Imagine that you are the Army General in your command tent. Before you on a table is the map of the battlefield with the latest best estimates of yours and your opponents positions. You discuss possible options with your Corps commanders and move your units where you want them to move, as well as attack. Aides write down the orders and race on horseback to the field commanders. While this is going on, other aides are rushing back with the latest reports and updating your map. Sometimes everything goes according to plan. Usually, you have some surprises, as well as those moments where you are absolutely astonished by the events you see transpiring right before your eyes. If only you could be right there, but you also need to be right there, and there, and over there. This is real Fog of War at the highest level. This is Pub Battles!
A very few of these rules differ from the official Pub Battles rules. I’ve played hundreds of games and I have a few things I home rule. I denote these with an * so no one is confused and looking for them in the regular rules.
Infantry – Basic unit of the game, uses foot movement rate.
Cavalry – Fast moving unit, uses mounted movement rate.
Artillery – Primarily ranged combat, uses foot movement rate, unless labeled “Horse Artillery”
HQ – Small cube that represents commander’s locale, from which command range is measured.
Terms – Appear in italics when found in rules.
Activation – When a command chit is drawn, that command, and all its units, are activated.
Attacker – The unit that moved into contact.
Bombardment – Ranged artillery fire…
Column – A long narrow formation used to facilitate quick road movement (X2). To move in column a unit is positioned so its length is stretched out along a road. Vulnerable if attacked. It cost 1/3 move to switch into, or out of, column.
Command – A Corps HQ may only command units in its Corps. An Army HQ may command any units in its army, also it may have units attached directly to it alone. Only units in command before they move may move into contact with an enemy. Only active units may move, and only active units in command may move into contact, Thus, an army HQ may command any units, but only activated units may move!
Command Range – 1/3 mounted move as measured from closest edges.
Defender – The unit that was contacted.
Entering/Crossing – A unit is considered entering/crossing a terrain feature if more than half of it is in the feature.
Face – A unit’s front facing is the side opposite its label if fresh, or adjacent to the top of its label if spent.
Flip – To flip a unit to signify a changed status.
Fresh – An unspent unit.
Hits – A fresh unit can sustain three hits in one round of combat. The first hit will flip it to spent. A second hit will cause it to retreat. A third hit will eliminate it. A spent unit will retreat with one hit, and be eliminated by two hits.
Line of Fire – A line measured from the center of a unit, that can see at least half of its target and is within one foot move. The target must lay within a 45-degree angle from the front of the artillery unit.
Occupying Terrain – If a unit has at least half its block in a terrain feature.
Rally – A spent unit that is not within 1/3 foot move of an enemy unit and does not move, may flip back to its fresh side. It may also pivot.
Resolves completely – Two units in contact continue rounds of combat until no longer in contact.
Round – Each time a pair of units roll dice in combat. Units in contact may fight several rounds.
Spent – A unit that has suffered one damage.
Supporting – Certain types of units may be moved adjacent to, and directly behind, a friendly unit to support it. If the supported unit retreats or is eliminated, the supporting unit may retreat, or advance to contact and continue combat.
Only infantry may support other infantry or artillery. Only cavalry may support other cavalry.
Excess hits do not carry over to supporting units.
Unsupported – Artillery that is unsupported, and forced to retreat from combat, is eliminated.
Activation phase – This is when you draw chits randomly from a cup to activate a command.
Combat phase – Units in contact with enemy units now resolve combat.
Reset phase – HQs that were flipped to Alter Turn Order are now flipped back.
Activation: Movement, Bombardment, Rally
Once activated, you may move the HQ first to bring key units into command range. All a corps’ units may move, but only those in command range may move into contact with enemy units. This is also when Artillery may bombard (not in the combat phase!). Spent units that don’t move may rally.
How to move – A unit moves in the direction it is facing as far as 1 movement chain (or stick) of its type; foot or mounted. It may move in echelon (diagonally) up to 45 degrees maintaining its same facing. It may change its facing once for free, or a second time by subtracting 1/3 of its total movement allowance. If it moves entirely without entering any terrain features it may move one full move, if it enters any terrain features it may only move 2/3.
It does not matter if the unit moves through a single patch of woods, or through woods, hills, and streams, it moves 2/3 instead of a full move.
Bombardment – Fresh Artillery that does not move may bombard. The artillery must have a Line of Fire. Roll 3 dice and apply hits. Bombardment cannot eliminate a unit. Excess hits are ignored.
Rally – A spent unit that is not within 1/3 foot move of an enemy unit* and does not move may flip back to its fresh side. It may also pivot.
How to have Combat
*Combat order – As you draw the chits from the cup be sure to line them up in a row. Each command, in reverse chit draw order, resolves its attacks. Attackers that begin the combat phase in contact resolve combat. Each side rolls 3 dice simultaneously, any result of 4 or more is a hit. Defending units in a command do not resolve until the attacking unit’s command resolves. Each attack, even if part of a larger multi-unit combat, resolves completely before moving on to the next unit.
A defending unit gains a terrain modifier for occupying terrain.
*Flanking – If a single unit is contacting the rear of a unit, or if a unit is contacted by more than one enemy, it is considered flanked. This adds 1 to the attacker’s roll and subtracts 1 from the defender’s roll.
Special Combat cases
Artillery – Bombarding artillery can never eliminate a unit. Artillery in combat always resolves its dice first, and then any remaining defender’s may roll dice and apply effects. Unsupported artillery is eliminated if forced to retreat.
Elites ignore the first hit in any combat phase.
Militias count the first hit as two hits in any combat phase.
note: This is per entire combat phase, not per round!
*In cases with multiple units in contact with multiple defenders, the last unit to move into contact is resolved first.
HQs are abstract representation of command and are never affected by combat. Simply move them out of the way. Their location is only critical during the activation phase when determining command. Each activation, command is determined from one point, you cannot move and command from different places during the same activation. When moving you can move them anywhere within 1 mounted move, they ignore facing and terrain (they cannot ignore impassable terrain features).
Other rules for unit types may apply, be sure and check the scenario guidelines.
The Pub Battles system simulates fighting a battle from the command post. This is a command simulation, not a combat simulation. This means a lot of detail is hidden from the players. Just like real commanders, you can’t be everywhere at once. Were you to leave your command post for any length of time, you would become completely blind to the battle as a whole.
The map in front of you, unlike most wargames, isn’t an exact representation of the actual positions of every unit on the battlefield. It is the best estimates your aides have of the ever changing “current” situation.
When you move a unit on the map, this simulates the orders you have given to your subordinates, not necessarily where they have moved. Only time will tell how your finely planned orders have been executed.
An exception to this is the “Alter Turn Order” rule where a commander attempts to directly affect the turn order. This can be thought of as those times when the commander actually leaves the HQ tent and attempts to take direct control of his command. The rest of the time, it is assumed that the commander must rely on subordinates to communicate battlefield reports.
This means that often the disposition of the units on the map won’t make complete sense. “Why aren’t they Attacking!” is a common frustration when viewing opposing units in too close proximity to each other. Maybe they’re not really there; maybe they can’t see because of smoke or fog; Maybe they are uncertain where other threats might be. There are many possibilities. Too many to have a separate rule for each.
The chit draw mechanic covers all those eventualities elegantly. Sometimes you want to go first; you want to rally before the next attack, or you want to get there before the defender can rally. Other times, you want to go last so you can pick exactly where and when you fight, or you just want your opponent to reveal his intentions.
Another reason combat is depicted simply is because of scale. When you see the blocks on the map it is easy to imagine miniatures games where those blocks represent regiments. Pub Battles is representing divisions, so it’s more like the old hex based divisions…Except this looks so much cooler!
A single defender cannot be flanked by a single attacker. At smaller echelons this is an effective tactic, but at the divisional scale of Pub Battles this would be inappropriate and take advantage of the wood blocks. A division would arch backward on the end and refuse the flank if threatened. Of course, being attacked in the rear would be very devastating, and is given the flanking bonus.These quick start rules will get you up and playing. Once you have played the game enough to get the feel of the benefits of moving either earlier or later, you will enjoy adding the Alter Turn Order rules. When I play, I use these quick rules, plus the Alter Turn Order rules, and Supply Wagons.