1871 Fast Play Grand Tactical Rules for the Franco-Prussian War by Bruce WeigleNo matter how well proofed, it seems, there’s always a few goofs, omissions, or clarifications that need to be addressed in a new rules booklet, and 1871 is no exception.  Besides, it’s become traditional.  Here’s the ones that have come to light in 1871, so far:

  • In the photo of the French corps on page 5, the corps’ reserve artillery batteries are present, but not mentioned in the caption.  The eight batteries shown are just a representative number for a Republican French corps, however; the actual number and composition varied from corps to corps (see OB listing for some examples — and keep in mind that even those changed frequently!)
  • On page 11, the last paragraph of the first column was printed twice — probably because it was especially memorable.
  • Example 7, page 23 (Turn Three explanation): This was a triumph of my mathematical abilities.  The sum of two Red ½ point stands is one point, not two.  Ergo, the best that Red can hope for in this melee is a draw …which would be re-rolled.
  • Header, page 26: should read “RALLY, REFORM, AND RECONSTITUTION”  …not “RECONSTRUCTION.”  Small matter.
  • On pages 9 and 29, and on the obverse side of the Quick Reference Sheet, in the ORDER CHITS box, there’s the claim that the “R” chit is needed to reconstitute lost stands.  This is incorrect (it was a holdover from an earlier version of the sheet).  In fact, no chit is needed to reconstitute lost stands, just the presence of a command stand within an inch of the unit.
  • In the Military Chronology (page 36), there’s no mention of the 31 Aug- 1 Sept Battle of Noisseville (!)  Can’t believe I did that.  It happened, and is the first battle scenario in this very set of rules.  Also, the Battle of Gravelotte-St Privat should properly be in a red font, to indicate that it was featured in the original 1870 rules booklet.
  • In the German Forces portion of the Battle of Noisseville OB (on page 43), the 1st Brigade is noted as being in Failly-Poix-Servigny.  The 1st Grenadier Regiment also had a battalion in Noisseville, as shown on the map.
  • Also on page 41 (first paragraph, second column), there’s a reference to finding the Imperial Guard order of battle in the 1870 booklet.   Of course that’s unnecessary — the whole 1870 OB is reproduced right there in the 1871 booklet.  Including the Imperial Guard, on page 93.
  • In the Champigny—Villers scenario OB listing (on page 61) General Mattat’s division of the 3rd Corps is identified as the “1st Division”.  Alert readers will have noticed that Gen Bellemare already has the 1st Division; Mattat’s is the 2nd Division.
  • On page 65, in the first Alternate Scenario, there is mention of “the Foreign Legion Regiment”.  This should be “the Foreign Legion battalion”.
  • On the Vendôme scenario map, a single French battery is shown covering the Houzee Brook …but it isn’t included in the scenario OB.  In fact, while its presence there isn’t historically confirmed, I chose to include it regardless.  It should have been mentioned, however.
  • Bonnemain’s cavalry division is still shown on the French OB listing (on page 92) as being an infantry formation.  That was a carryover mistake from the original 1870 booklet.  The presence of four regiments of cuirassiers and two horse artillery batteries, however, is a tipoff that this is in fact a cavalry unit.

Rule elaboration
DRANER French Garde Mobile_275x416Normally, all battalions of Core Morale Unit that suffers a “back” result must comply with that result, whether the defeated unit is in a town or in the open. In a recent game, however, the defense was historically based on several “fortress farm houses” that were not contiguous, but still within three inches of each other. It would have been entirely inauthentic for several houses to be abandoned due to a “back” result against just one! Thus the need for this rule clarification: If the stand defending one of those little fortresses is thrown out by fire or assault, it does not affect other elements of its CMU, if they are also ensconced in nearby, non-contiguous farm houses. Unlike the soldiers holding adjacent buildings in a town or in the open, the garrisons of the nearby, but non-contiguous buildings are probably unaware of exactly what’s happening 200-300 meters away in the middle of a battle.

Note that the garrisons of those farm houses still have the same three choices that any unit in a building or field work has, if they get a “back” result: they can abandon the position, become disorganized, or lose a stand (which would normally be the entire garrison). The garrisons of other defended buildings would be exempt from the fate suffered by any individual house.