Saturday, May 21, 2011

Die Fighting, Part V: Turns 3, 4 and 5

It is now time to return to the adventures of Austrian General Herbert von Karrion, and his French rival, Prince Sorbet, as they explore the Die Fighting rules by Bob Jones. We pick up the narrative with Turn Three...

Turn 3, Phase 3: French and Austrian Initiatives
To start the turn a free die roll is made and comes up a “3”; Cavalry Actions. Von Karrion wins the Leadership roll off, but with a false tone of aristocracy, drawls out sonorously “You may go first, Gentlemen of France”. He hopes to get some clue as to Sorbet's plans by observing how he handles his cavalry. Committing 3 of their officer's 4 Leadership dice, one per unit, plus one resource die each, once the re-rolls are done, Sorbet's cavalry thunder across the Raubersfluss, moving 21”, 20”, and 20”! The initiative passes to Von Karrion who decides to stand pat with his Cuirassiers, hoping to rally the second unit later in the turn. He decides the Cavalry on his left flank have too little room to maneuver, but decides to try again to move his all important Horse Artillery across the river, declaring his intent to maneuver as well. He commits all of their officer's leadership dice to the attempt,and succeeds handily.

Sorbet and Von Karrion roll off for the next phase, and both roll an eleven; this tied roll means that the next phase is skipped! Thus Phase 4, Infantry actions, is bypassed, and the roll off goes to Sorbet, rolling a 9 to Von Karrion's pathetic 7 (on four dice!). With his own attempt at savoir-faire, Sorbet announces, “This time, my dear sir, it is you of Austria who shall have the honor of the first move!” Sorbet has a scheme hatching ever so slowly in his his wine addled brain.

Resource Dice Used: 3 French (55 total), 1 Austrian ( 85 total)

Turn Three, Phase 5: Austrian and French Initiatives
Von Karrion sees little point in expending any dice on his artillery at this juncture, and passes the initiative to Sorbet. Sorbet makes free use of Leadership dice to limber up his far right hand battery, move it forward just beyond Raubersdorf, and turn it to face across the river, threatening the Austrian flank. In so doing, though, the battery will be vulnerable, as they are still limbered.

Resource Dice Used: 1 French (56 total), 1 Austrian ( 85 total)

Turn Three, Phase 6, Austrian and French Initiatives
This is the Rally, Restore, and Sorbet wins the roll of this time, and continuing the veneer of false nobility, tells Von Karrion, “But of course, our valiant enemy, you must have the pleasure of acting first!” Von Karrion uses all 4 of the Leadership dice of the Cuirassiers' officer and a single resource die, plus 2 free dice and this time succeeds in rallying the second Cuirassier regiment Both also restore all their officers to their full quota of leadership dice. There are no unloaded units.

Resource Dice Used: 0 French (56 total), 1 Austrian ( 86 total)

Turn Three, Phase 1 and 2: French and Austrian Initiatives
Phase 1 (Special actions) being irrelevant, the play moves to phase 2 (Officer Actions). Von Karrion wins the roll and once again turns the initiative over to his opponent, it making little difference who acts first in this circumstance. Sorbet thereupon repositions his officers, none having less than sufficient movement rolled on their 4 d6's, and Von Karrion does the same. Almost as quickly as it started, Turn Three is over!


Turn Four, Phases 1, 2 and 3: French and Austrian Initiatives
The free die roll to start the turn comes up “1”, Special Actions. In a twist of the Dice-Deities a bit too suitable to be chance alone, The French and Austrian rolls are tied, thus skipping this essentially useless phase! Von Karrion wins the toss for phase 2, but has no need to reposition any officers, while Sorbet makes use of some additional movement to catch his officers up to their troops on the French Left flank. Von Karrion then wins the roll-off for phase 3 (Cavalry actions), and having little he wishes to do, hands off the initiative once again to Sorbet. The French Cavalry brigade announces its intent to maneuver, and with the assistance of some Leadership dice, it moves towards the far edge of the table and starts to turn to face the Austrian Cuirassiers.

Von Karrion waves his gloves dismissively, declining the opportunity to act with his own horsemen. The key initiative roll for Phase 4 (Infantry actions comes, and Von Karrion just manages to come up with a winning roll. “I shall take what Fate has offered here, Prince” he chortles, as he starts moving his Infantry again at last!

Resource Dice Used: 3 French (59 total), 0 Austrian ( 86 total)

Turn Four, Phase 4: Austrian Initiative
Starting from his left and proceeding to his right, Von Karrion moves the Infantry of his Advanced Guard forwards; unable to benefit from even their Poor Command, the Mass Column proceeds only 9”; still, it is enough to create maneuvering room for the Austrian light cavalry at last.


One of the central mass columns moves half of the formation forwards, and deploys the other half into line.

 In the Raubersgrube, the Austrian Mass Column, with officer assistance, easily scales the crest of the heights and proceeds down the other side, where it find itself on the flank of the French Leger. The earlier tables are about to be turned, it seems! “I say Prince, I believe I have a flank shot on your Lights with my two right hand units. I shall fire the closer unit first, using 2 Resource dice.”

Karrion's ears. His countenance brightens further, as he asks, “Aren't you forgetting something, my good man?” “I rather doubt it” replies Sorbet tartly. “Well, I have taken the second level of the heights; be a sport and toss another 10 dice into the bin, eh?”. Sorbet counts out the dice rather more slowly than necessary, and allows them to trickle from his hands to join their many fellows.

Resource Dice Used: 36 French (95 total), 4 Austrian ( 102 total)

Turn Four, Phase 4: French Initiative
The outflanked Light Infantry mass column is the first French priority; their Commander has already used all his leadership dice in bolstering the morale of his troops, but as they are Elite Light Infantry in Column Mass they still get three free dice. “I'm sure you will find it shocking that I intend to maneuver with these fine fellows, Von Karrion” he announces. The die rolls are sufficient for them to turn 90 degrees and move to close range. As the Austrians opposite them have fired markers on them, they cannot shoot. The second Light Infantry brigade, with the support of three of it's officer's five dice, likewise announces its intent to maneuver and move. Although it costs 12” of movement to maneuver 90 degrees, their movement is still sufficient to bring them to within close range of the remaining Austrians on the Raubergrube heights.

 “My two loaded units will of course fire at your Legere as they advance” interjects the Austrian general.“It is my intent to fire with all four units at your infantry opposite them” Sorbet declares. “However, it seems only sporting that, as I am advancing upon your position, that you should fire first, and any effects of that fire will take place before my troops issue fire themselves.”

Sorbet has retained 2 Leadership dice of General Camembert, having anticipated this situation. However, the fast moving light infantry have outpaced their leader by quite a distance, and one of his two attempts to transfer a Leadership die to each fails, even with 5 dice to roll, while the other succeeds. In the event, benefiting from re-rolls for first fire and higher ground, the un-bolstered unit is bested by 5. As Camembert is a Fabian commander, they MUST retreat the difference (5”), BUT they remain in good order at no additional resource die cost. The second Austrian unit fails to better the score of its French opponent, bolstered as it is by the passed yellow Leadership die. Both Austrian units are marked with puffs of smoke.

Sorbet then shoots with the three Legere units at close range. The left hand unit has dice as hot as butter sauteing shallots, and rolls a score of 15, whilst its Austrian target rolls only 7 with three dice, even after re-rolling its lowest die. The Austrian unit must fall back 8” in Disorder (retreats over 6” present no option to exchange dice for retreating). The second Austrian unit outscores its French opponent, and so there is no effect. The final unit of French Legere, benefiting from its more carefully loaded First Fire, outscores its target by 5. With the Reload phase coming up soon, Von Karrion chooses to pay the 5 extra resource dice and have the unit stand in Good order. All firers and targets have rolled 2 Resource dice apiece.

In the center, Sorbet has a single unit in line, augmented by many Leadership dice, move forwards and change facing, thus supporting the still limbered light battery alongside Raubersdorf. The remaining units of the center seem well placed, and thus Sorbet decides against using any dice for minor repositioning.

On the French Right, Sorbet moves his Division in Column Mass forward, beyond the plowed field, and into close range of the Austrian Advanced guard. One unit of the other division on the right moves into the second house of Raubersdorf, while the other two units, augmented by Leadership dice, move forwards in support, halting at the edge of the plough. This time, Von Karrion remains silent in the face of the French advance.

I say, my dear chap, I fancy some shots at your advance guard with my Line infantry in Column Mass”, Sorbet remarks causally.

Oh you do, eh? Well I bloody well will fire at your lads as they close.” blusters Von Karrion in response.

Very well, if you must”, responds Sorbet. “But see here. You have not declared your intent to fire until I did so myself, and therefore the effects will be simultaneous.”

Blimey, I don't recall seeing that in the rules, Prince!”

You didn't. Monsieur Jones, that noted authority on the Art of War, is quite silent on the matter. But it seems only in good taste that it should be so.”

Well, old boy, I'll go along with your proposal; otherwise we shall have to ask Herr von Brenner's opinion, and he seemed to be enjoying that Riesling rather too much to trust him for a coherent opinion!”

The four French and Austrian units exchange simultaneous fire, and there is much clattering of dice being rolled and re-rolled again; in each case the respective generals chose to roll 2 red resource dice on defense and shooting; Sorbet had held back 2 Leadership dice and is successful in transferring one to each of two of the closest units of the Division. When the extensive smoke settles, Sorbet's fire failed to impact 3 units, but the 4th was bested by 7, and must retreat 7” in Disorder. Similarly, Von Karrion only manages to inflict losses on one French unit, and that by only 2 pips. Sorbet chooses to pay the two extra resource dice and stand his ground in good order with that unit.

Cursed lot of damp powder my Croats must have,” bellows Von Karrion.

Be a good man and handle over another 10 resource dice, if you please?” asks Sorbet sweetly. This is the glace on his meringue.

Huh? Oh, yes I see, you have claimed another building of Raubersdorf this phase. Well, I suppose turnabout is fair play, and all that rot!” Difficult as it is to believe, the longest phase of the battle thus far is completed.
Resource Dice Used:
French: 12 for movement, 14 for fire, 16 for fire defense, 7 for loses and 2 to stand ground – total of 51! (146 total);
Austrian: 16 for fire, 14 for fire defense, 20 for losses, 5 to stand ground, and 10 for French occupation of the second building of Raubersdorf – total of 65! ( 167 total)

Turn Four, Phase 5: Austrian and French Initiatives
Von Karrion wins the toss, and acts first in the Artillery Actions phase. He decides that his troops need artillery support, and adding 3 of his personal Leadership dice to the attempt, has the far right had 6lber battery limber and move forward. Deducting the 6” to limber, the move is only 5”. On the Austrian Left, the Cavalry Commander of the advanced guard contributes all three of his leadership dice, and that plus 1 red die and 2 green dice rolls up as 23, enough to move the battery 11”, change facing, and unlimber. With the Reload phase coming up, Von Karrion elects to fire. On measurement, the range is just over 7” to the nearest French unit, so it is long range, awarding the target an extra free die, while the artillery gets a free die for shooting at a column. Von Karrion rolls that plus 2 red dice 5, 6, 2; as it is his first fire, he can re-roll the 2 and it comes up a 4; fifteen in total! “Put that in your snuff box and sniff it, Prince. Smells like Black Powder to me!” Sorbet's smile melts as he tosses 6,1,1! Fortunately, he can re-roll the multiple, and he comes up with a 6 and a 2, for a total of 14; he pays the extra resource die to stand in good order.

The initiative passes to Sorbet. He desperately needs to unlimber his Foot battery alongside Raubersdorf, and so he uses a red die plus 2 green dice (for limbered artillery, and easily scores above the 6 needed to unlimber; given the situation around the battery, it barely inches forward before unlimbering. He also decides to limber up his horse battery with the assistance of 2 free dice from the artillery commander.

Resource Dice Used: French: 4 (150 total), Austrian 2 (169 total)

Turn Four, Phase 6: Austrian Initiative
Van Karrion has used 1 of his Leadership dice thus far, while Sorbet has used them all; Von Karrion easily wins the initiative for this critical Rally, Reload, and Restore phase. “Sorry, old bean, but I am most assuredly going to carpe the diem, as it were!” He reloads all of his infantry and the horse battery, and then fires all but the two Disordered units! Sorbet wilts like lettuce in the sun on a summer's day.

Over on the Raubersgrube, the three Austrian infantry units fire at the French to their front. With the advantage of the heights, 2 units score 6 hits each on their targets, and the other unit misses. One of the target units is commanded by the Fabian Camembert, so it must retreat 6” but remain in Good Order at no additional cost. Sorbet grimly pays the extra six dice for his other unit to remain in position in Good Order.

On the Austrian Left flank, the Horse artillery misses, and so does one of the Infantry units, but the other two beat their French targets by two and six pips respectively. Sorbet feels his face flush as he pays the extra 8 dice to stand, and whines, “Are you quite DONE, my good fellow?” Von Karrion, rather pleased with his tactical brilliance, declares, “Just let me restore my Leadership dice, and attempt my rallies, and it will be your go!” The Disordered unit on the Raubersgrube is too far from its commander to benefit from Leadership dice, and Von Karrion decides not to even make the attempt. He does attempt to rally the Grenz unit that was forced back on the far flank, failing miserably, the Poor Leader being too far to offer support.

Resource Dice Used: French: 34 (184 total), Austrian 14 (183 total)

Turn Four, Phase 6: French Initiative
Sorbet opts to reload his 3 Light Infantry units on his left, but opts not to fire them at this time. He removes the fired marker from the Light Artillery battery that unlimbered but again chooses to hold his fire, figuring it may discourage excessive adventuring on the part of Von Karrion. He reloads his 4 Line Infantry units in Column Mass, and shoot with one of them, scoring a perfect 18 with 3 dice! Even with a re-roll, the target can manage no better than a 7, and are forced back 11”, almost to the table edge, in Disorder. The wily Frenchman decides to hold fire with his other three units. He has no units requiring Rallying, and thus Restores all of his officers to their full quota of Leadership dice. Turn Four is over!

Resource Dice Used: French: 2 (186 total), Austrian 11 (194 total)

Commentary By Herr von Brenner:
What? Oh yes; sorry, really excellent vintage you have here, by the way! Well, this turn nicely indicates how rapidly firefights can consume Resource dice, and yet often without decisive results. Still, Sorbet and his French seem to be slowly gaining the upper hand. We shall see if Von Karrion can generate some momentum of his own. I do wonder why Sorbet hasn't attempted to at least seize control of his side of the bridge, don't you?"


Turn Five, Phases 6, 1, and 2: Austrian and French Initiatives.
D6 roll is 6, Rally, Reload and Restore again. Oops, this could cause discussion about who can fire when with what modifiers! In the event, Sorbet and Von Karrion both roll a 14, and so the phase is instead skipped entirely. The pointless Phase 1 (Special actions is then skipped by mutual consent. Phase 2 (officer actions follows), and Von Karrion wins the roll. He repositions his officers, and the Sorbet does the same for his – very important as many had fallen well behind their troops.

Turn Five, Phase 3: French and Austrian Initiatives
Von Karrion wins this phase, Cavalry actions, but sings out “My dear Prince, if you would be so kind to act first, I would be ever so much obliged!” Sorbet, using a single red die and one Leadership die added to the 2 green dice for being in column of route (limbered), rolls 17, and moves his Horse artillery battery forwards 11” and unlimbered. In so doing, it passes within long range of an Austrian Light Battery. Von Karrion cannot resist firing, but even with a re-roll and using 2 red dice, he can score no more than 5! Sorbet disdainfully add a leadership die to a single red resource die, easily exceeding the battery's roll. He then carefully adjusts the positions of his light cavalry brigade, careful to use NO Leadership dice, and to keep them a long distance from from the Austrian Cuirassiers and yet situated to guard the flanks of his infantry. The Hussar unit lags behind, acting as a reserve.

Von Karrion then acts. The French artillery are making a crossing of the Raubersfluss with the Light cavalry of his Advanced guard look altogether too hazardous. He decides the unloaded horse battery is looking terribly vulnerable, and decides to limber and withdraw it. He debates long and hard whether to charge the French Light cavalry, and despite the distance and the probability of taking fire from the Light infantry as the heavies round the Raubersgrube, he simply cannot resist the allure of the Grand Charge. Figuring that the Cuirassiers will be too far away to add Leadership dice in the melee anyway, he allocates to LD to each unit. With the extra dice for Heavy Cavalry, Attack Column, and an Headstrong general, each unit will roll one red, two yellow, and three green dice for movement! Despite six dice, the first unit only manages to score 19; as it turns out, the French Cavalry is just under 20” away, so the charge would fall short. As their officer is Headstrong, they MUST move the full distance. As they do so, however, they come within range of the Leger, who are loaded, and fire. They commit two red dice and with two green free dice, roll a total of 11; the Cuirassiers can only manage a miserable 3 with two dice (Allegre had committed all his Leadership dice to movement for the charge). The first Cuirassier regiment must withdraw 8” in Disorder. The second Regiment, however, rolls 26” of movement, more than enough to charge home on the opposing French Chevau-Leger Lancier regiment. With two extra dice for Charging and being Heavy Cavalry, plus a re-roll for being in attack column, as opposed to one free die for being a defender in column, the Cuirassiers outscore the Lancers by 9; the lancers withdraw 9” in Disorder (nearly to the edge of the table), and Sorbet tosses another 9 red dice into the discard bin.

“Good Heavens, Sorbet, I have forced a retreat from melee of more than 6” and may choose to pursue!” If he can contact the now Disordered Lancers, it will be an almost certain victory, which will force then off the table and award an additional bonus of resource dice equal to the units starting value, in this case 10 dice for a Line unit. On the other hand, if he fails to contact them, the Cuirassiers will themselves fall into disorder. In any event, they will be blown after this phase until rallied. Blown cavalry do not benefit from any free dice. In the Napoleonic era, a pursuing unit receives 2 free dice. It is a bit of a long shot, but if he succeeds, the rewards will be great, so Von Karrion decides to chance it. He rolls a 6.... and a 2; 8”. “Short by a miserable inch, by jingo!” laments the General. The Cuirassiers move forwards 8 more inches, and fall into Disorder... so close, and yet so far!

Resource Dice Used: French: 15 (201 total), Austrian 20 (214 total)

Turn Five, phase 4: Austrian Initiative
Von Karrion wins the roll, and opts to act first in this Infantry Actions phase. . He feels reluctant to move most of his infantry but decides to withdraw his outnumbered Advanced Guard somewhat. As he announces his intent to do so, Sorbet declares his intent to fire upon them before they can do so, first with two of his artillery batteries, and then, if they remain in position, his infantry. He fires the Horse Artillery first; as they are rated elite, they get an extra free die for that, plus an extra free die for shooting at a column; the target can re-roll its lowest die as it is under fire from long range for the first time from that battery. In the event, the result is a difference of 11! The Hungarians must withdraw 11” in Disorder! This leaves the Light Battery without a target in their field of fire, so they decide not to shoot. Two loaded French Line shoot at the remaining Hungarian Line, beating it by 5 and by 3. Von Karrion pays the extra dice to maintain good order, and then uses a single red resource die, with a free die for column to withdraw in good order.

Resource Dice Used: French: 6 (207 total), Austrian 28 (242 total)

Turn Five, Phase 4: French Initiative
Sorbet, smelling blood, eagerly directs the attack by his 6th Division on the far French right. He does not make any charge declarations, but uses a Leadership die to ensure one of the units is able to contact a disordered Grenz unit, and then plans to add the remaining Leadership dice of their officer to the attack by another unit. The remaining two columns move forward but are unable to contact the enemy, being left without any Leadership dice to augment their move. The Disordered Grenz actually manage to win their melee by 3, but the 2 Leadership dice added to the assault on the only remaining Hungarian unit in Good order results in a French victory by six pips; in each cases the generals cannot choose to pay the dice to remain in Good Order when losing a melee, but MUST retreat the full distance in Disorder.

Sorbet then uses Leadership dice to augment the moves of 3 Line Regiments of his 5th Division moving up in support of the 6th; no combat is possible involving these units.

Sorbet chooses to conserve resource dice and not move any of the units of the 2nd or 3rd Infantry Divisions. He does, however, move up the two loaded Legere units into contact with the Raubersgrube, and they plus the remaining loaded Legere fire upon the Austrians on the heights; as the targets all have Fired markers, they cannot reply. Two of them outscore their targets by one and 3 pips respectively; Von Karrion pays the extra 4 dice for them to stand in Good Order.
Resource Dice Used: French: 17 (224 total), Austrian 24 (266 total)

Turn Five, Phase 5: Austrian Initiative
Von Karrion seeing his left flank in a shambles, realizes that it is only a matter of time before all of those units are forced from the table, with an ensuing enormous loss of resource dice. The over-reached Cuirassiers are almost certainly doomed as well. There are few prospects for decisive action on his part. “My good fellow, I believe that at this juncture, I must announce my intent to concede this sordid little affair. My troops shall commence to withdraw at once!”

I see”, replies Sorbet. “Well, the fortunes of war are never certain, but I confess your lads on the far side of the Raub look all but rolled up, and their destruction should bring about exhaustion of your resource dice. In order to avert any further needless blood shed, I accept!” The battle on the Raubersfluss is over!

In closing we once again turn to that noted bon-vivant, Herr Ignatius Q. von Brenner. Your final thoughts, Herr von Brenner? “Certainly Von Karrion was wise to concede; had the remaining units of his Advanced Guard been forced from the table, which seems all but inevitable, the loss of resource dice would have been catastrophic, and put him far over his limit, especially if Sorbet had shown some real initiative and attempts to seize the bridge as well. The Cuirassiers are unlikely to survive the next Cavalry action card. Neither side made particularly good use of their Artillery units, I must say. Still, I suppose the threat of their fire prevented any decisive action around the bridge itself, leaving the battle to be decided on the flanks. Von Karrion showed a serious error in judgment in assigning his own foray over the river to the Advanced guard; it was composed of inferior troops and had far too Poor a leader for an offensive force. On the other hand, it was only the superb leadership of the French Light Brigade commanders, Boursin and Camembert, that prevented them from coming off much worse in the firefight on the Raubersgrube, rather than any particular brilliance on the part of Sorbet. The French were probably lucky the second Cuirassier regiment was unable to contact their Light cavalry; charging cavalry are at a decided advantage over stationary horsemen. Had Allegre been close enough to add his Leadership dice to the melee roll, the effect might have been devastating. Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I hear the chef calling us to dinner. Do try the Riesling; it is truly quite wonderful!”

Player's Observations:
The game actually played much, much faster than it seems reading the account; indeed, writing this narrative took many times as long as the game itself. The game was fun, and once the game's mechanisms were mastered, fast moving as well. The limited resource dice mean that the players really must be careful not to fritter them away on actions that are unlikely to influence the final outcome of the battle. When units retreat in Disorder, they are vulnerable, but if they are not engaged as quickly as possible, they will often rally and return to the battle once again; on the other hand, forcing units from the table conveys a double bonus, both by eliminating their capacity to damage the opponent, and the additional resource dice lost.

Leadership is key; a side with more and better Leaders, especially in the critical sectors, has a big leg up on its opponent... provided the Leadership dice are used wisely. The various special attributes of Leaders (Poor, Foolhardy, Fabian, Skilled, Headstrong, etc) adds character to the game, but it can sometimes be hard to figure out the final impact if the C-in-C and Sub-commander of a unit have differing special attributes.

This battle used the simplest of many options for sequencing the events within a turn of Die Fighting. There are several others suggested in the rules, and both players may even be using different methods and executing different phases from one another! Choosing different sequencing methods can illustrate the advantages (or lack thereof) pertaining to overall army efficiency and initiative on the battlefield.

Finally, the rules book would definitely benefit from more examples of play to assist the new player in coming to grips with the rules; this report itself is an attempt to provide some such.. On the other hand, Bob is very active on the Repique Rules mailing list and answers questions promptly, often within hours. The Repique Rules mailing list also has a FAQ and errata for the rules, which is updated as issues arrive. There are adaptions of the rules planned for other eras, and of the greatest interest to me, a Campaign system, “Die Marching”, is planned for later this year.

May your dice roll 6's when you need them most,



  1. In attempting to clean up my own typos, I accidentally deleted Garry's comment:

    Sgt Steiner says:

    Hi Peter

    Great read again. Glad to hear you enjoyed the rules. Certainly fast and slick. I agree more examples would be a boon.


  2. Thanks, Garry; glad you enjoyed it!