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

Monday, 16 April 2018

Field of Battle - Nibbling Away

Things are a bit disrupted around here at present - as far as hobby stuff goes, the problem is time. It's not that I don't have any spare time, it's just that it's a bit unpredictable, and tends to become available in small amounts.

Thus for some weeks I haven't been doing any major painting work - it's all been short bursts of refurb work (which can produce finished figures quite quickly, if I do it right), poking at test figures for big batches to come, and reading in odd quiet moments.

I'm working away at getting up to speed on Field of Battle, the Piquet-produced game which has me quite excited at the moment. As with all new games, there is a lot to learn - philosophically as much as anything else - this game is unlike most of my previous wargaming experience. It has some similarities to the full Piquet rules - though it is not simply a "lite" version of Piquet.

I've been reading and studying the rules, and I now have a scenario book, which is very interesting indeed; I've invested in a couple of decks of the official cards, and I have finally sourced some sets of dice. Like Piquet (I think), Field of Battle requires the rolling of small numbers of dice - usually they are rolled singly or in twos - but they may be selected from a set (for each side) of one each of D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and D20. Interesting challenge to get a completely satisfactory matched set - I had some problems finding D10s which were numbered 1-10 instead of 0-9. Managed it without too much hassle, so I'm all ready to get on with some trials now.

The intro to the rules recommends that the new reader should not be overcome by the length of the booklet, nor damage his health trying to memorise reams of tables. The recommended approach is to set up a smallish game (I'll make this a solo effort - about 10 units a side), and have a bash, taking note of how the cards work. The set-up requires a fair amount of work - it's necessary to determine the quality of the army, and of its leaders and units, make up an appropriate pack of cards for each army, and work out what "size" of die (D6, D8 etc) is to be used by each unit for combat and for defence.

This is not the place to attempt any kind of summary of how the game works, nor attempt any kind of critique - suffice to say that I am happily working away at getting up to speed, and I hope to play a solo trial game sometime in the next however-many weeks. This is not a blistering rate of progress, admittedly, but I am enjoying it. My thanks to Darren, for his kind help and guidance, and also to Brent Oman, the author and originator of the game, for his help and generosity in getting me off the ground.

In a perfect world, the next logical thing for me to do would be to attend someone else's game (as a spectator) to see how it swings and feels. I guess that is unlikely, but I'm open to invitations if anyone fancies it - especially in a warm country with liberal drink laws...


  1. Ha, you are hooked sir!
    I must admit that my neck of the woods has liberal drinking laws, though 'warm' could ne'er be used as a description of the climate...no, really.
    I think when you get used to the card turns and the differences between odd and even rolls (this is key actually - look out for a summary on the back of the QR sheet), you'll have it sussed.

    Whereabouts in the UK are you...I'm sure one of us could hop on a plane in the longer term :)

    1. Last time I was this enthusiastic about a rule set was Victory without Quarter, which eventually fizzled out for me when I realised that the game was incomplete (though promising, of course - please don't anybody send any hate mail). FoB looks like a more serious proposition. Today's list of things I need to read again includes the details of units being in or out of command, the potential rigmarole surrounding the shepherding of routing units off the table in varying steps (I'm not used to rules which spend time on defunct units, but I realise that the Army Morale rule and a few other things depend on whether or not there are routers present) and (most daunting of all) the full details of what each card involves - doubtless this is more intuitive than it feels at present. I also need to read over the scenario generator again, since it would be daft not to.

      The idea of the variable turns, the card play and the even/odd dice rolls is all pretty much OK now - in principle rather than in detail, admittedly! My one remaining doubt concerns the speed of play, but I realise that's mostly down to unfamiliarity - there seems to be a lot to think about for each card - and I have to admit that the idea of the variable size dice, though clever, seems a little on the clunky side. I'll get the hang of that, I'm sure.

    2. So, just some pointers that I found useful when trying to pick up the rules:
      OOC kicks in when
      - units fall back due to hits (winner rolls even etc),
      -are outside commander's radius (d10=10")
      - lose melee, or win/lose with an odd roll
      etc (p.31)

      Routing units move 'move+d6' on a movement card until off table - it's not as bad as it sounds in terms of management

      The cards are reasonable intuitive, though I find myself book flipping now and then for full description (pp.71-81)

      Play is very fast when you grasp (1) what differences between rolls amount to and (2) when even rolls are good!

      But yes, this takes a little time.

    3. Thanks very much for this, M. Le Duc - I'm getting more assured about things, but there are still a large number of exceptions which get a fleeting mention once each on the full description of the cards - some practical experience should improve things. Aiming for a trial game on Friday!

  2. For your first game of FOB I suggest you make all your generals average and the unit regular types. You can start adding variable commanders and different unit qualities once you have got comfortable with the game mechanics.

    This will also cut down on the pre game set up.

    I look forward to seeing your first game report and thoughts.

    1. Good idea Mark - I'd actually gone to some trouble to have random settings (as per full rules), but it is a sound idea to set things up simply for a first bash.

  3. New rules? And just when I was getting used to C&CN...

  4. Once you get the hang of it, FoB plays quite quickly. Several of the small scenarios in "Blunders" would work well for a first or second game, and all the work of setting up the OOB etc is already done for you. (Gospic, Grochow).