by Vincent HOLUB
In TLNB there are three types of leaders:
The commanders, officers, and a blend, officer-commanders. Through their historical command value or the autonomy they had during the battle, they need no order or initiative die roll to act.
This is how TLNB simulates the constraints for a unit to receive orders before taking action. It works, it is simple and intuitive.
However, I miss the differentiation of leadership levels missing in smaller engagements. I think the presence of a commander and an officer could create advantages in small battles. At Vimeiro TLNB chose to use two commanding officers. We could, for example, add several divisional generals as officers, like the British Army at Waterloo.
1) Wellesley and Junot retain their command rating because they can command all of their units.
- a) By simply adding the two divisional officers only to Wellesley, he extends his line of command, which greatly enhances the value of the British Army.
- b) Even better, if we also add the 4 divisional officers to Junot and if the two commanders have a two-point command capability, Wellesley can still command his entire army but Junot cannot.
2) The limit imposed by the command range of the single commander officer limits maneuvers. The player prefers to keep these units under order.
3) Adding officers to the game allows armies to perform more coordinated movements (As a division moves away from the commander, it is the division officer who passes the order check, not each unit, which allows overflow movements. Otherwise it's too risky)
4) Junot's army comes into play with well-grouped divisions (AtB) but at the start of the battle (DoB) the placement shows that he has not kept the divisional order. The presence of the officers would show this command error (I don't know, but this might be one of the reasons for its failure).
TLNB rules provide the March Order, to allow troops to move over multiple game turns out of command, but three simple House Rules offer improvements:
- Once arrived at a destination, the leader allows more coherent action.
- Similarly, if the arrival of the enemy interferes, the presence of a leader can help to adapt.
- During March Order movement the situation may have changed a lot or there may be opportunities. The presence of a leader allows a test of his initiative.
The leaders have a very important part in the interest and the mechanics of the game whatever the scale of the battle. If you play Wagram, using officers to represent army corps commanders, matches the spirit of the game. If you play Espinosa, putting divisional generals under each corps commander allows the full use of the rule and makes things more interesting. Blake and Victor would not be all-powerful. This brings more uncertainty to the game, same observation of the battle of the Coruna. This amounts to adapting the level of commands to the scale of the game.
In some cases it might even be appropriate to have officers at different levels of responsibility.
In the campaign around Ulm, Napoleon is the commander and the corps chiefs are the officers. But Murat's cavalry divisions do not act as a whole, they were detached and we find them scattered around the map. I think those of Klein and Baraguey D’Hilliers would deserve to have a divisional because it is independent formations.
Also in this campaign, for Haslach, the creators needed a special rule to simulate the action of General Dupont (divisional). Rather than creating a special rule, having a counter representing Dupont would be a better solution in my opinion. The general Dupont counter is used to create a command range. Units would have to stay within this range to be under order. The Austrian attacks would thus have the possibility of being able to break the cohesion of Dupont's division. There would be the risk of seeing General Dupont being wounded or captured. I hope that one day the authors will come up with this counter.
Here we seek to represent the cohesion of a group which must act independently of its original formation while retaining aspects of the rule of the game.
To end with a last more subjective argument, the lower-echelon chiefs make it possible to customize the game by giving a face to the maneuvers and actions, and I personally like that.
Be careful; command is only one component of the game. The designer has other constraints that force him to make choices, and if an army is very efficient, it wouldn’t be true to the Napoleonic era. At that point, you could just remove all command constraints and have a regular wargame!