09 April 2015

General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command: Playtest

I have been looking forward to trying out the new Battalion level Napoleonic ruleset from the author of Le Feu Sacre from Too Fat Lardies for sometime. About a month ago I received a playtest version, and fortunately I found two willing players with considerable gaming experience to have a go with them. Dick and Ricky Bryant, a grandfather and grandson team,  from a gaming club south of Boston called the Kingston Irregulars came to the Hobby Bunker in Malden, MA yesterday for a gaming session. They are both Chain of Command players and both have a wide experience with Historical Wargaming.

So what is this new ruleset? Well I think it is much more Chain of Command then Le Feu Sacre. In general we can say the following:
  • Infantry Battalion, Cavalry Regiment and Artillery Battery are the tactical units. Infantry units are 4-8 bases in size, Cavalry are 4-6 bases and Artillery are 3-4 bases generally.
  • It is basing independent, the number of figures on a base are unimportant, Opposing armies should be based similarly.
  • The game starts with a Grand-Tactical phase somewhat similar to Chain of Command's Patrol phase.
  • It has a command system which requires independently based Divisional Generals, ADC's, Brigadiers and Colonels.
  • Specific Command Dice CD  are used to activate each level of command. Each player generally has 5 CD and throws them each turn. Regular d6 are used and a 5 and 6 have a specific country dependent attributes while a 4 activates a Divisional General, a 3 activates a brigade and so on...
  • It is a IGOUGO turn based system but accumulation of special dice allows a player to interrupt the opposing player's turn.
  • Movement is variable and is based on a dice throw. The number of dice is dependent on the formation of the unit is in as well as if it is maneuvering or going through terrain. Shock affects movement and maneuver.
  • Firing and Combat are diced based and are quite similar (very easily learned). The number of dice thrown are dependent on the number of bases in the unit, the usual tactical factors as well as shock. There is a saving throw which is affected by the intrinsic status (elite, regular, untested) of the unit. Both kills and shock are applied to the unit. Kills are recorded by removing bases from the unit.
  • Units can deploy one base as a skirmish screen or send the whole battalion as skirmishers
  • Unit Morale is calculated by the amount of shock on a unit as well as number of bases remaining in the unit.

I ran through the movement, firing and combat mechanisms before the game, but I was quite curious how the command mechanism would work. After some discussion on the Le Feu Sacre Yahoo Group, I decided to go with a fairly robust Order of Battle as below.

So on to some photos, you can also see more photos on Ricky Bryant's blog. I forgot to take a photo of the patrol phase which you can see on his blog. You can also read their thoughts about the ruleset on the blog.

6x4' terrain with the Anglo-Germans on the left and the French on the right
The French setup, I allowed placement of the in any formation, no cavalry were in the OB
I added some impregnable forest so I could see how the movement rules worked
A wargamer with 60 years of experience surveys his grandson's deployment and advance
The Brunswickers advance
The Hanoverians advance, it was a bit tight with the forests.
The French advance on their left flank taking some artillery fire
Here we can see a two battalion regiment in line with another 2 battalion regiment in column. Both Colonels are well placed as is the Brigadier General. This is really important in this ruleset to maximum the utility of each CD throw. With this setup good use was made of the regulating battalions rule
The French attack the Hanoverians. 
The playtesters were somewhat unhappy with the fact that an AC did not give an advantage in combat, but I believe the advantage would have been if two AC's were sent in. By now I have removed the forests so I could get a better sense of melee and firing rules
The Légion Hanoverienne routs back after taking 7 shock (rout occurs with greater then 6 shock or >50% base loss). It is interesting to note that the unit has lost no bases. It still can be rallied. As it has interpenetrated two friendly units, they both take 2 shock as well. Managing shock is critical to the game.
I had some problems keeping the ZOC rules, especially with deployed skirmishers
Well, I have to say that I could not have picked two better players for my first play-test, they immediately picked up on the command function and appeared to have very little difficulty with movement as well as firing and combat.

Well what did I think. Well I want to mull on it a little longer and will add a separate post in a day or two. But my overall impression is extremely favourable!

Questions and comments can be seen here.


  1. Lovely looking game John. I'm looking forward to reading your comments soon.

  2. Great looking game!

    Dick and Rick were both at HAVOC this year, and I was hoping to look them both up while I was there, but the all day long snow Saturday made my arrival a bit late, and a speedy departure imperative for safe(er) travel!

    1. These two are real gamers and a pleasure to meet

  3. Nice to see that they have a new Napoleonic ruleset coming up! Black Powder is very nice, but I feel it's more for Brigade level and up with 20+ battalions per side. Something to represent the smaller battles with proper command system is definately in need

    1. Yes, I think it probably could go with more with some amendments, but it worked very well with two brigades per side on this sized table

  4. Sounds extremely encouraging.

    1. I am hoping so David. Nice to see you back.


    2. Thanks John. I was always tempted to try Le Feu Sacre but I believe there was no shooting.

    3. Nothing really similar to Le Feu Sacre here David

  5. The infantry fire was included in the infantry combat so there was no separate infantry fire in Le Feu Sacre.
    The artillery did get to fire in a bombardment phase.


    1. I beleive there is little of Le Feu Sacre in these rules

  6. I like the wooded areas, are they scratch built?

    1. The bases and tree stands are from Worldsmith Industries. Highly recommended.

  7. A great looking game John, beautiful armies and terrain!