Sunday 3 June 2012

Unity! Remember That Terrible Word...Some Thoughts on Command & Control

(Minifigs Pbs Alexander the Great - Maybe he needs a more dynamic looking horse?)

On his Gathering of Hosts blog Ross speculated as to why the Persian commanders in Grant's refight of Plataea didn't use their cavalry to exploit the space on the tabletop to their advantage - a tactic so obvious even I adopted it. One possibility Ross mentions is a command and control issue. Since Grant offers no explanation for the Persian tactics we can't be sure, but Ross' question raises the vexed point of how far in front of the main body of the army units should really be allowed to operate. In our refight the Persian cavalry galloped merrily about between Greek lines, often cut off from all sight and sound of their commanders. Would they, could they, have done that?

In the excellent Russo-Polish board-wargame Strike of Eagles at the end of each turn units are assessed to see if they are cut off from their supply lines. Those that are suffer a degree of disintegration. Might we introduce something similar in Parum Pugna? We might say that units that are more than 90cm (36 inches to the Imperialists) from the main body (we would have to define what that is, of course), or cut off from it by the enemy or terrain features, must test morale in the usual manner - those that fail such a test suffering a hit.

(Garrison 20mm Macedonian officer. Rather more dashing than the Minifigs Alexander)

I have long tinkered with the idea of a rule ammendment along these lines. And while Longuelade's Law states that "Rules improve until they are unusable", it is still worth thinking about.

You can read what Ross had to say on Grant's Plataea and much more good and wise stuff at:


  1. (36 inches to the Imperialists)

    Thank you.

    "Rules improve until they are unusable"

    Mrs Kinch ventured an opinion on that subject a few years ago when I was being particularly fat headed about a set of rules. She compared me to a girlfriend of hers, who had picked herself a great boyfriend. All that was needed to make him perfect was a new job and a haircut. Then after that maybe if he gave up smoking.

    And then there were some unsuitable friends of his that needed to go.

    But other than that, he was perfect - so long as he didn't sing.

    She left him eventually, apparently because he wasn't the man she'd loved in the beginning.

    1. Thanks Conrad. If I was given to using text speak I'd certainly have LOLed at this (and not in a David Cameron sense).

  2. The absence of any supply effect is my main complaint against WWII German fetishism. No factories, no fuel, no Tigers. For most tactical games, supply effects would only play a role in the set up of the game. Units would be understrength and morale would be adversely affected but the rest of the game would play out fairly normally. There are of course exceptions such as Isandlwana where ammunition supply was a known factor and those ancient battles where arrow retrieval and reuse or resupply played an important role.

    All of which to say, it may be simpler to build supply problems into the scenario rather than the rules.

  3. There are a couple of other things that occur to me.

    The first is that this is what sub-generals are for. Mind you this argues for multiple players or for old fashioned game-mission orders which I shy away from these days.

    The second is that the Persian cavalry seems to have been doing just this sort of thing the day and week before.

    Makes me wonder if perhaps the main Greek forces came up a little sooner than we think, and the Persians perhaps a little slower. Wouldn't make for nearly as interesting a scenario though so perhaps best ignored.


  4. As a result of gaming the Russian Civil War using Red Actions from The Perfect Captain I have become slightly addicted to Litko status markers. I wonder if there might not be some way of using these to get over the written rules conundrum (I have never liked them). Placing a token - Advance, stand etc - behind a unit, which could be changed instantly if a commander/ sub-commander is within range, but would take a turn to change if he was outside a certain distance and two to change if he was further away. I will write a post on this at some point...