Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ah, Generals

Everyone who has played rules I've written know that I like dead generals. The air around a battlefield has a high metallic content, and generals are not bulletproof (as Marshal Vauban reminded Louis XIV). Even Emperor Charles V (known to those who took more than one year of Spanish as Carlos Quinto) tried to laugh off the danger ("Who ever heard of a cannoball killing an Emperor?"), but the danger was real. Marshal Turenne was killed by a cannon shot, and bullets and cannons cut a swath through the ranks of Napoleon's marshals (Oudinot was wounded 23 times), while the American Civil War was replete with the loss of general officers. The men tended to fire just a little high, and mounted officers were right in the middle of the danger zone.

Usually I have a little fun with general officer casualties. For example, in King's War a player who loses a general throws a 1d10 and reads the results from a table. There the results go from the general KIA right away to "general mortally wounded. Faithful aides lower him from his horse. He gasps out some final words for a grateful posterity. Players must compose those last words." This adds some fun as those "last words" go from "who ordered this stupid charge?" to some uplifting and heroic statements. The game actually stops while people labor at their "last words".

Sad to say, in Volley & Bayonet, Road to Glory, there isn't really room for that, at least at the highest level. This makes sense as the turns are one hour, and that is enough time to sort out the command changes caused by a bullet. This is a pity as it adds an element that I think is kind of fun. At the lower level this can be worked into the game.

What is the effect of a general being removed from the battle? Loss of command and control. Units lose coordination, orders are not obeyed, and so on. But in a one hour turn? The loss of a general, while personally bad, doesn't have a big effect in game turns. However...

If a general is within 3" of a unit that takes any kind of fire (artillery or small arms), throw 1d6. On a 6 the general is down and a replacement takes over. This is only applicable on the map where the general's counter is removed. He is either dead, or is back in the capital, reclining in bed, eating sweetmeats, intriguing against his fellow-generals, and being seduced by all of the right women. Players can make up whatever stories they wish about the general. He is available for the next season.


What's next? The effects of defeat on an army. And the odds and ends in the rules that need to be covered. We also have to discuss the countries (where they are on the map, etc.) and the armies (including the official Order of Battle).

And then we get into putting the pieces together courtesy of Prince Tedron of Methylonia (who once arranged a border clash between two countries with no common border) in a mini-campaign done as a solo map exercise.

Then...on to the campaign!

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