This is a DRAFT of a system possibility.
The battle system is used to provide immediate resolution to story-scale conflicts — specifically, military conflicts. The flagpole is used to provide guidance for long-term story-scale conflicts. Contests are used to provide immediate resolution to scene-scale conflicts. A battle, on the other hand, takes into account story-scale resources, while providing immediate resolution via a scene or a set of scenes. A battle combines the use of individual stuff (stats, gifts, bonus tokens, etc.), with the use of story-scale tokens.
Or, put simplistically: A battle is what you use when you've got a big pile of tokens representing armies, and the other guy has a big pile of tokens representing armies, and you want to figure out what happens.
A battle is not intended to represent an entire war. It's intended to provide immediate resolution to a single scene of play, representing, literally, a single battle. Consequently, the scope of consequences for a battle should be limited accordingly. This is scene-level resolution; reasonable consequences are things like, "The pass is held and no troops can reach the fortress," or, "The fortress has been held, but the walls have been breached."
Individual characters, beyond the troop commanders themselves, can and should influence the outcome of battles. This comes in the form of consequences from one-on-one or group contests, which should be resolved prior to mechanically resolving the skirmish itself. Such consequences can, for instance, limit what tokens are and aren't reasonable to use in the skirmish.
A skirmish is a conflict between two PC commanders and their armies. It begins much like a +compare, with one of the commanders initiating the skirmish with:
+skirmish opponent using stat [with optional-gifts optional-bonus-token]
The opposing commander replies in kind, and a normal handshake of the gifts and tokens occurs. However, neither player is told what stat was chosen; this is left for the actual resolution stage.
This choice of a stat, gifts, and bonus tokens for the commanders represents the quality of leadership. Military command and logistics gifts and tokens are appropriate. Unless this is a very small-scale engagement, things on a personal scale are not appropriate (i.e., individual fighting gifts, individual items, and the like).
Next, both players commit tokens to the fight. You can choose any number of story-scope tokens (tokens that would be valid for flagpole use). The tokens must be in your possession. They can be tokens authored by you, or by other people. You cannot use tokens created by any of your alts. You can only use tokens from one of a given player's characters; someone cannot give you tokens from multiple alts. Finally, a token must have been authored by a currently-active character (defined as someone who has been online within the last two weeks, and who has been actively playing scenes during the past month) or by a totally inactive character (a character who is retired, or who hasn't been logged in for more than 3 months), or the token must be more than six months old. These restrictions are automatically enforced.
To commit a token, use: +skirmish/commit token-ID
When you're done choosing your tokens, use: +skirmish/done
Now, both players get to review each other's tokens.
Use +skirmish/tokens to see the token list.
Use +skirmish/token token-ID to see a token.
To reject a token, use +skirmish/reject token-ID
When you're done reviewing the tokens, use +skirmish/done
If you're unable to reach agreement on tokens, or you want to re-instate a token that has been rejected and the two of you have reached an agreement that it's okay, use +skirmish/cancel to start over.
All gift-based tokens created with a gift that lacks the persistent powerbit will be marked as expended.
A calculation will be done of the quality of command, which will in turn influence troop performance. The strength of the tokens, combined with the troop performance, results in a total damage done for each side.
Each player must now choose which of his remaining tokens to expend or degrade in quality, equal to the amount of damage done to his side. +skirmish/kill token-ID hits a token for a point of damage.
When both players are done dealing damage to tokens, another calculation is done, for the overall skirmish result and consequences.