Beat The Drum
Peter 'Gonsalvo' Anderson's Piquet/Band Of Brothers II Edition rules are noteworthy for several reasons. Besides significantly revising and refining the original rules for Renaissance warfare BoBII also offers 'Beat the Drum', an easy to use mechanism to generate armies. BTD addresses one of the rather tedious aspects of Piquet, namely its army selection mechanism. BTD offers a variety of different ways to select your forces for a given battle. BTD makes uses of the greatly expanded army listings included in BoBII under fourteen different "Campaign Musters". Using BTD you can select an army in about 30 minutes as compared to a couple of hours or so before.
We liked BoBII and BTD a lot here at India Wargamers. So much so that we decided to make it a little more easier by automating much of it and making it available as an on-line application.
Beat the Drum Overview
A typical BTD army listing consists of three main parts. The unit type listing, the troop type listing and the promotion listing. While the former two are must, the third is sometimes not applicable.
As its name indicates the unit type listing specifies all possible unit types that can appear in the army. The listings include details such as unit type name, training level, primary and secondary weapons, armour quality and a lot of other necessary and useful information. Of particular use are the consolidated fire/melee/morale modifiers. Those who have played Piquet will immediately understand the importance of these. BTD saves players a LOT of time by consolidating the various factors that affect these modifiers for a given unit and presenting a consolidated total. Where a player would once have been forced to list and total all such factors for firing like, say "Down 2 for mounted fire; Up 1 for Regular; Up 1 for Arquebus" etc., he can now merely look up the single cumulative modifier.
The troop type listing is divided into three sections namely Standard Troops, Limited Troops and Special Troops. As the names indicate these sections list in appropriate proportions the troop types that would have appeared in a typical army. Thus you will find that Rajput Cavalry is listed several times under Standard Troops for Rajputs (from the "Peacock Throne" campaign muster) while Elephants appear once or so only under Limited or Special troops. These listings are used in conjunction with playing cards to select an army. Cards from the Clubs, Diamonds and Hearts suites correspond respectively to Standard, Limited and Special troops. Drawing a specific card gives you an opportunity (to be compulsorily availed if Clubs) to select a corresponding unit.
The most common selection mechanism (referred to as the 'Normal BTD process' in the on-line application) starts with the player selecting an army and deciding on an approximate number of units. He is then allocated a "budget" calculated @ 4 Florins per anticipated unit. Up to 20% of this budget may then be "invested" in upgrades at the player's choice. Investment in upgrades is a calculated risk. While the right investment and good luck can do wonders (All artillery units were upgraded one caliber!! You get to remove 2 of your opponents units at random!!) there is also a chance of things going wrong (Alloy Faulty! Downgrade all artillery units!!) The player then proceeds to "recruit" his army. Recruitment is done by drawing a playing card from a shuffled deck of 52 playing cards. Each card costs 1 Florin to draw. Clubs have to be acted upon immediately by looking up the unit and adding it to the players hand by paying an additional cost of 1 Florin. Upon drawing a Diamond or Hearts card the player has the option of either adding the corresponding unit to his hand by paying 2 or 3 additional Florins respectively or discard the card for free.
The Spades suit of the playing card deck is devoted to effecting "promotions and demotions". When turned, all spades cards are automatically added to the players hand at no cost. The effects of these cards, if any, are applied at the end of the recruitment process when the player has used up his entire budget.
The on-line system also offers a couple of variants. You get to select "13 unit" armies composed only of the Standard Units or, if you are adventurous, do a "quick select" by letting the system choose units for you. Needless to say the system is not "intelligent" and will not hesitate to pay the necessary stiff price to select the least useful units!
The standard BTD process ends here. The on-line application goes a couple of steps further and rolls the necessary dice for selecting commanders and calculating the "battle quality" of the units. The latter is used to derive the final fire, melee and morale die types for the respective units. Feel free to disregard these if you would rather roll the Dice for yourself. Personally I have found the on-line system does a far better job of rolling D20s than I can ;) The final roster is colour coded to easily identify vacillating, weary, eager and determined units.
This application was written in Python making use of the Django web development framework. The data is entrusted to a Postgresql database. The application is hosted, along with the rest of this site, at escapebox. For more details, buzz our web master.