Intro Video: Instant Pub Battles

I have just added this video. It would be good to watch before you read the rules, if you just purchased your first Pub Battles scenario.

It would also be great to have a friend watch before coming over to play Pub Battles for the first time.

I intentionally left a lot out, so as not to overwhelm. Just a quick, under 5 minute, intro to the system.

New Waterloo for Kriegspiel

Command Post Games has just come out with a Pub Battles Battalion scale Waterloo scenario. It is primarily intended as a Kriegspiel tool, and gives a link to Too Fat Lardies copy of the Kriegspiel rules.

It does include Pub Battles battalion scale rules, and you can order a paper map to use for playing on. it is a different, closer scale, map of just the area where the battle was fought. The regular Pub Battles map won’t have the details that are desired at battalion scale.

I enjoy the current Pub Battles scale, and am not interested in battalion scale or Kriegspiel, but if that’s your thing, go for it!

Kriegsspiel Scenario: Waterloo

Desperate Troops

We are looking at a new rule to simulate the effect on troops if no retreat is available. Although you could include this rule as an “always on” type of rule, we really are intending it mainly for battles where desperate defenses were a critical part of the battle. For instance, elements of Lee’s army at Antietam if backed up against the Potomac. Like any Pub Battles rule, the intent is to have as simple a rule as possible that retains authenticity and the feel of command.

A block that has no legal retreat is considered Desperate and ignores a treat result.

That is the whole rule, but just to make sure you can wrap your head around it, this is what it means:

The retreat is still counted, a fresh unit would still require 3 hits to be eliminated, but if a final result requires a retreat, it is simply ignored.

Note that it still counts the retreat, it just doesn’t actually retreat. So a Militia unit that takes a hit would flip to spent, but ignore the retreat requirement. Artillery can cause a unit to become spent, but not force it to retreat.

Let me know if you find something unclear about the rule. It seems pretty clear to me, but so does every rule written, to its author. It often depends on underlying assumptions that are impossible to anticipate.

Antietam 14 demo

This time I am asking, “What if McClellan went all in at the Lower bridge and fords?”
I am also experimenting with zooming in on particular combats. When I zoom in, the image gets a little grainy and pixelated, but it is easier to follow. Working on transitions more, and added Yakkity sax to the speed replay. When I edit it I see all the mistakes I made, and I finish asking viewers to comment if they have any questions.


https://youtu.be/Og0aiP1Dsr0

Austerlitz14

In this replay I have used an experimental variant, which I have decided I really like, that requires the French player, if he really is as weak as he bluffs, to have to actually be much weaker. Leaving just the IV and V Corps to hold the Coalition’s attention, while he uses a more viable force elsewhere. If he does this, Napoleon does not appear at Austerlitz!

The full variant is explained Here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrBOFZu5HVk

Austerlitz: Optional start variant

The optional starting forces for the French are a great method for introducing the uncertainty that is key to simulating Austerlitz. While the official rules work great, I have a little trouble swallowing that the French player would have any reason for bringing on his whole army and having to win, when he can just as easily leave Davout and Murat behind, while bringing on the Guard (who were always with Napoleon), and only require a draw to win?

What if Napoleon split his army in two, intent on mounting a real threat elsewhere whilst pinning down the Coalition Army at Austerlitz? What if his choices were to bring his full army to Austerlitz, or merely leave Soult and Lannes to tie down the Coalition Army?

Let’s look at the French army:

The whole French Army. In this variant, only the right most two Corps appear.

In this variant, if Napoleon doesn’t bring on his whole army and fight with the regular Victory Conditions, he can simply fight a holding action with two Corps, and all he needs to do is manage a draw. If he does this, he wins.

Soult and Lannes have a significant force, maybe not enough to defeat the Coalition Army, but certainly enough to possibly force a stalemate. On their side is their superior organization and staff work. This is reflected in their 4 leadership rating compared to the Coalition Army’s 2. This means that when the French want to Alter Turn Order, they probably can, and when the Coalition want to Alter Turn Order, they probably can’t.

Now let’s look at the Coalition Army:

The somewhat disorganized Coalition Army

The Coalition Army actually has pretty good troops, they are just poorly organized and led. This isn’t so bad if they are merely defending (not so good either, but not so bad), but if it turns out that the French player only has a couple of Corps on the board, then they must attack!

Their poor leadership rating will make it hard for them to coordinate an attack on a key point at the right moment. Their artillery superiority is hard to use effectively because early on when they’d really like to have it, the fog will prevent its use.

Adding to their woes, the French have Five HQ cards to hide and disperse/or concentrate their forces, the Coalition player has only 3! Two wily players will only have HQs on the map and all their forces hidden in reserve. This makes it very hard for the Coalition to cover a broad front while searching for the French army.

The other tough part is they have very poor intelligence of the real French strength. Whether or not they are all there, All the French HQs will be on board until they can see them and call their bluff.

All of which puts them in a tough spot. They must begin as though the French only have the two Corps in play, and if it turns out they bet wrong, they have to quickly revert to the defensive with a slow, disorganized command structure.

Fought this way, the battle is actually quite even. If the Coalition strikes hard and quickly, they should usually break the French army, but if they find themselves stuck in and suddenly facing the whole French Army, they are in desperate straights. In either case, victory will go to the player who best manages the crises as they develop.

Now I want to add one little flavorful rule that you can take or leave. The historical battle was won when the French forces gained the Pratzen in strength and “broke” the coalition’s will to fight. I replicate this moment by saying that if the French player ends the game with an unpacked Baggage Train in the town of Pratzen, then they win, it’s as if they have broken the Coalition army.

Pratzen, just East of Kobolnitz

Brandywine14

Once again into the breach! Howe attacks from the South and I start testing the new 1/3 variant for FoF, but quickly determine it doesn’t work. I have a solution and will be posting another demo using that variant. Ultimately, unless I’m explaining what I’m doing, no one can tell anyway. So, there it is!

Non-linear Pub Battles

Movement is simultaneous in Pub Battles. This is important to remember when a unit sometimes passes by an enemy with out so much as a “How d’ya do! This can happen because there is no way to determine apriori what that unit’s action will be, it is better to not worry about the details.

It is a mistake to take quite literally what you see on the board. Since movement is simultaneous, it is better to view it in a more non-linear sense, i.e. all that really matters is where units end up at the end of the turn, and even that might be suspect. A unit is probably in a location, as far as the Generals can tell. Heck, sometimes the division commanders aren’t really sure where they are, and they certainly aren’t sure of where anyone else is! That is where I believe Pub Battles handles Fog of War in spades. Not in literally hiding unit IDs and locations, but in the fact that it is almost impossible to even be sure of what the board is showing you. All you can do is juggle (ATO roll) what the chit draw hands you. When I play double blind solitaire, I have perfect knowledge of where everyone is, but such knowledge is often of little avail if the chit draw does not allow me to do what I intend. That, and other than dragoons, I usually move my infantry in nearly straight forward marches if entering combat, simulating the level of uncertainty that accompanies most tactical operations.

What do you think? Is this what Pub Battles means to you? There is no right or wrong answer, it is a matter of how you feel most comfortable in viewing it.