Pub Battles: System overview 3.0

So you’ve heard about Pub Battles by Command Post Games, and you’re almost ready to take the plunge, but you still have no idea how the game works, what are the rules? In general terms, this is how the game works (some exceptions and details are ignored in this overview):


An Army has a General HQ, and several Corps HQ’s, and their unit blocks. The unit blocks generally represent divisions (infantry, cav, artillery) these can be militia, line, or elite.


Mounted and foot each have a movement stick divided into thirds. Units may move straight ahead or in enfilade up to a 45 degree angle. First facing change is free, the second costs a third. Moving into any terrain costs a third no matter how many terrain features you occupy, in other words, if you don’t move completely in clear terrain, you move 2/3. If you are required to retreat, you retreat a third, ignoring terrain.


If it does not move, artillery may bombard in the movement phase. All other units must move to contact with an enemy and resolve it in the combat phase. Combat is fought in rounds until the units are no longer in contact. Each round of combat is simultaneous, with three 6 sided dice, scoring hits on 4+. One hit flips a unit to spent, two makes it retreat, and three eliminates it.

Modifications to the die rolls are simple and intuitive, if you have the advantage you add 1, if you are at a disadvantage you subtract 1. If you are elite you ignore the first hit, militia count the first hit as two.

Chit Draw

This is where it all happens. Each corps commander has a chit which is placed in a cup at the beginning of the turn. A chit is drawn and that commander moves, this is repeated until the cup is empty. Moving sooner or later in the turn isn’t always good or bad, it depends. I discuss this here. You aren’t necessarily stuck with the chit draw. Every HQ gets one chance per turn to alter the turn order, going earlier or later, and once per turn the army HQ can roll for a failed Corps HQ. After all chits have been drawn and all desired units moved (including those previously contacted), proceed to the combat phase

What’s Different in 3.0?

There are three prominent things that are different: Baggage Trains, Retreat, and Detachments.

Baggage Trains – This is the biggie. To recover from spent, a block must be within command range of an unpacked Baggage Train. Baggage trains start the game packed up and mobile (foot move). You can flip them and they become immobile and unpacked. Simple rule. Easy-peasy, Except you cannot pack them back up! Well, you can, but then you lose and the enemy gets double victory points. Why would you ever do that? Because if the combat phase begins and there is an enemy unit adjacent to your unpacked Baggage Train, you the game ends and they earn triple victory points!

Now you get the picture. You must unpack bags to recover from spent, but the moment you do, you’ve just created a victory opportunity. This is the decisive point where you as the commander decide what the battle is about. You decide where the critical part of the battle is located.

Retreat – In 3.0 when you retreat, any friendly unit you contact becomes spent as well and is pushed ahead of you. A supporting unit can ignore this if it advances to take the leading unit’s place.

Now you need to be very careful and judicious when deploying your troops.

Detachments -These units represent minor numbers of troops. They use the same size block as a regular infantry division, but they only have one attack die and can only take one hit.

Their primary purpose is Fog of War (they look like a full division), but they also make good speed bumps (the enemy has to stop and attack them), and they can flank an enemy.

Baggage Trains, Retreats, and Detachments, really bring the game into its own. They are a great addition because they make for difficult decisions and deep strategy without adding complicated rules. Baggage Trains are a real exceptional breakthrough. As the defender, it is up to you to decide when and where you will make your stand. As the attacker, you ideally don’t want to deploy your bags until the defender has deployed his, or you risk outrunning your supply lines! Unfortunately, the combat results might leave you with a bunch of spent units, forcing you to deploy bags just to keep the initiative.

That’s It!

Most battles are one day affairs that last about eight 90 minute turns. A game, coincidentally, should last about 90 minutes, per day. Capturing a Baggage Train ends the game, and you win, though your victory may be pyrrhic.

9 thoughts on “Pub Battles: System overview 3.0

  1. Hello Mr. Q, I have found your blog and it is really interesting. It gives some light to rules that were not clear, you explained that simple and clear. This system is wonderful for the many reasons that you pointed out.
    And great for solitary as well.
    I still have one doubt . Could you confirm to me that if one unit touch another one to fight direct combat ( both units are still fresh) and if the enemy unit has not moved yet, during the enemy units turn , it may retreat, therefore avoiding combat, but just for retreating 1/3 this unit has to be flipped to spent side ?

    If this is so, then I actually dont see why a player will wish to retreat a unit if anyway he is going to have it spent. In this case I think is better to fight and at least you get a chance to spent or destroy the attacking unit.

    Also sometimes I see it weird that two units in combat , if say for example both of them roll 3 hits for each other, both units are then destroyed, sort of extrange that no survivors at all 🙂

    As for artillery, I have come up with a house rule. As per rules spent artillery may not bombard. However I consider that when an artillery unit received a hit, it reflects some guns has been damaged, crew shocked or injured, but not the whole battery is ineffective. My variant spent artillery may still bombard but rolling only 2 dice and hits with 5 & 6 only.
    Best regards,


    1. Thanks for the comment, Jose!

      Good question about units moving away from contact. When units move away during the movement portion of the turn it is not a retreat, therefore no requirement to become spent.

      Remember, the game is simulating simultaneous movement. One of the ways of looking at moving after your opponent is to think of it as him showing his hand, and you reacting to it.

      Finally, moving just out of contact may look like there isn’t any combat, but you can think of it also as lots of combat, but the defender has fought a successful delaying action and frustrated the attacker’s attempt to force a decisive battle.

      Are you the Jose who was working on a South American scenario? They are currently putting together a true Kriegspiel scale version that uses demi-battalions and is going to be very useful for modelling smaller scale actions.


    2. Oh, and when a unit is eliminated, it doesn’t mean dead to the last man, elimination merely means that the unit is too depleted and exhausted to continue combat operations. That is why it is possible to recover half your losses overnight.


  2. Thanks for the quick answer. Yes, I am that Jose 🙂 I have done a version for the Battle of Maipu, 1818. where Chile got its Independence from Spain. You can write to my email and I will send you the board and order of Battle if you wish.


  3. Question : when two cavalry like dragoon fight each other and one is elite : how to destroy the elite with only 2 dice ? First hit is absorbed -second spend it or made it retreat


    1. It is tough, but the elite only absorb the hit on the first round of combat.

      So you would need to get two hits the first round leaving the elite spent, then two hits the second round eliminating it.

      Unless it were desperate, the elite would want to retreat, rather than risk elimination!


  4. Thank you. That’s the best way : difficult but not impossible to destroy an elite unit. I was playing Brandy Station with Pub battles rules in the evening. In Antietam too there are cavalry elite units against Union cavalry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, Brandy Station would be cool! I’ve got a copy of Volley & Bayonet scenarios for ACW and it has Brandy Station. I find V&B scenarios very easy to convert to Pub Battles.


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