Monday, 13 March 2023

State of FOGN 3rd edition draft rules after 1 battles experience

As an aside, are those hills and rough ground?  Have you found a way to stop bases sliding off the hills? It sounds like a fun battle - do you have any comment on the mechanics of FOG:N? It's not a ruleset I've come across before.

I think so, I didn't provide them. The hills didn't cause a problem, but the only troops on them didn't move either, we're only using 15mm.

This was played with the 3rd edition draft rules - I expect the rules will be out later this year. The 1st edition was based I believe on the FOG: Ancient rules. The 2nd ed was converted by a few lawyers so it was very precise but had some flaws - skirmishers weren't their own thing which has now been fixed, so combat now goes much more smoothly but also more Napoleonic, and a lot of the edge case rules have been removed as have a lot of the "dodgying out of arc of fire" that makes sense at the company or battalion level but are stupid at the brigade level. I've been told the 3rd ed will get an index that the 2nd ed really needed and did not have. The 3rd ed is much improved over the (current) 2nd ed.

The game is written for club and tournament play so games typically only got for 2-3 hours (this game took about 3.5, and it was my first one). The army lists are flavorful and cover everyone from the French Royalist rebel's in the Verdee to the War of 1812.

You have 2-6 divisions of a corps, each div and corps commander based on their skill has ADC's you can use for complex movement (like double move, form square when charged, or limber up artillery) and units are based on weapon and size/ability/elan/training/guard at the brigade scale (so one unit is 4-6 battalions moved as a brigade- each stand represents a battalion). Some armies can attach brilliant battalion commanders (Sharpe for example), artillery batteries, extra skirmisher companies or a cavalry squadron. 2-4 people can play a historical battle (we did 3 a side for Taravala), each with 1-4 divisions under their control. It's designed for a 6x4 foot table and 15mm armies, but you could play with bigger or smaller.

Both players get to choose some terrain but the dice roll (and if your army won the dice roll for what part of the world you're fighting in) works out where on the table it is, with some placement based on the mission each player chooses. There's 6 missions: Positional defence/Mobile defence/Probe/Flank attack/Deliberate attack/Frontal attack and if you're got a good corps commander you can prevent your opponent taking some of them. Once you choose it dictates who deploys what where and you You Go-I Go movement but both sides shoot each turn, but the active player gets to go first and assault too.

Each turn the active player allocates ADC command points, and you'll want to save some for counter chargers and if you need to form square unexpectedly.  Then both players fire their artillery (corps level artillery brigades have to limber/unlimber but brigade attached guns don't) and try and degrade the enemy (or force them to flee if you can do enough hits to a wavering unit). Then both sides do a skirmish phase and try to win the skirmish battle -if you do you get a point of skirmishes on the enemy that also degrades their firing and end of turn morale. Finally if you're at close range you do a round of volley fire and try and break the enemy.

You then go to the assault/movement phase, declare and move into charges and move your units. If you're outside skirmish range you can do double moves or even a 3rd or 4th forced march, but if you fail a command test the unit gets disrupted.  This makes the early maneuvers relativity fast before the battle slows down to gunfire range which is good. The non-active player can make counter chargers and form square if they pass a command test.

Then the non-active player gets some defensive fire first (I hope you degraded them first with bombards or skirmishers first!) and then both sides fight at the same time. The attacker might bounce, fall back, keep fighting or break and purse the enemy. Assaulting an enemy line that has not been disrupted by bombarding it, or winning the skirmish battle or hitting already degraded units will mean you probably won't be able to charge home, but high elan/large units/Guards have a better chance. Heavy cav will win vs lighter cav, but the light cav will probably have better flank and rear support.

Finally you move commanders, take a morale test if you're still under skirmish fire and use your corps and division commander to rally a single unit from their division (corps do one in the army). Units go from Fine->Disrupted->Wavering and then break, with drops in combat ability at each level. Once a unit breaks it will make other friendly units make a test which of course can cause a cascade route of an army. Army's can break at 50% or less if they haven't done a comparable amount of damage to the enemy.

So the battle starts with both commanders trying to pick the terrain they prefer to fight on but not being able to ensure it's going to work. Then you choose a mission based on the terrain and you're army (which you've chosen via point buy in an excel spreadsheet) and go each turn, moving brigades and divisions into position. if you can  get the better position or ground you then maneuver in closer to first bombard the enemy and/or try and win the skirmish fight and then go in close for a volley and if needed then charge in. Weaken the enemy first and if done across a front you can cause a chain route of weary troops, but a better general will have reserves to throw in at the right time and place. If you can break the enemies Line of Control you still have to cause damage but it becomes much harder for them to rally.

I have the rules for Grande Army/Grande Brigade/Black Powder that I have yet to play, and I'm now much more familiar with FOG:N after a dozen games or so, but reading the rules now it's much clearer than the other books. It IS more complicated than the old rules I have from the '70's that removed figures but I think the rules have much improved in both a readability and Napoleonic feel compared to the 2nd edition too.

The game will need some YouTube video's later I think to better explain some of the rules (like 2nd ed has), but the firing and combat is easier to work through now, and I still have trouble working out where to put my ADC"s - much like a real battle, a good general will be 1-3 moves ahead. Pursuit after combat still uses a flow chart to work out though. 

The amount of things you can do that count as a "complex move" that needs a ADC command point is also...a lot. Not many per phase, but the table takes up an entire page of things you can do you might need a command point for.

Also, it's the most popular game in the gaming clubs in AUS and NZ (where the authors live)...and getting a chance to play against lots of different players and armies is the key thing.  The disadvantage of that is that a lot of the guys have years of experience and can pull you into a trap that Napoleon would approve of. I should make an Austrian army for the the full Napoleonic experience of that....

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