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"Picquet: What’s It All About?" Topic

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09 May 2023 12:53 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Picquet: What’s It All About ?" to "Picquet: What’s It All About?"

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Madmac6409 May 2023 6:37 a.m. PST

Here are my thoughts on all things Picquet. Gamers either love the system or hate it. Picquet is further split into Classic PK and the "evolved" Field of Battle systems.


Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian09 May 2023 8:03 a.m. PST

My reaction is that having a plan did not seem to help.

Not supporting Multiple players seems to be an issue as well.

Only had a couple Con games to base this on. Never picked up in my area(s)

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2023 8:51 a.m. PST

Same as Saber 6 in that it never caught on in my area, even with one guy really evangelizing the rules with multiple clubs. The two games I played in were basically disasters, where the card draw created some weird and wacky situations.It seemed like there were some good ideas in there and while I don't mind a bit of chaos, it felt like players had little to no control during the game.

BillyNM09 May 2023 9:28 a.m. PST

In my experience a real 'marmite' set of rules – luckily I adore marmite, but even so I have tampered with them many times but I do that with most rules.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2023 10:35 a.m. PST

I played one game with the original rules. 1812 French v Russians. The French danced around the table and engaged the Russians with virtual impunity. IIRC, one Russian battery fired twice. That's it. For the entire game.

I also played one game with the new rules many years later. I don't remember the specifics, but it was a much better game.

PK Guy Brent09 May 2023 10:43 a.m. PST

I will point out that the above responses seem to be aimed at the classic Piquet games, which were mostly printed before 2000-2005. None of the comments about the rule's play, game flow, suitability for large multi-player games, inability to do anything…..well, none of those apply to the new rules (Field of Battle, Battle Command).

Dennis09 May 2023 10:43 a.m. PST

My experience was basically the same as aegiscg47 and Courier. There seems to be a clever concept underlying the system that just doesn't work in practice.-kind of like the whole variable length bound thing.

I admire those who come up with new ideas like these, but like so much else in life what works in theory mostly fails in practice.

Tony S09 May 2023 11:05 a.m. PST

I'll back Brent's comments. Field of Battle and Battle Command are completely different, and solve all of those earlier troubles.

Cavcmdr09 May 2023 3:51 p.m. PST

Please tell us how.

"Field of Battle and Battle Command are completely different, and solve all of those earlier troubles."

Have they binned the pack of cards?

DinOfBattle209 May 2023 4:30 p.m. PST

I loved classic Piquet so much I wrote several supplements and have created several house rules to suit my tastes. I have run over 100 Piquet games nearly always featuring 4 or more players.

I enjoy Field of Battle and I'm about to try Battle Command with Sikh Wars.

If you want to see some Piquet action on the table, please visit my blog:


WW2, WW1, RCW, RJW, SYW, Russo-Ottoman Wars, Greek vs Persians, WAS, Boxer Rebellion, Plains Wars, Maximilian, French Revolution, Taiping Rebellion, Vauban's Wars (siege warfare) etc.

Have fun!

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2023 5:59 p.m. PST

I've played only 2 games of Piquet, and my experiences were like Saber6, aegiscg47, and Courier doo Boise. I really wanted to like it, so I was quite disappointed. Piquet fans invoke "chaos" as a selling point, but in truth the system seemed to remove the player from most of the important decisions. I felt like I was watching a game, not playing it. It was definitely not my jug of marmite.

I played a whole lotta FOB 2 with a local group here, and I respectfully disagree with Brent and Erica about FOB: I don't think it fixes all the problems with Piquet. I admired the flexibility of the system to cover a wide range of tactical periods with easily understood mechanics. I liked that it could evoke the "feel" of a period with only small adjustments to unit characteristics, adding/removing modifiers, and a few special rules. Speed of play was pretty good. OTOH, while it drastically improved player agency over Piquet, I felt it still separated the player too far from the decision cycle. I also felt it needed rules for unit reactions outside the card play, like (for instance) evasion and forming square. FOB improved the multi-player experience of Piquet, but still suffers the Too Many Statues problem. I would also note that scenario design is critical, because imbalances in the card decks have to be tuned carefully to other battlefield factors (force disparities, terrain issues, victory conditions, etc.).

FWIW, I have the same feeling about the C&C systems. The simple combat and movement mechanics work well, but I object to some of the ways the cards remove the player from the decision cycle.

In both cases (FOB and C&C), I've come up with ways to "fix" what I see as flaws, but I've never acted to try any of them.

- Ix

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 May 2023 6:00 p.m. PST

No the cards haven't been binned. Cards seem to be present in loads of popular rule systems so I might suggest that it isn't a disqualifier for everyone or even most folks.

I started out with Piquet when they first came out. The chaos present in the game was pretty cool. I remeber playing a Zulu war game that played differently than any other colonial game I have ever played. You had to worry about the natives suprising you with their rapid approach. The stress involved was pretty intense for a mini game. I loved it as the British player. Now, there was a possibility of the oft heard complaint about no cards for one player and not being able to do anything. But that Zulu battle grabbed my interest immediately as itwasn't just a matter of we each move x inches and I can bring x rifles to bear on your charging natives and mow you down. Your only chance to win is greater numbers or an ambush.

I believe the actual truth is likely closer to the fact that you couldn't do as much as you wanted to do. Not always. I was in one game out of the dozens I played where that did happen that I sat for a while.
That all changed when Brent Oman bought the company and vastly improved Piquet by releasing Field of Battle. For our group this was a close as a holy grail set as I'm likely to ever play. Chaos was present, the game was fast play witha bunch of toys on the table and fun. It was also easy to grasp the core concepts. We used it for a ton of different periods including the Ancients and WWI versions. This game has improved with the new editions of many years. A tweak here and there. The cards are part of the core mechanics and the wild impetus swing simply do not occur like they did with Piquet. It's not the same game. Our group loves them!

Brent recently released the new set, Battle Command. These are an evolution of the FOB concept. I own the rules and look forward to playing them. I know we'll have fun, have period feel and the game will move right along.

Bottom line for me is the comments here may have som validity to the original set that is almost 20 years ago. The latest version of FOB and Battle Command simply aren't the same thing. If you don't like chaos in your games they may not be your cup of tea. But if you want to play a game that plays like battle reports you read about then it's probably for you.




Prince Alberts Revenge09 May 2023 8:05 p.m. PST

Please tell us how….Have they binned the pack of cards?

As I recall for FoB, there is an opposed leadership die roll and the difference in the rolls is the number of cards that will be drawn. The winner can decide who goes first and the difference is the number of cards/leadership points drawn.

Lull cards and the ability to use opportunity fire ensures that both sides have an opportunity to affect the battle throughout gameplay (much more so than traditional IGO/UGO mechanisms, in my opinion).

I haven't gamed multi-player FOB games but I don't see how it would be an issue with the mechanisms in the game. I am a fan of the rules, I had a lot of trepidation about the rules and the use of different dice but when I played I was incredibly impressed. I have Mexican American War armies for FoB and I am painting up Crimean War armies and plan to use FoB for them as well.

gavandjosh0210 May 2023 3:14 a.m. PST

I like the game. For me, a great advantage of classic PK is the ability to model the 'known" strengths and weaknesses of armies through the make-up of that army's card deck. E.g. an early Persian deck can be modified to reflect Persia's effective archery and cavalry. Their shooting might disorder a hoplite unit before it makes contact and cavalry can add to that problem. The early Greeks have reasons to be wary of the Persians as shown in the historical accounts. The weakness is the randomness of the initiative system – alternative mechanisms are readily available to address this. The strength of FoB is that it streamlines the game and brings equality of initiative. John L is right re: colonials and Prince A sums up FoB.

Tanker1110 May 2023 6:19 a.m. PST

I am a huge FOB 3ED fan. I make it my goal to play in any of Peter Anderson's huge Napoleonics games at Historicon each year. 10 player games, played to a resolution every time.

Check his blog, Blunders on the Danube, for examples of play.

Great solo rules too with the use of the cards. The ancients version is also very good, and I have adjusted it for my fantasy collection.

The cards break up the turn sequence. Adds friction while still giving the player (not the general) the opportunity to make decisions.

Regarding evasion and for making square….(don't have the book in front of me)….I know there is evasion in the ancients set, and consider this regarding square:
1) the corps commander wants to protect the flank from cavalry…oK, order units to square on the right card when drawn.
2) Tactical engagement….Cav charges infantry in line….Infantry wins the engagement (rolls higher), they formed square, defeated the Cav and reformed line….[I house rule solo that the inf can remain in a square if they win].

PK Guy Brent10 May 2023 6:25 a.m. PST

For those who might be interested in an in depth discussion of Piquet things – design philosophy and goals, rules discussion, etc. – Jared Fishman was kind enough to have me as his guest for an episode of the 20 Sided Gamified Podcast. Here's the link: link

I guarantee that you won't be exposed to heretical views of games and gaming. Just a discussion between 2 gamers that love our hobby.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2023 7:41 a.m. PST


I will definitely give it a listen!

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2023 9:21 a.m. PST

Played both versions once. Learned my lesson.

Tanker1110 May 2023 9:32 a.m. PST

What lesson is that and what rules do you play/enjoy?

Trying to see what the detractors find successful with other rule sets.

Dexter Ward11 May 2023 2:22 a.m. PST

The original Picquet allows wild swings of fortune which could lead to very one sided unejoyable games. Field of Battle fixes that, and I think it is probably the best solo horse and musket set out there. The cards give a nice narrative which the player does not entirely control

Tanker1116 May 2023 6:25 a.m. PST

A blog with an AAR post from the new Battle Command rules (evolution of Picquet/FOB):


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