Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

And another thing, or three…

Posted by Martin on May 25, 2010

One of the spin-offs of the recent series of posts about organizing Prussian forces for Republic to Empire was a spate of comments speculating about the correct terminology for ad hoc formations placed under a sub-commander by Prussian brigade commanders for specific tasks. There was no definitive conclusion so I’ve been asking around about this and had feedback from Peter F., George Nafziger and Peter Bunde as well as some of the regular BfK readers.

The upshot is that nobody is aware of a specific formal term that was used by the Prussian army. However, consensus is that the German word Abteilung would have been understood and recognised at the time. While this is a helpful conclusion, it does leave one final difficulty because Abteilung is used in many different senses by Germans and therefore has a range of possible translations into English depending on the context. General opinion is that the most appropriate translation under the circumstances I’m thinking of is detachment. So now all I’ve got to do is decide if I prefer to use the English or the German…

Elsewhere, my attention has been drawn to an article in the current issue of Miniature Wargames that compares four horse and musket rulesets: Sam Mustapha’s Lasalle, Black Powder, Foundry’s Napoleon and, the much admired in these parts, Republic to Empire. I scanned through the article at the shelves of W H Smith yesterday and came away feeling a bit disgruntled at what I view as some shoddy handling of Republic to Empire.

Of course, it’s fair to say that I only skimmed the piece and that reviewers are entitled to their own opinions – even ones that differ to mine πŸ™‚ However, I did get the impression that the reviewer went into the venture with pre-conceived notions and looked only for things that confirmed his initial position. The main criticisms are ones that I’ve seen voiced on TMP by people who, by their own admission, have never even played the rules. Namely, a mistaken belief that Republic to Empire is overly complicated, hard to learn and too time consuming to play. As somebody who’s had the privilege to participate in a game at Salute I can tell you categorically that such criticisms are bunkum.

Back to the Miniatures Wargames piece – at least they did attempt some playtesting of each ruleset, so credit is due there. However, I think that the nature of the playtest (for example, it only being on a 4ft x 4ft table) was almost doomed to show Republic to Empire in a poor light. I think that to give any ruleset a fair crack of the whip you need to be sensitive to the conditions under which its authors intended it to be used.

Finally some sad news this week. Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy AKA The Spanish Magazine has announced suspension of publication of its English language edition. It’s a magazine for which I have a high regard and affection. I think it shook up the complacent competition and I’m fortunate to count some of those involved with it among my regular correspondents. As far as I understand, the magazine will continue to be published in Spanish but the current financial climate has made it uneconomic to continue in English at present. I sincerely hope this is a case of adieu and not goodbye.

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2 Responses to “And another thing, or three…”

  1. Neil said

    I agree that it’s not fair to prejudge a set of rules before you’ve even given them a fair play test. It seems that their are too many people ready to criticize something rather than do anything creative themselves. Neil

  2. Burkhard said

    Well I know the feeling. Our club has been using a ruleset for WWII (and later) that most people call overly complicated and too awkward to play. Funny thing is that we have played it with active soldiers at conventions and they said that it covered real combat the best. And we have been able to teach it to people (including 6 year olds, pensioners and people who never wargamed before) within 10 minutes preparation at shows. I think this speaks volumes!

    Anyway… when I read RTE I was instantly in love with the rules. I loved the detail, loved how easy they were to handle and most importantly, logical solutions to stuff others completely overlooked. But I guess we have to get used to the fact, that these rules will always be underestimated, since they do not have big money behind them!

    Cheers,

    Burkhard

    P.S.: I instantly thought “detachment” when it came to “Abteilung” in this context and I am German (even half Prussian :-)).

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