|The turn sequence for Field of Glory Napoleonics is straightforward, but it does have some subtle effects that make the game very interesting. To fully understand the turn sequence, please see the Field of Glory Napoleonic rulebook. But before you do that, click on “read more” for a discussion of some of the points of the turn sequence that make FOGN such an interesting game.|
In FOGN the players alternate turns as the “active” player, starting with the player who gained initiative at the commencement of the battle. Even though there is an “active” player, there is still plenty for their opponent to do, so interest is maintained. This is much better than a game sequence where only one player does everything that happens in a turn.
The Action Sequence consists of 6 steps:
1. CP (Command Point) Allocation.
A quick phase, where the Active player allocates Command Points from each of his Corps Commanders to their subordinate Division Commanders. Better commanders have more command points to allocate each turn, but cost more of course. Command Points are used to allow troops to attempt complex manoeuvres, to allow troops to attempt to intercept an enemy charge and to attempt to contact the enemy if halted by defensive fire during an assault.
The Corps Commander does not usually control troops directly, but does so through his Division Commanders. This is a better representation of the chain of command than is found in some other rules. Command points are not used in this phase, they are merely allocated. But you really need to have a plan already in mind. Otherwise you may allocate the Command points of the Corp Commander to the wrong Division Commander. There is nothing worse than running out of Command Points in one Division whilst their neighbours have excess they are doing nothing with.
Command Points are restored to a player only at the end of their opponent’s turn. So you need to have one up your sleeve at the end of your own turn if you think you might need to call an intercept in your opponent’s turn. When the battle heats up, there are never enough to go around. The choice of when to use your Command Points makes for some interesting decisions during the battle. And you can be left wondering whether you should have paid the extra points for a better commander rather than those extra attachments.
2. Assault Phase
Assaulting units need to survive defensive fire as they close with their target. The defensive fire may stop them from assaulting or may drop their cohesion, which gives them a disadvantage in the combat. So assaulting can be fraught with danger.
The target of the assault may have to make reaction tests under certain circumstances. For example, do artillerymen stay with their guns or run to nearby friendly Infantry? Does a unit change to square when charged by Cavalry?
3. Firing Phase
Unlike most games, in FOGN the firing phase occurs before the Movement phase. This has some subtle but interesting effects.
Both players get to shoot, with the active player completing all firing first. All results from the active player’s firing are applied before any enemy units return fire. If the active player shoots very well, they may drop the cohesion of their opposing unit or make it recoil to a longer range. This can result in the opposing player’s return fire being less effective. Or non-existent, if they flee.
It also means that there is no moving your unit to ideal range and then shooting before your opponent can react. Which is good. In FOGN you need to move to the range you want in your movement phase. Then in the opponent’s firing phase he will get to fire at you first before you can return fire. Again, this means you need to plan ahead and don’t get things all your own way.
Having the Firing before Movement seems such a small thing, but these subtle interactions make it one of the things I most like about FOGN.
4. Movement Phase
All normal movement (including voluntary changes of formation and facing) takes place in this phase. Movement in other phases includes outcome moves (e.g. retreating as the result of firing or combat), assaulting moves, intercept moves and reactions to your opponent (e.g. forming square if cavalry assault).
Normal movement type is divided into two categories – simple and complex. Simple manoeuvres can be performed by any unit – even if it is out of range of its commander. Complex manoeuvres require the expenditure of a Command Point and the passing of a Complex Move Test, known as a CMT.
I like it that a unit out of range of the Division Commander can still perform simple manoeuvres. After all, they still had brigade, regimental and battalion commanders to keep things moving. But it stops you doing anything fancy with them until the Division Commander’s attention can again turn in their direction. This keeps the command and control simple, but elegant.
It is possible to move twice in this phase. This is really useful for speeding up movement at the beginning of a game, or for moving reserves quickly. To perform a second move, a Command Point must be spent, then a CMT must be passed and the unit must never be within 6MU of an enemy unit for that move.
Second moves are often used with limbered Artillery units to move them and then attempt to unlimber. If the second move is successful, then they are available to fire at the next opportunity.
To make a second move really useful, forming a temporary brigade group can allow a commander to move several units at once. The number of units that can be moved as a group depends on the quality level of the commander.
5. Combat Phase
Units in contact fight a combat in this stage. Normally only one round of combat occurs. It is possible for a unit to fight a second round of combat, but only if it pursued and contacted another unit within half a move.
The method of determining the number of dice, the number needed on the dice and the split (if there is more than one opposing unit in the fight) is similar to firing. This consistency makes it easier to remember the rules. There are fewer factors to take into account than in FOG ancients, so it does not take long to remember them. Having less factors does not mean it is simplistic. Less factors is appropriate because there are less troops types – no elephants, camels, chariots, etc.
It is very rare for units in combat to stay in contact from turn to turn. Usually someone will be forced to withdraw at the end of the Combat phase, depending on the cohesion level of the units involved. Units with worse cohesion will withdraw first. The assaulted unit will withdraw if ends the combat with the same cohesion as the assaulting unit. So combat can favour the attacker – but only if they have not been too badly beaten up by defensive fire on the way in.
6. Recovery Phase
This is the chance for the active player to recover the cohesion of some units. The important point is that only the active player can attempt this. So between Recovery phases there are two Assault phases, two Firing phases and two Combat phases – all opportunities to lose cohesion.
In the early part of the battle, just a few units here and there lose cohesion. It is not critical to wait until your own Recovery phase and when you get there, it seems there are plenty of commanders available to rallying their troops. But as the battle continues, you lose cohesion much faster than you can regain – and you start to wonder where the commanders have all got to.
This nicely follows what happens in a real battle. The loss of cohesion of your army starts as a gentle slide but bit by bit it soon becomes an avalanche. The choices are both easy and tough. Easy in that “all” you have to do is choose which units to try and recover some cohesion. Tough when you have to choose between units and it is really important to recover all of them this turn – but cannot. It is these choices that make for a really interesting game.