TITLE: Republic to Empire: Wargaming the Wars of Napoleon Bonaparte
AUTHOR: Barry Hilton
PUBLISHER: The League of Augsburg
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE: $55.00 (in 2010)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Napoleonic Wars
Republic to Empire (RTE) is a full color, glossy paperback. It runs 146 pages, of which the rules take up the first 111. Throughout the book are gorgeous photographs of miniatures - mostly 25 mm, though some 15 mm and 40 mm models can also be seen. A laminated, stock card tri-fold quick reference card is included. There is no index but the table of contents is quite detailed.
SCOPE: Republic To Empire is a tactical game of Napoleonic warfare. It is suitable for the entire period from the Revolution to 1815.
ARMY SIZE: A smaller battle suitable for a 4 x 6’ table would require 200+ models for each side.
BASE UNIT: The units are infantry battalions, cavalry squadrons and artillery batteries.
- Ground Scale: 2.25 mm per yard
- Time scale 1 turn = 20 minutes
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 infantry figure = 20 men
- Recommended Figure Size: 25mm but conversion for 15mm and other scales is covered.
- Table Size: Smaller games may be played on a 4x6’ table, but the game was designed to accommodate large multi-player battles on tables up to 8 x 20’ in size!
- Game Length: Smaller games should be completed in 3-4 hours.
The basing requirements for RTE are extremely flexible. The rules were designed to allow players to use existing armies, and even use armies based differently in the same game. In essence, as long as the frontage per figure is close, any basing will work. In fact the illustrations throughout the book evince a wide variety - 40 mm squares, 30 x 60 mm rectangles, and many more besides.
- Both players roll for initiative.
- Player 1 rolls for Maneuver Points (MPs)
- Player 1 applies his MPs and changes orders
- Player 1 moves his units
- Artillery Fire
- Musketry Fire
- Check Resolve as required
- Complete any mandatory movement as a result of Resolve checks
- Declare charges
- Resolve charge reactions
- Complete any mandatory moves from charge reaction
- Resolve all close combats
- Check for Resolve as required
- Complete any mandatory movement as a result of Resolve checks
- Repeat steps 2 through 14 for Player 2
Manoeuvre Points: Movement Points (or MPs for short) are a key mechanic in RtE. The number of MPs available each turn is determined by die roll. Roll one Average Die (DAv - a six sided die marked 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5) for each brigade in the army. In addition, a number of MPs are added to the total based on the Commander in Chief’s skill. this is the total number of MPs available for the turn. You do not roll for each brigade - you simply create a total MP pool to be spent as you wish.
Each MP is then spent to enable units to perform various actions. The commander must first expend all MPs required to maintain current orders. Only then may he spend MPs to change orders or issue new ones. In some cases a player may wish to save MPs to enable him to react during his opponent’s turn. The C-in-C distributes MPs to his sub-commanders who then “spend” them by issuing orders to brigades. The cost to issue an order depends on a variety of factors, such as unit quality, leader quality, and command radii.
Orders: Brigades are assigned orders by expending MPs. Each order carries with it various capabilities, requirements and restrictions - and these vary by unit type. The seven allowable orders are:
- Advance: A non-charge movement toward the enemy.
- Attack: An aggressive order to initiate close combat.
- Defend: A simple “hold-this-position”
- Move: When you feel the need for speed...
- Ready: Holds a brigade in readiness, to join the action wherever needed
- Reform: Allows a brigade to redeploy and “dress the ranks.” This order is used in conjunction with either an advance, Move or Defend order.
- Rest: Sometimes the best move is a rest and a sip of water!
In addition to brigade level orders, MPs may be used to initiate actions by single units. The nine allowable actions are:
- Combined Column of attack
- Retire/Reform Back
- Deploy/Recall Skirmishers
- Limber/Unlimber (Artillery only)
As with orders each action carries both requirements and restrictions. As with orders, the cost of an action depends on the quality of the unit and its leadership.
Note that it does not require an order for a unit to fire or engage in close combat.
Movement: As one would expect, each unit must be in a specific formation (line, column of attack, column of companies, column of march or square).
Exploitation: To recreate the decisive moments in battle, RtE allows for a unit to be given multiple consecutive orders. This is called Exploitation. Simply put, if you have the MPs and you deem the moment is right, you may issue multiple consecutive orders to a single brigade. So you may have it move, change formation, move and then attack! Each subsequent order costs more MPs, but this rule allows you to literally “seize an opportunity.”
Terrain: One way in which RtE is somewhat notable is the detailed treatment of terrain and line of sight. The rule book contains numerous sections dealing with terrain and scale - both vertical and horizontal. The author provides excellent details on how to model buildings, copses, etc. while still accounting for the difference between the vertical and horizontal scales. Further, terrain is broken down into 10 different types, each with associated movement, combat and LOS effects. there is even a separate chapter on fighting in built up areas.
Skirmishers: RtE includes detailed rules for skirmishers. Deployment/recall of skirmishers requires the use of MPs, and their actions are detailed depending on the orders their brigade is under. Skirmishes may move half and fire without penalty, may be interpenetrated, and may often avoid charges by evading.
Artillery Fire: In RtE each gun rolls three dice when firing. This number may be modified for range, crew casualties, disorder, target formation etc. Once the modified number of dice is determined, the dice are rolled. Each roll of 4 or better causes a casualty to the target.
Artillery is far more challenging in RtE than many other rules sets. The rules are quite detailed. RtE provides rules for:
- Ammunition: Each battery has a limited amount of ammunition it may fire during the game.
- Refit: Guns must refit after every four turns of firing - consecutive or not. Refit requires a full limbered move to the rear.
- Deployment: In addition to the gun stand, each battery has a deployment zone to its rear. this represents the area occupied by caissons, limbers, horses, wagons etc. Friendly units may not enter this area (you may delineate it with models of these limbers etc. or simply denote the area with markers).
- Reducing Defenses: Defenses have a strength number - yo may fire to reduce this and create a breach instead of targeting troops.
- Spiking Guns: Players may assign small detachments from units to spike guns but beware, it is risky and takes two full turns!
- Grand Batteries: The use of massed guns in a grand battery allows for deadlier fire, but at a cost. Grand Batteries get more dice when firing, and may target entire brigades. But they use ammunition faster and have to refit after three turns of firing instead of four.
Musket Fire: Like artillery fire, small arms fire uses a “buckets of dice” approach. For each combat group (see note below) the player will roll one die. Total up the firing combat groups and then modify the dice total for range, target formation, disorder etc. Once the final number of dice is determined, every die scoring a 4 or better causes one enemy casualty.
Combat Groups: A combat group is simply a group of four figures, regardless of basing. This allows players with differently mounted troops to play each other. Provided the overall frontage per figure is close, the specific stand grouping is unimportant.
Charges: Charging is one of the more detailed parts of the combat mechanisms in RtE. In general, only units in good order and an appropriate formation may charge. Charges come after movement and shooting. A charge requires a player have enough MPs available to issue the appropriate order/action.
In RtE charges are interactive. First, a charger must pass a Resolve Check to close with his enemy. If they close, the defender then checks his Resolve. If they pass, they will stand and fire at the charging enemy. Otherwise they may retreat or rout, hotly pursued by the charging unit. Conversely, the defender’s fire may cause a check by the charging unit - failure may result in a retreat or rout of its own!
Beyond the simple charge and fight or flee, RtE includes rules for counter-charges, charge threats and continuation charges:
- Charge Threats: When an enemy unit with attack orders moves to within charge reach of a brigade, that brigade may possibly react to the Charge Threat. First, they must take a reaction check based on the quality of their brigadier. If successful, they may attempt to change orders or change formation. Such actions still require MPs though of the player has none they may still react and deduct the MPs spent from their pool next turn.
- Counter Charges: When a unit is charged it may attempt to counter charge. Such an action requires the unit to pass a Control Check. Charging gives a unit bonuses in close combat.
- Continuation Charges: If the target of a charge flees exposing a new target, the charging unit may charge that unit instead. The new target must make a resolve check as normal, and the normal charge procedures apply.
Close Combat: As with small arms, each side will roll one die for each combat group. As before, the number of dice thrown will be modified by situation. However, rather than a single list of modifiers, there is instead a separate chart for different combat types. Thus one chart details the modifiers for “Cavalry Against Infantry of Artillery” while a separate chart with different modifiers covers “Cavalry Versus Cavalry.”
As with firing, each player rolls his dice seeking to cause hits on a roll of 4 or better. A differential is then calculated. The player scoring more hits is the winner. Players consult the “Close Combat Casualty Table” to determine losses. For example, if the hit differential is 5, the winner takes 4 casualties and the loser 9.
If the differential is two or less the close combat is a draw and another round is fought immediately. Rounds of combat continue until a clear loss occurs, or one side is destroyed!
Resolve: The morale, psychology, and fighting trim of your troops in RtE is called Resolve. Any time a unit is called on to check Resolve, simply roll a single die. Add and subtract any modifiers. On a 4 or better your troops have passed. Troop quality is simply a modifier to this roll (Guards are +3, Recruits -1). Other modifiers include wavering, disorder, presence of an officer, etc.
If a unit fails a resolve check it may have to undertake a compulsory move. For infantry they either retreat or rout. Cavalry may Pursue, Retire, Disengage, Pull Up or Stand and Receive - all depending on the situation of course. The rules include a handy two-page spread (pages 104-105) detailing the reasons for checking resolve and effects of the final modified die roll.
The rules do not include army lists and only one scenario. They do include two sample forces as examples for how to turn an OOB into a model army. The scenario provided is Pierrepont Farm. But it is more than just a scenario - it also includes a detailed battle report, which really gives a feel for how the gams should be played. The report is quite detailed - explaining how many MPs the player has and what he does with each of his brigades each turn.
I think it worth noting one way in which RtE excels: the copious use of complete and detailed examples. For key mechanisms in the rules, there are frequently four or five detailed examples, showing the various nuances of each mechanic. Even for something as straightforward as artillery fire (count dice, roll 4+) there are two very compete examples. For calculating MPs there are a full five!
At first glance RtE looks like an awfully long set of rules. Don’t let that throw you. While it is a detailed set of tactical rules, the author has gone to great pains to be explicit, and he has provided many more examples than normal. Further, the examples provided are quite detailed and complete. The book is also another of the lavish graphic pleasures that have suddenly become so popular. The book is filled with extensive photos - there are even several galleries of nothing but photos to inspire you!
I do have a few minor issues with the book. First, the layout of the text could be improved. Some pages are three columns, some two, some one column. Some are two columns with a double column and a single column on the same page. Aesthetics aside, this means that important parts of the rules can hide in plain sight at times. For example, in the close combat rules, the sentence telling you hits are scored on a 4 or more appears between two charts. As a result it looks like a note to the chart above, not a separate paragraph in its own right. In addition, there are some key rules in what may appear to be the “fluff” portions of the book. The early pages on ”Scale,” “Setting Up the Game” and “Creating Your Army” contain some important rules and notes. the important notion of a combat group is defined under the “size of units in the game” heading.
But aside from a few unusual turns of phrase, the writing is clear, detailed and well edited. After reading the rules once I did feel like “I know how to play” which I cannot say of many other rules sets.
There is a review on TMP here by someone who has played several games.