Brigade Level Combat Q&A
The questions about the Brigade level video were great. I took time to answer them here in an update so I can include pictures and better formatting.
How do the players acquire cards? Cards are drawn when a leader is activated, or when a battle card is played that allows the player to draw cards. Because of this card acquisition, combat has natural pause points. This idea is in agreement with Longstreet who said, “Hit hard when you start, but don’t start until you have everything ready.” Preparing for battle is accomplished by collecting enough cards to win the coming combat.
How is the hand managed? Running out of cards is a real disaster. If a battle occurs and you cannot play a formation card it is treated as “UNFORMED” which has the unfortunate effect of all Tactics working. The opponent’s cards get all the benefits. In the example below you can see several cards that have the “versus” restriction. Against formed troops the tactics only work against that formation, however against unformed troops all tactics work.
How are casualties sustained and removed? I will answer the brigade level here since that is what is seen in the previous update. Each brigade can suffer one of 3 combat results: Hold position, Retire or Shatter. But first let me explain Troop Quality. Troop Quality is a way to simplify the detail of the regiments and handle Elan, Moral, Military Drill, Regimental Leadership, Heroics and Luck at the brigade level using an easy die roll on 2 six sided dice.
- Hold Position – This is when a brigade stops advancing to dress lines, or settles into cover. The brigade shifts from being offensive to defensive. This can occur when a unit fails a Troop Quality check or when trying to “Pass Lines” a difficult maneuver requiring good military discipline to achieve.
- Retire – The brigade has decided that the risk is too high and retires to better ground. The brigade is still operating in orderly military discipline and can Rally Round the Flag. Once a brigade is retiring it: cannot fight in combat; retreats to an adjacent area if it is unsupported by other troops that are in good order; and causes an -1 Troops Quality check modifier to all friendly troops in the area. Retire can occur when failing a Troop Quality check caused by artillery or rifle fire, or by losing an combat by 3 to 1.
- Shatter – The brigade is removed from play until the Night Turn reorganization and a number of Victory Points equal to the strength of the brigade is awarded to the opponent. This occurs when losing an attack by 4 to 1.
What happens to the Union unit and leader that were "retired" after they were placed back on the main game map? They remain in the area of Culp’s Hill facing away from the enemy, and continue to create a -1 troop quality modifier for other friendly troops in the area. To Rally, the brigade must pass a Troop Quality check if opposing troops occupy the same area. If the Brigade fails they immediately retire. It they are in an area that has no opposing troops the Rally always succeeds.
What is the decision process in deciding to deploy in 2 or 3 columns on the battle board? The Attacker can split the force by Division or split off an additional column if a leader is available. No more than 3 columns can be deployed on the battle board. The defender must deploy brigades in opposition to each attacking column. But it is the defender that decides the frontage of each one. Wider frontages get more defensive fire since each brigade on the front line shoots. However the attacker can then spread the attack and ensure no checks for passage of lines. Defending in depth means reserves are readily available to respond to the attacks. This abstraction advantages the defender in combat, since all the troops of the column count toward the defense. The attacker must play his cards before he checking for passage of lines and defensive fire. Because of these risks the attacker’s strength, at the point of attack, may decrease before resolving the combat. Gaining an advantage in one of the combats can allow you to retire enough enemy to advantage your other combats. Every brigade you force to retire impacts the other opposing brigades Troop Quality checks. With enough retirements, it is possible that only veteran troops will hold the line in the face of the enemy.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of deploying 1, 2, or 3 columns? 1 Column deployments are an all or nothing attack and useful when you have overwhelming force or lack the cards for a subtle combat. More columns allow for holding attacks and can open flanks, and drain cards from the opponent's hand.
Is the battle-board a tool of convenience or could we use something else. That is, is the battle constrained to what fits on the battle-board? Yes, the troops need to fit on the battle board. Coordinating large attacks was very difficult. The battle board allows for a Union Corps or two Confederate Divisions to attack in concert.
Can I form additional columns beyond the three? No, the scale allows for the fighting frontage of at most 3 divisions. Command control would complicate independent action.
If the Union had only two columns and the Confederate three, what happens? Is the Union force outflanked? Yes a one of the two columns is flanked and that flanking force is not fired upon, and does not check Passage of Line.
The game includes rosters. So, how are casualties assessed as clearly there had to be some? The Rosters allow for ammunition and step losses. It is an advanced feature and adds bookkeeping to the game play.
What is the "hand" comprised of and how is it built? Maximum hand capacity is set by the players' Commanding General. In a two player game that would be Lee at noon on July 1st (Turn 2) and Meade at night on July 1st (Turn 4). On the first three turns of July 1st the Union Player has an event that changes the commanding General creating the 7 different commanders on the first day of the battle. The Command ability of the General you play determines your hand capacity – 11 for Lee and 10 for Meade. Needless to say the Union may be playing with as few as 5 cards during part of the July 1st game turn. In a multi-player game, each player controls a General and The Generals command rating sets the players hand size.
Is the hand built just for the particular combat? No, the hand is created by activating Generals. The conundrum is that the General you activate determines the troops you can use, the number of actions you take and the area of action for play since it starts where the General is located; and it becomes more difficult to take actions such as: rally, move, fight or shoot; the more areas away from the General the action gets.