These are my notes on the Polemos General de Division Napoleonic rules.
I have posted them up here before the imminent downgrading of Yahoo groups, where they were previously stored. It contains all of Chris Grice's comments and replies to queries about the rules system. Of course, any errors or misunderstandings within these notes are mine, not his. I am not part of the Polemos rule-writing team or a play-tester or anything like that, so these notes are in no way official but perhaps they may help some players. There is an easy-going nature to the rules that make it like a traditional set of war games rules, rather than the more legalistic types.
There is actually not that many grey areas in the rules. The great majority of the notes here consist of Chris making explicit things that can be inferred from the rules.
I have tried to mark clearly where there have been rule changes or Chris has suggested or accepted optional rules or changes. I have marked as contradictions statements that appeared contradictory to me. It is also possible that Chris, when answering a totally different point, accidentally summarized a rule in such a way that might make there appear to be a contradiction.
I have put any comments I have about certain rules, or how I deal with an apparent contradiction or exploit, in square brackets.
The Polemos Philosophy
"I'm a great believer in 'local amendments' to rules, as I think we all have a slightly different 'take' on the period and every player needs to be comfortable that game outcomes fit his perception of the period. I would just be a bit careful that adding extra rules adds value rather than just extra lines of ifs and buts."
On Army Lists: "For what it's worth, I really don't like the points value system used in a lot of rules. The army generators are intended to steer players away from 'equal points value' battles into something both more challenging and more in keeping with the period. I don't expect everyone to agree with everything in the generators - there would be no fun in debate if they did. (What would we talk about in the pub?)"
The morale rules are harsh on purpose.
"I am a great believer in the 'local amendment', so I don't mind if anyone wishes to continue to play (an alternative) way."
Unit commanders decide which formations their units are in. You are the CinC, don't worry about it!
General de Division
The crossover point between GdD and MdE is designed to be battles of between 30-35,000 men per side.
Suggested Table Sizes: GdD - 20-25 bases 6'x4'; 40+ bases 9'x5'
Any base sizing of 2:1 length-depth will work.
It doesn't matter if command bases are a bit larger or smaller than 1BDx1BD.
p.4-5 Troop Types
Cavalry is irregular OR light, not both.
Cavalry can have the same quality ratings as infantry.
The separate types of cavalry (heavy, dragoon etc) can be in groups together.
Field artillery refers to all foot artillery.
OPTION: You can, if you want/must, re-designate a horse artillery unit as field artillery for that particular game. You cannot change between the field and horse artillery roles in the same game.
p.8 Army organisation
'Force' is a catchall term to avoid having to say 'unit, brigade, division or corps' every time: in effect, any size of formation, in base-to-base contact, under one officer. In certain circumstances, a gaming group may deiced that units which have become detached a short distance from a force [by enemy action, say, or pursuing a broken enemy] can remain part of that force. This is why the British artillery battery A in the worked combat example (seep.23-24) is treated as part of the same force even though it is not in base-to-base contact with the other units. In the event of any controversy, or if this lack of a precise rule is anathema for your gaming group, don’t allow exceptions to the base-to-base contact rule [My own interpretation is that groups can never be broken by involuntary action, but are always broken if the bases are voluntarily moved apart by the player].
p.9 Ranks and Grades of Officers
There are none for the CinC: it is assumed that you, the player, are the CinC.
p.10 Turn Sequence
An alternative description of the turn sequence:
GdD Turn Summary
Tempo player bombardment.
Tempo player moves C-in-c and generals, then allocates TPs to subordinates.
First: Any of the Tempo player's units who are 1BW from enemy but who are not going to attempt a charge may fire.
Second: Units who are attempting to charge now test to do so. If their opponents are allowed to fire, this takes place, then the outcome of the attack is resolved.
The tempo player's other units (not involved in attacks) now move.
The non-tempo player now repeats the above.
NOTE: it is easier to carry out each attack from start to finish one at a time, rather than declare all charges, then all responses, then all firing, and so on.”
Outcomes from the 'outcome of attacks' tables are resolved immediately in the attack phase. Other 'outcomes' -pursuit, morale etc are done at the end of the turn.
p.10 Tempo Bidding
Single brigades and units answering directly to the CinC do generate tempo points and count as a separate formation for army morale purposes.
No negative modifiers for counter-battery fire - there was a lot to hit: limbers, ammunition wagons, etc.
The possible negative effects of bombardment represent the fatigue, conservation of ammunition and demoralization of the bombarding gunners.
Artillery can either bombard or support in one turn, not both. It cannot bombard and then move either.
Horse artillery cannot bombard.
Artillery can only bombard in a straight line. There is no arc of fire.
The negative modifier for rough ground reflects the extra fatigue it causes and the lower rate of fire.
If firing three bases on one target you roll once and +1 for each additional base (i.e. +2)
Infantry units that fall back as a result of bombardment may fire in subsequent phases and they can also be rallied that turn.
You cannot bombard cavalry in melee.
The "each further base in line of sight and in base contact behind target (up to 3) means that if you are bombarding a "column" of 3 infantry units one behind the other you get +2 so long as they are in a straight line from where the bombarding artillery is.
p.11 Allocating Tempo Points
Generals move to units and can then move with them.
There are no command radii except those given in the rules. It is assumed that commanders will be with their troops, but which division or brigade they are with doesn't matter.
You can't save tempo points in GdD.
Only independent brigade commanders multiply tempo points into order points. Brigade commanders within divisions do not multiply tempo points or order points again after the divisional commander has done so.
Units/Groups need to keep on receiving orders to keep on moving.
Units/Groups need specific orders to attack/charge [i.e. you can't just ‘move’ into combat - except cavalry into the second round of a melee]
Artillery can be included in the same group as infantry or cavalry (e.g a force of 2 cavalry bases and a horse artillery base is one group, not two).
p.12 Issuing Orders
A group is, in effect, the command radius of the officer in charge i.e. he needs to put more command resources into controlling a larger number of units.
You cannot spend extra TPs to move more than once. This includes retiring.
Formations and groups that are moving together (i.e. for the same order) move simultaneously en masse [but attacks are resolved sequentially].
You must stick to your order of battle. You can split up an existing brigade, but the unit that has split off can only rejoin it's former comrades, they can't form a brand new group with units from different formations.
On page 12, in the illustration at the foot of the right hand column, the top right group of 6 stands is two groups of three, even though they are all touching.
Units in a group don't have to conform to each other, just touch somewhere.
On groups :"It is an arbitrary limit, based on trial and error, and basically it does encourage the use of smaller, more nimble brigades over large unwieldy ones.
The difficulty would be in passing orders from the commander to a greater number of units. We COULD, for instance, say it takes the same number of command points to move a group of, say, six units, but takes twice as long to carry out the manoeuvre. Standardising groups at three is easier and quicker to administer and doesn't need any tedious record keeping or calculations."
p.13 Move distances
Artillery unlimbers for free in the same turn that it is stationary.
Redeploying artillery can limber, move and unlimber all in the same turn.
When using limber team models, when unlimbering, the gun goes to the front of where the limber team was. Any infantry behind the limber can now move up to behind the gun and the limber model is placed behind the infantry.
Artillery cannot move unlimbered [As an option, I would suggest allowing guns under 12lb to move 1BD unlimbered]
Artillery may limber or unlimber in any direction.
Pivoting unlimbered artillery counts as a normal move.
Artillery can only move through woods and urban areas on roads.
Horse artillery cannot limber, move and support an attack.
Horse artillery can move and support an attack.
Units can move in any way in a redeployment move (it is assumed that the units break ranks and then reform). Unlimbered artillery can be included in a re-deployment.
There is no limit it the size or composition of a redeploying force so long as all units are part of the same command.
Units can advance in a re-deployment as long as no unit moves closer than the unit already closest to the enemy is.
If exploits become common in your games, have one unit in the force remain stationary and redeploy the others round it, subject to the usual rules.
A force of any size may redeploy. Check the definition of ‘force’ above for an explanation of this.
A force cannot move off from or be left behind by a bigger force without redeploying first [the original rule was the opposite - i.e. you could - and Chris has left it up to the players to choose. Personally I allow it in GdD at the moment]. This also applies to joining forces back together to move as one again.
OPTION: Allow 1BD of sideways movement for the cost of a normal move and to allow a single base to about turn as a normal move. Other sideways movement is a redeployment move.
Artillery has to remain stationary to limber or unlimber. Artillery unlimbers for free when stationary.
Artillery limbers as a move or redeployment. Horse artillery limbers for free if charged.
Units of a moving group must maintain the same position in relation to each other.
A unit/group with 1BW movement, crossing an obstacle that takes 1 BW, just moves from one side of the obstacle to the other.
A unit/group cannot advance closer than 1BW towards the enemy - but if a unit does end up closer than 1BW (as a result of outcome moves) the unit can still move [i.e. it isn't fixed in position] but must still test to attack to get closer.
Rough ground is uneven, scrubby or boggy.
Artillery can only bombard or support or fire in self-defence. It cannot 'fire' in the attack phase.
Artillery units that support offensive long-range fire in the tempo turn cannot then provide support if that unit is then charged in the non-tempo turn.
The firing player does not suffer from ill effects for not winning a firefight.
During an infantry attack, neither the attacker nor counter-charging defending infantry may fire.
The defenders can count their 'first fire' if defending against an attack, not just when carrying out a 'firing' attack in the tempo phase.
Attacking units can either fire or go in with the bayonet (i.e. attack) in one turn. Not both. Non-attack firing is resolved before attacks.
There are no angle restrictions for units firing in support at long or close range. A unit cannot give supporting fire at point-blank range.
Supporting fire counts as firing, but does not get a first-firing bonus.
Supporting units in a position to do either can fire as an individual long-range fire or as supporting fire to an attacking unit.
If a unit carries out a long-range firing 'attack' in the tempo phase, it can also fire if attacked in the non-tempo attack phase.
A defending unit forced to fall back in the tempo player's phase cannot then shoot back in the non-tempo player's phase. It can if the attacking unit is forced to fall back. [I assume Chris meant that if the Attacker had any kind of negative outcome]
Artillery do get to fire using this table if being attacked and they do not break during the test to attack.
If the fire breaks the target of shooting, this takes precedence over the outcome results.
Short range and close range are the same [I think all references to short range were omitted in second edition].
A firing attack costs no order points.
First time firing applies only once in a game.
If the target scores higher than the firer, there is no effect.
p.16 Launching attacks
A unit that could attack more than one target must declare which unit is being attacked.
There is no 'minimum overlap' for target units.
Attacking units do not need to 'align' with the units being attacked.
When artillery is being attacked, use the standard firing table without range modifiers.
If a unit fails to attack, you cannot subsequently move in the movement phase.
If the last 2BW of an attack cannot be carried out in a straight line, the attacker must wait until the next turn [I think that the 2BW in a straight line means that attackers cannot interpenetrate friendly troops in an attack closer than 2BW to the target].
A unit that can no longer attack, because as a result of previous attacks during that phase its target is now out of range, cannot attack or fire at all. The order points are lost.
Attacks can be resolved in any order. Subsequent attacks in the same phase do happen subsequently [i.e. they are not considered to be simultaneous].
A unit forced to retire in the tempo-player phase cannot then charge in the subsequent non-tempo phase.
A unit can't move to within 1BW of an enemy unit unless launching an attack on it or on another unit.
It is okay to resolve all firing and attacks in one part of the table before going on to another.
A group attacking only requires one attack order, even if it would lead to up to 3 separate combats taking place.
p.16-17 Testing to attack
Defenders can opt to fire at long-range, there just isn't a modifier for it [Chris has approved my alternative method, if the players agree: the defending player chooses which type of fire the infantry will carry out after the die roll is made].
You test to attack, carry out any firing (if that happens) and then see what the result is on the outcome table.
The outcome is resolved from whatever point the firing took place at (or from the attacker's initial position if he refused to attack).
Units that successfully test to charge must then carry out that attack.
If another base is contacted as a result of the outcomes, take another test to attack.
A supporting defender adjacent to a defending unit that breaks has to fall back with it [I think Chris meant retire here given statements elsewhere].
An infantry unit that attacks is deemed to have used up its first fire. [Chris is okay with the opposite interpretation].
An attacker that falls back during an attack falls back from the point where firing took place if it happened, i.e. from 1BW if long-range fire, from 1Bd if from close-range fire or from adjacent if from point-blank fire.
During attacks/charges, only the defender gets to fire; but the tempo player may carry out long-range firing 'attacks' with units that aren't carrying out charges.
Cavalry sometimes begin charges from less than 1BW distance as a result of pursuit or breaking situations.
Counter-charging units can charge with their supports.
The defender counter charges in the same attack phase.
The defender decides whether to counter charge or not. The outcome table tells you what actually happens.
It does not cost order points to counter-charge.
An evade move is a normal move directly away from the chargers. Only irregular cavalry and horse artillery can evade.
p.17 Infantry v infantry only
For resolving an infantry counter-charge go straight to the outcome table from the testing to attack table.
If the defender falls back in infantry-infantry combat, the attacker halts at the point where the two bases would have made contact.
A melee never happens between infantry.
Defending infantry can fire if attacked on the flank or rear. They turn to face after the testing to attack phase, but before the firing is resolved.
p.17 Cavalry v cavalry only
Defending cavalry that counter-charge count as charging.
The attacking cavalry being counter-charged does not have further options as it is already committed to the attack.
Cavalry that refuse to charge and rally back 1BW shaken do so from their start point.
It is assumed that the unit's reputation, experience, etc will help it to maintain its resolve to get into action and affect their opponent's ability to stand against them. Once melee is joined, however, these factors become less vital and it's every man for himself.
The modifiers in the testing to attack phase are not subsequently used as modifiers during the melee.
Cavalry melees can last for a maximum of three phases: Attacker, Defender then next attacker.
You can move into contact with a cavalry unit that is in melee. You can move units into a position to give support in a melee.
Cavalry units that become spent whilst in melee can finish their melee before they become spent, but Chris is okay with the alternative to this one.
A unit cannot charge into a melee.
Infantry cannot move up to support cavalry in a melee [Chris has never commented about artillery but I think the intention is not].
p.18 Cavalry attack on infantry
'Firing at reduced effect' means that the firer is shaken, not that the firer will suffer a further penalty when firing.
Firing is not reduced in effectiveness when a unit is firing from square.
There is no advantage to cavalry to charging infantry in the flank.
Units that choose to form square when defending against cavalry automatically 'change out' of this formation when they need to. No need for a record or to mark it.
Ignore the 'Cavalry charging from 1BW or less' modifier in the Infantry attack on Cavalry chart. Cavalry attacking SK2 infantry in the open gain a positive modifier.
Chris is more than happy for local amendments to reflect the possibility of infantry not being caught in open order :"I'm also quite happy to agree to differ on the SK2 v cavalry. The whole intention, as I'm sure you realise, is to ensure that games don't bog down in endless complications, exceptions and record keeping. If your group finds the rules easier or better for the addition of some amendment, please feel free to introduce it - just be wary of adding too much and slowing down the flow."
p.18 Infantry attack on cavalry
Infantry attacks on cavalry are resolved in one action.
p.18 Cavalry or Infantry attack artillery
An attack by a single base on two artillery batteries is resolved as a single attack with the result applying to both batteries.
You can only get a maximum of two shaken levels in one turn. A unit can still be instantly broken in certain circumstances.
A unit falling back always takes a shaken level [up to the maximum of two per turn]. Statements that ‘a unit falls back shaken’ are tautologies.
When a routing unit passes through friends units that the routing unit passes through during the first 1BW of movement must fall back
A unit breaks immediately it reaches 3 shaken levels.
p.19 Fall Back
Infantry do not follow-up a falling back enemy. Cavalry do.
A falling back unit turns to face - conforms - to the unit that attacked it.
Retiring units do not make units they pass through shaken. [Chris didn't say that this depended on whether the retiring unit itself was shaken or not].
Artillery can support as long it as is facing forward [i.e. facing in the direction of the attacker] except limbered artillery cannot support units being attacked.
Units in rear corner contact only can still provide support. Units touching only at the corners can count for support.
Units with a target of their own (i.e. an enemy unit up to 1BW to the front) cannot give support.
If supporting units are behind a unit that has to retire or fall back, they fall back too.
Supporting units in an attack stick with the attacking unit.
A unit needs to be facing in the same direction as the unit it is supporting.
You can only count support once for each troop type.
Supporting units that would be contacted by an attack still do not share the fate of the unit they were supporting.
An infantry unit with bases on either side can only count infantry support once, but both bases can fire/absorb fire.
When a unit is forced to retire, fall back or breaks, any supporting unit must retire at least 1BW – subject to any further outcomes if it is behind the supported base [i.e. a supporting unit to the flank of the supported unit will retire when the unit it is supporting is forced back. If it is directly behind the supported unit, it may take shaken levels as well from the supported unit barrelling back through them – see the rules on falling back and breaking for details. This sentence makes the whole thing sound lots more complicated than it actually is!].
Support for an attack is calculated at the moment that the attack begins, not at the moment of contact.
Attackers that break a unit before contact move to a position 1BW beyond the target's original position [presumably from where the bases would have touched]
Infantry do not follow-up an enemy they break by a long-range firing attack.
An attacking unit does not follow up a unit that falls back and then breaks as a result of getting entangled with another friendly unit.
Supporting units do not pursue
Pursuit moves are only made in the outcome phase
Generals normally rally their troops for 2 Order Points per shaken level.
The CinC and generals can rally a shaken level from a single base they are in contact with for free.
CHANGE: The CinC or General can rally a second shaken level for 2 tempo points (because the General or CinC has already short-circuited the command structure) [originally this was 2 Tempo points for the CinC, 2 order points for the General].
A non-tempo unit that became shaken in the tempo phase can only rally in the non-tempo turn if it became shaken neither by movement nor enemy action and is not now in contact with the enemy.
A unit can rally while the other units in a group change formation [presumably because changing formation is done by 'force' not by group. I have my doubts about this frankly].
The only point in keeping a broken unit on [the table] is that the pursuers may keep chasing it. While they continue to pursue, they have to have something to chase. Once the pursuers rally, you may as well take the broken unit off.
Once pursuers rally, they won't start pursuing the broken unit again - no need to roll again.
A unit can be rallied in the non-tempo player's turn from the effects of bombardment in the tempo player's turn.
A unit cannot rally in the same turn it fires, moves or comes under fire for any reason (except bombardment)
[Playtester and veteran Polemos player Glenn Pearce has previously talked to Chris about rallying and apparently Chris’ intention was that rallying should only happen in phases 3 and 7 of the Turn Sequence].
p.20 Risk to generals
Test just once per turn in the outcome phase
p.21 Formation Morale
Spent units are not 'broken' unless an enemy unit contacts them. This will break them instantly if it happens.
Once a unit routs off the table it is gone.
p.25 Army Generators & Scenarios
There are deliberately no ratings given for generals in the scenarios. Choose your own or roll for them on an appropriate Army Generator,
If no ratings for troops are given, assume 'Trained'
Nothing is set in stone. Do what you like!
Chris reckons the French Guards are overrated.
"I do think veteran light units should be on better factors than Old Guard - on a unit to unit basis"
There is only one roll for Sappers done per army, made after the first infantry division is generated.
An Anglo-Portuguese player doesn’t roll for size for Portuguese brigades (they are all the same).
There are some units missing from the text for the Raszyn scenario (the map is correct).
Przebendowski has light cavalry bases and a horse artillery battery.
Sokolnicki has a field artillery battery.