Rules Clarifications for the 2nd Edition Core Rules

The following questions were posed to the PK mailing list (special thanks to Cris Brown, Eric Burgess and Andy Finkel), and elicited this general advice:

I think you'd be remiss to present any given interpretation (even Bob Jone's) as "official"... because that's simply not the PK way. :)

One of PK's strengths is that it's a very robust system.  Players can change quite a bit -- especially on detail questions -- and the game will play just fine.

Our questions also generated this reply from Bob Jones, designer of Piquet:

Your questions on minutae and your tortured and deliberate attempts at misreading the text, can only mean you work for a government agency, or have a more subtle agenda.  Or maybe years of looking for the worm in the apple, the "hidden" meaning of Barker's texts, or Armati's fascination with increments of advantage, have so colored your outlook that you feel you must beat every english sentence senseless so it admits every possible meaning?

We thought we were just asking some basic rules questions, but out of fairness to Bob, we wanted you to know that some people felt our questions were excessive. Judge for yourselves.

Q: Many of the explanations for the movement cards - for instance, Infantry in Open or Light Terrain on pg. 37 - say that units "...may advance, retreat, or maneuver-move..." What is maneuver-movement? My guess is that this means "wheel and then advance."

A: Correct.

Q: The explanation for the Infantry in Open or Light Terrain sequence card on pg. 37 says that a unit can make a half move that includes wheeling 45 degrees or less. Does it matter when the wheel is performed - before, after, or in the middle of movement?

A: Officially, no. However, as a house rules, some groups play that the wheel must come before the move:

We enforce this limitation to prevent a unit being allowed to sashay up near an enemy unit, presenting a flank, and then wheel to present its front, all in one action ... before the enemy can take advantage of the flank opportunity.

The exception, for us, is that we allow units to use maneuver-advance to conform their movement to a clearly visible terrain feature -- such as a road, riverbank, or treeline -- regardless of how many twists and turns are involved.  We do not allow units to conform movement to hill sections unless there are cliffs involved, on the theory that ordinary hill sections represent contour lines, which aren't visible in the real world.

Q: The explanation for the Infantry in Open or Light Terrain sequence card on pg. 37 says that the half-move wheel pivots on the center "or the reverse." What is the reverse of the center?

Or is this an awkward way of saying that you are allowed to both "wheel and advance" as well as "advance and wheel"?

A: This applies to the sequence of activity, expressly permitting both pivot-advance and advance-pivot.

Q: Suppose that my unit wants to move from open terrain to thick woods (Class III terrain). According to the rules, the unit must halt "on contact" with the rough terrain. Which movement card will it need to continue movement? I presume it would need another Infantry in Open or Light Terrain movement card, since according to pg. 36, the Cavalry/Infantry Move in Difficult Terrain card can only be used by units already in difficult terrain, and my unit isn't in the woods yet.

A: No. The movement card needed depends on the terrain you'll be moving into or through, and not the terrain you start in, despite what it says on pg. 36.

Q: The Artillery Move allows engines of war to "move, limber or unlimber." Can an artillery unit both move and limber/unlimber on the same Artillery Move card? If so, what is the pip cost?

A: No. It can only perform one action per card. Thus, an artillery unit would need three Artillery Move cards to limber, move one bound, and unlimber at the new location.  This is why it's extremely important to site your artillery well at setup; it's very difficult to shuffle artillery around during battle.

Q: Infantry and cavalry have strict limits as to what movement they can perform with a standard move card. Are there similar limits on the ability of artillery to move using an Artillery Move card?

A: No. Artillery, when limbered, moves like a Column of Route formation and may freely wheel and turn as it moves. Also, when you unlimber, you can unlimber in any direction.

Q: Infantry and cavalry, if they choose to move, are required to move at least a minimum distance. The rules do not mention a minimum movement for artillery - is this an oversight?

A: It should be the same as for infantry or cavalry. But it doesn't really matter unless you have a command group composed entirely of artillery.  The minimum move is basically designed to prevent players from making niggling, inconsequential adjustments in order to move every unit in a command group (and thus keep them in command).  Because artillery moving on an Artillery Move card is almost invariably out-of-command, the minimum movement really doesn't matter.

Q: The rules for oblique movement are slightly different for cavalry (see "Cavalry in Open or Light Terrain," pg. 36) and infantry (see "Infantry in Open or Light Terrain," pg. 37). Is this intended?

A: Yes. The idea was to make cavalry more maneuverable, and hence to make infantry more cautious when cavalry is in the area.

Q: On pg. 41 of the core rules, there is a table listing movement rates for "rough terrain." Which terrain class (I, II, III, IV) does "rough" correspond to?

A: "Rough" terrain is Class II or higher.  "Difficult" terrain is Class III or higher.

Q: I presume units begin play "loaded" for fire purposes?

A: By default all units are loaded, but you may unload some for scenario purposes. E.g.: If a battle involved a surprise morning assault on a sleeping encampment, you might start some or all of the defenders "unloaded" to reflect their unpreparedness.  (You might also start the defenders with no opportunity chips.)

Q: With regard to Crushing Volley, the rules on pg. 37 say this applies to "fire taken by" elites, guards, etc.. I imagine you mean outgoing fire (these units firing on other units) rather than incoming fire (fire received by these units)?

A: Correct. It applies to elite's and guard's fire, not the fire they receive from enemy units. As I see it, this represents those famed volleys where "the staunch defenders fired as one, a single ear-splitting crack resounding above the deafening din, and the attackers fell in windrows."

Q: The rules for Crushing Volley say that this bonus applies for the rest of the turn. Isn't this a bit long?

A: We apply the Crushing Volley for the rest of the Phase.  Others apply it for the rest of the Turn.  Again, see my impression of what a "Crushing Volley" is (above).  I just don't see that kind of deadly effectiveness continuing for the rest of the Turn.

Q: Does Undisciplined Fire (pg. 40) cost any impetus pips?

A: Yes. All units that fire spend one impetus pip each. A good rule of thumb in PK is that everything costs impetus.

Q: Do units which fire due to Undisciplined Fire need to be reloaded?

A: Most definitely!

Q: Based on pg. 38, it appears that all troops in base-to-base contact with enemy troops are considered Engaged, but that troops are only considered to be in melee after Melee Resolution - is this correct?

A: Correct. Engaged troops are not in melee until they turn a melee resolution card and spend a pip to go into melee. When you move a unit to contact, it's assumed that you've yelled "Charge!" and the attacking unit is "somewhere en route to" the defender.  It doesn't actually make contact until someone draws a Melee Resolution card and pays the pip to begin the melee.  (Note that if the Initiative shifts to the defender, the defender may actually draw the card and pay the pip, in which case the defender gets the bonus for initiating contact.

Q: Is an Engaged unit limited in its ability to fire in any way?

A: No.

Q: Is the retiring of an Engaged unit handled the same as any other movement?

A: Yes.

Q: Units become "out of command" when they are not within one move of any other unit in the same command (pg. 29). It therefore is possible to organize a command group into pairs of units that can operate independently, since every unit is always in command because it is with another unit of the group. Thus the pairs could travel independently and be scattered anywhere on the tabletop.

Would doing this be an abuse of the intent of the rules, or is such practice an expected consequence of the command group rules?

A: Yes, you could do this...but you might find yourself in serious trouble if the action gets heavy.  E.g.:  Assume you have Red One and Red Two out on their own.  Red One gets hit badly, and routs (16").  Red Two is out-of-command (no other unit within command radius), and now the Red Officer has two units to rescue.  If CG Red is getting hit somewhere else at roughly the same time, it's going to shatter before Red Officer can catch up.  Note also that units fall out-of-command if they don't perform the same action as the other units in the group.  Add all of this together, and dispersing a command group as you describe sounds like a recipe for disaster.

But -- and this is an important aspect of the PK philosophy -- the rules will often permit you to do something dreadfully stupid.

Q: The core rules mention that the number of command groups happens to equal the number of sub-commanders in the game, but do not explicitly require that sub-commanders be attached individually to the command groups. Is this an oversight?

A: Yes. Each command group must be led by a subordinate commander.  The defintion of a command group is a collection of units, all performing the same actions, all under the same commander.

Q: The "Supercede" rules on pg. 30 allow the C-in-C to take direct command of a sub-commander's command group. Is there a limit as to how many groups a C-in-C can take direct command of at the same time?

A: The C-in-C can only command one command group at a time. Also, note that whenever the C-in-C takes command of a command group, that army loses two cards from its Sequence Deck, reflecting the fact that the C-in-C is no longer free to focus on the overall battle.

Q: Although "Prevent Pursuit" is listed on pg. 30 as one of the actions which an officer can take using the Officer Check sequence card, the explanation seems to suggest that this action is taken immediately after melee (as does the explanation on pg. 48). Can you clarify?

A: This is explained in the Officer Check section to keep all of the leadership functions together. However, "Prevent Pursuit" is actually performed immediately after melee. (This is more of an optional rule, since it applies more to certain types of units than others.)

Q: The rules say that the Brilliant Leader card be used as a substitute for any other card. Does this include the Stratagem card, if one is in the deck?

A: Wow, never thought of using it as a Strategem card. As we play it, the Brilliant Leader card can be used for any card in the army's deck for that battle.  If the card is used for a one-time-only card - e.g.: certain strategems and optional cards - then that exhausts the card.  E.g.: You have a Heroic Charge strategem, which we play as a one-time-only event.  You draw a Brilliant Leader card, and decide to use this to trigger your Heroic Charge.  You've now exhausted that strategem - that was the one-time-only - so you ignore (and remove) the Strategem card when it comes up.

Q: If you have multiple Heroic Moments in a row, does the effect of the next card quadruple (two Moments in a row) or octuple (three Moments in a row)?

A: Yes. You can also use back-to-back Heroic Moment cards to have two units act heroically on the next card. It is best to use your imagination with the Heroic Moment card.

Q: The rules say that sequence cards must be discarded due to rout or losses. Can either player see those discarded cards?

A: No.  Part of the penalty of the missing cards is that you don't know what cards are missing.  This forces players to be more conservative, avoiding plans that will require a singleton (only one card in the deck), because that card might not be in the deck anymore.

Q: The rules say that a Tactical Morale Challenge can be issued once an enemy unit has taken hits, but they don't say when the challenge may be issued. Must it be immediately after the target unit receives the hits, or can it be declared later? Can it be declared during an enemy initiative?

A: We play that Morale Challenges must be declared immediately after the combat causing the hits. It can be done during the opponent's move only if you have inflicted hits with opportunity fire. If the player foregoes the challenge at that point, then he has to wait until another combat causes hits.

(Note that you do not have to inflict casualties - i.e.: enough hits to cause a stand loss - in order to issue a Morale Challenge.  However, players rarely declare a morale challenge on one or two hits, because the very small likelihood of a morale failure doesn't justify spending the morale chip.)

Q: What are the penalties of being disordered? The rules explain that a unit which is disordered must retire, becomes out of command, and if disordered twice is routed. Are there any other consequences? For instance, can pips be spent on a disordered unit to allow it to perform actions (firing, movement, etc.)?

A: Disordered troops can behave just like good order troops, although penalties apply to their dierolls in combat.

Q: Can leaders fire in combat?

A: No. They have no combat value whatever, except whatever adjustment they lend when directly attached to units.

Q: Can leaders be fired upon?

A: No.

Q: Can leaders move through units? Can units move through leaders?

A: Yes to both.

Q: Can a leader be melee'd against?

A: No. When an enemy unit contacts an officer, the officer is taken out of action immediately. As a house rule, you could roll a Difficulty Check to determine whether "out of action" means killed, captured, hiding, whatever.  In terms of game mechanics, it makes no difference - he's gone for the duration of this battle.

Q: Due to the presence of a leader, various cards (good or ill) may be added to a sequence deck. If the leader is killed, should these cards be removed from play?

A: Yes, his cards are removed.

Q: If a replacement C-in-C comes into play, is the sequence deck modified due to his leadership ability?

A: Yes.

Q: The PK2 rules don't seem to explicitly say this, but I presume that combat is unit vs unit, and not by individual stand? (The Key Adjustment Table modifiers only make sense if combat is unit vs. unit.)

A: Correct.

Q: I don't see any rules explaining how hits are allocated to stands in a unit. Are all hits taken first from one stand, then the next, then the next, or does the player have the option of spreading hits across all stands in the unit (i.e., give 1 hit each to three stands, rather than eliminating one 3-hit stand)?

A: All hits must be assigned to the same stand; if it is eliminated, hits are next applied to another stand in the unit. A unit's stands have no individual identities, indeed no individual significance whatever.  But collectively, they indicate the parent unit's formations and combat effectiveness.  When a unit takes three hits in a single initiative, the unit has lost enough effectiveness that you remove a stand.

Q: Does terrain affect the ability of a unit to fire on another unit? Is it necessary to trace a Line of Sight?

A: You need to apply your own LOS rules. The vast majority of cases can be handled with some very simple concepts. We generally discuss and then agree on any unusual situations. We have played for four years on this basis with no acrimony.

For instance, we would say that any terrain that would stop vision of a unit behind or in it, stops fire within it - except at point blank distance (though the class III Dn 2 would still apply). We allow units at the forward edge to fire out, but then they may be fired at.  In short, the many and nefarious variations of wooded and rough terrain LOS are best left to situational resolution, or if all else fails, a Difficulty Check.

Logically, you wouldn't allow a unit to fire 11.5" (275 yards) through thick woods, right? But even if you allowed fire at 11.5" (Dn 2 for range) - assuming line formation for the horse target (NC) in Class III, which is forest (Dn2), not Deep Wood class IV (Dn3) - you are down 3 or 4 depending on first fire (what a waste of first fire!). This would mean that even a 12+1 would be a 6 or 8 and anything else a D4! It almost takes care of itself!

You can create more complex rules if you like, allowing units to see at varying distances through different terrain classes.  If you feel this helps your gaming, by all means feel free.  But PK throws so many other challenges at you that LOS details really don't make all that much difference.

Q: I can't find anything in the rules to indicate that Initiative Buy Down must occur at any particular time. Therefore, would it be legal to wait until the opposing player has begin to spend pips, and then perform the buy down?

For instance: Say a player has 4 impetus points, has spent 2 of them, and is preparing to spend another - can his opponent now say, "Surprise! I'm buying down your initiative, here are two morale chips, and your initiative is over?"

A: Initiative Buy Down must occur at the time initiative is rolled, before any impetus pips are spent.

Last Updates
24 September 1998page first published
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