Deep Simulation

I am really focusing on “putting on my command beret” when narrating my videos. I’m trying to avoid game terms, except when necessary for clarity. My intent is to create the feel of the battle.
What I have realized is just how good a job the game does in simulating command concerns. This is really apparent in my last Antietam video.


In the middle of the game, the Federal drive stalls for lack of supplies. This is a common enough issue for real commanders, but is usually only a concern in games with super detailed logistics rules, or overly burdensome unit health tracking.


In Pub Battles, if you have a bunch of spent units you need to unpack a Baggage Train or they won’t be able to sustain an attack without becoming combat ineffective (eliminated). The game mechanic is very simple, logical, and intuitive. If you hadn’t played the game before, you would assume they are too simple to work, but alas, they work splendidly.


They are more realistic at the command level, too. A general will not have access to an exact listing of a unit’s casualties and supplies in the heat of battle. The best intel will only inform him of the general battle readiness of his various units. It helps to think of Pub Battles as a very detailed Corps level simulation. The unit blocks are given names for color, but they are not intended to simulate their historical counterparts in any way.

At the corps level, Hooker’s I corps at Antietam has 3 blocks. Each block requires 3 hits to be eliminated. I Corps can be thought of as having nine “hits” of strength. It would seem a simple task to assign it nine hit points on a card, done. Except, in Pub Battles those nine hits travel in 3 discrete groups of three. Furthermore, if in range of an unpacked Baggage Train they can recover a hit. One of the hits is actually used to retreat, so it is “recovered” as soon as taken. At any point prior to elimination, if the discrete group attacks, it attacks at full strength. Some Corps can have Elite or Militia troops, further complicating and reflecting differences at the Corps level.

Let’s talk about Corps leadership. The obvious quality rating is the Leadership number that is used to alter turn order, but that is just one aspect of leadership quality. The best officers are paired with the best troops, and vice versa. In Pub Battles, Corps with better leaders tend to have better quality troops, allowing them to accomplish more on the battlefield. Better units translate into a commander who’s will is more keenly felt during the battle. At Antietam, Jackson’s Corps has two elite units! His corps is very powerful, and he is regarded as one of Lee’s best Generals. Napoleon always has the guard Corps with him, and they are all elite.

These differences are not as explicit as giving certain leaders higher ratings, but once you are familiar with the Pub Battles system, you will learn to appreciate them.


It seems with each game that I play, I appreciate the simulation power of this system.

3 thoughts on “Deep Simulation

  1. I’m a longtime wargamer new to Pub Battles games and really enjoying the system. I’ve got Antietam, Gettysburg and Waterloo is on the way! I really appreciate your insights on the games. It is really a revelation to me how such a simple system can create such interesting and realistic results. It seems like every game carries with it a new and plausible narrative “what if” for each game I play. Thanks for your site and videos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your comment about the replayability. The chit draw and combat results guarantee that no two games will be the same, even if you play with the same strategy, which shows you just how fraught war can be. In Pub Battles, it’s not about coming up with the perfect strategy, its about being flexible and intuitively understanding your force’s strengths and limitations.

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