Grognard Guide

Grognards (grumblers) was the name Napoleon affectionately gave to his Old Guard, and it is now used to describe older wargamers. Pub Battles is relatively easy to learn…Unless you’ve been playing regular wargames for years! I had some difficulty wrapping my head around some concepts because they were so unlike typical Hex and Counter games. This is a hybrid system, really; part Hex and Counter, part miniatures. Because the rules are so short, one is tempted to skim over them, and get right to the game. This is what you should do! Just be aware that you will probably be doing a few things wrong. Before you dismiss the system, and accuse Command Post Games of poor rules writing, be advised that close and careful inspection of the rules should answer most questions.

To help others who might be climbing the steep learning curve, I’ve put together a handy tip guide to draw your attention to a few points that are commonly missed, or misunderstood by many who are learning this system.

The Map Those who are used to hex and counter maps may be a little overwhelmed by having no hexes. A block is considered to be in the terrain that most of the block occupies. Make sure your block is clearly in one terrain type, clarify it with your opponent if you anticipate a question.

The Units The blocks can be thought of as representing divisional level units, but not specific divisions. If a Corps had 50% green troops and has two blocks, one of those blocks will be militia. It does not mean that the division named on the block was historically composed of all green troops. The system is accurate at the Corps level.

Elite/Militia All units have the same attack strength, even spent units. The difference is how well they stand up to enemy fire. Spent units are very brittle, and don’t last long in combat. Militia are liable to run away and dissolve from combat. Elites tend to keep coming, like terminators!

Detachments are not specifically attached to any HQ, but they are only allowed to move once a turn when a friendly HQ is drawn.

Artillery bombards in the movement phase, instead of moving. In the combat phase it only defends when attacked.

Baggage Trains must be unpacked to rally friendly units. They may rally any friendly unit in command range. When a Baggage Train is packed up again, it signals the owning player is admitting defeat and bugging out. If a unit is in contact with an enemy Baggage Train at the end of the movement phase, the enemy has been beaten, the game is over.

The Chit Draw You may always move when your chit is drawn, even if previously contacted. The chit draw simulates simultaneous movement.

Alter Turn Order It is not always advantageous to move earlier or later in the turn. It depends.

Command Range is 1/3 mounted move.

Difficult Terrain reduces total movement by one third. It does not matter if you spend the entire turn moving through a single terrain feature, or if you move through multiple features. Think of it as being able to move a full three thirds if you spend the entire move in clear terrain! Terrain features that are less than half a base width have no effect on the game and are only for there for aesthetic reasons.

Combat Mods no matter how many conditions may add or subtract from a die roll, when all is said and done, the final mod can never be more than plus or minus one. Essentially, you either have an advantage, or you’re at a disadvantage.

How “Real” is Pub Battles?

I often heard it said that, while Pub Battles is good for what it is, it isn’t very real.

This comes from people who equate real with detailed combat, and endless tracking of logistics, and “down to the man” unit strengths. They can’t be faulted, because when one reads the histories, especially “I was there” accounts, those details are thrilling. The army commander’s eye view of the events are certainly interesting, but not as viscerally engaging as descriptions of battlefield actions.

Yet, when gaming these actions, almost the opposite is true. Keeping track of all those minute combat details, consulting endless charts, and the endless hours it takes to simulate minutes of time, is a challenge to enjoy. We all want to be Napoleons, Wellingtons, and Lees. It is far more exciting to be making the big decisions, when to send in the guard, when to bluff and feint, trying to judge how much more the enemy’s army (or yours!) can take.

The exciting narrative is still there in Pub Battles, you get to make it up yourself! Why were the Elite Guard Cuirassiers pushed back by the inexperienced Dutch dragoons? It shouldn’t ever happen, yet in my last Waterloo, it did (Cuirassiers rolled really bad, and the Dutch rolled really well). Is this because the system is broke? Hardly, but it probably means there was something going on that dissembled the French. Maybe there was a morass of mud in a low area, maybe there was a SNAFU that resulted in the charge being completely disorganized and ultimately called off, or maybe an unsung Dutch cavalry officer organized a surprise flank charge that succeeded because it was so unexpected. Rather than try to simulate each of these unlikely events, Pub Battles merely allows that something happened that resulted in the outcome shown on the map. Finally, there is the very real possibility that the information on the map is not correct. As wargamers, we want everything to be exact. just like our historical counterparts wanted all their intel to be accurate. That was rarely the case. Who knows what those Cuirassiers ran into, it probably wasn’t Dutch dragoons, maybe the Prince of Orange was there, gathering the Household Guard for a planned surprise counter-attack!

What Pub Battles does do very accurately, is simulate being an army commander. You’re in your command tent, looking at the latest picture your staff has assembled of the battlefield. You can wonder “Does Jackson have the left secured, what strength does he have after driving off the last Federal assault?” Before he leaves, Jackson assures you that A. P. Hill has reinforced his left, and that he has already pulled Pender’s men off the line to rest and recover. Thirty minutes later an excited Lieutenant arrives exclaiming A.P. Hill will join the battle “before nightfall!” Jackson had already departed, and you’re left wondering…

Maybe Pub Battles is too real!

New Blog Identity and address!

Hey gang. I have decided to align my Blog and YouTube channel under the same “brand.”

I will no longer be using this blog. My new Blog is found Here.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but going forward this will work much better. Part of the problem is in the name Pub Battles: My Homebrew. It gets very hard to find due to the bazillion pubs and home brewers that use similar names! I believe the name “Boom Simple Pub Battles” will work much better!