July 12th

I’m working out the details of the new arrangement. It’s proving to be difficult. I must define the signals that a commander can send to Arthur with flags and horns. I must also define what Arthur can directly observe about the action on the battlefield. 

I don’t want the commander to be able to send a message consisting of a straight copy of current combat results. (For reference, here are the seven possible combat results:

near collapse
having difficulty
doing OK
holding firm
doing well

On which of these should the commander be able to send a message to Arthur? Obviously there’s no point in sending a message if nothing notable is happening. It’s equally obvious that it is imperative to send a message if the commander is in dire straits and desperately needs reinforcements. But do we need a message when a commander is breaking through the enemy? Does that commander need instructions for how to exploit the victory? Or should that decision be up to the commander? That might require some spatial reasoning <boo! hiss!> in terms of breaking to the right or to the left. I need to generalize the idea of exploitation of a break so that it doesn’t implicitly include a spatial element. Something like this:

“Pellinore breaks through the Saxon line and wheels on…”

Uh-oh. This cries out for a spatial line of commanders. Who is on Pellinore’s left? Who’s on his right? Shouldn’t he wheel to help the neighbor most in need of aid? Even if he ignores the state of his neighbors, we still need to allocate his forces to one of the other commanders.

Or do we? Can we treat a single-commander breakthrough as the trigger for a general victory? No, that won’t work, because we expect that Arthur could respond to a breakthrough on his own line. Shouldn’t the Saxon king be able to send in a reserve unit, just as Arthur can? Well, maybe not — we don’t have to be fair here. This is MY design and I’ll do whatever I damn well have to do!

Still, it would stink to high heaven if three of his commanders have been routed and Lancelot breaks through and thereby bestows victory on Arthur. No, the overall result of the battle is the cumulative result of the individual fights of all the commanders. 

How about this: when a commander breaks through, he automatically aids the worst-off colleague. In other words, we don’t define relative positions in the line until we need to. If Galahad is getting clobbered and Pellinore breaks through, poof! Pellinore just happens to be right next to Galahad and wheels to aid him. Yes, there could be some apparent problems in which commanders might seem to be hopping around the battlefield like quantum particles, but we can sweep those under the rug with the assumption that the battle was “fluid”. 

Another thing: I don’t think we need to even mention nothingburger events. There’s no point in reporting that somebody is doing OK. I’ll maintain that rule for the three least extreme combat results. 

OK, so let’s put this together with a sample story of a battle:

The battle begins
So far, everything seems to be going well.
Everything still appears to be going OK.
Morgana’s men appear to be losing ground.
Pellinore’s men are making good progress.
Morgana sends a distress call; she needs help. 
I dispatch Galahad to reinforce her.
Now Gawain is calling for reinforcements.
I ride to his sector and encourage him. “Gawain, you’re doing fine. Soon the Saxons will crumble.”
The Saxon line in front of Pellinore dissolves; Pellinore’s men pour through the gap and take the adjacent Saxons in flank.
Galahad’s men break through their opponents. 
The Saxon line breaks up into a mob of refugees.
I send in the Katerfaks to pursue the Saxons. 

This scheme is flawed; Arthur should have been able to order Gawain to fall back, but since that would have exposed the flanks of his neighbors, I would need to order his neighbors to fall back a little. No, that would be a mess. So how can Arthur utilize his ability to order people to stand firm, fall back, etc?

I need a better model. I’d like something that in effect isolates the commanders from each other tactically yet allows them to aid each other.