It is now easier to ambush units behind a hill (see p 77)
This looks complicated but gets more simple when read a couple of times. Hopefully will lead to less ugly hills with letterbox crestlines drawn on them with marker pens !
A group of 3 LI counts as 1 LH when calculating the scouting initiative bonus
The number of available terrain pieces has been increased (see p 74) to allow both players to have enough choice:
In the steppes, a single hill may be covered with brush and be rough terrain
More choice is good, and supports terrain-dependent armies a little more.
Placement of the village is done like other terrain pieces, but it can only fall in the flank sectors
The first time a terrain piece cannot be placed on the table due to lack of space the player may re-roll the dice for placement. This re-roll is allowed only once for each player
If one player's half of the table has 3 or more terrain pieces (excluding road, river or coastal zone) more than the other half, the next piece is now always placed in the half of the table with fewer terrain pieces
Impassable terrain cannot be placed in the central sectors
Placement of the road is now done randomly (see p 75)
Net effect should be a little more terrain surviving the terrain setup phase and making it on table. Good for MI, not so good for HI !
A result of 3 or 4 only allows a player to move a terrain piece by 4 UD, not to rotate it
When adjusting terrain a "6" allows the removal of a terrain piece only the first time it is rolled. Subsequent "6"'s become "Rotate or 6 UD move"
Bonus of +1 for the arrival of a flank march consisting only of LH
Why not! After all, they can't ZoC anyone if they are off table, can they ?
In an allied corps you now need only take troops whose minimum is 2 or more (after halving numbers)
Troops with an (adjusted) minimum of 1 are no longer mandatory, but must still be taken before selecting any troops with a minimum of zero
A smidge more flexibility in ally selection is always nice
All lists have been reviewed and most have been modified
There are more Strategists than in V3
Troop options linked to named Strategists can still be fielded even if the named general is not selected as a Strategist (representing a subordinate commander taking temporary control, or Alexander having a "bad day" !)
The dates of the allies have been specified
There are more options and variety
Some of the background material has been rewritten and refined
More choice and flexibility is good - and clearing up the Strategist Options question has been long overdue too
Based on this list, there's clearly been a very thorough working-through of v3, not only to iron out the niggles and include the FAQ, but also to look carefully at what else might be done to tweak the game balance and improve the flow and organisation of the rulesbook in the light of the past 7 years of play.
Despite this being a long list there's not anything that in isolation seems like it is particulaly significant or game changing - even the handful of "biggies" (lets say LH ZoC's, HF's 3MU "march" moves and maybe the points change to MF Swordsmen?) are not going to come into play all that often, they all have fairly obvious counters, and there are other rule-changes in here which will clearly act to counterbalance their effect on a real tabletop too.
So, same game, different balance - more new stuff to try out(and buy!)!
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