Thursday, 15 August 2019


So, my venture back into the life of work has ended, not with a bang but with a whimper, and I am able once again to turn my attention to wine, women and wargaming; obviously, due to my teetotality, without the wine. So it was that I found myself in the legendary wargames room having another bash at Peninsular Napoleonics. When I was last there we were playing Lasalle, and it was looking promising. However, in my absence it has been found wanting and put back on the shelf. Scanning along those same shelves James' eye lit upon Field of Battle 2, and it was decided to give those a go.

I have mentioned before that the Piquet family has two main strands: the original, of which we use a heavily amended version for the Seven Years War, and a newer, simpler adaptation called Field of Battle (known as FoB), of which we use a heavily amended version for Italian Wars, Crusades etc. The reasons behind the development of the newer version are essentially reduced complexity leading to quicker games plus the elimination of the large initiative swings (for which read long periods of one side standing around doing nothing) to which the original game can be prone (*).

At some point Brent Oman, Piquet head honcho, developed and released FoB2, but I had never previously played them. James' email summons to the game made it plain that for the first run through we would play them as written, without introducing any house rules. Anyone for whom this isn't the first of my blog posts that they have read will naturally know what to expect. Peter and I arrived to find that he had in fact changed the musketry ranges. His reasoning for that was that in his view they are really written for a mid-19th century, American Civil War type game and need tweaking for the dynamics of Napoleonic warfare, the validity of which view also became apparent as various cavalry charges swept across the table before infantry had even had time to consider forming square.

I didn't find anything that particularly irritated me. They are faster moving - both in terms of distances covered and casualties incurred - than any of the Piquet versions we have been playing, but I'm sure one can adjust tactics when one gets the hang of it. Given that further house rules are inevitable (**) it almost seems redundant to comment in great detail, so just a couple of first thoughts:

  • There is a Peter Pig style pre-battle 'Fate' routine which affects setup etc. When we last tried the equivalent for 'Square Bashing' we rolled lots of dice and in the end there was not much impact on the game. Here we rolled somewhat fewer dice and there was not much impact on the game. Still, we rather liked it and will try it again.
  • The unit classifications and how they manifest as defence and attack dice are quite elegantly simple to use, if not to generate.
  • In what I think is a new rule, one can cause the withdrawal of units through ranged fire as well as melee. I think I approve, although the exact mechanics of their interaction with supporting units perhaps needs a bit of clarification.
  • The fighting of melees to a resolution (similar to a number of other sets of rules) is welcome, but the benefits of attackers outnumbering defenders seem a bit lightweight.
  • There isn't enough morale. I have an overall observation about Piquet which is that it is very difficult to judge what is the correct amount of morale chips that each side should have. However, whatever that level is, it's a lot higher than these rules say.

*    Although read here for an example of it happening in FoB as well.
** While compiling this post I have received from James a list of suggested house rules. As he says that he is going to make some new sticks for measuring ranges it would seem that the rules are going to be around for a while; having said that he made some beaten zone templates for Lasalle and they didn't last long.

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