Better Buildings?

Defending the gate at Hougoumont

I have never been completely happy with the rules for urban combat in Pub Battles, but since it is a relatively uncommon affair, and I didn’t really have any better solutions, I let it slide.

Well, I finally took the time to examine the matter under a microscope (did actual research), and along with consulting some experts in Napoleonic Wargames, have come up with some simple rules. My examination focused these two parameters: Divisional level, and command issues.

At the divisional level, a lot of chaff can be ignored. Light troops were much better in urban areas, line troops were easily panicked, and militia were almost useless (no change, there!). If you dig into it, different troops from different armies had different numbers of light troops of differing abilities, but this is Pub Battles. Pub Battles does not focus heavily on combat concerns over command issues.

So what are the command issues? First off, it was almost impossible top see what was going on and actually command troops in any kind of coherent fashion. Secondly, troops huddled in buildings were especially vulnerable targets for Howitzers, and every army kept them in their artillery parks for just such occasions.

After condensing my research I needed to convert it to Pub Battles rules. Urban combat is a sideshow event, so I wanted to create a simple set of rules that were intuitive, and command level focused. This is what I came up with:


1)Buildings (or sets of structures) are occupiable if at least half a block fits within their perimeters.

2)Blocks within buildings are considered within cover, except when bombarded.  

3)Blocks within buildings are never considered to be within command range. You cannot attack (move into contact) from buildings, but artillery can bombard from buildings.

4)You cannot rally inside buildings. Beleaguered defenders will need to be reinforced with fresh troops if the position is to be held under constant assault!

5)Certain buildings may be scenario defined as chateaus. Chateaus grant cover bonus, and are never considered flanked.


There you have it. Buildings can be really nice to defend if you prepare ahead of time. Likewise, they can be handy in a pinch, for defense; but they can cause as many problems as they solve. Units no longer automatically become spent upon entering, but they can’t rally either. Cavalry still cannot attack buildings.

As a commander, you will need to consider whether or not occupying a building is right for the situation.

These are the rules I have come up with, now I will submit them to rigorous playtesting. I invite any of you to try them yourselves and let me know what you think.

Gettysburg3 video

This video sees my video-fu improving bit by bit. With each video I realize what I should have done while recording it. Next time…Is my slogan!

Next time I will rely on fewer graphics to describe the action (they are too distracting), and use them instead to clarify what I’m talking about.

Nevertheless, this video is fun enough and mercifully short at 1:23 minutes.

Waterloo2 in under a minute!

Less than a minute if you don’t count my ending summation!

This shows just how tense and fraught this game can be. The winner was determined by the chit draw on the final turn. You can’t really blame the chit draw. The game was “lost” earlier, when it was allowed to come down to the chit draw.

The breaking point of the army being determined by the capture of the enemy’s Baggage is an absolutely brilliant way to determine victory. Kudos to the designers (I was not in on this, so I’m certainly not blowing my own horn). Adopting this single rule was one of those “Aha!” moments that suddenly made the game WORK. Rather than a dull wearing away of the army trying to get to that magic 50% casualty number (still an option), the game now has a sudden death mechanism that makes every turn and combat result significant.

The game has three very general phases. The combatants first (through maneuver and combat) try to force their opponent to unpack their bags. Once that is done and the parameters of the battle are established (where the focal points are located and who has the initiative). Finally, the game is decided when the enemy bags are captured, losses run to 50%, the scenario time runs out or, best of all, when your opponent waves the white flag and acknowledges your overwhelming mastery on the field of battle!

Antietam 3

This is my third installment of an Antietam replay. I am still not happy with my skill level with video editing, but I am working on it. I received a request to not divulge the outcome in the description, and that was a great point! My goal at this point is to edit out all the activation phase, since that just isn’t interesting to watch (IMHO). I’m going to focus on the combat phase and speaking slower. I meant, but completely forgot, to do an “end of” casualty report. Next time. In this and the last game, I did not realize that victory had been achieved until right after the fact, so it isn’t handled too well. I will try to improve on that!

I know my faults, but don’t be shy about any suggestions for improvements or things you’d like to see in these videos.