If you view the chit draw mechanic as simply a way to simulate simultaneous movement, then you are selling it short. It is a powerful mechanic that simulates the full range of events that can occur on the battlefield.
For instance, say you are playing Gettysburg and you have unguarded artillery on Cemetery Hill. Furthermore, A.P.Hill’s Chit has just been drawn and he is poised to attack with two divisions, these will sweep the hill and leave the Union line compromised! Hancock is nearby and you roll to Alter Turn Order: Success! You move first and reinforce the hill with the nearest division, the line is saved.
“Okay,” you say, “but what really happened?” What has Pub Battles just simulated? Historically, that exact situation was occurring and Hancock was looking around desperately for a way to delay the rebel tide, so that one of his divisions would have time to move into place. He spotted a company of soldiers and he rode up and asked them who they were. “We’re the First Minnesota.”
“Well do you see those colors over there” he asked, pointing to an entire Secesh division. “I want you to capture those colors.”
So off marched the First Minnesota, capturing the colors and their place in history as the unit that suffered the greatest casualty rate in U.S. history. They confederate assault was held up just long enough for the reinforcements to steady the line.
That is what is possible to duplicate with the chit draw mechanic.
If you’ve read much American War of Independence history, you have probably read on more than one occasion that Washington’s army was saved by a skillful delaying action led by Nathaniel Greene. With Pub Battles this is quite possible. If your opponent moves adjacent to you to attack, and your chit is drawn after that, then you can back away just enough and foil the attack, without giving up too much space.
This certainly doesn’t mean shots were not exchanged! Quite to the contrary, there was most likely a very hot issue being decided, but the skillful defenders were able to prevent the significant result desired by the attackers. If moving away from contact still feels wrong, consider this.
Even more likely, in other situations, it may have something to do with the attackers not launching the attack successfully. Maybe a regiment got lost, or got the orders wrong. Setting up an attack amidst noise and smoke is not an easy undertaking. Pub Battles doesn’t try to tell you exactly what happened, it only tells you that something happened. You can imagine and add whatever narrative you feel adds the most color and depth.
Alter Turn Order
There are a lot of factors to consider when you are trying to decide whether or not to roll to attempt to Alter Turn Order.
If you are attacking, do you want to give the defender a chance to run away, so you can take the position without a fight? Move before. Do you want to decide when and where combat will take place? Move after. Are you trying to coordinate an attack with another command, how can you best ensure that?
If you are the defender, do you want to delay the enemy? Move after. Do you want to rally from spent before he attacks? Move before. Are you trying to coordinate actions between commands? It depends on coordination.
There is no blanket “Always move first/last” rule. It depends on the situation. It depends on experience, not only in managing your Alter Turn Order options, but also in adapting to the turn order as is, and not being wholly dependent on the order of the draw.
Additionally, Pub Battles includes a semblance of fog-of-war in the way that the identities of fresh units and HQs are hidden from the opponent. You rarely know exactly which enemy pieces belong to which command. How can you be sure if the unit in question belongs to an HQ that has been drawn yet?
Like in so many instances, there is no substitute for experience. That nuanced appreciation for what might be, or what probably is.
The final thing I’m going to say about the chit draw is how re-playable it makes the game. No matter how many times you’ve fought and refought Gettysburg, or Waterloo, or any of the other Pub Battles scenarios, you are always surprised by the chit draw. The chit draw prevents the “best move” syndrome that limits most historical simulations. Depending on who goes first, next, and last, can change the battle entirely.
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