Questions and thoughts after few first games

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Jason
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Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:36 am

Questions and thoughts after few first games

Post by Jason » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:26 am

Hi Everyone

I am happy to join this GdA community, as it seems to thrive. It is the only fair course for such a wonderful set of rules that is is, indeed.
I have obtained these rules more than a year ago, and have been eager to give them a go for a long time, unfortunately some family obligations didn't allow me to spare enough time for napoleonics until now, leaving space only for some sporadic skirmish wargaming.

From the first moment that I have had browsed through the rulebook, the rules, as perplexing as they are on the first read (a lot of sequences and micro rulings that sometimes do not make much sense until you grasp the whole picture) gave that strong napoleonic feel that so many of people reviewing the game note. There were many fresh ideas that seemed to make so much sense, seemingly bolstering the use of troops and leading to such effects that were in line with what I've been reading in so many accounts of napoleonic battles. Years ago I have started my Napoleonic adventure with a niche and now somewhat defunct ruleset called Gods of War: Napoleon. It was quite good, deeply researched and aimed at a nice command level - division and corps, with one base representing one battalion, and main game piece being a brigade. We used to play battles raging from mostly from 10 to 20 thousand soldiers per side, two or three divisions. The game was good but evolved in a wrong direction, with new errata becoming more and more "gamey" and unplayable, and ultimately the authors dropped the rules somewhat and moved on to use them as a base for a new ACW 6mm rules. Since then I was looking for a new ruleset to fill that void in my wargaming hobby that my ranks of peninsular British reminded me of. Over the years I went through Lasalle, Age of Eagles, General de Brigade, Over the Hills (I had high hopes for this one), Sharp Practice, Shako, even tried Black Powder at a local gaming event. Nono of those games quite fit, there was a lot of stuff that I didn't like in each of them, scale too small, or too large, too abstract, or too detailed... Well, after months of looking through the rules, and two first games of General d'Armee, I must say that these are the closest to perfect Napoleonic rules, if there are ones. Still a lot of stuff to straighten out, but even being still puzzled by a third of the rules at least, and browsing through the book constantly, the flow of the game is smooth, the results of normal as well as good and bad rolls seem just realistic, and the emotions of tactical decisions are there! and it's fun! And in sooo many ways the things that happen on the table are not just another game of moving toys and rolling dice, you can imagine events from historical diaries and battlefield accounts just happening in there! It's wonderful! I would like to sincerely thank Dave Brown for writing them!

As much as I enjoy the game, I still have one or two questions that puzzle me, and I couldn't find the answer in the rules, maybe you can help me out with understanding.

1) The inefficiency of artillery fire. I have browsed the full 18 pages of topics on this forum and did not find a discussion mentioning it. The Firing Casualty Table rows for artillery are less efficient than musket fire, maybe that is a question of proper use of artillery but we have found that it's effect on the battlefield is almost non-existent. At best a battery inflicts one or two casualties during the whole battle. There is no way to make it more effective, like enfilade fire, the canister does not wreak any kind of havoc. This might be the effect of playing with Peninsular ODB (we did play a Barossa refight and one Point-system battle) and having at most two 6 to 9 pounder batteries per side. This might be because we did not try the Artillery assault tasking, but just 2 casualty dice did not seem worth spending two ADCs. And also, in later games we might find the arty more useful. But for now this puzzles me. Did I miss anything in the rules?

2) There are no ground scales given in the game and this is understandable, however, we did play these two games on 6x4 table (with 18mm scale), and it did feel a little crowded, especially the Barossa ridge with both Ruffin and Leval's dvisions on it. With regard for writing further scenarios what do you recommend as an approximate scale? Like how many miles of terrain we can fit onto the 6x4 table? What tables do you play on? I now feel that a 8x6 would be good for these rules.

Thanks for any hints on those! :)

Archdukek
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Re: Questions and thoughts after few first games

Post by Archdukek » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:01 pm

Hi Jason,
Welcome to the GdA community.

I'll try to answer your questions in reverse order since it's easier:

2) The groundscale for the rules is stated on page 6. It's 1mm equals 1 yard/metre for 15 or 18mm figures.
A 6'x4' table can work depending on the size of battle and number of brigades present, but I think these rules benefit from playing on tables with a bit more depth to keep your reserves and allow defeated units space to rally behind their friends. I would therefore agree with you that an 8'x5' or 8'x6' would work very well.

I play in 28mm so usually try for a 10'x6' table when I can get it at the Club or field fewer and smaller units.

1) Single artillery batteries under these rules will not sweep away whole battalions, but they will gradually reduce the combat effectiveness of a unit by piling on casualties from a distance if you concentrate your fire bringing the target close or up to the 4 casualty point were they will suffer penalties in taking Discipline Tests, the Charge Procedure or when Firing or in Melee. I think this is more historical than some other rules.

I'm not sure what lines you are comparing when you say that artillery fire is less efficient than musket fire. Close Order Musketry only has a range of 15cm. At that range all gun batteries will be firing on the Close range line. If you compare the Standard Volley line with it you will see that the battery will inflict the same number of hits at each point, but very importantly the artillery will trigger a Discipline Test on dice throws of '7' or '8' unlike infantry fire. That represents in part the impact of canister fire at close range potentially disrupting the enemy unit.

Given the importance of Discipline Tests in the rules that ability should not be dismissed. The fact that the battery could have been firing numerous turns beforehand and inflicting Discipline Tests earlier are further reasons why artillery fire is actually more efficient at slowing down and degrading enemy units than musketry.

If your target is advancing in column you will have gained the benefit of an additional +1 Casualty Dice from as far out as 40cm range for a typical field artillery battery. That's a 50% chance of an additional hit further degrading the enemy. If you have the battery on the Artillery Assault Tasking you gain 2 such CD guaranteeing on average 1 hit in addition to your normal roll. That can add up especially if you roll 4+ twice. Not to mention that those 2 ADCs
can give that same benefit to an additional battery in the Brigade within 5 cm.

So perhaps the lack of discussion is because most of us think the artillery rules work fine. I know I do. :-)

Sorry for the lengthy reply but I hope it helps.

John

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Polish Lancer
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Re: Questions and thoughts after few first games

Post by Polish Lancer » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:46 am

A quick example of artillery effectiveness was in our recent game. I had 5 Portuguese battalions advancing in column, a single French horse battery fired at effective range, he roll double 6 + 1CD for column causing me 5 hits. Destiny check, caused the brigade commander to loose his head! Brigade falters! Rolled a 1 on the Falter chart and the entire brigade retreats and every unit took 2 hits and my skirmisher screen dissolved. 15 hits - one roll.

ShadowDragon
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:05 pm

Re: Questions and thoughts after few first games

Post by ShadowDragon » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:00 pm

Re - artillery: I replayed Bailen as my first game and came to the opposite conclusion - I.e., that guns were a very effective contributor to all arms force. The Spanish guns didn’t cause a lot of attrition but they were extremely effective at breaking up the French brigades so that the defending Spanish infantry could easily repel what ended up as piecemeal attacks by French battalions instead of what was planned as a coordinated, multi-brigade assault. It’s important to see how each arm fits into the whole force.

Jason
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Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Questions and thoughts after few first games

Post by Jason » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:18 pm

Hi John! Thanks for your time, the lenghty answer is not a problem at all, quite the opposite. I really enjoyed reading it and it adressed most of my doubts. I was hoping for an example or explanation, from a point of experience. My concern was, that while I have noted these small advantages, I couldn't see if they can make a difference in a game, actually. I as also worried that I might have missed some rules. It seems, however, that I should give that artillery another shot ;) poor pun intended. ;) Maybe that's an issue with the small table that we used as well. I'll try to find a larger one :)
Polish Lancer wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:46 am
A quick example of artillery effectiveness was in our recent game. I had 5 Portuguese battalions advancing in column, a single French horse battery fired at effective range, he roll double 6 + 1CD for column causing me 5 hits. Destiny check, caused the brigade commander to loose his head! Brigade falters! Rolled a 1 on the Falter chart and the entire brigade retreats and every unit took 2 hits and my skirmisher screen dissolved. 15 hits - one roll.
Well, that's what you call a stroke of luck :) I had a very similar situation in my last game as well. I have carefully coordinated a full brigade assault on a village occupied by a single battalion of frenchmen, successfully issuing Infantry Assault by a fresh Highlander regiment supported in both flanks and rear by 3 other battalions. I have rolled 1 and 2, but thanks to supports re-rolled it for 5 and 6. And my Johny French opponent rolled double 6... and then another! The poor Brigadier lost his... person? Blown up by a howitzer shell, it read. Well, that was fun at least! :)
ShadowDragon wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:00 pm
Re - artillery: I replayed Bailen as my first game and came to the opposite conclusion - I.e., that guns were a very effective contributor to all arms force. The Spanish guns didn’t cause a lot of attrition but they were extremely effective at breaking up the French brigades so that the defending Spanish infantry could easily repel what ended up as piecemeal attacks by French battalions instead of what was planned as a coordinated, multi-brigade assault. It’s important to see how each arm fits into the whole force.
Thanks! That's what I'd like to see as well. I have been playing for some time IIWW with Battlegroup rules, and what's great about them is the importance of combined arms. For my first two games we only really have seen that Infantry is the queen of the battlefield. Both cavalry and artillery had little impact. But maybe there is a learning curve here! I am looking forward to see it!

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