And just like waiting for a bus The dear reader is left bereft for a month with no new post in sight and then two come along on consecutive days. Oh well. von Peter himself is proud to present another public service announcement …
A third teaser on the upcoming General d’Armee Second Edition rules has been released by the author David C R Brown. You can either see it here along with any comments or for The dear readers convenience you could read it below …
The 2nd Edition Update 3
WHAT…. NO +1 FOR COLUMN?!? PASS THE RULE BOOK!
A significant change from GdA1 to the 2nd Edition is the removal of modifiers that require the gamer to add or subtract several factors, hence the title “What…No +1 for column?”
Well in GdA2 there is no maths, no pluses or minuses and so no need to up or subtract in the game at all!
First why? Surely wargamers have used modifiers such as +1 for better morale or -1 for disorder since the olden days?
Well this tight mathematical approach to wargaming brings with it more than just a degree of certainty and knowledge surrounding the potential outcome of a situation that no Napoleonic general ever experienced.
I’ve yet to come across an account of Davout saying to Friant, “Don’t worry monsieur your squares have a +3 modifier against that Prussian cavalry!” Similarly Wellington saying to Picton, “Give them a volley Pic, there’re already on 4 casualties, so he’ll be on a -1 for his morale check!!”
By removing this certainty we bring the player just little closer to history. Now players will be saying “Adopt square Fraint, it’s the best formation to resist cavalry!” or “Receive those columns in Line Picton!”
So how have we done this?
Let’s look at Charges first.
In GdA1 there were fifteen modifiers in the Charge Table, varying from +2 to -4. Well, we’ve gone through the charge chart and removed most all these modifiers, replacing the core modifiers with D6 rerolls instead. Now there are just five rerolls. So if you are Elite you gain a reroll, if you are a higher morale grade you gain a reroll and so on.
These means that players concentrate on gaining tactical advantage by ensuring that an attack or defence is in the right formation and correctly supported, rather than going through numerous factors looking for a tactical advantage in the form of a +1 or -1 for the opponent. The player is now thinking more like a Napoleonic commander, about being in the correct formation, should he withdraw battered units to the second line where they are better off as supports, or can he bring up more battalions to ensure he is well supported?
Finally rerolls also bring more tension to the game. For instance you know that with two rerolls versus one enemy reroll the tactical advantage should be yours and that your troops should prevail in the combat. However it’s not guaranteed, you no longer have that reassurance of, for example, being +4 up in the modifiers! The player is now much more akin to the Napoleonic commander watching from afar, desperately hoping that this attack will triumph!
Firing has also had similar treatment. Let’s look at Infantry Volleys.
Under GdA1 there where ten infantry modifiers, now there are only three modifiers. Yes, that’s right just three!
These are Standard Volley, Inferior Volley and Weak Volley. That’s it. So a fresh battalion in line will fire using the standard volley line. A worn battalion or battalion firing at a target in cover or perhaps firing at a skirmish line receives a negative modifier for this situation so will fire an Inferior Volley.
Finally if the unit has two or more such modifiers, so perhaps is Worn and is also firing at Skirmishers then it drops to the weak volley.
There is no addition, no subtraction, no five minutes looking at the factors, doing the maths, then as so often happens one player demands to go through it again because he is sure a vital factor has been missed out!
Now it’s simple, if your battalion is in good order and in good shape then your battalion will probably deliver a good volley. If the battalion is in poor shape then it’s likely to be a poor volley. Straightforward.
Positives remain much the same, so better troops gains addition Casualty Dice to supplement their volley fire, and so on.
This approach combined with a simple casualty chart means that the firing mechanisms are intuitive. The player immediately knows what type of fire he will have and will soon have memorised the straightforward volley chart after a few turns.
GdA2 does retain the casualty chart as opposed to introducing a “handful of dice” fire mechanism, as the chart conveys four pieces of vital information to the player. These are: casualties, fire discipline, discipline tests and Destiny results. Also add a fifth, Low on Ammunition for artillery. Presenting all this information in a logical and consistent manner could not be done when rolling handfuls of dice, despite numerous attempts. The various attempts we did use seemed to lose all the tactical finesse and nuances that helps make the game “feel” Napoleonic.
This simple, no maths approach means players stay “in the game” thinking as a wargame general for far greater periods of time. We are no longer “coming out” of the game to look at the play sheet every other minute, needing to add up and subtract numerous modifiers before rolling the dice. Continual reference to the rule book is drastically reduced, with far more time in spent “in game” analysing the tactical situation, and actually playing the game.
Morale has had similar treatment to firing. Gone are the ten modifiers accompanying the Discipline Test table, now a unit is simply promoted a troop grade or demoted a troop grade according to its situation. So if a unit has a General attached under a Glory tasking its promoted to the next higher troop grade. While if it is Worn due to casualties its demoted to the next lower troop grade and so on. This produces the same effect as in firing, virtually no time is spent working anything out, and players instinctively know for instance that being on six or more casualties is a demotion, therefore their Line unit now rolls as per a Reservist unit and so on. And as before the Discipline Test pass scores are very easy to memorise and recall.
The overall result of removing factors and the requirement for mathematical calculations, (however simplistic on the surface), from the gaming experience enables players to spend their valuable time actually playing the game, whilst the “factors” we have included still maintain the tactical nuances of Napoleonic warfare that most GDA players require and enjoy. This means games have sped up markedly, and even large games have been brought to a full conclusion. The last game we played at the Wargames Holiday Centre was the southern front at Leipzig 1813, which was brought to a very successful and obvious conclusion by the end of play, something we had not very often encountered using the original version of the rules.
In conclusion far more time is now spent actually playing an enjoyable Napoleonic wargame. The majority of time is now spent on command decisions, the best use of their ADCs, positioning units to ensure brigades are supported properly with skirmishers and artillery. Players simply spend far more time thinking about Napoleonic command decisions to gain battlefield tactical advantages through manoeuvre, formations and mass, rather than pouring over charts and factors.
Until we meet again …
von Peter himself