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    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I have an idea for Regiment/divisoin level game where the smallest element is a company/battalion with each command having between 3-5 elements. The thing is I want each command to be unique, like each colonel/general having their own command style or bonuses.

    One idea is having a card with special abilities for each commander, examples;
    A commander known for his scouting and meticulus planning, exploiting the enemy’s weakness.
    Spend two turns out of combat and gain a +2 to next attack.

    Taskmaster, this commander is hard on his men. They fight hard but are often pushed to the limit.
    gain +1 in combat but -1 to all moral rolls.

    The commander is adept in Blitzkreig tactics.
    Tanks and motorized elements gain 1″ of movement.

    Have anyone or rules that had done this before? What about another way to implement this idea in a different way?

    Avatar photoNorm S

    re quite a lot of games that rate local and army commanders at the outset of play, often the leader falls into one of three categories such as Cautious, Average or Bold, or something based around assertiveness such as timid, average or aggressive. I have seen ancient and ACW games that have leadership differentiated by those that are natural militarists and those of a political background or appointment, so something like, Politician or  academy trained or Natural soldier / warrior / leader. Some rules talk about charisma is their ability to motivate others to follow. Recklessness is another useful label.

    The recent rules presented by Wargames Illustrated covers the Wars of the roses (never mind the Billhooks) and they have Dolt, Competent and Hero.

    In the end, these all do the same job of essentially ranking leader ability to get units to do things or to rally morale, with two extremes of average or competent identified. It seems the important thing is to use terminology that best represents the period or battle situation.

    A common system of randomness is a D6 per commander, with 1 being poor, 2 – 5 being average and 6 being good.

    Avatar photoChris Pringle

    Altar of Freedom does this for ACW generals, a higher level than you have in mind but with lots of ideas you could poach and adapt.


    Bloody Big BATTLES!


    BBB on FB


    Avatar photoAndrew Rolph

    My own ACW rules distinguish between bold and cautious colonels, all of them rated 0 (best) to 4 (worst). This has little effect as long as no troops (enemy or friendly) approach their regiment or as long as they are in command control (another PIP based subsystem).

    Should troops approach to a given distance and the regiment not be in command control then the regiment may react, regardless of the player’s wishes. I can’t remember the details but it’s sthg like 3+ on a D6 with one of two modifiers. Should they react then the player is constrained to have them do sthg according to a roll on a table. This is sthg like this for bold commanders

    6 – charge, 5 – advance 1 move, 4 – advance half move and fire, 3 – stand and fire, 2 – retire half a move facing the enemy and 1 – retreat one move

    For cautious commanders the numbers run the other way (so 6 is retreat, 5 retire etc)

    Roll 1D6 and add the colonel’s rating (0 to +4). The result is the minimum action the regiment must take. A roll of 3 for example with a level 2 bold colonel compels the unit to at least advance a move with the option to charge – the unit may not do less than advance. A cautious colonel would at least retire but the player could choose to retreat.

    This occurs regardless of whether the troops causing the reaction are friendly or not.

    The system requires command and control to be limited (say half to two thirds of the units being controlled at any one time) and can reproduce such events as

    units not reacting at all to any enemy advance; units running away from good positions upon sighting the enemy a way away; units abandoning good positions when sighting friendly units close by (their CiC, presumably, having failed to advise the relevant colonel of the proximity of friendlies i.e. he should have had them in command control) and, finally, charging or shooting at friends.

    At the time of writing the rules all these possibilities seemed to be a feature worth representing in the ACW.



    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    The classic WRG approach, similar to that outlined by Norm S, was to classify generals as bold, rash, or cautious, and dice for which class a general fell into the first time it was necessary to know. General’s personalities took effect entirely through the reaction test, with rash or bold generals favouring attacky results and cautious generals being more defencey. The thing I liked about the classification was that there was not a clear ranking of which type was better than any other; while bold was generally the best, rash and cautious both had their different uses. Having simple command modifiers, along the lines of AH’s “Squad Leader”, is all very well, but does not give the leaders any personality to speak of.

    I would quite like a scheme based on Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s observation that officers could be lazy or energetic, and clever or stupid. He famously used this to establish four categories of officers, of which only the energetic and stupid were useless. Add in a “neither” point on the scale in each of the two dimensions, and you have the possibility of nine different officer personalities, which seems plenty.

    What effects officer attributes have obviously depends on the mechanisms in use in the game, so it is impossible to make any specific recommendations without knowing how your intended game works, but I generally think it’s a bit daft to have officer personalities magically making troops move faster or shoot more accurately. Far better have their influcence in the areas of morale and command control, but it depends on having rules that reflect these.

    All the best,


    Avatar photogrizzlymc

    I do not often disagree with the salty one.  However, movement may not represent a simple paces per minute number.  A clever officer might give orders to units that have to move furthest first, giving the appearance of faster moving troops than the stupid officer who issues them in alphabetical order.



    Conversely, a cautious leader might move more slowly, but avoid an ambush.


    I think O Group has enough C3 in it to reflect other aspecs of these characteristics quite well.

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I remember reading some rules that handled it like that, agressiveness, etc, it seems a little generic. The lazy/energetic, cleaver/stupid matrix describe by John D Salt is a little more variable.


    Can you describe how the system in Alter of Freeedom works in general?


    This sounds similar to initiative move in Warmaster but compulsory if not in comand control?


    the thinking behind the +1 to combat power was charismatic leaders throughout history who sweettalked peasents into fight against trained armies effectively. As to the extra move distance, I took that from Hannibal crossing the Alps, and a few Nepoeonic battles, and Patton getting to the Battle of the Bulge.

    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    My current approach in my own ACW rules is to have commanders give die roll modifers to unit activation rolls.

    E.g. units need a 7+ on 2D6 to activate, but commanders can give a +0, +1, +2 on that die roll when in command range, also depending on type of activation (in my rules: fire, charge, move). A commander can have a M+1, F+0, C+1 profile. Or M+2, F+0, C+0 or something like that. Thus, some commanders favour movement and manoeuvre, some are better to give fire orders, some are bold and favour charge orders. I also have some commanders only give a bonus to infantry or cavalry units.

    At the start of the game, a player draws random commanders (I have a pile of 10 cards, see here: https://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/2020/09/acw-house-rules-commanders-and-random.html ), typically 3 or 4, and assigns them to each brigade (1 commander per brigade). The overall effect is that some brigades are better for manoeuvre, others are then better used as a “keep position and fire”, etc.

    When a brigade fails an activation, the brigade is done for the turn – but other brigades still can activate (cfr Black Powder and other similar systems). So, a brigade and its commander will on average have more activations if they do what the commander is good at. But they can still do all the other things as well, of course.

    Also, it doesn’t make sense to give commanders a – modifier. I rather keep the base number at 7+ , and work with positive modifiers on top of that. But you could do it by having – modifiers as well, of course, but then you’ll have players say ‘I’ll have the unit act on its own, they don;t need their lousy commander’ 😉

    I try to avoid having a system that requires a “memory”, e.g. “do this or that during 3 turns to get a bonus”. That requires bookkeeping over several turns, and I don’t like that.

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I like this approach. I agree about bookkeeping but I feel there needs to be some negative effect. I’ll probably tweak your system so commanders have some + and some – to their profiles. I want to use this for WWII combined arms and want some comanders to be better with infantry and some to be better with tanks, but that might be too many stats.

    Avatar photoAndrew Rolph


    I can’t speak to Warmaster – no experience of it. Is it the one from which Black Powder/Hail Caesar was derived? If so then, as I recall, the initiative move was more an opportunity response to a command control failure – sthg to get yourself out of a hole.

    The emphasis I was looking to achieve was pretty much the opposite – sthg to get you into a hole at least as often as it gets you out. So the CiC’s attention is elsewhere and a subordinate does sthg stupid to wreck the plan

    Any/all reaction is either prohibited (a failure on the first die roll) despite the fact that it may be an enemy unit coming into close range (which subsequently shoots large holes in you). Or a reaction (chosen from a baseline to increasingly rash/cautious, depending on the colonel) is compulsory – despite the fact that the approaching troops are friendly reinforcements, and it’s possible the CiC would prefer you not to fire a full volley at them or charge them.

    They’re amongst the first set of rules I wrote, about 30-35 years ago. I was always trying to wrest perfect control from the player.



    Avatar photoNick Riggs

    Does anyone know of any research as to how commanders have been assessed by their superiors? Are there grading systems or is it done on an ad hoc case-by-case basis?

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    “…a reaction (chosen from a baseline to increasingly rash/cautious, depending on the colonel) is compulsory – despite the fact that the approaching troops are friendly reinforcements…”
    Does this mean that a unit that fails command control roll has to react to anything in its zone of control?

    Avatar photoAndrew Rolph

    “…a reaction (chosen from a baseline to increasingly rash/cautious, depending on the colonel) is compulsory – despite the fact that the approaching troops are friendly reinforcements…” Does this mean that a unit that fails command control roll has to react to anything in its zone of control?

    Any unit which is not under command (by whatever sub-system the rules mandate – out of range; no command pips allocated; fails a die roll etc.) must roll to check if it reacts to any troops which approach within a rules specified distance of it (a zone of control, if you like). The unit will either pass or fail that roll. If it fails it will do nothing for the remainder of the turn – even if shot at by the unit which caused it to test its reaction.

    If it passes, it rolls a second die and adds the colonel’s rating. The resultant modified die roll is the least aggressive thing a bold colonel’s regiment will do (so a modified roll of 3 compels the regiment to stand and fire, advance and fire, advance or charge – player’s choice). The roll represents the most aggressive thing a cautious colonel’s unit will do – because the numbers run the other way. A 3 would compel a cautious colonel’s unit to advance and fire, stand and fire, withdraw or retreat (see tables in my original message).

    There are other bits (poorer colonels require greater effort on the CiC’s behalf to put them under command; artillery batteries are always cautious; once shot at, a unit not under command is more likely to react; units not under command can move but not enter other units’ zones of control; units react to the closest of multiple units in their zones etc.) but that’s a broad outline of how it works.




    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I think I kind of get it, or at least I’m making up my own understanding of it.
    Sounds liket he reverse of most rules where units check to act, in this case it tries not to react.

    Avatar photoChris Pringle

    <a class=”bbp-user-mention bbp-user-id-4477″ title=”

    ” href=”https://www.thewargameswebsite.com/forums/users/chris/”>@Chris Can you describe how the system in Alter of Freeedom works in general?

    It has a tempo/initiative bidding system to determine which formations move when, and a number of the generals’ Personality Traits relate to Priority Points for this (how many they  get, how they can be used etc).

    But there are more generic and more readily adoptable ones too, eg:

    DOUR: respected but not inspiring – cannot assist rally rolls

    GRANDIOSE: loves to concoct complex schemes. Usually these don’t come off, but occasionally they do. Roll D6 each turn: 1-5 he loses an action, 6 he gains an extra action.

    INEPT: cannot coordinate his units = no combined attacks

    SLOPPY STAFF WORK: each turn, at least one of his formations has Priority Points 0 [ie won’t get to move]

    UNFLAPPABLE: once per turn, a unit within range of this general may reroll a D6 result.

    You get the idea – a bit more imaginative and nuanced than the obvious +1/-1 on move/fire etc.


    Avatar photoDeleted User

    You’re right, Alter of Freedom looks interesting. I definitely opened a can of worms here, so many ideas but I can’t use them all.

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