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"General d' Armee rules - historical OB's vs ADC allotment" Topic


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CATenWolde02 Aug 2017 1:44 a.m. PST

I've been reading through the GdA rules and have found a lot to like, with the use of ADC's as a sort of hybrid command point / order system being very interesting. It's obviously meant to be a core element of the game, but when I started to puzzle through its application to actual historical OB's I was confused by the examples in the rules. So, the following should be taken as a request for clarification on perspective and intent rather than a nitpicky criticism. ;)

In the core rules, a commander receives a number of ADC's equal to the number of brigades he controls, modified by +1 or -1 only if they are truly great or truly terrible commanders, but also receiving +1 per "double 6" rolled when the ADC pool is activated for the turn (you roll 1d6 per ADC, with a 1-2 meaning he is unavailable for use for that turn).

Now, when you actually get to assigning your ADC's to their tasks with individual brigades, the trick is that there are several tasks that require two ADC's, several nice combinations where it would be great to assign three ADC's doing different things, and even one powerful task (Take Command!) that requires three ADC's on its own.

So … a commander is better off commanding more brigades, as it gives him a greater pool to roll for, thus increasing his number of likely received ADC's each turn, and also greatly increases his chances of getting a bonus ADC with a double 6, and also makes it possible to use some of the 2-3 ADC combinations.

However … the great majority of Napoleonic divisions consisted of two brigades. Divisions with three brigades were not unknown, but were an exception. Divisions with more than three brigades hearken back to the ancien regime use of clumsy "columns", which the Napoleonic C&C system was meant to replace.

But … checking the example OB's in the rules, it appears that they are actually corps, with the CiC being a corp commander, but with the individual brigades portrayed but the division generals completely absent. This is where I started to get confused, so I checked the Optional Rules, which somewhat confusingly have rules for Corps Commanders, although it seems the basic game places the CiC in that role, even though they are described as division commanders …

And … as I said, I would just like some clarification on the designed perspective of the game. If I play a game with a typical corps (two divisions of two brigades each, perhaps with a third division of three brigades, and an independent brigade of cavalry), was the game designed to have that be a single command of 5-8 brigades, or was it meant to use the full optional system with corps/division generals?

My actual thinking is that the optional rules for corps commanders (who have a larger pool of ADC's to distribute) would make good rules for a typical historical division commander, commanding only two brigades but being active in their battlefield role – as opposed to the corps commander who is more likely to stay out of the fray.

Thanks in advance for any positive discussion!

Cheers,

Christopher

advocate02 Aug 2017 3:45 a.m. PST

Maybe best asking here:
link

stecal02 Aug 2017 6:49 a.m. PST

I like the rules, but I have had much the same thoughts. " Where are my division commanders?"

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 7:38 a.m. PST

I have seen many reports on the the utility of GdeA and virtually all of them are postive. However, Like you, I have reservations about the corps/divsional/brigade command relationships. I think the intent was to create a fast play version of a divsional rules/general de Brigade based upon the success of "Pickett's Charge".

IMO, the use of ADC's is a bit gamey and somewhat unrealistic. However, I readily understand how gmaers would like this as it does speed up the comand and control aspect of the game. I will stick to General de Brigade, which is a good balance between fast play and tactical reaslism…leaning towards the realism.

As advocate states you really should pose this question on the forum where there are many regular contributors that will provide useful discussion.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

Considering the actual number of ADCs and staff allotted to a brigade and/or division of any nation, even granting that any officer could in a pinch be sent, there is no real relationship between the number of ADCs in GdeA and Napoleonic staff.

They are more representative than actual, which doesn't help in determining the numbers to be allotted in in a historical battle scenario, so the website for the game would be the best place to ask.

Having said that, some of the things that ADCs are tasked with does take me back a bit. The need for an ADC to deploy skirmishers for instance.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Well, I'm not usually useful (see below for confirmation) but I really liked the staff officer rules in Pickett's Charge (I've read the GdA rules but haven't played them yet). In the Pickett's Charge games we have played it added some uncertainty and made you think about resource allocation all without a mound of paperwork and the resultant headache.

I like the concept of staff and staff officers but I definitely don't want to be one. Is it a bit gamey? Probably and certainly abstract but its quick and fun and makes the gamer think about these things without adding tedious complication.

Spooner602 Aug 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

I have played these rules a several times now. All our games have roughly a corp a side and we don't represent the Division Commanders. I have not heard anyone who has played with us comment on the lack of a divisional commander. Heck I think Corp Command stands are not even needed as I don't recall placing them on the table, or if we did it was decoration. The rules are simple enough that you could tweak them. For example only commands within 18" of a Division commander can be assigned ADC's.

Regarding the "more commands = improved command" based on the number of ADC's you get. I actually disagree. Yes more commands = more ADC roles but you never have enough and if you spend them on special commands (anything other than a the re-roll) you will generate a lot of hesitant commands which do nothing and cost you in the initiative phase. So I think it is a slippery slope. Our last game we actually spend 5 ADCs to give the Commanded and GLory order to a Infantry Brigade charge. Sadly one battalion got repulsed and the second drove off the enemy only to be surrounded the next turn and forced to fall back.

These rules are not perfect but for what they are trying to do I really like them. The command rules will break down in very small or very large games, but then again if we are going to run a game with 4 corp a side maybe these rules are not the right "level".

Chris

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 1:24 p.m. PST

"…and made you think about resource allocation"

The problem with this concept, on the battlefield, is wasn't a command concern. Juggling available staff on the battlefield was not how division and corps commanders spent their time, constantly repeat the task over an hour's time [or any length of time for that matter.] It *might* be a passing issue once in a very long while.

Here is Marmont describing the place and work of commanders at various levels in his study Modern Armies. Staff "resource allocation" isn't a major issue on the battlefield, certainly not one worth mentioning in the work of the commander.

In all grades of military hierarchy, it is by placing a commander in communication with a small number of immediate subordinates that the exercise of authority is facilitated.

i.e. Smaller is better for communication: that is why you see all levels of command dealing with no more than six to eight immediate subordinates in the French army. He goes on to write: [my insertions]

The organization which I have described is suited for the existing armies; it is the necessary consequence of the nature of the arms and of the mode in which war is now made; and the fractional parts into which the army is divided are designed to facilitate the exercise of the command. But there are various kinds of command, and they change their character according to the number of soldiers.

[A Division] If a General fights with 10,000 men, he ought to be in the midst of his troops, and often exposed to the fire of small arms.

[A Corps] If a General is in command of 30,000 men, he directs the movements of his troops and reserves, and though he is usually, except in extraordinary cases, beyond the range of musketry, he must be constantly within that of cannon, and he must remain within the space where the balls fall.

Several Napoleonic generals and even ACW Generals like Longstreet reported that a Corps commander had little to do once troops were set in motion other than decision when and where to commit the reserves and rally troops.

[An Army] If a General directs 80,000 or 100,000 men, he fixes the plan, and gives his orders before the battle; sets the troops in movement, and awaits the issue of events in a central position. During the action he becomes a kind of providence: he is ready with instructions for unforeseen cases, and he provides remedies for great accidents.

He ought to expose himself before the battle, in order to see for himself, and to judge with precision of the state of things; having fulfilled these duties, he gives his orders, and lets each play the part assigned to him. If things go well, he has nothing else to do; if accidents occur, he should meet them by combinations within his power; if things go very badly, and a catastrophe is imminent, he should place himself at the head of the last troops that he launches against the enemy, and his presence at that momentous period, will give them an impulse and produce a moral effect that will double their value. [Italics mine]

It was after this fashion that Napoleon commanded.

The ADC mechanics have a number of great things about them concerning 'realism', but the command task of constantly allocating staff resources [in any form] wasn't one of them.

Northern Monkey02 Aug 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

The ADCs are an abstract whch neatly represents where a commander is putting his own influence. It doesn't actually represent ADCs.

Some people are far too literal.

Markconz02 Aug 2017 3:32 p.m. PST

Agreed, was about to post the same as Monkey. I understand ADC's to be an abstraction to represent command influence in the game.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 7:33 p.m. PST

Northern Monkey wrote:
The ADCs are an abstract which neatly represents where a commander is putting his own influence.

Markconz wrote:

Agreed, was about to post the same as Monkey. I understand ADC's to be an abstraction to represent command influence in the game.

Guys:

I'd be interesting in what you see as that "influence" and how that is represented by the ADC mechanism? And no, that is neither sarcastic or preparation for an argument. What do you see as constituting that influence outside of the CinC's personal presence and/or an ADC/courier?

advocate03 Aug 2017 12:34 a.m. PST

Guys, on the link posted above, you could ask the author these very pertinent questions!

CATenWolde03 Aug 2017 12:50 a.m. PST

I'll cross-post my original post there, thanks.

Just to be clear … since we may be wandering off a bit into the TMP woods ;) … I wasn't asking so much about the workings and role of the ADC system in the rules, as the level of command that was represented as organizing and implementing it.

Put another way, given the guidelines in the rules, there is no difference between:

1. A clumsy ancien regime "column" of 5 different brigades, all commanded by one person, which was considered extremely unwieldy and difficult to control.

2. A typical "modern" corps of 5 brigades, divided into two divisions of two brigades each and an independent cavalry brigade. The game guidelines appear to suggest representing this without the vital layer of the division commanders, in order to achieve a workable number of ADC's under one commander.

Adding to the confusion is that the core rules for "divisional" CiC's and the optional rules for "corps" CiC's appear to reverse their roles, with the Corps commanders providing more ADC's and thus being more active front line combat managers.

Cheers,

Christopher

Trajanus03 Aug 2017 3:32 a.m. PST

Gamers being Gamers, there has already been some discussion on the Too Fat Lardies forum of players using as many Brigades as they can squeeze out of an agreed number of points in games they have elected to play in that manner.

I think that is a statement on how some see the use of ADCs by bumping up their numbers to give themselves the edge. However, as this whole gaming style is an anathema as far as I'm concerned I'll restrict my comment to the obvious that, the more you have the more you can do.

We have played some Peninsular games base on historical Divisions where the French have had two big Brigades and the Allies (British and Portuguese) three smaller ones. A common occurrence in Spain.

The French have suffered through a lack of flexibility and the Allies through opposing weight of numbers.

Its also worth mentioning that ACD supplied re-rolls not withstanding, one bad Activation dice roll out of two, can see half a the French force on the table not moving forward that turn.

Using the same organisational format we have also allowed the French the additional ADC from the Optional Rules and that has improved matters. That said, ADCs still have to turn up on their dice roll.

We have also played a Corps level game of French v Russians using the Corps provisions in the Rules and this gave a much better game altogether, both in scope and game play. A lot of this was down to the additional ADCs provided by the Corps command structure and there being more Brigades on table which allowed more tactical options – not just the ADCs they added to the pool.

We have never found the ADC mechanism an encumbrance when playing "Pickets Charge" but we always use three Brigade Divisions, as there tended to me more of those in the ACW.

Between the two sets, the Napolonic rules have only two more ADC Tasks available than the ACW 12 -10, both of the extras require only a single ADC.

Overall, we have found that bigger equals better when it comes to game size. I'm still not totally sure if this is down to the ADCs, or the feeling I have had for a long time that Napoleonic games where the player is a notional Divisional Commander don't really work.

As Chris pointed out there is a little bit of a mixed message on who the player is supposed to be on the Divisional Corps axis. Division? Large Division? Two Divisions? (Isn't that a Corps?).This is added to by the force examples in the rules, where the constituents are certainly not a Division!

However, played as a Corps game the rules do deliver!

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 3:59 a.m. PST

Well stated Trajanus!

CATenwolde, if you don't mind sharing, I would be interested in the responses that you receive from TFL forum.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

1. A clumsy ancien regime "column" of 5 different brigades, all commanded by one person, which was considered extremely unwieldy and difficult to control.

CATenWolde:
I read Dave Brown's response on the TFL site. I am not sure he addressed the above observation. A column of five brigades would only be clumsy if there wasn't a command structure in place… and its clumsiness would be then controlled entirely by regulation…which makes it clumsy in its rigid movement [follow the leader] and deployment, one or two regulating units for the all five brigades. So, I would *think* that fewer ADCs would be called for in this situation Regardless of the skill level of the CinC.

2. A typical "modern" corps of 5 brigades, divided into two divisions of two brigades each and an independent cavalry brigade. The game guidelines appear to suggest representing this without the vital layer of the division commanders, in order to achieve a workable number of ADC's under one commander.

That does bring up the question of what the ADC mechanism actually represents. Another question for Dave Brown.

Adding to the confusion is that the core rules for "divisional" CiC's and the optional rules for "corps" CiC's appear to reverse their roles, with the Corps commanders providing more ADC's and thus being more active front line combat managers.

This is far more 'realistic' [or at least closer to the actual use of ADCs at the Corps level] than the divisional commanders' use of ADCs in the rules. For instance, a British Divisional commander was allotted ONE ADC and the French maybe two. They did not command through ADCs for the most part and a good deal of the ADC's job was simply running reports when necessary to the Corps CinC.

Markconz03 Aug 2017 4:54 p.m. PST

"I'd be interesting in what you see as that "influence" and how that is represented by the ADC mechanism? And no, that is neither sarcastic or preparation for an argument. What do you see as constituting that influence outside of the CinC's personal presence and/or an ADC/courier?"

I think it's a reasonable question. I just take it as a Napoleonic flavoured abstraction of the entire command chain (Corp Commander down, including ADC's, Division commanders, Brigadiers, Colonels etc), rather than getting too specific. The most important being that there is a playable friction system so your troops don't always do what you want them to do, that can be easily modified to account for good/poor commanders/command structures.

Regarding Corp commanders not having much to do once troops were set in motion beyond committing reserves, I note there isn't much to do once a Brigade is on Infantry Assault orders, which remain in play (except "sending an ADC" to tell them to hurry up perhaps. i.e. reducing chance of hesitant result slowing the assault).

CATenWolde04 Aug 2017 2:09 a.m. PST

You can see the author's thoughtful reply here:
link

The most pertinent bit is at the end:

(start quote)
"The rules introduction states that the game is designed for a large division, two divisions or even a corps level wargame. So who commands? Well a large division is easily and sits with that divisional commander, (the C-in-C). A two divisional game would simply see the more senior divisional commander take command or the corps commander, it really doesn't matter. (I know the command you field is called the "Division" in the game when it can in fact be two or more but that is just for simplicities sake. I'm trying to use the military phraseology of the period rather than words such as "force" or "wargames army", that doesn't sit right, with me at any rate.) Stepping up a multi-divisional game would have a corps commander (or wing commander) commanding your various C-in-C's. At this level I don't see Divisional commanders as left out but simply subsumed into your senior command officer, again to avoid numerous command levels that probably/may have had limited impact in reality but would certainly add more rules and more complication to the game, that was designed to go the other way! And would corps commanders stay out of the fray? I'm not so sure….Marshal Ney might well disagree!"
(end quote)

As I remarked in my reply there, my view on this approach is that the higher levels of on-table command – and their modifiers to the number of ADC's – appear to have been meant to subsume and reflect the number and quality of intermediate (e.g. division) commanders.

So, in essence, the "ADC's" are an abstract measure of the system of on-table command efficiency. I think it's wrong to focus on the fact they are called ADC's – it is simply an anthropomorphication of "Command Points".

I've seen people remark that the actual CiC figure won't move in GdA games, or that people even dispense with them. This now makes sense in light of the above, as the "ADC's" moving about represent what we usually move generals to do.

Taken in this light, the system seems like it has some real potential to model different levels and efficiencies of front line command, which could be tweaked in various ways to reflect various attributes of historical OB's in a simplified or abstract manner.

Khusrau04 Aug 2017 5:28 a.m. PST

I think one of the challenges is that in reality, a Corps Commander had little to actually do on the battlefield other than order in the reserve. Mhich might make for realism, but makes for a very bad game.

If you simply accept it as a concrete way (without a substantial admin overhead) to represent the concept of Clausewitzian 'Friction' it makes perfect sense.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 7:08 a.m. PST

Markconz:
Thank you for the reply. It looks like, from Dave Brown's and CATenWolde's comments, that your view of the ADC mechanism is much like his.

So, in essence, the "ADC's" are an abstract measure of the system of on-table command efficiency. I think it's wrong to focus on the fact they are called ADC's it is simply an anthropomorphication of "Command Points".

CATenWolde:
If I was pointing out that the ADCs in GdA didn't represent actual ADCs, your point and Khusrau's is one that I was simply getting to by noting what the ADC mechanism wasn't. The question is what elements create or inhibit 'command efficiency' on the Napoleonic battlefield? It isn't just the battlefield friction, but what a commander can do about it. Clausewitz not only discusses 'friction' but also what armies do and can do about it--in other words he spends a lot of ink on discussing 'command efficiency.'

I've seen people remark that the actual CiC figure won't move in GdA games, or that people even dispense with them. This now makes sense in light of the above, as the "ADC's" moving about represent what we usually move generals to do.

The question is what generals and staff actually did in moving and commanding during a battle--the how, where, when and what. Even abstractly, any mechanisms *should* provide the players with the same challenges and decision-making ability.

[*Should* only applying if that was the designer's intent in the first place.]

These are pertinent questions when discussing how many ADCs *should* be allotted to different commands and different nations' armies.

Trajanus04 Aug 2017 8:27 a.m. PST

So, in essence, the "ADC's" are an abstract measure of the system of on-table command efficiency. I think it's wrong to focus on the fact they are called ADC's it is simply an anthropomorphication of "Command Points".

Yeah that old anthropomorphization will get you every time! :o)

Indeed that's what it is. Just a bit more Military sounding than Command Points or PIPs. Not real people, although actual ADCs or Staff Officers (Picketts Charge version) may have had a part to play in some aspect of command ability. Representing numbers of points by individual figures on the table looks better but it can confuse whats being represented.

Like Command Points, the system also stands in for rationing of time and execution of decisions, in place of detailed rules that might be there, if a ground scale and a linked time scale were present.

Authors are fond of terms. Who can forget the "Telescoping Time Concept" from Empire, which when boiled down was just an elaboration of doing double or triple moves to speed up the approach phase of the game and get on with combat!

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

Command Resource Allocation Points.

What ever they are called, I like them and it makes the game more fun for me. YMMV of course.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 9:03 a.m. PST

What ever they are called, I like them and it makes the game more fun for me. YMMV of course.</q.

They do make for a set of interesting decisions.

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