Thursday, 16 February 2023

Valour & Fortitude Napoleonic Rules

Action somewhere on the endless Russian steppes!

We've been trying out the Perry Valour & Fortitude rules for our big battle obession, and they work pretty well. They are a 6 page free ruleset and each army also has a 2 page ruleset (see page here). 

This is the entire Austrian Corps in Russia, 1812 fighting equal points of Russians, c 600 points.The armies are built up from battalions / cavalry regiments / gun  batteries, which are then organised into brigades, each brigade has a commander and these brigades are the main operating elements of the game.

We used ground scale at 2/3 the Perry rules scale, it worked well even on the 10 x 6 table we were using.

Because shooting happens before you move, and often you can't move after you shoot, we used cotton wool to represent unts that had shot, which gives the table a realistic-ish look (see pic above). You also need also need battalion casualties, shaken and wavering markers.

Shooting and combat are handled very elegantly, but the game really runs off the morale rules ("Valour" is the degradation of a battalion in action as it moves from fresh to shaken, and "Fortitude" is what the Brigade commander needs as more  of his battalions become shaken. Bad things happen when already shaken battalions are hit again, and wavering brigades have to deal with these new shocks. Units then disappear quite fast, and ditto brigades break and run quickly too. 

The main role of artillery and skirmishers is to degrade units, if you can put a first casualty on a unit it is no longer fresh which impacts its ability to take more shooting, and its melee capability. Small skirmish foot detachments and cavalry vedettes using carbines are also quite useful for this reason, and they are hard to hit but need to be dealt with, wasting time and resource. 

This is great as a big battle ruleset, as individual unit actions are quick to resolve and disappear quite quickly, so it plays well to armies with lots of units on the table. You have to start thinking about reinforcements, about retiring units etc - the battle starts to resemble the books that talk about how senior commanders saw the battles.

Also, little touch - you have to have gun limbers to represent moving/stationary and direction of travel. Just makes the battlefield look more complete.

The game at present only has one general, and he has an influence range of 4' (at 2/3 ground scale) so on a 10 x 6' table we used a simple CiC + Sub Generals structure, each sub General counting as a V&F General, so we could command brigades over the whole table, and we played you just handed over reseve brigades from one general to another as they moved (mainly the cavalry brgades). It worked well, we may make something a bit more structured (maybe handovers need a messenger test) but this level of simplicity sort of fits the high level view of the rules.  


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