This month, I’m going to be talking about one of the subplots in in Lords of Infinity: the Army Reform Commission. Unlike the Budget Crisis, participation in this subplot is more or less optional: it’ll run its course whether or not the player chooses to intervene in it. However, this subplot may well have widespread long-term effects. At some point later in the series, the player may find themselves wishing they’d taken the opportunity when they had the chance.
The King’s Army went to war in Antar as a more or less entirely untested force. Its institutions and regulations were either adopted from those of the Takaran Richshyr, or holdovers from the conflicts which unified Tierra a century before. It was an army built on assumptions which the experience of the Dozen Years War have often proven inaccurate, misguided, or downright harmful. The officers who suffered the inadequacy of the old system returned from Antar with a long list of lessons learned, and an even longer list of ideas for how a better, more effective army might be trained, equipped, organised and led. Having witnessed some of the shortcomings of his army firsthand, King Miguel has ordered the creation of a Royal Commission made up of veteran officers to suggest changes to the King’s Army, and to ensure that the hard lessons learned in wartime are not forgotten in peace.
The Army Reform Commission is not going to be an easy body to join. Getting in might mean currying favour with Grenadier Square, or leaning on the friendship of those with the influence to get you a seat on the Commission. If the Dragoon Officer managed to make the right friends within the army, or has earn enough of a reputation as a tactician or a fighting officer, then they might have a shot. Alternatively, they could try ingratiating themselves with one of the political players in the Cortes powerful enough to influence who gets to sit on the Commission. That being said, such methods will always carry a price, one which the Dragoon Officer might not be willing to pay.
If the Dragoon Officer is able to get a seat on the Commission, they then have a whole new set of issues to deal with. Not every officer who served in Antar had the same experiences, and not every one of them came to the same conclusions. In short, there is a split within the Commission itself over which direction the Commission should take:
The so-called “Infantry School” are members of the Commission who want to focus on organisation and logistics. Although matters of supply and administration might seem “boring” to some, they are the foundation of a functioning army. Infantry School proponents want to overhaul the ordnance board, create a dedicated logistics branch, institute larger permanent formations, and subject junior officers to standardised training. In short, they want to make the King’s Army a better supplied, and better organised force, with an emphasis on a more centralised command structure.
The commissioners belonging to the “Cavalry School”are proponents of reforming and refining the “sharp end” of the King’s Army. They want an overhaul of the manual of arms, and a revision of drill and tactics from the battalion level down. Furthermore, Cavalry School proponents want a more permanent establishment of special purpose units (like the Experimental Corps of Riflemen) and an increase in the authority given to company/troop and battalion/squadron level officers to operate. The result would be a more decentralised army, composed of more independent units with more flexible tactics and commanded by officers with more freedom to respond quickly.
The terms are misnomers, of course. There are Infantry School proponents from the cavalry, and Cavalry School proponents who are infantry officers. However, the fact remains that if the Dragoon Officer joins the Army Reform Commision, they’ll have to choose a side to support, or try to walk the line between them.
The more astute readers among you might have noticed that most of the reforms advocated by the Infantry School and Cavalry School aren’t really mutually exclusive. A better supply infrastructure doesn’t mean that there can’t be a new manual of arms. Perhaps you’re thinking “why not both”?
That brings us to the last complication involved: the Army Reform Commission may have the King’s backing, but that doesn’t mean the Cortes has the political will to turn the Commission’s report into action. Tierra has just fought a long, expensive, and bloody war, and it has neither the resources or the inclination to spend a large amount of money overhauling its army. Not only will the members of the Commission need to lobby hard to get the Cortes to even consider funding their suggested reforms, but they’ll need to deliver a list of suggestions which enough of the Lords of the Cortes can be convinced to vote for. Given Tierra’s rolling budget crisis, that more or less means that the more expensive any list of reforms is going to be to implement, the harder it’ll be to get the funding for it.
If the Dragoon Officer manages to get a place on the Commission, the player will be able to make decisions regarding what reforms to back and what reforms to kill. But even if the player chooses other priorities, the Commission will still run its course, the decisions made will determine the shape of the Tierran Army in the years ahead. If Tierra goes to war again and the Dragoon Officer is recalled to service, then such matters may mean the difference between life and death.
P.S. I know, I know, I promised Cortes factions this month, but I wanted to get this one out of the way for more context. Next month, I swear.
As usual, new installments of A Soldier’s Guide to the Infinite Sea and An Adventurer’s Guide to the Fledgling Realms are now up, both funded by my supporters on Patreon. If you want to see more of this kind of content, feel free to donate. Patrons get early access, and the ability to decide what I write for next month at higher tiers.