Leader Quality in Pub Battles

A close up view of the beautiful canvass map!

You may have wondered about how Pub Battles could simulate leader quality. The short answer could be that they already do this with leadership ratings, but that isn’t really satisfying since all Corps leaders of an army use the same rating. Why are demonstrated leaders like Hancock rated the same as less historically successful leaders Like Lew Wallace?

I will answer that Pub Battles does address leadership quality in the same way their historical counterparts did; with superior commands. Military practice is to pair the best with the best. You don’t want to saddle your best commanders with substandard, ill trained and equipped troops. You give your best commanders the best troops to take advantage of their abilities. Likewise, you don’t want your best trained and equipped troops assigned to some ham-fisted bumble who can’t be counted on to even be ready to strike when the iron is hot!

Looking at the side by side picture of each army’s top two formations at Antietam, one can readily make two observations: 1) At this point in the war, Lee had the superior army, and 2) McClellan’s most highly regarded Corps commander (Hooker) was not saddled with any green troops. This was the best he could do.

At first glance, Pub Battles with only 3 grades of unit differentiation (Elite, Regular, Green) is sometimes thought of as too simple. However, it must be remembered that Pub Battles is a Corps level command simulation, not a divisional, or lower, combat simulation. Furthermore, I will demonstrate that Pub Battles actually provides a very thorough differentiation between corps, and army’s, effectiveness.

First off, when one sees the unit names on the blocks, it is to be understood that the only purpose of the names is too add color. What the simulation really cares about is how many men and of what quality. Jackson’s Corps was experienced and very well led; 50% of his force is rated elite. Jackson’s II Corps was one tough band of brothers!

On the Union side, McClellan had much less to work with. Many of his troops had never even fired their weapons. His choice of General Officers, many political appointees, wasn’t much better. Thus, the Union army has no elite troops and the best he can do is to spread his rawest troops out among the other units. As such, almost all Corps contain a green block of troops. Hooker has the largest Corps with no Green troops, and Burnside was only able to bluster his way to a larger command with the addition of green troops.

A Word About Unit Tactics

In Pub Battles, historical tactics work best. You don’t want to face off elites vs. elites, ideally you want to send your elites against green troops. Get your opponent off balance and force his elite units into a rear guard defense.

The French Old Guard were like the terminators of the 19th century. They just kept coming. As a regular trooper they were unnerving, versus conscripts they were absolutely terrifying! The Grognards rarely got an opportunity to close because of the shock factor. Shock troops were “shock” troops because of their ability to terrify. A soon as they closed, the enemy new their time was up, so they gave in sooner. This was why Black powder era troops didn’t wear camouflage and hide, they boldly strode up. Against relatively ineffective black powder weapons, this actually saved lives. As we enter the era of modern warfare, this becomes criminally stupid.

In Pub Battles you want your elites to easily overcome the militia troops and create holes in the enemy line. If you’re attacking, you want your militia in front. They will probably not last past the first round, but they might do some damage to the enemy so that your regular troops following up can now fight at an advantage. Artillery fires first. If it gets 3 hits, it will destroy a militia or a regular unit, better its the militia. A regular combat, unit on unit with no cover or quality mods, is a 50/50 affair. To be successful in Pub Battles, just like historically, you want to primarily fight battles where the odds are on your side. Elites on elites, no. Elites on regulars, good. Elites on Militia, best!

This is my experience with Pub Battles and leadership/unit qualities. Do you agree, or have you found the proof in your pudding different?

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