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"Quarrie to General de Brigade Conversion Kit" Topic

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yarkshire gamer12 Oct 2018 9:32 a.m. PST




Something I have been threatening for a while, my rules for adding in National Characteristics to General de Brigade.

Now I know that National Characteristics aren't everyones cup of tea and I am quite happy that they are a throwback to the nostalgia of my early gaming days in the 1980s rather than having a basis in hard historical fact, but I like them.

So this is my Conversion Kit, it isn't a stand alone set of rules, you need GdeB as well, a good knowledge of Quarrie would be a benefit.

If you are of a certain age and fancy some NCs back in your life this could be for you.

Comments and playtests most welcome.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 9:54 a.m. PST

What a superb trip down memory lane that is. For me too Bruce Quarrie's Airfix rule book was the portal into this fabulous age and hobby. Granted his commentary was better than the rules, but when we had nothing else the rules were great.
I too have an impractical soft spot for national characteristics (provided Poles do well). Love the project and will try them out
It immediately begs the question: how might NCs apply to the other recent rule sets of note – General d'Armee and Over the Hills?

Thanks for posting and good luck with any further tinkering you might indulge in.

Monkey Hanger Fezian12 Oct 2018 10:13 a.m. PST

As a participant in this game the system works well and gives lots of fun (unless you are a Spanish commander ;-))

John Edmundson12 Oct 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

I too had my first introduction to 'real wargaming' via Bruce Quarrie's Airfix book. I know there are widely divergent opinions over the use of NCs. Personally, I think they're covered well enough most of the time through standard rules, where troops are rated with generic categories for veteran etc.

I had a lot of fun playing Quarrie while our armies were French and British. Once we started to branch out, the rules started to reveal their problems. My brother was OK, he went for Russians. I opted for Austrians and a friend of ours experimented with Prussians. Suddenly, my friend and I could not win a game without huge numerical advantage. This just doesn't represent the reality of the wars, especially at the scale of Quarrie's rules. Austrians and Prussians fought well in smaller encounters – think of Yorck's rearguard after Jena for example. Gospic (1809) could not deliver an historical result with Quarrie's rules rating the Austrians worse than the French in every respect. Could The Archduke Karl have defeated French armies in Italy or at Aspern-Essling if the Austrians moved at 2/3 the speed of French, shot worse, fought hand to hand worse, had worse morale and discipline? Could Arch Duke Johan have defeated the Franco-Italians at Sacille if it took them so long to do anything that you had to predict a few moves in advance if you'd need to be in a square? If they were really that bad, then Napoleon would never have uttered his "You were not at Wagram" comment.

I know Quarrie eventually took the best of pre-1808 and post-1808 and used those for his "Napoleon's Campaigns in Miniature" but not because he thought it more realistic; simply because he felt that everyone was doing that anyway. That made the troops other than French and most allies), British and Russians more viable, but in the end still, I think it was Quarrie's own prejudices, and the fact that the hobby had not yet developed such elegant command and control mechanisms that determined his NCs.

The weakness was not with the troops themselves but with the efficiency with which orders were delivered and acted on by subordinates and individual formations. Systems like the DBx pip system, allocation of ADCs per general, and other such mechanisms are a much better way of reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of the various armies of the time, rather than NCs.

Having said all that, this post does remind me of the fun I once had playing Quarries's rules and reminds me too that someone posted here a few months back about having dug out their NCIM rules and played a game. I must pull out my copy too (my Airfix Napoleonic Wargaming has long since disintegrated) when I've painted some French to fight my Austrians (but maybe a few less French than Austrians . . .)


JCBJCB Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 6:55 p.m. PST

Agreed with "Let's Party." A marvelous trip down the Quarrie lane. Thank you!

yarkshire gamer12 Oct 2018 8:30 p.m. PST

Cheers everyone, glad to see the post has lit the Quarrie light in some of you.

It wasn't really about having NC or not but more having a starting point of lets have NCs how can we do it. What it does show is how great a conversation piece they can be, an old gaming chum has already been in contact complaining about a certain units fire factor, love it, they get people talking.

NCs for me will always give life and a seperate identify to units (you can argue all day about how accurately, or lobby to change factors) other than a plus one for British firing (and some moan about that) most other rules just have a homogeneous block known as Infantry which bores me something rotten.

Viva La National Characteristics !

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

seneffe13 Oct 2018 3:07 p.m. PST

In the early 1980s Peter Gilder elegantly leapfrogged the Bruce Quarrie concept to produce the origin (IMO) of all of the national variations to be found in 21st century rules.

He just divided 'line' troops up into three categories- 2nd class line, 1st class line, and veteran.

Varying/restricting the proportion of each type in a given army created a much more fit for purpose representation of national characteristics- eg 1805 French Grande Armee at Austerlitz have a much higher proportion of veterans than their Austrian counterparts- whilst still allowing for the fact that some Austrian line units could be the equal or superior of some less well trained French troops.

For me the problem with Quarrie style national characteristics is that is robs a system of all the richness of quality variation WITHIN an army.

Oh- and not quite national characteristics but another pet Quarrie bugbear of mine- automatically giving British Dragoon Guards a higher combat value than British Dragoons- either because the former were Regiments of Horse many years previously, or maybe just because they had the word 'Guards' in their name- has always been laughable.

yarkshire gamer14 Oct 2018 12:07 a.m. PST

It's a horses for courses approach, I don't like the generic method of lumping all nations into one class of troop.

I also think the opposite NCs give all the richness to an Army, without them everything is one big homogenous mass.

Not too much of an argument 're the Dragoons as the name change was all to do with a pay dispute.

The post as described earlier is about using NC not about wether to.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

seneffe15 Oct 2018 2:08 p.m. PST

We can obviously agree to differ, but I don't think it's really about lumping all nations into one class of troop- it's lumping them into three or more classes in varying proportions depending on time and place.

For me, I don't like the generic approach of lumping all of a nation's forces together into one single set of quality factors trying to cover 15-20 years of conflict and force change in different theatres and circumstances.

Could the Marie Louises of 1814 move, change formation, fire and repel cavalry as effectively as the regiments of Davout's Corps in 1806? Did the French infantry stand in the same quality relation to their main counterparts in those two conflicts? The French troops in those two periods were very different in training, experience, morale etc, so why give them all exactly the same factors just because they are both French? Just to take one rhetorical example….

One could ask- does 2, 3 or 4 quality levels per major troop type give enough richness to an army either? Maybe not- but it's got to be better than just one- and you can use the proportions of each category as the variation between opposing armies and over time.

As you rightly say though- horses for courses.

Stoppage15 Oct 2018 5:51 p.m. PST

I've been toying with using cards to distribute eliteness according to Power Law.

So you'd have one card (Ace) which is the absolute best, then two cards (King) that were next and then four cards (Queen) that were next down, etc, etc.

Obviously the French always get to pick first!

yarkshire gamer15 Oct 2018 11:49 p.m. PST

Seneffe, if you read my blog post, that's exactly what I am saying.

The NC tables are a basis on which to begin rather than being set in stone, I even mention the Marie Louise in the post too. The same argument in reverse would work for early Prussians vs late.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP16 Oct 2018 3:17 a.m. PST

The British are always +3 and the French +2. That is the way these games are supposed to be.

seneffe16 Oct 2018 2:42 p.m. PST

No, I did read your blog post.
You do seem to be quite in favour of Quarrie style national characteristics in it and indeed in your posts above- 'Vive La National Characteristics' whether or not they are just a basis.

I still think all that tinkering about on the margins as to whether a French Grenadier can move 18 up a road but a Voltiguer can only move 17, or an Austrian Grenadier move 16 is a complete blind alley- totally irrelevant to what actually differentiated armies from each other.

But it's your game-so enjoy!

yarkshire gamer17 Oct 2018 9:23 a.m. PST


No problems, writing and spending all the time researching the article would correlate with me being in favour of NC.

As I explained in the post itself it is a nostalgic harp back to when I began gaming and nothing more, something for those of us in our 50s plus to use from our era of gaming when everything wasn't decided by rolling a bucket of d6.

It may seem like tinkering too you and as I say in the blog post It's not for everyone.

What Quarrie was doing was trying to differentiate between the ability of different Nations to deploy and get into action sooner, they did act in different ways for different reasons. It is ONE way of trying to recreate that, other rule sets use Command and Control based mechanics to achieve the same effect, a French Army having more move cards for example.

Most modern rules don't differentiate at all and for me, you just end up with one mass of troops that are all just the same, no character, no characteristics !

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

seneffe17 Oct 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

Judging by your last post, I think we might have been wargaming for a similar length of time.

I'd been wargaming for a bit when I got my copy of Quarrie's PSL Napoleonic Wargaming in 1975 as a school prize for something or other. I'm looking at it now- a little bright red thing. A right load of over-complicated cobblers- a personal view at which I arrived after a number of 'games', and that opinion hasn't changed much since.

I didn't learn though- and bought Napoleon's Campaigns in Miniature (the one with Peter Gilder's massed Imperial Guard Hinchcliffes on the front) when it came out a couple of years later. I wouldn't want to appear to single out the Quarrie rules though- there was plenty more pseudo-scientific stuff in several wargame periods floating around at about that time. It was just the fashion back then.

When Peter opened the Wargames Holiday Centre in 1980- I went on about week 4 or 5, and played In the Grand Manner. Now THAT was an eye opener of a set of rules.

If a modern bucket full of D6 game isn't your thing though- then Young and Lawford's 'Charge!' c18th rules from the 1960s won't be either. Between consigning the Quarrie stuff to the bookshelf and finding Grand Manner, I spent two or three joyous years playing Charge and rolling tons of dice- especially in cavalry melees. Judging when to throw your second line in to the fray was a real challenge!

As I say though- enjoy.

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