Saturday, March 5, 2011

Initiative and stuff

It's a sad but accurate comment that during times of peace the generals with initiative are discouraged, while those who know how to play the paperwork game are promoted. Read the poem by Rudyard Kipling, "Stellenbosch" for an example. The early part of any war is spent shaking out the fighting generals from those who can push paper. Both have their places and both are useful. It is a sad state of affairs that many people have to die while this is taking place.

But with that said, there are generals who are more "pushy" than others. Sometimes they can be identified early in the process. Robert E. Lee comes to mind. He was as good as everyone thought he would be. And he had tons of initiative.

What Is It?

What is this initiative? He's the officer who has his men ready to march or fight, and is up getting a jump on his foe while others are still in bed. Or, in better chosen words, he's that "...silly pushing person" that Kipling refers to in "Stellenbosch".

So we'll rate the generals in our armies for their initiative. This will be a number between -1 and +3 to rate how they react to things. A 3 might be Jeb Stuart or Nathan B. Forrest (to go with an ACW reference), while a -1 might be McClellan, who needed a strong reason to move. For those who want to quibble and suggest Burnside, it's clear that you haven't studied the Fredericksburg campaign. If those *&%*%$ pontoons had been in place, he'd be hailed as a Great Captain for stealing a march on Lee.

Determining Initiative

Nominate a general. Throw 1d6. Subtract 2. That number is the general's initiative. It is used when marching or force-marching. Thus Stack A, with a General in command with an initiative of 2 throws for movement. He throws a 2, and adds 2 for his initiative, for a total of 4 hexes he can move.

Look at Stack B. This is commanded by someone with an initiative of 3. He is force-marching for whatever reason. He throws a 5, plus the 3 for initiative gives him 8, though the max he can move is 6. But as his total was 6 or more on his force-march roll, he loses 3 SP through march attrition. Your higher initiative generals can get out of trouble, but they burn troops. And remember, there are no replacements during the campaign season.

Promoting Generals -

Before you roll for initiative we have to assign the seniority of generals. This is important because those with greater seniority cannot be in a stack, or have fewer men, than someone with a lesser seniority. Also, as generals are lost for whatever reason, promotion is strictly by seniority. To do otherwise would be to insult the honor of those generals. And if this means your army is commanded by a general with an initiative of 0 or -1, well, that kind of sucks.


Not during the campaign season. After the campaign season ends troops enter winter quarters by going into a friendly unbesieged fortress and declaring they are in winter quarters. That means they are not subject to attrition due to bad weather. They also can't move. If the enemy is so crass as to then besiege that city, those troops will take part in the resulting open field fight before the siege starts.

During the winter season, while the officers and generals are off attending balls, the sergeants are busy rounding up fresh cannon-fodder. Basically all regiments that have at least one hit left on them are automatically filled out to full strength. Those regiments that were reduced to zero are "sent to the rear" and take no further part in the game. Moral - sometimes you want to give battle, but don't want to afford the losses that will happen. This also means that armies will get smaller the longer the war continues.

There are no new units created during the war. You have what you start with. This is because the administrative mess that would result is not worth the effort.

So, that SHOULD take care of the last of the details, now a look at the armies and the land they're going to campaign over. Then we'll have a shakedown cruise with a border incident.

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