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"Grand Tactical rules with "positive" activation of units." Topic

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GeneralWAnders28 Aug 2018 10:03 p.m. PST

I'm looking to get into the pre-1900 era, and I think Napoleonic times is my goal. I like the idea of hordes of 6mm figures on a smaller table, so games that cater to a smaller scale are enjoyed.

I've got Polemos, but I'm currently slogging through understanding the rules and want to see what else is out there.

I'll explain what I mean by positive activation. As a general rule games the aren't IGOUGO have you either activate units randomly, roll to see if a unit does what you want it to do (negative), or roll for a pool of points that you can distribute to activate your forces (positive). With negative activation (Black Powder, for instance) you have the possibility of your entire army freezing in place for a turn due to terrible dice rolls. While that is definitely accurate to real-world combat, when playing a game it's beyond frustrating for me. Polemos is a good example of the opposite. You're restricted by how many tempo points you roll, but those are fully in your control.

I was wondering if there were other grand tactical rule systems that had a similar method of activating units.

imrael28 Aug 2018 10:45 p.m. PST

Does dbn do that? DBx stream games arent my favourite as it goes, but it might suit your needs.

Personal logo PzGeneral Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2018 2:57 a.m. PST

I just discovered All the King's Men. It's available on Wargame Vault for free. Has both card activation system and Command Points.

You've have to make some modifications for the size of the game. It was written for single based 54mm. I've done it for my 10mm Napoleonics, based 4 stands to a Regiment.

Easy to do, I have a QRS that is going on just 2 pages….

GatorDave Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2018 4:03 a.m. PST

Blucher uses MO's which are very similar to activation points. You receive a random number each turn that only your opponent knows. You move groups of units (Corps, Divisions or individual units) until your opponent tells you that you have used all your MO's.

You get to prioritize what movements are critical but usually you don't have enough MO's to do everything you want to do each turn. Fun game!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Aug 2018 4:23 a.m. PST

Grande Armee gives you command points each turn. It is somewhat variable turn to turn. The real trick is you don't know how long a turn lasts. Each turn is made up of move/fight steps called "pulses." Turns last from 1-6 pulses. But you only get command points each TURN. So, spend them all in pulses 1-2 and hope the turn ends? Ration them for pulses 3 and 4 (IF you get them).

Units you don't assign points to are rolled for. Beat the commander's initiative rating and they move. BUT some times they act unreliably and sit still or go over to teh attack.

You might also check out my other rules summaries here:


marshalGreg29 Aug 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

Best look at ESR ( Es San Resutant)
Moves are simultaneous, except special conditions created by status or orders- removes the "random initiative" procedure that trys to create Friction to the GTs

GeneralWAnders29 Aug 2018 8:11 a.m. PST

Extra Crispy, thanks for that link! A large list of rules summaries is exactly what I needed.

I'll also take a look at the mentioned games. MY biggest beef with Polemos is its army generation. If I stick with it I'll probably make bases with a magnetic back and metal pips to mark the rating, SK, and weapon type.

Rich Bliss29 Aug 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

And of course, Volley and Bayonet doesn't have unit activation at all.

Glenn Pearce31 Aug 2018 6:42 a.m. PST

Hello GeneralWAnders!

One of the many reasons that attracted me to Napoleonic Polemos was it's cleverly designed positive activation system (tempo). It was ahead of it's time when I first saw it almost 20 years ago and I'm still not aware of any subsequent rule system that does a better job. So if you do find one please let me know what it is.

I understand that the army generation system is simply for quick pick up games as some players needed that. Most of the players that I know of never use it, including myself as the more common use for the rules is for historical games. Anyway if you do have any questions regarding the army generator I would be glad to try and help you.

You don't really need to use a magnetic strip to sort out a units SK rating etc. Once you produce an order of battle for the game all the details are on there. The actual uniforms and the group commander will allow you to locate the units on the table. I do put magnetic strips on my commanders which allows me to interchange their names and ratings for every game. I produce two copies of the order of battle and use one copy to cut out the names. I then hold them in place with coloured magnets that reflect the rating of the commander. Red for Decisive, Yellow for Capable and Green for Plodding. I've got 50,000 figures for various periods and none of the units have any labels.

Hope this helps you out in some way.

Best regards,


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