Friday, October 14, 2011

Jena revisited -- a battle anniversary session report

Battle of Jena set up

Any day now I expect to get the new game in Worthington's Napoleon's War series, but they've already posted the rules online so I thought I'd take advantage of today's 205th anniversary of the Battle of Jena to see how the changes in the rules affect things.

There are a number of changes and clarifications in the rules listed on the last page of the new rule book, which I appreciate. In most cases the changes are fairly minor or make thing more clear.

One very significant change, however, reduces infantry;s long-range firepower and this had an immediately noticeable affect on today's game. As originally published, Infantry units rolled 3 dice at a range of 1 or 2 hexes, hitting on a 6. Shock Combat increased the effectiveness of infantry to hitting on a 5 or 6 when adjacent, but at a cost of 2 action points instead of the 1 AP cost of regular fire. What this tended to do was encourage infantry units to hang around at 2 hex range and shoot at each other and only risk Shock Combat when a particular position really needed to be taken. This wasn't really very authentic for combat using smoothbore muskets.

Now infantry firing at a range of 2 hexes only rolls ONE die instead of 3, making a long-range firefight a pretty inefficient way to kill units (just one D6 roll for every AP expended, a profligate expenditure of a valuable resource that tends to be in short supply in the game. This encourages infantry to close in and also reduces the risk of the approach march as well.

Heavy combat in the center as the Prussian Guard (black) challenges the French Guard (white) and line (blue) as the rest of the Prussian Army (grey) looks on.

In our replay of Jena we saw this, as both sides brought their infantry in close. My French ended up prevailing because of the fragility of the 2-figure Prussian Line Infantry, but the Prussian Guard (represented by the black figures) was able to go into the teeth of the French position, and while surrounded by French Guard (white figures) and line troops (blue figures) and live long-enough to fight it's way out again.

Overall, the rule change seems to be an improvement, and I'm looking forward to trying some of the new battles.

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