New Rules on the discussion board (in playtesting)

Marshall Barrington, the system’s designer, has been reviewing the original Kriegspiel rules for his new book on Kriegspiel for modern audiences.

Although Pub Battles emulates Kriegspiel, it does not mirror it. Pub Battles creates a way to play Kriegspiel without an umpire, and focuses even more on command. Most of the Kriegspiel rules are a GM’s guide to running a Kriegspiel battle. Playing Kriegspiel is fun and easy. Running Kriegspiel is daunting.

However, Marshall has garnered some nuggets of wisdom from the original designers of Kriegspiel, things about how combat really went down on a 19 century battlefield. They fought in the Napoleonic era, they didn’t have to rely on other’s accounts.

There are many things that Pub Battles glosses over because the blocks represent divisions. In a sense, it is most accurate to compare Pub Battles to a divisional hex and counter wargame. The blocks tend to make one think of regimental level units, but that is inaccurate! The labels on the blocks tend to make one assume that is the exact unit represented, that is also inaccurate. The labels add color and drama, but that is all. Each block represents between 1000+ to 7000+ men (half that for cavalry). That’s a lot of wiggle room! When designing a Pub Battles scenario, the critical issue is what feels right, not what exactly is there.

Cavalry has never felt quite right to me. Cavalry was to 19th century armies what armor was to WWII armies, but it didn’t feel that way in Pub Battles. With all that in mind, these rules are under consideration:

  1. Any block may retreat before the first round of combat from an infantry block without becoming spent.

2. Foot (infantry or artillery) that is required to retreat from Mounted is eliminated instead.

3. Artillery rule that was here has been discarded.

Note that dragoons can/will be handled differently. As with any cavalry rules, you always want to read scenario special rules.

As always, the focus is on keeping Pub Battles a fast playing, smooth, command focused, simulation.

6 thoughts on “New Rules on the discussion board (in playtesting)

  1. Hello Mike , I see that you still are working on making the play experience of Pub Battles more enjoyable.
    I agree with your new ideas:
    1.Any block may retreat before the first round of combat from an infantry block without becoming spent.
    2. Foot (infantry or artillery) that is required to retreat from Mounted is eliminated instead.

    But I would like to ask , for point 1, then how can you fight against cavalry blocks ? only with another cavalry?

    And for the second point. Wouldnt that make cavalry a too strong unit for what it represents? Normally cavalry represents a smaller number of soldiers (mounted) than can be represented by a block of infantrymen, killing them all when they retire seems a bit too bloody.
    Perhaps is right for artillery though.


  2. Jose!
    As always, you bring up excellent points.

    Infantry did not charge cavalry, as cavalry could either countercharge the infantry, who obviously could not form square, or simply ride off. Infantry did not attack cavalry, it never happened. Perhaps if you do an extreme search you’ll find an example, but it basically didn’t occur.

    It could be too powerful, that’s why I am playtesting it. However, in two games of Marengo, it feels right. Remember, cavalry attacking fresh infantry still suffers the -1, so it is certainly not automatic. In the last game I played, there were many instances where the cavalry could have attacked, but the chit draw did not favor it. Many times it was more important to leave the cavalry as a general threat, than to commit them too early and even allow them to become countered, if not outright surrounded. There are plenty instances of cavalry charging beyond support and suffering.


    1. Hi Mike,
      As always you have an excellent reply that I can’t counter-attack !!!
      You are right, infantry never attacked cavalry, it could only fire when attacked but they did not run to the horses!!
      This is a good point to tend to forget or to overlook.
      Cavalry attacking fresh infantry -1 to show the organize defend in squares. Fair enough, I buy that !

      Last thing, then if cavalry attacks -charges an enemy cavalry I believe they can not retreat right?


      1. Right. The only exception is that some scenarios class the light cavalry as dragoons that only get 2 Dice. Those cavalry also, in the rules, cannot retreat from combat of any kind if spent. That has not changed.

        As always, I try to change as little as possible when I change a rule. It’s hard enough already trying to anticipate all possible differences that can happen when one rule is changed.

        I do use the Spent/retreat option on infantry when facing mounted. It feels right to imagine the commander thinking that he would rather retreat, but he can’t, because the cav would just run his men down!

        I’m glad that my replies satisfy your questions. I know what I am thinking and how I imagine the rule simulating something on the battlefield, but it is your comments that give me a chance to show why I think that way.


  3. I will post any info when it comes out. Thus far he is still writing it. While he’s been writing it he has had a bunch of new ideas for Pub Battles campaigns, so he’s spending time on putting together a mini-campaign for the opening of the American Revolution. It is a very cat and mouse type of Fog of War system that covers what was historically the Lexington-Concord campaign and Bunker’s Hill. It is an extension of the basic Pub Battles system, scaled up for a campaign, while allowing for critical battles. This is a precursor to a Retreat from Philadelphia and, once the bugs are worked out, FINALLY getting that long promised Waterloo campaign game.


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