Playing a Napoleonics game this Saturday. But whenever we've played Napoleonics in the past the game has turned into phalanxes of attack columns smashing into each other. What home rules do people suggest that allow for attack columns to be used when manoeuvring units about, but encourage units to deploy into line once within musketry range to fight? I suppose we could make a hard and fast rule that attack columns must attempt to deploy into line once in musketry range, but there might be times when a particularly daring or desperate commander risks bulling through with the bayonet.
The other home rules I'm thinking of are: Toujours l'audace! - French infantry get -2 Command when in attack column 'No nation ever set forth braver troops to battle' - British infantry get +1 on Break tests, and First Fire when shooting in line at close range. (Rifles are obviously Sharpshooters!)
I remember with a grimace the seemingly endless grinding discussions regarding columns vs line in BP, but one result seemed to be that most people would only allow a single column to attack a line at once, to avoid unscrupulous gamers 'double teaming' their columns onto a firing line and guaranteeing at least one gets through unscathed.
"You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me, it's a full time job." – Lt. Bromhead to Prince Dabulamanzi before the Battle of Rorke's Drift.
".....phalanxes of attack columns smashing into each other"
I would assume that this is more a problem of the gamers than the rules. If one plays a British General he has to use the tactic they used. And not one deduced from the rule set to get the best result from his dices.
Good rules reflect the high fire power of a well trained force with good moral (Like British Infantry) in line that smashed the column more often than not. The French won with the column against units that fired slowly, got frightened by the sight or lacked tactical flexibility.
If one gamer is able to concentrate columns against a weak point in the line he did what a historic general tried. But the other gamer had to allow that. And columns have open flanks. In a game of equal numbers of units........ . You need a lot of cover by light infantry or horse.
Remember that Attack Columns only get a single shooting attack. Another thing that I have picked up on but others refute is that the +1 save that units get in attack columns is only against shooting and not HtH. It specifically states that and the author has never confirmed it either way, which is a shame. I find it makes Attack Columns a little more vulnerable.
As to house rules, I tend not to use them. I would try to concentrate fire on a single column, to make it shaken and possibly disordered. That should break up their attack. Secondly, try staggering your lines a little so that the columns have a little further to go to hit an adjacent line. Some may fail to get that additional distance, which would then give you a unit in support. Another thing to consider is putting out a skirmish screen by deploying the line into mixed order. This will slow down the assault because the column will measure its charge up to the first skirmish figure. Then the skirmishers rejoin the main unit, which can then deliver closing fire when the column completes the charge. If it hasn't the movement to complete the charge, you can fire at it at close range during your turn and maybe disorder it. This means that only one column will attack your line, albeit with a unit in support. A third option would be to give your line units First Fire. It means that you delay shooting until closing fire, but the extra dice might be enough to affect the charging unit in combat.
Mike Target wrote:Ive had no problem with BP in this regard: My frenchy opponent has even stopped using columns cos they are so easily bogged down, and now prefers to form line and shoot it out!
I tend to agree with this. I haven't had the problems that many seem to complain about. I also think that there are rules within the book to help deal with such situations. One thing that has come to my attention is that players don't seem to adjust the command values of their officers. They always seem to use command levels 9 and 8. Try dropping these by one, It makes quite a difference.
I always get the impression that the British players of Naps are forming their army into a single long line across the board only a single regiment deep : I could be wrong, but given that they then complain that a couple of battalions in column easily smashes through I cant see what else theyre doing. In which case guys you get whats coming to you
I prefer a much more fluid defense, with 2 lines of regiments one behind the other, and skirmishers in front of that, and a small reserve ready to move to any trouble spots further back. Then when my opponent advances (usually in a big sledge hammer formation with 8(ish) regiments in column, flanked by light infantry and supported by cavalry, all aiming for an area defended by one or two of my battalions) my line reacts to meet him: my skirmishers go out to drive off the enemy lights and my flanking line infantry moves forward to enfilade the french approach covered by my own horse...my first line is then usually overrun, but the closing fire, enfilading fire and resulting combat usually take such a toll on the french most of them are in no condition to push on in to the fresh regiments, supported by the reserve, behind them. If one or two regiments do push on they get nowhere and are destroyed.
As a result in more recent games he tends to try and form line after his advance. hasnt worked either yet but its more annoying!
You're right, Mike. I often get the same impression. The other thing that strikes me is that people seem to think that it is a fault in the rules when bad things happen, rather than it be any fault of theirs or their tactics. I believe this is why companies like GW are often asked to "re-do" the various army books that are used. The players seem incapable of working around a situation and combating an opponent's tactics. I might be wrong here, but I don't think I am.
I don't mind losing a game as long as I can see the reason for it and what I can do to correct it. That way, I know I have learned something, or that I have done nothing wrong other than roll bad dice. What I don't do is blame the rules and look for alternative "house rules" to rectify something that isn't really broken. Like I have said before, I've never had a problem with two columns attacking a single line.