Monday, 31 May 2010

The Poor Poor Commander

Four out of six Austrian commanders are Poor

The"house rules" we use owe a lot to the rightly popular Le Feu Sacre rule set. We discovered these rules about four years ago, and used them for a couple of years. They are excellent rules, but are designed to fight single corps battles, and not suitable to either the type of battles we want to fight, nor to our collection of figures.

Each commander has a grading, and in our rules there are three namely Gifted, Average and Poor. A commander has a pool of command points and must use one for each command he wants to issue, or indeed even to move. Each commander has a card, and when his card is drawn he has his move. The player rolls an average dice and adds 3 for a Gifted commander, 2 for an Average one and 1 for a Poor one. This usually means that a Gifted commander has sufficient command points to do what he wants, and a Poor commander rarely has enough.

But there is more. In addition to a card for each commander, there is also a Gifted card and a Poor card. When the Gifted card is drawn a Gifted commander, and there is never more than one per side, can opt to move next providing he has not already moved this turn. His card is then taken out of the pack. This means that a Gifted commander not only has more command points, but he is likely to move earlier in the move sequence.

Then there is the Poor card. When this is drawn the next Poor commander card drawn must miss his turn entirely. He can not issue any orders to his corps at all. We only use this card when there is at least one Poor commander per side.

When the commander in chief draws his card he can, if he wishes, pass his command to a corps commander who has not moved this turn. However to do so he must use 1 command point to pass it to a Gifted commander, 2 to an Average one and 3 to a Poor one. He must also be in base to base contact with the commander to do so. In this way a commander in chief can ensure that a poor commander can move each turn. But it is very costly in command points.

Before we used Le Feu Sacre I had never encountered this type of command and control. And when I first used it I did not at all like it. Especially if it was one of my Poor commanders who had to miss his turn. But I am now a great supporter of this type of command problem.

I know that Jan would agree that I tend to be a better wargamer than she is. Certainly I am a less predictable one. So it’s important that she has a slight advantage to allow her a better chance to win. For this reason I would normally command the army with the more difficult task, for example the one who has to attack. But now I can command the one with the most Poor commanders. So no matter how clever my game plan may be, I will always be handicapped by less command points and the chance that one of my commanders will have to miss his move. And if I use the commander in chief to pass command points to that Poor commander, I lose the ability to change the corps commander’s orders – which is the prime responsibility of the commander in chief.
To anyone who has not used this system of command and control I would highly recommend it. Particularly if you tend to game against less experienced, or simply less talented, opponents. There is nothing more boring that always winning too easily, even for the winner. And nothing more discouraging for the one who regularly loses. With this built in disadvantage it means the “better” wargamer has to work that much harder for the victory, and when it comes it is even more appreciated.

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