Quick Start Rules

Introduction

Imagine that you are the Army General in your command tent. Before you on a table is the map of the battlefield with the latest best estimates of yours and your opponents positions. You discuss possible options with your Corps commanders and move your units where you want them to move, as well as attack. Aides write down the orders and race on horseback to the field commanders. While this is going on, other aides are rushing back with the latest reports and updating your map. Sometimes everything goes according to plan. Usually, you have some surprises, as well as those moments where you are absolutely astonished by the events you see transpiring right before your eyes. If only you could be right there, but you also need to be right there, and there, and over there. This is real Fog of War at the highest level. This is Pub Battles!

Pieces

Infantry – Basic unit of the game, uses foot movement rate.

Cavalry – Fast moving unit, uses mounted movement rate.

Artillery – Primarily ranged combat, uses foot movement rate, unless labeled “Horse Artillery”

HQ – Small cube that represents commander’s locale, from which command range is measured.

Terms – Appear in italics when found in rules.

Activation – When a command chit is drawn, that command, and all its units, are activated.

Attacker – The unit that moved into contact.

Bombardment – Ranged artillery fire…

Column – A long narrow formation used to facilitate quick road movement (X2). To move in column a unit is positioned so its length is stretched out along a road. Vulnerable if attacked. It cost 1/3 move to switch into, or out of, column.

Command – A Corps HQ may only command units in its Corps. An Army HQ may command any units in its army, also it may have units attached directly to it alone. Only units in command before they move may move into contact with an enemy. Only active units may move, and only active units in command may move into contact, Thus, an army HQ may command any units, but only activated units may move!

Command Range – 1/3 mounted move as measured from closest edges.

Defender – The unit that was contacted.

Entering/Crossing – A unit is considered entering/crossing a terrain feature if more than half of it is in the feature.

Face – A unit’s front facing is the side opposite its label if fresh, or adjacent to the top of its label if spent.

Flip – To flip a unit to signify a changed status.

Fresh – An unspent unit.

Hits – A fresh unit can sustain three hits in one round of combat. The first hit will flip it to spent. A second hit will cause it to retreat. A third hit will eliminate it. A spent unit will retreat with one hit, and be eliminated by two hits.

Line of Fire – A line measured from the center of a unit, that can see at least half of its target and is within one foot move. The target must lay within a 45-degree angle from the front of the artillery unit.

Occupying Terrain – If a unit has at least half its block in a terrain feature.

Rally – A spent unit that is not within 1/3 foot move of an enemy unit and does not move, may flip back to its fresh side. It may also pivot.

Resolves completely – Two units in contact continue rounds of combat until no longer in contact.

Round – Each time a pair of units roll dice in combat. Units in contact may fight several rounds.

Spent – A unit that has suffered one damage.

Supporting – Certain types of units may be moved adjacent to, and directly behind, a friendly unit to support it. If the supported unit retreats or is eliminated, the supporting unit may retreat, or advance to contact and continue combat.

Only infantry may support other infantry or artillery. Only cavalry may support other cavalry.

Excess hits do not carry over to supporting units.

Unsupported – Artillery that is unsupported, and forced to retreat from combat, is eliminated.

Turn Order

Activation phase – This is when you draw chits randomly from a cup to activate a command.

Combat phase – Units in contact with enemy units now resolve combat.

Reset phase – HQs that were flipped to Alter Turn Order are now flipped back.

Activation: Movement, Bombardment, Rally

Once activated, you may move the HQ first to bring key units into command range. All a corps’ units may move, but only those in command range may move into contact with enemy units. This is also when Artillery may bombard (not in the combat phase!). Spent units that don’t move may rally.

How to move – A unit moves in the direction it is facing as far as 1 movement chain (or stick) of its type; foot or mounted. It may move in echelon (diagonally) up to 45 degrees maintaining its same facing. It may change its facing once for free, or a second time by subtracting 1/3 of its total movement allowance. If it moves entirely without entering any terrain features it may move one full move, if it enters any terrain features it may only move 2/3.

It does not matter if the unit moves through a single patch of woods, or through woods, hills, and streams, it moves 2/3 instead of a full move.

BombardmentFresh Artillery that does not move may bombard. The artillery must have a Line of Fire. Roll 3 dice and apply hits. Bombardment cannot eliminate a unit. Excess hits are ignored.

Rally – A spent unit that is not within 1/3 foot move of an enemy unit and does not move, may flip back to its fresh side. It may also pivot.

How to have Combat

Combat order – As you draw the chits from the cup be sure to line them up in a row. Each command, in reverse chit draw order, resolves its attacks. Attackers that begin the combat phase in contact resolve combat. Each side rolls 3 dice simultaneously, any result of 4 or more is a hit. Defending units in a command do not resolve until the attacking unit’s command resolves. Each attack, even if part of a larger multi-unit combat, resolves completely before moving on to the next unit.

A defending unit gains a terrain modifier for occupying terrain.

Flanking – If a single unit is contacting the rear of a unit, or if a unit is contacted by more than one enemy, it is considered flanked. This adds 1 to the attacker’s roll and subtracts 1 from the defender’s roll.

Special Combat cases

Artillery – Bombarding artillery can never eliminate a unit. Artillery in combat always resolves its dice first, and then any remaining defender’s may roll dice and apply effects. Unsupported artillery is eliminated if forced to retreat.

Elites ignore the first hit in any combat phase.

Militias count the first hit as two hits in any combat phase. 

note: This is per entire combat phase, not per round!

In cases with multiple units in contact with multiple defenders, the last unit to move into contact is resolved first.

HQs are abstract representation of command and are never affected by combat. Simply move them out of the way. Their location is only critical during the activation phase when determining command. Each activation, command is determined from one point, you cannot move and command from different places during the same activation. When moving you can move them anywhere within 1 mounted move, they ignore facing and terrain (they cannot ignore impassable terrain features).

Other rules for unit types may apply, be sure and check the scenario guidelines.

Design Philosophy

The Pub Battles system simulates fighting a battle from the command post. This is a command simulation, not a combat simulation. This means a lot of detail is hidden from the players. Just like real commanders, you can’t be everywhere at once. Were you to leave your command post for any length of time, you would become completely blind to the battle as a whole.

The map in front of you, unlike most wargames, isn’t an exact representation of the actual positions of every unit on the battlefield. It is the best estimates your aides have of the ever changing “current” situation.

When you move a unit on the map, this simulates the orders you have given to your subordinates, not necessarily where they have moved. Only time will tell how your finely planned orders have been executed.

This means that often the disposition of the units on the map won’t make complete sense. “Why aren’t they Attacking!” is a common frustration. Maybe they’re not really there; maybe they can’t see because of smoke or fog; Maybe they are uncertain where other threats might be. There are many possibilities. Too many to have a separate rule for.

The chit draw mechanic covers all those eventualities elegantly. Sometimes you want to go first; you want to rally before the next attack, or you want to get there first with the most. Other times, you want to go last so you can pick exactly where and when you fight, or you just want your opponent to reveal his intentions.

Another reason combat is depicted simply is because of scale. When you see the blocks on the map it is easy to imagine miniatures games where those blocks represent regiments. Pub Battles is representing divisions, so it’s more like the old hex based divisions…Except this looks so much cooler!

A single defender cannot be flanked by a single attacker. At smaller echelons this is an effective tactic, but at the divisional scale of Pub Battles this would be inappropriate and take advantage of the wood blocks. A division would arch backward on the end and refuse the flank if threatened. Of course, being attacked in the rear would be very devastating, and is given the flanking bonus.These quick start rules will get you up and playing. Once you have played the game enough to get the feel of the benefits of moving either earlier or later, you will enjoy adding the Alter Turn Order rules. When I play, I use these quick rules, plus the Alter Turn Order rules, and Supply Wagons.

In Development – Capture the Flag

This is my concept for a non-historical scenario creation system. Like many military “wargames,” the objective is to capture the enemy base.

The idea of buying armies sounds kind of ludicrous. Everyone vying to buy the best army. What generals ever got to pick their exact army? You made do with what you had. The hand fate dealt you. The idea of a fair fight is not a consideration. How well can you do with what you have?

Hence, I prefer a card based system. In this case I prefer a system where each card represents a corps. Some cards will be Fog of War thus the enemy’s true size will be unknown for a time.

I looked at the Waterloo OoB and observed that the armies both have 10 HQs. The French actually have 10 HQs counting the 4 cav corps, and the allies have 8 corps plus Wellington and Blucher.

My idea is this: I have made a French and Allied deck. Each deck has a card for each Corps + Fog of War cards to bring the total to 12.

Then I made a setup deck. Each card will determine your forces and victory conditions.

Players choose a deck, French or Allied, then deal four stacks of three cards. Next draw two cards from the setup deck. The first card is for the French forces, the second card is for the allied forces. Four cards are special (SSS, RRR, SXX, RXX), if one of these cards is drawn, then both players use that card, if two of those cards are drawn, the second card is used. Each card has a strength rating from 1 to 3. If the strength ratings are equal, then the objective is to control both bases at the end of the game. Otherwise, the stronger army must capture the objective from the defender and hold it at game end, or they lose.

Each setup card will have three letters that the players must assign to each of three stacks, the one remaining stack will not be used. The letter S means these forces Start the game on the map. The letter R means these forces enter as reinforcements sometime during the game. The Letter X means that these forces are not used unless the game continues to additional days.

S forces may set up anywhere within 1 mounted move of your home edge. You may set your base/objective up anywhere at least 1/3 mounted move from your home edge. If you control the larger force, you have no base.

If you have one R stack, starting on turn one you roll a die whenever its chit is drawn and on a 3 or less the HQ enters the map on your home edge, or along either side as far as 1/3 mounted move times the turn number from your home edge. If you have two R stacks then the second stack’s chits are put in the cup on turn two, and on turn three for a third R.

Victory conditions: To control a base or objective, you must occupy it at game end. Games will end on turn 10 unless neither side has achieved victory. If neither side achieves victory, and neither side concedes victory, conduct a night turn and play another day. On day 2, one stack of X forces may now enter as reinforcements. If neither side achieves victory, and neither side concedes victory, conduct a night turn and play another day. On day 3, any remaining X forces may now enter as reinforcements. If no one has won by the end of day three, the game is considered a draw, but they both may claim “victory.”

SUDDEN DEATH if at any time a player has eliminated 50% of his opponent’s army, he wins immediately. 

If the Guard is not in play, the French player begins with Napoleon as an Army Commander (and the chit), but without the Guard. If the Guard is part of an R deck, Napoleon does enter play until they arrive!

The Wellington and Blucher HQs are always present as soon as any of their Corps arrive on the board. Wellington and Blucher have no chits and may activate once per turn with any subordinate HQ.

Fog of War HQs. For every Fog of War card you draw, select an unused HQ and add it to your Start or Reinforcement forces. If your total army does not allow you enough unused HQs, you forfeit the Fog of War cards.

Fog of War HQs serve two purposes. The first is to mask your forces, the second is to scout the enemy. FoW HQs actually represent cavalry scouts. When two enemy HQs come within LOS of each other (foot move range) they reveal their identity and they must place their units as if spotted, or remove the HQ if FoW. Army HQs are revealed as regular HQs, but no troops are placed if they don’t have any assigned to them.

Spotting – any time two opposing HQs have LOS (one foot move), the players must place the corresponding units on the map (the opponent still won’t be certain of the identity). Fog of War HQs actually represent scouts who have raced off to report the enemy’s position (and the HQ is now removed from the game).

To calculate the size of the army, count the number of blocks for all Corps drawn (including those arriving as reinforcements). Do not count HQs or Baggage Trains. The strength of the Corps are included on the cards for ease of calculation.

Loss calculation:
Add up infantry, cavalry, and artillery blocks eliminated
Elite count as 2 blocks lost.
Baggage Trains count as 2 blocks lost.

You are not required to include a Baggage Train with a corps.

Optional Leadership Rules

Corps Leadership Ratings

This optional rule is intended to be used with Written Orders. Each corps has a command rating; Great (1-4), Average (1-3), or Poor (1-2). Each time a corps is activated make a roll:
Great – Success means it may change its own orders immediately, failure means it may consider itself Without Orders (write new orders to follow next turn).
Average – Success means it may consider itself Without Orders (write new orders to follow next turn). Failure means it must follow its current orders.
Poor – Success means it must follow its current orders. Failure means it does nothing and its activation is over.

Note: For any HQ besides Poor, if you simply intend to follow the orders as given, no roll is necessary.

Leaders in Combat

After a Corps has finished moving, its HQ (unless Poor) may be placed adjacent to one of its units. If it is in combat, that unit is now considered elite (ignores the first hit). If the unit is eliminated in combat that turn, the Leader is considered a casualty. Re-roll 3d6 to determine the new commander’s rating: 0-2 hits = Poor, 3 hits = Average, 3 sixes = Elite.

Great leaders tended to have an almost preternatural ability to sense what needed to be done. Average leaders could at least be counted on to carry out their orders, and usually would try to confirm orders that didn’t make sense. Poor leaders could rarely be counted on to carry out their orders in a timely fashion and could often be found dithering in uncertainty, giving excuses for their inaction.

In combat, many Corps leaders would take personal control of important fights, often that participation was crucial to the unit’s success. Such activity was risky and might result in the leader falling as a casualty. In standard military fashion, a subordinate would take up command of the corps, but the new commander was likely to be less effective for a time.

My Gettysburg Victory Conditions

Victory Conditions are difficult to come up with. What was the goal of the commanders going into the battle? Did this change during the battle? Defeating the opponents army is always a good idea, but if that’s the only condition, why would you attack? Just grab some good terrain and hold it. To this day, many heated discussions can be had over who won a certain battle!

Gettysburg can be particularly tough since neither commander planned on fighting there; Both were dragged in somewhat reluctantly. So what constitutes Victory?

The current Victory Conditions are simply to be the first to destroy 50% of the enemy’s army for a major victory and to simply total and compare losses for a minor victory. While technically accurate, this simply rewards cautious defensive play. Yawn.

I keep the Sudden death Victory conditions of being the first to destroy 50% of the opponents army for Victory.

Failing that, the winner is the army that is the only army within 1/3 infantry move of Cemetery Hill at the end of Day 3.

Baggage trains

I was initially resistant to any baggage train rules because baggage trains were not used on the battlefield, but behind it. They were more appropriate for a strategic campaign game. Nevertheless, while baggage trains were not used on the battlefield, the areas right behind the mainlines did tend to be a congested network of men and supplies, and THAT is what baggage trains can be thought of as representing.

A Baggage Train is not so much a specific thing, but a general area, or critical node, for the Line of Communications .

All baggage train rules presented in Pub Battles rules 2.92 are in effect. The major difference between these rules and the earlier versions was that the earlier versions allowed any units within 1/3 Mounted Move of a BT to Rally. Now that is capped at one unit per turn. When a spent unit’s HQ is activated, a spent unit within range of a BT may rally. Flip the BT to show that it is used this turn. Also flip the BT if you move it, showing that is can not rally a unit this turn.

Night Turn Recovery.

During the Night Turn, each BT rally, move, or recover an eliminated unit.

Recover Eliminated Unit – A previously eliminated unit may be returned to the map spent by placing it adjacent to its HQ. The HQ must be within 1/3 of a mounted move of the BT.

Solitaire with Written Orders!

Hold Roundtop

One of the best things about Pub Battles; one of the things that separates it from so many other titles, is the way it distances the players from the God-like ability to see all and do all with absolute precision and perfect knowledge.

Playing solitaire with written orders takes this one step further.

It accomplishes this with a simple an elegant system that gives an authentic feel without burying you in rules. It removes you from too close control, while inserting you right into the chaos of battle.

How It’s done…

You can give your units two types of orders. “Attack Location” or “Defend Location.” The example in the picture is for the order “Defend Round Top.”

When a Location is given, a foot movement marker is centered on that point, and the Location in question encompasses anywhere within that perimeter.

Perimeter – The Location is the point from which the perimeter is defined. Place the center of the foot move marker on the center of the objective, the ends of the marker show the perimeter. If you name a geographic feature that is quite large, the actual Location is the center. If the geographic feature is larger than the foot move marker, you may want to specify a more exact spot, or else the extreme ends of the feature will not be covered. You may also describe a line from point to point, and the HQ will attempt to occupy the line.

The “Attack” order will have the Corps HQ attempt to occupy that Location and drive all enemy units from its perimeter. How exactly this is accomplished is left to the player to decide.

The Hold order will have the Corps HQ to attempt to occupy the Location and its perimeter, but it will not move to contact (attack) an enemy.

Artillery always has the option to bombard, no matter what its HQ’s orders may be.

Way Points – If you want your HQ to follow a certain path you may select way points which the units will move towards. Once one way point is reached the units proceed towards the next way point on the list.

Ex. Attack Willoughby Run |
Attack Peach Orchard

Or Attack Cemetery Hill
Defend Cemetery Hill

This will order the unit to attack Cemetery Hill, and once that is accomplished, it will then defend it, rather than pursue the enemy and possibly leave an advantageous defensive position.

Helpful Hint: If you don’t want to center on the objective, you can add a finer point on that objective. McPherson Ridge – Lutheran Seminary,

How it Works

At the beginning of the game, any HQs on the board must be given orders. IF an HQ is without orders, its units will just sit in place. If an HQ with the defend order is forced off the Location, or is unable to occupy it because the enemy is currently occupying it, the unit is without orders!

When a chit is drawn and activated, the first thing the player does is check the orders. If the last order given is not underlined, he underlines it and then carries out that order.

If he wishes to change the order, he writes the new order underneath the previous order. He then carries out the previous (underlined) order. Next turn he will continue as above with the chit draw and activation. (See optional hands on opportunity below)

The first time a Corps is activated (either on turn one, or when it enters play as a reinforcement) it is given its first set of orders underlined, so it’s not sitting without orders for a turn.

Army HQs – If the Army HQ is adjacent to a Corps HQ, that HQ’s orders take effect immediately. Since the two commanders are together, there is no delay in sending orders.

In effect, this allows you to insert yourself right into the game!

Baggage Trains: Baggage Trains move when their parent Corps moves, but they do not have to follow its orders. They may move and Position themselves any way they want.

Night turns: During night turns the corps ignore their current orders. Additionally, they may be given new orders and those orders are underlined immediately, so they always begin the day with orders!

Sample Union order sheet about mid game. Note roman numeral corps and XI corps shows newest orders not yet underlined.

And that’s it!

Well, almost. Just like real commanders, you will find that your orders leave a lot of freedom of interpretation. Maybe there is a unit just out of direct line between a unit and its objective, should it attack that unit first? You decide.

This is one of the best features of this solitaire system. You control the narrative. You decide whether or not the commander on the ground decides to widely or narrowly interpret the orders.

Maybe the dice have been a little too hard on the Confederates side. Let’s show them a little love and interpret the orders most beneficially. On the other hand, maybe the dice have been giving Lee a free pass, it might be time to attack the objective with A.P. Hill’s lone spent element of Heth’s division, even though it’s got Howard’s whole fresh Corps behind abattis in the woods. Oh Harry, you’ll be bringing tears to many mothers tonight.

The first day of Gettysburg won’t make you feel that frantic, but guaranteed, as day two wears on you will find the battle going in directions you have probably not anticipated.

In one game, the second day opened with the Union in a strong position along historical lines, by the end of turn 3 the only comforting position that greeted Meade was V Corps taking Wolf’s Hill from Ewell’s Corps. Longstreet had captured Cemetery Hill and A.P. Hill was investing the Peach Orchard.

This would not have happened if I had been free to move my troops wherever they obviously needed to be. The scenario went from a replay of History to a very edge of the seat, bare knuckles contest!

One of the biggest differences you notice is the lack of a fireworks display of unit moves, as each division angles for the best attack. Now they have to act in much more historical coordination with their parent HQ. That parent HQ is going to be operating with a one turn delay in changing orders, so gamey moves that take advantage of the players god-like knowledge of the battlefield and unit strengths and positions will no longer be possible.

Optional hands on opportunity

I like having a lot out of my direct control, but if you want to interject some control, try this: When you elect to change an order, if you flip your HQ and make your command roll, you can ignore your current orders and the HQ is treated as being without orders for the current turn.

The HQ is communicating the need for new orders and is not following current orders.

Two Player with Written Orders

Two players may play with written orders, but it is probably too open ended for truly competitive play.

Whenever you give an HQ new orders, you show your previous orders to your opponent, so he can immediately verify you followed them.

Of course, if you have a referee overseeing the game, hidden orders can be fun.

What if: Stonewall at Gettysburg!

End of Day 1

With this scenario (all the components are provided with the Gettysburg game), the players get to try their hand at a great what if. What if Stonewall Jackson hadn’t been killed at Chancellorsville, instead he survives his wounds. He is unable to affect Lee’s strategy, but he does rejoin the army soon enough to be present at the battle. In fact, displaying his decisive elan, he gets his Corps there sooner. The leaner original two Corps Army of Northern Virginia fights a different Battle of Gettysburg.

In this foto above, of the end of Day 1, you can judge for yourself what the outcome was.
The lost divisions were all Union, including Buford who made a heroic, though foolish, attempt to stem the rebel tide.


Other than Trimble skirmishing with Reynold’s troops, Longstreet’s Corp has just arrived.
The Union’s glorious dead are being watched by Lee on McPherson Ridge.
On to Pipe’s Creek! 

Compared to the Historical Scenario:

End of Day 1

Here is the end of the day of the Historical scenario. Ewell’s corps arrives a turn later than Jackson’s does in the scenario above, and what a huge difference that makes! Suddenly the Union troops don’t seem quite so overwhelmed.

However, I for one, shall be very interested to see how this plays out. The Union has already had to fall back beyond the North edge of Cemetery Hill. During the night turn the massive Union artillery arrives, but where will it go? Would Meade have ordered a withdrawal to Pipe’s Creek, where he wanted to make a stand? Interesting questions, indeed!

Check out my Gettysburg Victory Conditions.