Baggage Trains: Homebrew

Baggage Trains mean more than just food and bullets in Pub Battles.

I want to increase the importance of Baggage Trains in Pub Battles and give added reasons for wanting to unpack them. They mean more than just a depot for supplies, they are the entire logistical network that supports an army in the field.

In addition for being necessary to rally spent units, I want to add the concept of them being critical for an army’s ability to recover from protracted combat. Let’s replace the 50% night turn recovery rule with this:

During a night turn an army may recover two blocks for each unpacked Baggage Train.

This means that a player can take stock of the situation at the end of the day, and during the night turn decide to unpack Baggage Trains in order to recover more units.

Field of Fire Redux

I tried the variant in my recent post and quickly found it wanting. 1/3 is just too much! That is basically a half mile away, and forcing troops a half mile away to fight, with muskets that aren’t effective at much beyond 50′, seems a little silly. Then again, determined troops that are trying to reach an enemy aren’t going to stop 2/3 of the way there! If a block can move its full move and fight x rounds of combat, then a determined attacker should be able to follow through and make the attack if within a third.

Here is what I am going to try next:

A unit that finishes its movement within 1/3 of an enemy unit may be moved to contact, if it finishes its move within one base thickness (3/8″) it must be moved to contact.

Stay tuned for my next video and we shall see how this plays out!

Austerlitz Coalition Variant

Setup, showing forces on reserve cards.

In this variant I reorganize the Coalition army into 3 large Corps. Like many strategies in Pub Battles, there is no “best” way to do something. Large or small Corps have their advantages and disadvantages. Large Corps are great for concentrating a lot of forces on a narrow front for an assault, but can be challenging if trying to react with any precision. They tend to be big hammers. On the defensive, where combat command isn’t so crucial, they can be quite adequate.

(DISCLAIMER) Pub Battles Austerlitz is an excellent game as is. This variant is only presented as an alternative that highlights the flexibility of the system.

Smaller commands can make mounting an effective attack difficult, but can make for a more flexible defense.

The big factor to consider is your Leadership rating. The French (or the Confederacy), with a 4 rating, can usually make their Alter Turn Order rolls, and gain both flexibility in concentrating their efforts, and in reacting to enemy actions. On the other hand, the Coalition (or the Union), with a rating of 2 (or 3), can have a very tough time.

For this variant, while I allow the Coalition player to reorganize their army, it comes with a limit. The original Corps can’t be broken up, only combined with others. This is because of the intermixing of troop quality. In most armies, the lower quality troops were intermixed with higher quality troops. The regiments tended to be of one quality, but different regiments would then form higher level organizations. A Corps may be comprised of 50% conscripts, but those battalions would be spread around. In pub Battles, that is shown when half the blocks of the Corps are militia. The Corps with 50% militia is less effective than one without, so it works at the Corps level. Remember that the names on the blocks are given for color, not because that division was actually all conscripts (or elite!).

In the foto above, I only intend on attacking with Docturov’s Corps (on the left), but to disguise my intentions I have my army organized into 3 large Corps. This disguises my intent, and is very unnerving to the French player as he sees three large threats to contend with. Which one does he prepare for?

Because the French begin with over half their army off board, this gives the Coalition player a slight edge in the early turns. If they can do enough damage early on, the French may never recover. If they decide to remain on the defensive, the French can chip away at their less adaptable army and where them down while watching for an opportunity to administer that “one final blow.” Either strategy is viable, and either can be countered.

War is uncertain. Sometimes, using the above setup and strategy of having Docturov attack the French right, will see all his attacks thrown back, other times will seem him sweep the stretched French defenses, most times it will be a combination. Every game will play out differently. Often the chit draw will serve to compliment or confound your plan! You must have a plan, and yet be flexible.

Austerlitz Homebrew variant: Bridgeheads

Austerlitz out of the tube works great. This variant isn’t to “fix” something, but is actually a variant. A “What If.” I have played the regular version over a dozen times, and I want to try something a little different.

What if Napoleon felt that the Coalition wasn’t buying his charade that he was weak. So he starts all in. Davout still doesn’t make it from Vienna until turn 2, but other than that, all French forces start on the map.

There are occasions where both sides are better off defending and making their opponents attack. Austerlitz is one such battle, hence Napoleon’s deception. If the deception, which was daring and not sure of working, had not been successful, then actually attacking would have been necessary. How to make the French attack a larger foe?

To answer this, I have created the concept of Bridgeheads. Not actual bridgeheads, but close enough to make for an adequate label. In addition to the other two ways of winning, routing the enemy, or capturing their Baggage Trains, let us introduce a third way.

By scenario definition, a bridgehead is created when you are the first player to unpack a Baggage Train in a designated enemy area. At the end of the game, if the Bridgehead has not been destroyed by the enemy, you win!

Unlike when a regular Baggage Train is unpacked, when a Bridgehead is created, the label is exposed and the enemy is made aware of the Bridgehead. Only one Bridgehead can be created per game. Deciding when can be critical. Too soon, and the enemy has time to destroy it, too late, and the enemy may deploy it first!

For Austerlitz, The coalition needs to Build a bridgehead across the Goldbach (i.e. the west side), and the French must build one in the town of Pratzen.

My Smooth Brew 3.1

This blog will be updated from time to time as I find smoother and cleaner ways to play Pub Battles.

I am happy to play with the tried and true “official” rules. Pub Battles is quite a robust system and you can add all kinds of rules. These can be fun or satisfying, but most are unnecessary. I am very leery of adding any rules, other than those that smooth or speed play, as the system can quickly bog down. Remember, Pub Battles is first and foremost a command simulation, not a combat simulation.

Title in bold. Rule is normal font. Discussion/clarification in italics.

Cavalry – Foot retreating from mounted are eliminated.

It just feels wrong to resolve a round of combat, mounted charging foot, and then have the foot pull back while the cav just stands there! Note: this isn’t talking about the chit draw (movement phase), but actual combat!

Artillery – Spent Artillery may fire.

Originally, pre Baggage Train Rally rule, blocks just rallied from spent automatically if they didn’t move. So the proscription from bombardment felt right. Now, with an unpacked Baggage Train required to rally, it is too harsh. If you don’t rally your artillery, it is still very vulnerable, just not nearly useless! Instead of being a new rule, this is just eliminating an old rule!

Support – Supporting blocks may choose to suffer any of the hits of the unit they are supporting.

This makes more sense when Infantry are guarding Artillery, or if you imagine the two defending blocks half as wide and double deep. You can also imagine elite troops or Grenadier Regiments, “stiffening” the line by ignoring the first hit.

Artillery cannot support in combat, but if it is moved into a supporting position it may swap positions with a block that can support it.

This makes it possible to add Artillery to the line without requiring extra turns to get the right chit draw to allow one block to move forward while the other moves back, which isn’t what is literally being simulated anyway!

Written Orders

I have found that I don’t care for any written orders rules when playing Pub Battles. I find they sound cooler than they end up being. When I play solo, I use my own judgement based on how the situation looks to the HQ in question. I find this “narrative dependent technique” is more satisfying.