Optional Rules for Vis Bellica
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Introduction
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Occasionally a Vis Bellica player will suggest an amendment or additional rule to the standard set which, although I don't like enough to make mandatory, I do like enough to present as an optional rule.  Some scenarios will also give rise to special rules that can be used in other games.

Players are at liberty to use optional rules if they like, provided, of course, that all parties concerned agree which will be used before the game begins!

Optional Rule 1:  Officers of Varying Abilities

Optional Rule 2:  Officers of Varying Command Abilities

Optional Rule 3:  Random Factors in Scouting

Optional Rule 4:  Fog

Optional Rule 5:  Bracing

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Optional Rule 1:  Officers of varying abilities

by Thurlac

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So youíre doing a refight of Issus. Alexander vs Darius. Only, youíre Alexander and you know itís going to go horribly wrong in this battle. Why? Because your opponent isnít some sorry loser scared of his own shadow ready to flee at the first sign of dust from the Companionsí approach. The guy on the other side of the table has been wargaming for 20 years and knows what mistakes not to make. Youíre toast.

Ever encountered the above problem? Then worry no more. Here is the answer to all your cares. The variable ability officer!

Essentially, this is a system for tailoring Officers. Completely unofficial, entirely optional and pretty much guaranteed to mess up game balance. Now thatís a real rules amendment!  The table that follows gives players the ability to alter how good their Officers are:

Ability Points Cost Notes
Tough +2 per +1 strength Maximum strength = 12
Very Tough -3 per -1 strength Minimum strength = 2
Captain +5 Adds +1 to command die rolls
Poor Captain -3 Adds -1 to command die rolls
Great Captain +15 Adds +2 to command die rolls
Bad Captain -6 Adds -2 to command die rolls
Good Fighter +6 Adds extra +1 to base's strength if affecting them in combat.
Poor Fighter -4 Adds extra -1 to base's strength if affecting them in combat.
Great Fighter +12 Adds extra +2 to base's strength if affecting them in combat.
Bad Fighter -8 Adds extra -2 to base's strength if affecting them in combat.
Example +5 Adds extra +1 to base's morale modifier when making a morale check.
Poor Example -3 Adds extra -1 to base's morale modifier when making a morale check.
Great Example +10 Adds extra +2 to base's morale modifier when making a morale check.
Bad Example -6 Adds extra -2 to base's morale modifier when making a morale check.
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Optional Rule 2:  Officers of varying command abilities

by various VB players

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In the set game, officers commanding so-called "regular" and "irregular" armies each get 1d6's worth of command points. 

Players who want to give "irregular" armies penalties due to their "unsophisticated" status could, if they wished, give their Officers only 1d4 or 1d3's worth of command points or, for "regulars", increase the allocation to 1d8 or even 1d10. 

The same mechanic could be used to differentiate between good and bad generals, or to provide an interesting special rule for a scenario.

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Optional Rule 3:  Random Factors in Scouting

by various VB players

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Optional Rule 3a:  Random Factors in Scouting

Once scouting strengths have been calculated in the normal way, add 2d6 to each players' score.

Optional Rule 3b:  A Chance That Scouts Get Lost

Players have the option as to whether to send their bases out to scout or not.  Any base sent out to scout contributes to an army's scouting strength as normal.  Those not sent out do not.

Roll 2d6 for each base sent out to scout.  On a roll of double one "snake eyes", the base has got lost whilst out scouting and will not take part in the battle to follow.

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Optional Rule 4:  Fog

by John Hills

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If a scenario calls for heavy fog to cover the battlefield, or smoke for that matter, then the following rules can be used:

a)  Spotting. 

Officers roll 4d6 rather than 2d6 for spotting rolls, and all penalties for distance and terrain are doubled.

b)  Shooting. 

The maximum range for all missile weapons is 10".

c)  Confusion. 

Once during the game, each player can call "mistaken identity" when an enemy base has friends from a different brigade within their arc of fire and within range.  The base must then shoot at the friendly base unless the owning player rolls a 5 or 6 on a d6.  If the roll succeeds, then the base may not shoot at all that turn:  officers are running around shouting "Don't Shoot!".  If the roll fails, then the base shoots at the specified target, with that base taking casualties and morale checks as usual.

d)  Movement.  

Once a player has moved a base, a d6 is rolled.  If the score is 1, then the base has drifted 1d6" to the left.  If the score is 6, then the base has drifted 1d6" to the right.  If this drifting causes them to bump or drift into another friendly base, then they just line up behind/beside them.

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Optional Rule 5:  Bracing

By Robert Avery

New Order: Brace

An infantry base may be given Brace orders: where the base is ordered to brace, or add its strength to, another base.

 

Infantry bases may only brace infantry of the same order e.g. close order foot may only brace other close order foot.

The order is always issued with a target base to be braced in mind e.g. Brace-the Red Hoplites. Changing the target base for a base with brace orders counts as a change of orders.

The base that is going to be braced must have H orders, although two bases may be deployed from a Leader base onto the table with one already bracing the other.

The base to brace must move as fast as possible to the rear of the base to be braced.  Once it is in position, the two bases effectively become one, with the orders given to the lead base being the order that both bases obey until they are separated by the bracing base having its orders changed.  Note that a base with Brace orders may only be given a new order of Hold:  in that the bracing base requires a turn of H orders to properly disengage from the base which it has been bracing, and to sort itself out ready for further action.

Bracing in Combat

All casualties received by the braced bases, whether from shooting or melee, are split evenly between the two. If an odd number of casualties is received, then the front base takes the extra one.

Morale is still calculated and resolved separately, and this will sometimes mean that only one of the two bases becomes shaken, or that the bases split up if one retreats from the other. If this last occurs, then both bases are disordered and are given H orders, unless the split occurred due to a rout, in which case the routing base or bases stay routing.

Bracing bases may not shoot.

In melee combat, a bracing infantry base will add all of its remaining strength to the base that it is bracing.