Random Order of Battle

Though not a full on Solitaire system, this is a fun way to play and gets pretty close.  Mike Strand came up with this idea.  It works on any Pub Battles game.

Basically, you don’t know if the Corps are actually there for the battle.  Set up the game normally, except you only place the HQs on the map.  You don’t know if that Command is actually there or not.  Move them around as if they were until they are spotted by the enemy. 

Then, simply roll a die to see if they are actually at the battle or not.  1-3, they are not present.  Remove the HQ and chit from play.  4-6, they are present for the battle.  Place their forces on the field at or behind the HQ. 

You can play one side, and then randomly roll as you sight the enemy side to see if they are really there.  It works for both offense or defense.  You can even roll for your forces too!  I would recommend rolling for each of your Corps first before the battle so that you actually know what you are working with.  I’d wait to roll for the enemy Corps until you can sight them. 

Won’t this radically throw the play balance out of whack?  No.  It still works fine.  That’s because victory isn’t tied to the map, it’s tied to your baggage trains!  End up badly outnumbered?  So what?  You can still easily win.  Make the best of what you have to work with.  Belt out significant losses on the enemy, then bug out.  It is still possible to leave with a substantial point victory. 

Test this out and let us know how it goes!

Kriegsspiel Example 3

What do I do now?

I’ve been fighting at Brandywine with the Rebel army. I made a stand further forward. Stirling’s brigade defended forward on the Osborne’s hill to the left. I held the woods with Nash’s reserve brigade and the Pennsylvania militia. Both my brigades were thrown back in Total Defeat. Stirling fought a controlled withdrawal back to Birmingham Hill here on my left.

By the time the British advanced and formed up for a new attack, I was able to reorganize my troops and bolster their strength with a battalion of Sullivan’s Marylanders and some 6 pound artillery.

In the center, the British regulars have been watching and threatening to attack but they must have chickened out. They are just sitting there.

On the left, Stirling was attacked by the British Grenadiers and Guards several times. He was lucky and able to drive them back. The British were brave and fell back in good order but took horrendous casualties in devastating musket fire laid down by Stirling. Reminds me of the slaughter at Bunker Hill! Yes, those are the best troops the British have on our left but they’ve been defanged now.

The Hessians and Abercromby’s Light infantry attacked Sullivan’s battalion holding our right twice. We were very lucky and repulsed them both times.

Fine except that Abercromby’s Light shifted to our right. Our far right was screened by our dragoons but Abercromby struck them with the support of the Hessian Jaeger dragoons. That sent my dragoons reeling back.

Now the trouble is my exposed baggage trains: that dark line of blocks on the road. :/

Any way I can salvage this situation? I’ve been doing just fine till now but this looks really bad.

I could launch my dragoons forward in a suicide attack. Maybe they’ll give the baggage train the time they need to escape.

I could attack Abercromby’s Light with Sullivan’s battalion. (2 right blocks) That might distract them enough to save the dragoons but then my artillery will be exposed! Seeing that, the Hessians will attack and wipe them out. So, I’ll have to pack up the guns and send them to the rear.

Ok but then that still leaves my center line of Nash and the militia with an exposed right flank and no artillery support. Those patient British regulars will probably attack my center with artillery support while the Hessians hit my right flank. Just in time for me to get the terrible luck I am about due for. :/ Even with good luck, I probably won’t win that fight.

If I do all of that, I can most likely get out my baggage and artillery, while the rest of my army takes a beating and then routs from the field.

Is that worth it? What’s the alternative? Any other ideas out there? My main MSR runs down that road to the right by the dragoons. I can’t retreat to the left off map. The enemy is attacking from that direction also.

It looks so peaceful and secure right now but all hell’s about to break loose. I hate it when that happens.

Kriegsspiel Silence

You command this small colonial brigade at Brandywine. You hold the center of the field for your side. Your orders are to defend this ford and prevent the enemy from crossing it. An enemy Hessian brigade attempted to cross and launched an assault up the hill. You won! A Total Defeat for the enemy, with heavy losses.

You considered following up your victory to drive across the river and finish the Hessians off. The enemy baggage train is likely behind them, however a fresh British brigade moved up from reserve and bolstered the Hessian line. Given that, you called off the attack and have held your line.

Since then? Nothing. The enemy has not made another attempt to cross the river. As the hours wore on, you’ve heard sporadic fighting back and forth to your left and to your right (about the 4 o’clock position). There were 2 friendly brigades to your right and rear, but they marched off towards the sound of combat to your right. For you, just turn after turn of sitting here.

The sound of combat to your right is growing in intensity and is moving closer to you…

What should you do? Continue to follow orders and hold this position? The enemy isn’t attacking anyways. If the enemy breaks through to your right rear, you could be surrounded and cut off! Your commanding officer is probably in the middle of heavy fighting to your right. He probably doesn’t have time to write you. Did he forget about you? If he gets shattered and has to make a run for it, will he have time to inform you first? Has that already happened? The enemy could be maneuvering around to encircle you right now! How long do you sit here and wait?

If you wait too long, your troops will have been wasted in the battle. Maybe if you marched to the sound of the guns, you could arrive at a critical moment to turn the tide and help your side win the battle!

On the other hand, that march would be disobeying direct orders in the middle of a critical battle. What if your side is doing fine over there? What if the Hessians cross the ford while you march over there without orders? Losing that key position in the center of the line, in the middle of a battle could cause your side to lose this battle!

Will you be the hero that saved the day? The fool that disobeyed orders and lost the battle? The fool that sat there doing nothing while his side was defeated, and was then captured & taken prisoner? Spend the rest of the war in prison, if you aren’t hung as a traitor by the British.

You might think that getting stuck with this command in a game would be boring. What did you do during the game? Well, the enemy attacked us once. We drove them back. Then I just sat there for the whole game doing nothing.

In Kriegsspiel, just sitting there “doing nothing” can be agonizing. How long do you sit there? What is going on around you? Has it come time to move under your own initiative or should you stay the course? What justifies disobeying orders? Can you defend your actions in a courts martial?

How about now? How about now? The clock is ticking and the situation is changing from turn to turn. More time has past and been lost. More time with no orders or updates. More fighting heard. The fighting is growing in intensity and moving from 4 o’clock to 5 o’clock and approaching 6 o’clock now. Is that enough? How much do you need? How long do you wait? It’s not boring. It is excruciating!!!! Agonizing!!!!!

Terrific fun! The kind of fun you don’t see in wargames but it is the exactly the kinds of things you see in real life.

This is the Umpire’s map during the game that you couldn’t see.