Thursday, August 20, 2009

1813 Campaign: rules discussion & additions

A couple of additions to our Napoleonic campaign rules (which can be seen in their entirety here):

In order to prevent armies from deploying on the edge of the baseline and immediately retreating off-table from a battle they never wanted to fight but were perhaps forced into, the following rules now apply.

4.9 Ending the Tactical Battle

An army may not voluntarily retreat off-table during the first two turns of the game. Starting on the third turn, when an Army Morale Check card is turned, a player may voluntarily make the roll and abide by the results as normal. If a player voluntarily rolls on the Army Morale Check card (i.e. his army is not yet at 0 AMPs), all participating divisions will be assessed an extra "downgrade 1 unit" modifier, in addition to any other modifiers from the loss/victory. This will apply even if the player fails the roll by less than 4 and only part of the army starts to retreat. In other words, exercising this option automatically adds the extra modifier, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the battle.

4.6 Deployment

The defending army has a deployment zone 24" in from the baseline and 18" (12" if on a table shorter than 12') from either flank line. The attacker has a deployment zone 18" in from the baseline and 18" from either flank line. A maximum of 50% of an army's units may be deployed within 1/3 of the deployment distance from the baseline. This does not affect an army's ability to deploy up to 25% of the army's divisions off-table along the baseline. The former is assessed by unit, the latter by division.

As well, a short discussion from a recent email exchange about how we use the defensive die type in Field of Battle for melee rather than the normal offensive die type:

I've tried to reconcile some issues I've been having with melee in FoB. I have no problem using the defensive die types for melee calculations and everyone seems to have accepted this modification over the last months fairly well. Another modification we've been using sees "down" modifiers past d4 assessed as "up" modifiers for the other side. I think this may be causing some misconceptions about possible melee outcomes (i.e. if too many "ups" are added to the opposite side, a d4 melee contestant will have little or no chance of winning). This is true but doesn't eliminate the possibility of winning against the odds except when one of the protagonists is seriously damaged or otherwise out-manoeuvered. This was always one of the charms of Piquet systems in that a battered militia unit still had a chance to best a fresh Old Guard unit in melee (however remote the chance). It didn't happen often but for the player with the d4 unit, it meant, at the very least, an outside chance of performing a miracle. Here are a couple of examples:

Example (1) A 10/4 Prussina Landwher battalion is charged by 12/10 Old Guard infantry. Both are in column and both are full-strength (i.e. no stand losses). The Landwher receive "up 1" for column , so d4 up to d6. The OG unit receives "up 1" for initiating melee and "up 1" for column, so d10 up to d12+1. Thus we have d12+1 Old Guard v. d6 Landwher. Not good odds but far from impossible.

Example (2) A 10/4 Prussina Landwher battalion is charged by 12/10 Old Guard infantry. Both are in column and the landwher unit has two stand losses and is disordered. Looks like a lost cause for the Landwher. The Landwher receive "up 1" for column but "down 2" for the stand losses and down 1 for disordered, so d4 doesn't change. The OG unit receives "up 1" for initiating melee and "up 1" for column, so d10 up to d12+1. They receive an additional "up 2" because of the Landwher's "downs" past the d4. Thus we have d12+3 Old Guard v. d4 Landwher. The latter cannot win. The best result would be a tie. I see no problem with this. A militia unit of questionable stability, seriously damaged and disordered, is charged by a fresh unit of some of the best troops in Europe.

Recently, we experimented with using the defensive die type only when cavalry is involved. Otherwise the offensive die type is used. I think this was a mistake. The modification was tried, I think, because of a misconception that using the defensive die types, coupled with the d4 "downs" turned into "ups" for the other side, would produce situations where there is no chance of winning. Isn't that the point? If the aggressor can get his opponent into a "negative" situation, all the more power to him!

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