Unit Strengths in BE

Ultimately, since troops are the “weapons” of the BE universe, I want to get a more concrete idea of how to handle them in BE. When the fight comes down, it’s seems like it’s always totally arbitrary: 10 guys in Iron vs. 10 street punks. This is an attempt to formalize what unit sizes are available to different characters (roughly), and also how a commander can enhance his forces, so that players can operate more strategically: resource rolls to maintain their forces, training and resource tests to increase the power of their forces, mobilization and logistics tests to field their units at maximum effectiveness. For example, make a resource test to get your street punks some sensors and a guy who can train them to use them.

I’m discussing Anvil forces here, but the principles apply to Hammer as well.

1. Affiliations
Affiliations are from 1-3 dice, and also can represent the force pool available for a firefight. Affiliations should also have a troop component to them, which represents how large or small the associated troop pool is:

1D: large pool of non-combatants (EX2) or a small pool of EX 3 combatants
2D: large pool of exponent 3 combatants, or a small pool of exponent 4 combatants
3D: army of EX2-3 troops, large pool of exponent 4 troops, or small pool of exponent 5 troops

In other words, the exponent of the troops an affiliation gives you is as listed for a small pool of troops, but can be dropped to “buy” a larger pool. This would be chosen during character burning, and could be raised through training, resource tests for up-gunning,etc…

2. Lifepaths and Traits
Among the human lifepaths, the most obvious ones that will give a character a troop pool are the Anvil/Hammer/Forged Lord traits. But other lifepaths also offer characters pools of men they can call on. Starting at the highest, macro-level and working down:

Armies: Characters in command or leadership positions may start play with large armed resources. These would be armies that the character doesn’t lead personally, but whose orders they (hopefully), follow. The armies would be composed of Battalions.

Access: Activating an Army would involve a series of building rolls, making a logistics roll to get the unit supplied and mobilized, circling up a commander and giving him orders. But these powerful characters would have immediate access to a Battalion or two of Guards that they personally command (the Imperial Guard in France, the Emperor’s Crimson Guard in star wars, etc…).

Personal Guard: up to 2 Squads (depending on the occasion and ostentation of the character)

Exponents: The Armies will have a core of veterans at the listed exponent, the rest being one exponent lower. The Guard is as listed for the first Battalion, reduced by one for the second.

Lifepaths/Traits: Cotar Antistes, Cotar Arderes, Lord Steward, Executive Official, First Speaker, Forged Lord (if the ruler of one or more planets), Void Lord.

Battalions: Armies are composed of Battalions. In the Iron Empires, battalions are personal armies, which characters can employ with relative freedom (they also are responsible for maintaining them). These are units of fixed size. They would start play at the affiliation exponent. Void Lords aren’t bound by the imperial restrictions on force size, so they could choose larger force pools of lower-exponent guys. Forged Lords also are permitted more lattitude, and could field multiple battalions.

Lifepaths/Traits: Anvil Lord, Hammer Lord, Forged Lord, Void Lord, Cotar Fomas

Access: The Battalion must be maintained (the listed resource roll). Other than that, it’s the lord’s personal army, to mobilize as he wishes. Full mobilization should require a building scene in the previous maneuver (logistics, resources or equivilent roll), otherwise, only a portion of the Battalion will be prepared to fight at the drop of a hat. Say one company in a battalion at EXP 3 or less, and two companies in a EXP 4 or higher battalion.

Personal Guard: up to a squad.

Exponents: As listed for a single battalion. A Forged/Void Lord can increase his forces by additional Battalions, but each Battalion added has an Exponent of 1 less than the last (example, a Forged Lord with an Affiliation of 3 wants 3 Battalions. The first is at the listed exponent, 5, the second is exponent 4, the third is exponent 3). This increases the maintenance costs astronomically.

Sub-Units: Characters who are unit commanders have troops under their direct command, but are also, themselves, under the direct command of a Lord or Church leader, and wouldn’t have a free hand in how those troops would be employed. These force pools would range from a battalion down to a company or so for Lieutenants/X-O’s and the various Captains.

Lifepaths/Traits: Cotar Fomas, Lord Pilot, Hammer Captain, Lieutenant, X-O, Anvil Captain, Sodalis-Captain, Inquisitor, Circle of 10,000, Ship’s Captain

Access: These commanders have access to their security detatchment, but must operate under orders from their superiors for any larger mobilization. The sub-unit doesn’t need to be maintained by the commander (no resource rolls), but logistics and bureaucracy stand in for the maintenance. The squeaky wheel gets the ammunition.

Personal Guard: a security detatchment (fire team).

Exponents: As listed for a company, reduced by one for a battalion.

Non-Military: characters with connections to unofficial military assets (thugs, rebels, etc…). These are polyglot forces that can range from a dozen thugs to hordes of rebels. They will be low exponent troops as a rule, so large numbers of men could be available for small affiliations. Also, whether or not the character can use the troops with a free hand is more open to the character concept: are you a crime lord? Free hand. Are you in command of a unit of rebels, but not the rebellion’s overall leader? Less of a free hand.

Lifepaths/Traits: Owner-Aboard, Rebel Priest, Freebooter, Insurrectionist, Outlaw, Pirate, Smuggler, Criminal, Traveler

Access: This has got to be worked out at the table, since there’s so much variation in these organizations. For a small group (smuggler’s crew, outlaw’s band of thieves), treat it as a Personal guard equal to a squad or two. For a larger group (pirate fleet, crime family, rebel monastery), treat it as a Battalion or Sub-Unit depending on whether or not the character is running the show or is just a lieutenant.

Personal Guard: varies.

Exponents: The unit’s starting exponents will be reduced by one outside of the personal guard in all cases.

Personal Bodyguards: The lifepaths listed here don’t have any military to call on per se, but could certainly have a personal guard, up to a squad in size.

Court Lord, Lady, League Official, Cabinet Member.

I’ll consider what skills the commander can draw upon in these different groups next time (I realize there’s already some of this dealt with in the book, but I don’t have it at my fingertips).

Any thoughts, comments, additions?


in my experience, # of troops is mainly just color, as that 10 man anvil company could take on a whole army of street thugs… those #s are taken care of with the ‘outnumber opponents’ and ‘vastly outnumber opponents’ bonuses in firefight disposition building. the level of training (anvil or iron or nothing) also gives a bonus, so i’m not sure why the nitty gritty is necessary. in my opinion, it would probably bog down play.

to maximize your troops would just take a building role or two, using strategy, logistics, and maybe resources to get your troops to the fight. the most any of those roles would get you is a +1 or +2 to your next firefight dispo. i wouldn’t call it arbitrary, just purposefully ambiguous. it’s all just color for the more intense moments of play.

I started thinking about how the modern US Army handles HHCs (Headquarters, Headquarters Company) and PSDs (Personal Security Details), and then I realized that the way the Iron Empires universe works, the issue for how many troops you actually have at your beck and call at any given moment is much less about practical military considerations than prestige.

“How many troops” actually becomes a big issue in Shakespeare’s King Lear, as the “retired” King finds his ungrateful daughters slowly whittling down the number of knights he has in attendance:

LEAR:… Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,
By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns.
(Act I, Scene I)

GONERIL: …Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder’d, so debosh’d and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: be then desired
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train…
(Act I, Scene IV)

REGAN: I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one house,
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
(Act II, Scene IV)

And of course Lear ends up wandering with no companion but the Fool.
(Quotes courtesy of anawesome MIT site that puts the entire text of every Shakespeare play online - http://shakespeare.mit.edu/).

Yeah, possibly it would. But, in the same way most players want “weapon porn”, i’m into “army porn”. For me thinking about this stuff is exciting! I certainly don’t want any bogging down, what I want is an idea of what I’m working with. Say I’m a street thug. Could I make a building roll to gain a +2 overwhelming numbers bonus attacking an Anvil fortress? The GM would say “no, that’s not possible,” but I want to be able to say that in less obvious cases without feeling like I’m, again, arbitrarily telling the players what they can and can’t do. I’d like for them to be able to gauge for themselves.

I’m all for being purposefully ambiguous, but, again, the weapon lists aren’t ambiguous in the slightest. Luke made a decision to go into great detail there (and I think it’s cool). For me (FOR ME), the more interesting place for the detail to zoom in is on the unit level, which is where 99% of the firefight action happens.


Personally I’m all for greater narrative guidance even if it’s all “just color.” I don’t know that it has to be super-detailed but I’d love to know if being “vastly outnumbered” by a bunch of conscripts means my crack assassin squad is facing a crowd of dozens or a horde of thousands.

That, to me, would be super-useful: Kind of a chart of various typical force types and what they are outnumbered/vastly outnumbered by.

In any case, it’s always cool to read more details about what’s in your head, Chris. Keep posting!


I like this notion. To extrapolate:

Affiliation and Mechanics:
Essential Concept
Increased Affiliation at its most basic level provides competent soldiers, though not necessarily battle-tested, (Exponent 3) at increased unit sizes.

Affiliation 1D: 1 Platoon worth of Exponent 3 troops
Affiliation 2D: 1 Company worth of Exponent 3 troops
Affiliation 3D: 1 Battalion worth of Exponent 3 troops.

Unit Sizes
The Abstract ‘Effective Size’ Mechanics works as follows:

[li]Squad…(Approximately 5-25 Men) (+1 Bonus to Infiltration)[/li]> [li]Platoon…(Approximately 30-50 Men) (+0 Bonus to Infiltration)[/li]> [li]Company…(Approximately 75-200 Men) (-1 Bonus to Infiltration)[/li]> [li]Battalion …(Approximately 500-1’000 Men) (-2 Bonus to Infiltration)[/li]> [li]Regiment/Brigade…(Approximately 2’000-4’000 Men) (Infiltration not possible)[/li]> [li]Horde/Army…(Approximately 5’000-10’000+ Men) (Infiltration not possible)[/li]> [/ul]

In Firefight
In a firefight having an effective larger size while causing Disposition casualties is magnified at the following rates:

  • One step larger unit size than your target increases all enemy disposition loss by 2x.
  • Two step size advantage increases this to 3x.
  • There is no penalty for having a lower size.

During Initial Dispositions Roll
Compare the Effective Size rating of each sides TOTAL troop number. The basic trooper is assumed to be armed with standard ballistic armor and an assault weapon as appropriate to his index/scenario settings. This might be modified by further modification.

A Man wearing Anvil armor is essential worth 2 Men
A Man wearing Iron Armor is essentially worth 4 Men (NOTE1: Perhaps this ought to be higher? 10x or even 20x?)

Unit Modifications
To customize a unit the effective ‘size’ is modified. The various trade ins that can be made are as follows:

Possible Exponent Trades[ul][li]-1 Exponent for +1 Effective Size[/li]> [/ul]
Possible Size Trades[ul]
[li]-1 Size for +1 Exponent[/li]
Training and Equipment
[li]-1/2 Size for Specific Environmental Advantage Trait[/li]> [li]-1/2 Size for Specific ‘Effective Technology’ Trait[/li]> [li]-1/2 Size for +1 Effective Infiltration Exponent[/li]
[li]-1/2 Size for Specific Weaponry Bonus Trait[/li]> [li]+1/2 Size for out dated (indexed) Weaponry[/li]> [li]+1 Size for no ranged weaponry[/li]
[li]+1/2 Size for no armor[/li]> [li]-1/2 Size for Platoon worth of Anvil Armour.[/li]> [li]-1 Size for Squad worth of Iron Armour[/ul][/li]
Specific ‘Technology’ Traits
The exact nature of this purchase must be precisely defined. These can typically confer the various ‘Superior xx’ bonuses within their particular field of expertise.


  • Compact Assault Weapons (for urban situations)
  • Arctic/Jungle/Desert Area Survival knowledge. (Extreme Environment)
  • High end long range communications modules.
    In essence anything that might confer an small advantage within a few range of scenarios.

At Character Creation and beyond.
This leaves considering the very relevant Anvil Lord trait. Going by the book wouldn’t it be appropriate to assume that this trait does not necessarily provide units by itself, but rather allows the player to acquire said troops in a legit fashion?

Therefore making it unnecessary to define specific game mechanics? (NOTE2: Perhaps just a small bonus?) If a lord wants to rustle up some troops he is permitted, or even obligated to do so.

Resources, Circles and Build scenes
These are already functioning mechanics that already perform this duty and could cover even more.
If a player wants personal security guards or especially large unit sizes (in a military sense) he will simply have to pay for or secure these in play. Additionally it would be very appropriate to use Building scenes to ‘improve’ already defined/existing troops. And why not? While preparing for war it seems the natural thing to do. :slight_smile:

Comments, questions and suggestions are very welcome.

Numbers, as mentioned add only color to the game and have therefore been kept purposely vague.

NOTE1: Perhaps this ought to be higher? 10x or even 20x?
Iron armor is unquestionably potent. How many generic ‘redshirts’ does a single "Iron armored ‘redshirt’ replace?

NOTE2: Perhaps just a small bonus?
A +1/2 Size bonus, neatly paying for the cost of Anvil Armour (for the majority of his troops) seems oddly fitting.

NOTE3: Horde armies and beyond
If for whatever the reason a player or NPC wants to amass 5000+ or more men in a single unit, the solutions are simple. Either pay for multiple lower level affiliations (and merge them in play) or upgrade already existing units. (again in play)

NOTE4: Squad Support Weaponry
Unfortunately the only thing this leaves very vague are squad support weapons. Numbers, quality, and capabilities. Suggestions? or just color.
(Note that the ‘Direct Fire’ Action lets you prioritize those soldiers armed with heavy weapons.)

>>Possible Size Trades

This in particular is a very cool idea, NEN. The more I think about it, the more numbers really AREN’T just color. The exact number of guys in a Horde may be abstracted, but in a fire team, they’re extremely valuable. You lose your Squad Support weapon guy, and it affects your team. If you have two Support guys, and you lose one, you still have a capability. I’m not super comfortable just saying “Hey, you know I’d have more than one Weapon guy, so I’ll take another shot opportunity.” Just as a f’rinstance.

I’ve gotta run now, but I really do want to work on this some more. Thanks for your ideas.



I think the main problem with the abstraction presented by the Firearms(!) rules in Burning Empires is that they always revolve around symmetrical forces. The various Disposition bonuses, as well as the “Direct Fire” rules do not mesh well with lopsided engagements. (or different division of forces)

While I agree that the Firefight rules should be presented in a colourful and indefinite manner. I believe that some additional sub-rules ought to be enforced in order to give a seemingly authentic feel for combat both personal and mass scale.

[li]Either through the Size division (presented above) or through a system similar to the Techburner. Unit traits need to be quantified.
[/li][li]Combat rules remain similar. But some Actions (particularly “Direct Fire” and “Close Combat”) should be modified on three different levels.
[/li] - 2a. Personal (Squad combat and smaller) Where all ‘actors’ are represented.

  • 2b. Military Units (Platoon, Company, Battalion) Where only Leaders and specialists are represented
  • 2c. Massive Actions (Brigade, Army) Where only leaders are represented
    [li]Military Units quantified on the Anvil level as “Infantry”, “Cavalry”, “Artillery”, or “Airpower”

The larger the “unit” the more effective disposition loss can be caused.
The smaller the “unit” the more effective FIREPOWER can be applied on an personal level.Lethal
The smaller the “unit” the more unaccounted for specialist actions can be performed.

It bears noting that to a lesser or greater degree the current Firefight rules covers this on a basic abstract level. I’d like these advantages and traits to be presented with clearer tactical applications.

Current issues
[li]It shouldn’t be possible to hide a sniper in a Horde.
[/li][li]It shouldn’t be possible to cause massive disposition losses by merely having two (special weapon armed) characters surrounded by thousands of useless redshirts (ex1-2)
[/li][li]‘Direct Fire’ should be more effective at causing disposition loss, rather than just possibly causing casualties.

Army porn?! Count me in! As a Marine infantry officer and now historian for the federal government, I’ve never met a TO&E or line diagram I didn’t like. Below is my take, borrowing from pretty much everybody on this thread. Thanks!

HAMMER & ANVIL: Force Strengths in Burning Empires

  1. Affiliations

Affiliations represent how powerful, competent, and capable the force is, i.e. its starting Exponent.

1D: Ex 3
2D: Ex 4
3D: Ex 5

Rule of Thumb: In order to get something more, you have to give up a level of Exponent.

  1. Forces

Lifepaths give a character access to a force. The Anvil/Hammer/Forged Lord traits are the most obvious.

2a. Force: The “Force,” from the Federation military’s Space-Ground Task Force organization, is largest military unit in the Iron Empires.

Lifepaths/Traits: Cotar Antistes, Cotar Arderes, Lord Steward, Executive Official, First Speaker, Forged Lord (if the ruler of one or more planets), Void Lord.

Organization: A Force typically consists of at least one Anvil Battalion and one Hammer Wing (see below for more description of these). To get more battalions or wings, the exponent of each additional unit would be reduced by one from the starting exponent.

Access: Activating a Force would involve a series of building rolls, making a logistics roll to get the unit supplied and mobilized, circling up a commander and giving him orders. But these powerful characters would have immediate access to a battalion of Guards and flight of ships that they personally command.

Personal Guard: Up to 2 Squads.

2b. Battalion/Wing: In the Iron Empires, Battalions and Wings are personal units, which characters can employ with relative freedom, although they are responsible for maintaining them. These are units of fixed size and start play at the affiliation exponent.

Void Lords aren’t bound by the imperial restrictions on force size, so they could more lower-exponent units. Neither are Anvil Lords on sub-index worlds, especially outworlds, as they can’t easily get their troops off-planet. When increasing the number of units, drop the exponent of the second unit by 1, the third by 2, and so on.

Lifepaths/Traits: Anvil Lord, Hammer Lord, Void Lord, Cotar Fomas.

Organization: A typical low and high index Anvil Battalion consists of battalion headquarters and assets, a company in iron, and two line companies in anvil armor, all with full grav-lift capability. A zero index Anvil Battalion has three line companies in ballistic armor with non-grav (ground or pressor) lift. A battalion totals 450-650 men, at full strength.

A battalion headquarters would have a staff with an X-O, an Adjutant, and a Quartermaster, along with their staff (normally an experienced soldier or sergeant as chief with 1-3 clerks) and 8-12 guards, along with two Grav Tactical Operations Centers, two Anvil Assault Sleds, and several grav sleds with their crews. Battalion assets include an Attack Platoon with 4-6 Attack Sleds, their crews and maintainers; a Scout Platoon with 4-6 modified grav sleds and crews; a Signals Platoon with several vehicles and 10-12 techs; a Maintenance Platoon with 2-4 vehicles, crews, armorers, and machinists, a Supply Platoon with 3-4 vehicles and crews, and a Medical Platoon manning 2-3 evac sleds with one pilot and one medic each and a Field Hospital with a doctor, several medics and orderlies. (In a zero-index battalion all vehicles would be non-grav.)

A Hammer Wing normally has 2-4 Cruisers, 4-6 Patrol Craft, 4-6 Assault Shuttles, and 1-3 Civilian Hammers or Mercators plus some cargo shuttles (for re-supply), organized into Flights of 2-4 ships, either same-type (ie all cruisers) or mixed, for 10-20 ships total. A wing also has a permanent base under a Port Officer with a Maintenance Flight, a Supply Flight, and a Security Flight of 20-40 men.

Personal Guard: Up to a Squad.

2c. Sub-Units: Characters who are sub-unit commanders of have troops under their direct command, but are also, themselves, under the direct command of a Lord or Church leader, and wouldn’t have a free hand in how those troops would be employed. Companies are the normal Anvil sub-unit, while Flights are typical for Hammer. Sub-units have the Exponent of their commander’s Affiliation dice.

Lifepaths/Traits: Cotar Fomas, Lord Pilot, Hammer Captain, Lieutenant, X-O, Anvil Captain, Sodalis-Captain, Inquisitor, Circle of 10,000, Ship’s Captain.

Organization: The Squad is the basic Anvil small unit. It consists of a Squad Leader, Assistant Squad Leader, Squad Support Weapon Specialist, Signals Tech, Medic (who is a combatant), and 3-6 soldiers, for 8-12 total men, often organized into two fire teams of 4-6 each. More elite units replace soldiers with more specialists such as a scout, an engineer, or a stormtrooper. Squads are numbered 1-9 on their armor by company, with each man numbered 1-12 within their squad. A soldier is often identified by squad/number, such as 2/7 or 5/10.

Three squads plus a lift section (4 vehicles with 8-12 crewmen) make up a platoon. A Platoon Headquarters has a Platoon Commander, Platoon Sergeant, Signals Tech, Medic, and up to 2 Runners. A platoon totals 36-54 men. Platoons are numbered, but are usually referred to by color in operation: Red, White, Blue, Black, Green, Brown. Members of the Platoon Headquarters are numbered with the commander as 1, the signals tech as 2, the medic as 3, the platoon sergeant as 4, and so on. So the Red Platoon commander would typically be “Red Leader” or “Red 1” on the radio.

Three platoons comprise a company. A Company Headquarters consists of a Commander, an X-O, two Signals Techs, two Medics, an Armorer, a Machinist, and up to 6 Soldiers as a security detachment, plus a lift section of one tactical operations vehicle and one IFV and 4-6 crew. A company totals 120-180 soldiers. Companies are typically numbered one to three, with iron companies always numbered one, but also have a designation such as “Sword,” “Dragon,” “Whirlwind,” “Black Heart,” etc. The headquarters is often called “Base,” i.e. “Dragon Base.” Note that in combat, companies cross-attach platoons, so a company might have an iron platoon and two anvil platoons. Learning how to coordinate these disparate elements takes some practice.

The Ship is the main Hammer sub-unit typically with a captain or commander, a pilot or helmsman, a sensor or signals specialist, a damage control specialist and a several gunners. Ships may be further organized into flights of 2-4, but these are often only organized for specific missions.

Personal Guard: A security detachment (fire team).

  1. Examples

3a. Baron Sheva’s Landwehr Brigade (from Sheva’s War): Baron Jepard Sheva is an Anvil Lord with Affiliation: Anvil 2D. This gives him a force as follows:

1st “Shappardun” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 4

The Baron, with several of Taramai’s valleys to defend decides he needs more units. Since Taramai is a sub index outworld he is able to add them. So he organizes two more battalions:

    2nd “Shappar” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 3
3rd “Shazar” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 2

The Baron also realizes his forces will need fire support and so recruits an artillery battalion with two batteries, one of six self-propelled guns and one of six towed pieces. However, as his fourth battalion, it would be an Exp 1 unit, not very useful, so he chooses to reduce the exponent of his first battalion by one, to make the artillery Exp 2. His Brigade now looks like this:

1st “Shappardun” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 3
    2nd “Shappar” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 3
3rd “Shazar” Battalion (Anvil Battalion, sub-index): Ex 2
4th Artillery (“Grandpa Sheva”) Battalion (sub-index): Exp 2

Taramai is, as Sheva’s War says, “unable to maintain an adequate Landwehr.” (Note that since Baron Sheva combines military and civil authority, his brigade does not need an extensive support organization.)

3b. CHOT Guard (from Faith Conquers): Commander Tarrak Fike has the Forged Trait and Affiliation: Anvil 1D. This provides the following force Ex 3 Anvil Battalion:

Iron Company
2 x Line Companies

However, the CHOT wants to be Forged, so the GM determines it will cost one Exponent to one company, but without a Hammer affiliation, it will only yield an Exponent 1 Hammer Wing. Fike agrees and chooses to make his third company Ex 2. He also wants to upgrade his iron company, so reduces his other line company one exponent. His force now is as follows:

Hammer Wing Ex 1
Anvil Battalion
	Iron Company Ex 3
	Line Company Ex 2
	Line Company Ex 2

It is a Force, as Lieutenant Urci Fox said, whose “Hammer’s nothing more than a couple of beat up old mercators and tugs” and the “iron company’s supposed to be good, the line companies are dirt from what I hear.”

3c. Hotok Temple Guard (from Faith Conquers): Cotar Fomas Trevor Faith, Anvil Lord, Affiliation: Anvil 1D. His Anvil Battalion is all Ex 3. He manages to convince the GM to swap out one line company for a cavalry company, equipped with more powerful IFVs. The GM agrees, but reduces the iron company exponent by one. The Guard is now as follows:

Iron Company  Ex 2
Armored Infantry Company  Ex 3
Cavalry Company: Ex 3

Faith thus finds himself with “good material,” but the iron troopers will have problems in his upcoming live-fire exercies.

  1. Sources

Initial Concept, Lifepaths/Traits, Access, Personal Guard: Chris Moeller, “Unit Strengths in BE,” http://burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?t=5064

Unit types: Burning Empires, p. 360 (assuming “Ob 17— Upkeep for an iron company,” is a typo and “company” should read “battalion.”)

Anvil Battalion organization: Faith Conquers, chapter 2, Lieutenant Urci Fox states the CHOT Guard, with one iron and two line companies, is “a anvil battalion.”

Small unit organization: Burning Empires, p. 466.

General: GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces.

That’s my thoughts, lots of room to play, need more on the Hammer side.

This is a really cool concept. It probably needs another iteration, since the rule say “A 1D affiliation represents a small or poorly kept force comprised mostly of conscripts and landwehr with exponent 3 abilities. A 2D affiliation represents a competent or sizeable force …” – i.e. there’s an implication that a 1D force is smaller than a 2D force. Maybe somehow this could tie into the Firefight rules for getting initial disposition bonuses for outnumbering or “vastly outnumbering” the opponent? I’ll have to sit down with the brick and think more systematically about this. You’re onto something very interesting here.

Oh, and the mighty Thor, who should know, fleshes out the numbers point in this thread, relevant portion quoted below:

Dang, missed this before, good points and within BE. I think Chris head the nail on the head when he insisted Traits such as Anvil Lord or Hammer Captain have to modify the Affiliation. What is “small” for a Forged Lord might be large for an Anvil Captain! Thus my push towards some semi-standard unit types and sizes.

Building Anvil

Thinking about building Anvil and following on Thor’s post here http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?t=5498 to wit “a 1D affiliation means a small or poorly kept force, a 2D affiliation means a sizable and well-trained force, and a 3D affiliation means a large and elite force”

and Chris’s post here http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?t=5594 that “The Anvil Battalion is a relatively compact outfit designed to fight on OTHER worlds, and is privately maintained by an Anvil or Forged Lord. It’s generally grav-mobile with organic troop transports (that are banned by law and custom from mounting anything bigger than Vehicular scale weapons). Battalion is a flexible term (like the old Regiment). It can be anywhere
from 3-10+ Companies in strength, depending on the specifics of the title the commanding Lord is granted”

an Anvil thus has both its size and exponent tied to the Affiliation die. Now Sydney is working on what kinds of companies an Anvil Battalion would have, I am interested in how many a Battalion could have.

Say a 1D Anvil Affiliation means 3 company Slots at Ex 3, 2D means 6 company Slots at Ex 4, and 3D means 9 company Slots at Ex 5.

You could swap Exponent for Slots or Slots for Exponent, at a ratio of 1 Ex to 2 Slots.

There would be required companies, say at least 1 Iron Co and 1 Armored Infantry.

There could cheaper companies, say one Slot gets you two Security or Light Infantry Companies, and expensive companies, taking an Artillery Battery for your Anvil takes two Slots.

Of course, once game play begins, your Anvil Lord can work to increase both the size and exponent of his or her battalion.

Does this make some sense?

Strikes me as an elegant solution, Lance. And I see where the confusion with “troop transports not carrying large weapons” came from. I meant space-transports, not IFV’s and suchlike.


I really like this, Lance.

One question to Chris about canonicity: Are Iron companies sufficiently common that they should be a “required” choice? I’m especially thinking about Taramai’s landwehr, which is mostly light infantry and maybe one artillery company, in the terms we’ve been setting up, with Iron only for individual leaders. Or look at Hotok in Faith Conquers, where the CHOT and the Mundas Humanitas both have one company of Iron – is that impressive or average?

you know where this is all going, don’t you?

expansion pack ;)P

There is no Iron requirement, no. Any Anvil Lord worth his salt will have at least one Iron unit, even if it’s just a guard to keep up appearances.

Iron is like the finest plate armor. Only a small percentage of the wealthiest warriors will be able to afford it.


So any Anvil Lord but the poorest (e.g. Baron Sheva) will have, say, a squad of 4-5 Lords-Pilot in full Iron as his personal guard and as the iron fist in his velvet glove. But only the more substantial Anvil Lords can maintain a full company of (if you follow my TO&E) of 19 Lords-Pilot in Iron apiece (let alone several companies).

Something like this, then:

Anvil Lord’s Anvil Affiliation - Amount of Iron - % of Anvil Lords in this class
1D Affiliation - one Iron squad (4-5 Lords-Pilot) - 25% of Anvil Lords
2D Affiliation - one Iron company (19-20 Lords-Pilot) - 50% of Anvil Lords
3D Affiliation - two or more Iron companies (40-100 Lords-Pilot) - 25% of Anvil Lords

[Whoops. I misread my own spreadsheet! See this post in the “Anvil TO&E Builder” thread for correction]

P.S. In the scheme above, presumably Baron Sheva started with a 1D affiliation and then used Lance’s optional rules to “buy down” his Iron from a squad of 4-5 to just his personal armor. What did he buy up in return, I wonder? Maybe that rocket-assisted artillery battery which provides covering fire to Sheva’s unit in the initial clash at the granary? Maybe the space tug? Maybe a second Psychologist (Vienne) to help his wife – considering what crap the rest of his troops are, he’s got a remarkable number of Psychologists.