Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Poor Commander Card

There has been a debate on our campaign forum about the use of the Poor Card in my wargames rules. I thought it would be a good idea to raise it here also, in case anyone has any suggestions.
At the start of our latest campaign battle I had decided not to use the Poor Card in the wargame. There are five commanders in this game, but only one poor commander. This was our normal practice when there is only one poor commander in a game. I changed my mind because there was some support to keep the Poor Card on the forum.
It is always a bad idea to change rules based on just one wargame. But I would like to share my view on the effect of the Poor Card in this game, and to invite your comments for or against. As always I reserve the right to the final say as far as the wargames rules are concerned, but I welcome constructive comments.
I want to be able to give any Gifted commander an edge in the game, and to limit the ability of any Poor commander. But I do not want it to dominate the game. I want a Gifted commander to be able to carry out a more ambitious plan, and to punish a Poor commander who tries to do so.
At the start of each move the commander rolls an average dice. A Gifted commander adds 3, an Average one 2 and a Poor one 1. The total is the number of orders he can issue during that move. These are called Command Points (CP)
The three CP for a Gifted commander, and only one for a Poor one, already do this to a limited degree. And perhaps that it all the difference there should be. To move himself and all brigades the corps commander requires 7 CP. If he also wants to fire or skirmish the requirement increases. In most games even a Gifted commander will rarely have enough CPs, a Poor commander almost never.
In addition an attacking commander requires more CPs than a defending one. And again it is quite right that the poor commander is penalized.
Any effect must be logical and reasonable. The Halt requirement is both. It takes three CP for a poor commander to do so, and he must then wait for orders from the CinC to do anything other than Halt. Halt is a natural response for an uncertain poor commander.
The problem arises when it happens too often in a game. If there are five commanders per side, as the rules are designed to have, and each side has at least one poor commander it is not too much of a problem. When there is only one poor commander it is likely to have a much greater impact. And if there is only one commander per side it is almost certain to dominate the game.
It is possible to use a Gifted or Average CinC to take command of the poor corps. But this prevents him from his proper role of coordinating a multi corps battle. It is also very hard to accept that any commander would do so for any length of time. Surely he would just replace the poor commander?
The recent battle is a good example of all that is wrong about the Poor Card. Time after time 4th corps had to halt. Eventually Blucher had to take command, and keep command, in order to keep them moving. This resulted in both 1st and 3rd corps standing still for at least a third of the battle. A very unlikely sequence and one which I find hard to accept.
So what to do with the Poor Card? I can see three options
First leave it as it is. Next poor commander has to change his orders to Halt and await new orders.
Second do not use the Poor Card at all. Remove it from the rules.
Third only the next commander drawn will be affected. If he is a Gifted or Average commander there is no effect. If he is a Poor commander then he must change his orders to Halt
What do you think? If there a better fourth option that I have not thought of?
Any constructive comments will be greatly received.

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