From the British Command Post at Brandywine19

With this video I finally figured out how to do some editing techniques that I really needed for my vids. Let me know what you think! I know I’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a start.

Brandywine is a race for the British. As the British player, you only have five turns to get the job done. As the Colonial player, you can only back up so far before you expose the major roads, and the British only need capture one.

Combat in Pub Battles

I’m sure you’ve heard, and probably thought, that combat in Pub Battles is really simplified. I have been guilty of that, too. However, under analysis, it doesn’t hold up.

I think part of the problem, a big part of the problem, is that Pub Battles blocks look like they should be regiments, or the unit names on them make you think that the specific divisional unit named is the actual unit represented. Both are false. Divisions did tend to cover an area with the same general geometric outline as a regiment. The names on the labels are purely for color.

First off, what does a Pub Battles block actually represent? It actually represents from 4,000-6,000 men, more or less. A Corps that numbers ~20,000 men will have around 5 blocks, maybe more for nimble, well organized units, less for awkward, poorly organized units. Numbers are half that for cavalry. It will also possess artillery, including battalion guns (equivalent to modern day heavy weapons battalions). Many formations within the block will be light troops, and maybe even grenadiers to stiffen the line.

Typically, when two regiments closed, fighting began with a ranged duel between the light troops at a few hundred yards, one side drove back the light troops of the other, and then began picking off the main line troops. At this point, those troops not liking getting picked off, charged, or retreated.

That detail is not simulated by Pub Battles. In Pub Battles, when two blocks close, it begins at an area around a half mile square, within that half mile, Brigades and Regiments are maneuvering and jockeying for local advantage. Artillery is being brought up, harassing their opponents. All of this is resolved with a dice roll and a couple of modifiers. When playing, you can happily dream up what may have happened.

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of small formation combat, there are numerous excellent titles. I myself, have enjoyed them, but to play an actual large battle at that level is exhaustive, and really not accurate to the feel of the whole battle. No one experienced every small combat, and every grand tactical decision, in any battle of size. So, we must choose.

I happen to enjoy Pub Battles, and feeling like I’m commanding a whole army, and enjoying the full sweep of a battle, in a pleasant couple of hours.

How do you feel about Pub Battles level of simulation?

From the Command Post: Waterloo18

Waterloo from the Point of View of an officer in Napoleon’s command tent. A quick ten minute video, yet I believe it is easier to follow and more immersive than any video I’ve ever done before. Let me know what you think of it and what your first impressions are of this style. I also use zooming and panning to help the viewer see the action. Spoiler in the text below, so watch the video before reading below the video!

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So I was tired and not interested in continuing the battle to a second day. What do you think? Could the French have beaten the Prussians on Day 2, or would Blucher have won? Assume that the Prussian forces do arrive on day 2, but Grouchy does not. Napoleon would be shy a couple infantry blocks and 2 or 3 cavalry blocks. Prussian I Corps would be short one block.

Command at Austerlitz 18

French cuirassiers taking position

This is my first video done as a narration from the command tent. This time it is from the Coalition command’s perspective. SPOILER ALERT Below the video I am going to be discussing the outcome, so make sure you’ve watched it beforehand!

One thing that is fun to watch, and it is really obvious in the high speed version that runs at the end of the video, is the switch from attack to defense that the Coalition army has to do when they realize that Napoleon has gone “All in.” In the main video, this happens at ~4:30.

This is how the battle is supposed to flow. The Coalition must attack all out, and assume Napoleon has brought on no extra Corps, beyond Davout. Because if he has not, then the Coalition must decisively defeat him, or they lose.

On the other hand, if Napoleon has brought everything, then he must win decisively, or it is a Coalition victory.

When I play double-fisted solo, I roll when the Coalition spots any of the optional HQS (Napoleon, Bernadotte, Murat, Bessiers). On a 4+ Napoleon has brought on everything. Not knowing until that critical moment makes for a fun game. One of the upsides to Pub Battles is that it plays very quickly, so if you have made a mistake, you can play out the battle quickly to its conclusion, without feeling like you’ve wasted the whole weekend.

At the end of the Battle, both of Murat’s cuirassiers attack towards the Pratzen, which is what their orders were. If one were playing by normal Pub Battles rules, it would have been pretty obvious where the IV Corps bags were probably located, and a sharp player would have guessed that and sent one of the cuirassiers to attack it, ending the game with a French victory. However, I chose to play that the cavalry were focused on the Pratzen and the defenders to their front, and that’s how they attacked.

Actually, when I first played, I did attack the bags and end the game. I was tired after filming the video and just wanted the game over with. I also had a fun bit where there was a knock at my door, and I went and answered it, and it was Murat asking for my surrender!

But I didn’t want a win based on meta-game knowledge. Especially when I was so focused on creating a “you are there!” video. Let me know what you think about my 1st person Narration. I will improve with practice. Creating more of the command tent feel. Pub Battles is supposed to simulate the view of the battle from the command tent, with officers gathered around a table with a map on it. Staff officers running in and out with updates from the field, adjusting the map.

Complex Combat Solution

How to resolve complex combats is an issue in most game systems, including Pub Battles. I have come up with a simple and definitive solution. It comes from my training as a mathematician (I have nearly mastered basic algebra). What I do know is that when combining fractions, you must reduce to lowest terms. In Pub Battles, the lowest terms in complex combats are two opposing blocks. Therefore:

1. Every combat is first reduced to two combatants.

2. Each combat is resolved entirely before another combat begins.

A complex combat.

The rules for each Scenario define which side decides the order of combat. As you will appreciate, this becomes significant. The side which gets to decide the order of combats will be referred to as the Tactically Dominant side.

In the above combat, the French are Tactically Dominant, and will likely choose the Wathier/Stryk combat first, if Stryk is eliminated or retreats, then Lewis has the option of advancing to continue the same combat. In other words, the combat is not complete, and no other combat can begin, until the original combat is resolved.

If Wathier wins the combat, there is still the combat between Wathier and Jankovich which will have to be resolved before the end of the combat phase, although it does not need to be the very next resolved.

If the Russians had Tactical Dominance, then it is likely that the Wathier/Jankovich combat would get resolved first. If Wathier lost that combat (likely, since he’s flanked) then Caferelli would be on his own versus Stryk and Lewis.

The other advantage to choosing the order of combat is already part of the rules. The rules say when an army reaches 50% losses, it breaks. The rules don’t specify “at the end of the turn,” so it can be interpreted as immediately. In close games, like my last Marengo game where both sides were reduced below 50% in the same combat phase, choosing which combats go first can stack the deck in your favor. This seems completely plausible when pairing off a commander like Melas, with Napoleon!

Does this unbalance the scenarios? I would argue that it does not. First of all, complex combats are not common. Second of all, the players are aware of how the combats get resolved. A commander knows the limitations of certain troops, as well as what can be expected of certain troops. Pub Battles thrives on asymmetric battles. Few would call Brandywine a fair fight, but most would agree it is a fun fight. No one is ever guaranteed to win, but how much sweeter is victory to the underdog! A fair fight that usually ends in a stalemate is a pretty dull affair.

Alt Austerlitz (Schrödinger’s Napoleon)

I really like Pub Battles Austerlitz, especially with the variable French setup. Are the French as weak as Napoleon says? The Austrians must attack as though they were, if they wait too long to find out, then it might be too late.

For enthusiasts like myself, after numerous plays there becomes an optimal French option, just bring on the Guards and all you need to win is not to lose big.

To keep the game exciting, I use a certain variation on the suggested setup. I can not take sole credit for this, it is mostly a particular variation on the setup that could be chosen. It is also optimized for solo play.

The French player has two options, bluff, or all in. The French always have Soult, Lannes, and Davout (III, IV, and V, Corps),. Alternatively, they can bring on Napoleon, the Guard, Bernadotte, and Murat (everybody). There is no option to bring on just one other Corps.

On turn one, the French player adds Napoleon’s HQ to the cup. He must make a note if it is the real Napoleon, or just a decoy. He does not have to reveal anything until the HQ is seen by the enemy. So far this is exactly one of the suggested options. The difference is that IF the French player does not bring on everything, then all that is available are the first three Corps. Not even Napoleon is there!

It is assumed that if Napoleon isn’t there, then he has come up with a different plan, and needs the rest of his army to pull it off. Whatever he has planned won’t work if his other forces don’t last the day at Austerlitz. He doesn’t need them to win, he just needs them to tie down those Allied forces.

If you are playing solo, it is called “Schrödinger’s Napoleon.” Like Schrödinger’s cat, Napoleon is both there, and not there, until you examine the HQ. When the HQ comes within the Allied LOS, roll a die. On a 4+ Napoleon is there with the rest of his army. Otherwise, only the first three Corps are on the map. If you find it difficult to play as though you didn’t know, then this option solves that.

The biggest difference between this and the official rules, is that the official rules allow Napoleon to appear with one other Corps, and the Austrian must still win decisively, or lose the game. I feel it is tipped too much in Napoleon’s favor if he appears with the guard (besides, the Guard is always with Napoleon), and all he has to do is not lose decisively to win. At least, that’s how it is for me after many, many, plays.

As always, let me know how this works for you!