Saturday, 24 February 2018

Field of Battle - Napoleonics - with 'Season of Battles' Campaign system playtest

An excellent return to FoB, and with the 'Season of Battles' campaign system that Sgt. Steiner is playtesting for the designer.

Usual FoB goodness in the shape of unpredictable battlefield and managing the chaos/fog of war that ensues - wargaming as it's meant to be!/?

Highlights of the campaign system :
for the first time, with the campaign end in mind, I was thinking about which units not to risk when things went sour. This changes your entire outlook in a battle, and a system can have detrimental effects on future use of fatigued units forces you to think of winning the campaign and series of linked battles - winning the war, not the battle in essence. Your outlook and focus on how to fight changes completely.

I was struck with the dynamics of choosing the battlefield and the mechanism by which strengths and weaknesses, surprise and key deployments are handled via the card game (Blackjack) system and miniature maps. This allows you to decide where, when and how you will attack - if you get the drop on your opponent, though does not guarantee full control, and is a great pre-game.

So then the ideas started going off for other games:
  • Nine Years War campaign - with months between battles (there were only about 4 major battles in Flanders anyway).
  • Pick all of the Irish built up areas during the same era - 1690s - and try to cross the lines of the Shannon over a three year - five battle epic, with the same units getting better/worse on the basis of performance.
  • Saratoga campaign - days/weeks between encounters managed on a 3 battle season.
  • ACW - practically begs for this treatment.
  • The WWII Corps/Division level campaign - Ardennes, Market Garden, Russian Front - this just writes itself for the WWII version of FoB.

 The basic layout of 'potential battlefields, with rolls allowing preferential selection, and the cards (via playing 'Blackjack' or 'Pontoon', and gaining advantage via your hand of cards, allowing strength of deployment and manoeuvre advantage before you set up. The French were able to force the Prussians to set up two divisions before they themselves had to deploy - they out-scouted, but were outnumbered via this pre-game.

 Laying out the battlefield... troops start to deploy. The French right would end up forming square against Prussian cavalry which would re-deploy from the centre - while the French cavalry on the left would surge across the centre when it eventually started to move - but by then the French had lost too much morale - and the French guard units on the left were too few in number and better kept to fight another day.

French units gain the town, but couldn't hold it.

French cavalry starts to get anxious. does the French right, deployed to (1) create a nuisance and (2) draw off Prussian reserves across the river, and thereby delay their getting back when things went south. It worked to a degree, but not enough to swing the tide of Prussian victory.

This is gonna hurt...

Although Sgt had added a rule for forming 'hasty square' during cavalry presence, the French were taking no chances. Form Square!

The centre looking inviting...

Pour La Gloire mes Amis!!! 

Morale points ebbing - first army morale check passed. Now truth be told, the French should have pulled out rather than stay to fight - so I wasn't always thinking about the next battle (clearly I had too much sugar).

 The French just can't retake the town - and even trying becomes expensive.

 Action on the French right.

As French cavalry surges across the centre - but it's all too late.

The French left gets to fight another day, though the army morale and will is severely depleted. Sack that damned commander! Sacre Bleu!


  1. Twas as ever an excellent game full of events and actions and several tense/exciting moments. I knew you would like SOB since your are my Beeatchh :-)

    1. Glad to be! These are best rules evaaarrrr. Everything does what it's supposed to, without jarring - and now they have a viable campaign system. I won't even mention Slack Chowder, but you know what I mean.
      In the words of Maggie Thatcher - 'There is no alternative...'

    2. And of course...we should probably make the offer to Brent to write the sales and marketing section of the FoB website...wait, too much? ;)

  2. Outstanding batrep as always, Darren. The pull of Fob might be too great to resist! I might have to give it a go this year.

    1. Definitely worth it mate. There's a different thought process going on while playing, in comparison with other rules. There's a good chance that I'm in your neck of the woods this year with work, so we could get a game in.

  3. Great looking battle as always sir!. Interesting take on the pre- battle. Something I need to do more with as it is so often overlooked. The system sounds like it has loads of nice touches.

    1. Works really well; needs a few tweaks since it's playtest but otherwise has real scope over an extended series of battles.
      Now that would really work with the stuff you do - as units and leaders can get affected for subsequent engagements, and lack of certain units could lose a battle.

  4. The pre-game setting up looks very interesting and that is a nice looking table.

    1. It's a nice system indeed Norm, and I had all sorts of ideas as to periods it would facilitate. Sgt Steiner always does a nice set-up on his table.

  5. Super post - really enjoyed it. Very interested in FoB - slight head crash here: I have the Piquet base rules and the Grognards supplement - I enjoy reading them and admiring some of the ideas, but have no immediate ambition to play the rules. My problems with Piquet are the overlaps in the product range, the largely unfathomable website, a reluctance to go anywhere near the user forum (with respect!), fear of the unknown and the likelihood of shelling out for the wrong combination of products. I was sort of interested in Theatre of War, but I think it requies use of the main Piquet game system. I'm also interested in FoB for generating battles in a competent campaign context, but don't really understand whether FoB would work with any tabletop rules, nor how well it works solo. Paranoia strikes deep - Piquet marketing copy always makes it clear that unbelievers must have something wrong with them - i understand that's probably true, but don't need to read it!

    I digress - thanks for reminding me - I must have a more focused look.

    1. Well I am in the same boat almost. I have Piquet but have not engaged. When Sgt Steiner introduced me to Field of Battle, it reminded me of all the bits that I liked in Maurice. It's not really Piquet Lite, but retains some of the simpler elements. Don't believe the hype (or lack of it} on the website. I think the whole package could be revamped a little.

      Steiner has played this solo and I know that it works.
      Really - the base book of FoB is all you need to cover the era. No supplements required, and it is not Piquet as such.

    2. It is interesting - I'm still not sure if it's actually the SoB (??) overlay which has the most interesting bits. Does FoB contain the battlefield generation feature? Would SoB (when it comes) work as a standalone, with other game rules? [Sorry, that's all the questions]

      I am a bit jaundiced about potential release dates for Piquet products - I am currently not expecting to live to see Vauban's Wars, for example, despite a series of proposed release dates stretching into the distant past...

    3. Ahh yes I see.
      FoB does have a 'scenario' generation mechanism in the rules but is still a full set of battle rules. Mind you, I've only played the battle generator once - but it seems coherent.
      SoB would certainly work with other rulesets - very definitely. As a campaign and battle generator, it'll work for anything.
      And yes - release dates are an issue. I think as Brent works full time, it's difficult to get things out over an extended period, and like most of us, he is juggling projects.

      For me, it's a shame that Black Powder has a dedicated team working on the supplements (and rules rewrites!) with programmed releases and marketing superiority - for something which is 'Warhammer with muskets', while something with the quality of FoB - which plays battles in the manner in which we read about them, doesn't get the acclaim it should due to time constraints.

      With the interest on this side of the pond, he could probably do with a European projects team...

  6. Thank you, M Le Duc - bless you.

  7. Interesting stuff, oh and a great looking game too. The cards are still in development..?

    1. Hi Jack. Yes the campaign cards are still in development and the battlefields in the card pics are sample cards for the playtest that Sgt Steiner is doing.
      Great quality, a game within a game, and makes for great links between battles.
      I think what has turned a lot of gamers from campaigns - and/or linked battles , is the degree of work involved.
      Not only are these rules simple, but they generate a narrative for a campaign. Great stuff.

    2. Maybe we could set up a dedicated FOB Facebook page or similar to showcase the rules cant imagine any objection to that ?

    3. Yes - a nice idea. Good showcase for different periods too.