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


Iorwerth
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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?

 


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uncleleo
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Just a player answering...  But i think you can accomplish the same thing exactly as the rules are written, with a corps objective the of either bossu wood or the nivelle road, or probably even the crossroads itself, though depending on the setup, that may be suboptimal.  Issue Foy an attack order (move would be work if you are OK with a skirmish duel before the assault or possibly being stopped at 450 yards by the occupants in Gemioncourt).  Foy must towards STRAIGHT AT that objective which is what you want - he's gonna hit someone soon.  Issue Bacheleu a support order, who must also do the same,, with the "straight at" being somewhat modified by trailing along Foy's right rear flank.  An attack order might also work just fine.  In either case - both will be rudely interrupted by those pesky dutch belgians and nassauers.  A support ordered formation can convert to attack - again depending on how the table is set.  Pire offers all kinds of opportunity whose use depends on how eager you are to risk burning them up for early opportunity, vs. converving them, for after all "the british are coming."   

'm writing from memory of one of the few battled i've played many times, many systems, but i think what you want is ENTIRELY doable in the rules.   Changing the base rule system in this HUGELY SIGNIFICANT way strikes me as a suspect notion for a couple of reasons.  First - the higher level comanders's job in this era was a serious challenge.  they did not have the c3i we wargamers posess to control a host of formations on divergent objectives.  

seeing that "all of you head here" was a tall order itself, one beyond the ability of many a non or short staffed commander in the period.  it may be a reason that roads or rivers allow a lot more wandering from the ostensible objective.  but if you think about it - this very well represents the challenge - and LIMITATIONS - faced by a force commander.   On the field of battle, or with immensely more difficulty hills or forest of battle), controlling "all of you go here" and sheparding that they all do with some level of dispatch was no mean feat !   at least by a clearly understandable geographic feature, the commander could have far greater assuance brigades or divisions would "all get there"  you march right at em on the field, you, support off the flank, you follow the road that winds over the hills and you follow the course of the river, road and river will bet you both there there.

Commanders almost exclusively issued orders on referencing geography because the subordinate commander could understand it and communicate it to the actual units.  and becuase the issuing commander would have a much better chance of keeping various formations on time and on track to accomplish whatever was the plan by this method.

it was then - and many times before and thereafter - notable that many a great plan on paper, was undone by the failure to execute it on time and on track, with the the more complicated ones generally failing at a much higher rate.  

Then secondarily  -  as a gamer, just this suggestion.  If you are NEVER likley to play outside of a known group of gamers, then i guess a "house rule" that changes any game in a significant way is maybe ok.  but if you game at conventions, or have multiple groups you might toss a die with...   don't change any rule set that way.  you'll develop "bad habbits" that are perfectly suited to your change, but not the rules in general.  Basically - you'll be a Polar Bear without ice, or a Koala Bear without Eucalyptus.  Neither of which are especially good for your ursine prospects, long term.

 

 

 


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denny
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This topic was also raised on Facebook recently -its an interesting one. So, in that case the 5th and 9th division were headed in the same general direction with one supporting on the flank the other. This would work I think in this case.

Has there ever been a situation where a force commander of one division of the corps needed to go left and another division of the same corps wanted to go left immediately? I can't think of any.

What is the rationale of the rules when it comes to this hypothetical situation? Is there a different way to do it, or did it never happen?

This post was modified 6 months ago by denny

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David
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Posted by: @denny

Has there ever been a situation where a force commander of one division of the corps needed to go left and another division of the same corps wanted to go left immediately? I can't think of any.

I'm not sure I followed that, can you rephrase?

-David


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denny
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Yes, I will give an example. 

A French corps(force) is composed of two divisions (formations) and led by a corps commander. At the start of a battle the enemy occupy two villages, 3 miles apart and a mile away. The corps commander meets with his divisional commanders and orders them to march out separately, in different directions, to attack the two villages simultaneously.

In game terms, two French objectives would be necessary at the start of the game. 

Probably not a good idea in reality but did something close ever happen or would it not be viable due to command and control issues, or was the corps split prevented by doctrine? Or would one division become its own force as it has been detached (which would make most sense)?

I'm asking because I know it is going to come up in my first games introducing the rules to new players (hopefully next month) and I want to have an answer ready.

 


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denny
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did that make any sense at all 🙂

 


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David
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Posted by: @denny

In game terms, two French objectives would be necessary at the start of the game. 

No, not necessarily. That depends on the rest of the terrain of the map.

Posted by: @denny

Probably not a good idea in reality but did something close ever happen or would it not be viable due to command and control issues, or was the corps split prevented by doctrine? Or would one division become its own force as it has been detached (which would make most sense)?

In history there are a bit different "scope of play" as the only difference between the battlefield and the campaign map may be whether the enemy is shooting at you. Therefore, "did corps ever split up their divisions?" yes, most definitely on the "campaign map", though, with that said, the "may follow a road" part of the Movement [M] directive mechanic addresses many of even those circumstances.

Sometimes (historically) a division was a detached Force (in game terms), but that is really a circumstantial question.

Did something close to sending two divisions of the same corps in opposed directions simultaneously over a significant distance… on the battlefield? Hard to think of one. There were times that corps were effectively broken up and their component pieces parceled out as stop gaps from a general reserve, but that isn't really what you're asking. There were times that different sub-elements of a Cavalry Force charged in diverging directions but that is covered by the Conversion mechanic for Cavalry.

I suppose someone can point at Lützen and say that Ney's divisions were each attacking different villages, but they were nowhere near as spread apart as you're talking about, and really his practical Force objective is the cluster of the 3-4 villages in question.

-David


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denny
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I agree, the "may follow a road" part of the Movement [M] directive mechanic in combination with an objective setting being flexible, covers any situation that is ever likely to arise.


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