Sunday 2 October 2011

Napoleonic Rulesets - Republique

A quick yack about Republique v5.0, Grand Tactical Rules for the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars period.

These rules are available for free download from the War Times Journal, here :
Republique v5.0

They cover the Napoleonic period at Grand Tactical scale, which allows for the re-fighting of major battles in a single gaming session, on a single large board (afternoon, weekend, etc)

With the current popularity of 'battalion level' rules for this period, you may ask 'Why Grand Tactical' ?  Well, thats a good question.

Any serious student of Military History will recognise that there are breakthrough developments over time that change the nature of warfare. Usually one side brings these developments to the field and creates havoc as they steamroll the opposition.  In the years that follow these early successes, the major wars that result often see the besieged parties adapt to these changes and eventually overcome the aggressor state to bring the major war to a dramatic close.

History is littered with such examples. The Napoleonic Wars is one such prominent example of this. Looking at the early campaigns in detail - and battles such as Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena-Auerstadt, etc .... it almost defies the imagination how the French armies could have accomplished such incredible and decisive victories.

At first glance, they make little sense. The weapons and tactics employed on each side remained hardly changed from the previous period.  A battalion of French fusiliers was not that different from a battalion of Austrian, Prussian or Russian musketeers. Not enough to account for the vast differences in the results anyway.

So gaming this period at the battalion level, whilst colourful and spectacular, does not leave the player with any special new insights into warfare during this period. It fails to explain Jena-Auerstadt in any meaningful way.

The major innovation that the French bought to the field was the Corps d'Armee system. On paper, this is merely an organisational and structural change above the Divisional level. When gaming at the battalion level, it is entirely off-board and pretty much hidden from the player. At the Grand Tactical level however, it starts to become clearer.

With Republique, it is possible for the player to experience the full meaning of this structural innovation, feel it, grasp it, and learn from it.

A quick overview of Republique:

  • It has been in use for many years, thoroughly playtested and well regarded.
  • It is not a 'product' sponsored by any particular company. Its sort of like an open-source, community based set of rules. Well supported by its own online community, hosted at WTJ yahoo group

Scales used by Republique at 15mm level are :
  • Ground scale, approx 1" = 100m.  Its actually 27cm to the scale Kilometer.
  • Time scale, 1 turn = approx 40minutes
Basing :
  • Infantry, 3 figs on a 30x20mm base, represent approx 550 men, or 1 combat battalion.
  • Cavalry, 2 figs on a 30x40mm base, represent approx 550 horse.
  • Artillery, 1 model on a 30x40mm base, represent 12 guns.
  • Bases are grouped into combat units of 2-6 bases, which represent regiments or understrength brigades.

Command and Control:
  • Distinguishes between 3 different levels of command system, from Regimental Pool, Divisional System, through to French Corps d'Armee concept.
  • Distinguishes levels of command competency from Efficient down to Cumbersome / Useless.
  • Uses a simple order allocation system, command radius, and die rolls to change orders.
  • Each group of combat bases (regiment / brigade) has a morale state in the range Formed, Unformed, Rattled, Shaken, Demoralised. Troops can recover morale state during the rally phase.
  • Divisional level (and up) officers are represented on the table. Leaders can apply die roll modifications to combats and artillery fire. Leaders can also get injured and killed.
  • Simple, realistic, and playable. Minimal paperwork involved.
Rule Mechanics:
  • Movement phases IgoUgo.
  • 2 types of formation manoeuvre system - French vs Prussian.
  • Casualty rates are by base, not figure.
  • Troop grades : Elite, Veteran, Average, Green, Militia are accommodated.
  • All combat, including musketry and melee is abstracted into a single set of results for each contact between groups of bases. Works well.
  • Combat results are based on a single D10 + tactical factors for each side in the contact. Score difference dictates the combat result. During each '40 minute game turn', combat continues between units in contact for as many rounds as it takes to force a result. For example, a unit may assault a position, breakthrough, and smash into rear support lines over the course of several melees in the one single 'turn'.
  • Skirmishers are abstracted by single figure skirmish bases which inflict morale hits only during ranged attacks. (1 x D10 per skirmisher)
  • Artillery is straight forward, add up the attack factors for guns at the given range, roll 1 D10, apply die roll mods, cross index the artillery table for results.
  • Historical tactics are well supported in the combat results. Factors such as formation, squares vs cavalry, enfilade fire, facing, flanks, cover, morale state and troop grade are all included.
  • Optional rules include many additional historical aspects such as battalion guns, trotting attacks, compressed attack columns, etc, etc.
  • Accurate, Realistic, Easy to learn, Fast to play ... brilliant !
A picture tells 1000 words :

Combat Results:
  • Quite a wide range of varied results for each combat. Even with all the tactical factors stacked to your advantage, you can still fail badly if the die rolls go against you.  Bad luck goes both ways though ....
  • Combat results include the following ill effects :
    • Forced movement (recoils, breakthroughs, etc)
    • Actual casualties in terms of base losses.
    • Bases captured.
    • Morale state losses.
    • 'Panic' effect - causes the parent formation of the affected unit to possibly break or fallback. (ie the whole Division that the losing regiment is a member of may falter if the regiment is defeated in some catastrophic way) . If a Division panics, this can spread to Army panic (and subsequently Game Over).
Combat chart pretty much explains it all :

For more info on miniature wargaming, there is an excellent primer article here that explains what all this is about :
Miniature wargaming 101

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