SYNOPSIS OF RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO THE 1870, 1859/64 AND 1866 RULES
In the course of writing and play-testing the 1859/64 and 1866 rules, I had the opportunity to revisit some 1870 rules that either could have been done better, or needed a bit of tweaking. When 1871 came along, some further tweaking was deemed to be necessary. The following list is the result of that reconsideration process. Gamers intending to use them should ensure that their opponents are aware the changes are in use before playing, of course! NOTE: Gamers are reminded that all these changes apply to the original versions of 1870, 1859, and 1866. While those are still valid, I recommend upgrading to the 2017 vintage “Fast Play” versions, which are simpler and quicker overall.
Disarray: This status was introduced in the 1859/64 rules to fill a need identified in 1870 games involving woods fights and after non-combat charges, when a “disorganized” condition seemed too severe. It was subsequently limited in the 1866 rules to applying just to movement through woods.
- Units in line become disarrayed – not disorganized – when they end their move in woods. Once in disarray, they move at half speed (i.e., four inches in line) as long as they remain disarrayed.
- Disarrayed units are represented as a ragged line of stands (disorganized units have no order at all); single stands in disarray can be distinguished with a colored marker.
- Disarrayed units — unlike disorganized units – may shoot with all stands.
- Units in disarray – unlike disorganized units – may charge enemy units, and do not suffer the “disorganized” modifier in melees and on the Morale Table.
- Unlike disorganized units (and previous practice in the 1859/64 rules), a line of infantry does not become disarrayed merely by charging nor does it need a REFORM chit to reform. It may reform as a formation change (costing 1/3 of its movement). Once that is accomplished, the unit can advance a full move in good order for another turn in woods before going into disarray again.
- Jägers, Bersaglieri, and chasseurs do not become disarrayed in woods.
In Half- (“Double“) Scale, it is not obligatory to keep one stand behind the other. The players should determine, based on the tactical situation, whether they want both half-battalions on line or whether they want to retain a strong reserve. Historically and doctrinally, most armies kept as much of their battalions unengaged as possible.
Artillery “battalions”: The Artillery Tables in all the Grand Tactical Rules games were calibrated to give the most accurate results when two or three grouped batteries engage the same target simultaneously, i.e., with one die roll. If two or three batteries are grouped together they must all engage the same target as well, massing their points and firing on it with a single die roll — rather than rolling as individual batteries. They also react to adverse combat results as a unit: all will displace if a “Back”, “Suppressed”, or “Retreat” result is rolled against them.
Supporting units: Should be within two inches behind the unit in front, but should have fewer stands than the lead unit (leaving stand-wide gaps through which the supported unit can withdraw in the event of a combat reversal). Units that have closed up on their lead units without leaving gaps in their line become disorganized if the lead unit is compelled to retreat or rout back through them.
Friendly troops can pass through artillery lines as if it was a linear obstacle, with a partial fire penalty to the artillery’s shooting.
Separated units: Stands generally act as a complete unit if within 3 inches of each other. If they are detached or physically separated from the rest of their unit, they fire, suffer morale results, become suppressed, or check morale individually as single stands.
Units in Buildings: With 6mm figures, as many stands can “occupy” buildings as fit the approximate frontage of the buildings, or the approximate area of building models used with 10 or 15mm figures.
Higher Commanders giving orders (clarification): Sometimes, a higher-level commander might find it necessary to personally give an order to units under his command — leading a unit in the absence of the brigade commander, for instance. When this is done, the higher-level commander in effect becomes the brigade commander, and his order is activated as if he was a brigadier on the Activation Table. For instance, if a “Good” division commander ordered his whole division to reform, he would roll as if he was a “Good” rated brigadier: (1-8). If a “Poor” corps commander wanted to move up his reserve artillery, he would roll to activate the order chit at the “Poor” brigade commander level (1-6). The largest size unit that can be given a single order is a division for road movement (one brigade simply following another down the road), or a brigade for maneuvering.
The Cavalry Rule: If faced with a threat — like an approaching enemy unit or an unlimbering battery — that could harm them this turn, cavalry units are allowed to halt, flee (to the extent their remaining movement) or charge the threat without an order chit. This also includes defensive counter-charges against units that the cavalry has been positioned to support (e.g., artillery batteries). Offensive cavalry charges, though, still need a charge order.
- Sideways Movement: An infantry line edging sideways while continuing to face to the front can be done at the retrograde movement rate: four inches per turn.
- Uphill movement rate: Is now ½ normal speed, rather than ¾
- Changing front for artillery: Once unlimbered, a grand battery/artillery “battalion” can engage targets in its forward 45° arc only. To engage targets outside that arc requires an entire turn to reorient the battery – during which time it cannot shoot. A single battery can reorient itself as a change of formation, however.
- Fire Bonus against Cavalry and Deployed Artillery: Breechloader equipped infantry fire triple their normal Fire Points at close range not only against charging cavalry but against deployed artillery as well. (The damage that a few dozen riflemen could inflict on exposed artillerymen at close range far exceeded the potential harm the battery’s canister fire could inflict in return). Muzzleloaders double their fire points in the same circumstances.
- Rifle Hits Table (all rules versions) modifiers now includes: Minus ONE to die roll for units occupying buildings/field works. For various valid historical reasons, units shoot better when they’re ensconced behind thick walls.
- An “R” (repulse) result – now includes a loss of one Combat Point in addition to repulsing an infantry or artillery unit three inches in good order, or a cavalry target ten inches in disorder. “R” against units in buildings is counted as a die roll 2.
- “Field works”: now replaces the less-precise term “dug in” on the Artillery and Rifle Hits Tables. Field works are considered trenches and redoubts, but woods, tree lines, dykes, and rifle pits are considered “light cover”. Light cover gives some protection against rifle fire (plus two to the shooter’s die roll), but not against artillery fire.
- Movement and Firing clarification: The partial fire modifier applies to “all units” that move over half their movement allowance, not just infantry.
- Reduced fire beyond short range (optional rule): At beyond short range (3 inches), most units shot at a much lower rate of fire than they did when in the immediate presence of the enemy, in order to conserve ammunition. Therefore, at ranges of over 3 inches, all line infantry shoots with just one fire point per stand; Jägers and chasseurs shoot with two points. German stands still pick up an extra fire point at close range, reflecting their larger battalions and skill at close-range rapid firing.
- Tactical surprise for charging cavalry (add to 1870 rules): In some circumstances, cavalry approaching the flank or rear of an infantry or artillery unit can approach unseen – taking advantage of presumed dust, smoke, or terrain features – and charge unexpectedly on an unprepared unit. If a 9 or 0 is rolled for the cavalry charge bonus, the charging unit has achieved tactical surprise besides the extra distance it can travel. Being surprised prevents the defender from forming square or facing the attack, and adversely effects his morale (for being hit in the flank or rear). Surprised infantry lose their triple Combat Point bonus; surprised gunners disappear for the rest of the game. If the cavalry melees the infantry, the cavalry also gets an advantage for flank/rear attack.
- A “Furia” benefit is similarly conferred in the fast-play 1859 rules to charging infantry (see the fast-play 1859 QRS).
- Cavalry in melees with infantry was much too powerful, precipitating this addition to the melee modifiers: Minus TWO from Combat Point Total if cavalry vs steady infantry. Cavalry can still win a melee with infantry, but it’s harder!
- Tactical depth: In the Melee Modifiers, the modifier “For superior depth vs Infantry/Artillery” (which appears only on the 1870 Quick Reference Sheet) has been replaced with plain “For tactical depth” (basically the same thing as “superior depth”). If an infantry or cavalry stand has a support stand within a couple inches behind it, it has “tactical depth”, against any opponent. This is referred to as “supported line” in the fast-play rules.
- Phase II combat in towns: Town fighting tended to be more drawn-out than similar sized engagements in the open field, and usually involved fewer casualties. To reflect this, Phase II of melee combat in towns is deferred until the next turn, and is continued each turn until one side wins. Reinforcements can be fed into town fights during Phase II with a normal MOVE order, and added into the melee calculations.
- Both sides are disorganized following any melee, will check morale if necessary (e.g, if a stand was lost, etc.). The victor may add +2 to his morale rating for this check.
Reform order change: Originally, a unit had to reform in place — which often mean under the very noses of an enemy unit. Now, a disorganized or disarrayed unit can withdraw up to an inch with a REFORM chit, too. In woods, this little benefit will take the unit out of sight of the enemy, and thus out of shooting range. If his enemy doesn’t advance, the reforming unit will usually be safe from interference during his reform turn.
- Half-scale morale calculation: The original 1870 – vintage means of modifying unit morale – based on the infantry regiment or cavalry brigade as the “Core Morale Unit” – is still valid and can be used in larger scenarios in half-scale. For more granularity in smaller engagements, however, players are encouraged to adopt the infantry battalion, the cavalry regiment or the artillery “battalion” of 2-3 batteries as the Core Morale Unit, as became the norm in the 1859/64 and 1866 rules. The loss of Morale Points relative to Combat Points for these core morale units is the same as in the full-scale game – one Morale Point lost for every Combat Point lost.
- Morale is now required to be checked at each point loss for single stand units, in addition to the other six criteria listed in the 1870 rules. This is an oversight corrected; without it, individual or detached stands could lose all their combat points and never have to check their morale! The loss rate is still three Morale Points for each Combat Point lost in single stand units.
HALF – AND QUARTER-SCALE CRITERIA
- 1864 Austrian units: In the half-scale variant, Austrian infantry stands now are nominal “half-battalions”, with three Combat Points each rather than Divisions as in the 1864 rules; in quarter-scale, Austrian line infantry stands now are Divisions (three per battalion; four CPs each). Austrian Jäger battalions in each scale are the same, but with one more CP than the infantry stands, as usual.
- “Super-scale” variant: The morale calculation based on the half-scale criteria also works well for a “super-scale” variant for gamers who might want to fight large battles with fewer figures. The Core Morale Unit in this scale is the infantry regiment of two half-regiment stands, the cavalry brigade of three stands/regiments, and single stand double batteries. All the points per stand are unchanged. Infantry regiments and three-stand cavalry brigades still lose Morale to Combat Points on a 1:1 basis. Two-stand cavalry brigades (i.e. two regiments) and the single stand double batteries lose MPs to CPs on a basis of 2:1. “Divisional artillery” battalions of two stands would lose morale points on a basis of 1:1. Another suggestion would be to use four-stand infantry brigades as the infantry Core Morale Unit, which would also lose MPs at a rate of 1:1.
- Dumb Mistake: The scale distances were completely bollixed up in quarter-scale sections of both the 1859/64 and 1866 rules. In actuality, since the ground scale is halved in quarter scale, all the shooting ranges are double what they are on the full – and half scale Artillery and Rifle Hits tables. But because the turn length is halved, units still move the same number of inches each turn as in the larger scales. Sorry about the confusion!
And a general rule about original vs fast-play usage: For battles of a corps or two per side, the original 1870, 1859/64, and 1866 rules continue to work fine. But for larger battles – or if you’d like a quicker game — I recommend using the fast-play version of the rules. 1871 fast-play rules are complete in themselves, although they share much with the earlier rules of course. The streamlined fast-play rules play about twice a quickly as the original versions, however, and are generally more popular with gamers because of their greater simplicity and speed. Fast-play Quick Reference Sheets for 1859, 1864 and 1866 are available, along with a quickie explanation sheet, to enable gamers to easily convert to use the new, faster format.