First clues about Republic to Empire
Posted by Martin on January 22, 2009
Barry Hilton and his co-conspiritors (who include the likes of Clarence Harrison and David Imrie) have been cooking up and playtesting a new Napoleonic ruleset for some considerable time. Various hints, discussions and photographs have appeared on Barry’s League of Augsburg site over recent months but now something we can actually get our teeth into has emerged.
Barry’s just released an extract from these Republic to Empire rules as a freely downloadable PDF file. It question covers the topic of “Creating your army” and provides an insight into unit types, sizes, grading and basing for the rules.
If you’re a stickler for detailed historical accuracy, then you’ll see some compromises and generalizatons but I suspect that these are pragmatic in the cause of creating an enjoyable and playable ruleset. We’ll only be able to judge that when the complete set is unveiled. The extract is divided into the following sub-sections:
- Historical organization of Napoleonic units: this provides a brief overview of infantry, cavalry and artillery with info about unit types and size. The emphasis is very much on battlefield reality rather than theoretical regulation strengths.
- Unit sizes in the game: without explicitly mentioning it, this section makes it clear that the nominal figure ratio of Republic to Empire is 1:20 and the tactical units are battalions, squadrons and batteries. There’s a lot of flexibility to unit sizes to reflect the reality of under-strength units. I particularly like the discussion of extremely under-strength units (say, battalions of 250 men) and their brittle nature if used as individual units. The rules provide the option of converging two weak battalions together as a regiment to operate as a single tactical unit. The pros and cons of this option are neatly summarized and, as an 1813/14 gamer, I like how this reflects the reality of the situation and how commanders faced with it made just these sorts of choices.
- Unit quality: the rules allow for four quality designations – Guards, Veteran, Drilled and Recruits and are strict about limiting the highest quality to only the very best. Some of you may be disappointed that your own favourites don’t make guard quality here. In addition, there’s an additional Elite rating that can be applied to the Veteran, Drilled and Recruits quality designations that offers a morale bonus but no other performance advantage. It’s designed to reflect when a unit has a high degree of self-confidence.
- Army sizes in the game: Gives an indication of the size of opposing forces that the rules are designed to cope with. It should come as no surprise that divisional actions come at the lower end while much larger encounters are possible and I know Barry and his friends have playtested the rules on scenarios for full-scale battles like Ligny.
- Basing your models: this section explains that the rules are designed to cope with a range of existing basing conventions but recommend 15mm per figure frontages for infantry and 20mm frontages for cavalry (for 28mm miniatures). Again, pragmatism reigns and slightly larger frontages are OK too. Detailed suggestions are covered for basing (formed) infantry, skirmishers, cavalry, artillery and field/general officers. The final version of the rules will include illustrative photographs of basing.
There is one potentially controversial area in which Barry has deviated from conventional wisdom. His basing scheme for artillery calls for more than just the guns of a battery to be taken into account for unit depth. In an attempt to reflect the reality of the train of each battery, the Republic to Empire rules designate an area behind each battery as a no-go area for other units. Now some may find this clutters up their tables but I think the idea has promise.
Overall, my initial impression is favourable, bordering on enthusiastic but I shall have to wait to see more of the game mechanics before reaching a conclusion. What this extract shows is that Republic to Empire is a big battalions ruleset after my own heart and that I’ll be able to use figures I base for General de Brigade for it too. The question that can’t be answered at this stage is what will Republic to Empire offer over General de Brigade?