A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Rules - Field of Battle

Since 1970 or thereabouts I guess I've read many hundreds of sets of wargames rules - the number expands rapidly if I include boardgames. The proportion of these which I've actually played is really so small that often I wonder why I've wasted so much time on my researches - what is it I've been looking for? Typically I don't finish a first reading - my initial interest will suddenly be frozen out by my dislike of the morale rules, or the activation rules, or the potential requirement to rebase everything - or something. My hit rate for eventual buy-in is pathetic. For a while, a couple of years ago, I thought I was going to really go for Lasalle, but I managed to find enough areas of discomfort to avoid making a commitment. [Phew - that was a close call...]

At present I am supposed to be working on an update to my (slowly developing) ECW siege game (Leaguer - yes, all right, all right...) and the development of a hex-gridded game for my Napoleonics which allows for more tactical manoeuvre than the Commands & Colors games which have become the house standard. Over both of these I am feeling rather guilty, since I have had a splendid amount of help from Mark and Jay, respectively, and I am keen not to leave everything hanging - it seems, at best, a bit impolite. Problem with the siege game has been that the discussion (which has been excellent, by the way) has turned up a few more questions than answers of late, so some heavyweight re-thinking is needed. Problem with the detailed hex Napoleonic game (for smaller actions, you understand) is that my original idea of simply sticking extra activities into C&C just produced a mess of a game - the tactical additions were compromised by the join with C&C, and the beauties (and they are considerable) of C&C were wrecked by the fiddly additions. Thus I started again - the new game has a proportion of Neil Thomas in it, but develops some of Neil's ideas quite a bit. I'd reached the point with this where the next thing to do was some serious playtesting, to enable me to produce a good, robust, working draft. So that's where I am: playtesting to be arranged as soon as is practicable.

There's a lot going on, and it doesn't seem too helpful if I find myself reading yet more rules which are not on the plan, but that's what I've been doing. I have suddenly become very interested in Field of Battle, from Brent Oman's Piquet product family. I have been very interested in Piquet for years - I have the base rules and the Grognards supplement, and have read them numerous times. Always with the same result - I really like a lot of the ideas in there, but there are a good few things which are - well - too fussy for my taste. I am unlikely to become a regular user.

Field of Battle is a relative of Piquet, involves some of the same principles and philosophies, but is a more straightforward game - or at least it seems so to me. My interest was sparked by the blogged activities of Le Duc de Gobin and Sgt Steiner - excellent fellows both. I am grateful to M Le Duc for explaining the nature of the game (left to myself, I find Piquet's product range, and the overlaps within it, bewildering), and for guiding me through some of the basic ideas. I have now read the booklet twice, and will start a third reading next week. I have found nothing that turns me off. The game is card driven, and lends itself very well to solo play (a big plus for me), the unit basing is almost identical to the way my armies have been set up since 1972 [If you build it, they will come - though it might take a while...], it all makes the most excellent sense. It looks very like what I thought Lasalle might offer, when I had the hots for that. It also offers a tweakable base set of rules which will lend themselves to a wide range of horse-&-musket wars. I have now gone so far as to invest in a proper set of the cards from the publisher - the US postal rates make this more of a serious investment than I had anticipated - and I hope to receive these shortly when new stocks come in.

As interruptions go, this promises to be a worthwhile one. I am gently enthusiastic about this - not to replace my existing rule systems, but to provide a rewarding alternative. Let's see how it goes.

If it all turns to rat droppings, you may hear no more about it, but I'm not approaching it with that expectation.


  1. Guilty as charged m'lud.
    Will be most interesting to read further analysis.

    1. Thanks again for help, and for blogging about the game in the first place.


  2. Good luck with FoB. I played the original Piquet many years ago and, personally, I did not like it at all. I just could not buy into the model of the asynchronous initiative impulses. Long runs for one side made for a very boring game.

    1. I am a theoretical dabbler rather than an experienced user - I've read a lot of forum stuff about Piquet with gripes along similar lines. People seem either to love it or hate it. FoB seems more suitable for my own situation - the cleverness is still there, but the approach is pragmatic - if it wastes time, abstract it or drop it. I'm also more confident that FoB will support big actions efficiently.

      I'm interested, but I have to see how it goes in practice.

    2. The issue of one side dominating the Initiative for long spells seems to be offset in FoB by the Opportunity Fire concept - if your enemy is doing all the card-turning and moving for a period, you will certainly be busy shooting lumps out of him while he is about it. I retain an open mind, however!

  3. Hi Tony,

    Nice to hear that the Napoleonic rules are coming on. Let me know when you have a set for testing.