What do they simulate?
The Baggage Train rule says that if the enemy come in contact with an enemy Baggage Train, the scenario ends (after finishing that turn). It might seem that’s a bit harsh, since most of the army is probably not even within command range of the Baggage Train. Why would they suddenly all panic?
This is where you have to step from the literal, to the figurative. Literally, the Baggage Train represents supplies, ammunition, first-aid depots, signal corps apparati, and any other miscellanea, that supports an army. Obviously, all such things are not necessarily located in that exact spot, but it is the locus of such operations.
Figuratively, when an enemy contacts a Baggage Train, this represents the breakdown of the cohesive elements which bind the army together into an effective force. As students of military history, we know that there comes a time when the Army’s will is broken. Here is Wikipedia’s description of that moment at Austerlitz(italics mine):
“In an effective double-pronged assault, St. Hilaire’s division and part of Davout’s III Corps smashed through the enemy at Sokolnitz, which persuaded the commanders of the first two columns, Generals Kienmayer and Langeron, to flee as fast as they could. Buxhowden, the commander of the Allied left and the man responsible for leading the attack, was completely drunk and fled as well. Kienmayer covered his withdrawal with the O’Reilly light cavalry, who managed to defeat five of six French cavalry regiments before they too had to retreat.
General panic now seized the Allied army and it abandoned the field in all possible directions.”
In a game of Austerlitz, St. Hilaire’s division just contacted the Baggage Train! This is authenticity!
I really like this mechanic because it shows a tangible result. It does not require the careful tallying of losses that take players out of the narrative, the feel of the battle, and reduce them to “game issues.”
I also like this mechanic because it fixes an easily captured moment when an army breaks. That mysterious psychological point where the army, as an organization, disintegrates.
This also creates hot points to fight over. When the bags are unpacked, the enemy now has a target. Suddenly, s#$t gets real! Before Baggage Trains, it was hard to generate any casualties because careful players just backed up. Plus, if you attacked vigorously, you usually generated more casualties than your opponent. Why attack? With Baggage Trains you have a reason, instant victory.
Historically, battles weren’t only won when the enemy suffered excessive casualties, the best victories were the ones where the enemy panicked and ran, before even more casualties were inflicted. Like at Austerlitz.
Pub Battles lets you recreate Napoleon’s greatest victory, or rewrite history, with his “Waterloo of 1805.”
2 thoughts on “Baggage Trains in Action”
This is exactly why I love the baggage train rules, it really makes you think about where and when you decide to make your stand. The first day at Gettysburg is always frightful for the Union commander, should I unpack to rally Ist Corps? or can I wait until reinforcements arrive to avoid giving the Rebels an easy target?
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Since the rules about bagages train appear, i play always with them. Agree with you.