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.
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.
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.