Or playing apples to apples Austerlitz
One can clearly see how the French won so dramatically after a few games of Pub Battles Austerlitz. The Allied army was completely disorganized and barely functioning as a whole when compared to the French army. This wasn’t the sort of superiority that is necessarily evident when comparing numbers, weapons, or even morale, all things that are easily translated to combat stats in wargames. The difference was primarily in organization and doctrine. That, and the fact that Napoleon had completely psyched out his adversaries in the campaign leading up to the battle!
Considering all that, how can it be any fun at all to play the Allies? Command Post games has gone farther than many other systems in the way it treats the opening battle. Kudos to them! If you’re going to publish a game on the Battle of Austerlitz, that’s pretty much what you have to do.
However, as simply a player of the Pub Battles system, I have a few more options. One of the most powerful design facets of Pub Battles is its “Free Game” architecture. Since Pub Battles, with its Kriegspiel inspired system, focuses on Command and Control, not combat, it lends itself to a very powerful variant.
Simply allow Allied players to organize their army into as many, or as few, Corps as they like, and raise the leadership ratings from 2 to 3. , and you now have two very similar armies. Of course, two identical armies facing each other can be kind of stale in and of itself, but there are still some key differences inherent in the battle which can be carried over seamlessly to this variant. Allow the Allies to use all the HQ blocks which creates Fog of War, and use the historical French entry, which requires two turns for their full army to arrive.
This means that the Allied player has a brief advantage that they need to use as soon as the sun rises. The French must scramble to meet an uncertain threat. Because this is Pub Battles, there will never be a perfect strategy. The chit draw and combat guarantee that. You can try your best to outmaneuver your opponent, but the chit draw and Alter Turn Order rolls can simulate the same unpredictable outcomes that bedevil real commanders. In addition, combat is never a sure thing. The best you can hope for is likely outcomes, at worst, it’s unlikely outcomes. It’s as if a kriegspiel referee, a really good kriegspiel referee, is taking your combat and saying. “Well, what if this happens?” Pub Battles rewards flexibility, and not letting circumstances get into your head, and focusing on possibilities.
Back to our scenario, with its Allied army that matches the French. How can this be? Obviously, not very likely, since it didn’t even come close to happening, but what if it did? A disaffected French Superior officer, say another Napoleon, (because no army is big enough for two Napoleons), approaches the Tsar and says that he can give him an army as great as the French! The Tsar eagerly accepts the offer. Then the army also eagerly accepts this new and very different doctrine. Go ahead and imagine how this might be possible. I submit it is certainly more believable than wondering what if the Russians had AK-47s and T-34s at Austerlitz!
I’m about to try my first game played this way. Now I play double blind solo, so I won’t be using all the Fog of War that would be present in a two player game, but I can certainly play as though it was there.