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Setting Roads and Table Edges as Objectives (plus formation objective idea!)  


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30/11/2020 9:48 am  

I am currently developing a scenario for the battle of Quatre Bras and I am debating what objective Ney would historically have set the II Corps under Reille, which consisted of the 5th Division (Bachelu), the 6th division (Bonaparte), 9th Division (Foy) and 2nd Cavalry Division (Pire), along with the corps artillery (Le Pelieter).

In reality the 5th Division attacked on the French right and center while the 9th attacked on the left and center, with the 6th later attacking on the far left. However, in game terms, if the II Corps objective was set as the crossroads of Qautre Bras, which on first appearances would seem the obvious choice for the 2nd Corps objective, then this would prohibit the actual direction the 9th moved in, as Foy's 9th actually swung left and up, so that some of the division took on the allies in Bossu wood. If their objective was Quatre Bras then this swing to the left would not really be possible, as Quatre Bras is directly north, not north east where the wood are. Hope that made some kind of sense.


However, looking at the examples of objectives in the rule-book, I saw that roads and trails and table edges were some of the examples of possible objectives. So, I am wondering if making the II Corps objective the Nivelles road would work? It would certainly give freedom of how to advance forward to all the II’s divisions, as the road bisects the whole map to the north of the French, running east to west. So, as long as any of the formations in the II Corps where moving north, even obliquely, this would satisfy moving towards the objective, at least to some degree.


This got me thinking to how setting as objectives map features like roads or table edges might game the system a bit. If a player sets as a force’s objective a table edge opposite their side of the table, so to speak, then this gives the force’s formations much more leeway of movement options than if the objective was a more specific point on the table – they can use any part of the table edge as their movement goal at any time, so can zig-zag and slalom to their heart’s content should they wish to, so long as they are moving towards that table edge and not lateral (bar avoiding terrain in Move action) or away from it, so such an objective would seem a sensible choice to make in many situations, but seems a bit gamey.


In the Quatre Bras scenario the width of the main area fought over is fairly narrow, so choosing a road that bisects the board does not seem quite so gamey, especially if it allows the player to maneuver their divisions along the lines the divisions moved historically. However, it is still an objective that reaches from one side of the table to the other, so may be a little outside of what is intended. I was wondering about what guidelines should be kept in mind when naming things like  roads or board edges as objectives?


Having said all that, I am now wondering if a formation has to move towards the closest part of an objective to their formation e.g. suppose the objective is a town - does a formation have to move towards the closest part of the town to them, or could then move towards a part of the town that is further away? If that were the case, then even naming the Nivelles road as the objective wouldn't really help that much, as each formation would have to move to the part of the road that was nearest them. I am unsure whether a formation does have to move to the closest part of the objective if the objective covers an area or not, so a clarification on that would be very useful.


**Formation Objectives Idea**

Lastly, I was wondering whether, in certain situations, having separate objectives for different formations within a force might be suitable. Setting these objectives would have to follow the chain of command, and there would need to be some additional delay in the time it takes to issue multiple objective orders to a single force rather than a single objective, as an order with multiple objectives is more complicated to formulate and compose, and harder to put into action at the receiving end.  In game terms, this would be simulated by additional delay before such an order could be actioned by the receiving force and their objective changed. I have come up with a system for this, that introduces a planning token to keep things simple and easy to keep track of:

An army commander wishing to issue an order containing multiple objectives to a force does the following:

  1. In the ‘Issue Orders’ stage of the command phase, the player places a ‘Planning’ token by the army commander figure.
  2. In the following turn’s ‘Issue Order’ stage of the command phase, the planning token is removed and the multiple objectives order is issued.
  3. On the next Activate order stage, an attempt can be made to activate the order, and if successful the force commander assigns the objectives to their formations as they see fit (or as specified in the Objectives order from the army commander), with no more than one objective allowed per formation.


So, the system is simple to operate, just requires a planning token of some sort.


A force commander could issue individual objectives to their own formations, by using the leader action ‘Change Own Objective’. If they are successful in the leader action, then a planning token is placed beside the force commander. In the following leader action phase, the token is removed and the objectives are changed. If you wanted to make it more problematic for a force commander to change their own objectives this way, then you could have the leader action test be made on the turn the planning token is removed i.e. if they failed it, they would have spent two turns trying to issue multiple objectives and failed at the end of it.


An example of it in action, using the battle of Quatre Bras and the French II Corp:


On Turn 1, in the Issue Orders stage of the Command phase, Ney issues a multiple objectives order to Reille and his II Corps. A planning token is placed by Ney.  

On turn 2, in the Issue Orders stage of the Command phase, the planning token is removed and Reille is issued the order by Ney.

On turn 3, presuming the order is successfully activated, Reille gives the 6th Division an objective to take Bossu Wood, the 9th division the objective of Gemioncourt, and the 5th Division the western end of the Nivelles road.

On a later turn, Ney has somehow been killed! Reille needs to change his objectives, so he can push on and take Quatre Bras. Reille could use a ‘Change Own Objective’ leader action to give his whole force an objective of Quatre Bras, but instead wants to keep the 6th Division moving north through Bossu wood, rather than for them to come out and head straight for Quatre Bra, which they would have to do if Quatre Bras was their objective. So, he decides to issue a multiple objective to his force, rather than just a single one. On the first turn, he uses a leader action of ‘Change Own Objective’ and makes a leader action test. He succeeds and a planning token is placed beside him. In the following turn’s Leader action stage, the planning token is removed and Reille can assign multiple objectives to his force – he keeps the 6th Division having the objective of taking Bossu Wood, but gives the 5th and 9th division the objective of Quatre Bras.


I realize that this adds a layer of complication to the system, and so may be something that may want to be avoided (KISS and all that), but it would allow more nuanced objectives that follow some historical occurrences, whilst presenting the player with a time penalty for wanting to micro-manage their force in this way for tactical gain, or historical accuracy i.e. there is cost in time attached to it.

My presumption is that during play-testing you experimented with this type of nuanced objectives for formations within a force, but decided against them. I was wondering what problems you found with using such a system?