TITLE: Volley and Bayonet: Road to Glory
AUTHOR: Frank Chadwick & Greg Novak
PUBLISHER: Test of Battle Games
PUBLICATION DATE: 2008
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $40.00 (in 2008)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Black Powder era (roughly 1700-1900), with a primary emphasis on Napoleonics.
Volley & Bayonet: Road to Glory is a paperback of 122 pages. The rules themselves run just 35 pages (with numerous illustrations, diagrams and plenty of margin). The remainder of the book contains scenarios, Napoleonic army lists, optional rules, and designer’s notes. The cover and interior feature color throughout.
SCOPE: V&B is focused on grand tactical games covering entire battles. It has can be used for any mass battle from the Seven Years War to the Franco Prussian war. The rules treat the 1805-1815 era as a base line with rules modifications for earlier or later periods.
ARMY SIZE: Although designed for large battles, armies will be relatively modest in size. Each unit is based on a 3x3” base and may be populated with as many or few figures as desired.
In V&B units are infantry and cavalry brigades, artillery battalions.
- Ground Scale: 1” = 100 yards
- Time scale 1 turn = 1 hour
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 infantry strength point = 500 men or 6 guns
- Recommended Figure Size: Any
- Table Size: Most of the scenarios provided assume a 6x8 table (with most having a “small table” option for playing on 4x6).
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening
Bases in VnB come in two sizes: 3x3” for most units, and 3 x 1.5” for artillery, skirmishers and some less common unit types.
VnB uses a traditional IGOUGO turn with each player completing the following steps in order:
- Command Determination: Determine which stands are in command and which are not.
- Movement: The active player moves all units.
- Rally: Routed units in contact with a commander may be rallied.
- Morale Checks: Both sides check morale for all applicable units
- Combat: The active player now determines which combats will be carried out and in which order. Melee and firing happen in the same phase.
- Exhaustion: Divisions over their exhaustion (casualty) level check for collapse.
Units must be within 6” of their division commander, or in contact with a unit that is. Otherwise they are out of command. Units that are out of command move half speed, may not recover disorder (see below), may not close with the enemy, or become stationary.
Command stands represent a division’s center, not the location of officers. As such they move freely, and may not be attacked or captured.
Movement in VnB is FAST. Normal infantry moves 16” per turn (yes, 16”, not a typo). Naturally this is slowed by disorder and terrain. Units may make a facing change for free but otherwise a second change costs half their movement. Units may oblique but otherwise must move through their forward quarter. No lateral or retrograde movement is allowed.
Terrain has various effects. It may either slow movement to half speed; disorder units moving through; cost half a unit’s movement to cross, or a combination of these.
There is a column formation that moves double speed, but is obviously vulnerable in combat.
VnB uses unit rosters to track unit strength. As units take hits the losses are noted on the roster. When a unit is reduced to 0 points, it is removed from the game permanently.
Units have a morale rating from 1 (bad) to 6 (excellent). Testing morale is done by rolling a die, equal to or less than the morale. Morale values are modified by a short list of situations, including being flanked, holding the high ground, and attacking skirmishers.
Units go from good order, to disorder, to rout. Disorder is temporary and is removed by expending half a unit’s movement allowance. Units in VnB routinely disorder then recover. A disordered unit that is disorder a second time routs. Routing units immediately lose an additional strength point, and retreat a full move. Army and corps commanders may rally units by moving in to contact with them (no die roll needed) but such units are permanently disordered for the rest of the game.
Disorder has several important effects. First, in combat hits it inflicts are ignored on a die roll of 4-6. Second, they are very vulnerable to rout. Third, they are -1 on morale checks. A unit that routs is therefore very weak, and unlikely to be good for much other than holding a good position or being a last ditch reserve (desperate times....)
All combat occurs at the same time. Melee, artillery fire and small arms. The attacker nominates a defender and all combat against it is resolved. Each unit type fights with a number of dice (these can be modified for various reasons). Most normal units hit on a 6 at short range or in melee. Some, like sharpshooters, hit on a 5 or 6, and artillery at close range may even hit on a 4+. Some terrain gives a saving throw (a roll of 4+ negates the hit), as does disorder (the target gets a save). In normal combat, however, there are no saves.
When units are in contact and fight melee, the loser is the one suffering more casualties. Hits caused by nearby units that shoot count as well. Most wargames prohibit firing at a unit engaged in base to base contact. Not here - so long as you have a clear fire lane you can support a melee with firing units.
Losers in melee are disordered and must make a morale check. Winners may take vacated positions, and cavalry can perform a limited break through.
The rule book includes 8 scenarios:
- Quatre Bras
There is also a series of army lists for the Napoleonic period, giving ratings for morale, strength points, composition, etc.
There is an out of print book of Civil War scenarios floating around, and Test of Battle have published a book of Seven Years War scenarios as well.
VnB is a very easy read - clear and unambiguous. There are numerous examples of each mechanism and simple black and white charts where required. As with any set of rules there will probably arise some situations not covered or where there may be differing interpretations of the rules, but in the main these are very clean.
My one minor beef: in the rules some times you want to roll high (combat) some times you want to roll low (morale checks). This always bugs me....
The club just recently (Jan, 2018) played a couple Civil War battles using the rules. With four players new to the game, on a 4x6 table, we played about 8 turns of each, and reached a satisfying conclusion. Both games were a lot of fun. Players pretty much had the game down pat by turn 2 or 3 aside from a few more complicated situations.