Movement Rates

You might imagine that determining movement rates to be a fairly cut and dried operation. Just compare march rates or even historical march times and “boom” it’s done. When you’re racing to fill in a gap, or bring forward reinforcements it seems pretty imperative to figure out exactly how far a unit can move.

The problem is that there are a whole lot of soft issues to consider that are as important as the hard calculations of terrain and march rates.

As always, the first thing to note is that Pub Battles is divisional level, as opposed to regimental, or even lower, formations so common to miniatures games that use movement rates based on precise measurements. Other than this style of movement, Pub Battles has more in common with the old Avalon Hill hex based wargames.

All movement is measured in thirds of a movement stick. If you move entirely in clear terrain you move one full movement stick, otherwise you move 2/3. Additionally, you can lose a third for a second facing change, or for moving into or out of march column. Those are the hard factors.

Then there are the soft factors that are every bit as important to consider, even if necessarily less precise. How long did it take for them to receive, confirm, and organize to fulfill the orders? Have scouts brought them reports of possible enemy activity off to the flank? Where is the Vermont regiment, has anybody heard from them? They were supposed to lead the column!

Probably the biggest variable is combat. Do you spend the whole turn moving, or do you include the time it takes to resolve combat? Most games divide turns into movement and combat phases, but technically, combat is going on all over the battlefield at different times. Wargames divide the turns up for ease of simulation.

What designers do is establish movement rates that work within the game. In black powder armies there tended to be two rates of movement, foot and mounted. As long as all similar units are operating with the same limitations, all is good.

In Pub Battles’ Waterloo, the Prussians enter the board on turn 1, but they don’t make a significant appearance in the battle till mid-game. Even so, they weigh heavily on the French player’s mind the whole time. They cannot be ignored! There is some merit to Blucher’s contention that the Prussians saved the day for the allied cause. Developments around Placenoit were a significant drain on the French army, including many Guard units.

All of which goes to show that even if movement rates can’t be figured exactly, they come close enough when everybody is playing by the same rules. When I play, I am pretty loose with movement rates. I often say, “close enough.” Others enjoy much more firmly defined limits. This robust system can satisfy all tastes.

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