Wednesday 29 February 2012

House Rules - Command and Control mods for Republique

Gaming rule mods of the Day

Some experimental ideas that I will be using for my next solo Napoleonic test game.

Situation :
The Allies have a slight problem. They outnumber the French, but thanks to the superior French command system, the Allies are finding it difficult (if not impossible) to force a combat where they can actually make use of their superior numbers. The French can effectively dance around them, and create local superiority almost every time. Not good :(

Mission :
For the coming battle, the Allies have 2 Corps commands vs a single higher quality French Corps. The Allied plan involves lightly engaging the French with their 1st Corps in a pinning move, and hopefully holding them in that position to allow the 2nd Corps to take their flank with a general assault.

The Problem :
The problem with this plan, is that in the vanilla rules as they are, an engagement is an all or nothing affair. If you engage the enemy at all from an inferior position, you will likely get mauled and lose a lot of men. The battle will be lost before the flanking force has a chance to make contact.

The Solution :
These proposed rule modifications allow for the commander to introduce an intermediate level of engagement, where they can lightly engage the enemy just to pin them down, with a lower risk of too many losses.

As well as this main objective, these mods add some additional game mechanics to provide a more interesting solo game.

IGO-UGO vs Card Driven :
Age old question that one. Card Driven has a lot of advantages for a solo game, as it truly introduces battlefield friction and chaos.  (also gives a fun game).

On the other hand, I do like the feel that IGO-UGO gives when playing at Grand Tactical level. It does 'feel' a bit more like issued orders have a grave importance, when you know that in each passage of game-time, great masses of troops will move inexorably into danger whether you want them to or not.

Anyway, for these modifications, I will be using IGO-UGO as the turn mechanism.

On to the rules then :

Tools required :

- A whole pile of dice :  D4  D6 D8 D10 D12
- A couple of measuring sticks for movement, in 4" increments for infantry, and 6" increments for cavalry.
- A handful of labelled tokens to represent Division sized units as blinds prior to contact. Different coloured poker chips works for me.
- A handful of colored order tokens to indicate commander's intent and direction towards the objective.

You can easily make these out of coloured card and some textas, to make up a set of colour coded arrows to indicate who is doing what on the table.

Lucky for me, I found a plentiful supply of pre-coloured popsicle sticks in all the colours I need. $2 gets you a whole bag with dozens of each colour. Perfect !

Combat Engine :

I am using Republique V5.0 for my basic ruleset. Its actually a very good set of rules for this scale - well written, plays fast, and yet has loads of depth and period feel.

Freely available online here :

In the modified system described below, it is mainly concerned with introducing finer grained control over different types of attacking movement ... breaking this down into commander's intent based on probing attacks, pinning or harrassing engagements, limited firefights, through to general assaults intended to create breakthroughs.

Whatever combat engine you use, these modifications can add a little extra tactical dimension to a game as you match up the best type of attack to use for different situations, and different aims.

You can therefore use whatever combat engine you currently use, taking the existing combat results as the 'best case scenario' involving a full scale general assault. In order to tweak this to accommodate more limited types of attacks, you can take the guidelines I have laid out here, or just add a few mods of your own to whatever rules you are using to make life a little less dangerous for those units initiating more limited types of attack.

Shouldn't be too hard to come up with something there.

Scales in Use :
All measurements listed below are based on the following scale assumptions for 15mm units :
  • 1" = 100m 
  • 1 base of figures = 1 battalion.  3 x 15mm figures on a 30mm frontage base represents around 550 troops arranged on a 100-150m long line.
  • 1 gun figure = up to a couple of batteries.
  • 1 turn = 40 minutes (broken down into 20 minutes for player A, 20 minutes for player B)
So if you want to apply these mods to 25mm, or company scale combats, then simply adjust the figures accordingly.

ie - double the distance ranges for 25mm.

For company level, then double the distance ranges, and compress the time scale to 20 minute turns (10 minutes per player phase).

Background and Theory :

Each player takes command of 1 or more Corps sized forces for each side in the battle. In a solo game (of course), the player alternates between these roles at the highest level.

Each Corps command is responsible for a small number of Divisions. Each Division has a current order state which reflect's the commander's intent.

The Corps commander / player takes actions during the game to set orders for each Division. Setting orders is difficult, and something of a hit and miss affair. Changing orders becomes increasingly difficult as the battle progresses.

During each turn, each Divisional group of units (several regiments, or brigades) will perform a set of compulsory actions in accordance with it's Divisional orders ... which can be a very good thing or a very bad thing, as we shall see.

(** Note - if you are playing smaller actions at company level, then just substitute the terms Corps/Division group  with Brigade/Regiment group above and below.  With a different time and distance scale, the command mechanisms at company level gaming remains similar enough.)

The colour scheme I am using to denote the various order states is as follows :

General Assault
Division group will advance towards the enemy, and charge home with a violent, all out assault with the bayonet / cavalry sabre.  
All or nothing attack !

Attacking posture - High Risk, High Reward

Only available to units once the enemy has been spotted.

Arrow indicates direction towards the objective.
Division group will advance towards the enemy, and engage them in a duel of firepower. Units will maintain contact with the enemy, harass them, and deny them the opportunity to move. Classic pinning attack.

Aggressive posture - Moderate Risk, Moderate Reward

Only available to units once the enemy has been spotted.

Arrow indicates direction towards the objective.
Division group will scout out looking for the enemy. Once the enemy is located, the Division group will advance to threaten the enemy, and maintain contact ... but avoid getting into a serious fight with them.

Alert posture - Low Risk, Low Reward.

Available  to units at start of game.

Arrow indicates direction towards the objective.
March !
Division group will march at the double towards an objective. Contact with the enemy is not expected, however the Division group may be on the alert for trouble. If the enemy makes an unwelcome appearance, then the Division group will revert to Hold orders until further notice.

Advancing posture - Low Risk, Low Reward.

Available  to units at start of game.
Cannot be issued to units during the game, if any spotted enemy units are within 12".

Arrow indicates direction towards the objective.
Division group will hold a line with a flexible and mobile defense.

Defensive posture.

Available  to units at start of game.

Placement of the order token shows the general line to assume in holding the position.
Division group will aggressively defend a position at all costs with a static defense.

Aggressively Defensive posture.

Only available to units once the enemy has been spotted.

Placement of the order token shows the line to be held at all costs.
No Token Reserve / Restage
Division group takes up a general position, ready to move out at further notice.

Available  to units at start of game.

Resting but alert posture.

Pre-Contact Movement :

First stage of the game, setup the terrain, and then deploy each side as a set of blinds, with initial orders.

No need to place any figures on the table at this stage, just a single token to represent each Divisional level commander, along with a coloured order token to denote the posture, direction and commander's intent for each Division.

For movement / probe orders that involve anything other than a direct line of advance (or following an obvious terrain feature such as a road, or river bank), then feel free to lay out the intended path as a set of way points on the table.

Since its a solo game, its not like you can hide these intentions from the 'other player' anyway.

For a non-solo game, then jot down the waypoints of the path of advance on a private set of notes before the game.

Playing the game during the Pre-Contact phase. IGO-UGO, each turn is simply - each player moves ALL Division group units according to orders, and then the opponent can attempt to spot 1 enemy blind for each of their Division groups that have a reasonable chance of seeing something.

Then repeat for the other side.

There is NO opportunity to change orders until the enemy is spotted, or contact is otherwise made. Better make sure the initial plan is a good one !

Spotting and Contact :

Keeping it real simple here.

Spotting attempts can be made by any Divisional level command token on the table, against any enemy Divisional level command token, where there is a clear line of sight. (ie - you cannot spot a unit on the other side of a hill).

Target Unit
Probe Orders3D6 + 122D6 + 10
Other Orders2D6 + 101D6 + 8

Rolling on the table above for spotting attempts, will produce a number. Lets call this the 'effective spotting range' for this attempt.

If the target unit is in a wooded area, or a built up area, farmlands, etc ... anything other than open ground, then HALVE this 'effective spotting range' number.

If the distance between the tokens in inches is less than or equal to the effective spotting range, then the target is spotted.

If the target is spotted, then deploy the figures for the spotted Divisional group on the table. At this point, you can now setup the formation and layout of the Division however you see fit, and however you consider to be most reasonable.

Once a unit is spotted and placed on the table, consider that all of your commands from the spotting side can now 'see' this newly spotted unit ... and will react to the presence of that enemy accordingly.

Tactical Phase of the Battle - Order Sequence :

Once some forces for EACH side have been spotted, and some figures for each side are on the table, we now go into the tactical order sequence for each move.

IGO-UGO again, alternating whose turn it is to be player A, and player B.

Each pass through the order sequence = 20 minutes elapsed time, each complete pair of passes = 1 game turn.

Each unit gets 1-3 'moves' per phase, depending on their order state.

Movement distances are kept simple :

Foot = 4" per 'move'.
Mounted = 6" per 'move'.

French system units can change formation OR facing within a move (and still get to move the unit full distance).

Prussian system units can change formation AND facing as a move (in lieu of advancing any distance at all).

PhaseOrder StatePlayer APlayer B
1Leadership Phase
- Rally units.
- Replace fallen leaders.

2Probe1 move1 move
3March3 moves
4Engage1 move1 move

6Attack2 moves

May add and extra full move distance (charge bonus 4"/6") if this results in contact with the target.

7Fire Phase :
- Simultaneous Skirmish Fire
- Simultaneous Artillery Fire
- Leader Injury
8Close Combat Phase :
- Calculate all the melee results
- Test for leader injury
- Compulsory moves and breakthroughs

- Repeat any subsequent rounds of close combat
- Apply Charge disorder for any attacking units that had to use the charge bonus to make contact this turn.
9Morale Phase
Morale test / Divisional panic tests - as applicable to whatever rules you are using.
10Change Orders
- Move Divisional commanders, if required.
- Roll to attempt to change orders for each Division, where required.

So a typical tun now runs something like this :

Probe - March - Engage - React - Charge.

  1. Player A attempts to rally any units that need rallying,  replace injured leaders, etc.  Advance any enqueued orders for Player A (see step 10)
  2. Player A makes a single move for any of his units that are on Probe orders, and then player B does the same. This may involve additional spotting attempts if some enemy units are still undiscovered.
  3. Player A moves all of his units that are on March orders, with 3 full movements.
  4. Player A makes a single move for any of his units that are on Engage orders, and then player B does the same.
  5. Player B can then make some limited reaction moves for any of his units that are on Hold, Defend, or Probe orders.
  6. Player A then charges home with any units that are on Attack orders !
  7. Conduct all firing combat.
  8. Conduct all close combat.
  9. Do all your morale tests, if applicable.
  10. Finally, Player A can then attempt to change any Divisional orders before Player B conducts his turn. However, these changes take effect from the beginning of Player A's next phase. To denote this on the table, I just place the new modified order token underneath the existing order token for that Division, so the new order is effectively enqueued.

And for a more detailed explanation of what that all means, for each of the different order states ... its quite simple in concept, but does take a bit of explaining :

Order StateMovement RestrictionsCombat Dice and EffectsCommand Effects
Attack !Will move in a direct straight line towards the objective, close with the bayonet and attempt to take the position / breakthrough.

This includes infantry on attack orders that encounter enemy cavalry. (ouch)

Apply the full effects of the combat results table.

Multiple rounds of combat whilst contact is maintained.
The Die is Cast

Cannot change the order, until after the attack, or the enemy has run away.
EngageA unit on engage orders must close with the enemy to base contact and initiate a firefight.

If the engaging unit has skirmisher superiority, it may opt to hold back from actual base contact and attack with skirmishers.

An infantry unit on engage orders encountering enemy cavalry may halt, and form square instead of closing.

If Attacking unit is Shaken or Demoralised, will stay put until rallied ready for the next attack.

Attacks with a single round of combat only.

Ignore any breakthrough or capture results.

Replace 'Panic' results for the attacker with 'Repulse' - fall back 1 inch for every Panic result incurred as an attacker.

Once the unit is engaged and is shadowing the enemy unit ... is it kind of busy thank you very much.  -2 die roll modification on subsequent change order attempts.
ProbeWill close to within 1 movement distance range of enemy  (4" / 6"), engage skirmishers, but generally try to avoid close combat.

If the enemy is closer than 1 movement distance, the unit on probe orders may make a full retrograde move to break contact with the enemy.

If Attacking unit is Shaken or Demoralised, will stay put until rallied ready for the next attack.

Attacks with a single round of combat only.

Ignore any breakthrough or capture results.

Replace 'Panic' results for the attacker with 'Repulse' - fall back 2 inches for every Panic result incurred as an attacker.

A Division on Probe orders is looking for trouble, and expecting to find it. It is also expecting to receive new orders once the enemy has been found. +2 on subsequent rolls to change orders.
MarchWill march on the line of advance, but no closer than 2 movement distances from any enemy units.

If any enemy units are within 2 movement distances, the unit on March orders will halt and revert to defend orders.

This automatic change of orders takes effect as of next turn (see enqueing order tokens above), so if they do still manage to get into a melee during this current turn ... they are in a bad way :(

Defending only.

Attacking unit dictates the severity of the attack.

Any resulting panic hits on the defending unit is calculated UP 1 level.

Prior to contact with the enemy, a unit on March orders is not ready for action. -2 for subsequent rolls to change orders before contact.


Once gunfire has started somewhere on the table, the unit on March orders can now be assumed to have heard it, become alert and ready for action. It will also be expecting new orders to arrive to join the battle. +2 on subsequent rolls to change orders after gunfire.
HoldUnits on Hold orders only move during the 'Defender Reaction Move' in Phase 5 above.

During a Defender Reaction Move, a unit on Hold orders may adjust their facing by wheeling up to 90deg.

They cannot change their formation, except by forming battalion squares in the presence of enemy cavalry.

In addition, units on Hold orders may adjust their location by up to 1/2 of a movement distance in any direction during the Defender Reaction Move.

ie - they can legally advance, retire, or shuffle sideways up to half a move in order to confound an enemy attack.

A unit on Hold orders, that is being enveloped (contacted on more than 1 facing), will opt to retire and hold their line rather than attempt to change facing.

Defending only.

Attacking unit dictates the severity of the attack.

Units on Hold orders will be rested, ready and alert. +1 die roll modification for subsequent attempts to change orders.
DefendUnits on Defend orders only move during the 'Defender Reaction Move' in Phase 5 above.

During a Defender Reaction Move, a unit on Hold orders may adjust their facing by wheeling up to 90deg.

A unit on Defend orders may change their formation during the Defender Reaction Move, to deny an impending attack their flank. They may also (in addition to this), declare battalion squares in the presence of enemy cavalry.

Unlike hold orders, a unit on Defend orders cannot adjust their location. It is assumed that they have prepared positions, piled up some rocks, gabions, logs, or whatever is available ... and they will hold their line at all costs.


Defending only.

Attacking unit dictates the severity of the attack.

Hold at all costs - means hold at all costs. We have dug in as best as we can, the lads have finished off their grog rations and are somewhat reluctant to budge from here.

Retreat you say ? Never !  Today we stand our ground. -4 on the die roll to do that.

You want us to attack ? Sorry ... I am a bit hard of hearing old boy, gunshot still ringing in my ear, what what.
ReserveUnits on Reserve orders do not actively moveD4

Defending only.

Attacking unit dictates the severity of the attack.

Any resulting panic hits on the defending unit is calculated UP 1 level.

Units on Reserve orders do not need to roll to change orders.

Once they are activated and into it, they are then treated as any other unit under orders.

So, thats just about it for now.

I should get around to testing these ideas out with the next playtest scenario. Hopefully, it should flow pretty well, as its only rules of thumb to be applied rather than adding any new results tables to the system.

Looking forward to trying this one out :)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting ideas, Steve; it will be fun to see how they survive contact with the tabletop! :-)