Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quick Reference Sheet for Fast Play Grande Armee (FPGA) with Imbedded House Rules



In my opinion the bees knees for corps-level Napoleonic gaming is Sam Mustafa's 'Grande Armee'. The rules retain a great balance between the necessity of abstraction at this scale while still retaining the flavour of the period. In 'Grande Armee' players concern themselves with the matters of commanding Divisions or Corps and much of the lower-level detail (i.e. particulars of formations, battalion dispositions, skirmishing screens, etc.) is assumed to be occurring within your brigades without you micro-managing at that level. Each square-shaped stand of miniatures represents a brigade of infantry or cavalry arrayed in battle formation which would take up the approximate space of the stand. The rules are well-written and the mechanisms are quite elegant. 

Now, 'Fast Play Grande Armee' (FPGA) is a streamlined variant of the original game to which our group enjoys very much. Nonetheless, as with many gamers, I could not leave well-enough alone and have fiddled with some of the rules to conform to our preferences/opinions. Included here is an Quick Reference Sheet (QRS) for our version of FPGA. My additions and amendments are highlighted in red.


The changes that we've introduced more or less have to do with four areas: skirmishing, command and control, combat modifiers and the introduction of saving throws for high quality units. The final two changes, combat modifiers and saving throws, allows easier construction of historical scenarios without tying to differentiate between 'high' and 'low' value units by manipulating Strength Points (SPs). Now you can just use the historical numerical strength of units as the conversion factor.

With the original rules, skirmishing combat completely favored the player who held the initiative which, to our way of thinking, was far too sweeping a benefit and lost much of the interaction that was in the 'full' game. So I've re-introduced a mechanism that is similar to the original 'Grande Armee' rules where both sides skirmish with each other, struggling to see who can gain dominance, push past the other's screen in order to inflict damage on the opposing main formation. We've been using this for several years now and it works quite well.

We've also tweaked the control mechanism to reduce the chance of brigades going onto the attack unilaterally. It was simply happening far too much and so we felt like we had to moderate the odds a bit more.

Brigades now get a combat modifier based on how they are classed in comparison to their opponents. Each level variation adjusts the number of dice thrown. Now high-quality formation that may be smaller in relative Strength Points (SPs) will still reflect their greater experience and elan. Cavalry also get a combat bonus if they are supported by friendly cavalry to their rear.

Finally, Elite and Guard units now get a saving throw after combat/fallback resolution. This allows them still to be 'pushed' but gives them a chance of recovering hits in the aftermath.

Anyway, here you go, give them a go and see what you think.

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