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!
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.
Baggage Train – These represent supply and signals elements, as well as field hospitals.
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.
Field of Fire – (FoF) I measure 1/3 infantry move from the front center of the unit. I find this easier and more authentic than calculating 45 degree angles from the corners of the unit.
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.
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.
Retreat – If you must retreat, you rotate 180 degrees and move 1/3 away from the attacker. If you would pass over half of any friendly unit, you will cause them to become spent (and rotate) and push them ahead of you.
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. Spent Artillery may not bombard.
Supporting – Infantry and cavalry 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.
Excess hits do not carry over to supporting units.
Unsupported – Artillery that is unsupported is eliminated if forced to retreat.
Activation phase – This is when you draw chits randomly from a cup to activate a command. Spent units may recover per the Baggage Train rule
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, Recovery
When activated, 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 if in range of an unpacked baggage unit.
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.
You cannot end your move in an enemies FoF without moving into contact.
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. It is sometimes easier to imagine that units always move 2/3 unless they remain entirely in clear terrain when they can move 3/3. Of course, you still pay another third for other non-terrain reasons (consult the chart on the back of the rule book).
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.
Recovery – A spent unit that is not contacting or in the Field of Fire of an enemy unit, and does not move, may flip back to its fresh side if it is with command range of a Baggage Train. It may also pivot.
How to have Combat
Combat is fought in rounds until the units are no longer in contact.Each player in a combat rolls 3 dice and scores a hit on 4 or more each round. These numbers can be modified.
A defending unit gains a terrain modifier for occupying terrain.
Flanking – If you contact the side or rear of an enemy unit 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. Any hits that would ordinarily eliminate a unit are ignored. Artillery in the first round of 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 each bombardment, and any entire combat.
Militias count the first hit as two hits in each bombardment, and any entire combat..
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).
Baggage Trains – use the foot movement rate. They must unpack (flip them over) to allow units to Recover. Once unpacked they may not move again. If an enemy unit moves in contact with a Baggage Train it is immediately considered to have ‘broken the line’ and the game is over (Major Victory). A player may end the game voluntarily by packing up a Baggage Train (opponent wins a Minor Victory) during its activation.
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 leaves the HQ tent and takes 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 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 first.
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 or battalions. Pub Battles is representing divisions, so it’s more like the old hex based divisions…Except this looks so much cooler!
Once you have played the game enough to get the feel of the benefits of moving either earlier or later, you will appreciate the Alter Turn Order rules.