One of the generally accepted issues with any wargame is that players have far more control over their troops than their historical counterparts could ever have dreamt of having. It is also a corollary that the best part of playing a wargame is having that control, as opposed to being a mere kibitzer.
Having said that, wouldn’t it be fun if you had a game that let you write your orders and then sit back and watch while the battle was fought, just to see how it all fell out. One can easily imagine a computer game doing this. Back in the seventies, when I was in High School, there was a text based ACW program where you were given money to buy ammo, food, and supplies for your army for a particular battle, and then, based on how you allocated that, the computer printed out the results of the battle.
That would hardly pass as a fun simulation today, but what if you had an animated battle game, where the units followed your orders and you sat back and watched how it all fell out. You could try to issue new orders during the battle, but as history has shown, that is a fraught endeavor, indeed!
I believe this can be done with Pub Battles. In place of orders written, sent, and received, the provence of true Kriegspiel, I offer a simple limited order system that removes one from the too immediate control of individual units and blocks. It requires one to have a plan and stick to it for the best chance of success, and it properly distances one from too much micromanagement. In keeping with the Pub Battles philosophy, I started with a system full of all the details I wanted to incorporate, and then I pared back to everything but the most essential. Rather than trying to see how much detail I could cram into the system, I wanted to see how few could actually accomplish the task.
It Works Like This…
Issue orders – When the Army Commander is activated, they may issue as many orders as their command rating. Write a number next to the HQ on the orders sheet. Place a die with that number on the map, this becomes the Objective.
Receive Orders – When drawn, the HQ then makes a command roll, if the die is less than or equal to the command rating, the issued orders are circled and considered received, and must now be executed. If the die roll is over the command rating the order is not received and the die roll must be attempted the following turn, until received or countermanded. The unit continues to execute the last received orders.
At the beginning of the scenario, or when entering as reinforcements on later turns, all HQs automatically receive orders.
Execute Orders – If a block moves, it must end its move closer to the Objective, unless it ends its move within command range of the objective.
As per the rules (page 3), to be within command range, a unit need only be touching the edge of the range.
No Orders – A block with no orders to execute cannot move, except to retreat from combat (even voluntarily). Blocks may always rotate.
Spent Blocks – A spent block may always treat the nearest unpacked bags as its objective.
Note that if it has no other objective, it will be without orders once it rallies.
Range effects on orders – HQs adjacent to the Army Commander automatically receive their orders without need for a die roll. HQs over one mounted move from the Army Commander must add 1 to their die roll.
Countermanded Orders – Once orders are sent, they remain on the order sheet until received. If a new order is sent, it will remain in queue. There is no upper limit to the number of orders in queue.
Each turn the HQ must make command rolls for all orders in queue, in the order sent. The last received order in the Queue is Executed.
Once received, all earlier orders are ignored (no need to roll to receive).
HQ Support – An HQ may be ordered to support another HQ. Simply write S(HQ) indicating which HQ to support. An HQ that is given a support order follows the same process as an HQ given new orders. Once the order is received, that HQ’s orders become whatever the orders are for the HQ it is supporting. Remove its chit from the cup, it now activates when the other HQ is drawn. The only functional distinction it retains in game terms is that it is still required for command control for its blocks.
New orders may be sent to it, and rolled to receive when it is activated. If it receives new orders it immediately reverts to its own command, and its chit is placed back in the cup at the end of the turn, it does not move with the other command, and is treated as having no orders until drawn next turn!
Blocks from different commands may not attack the same defender, without a support order.
Defending blocks do not require an HQ support order to support one another. Note that HQ Support is different from the support rules on page 4 of the 3.2 rules. Essentially, HQ Support is a concern primarily for attacking units, although being able to activate the same time as other defenders with the same order can be very useful.
Bombardment, since it requires no movement, does not require orders!
The intent of these rules is not to exactly duplicate written orders. The intent is to provide a simple system to simulate the feeling of only possessing indirect control. Of seeing events happening on the battlefield that are beyond your immediate control. You cannot simply reach down like a Greek God to control the actions of the mere mortals, you can only hope and plan.
Since your opponent has no idea which of your commands is tied to which die, or how many may be tied to any particular die, there is some FoW inherent right away. Pub Battles primarily simulates FoW with the chit draw.
I intend to replace the dice with flat markers of some kind, as the dice get in the way.
The issues of lost or misunderstanding, or need for confirmation, are all simulated with the die roll to Receive.
It may seem ideal to use HQ Support to combine many commands whenever possible. This has its down sides though. The Objective is only Command range from its point on the map. Condensing your forces pretty much tips your hand and declares “I am going here!” This allows your opponent the option of allocating just enough strength to hold up your main effort long enough to strike somewhere else.
Combining against a defender is the surest way to succeed, if you can get away with it!