Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Pulse of Battle - 1500 BC - 500 AD

Field of Battle by Brent Oman is one of my favorite wargames rules sets of all time. Pulse of Battle takes the same key concepts, and adapts them, quite significantly, for warfare in the Classical Ancient period, 1500 BC to 500 AD. For this review, I will follow the same format (originated by Mark "Extra Crispy" Serverin) as I did for my earlier review of Field of Battle.

         REVIEW OF PULSE OF BATTLE, 1500 BC - 500 AD         

TITLE: Pulse of Battle (1st edition)

AUTHOR: Brent Oman

PUBLISHER: Piquet, Inc.


This is an extremely active and helpful group. 

PRICE (with date): $35.00 (in 2014) * Note that the Piquet Master Rules are NOT needed or used with Pulse of Battle. Also printed were special, optional deluxe card decks for Pulse of battle. These are very nice, but not required for play. Availability of the custom decks will be sporadic (when sufficient orders accumulate to justify printing them). 

REVIEWED BY: Peter “Gonsalvo” Anderson – While I had nothing to do with the development of Pulse of Battle, I have written 2 rules sets for Piquet (Band of Brothers, 2nd edition; Hostile Realms), and a scenario book for the 1809 Campaign using the related Field of Battle rules. I also consider the author a friend

PERIOD COVERED: 1500 BC – 500 A.D.
Includes the wars of Ancient Egypt,  Assyria, and related nations, The Greek and Persian Wars, Wars of the Greek City States, Alexander's Wars, Wars of the Diadochi, the 2nd Punic War, Rome's Rise in the East, The Wars of Julius Caesar, Imperial Rome (Conquest and Empire, Imperial Crises and Decline, Late Romans), Wars of the Han Chinese, and China Divided. 

THE BOOK:  Pulse of Battle is a full size ( 8.5” x 11”), 134 page bound rule book with full color cover and some color photos in the interior.

Separate playsheets ( 2 pages only) are included (plain paper – I suggest photopcopying or printing these on to cardstock, or placing them back to back in a sheet protector (which is what I do).

These rules require a deck of Sequence Cards for each army. Very basic, utilitarian versions are provided on plain cardstock (which must be cut out). These are certainly adequate to play the game, but are unlovely. A much nicer set of standard sized color cards are intermittently available from Piquet.

SCOPE: tactical warfare during the Classical Ancient era

ARMY SIZE:  Typically a player will control 3 to 5 Command groups, with roughly 12 to 25 units, say about 150 – 200 figures depending upon basing.

BASE UNIT:  Four stand units of Infantry represent about 480 – 720 men, four stand units of Cavalry represent about 400 – 600 men, and 2 stand units  are used for Chariots (representing 20-30 chariots), Elephants (representing 20 - 30 Elephants) and War Engines (representing 6 – 8 engines with crew). 

  1. Ground scale: 1” = 25 yards
  2. Time scale: 1 turn = variable amount of time, from 30 minutes to 2 - 3 hours.
  3. Figure/Base Ratio: roughly 1 figure = 40 - 60 men; however,  the number of figures per base has no effect on the play of the rules at all. I use figures based to WRG/DBX standards myself with 60mm element frontages (Chariots and elephants are easily dine with two stands of Elephants/Chariots and 2 of Light Infantry "runners", or you can do as the author suggests and use double frontage stands with the LI fuigures on the large bases... or whatever suits you best. It really doesn't matter as long as the frontage is roughly correct. !
  4. Recommended Figure size: 25/28mm, but not really important; players have used 6mm to 40mm.
  5. Table Size: These rules could be used on tables from 4 x 6 feet, and up. If smaller figures and bases are used, the table size (and all distances) may be reduced proportionately. 
  6. Game Length: two to four hours

BASING SIZES:  Basing is not terribly critical to the play of Pulse of Battle. Provided both sides are based the same, the important part of basing is frontage. Infantry, cavalry and artillery stands should all have the same (or close to it) frontage, roughly 1.5 to 2” (or 40 to 60mm). Indeed, 2 stand or even one stand units (as in the Impetus rules) could easily be used

TURN SEQUENCE:  Pulse of Battle uses a Sequence Deck to govern the actions that your troops may take. Each side has their own deck, with the composition being determined by the quality of that Army's Commander in Chief. Each deck generally contains three cards each for Missile Combat, Melee, and Army Morale, plus 2 Tactical Advantage, 3-4 Move, 1-2 Move One Command, 1-2 Maneuver, 2 – 5 Leadership, and 1-6 Lull cards. The better decks have more good cards and fewer Lull cards. All decks have 24 cards. There are another 11 kinds of special/optional cards that can be used to represent special events, characteristics, etc.These are Advance, Arrow Storm, Hairy Barbarians (allows an all Barbarian army a surprise move interrupting the"civilized" player's actions), Resolve (a sort of unit  Morale Check card), Special Event, Thwack (a possible leader casualty card), Uncontrolled Charge, and Warband Charge. One key concept is that, aside from firing “loaded” units, the player can only do what they have the card showing for. Each side doesn't just turn the cards in turn. Each side's commander rolls a Leadership die, ranging from a D8 (eight sided die, numbered 1-8) to a D12+1. The high roller gets to chose whether he will act first or second, but unlike standard Piquet, BOTH sides get the full difference in pips as "impetus" to spend. Each impetus turns a new card, and allows ALL the units of that side to act on that card, if able. When duplicate Leadership die rolls occur, OR one side goes through their entire deck a turn is completed. Thus the flow of events is quite unpredictable, with a marked tendency to ebb and flow! At the same time, the “balanced impetus” means the game is less “unfair” than standard Piquet, and the fact that all units can act on the cards as they are turned keeps everyone in the action – most of the time, anyway!


Movement: In Pulse of Battle, the player's units are organized into Command Groups. A command Group typically contains 2 to 6 units, but there is no absolute upper limit, and some might have a single unit. Each command group has a Leader (general), and each Leader has a Leadership Die determined randomly but influenced heavily by the army he belongs to. For example, early Punic Wars Carthagenian Leaders will, on average, be much better ( have higher Leadership Die types) than early Punic Wars Roman  ones, but as the war drags on, the difference is much less pronounced. When a MOVE card is turned, ALL the Command Group leaders on that side roll their Leadership die against D6 (six sided die) rolls by their opponent. If the Leadership die roll is a “1”, then units of that command group may NOT move on that card. Otherwise, ALL the units in the Command Group will get 1, 2,, or 3 segments of movement depending upon how they scored against the D6 roll. A segment is 6” for Elephants, Medium and Heavy Infantry. 8" for Light Infantry, Heavy Chariots and Camelry, 10" for Light Chariots, Medium and Heavy cavalry, and 12" for Light cavalry and Leaders; Light Engines only move 2", and Heavy engines may not move at all!  . On “Even” Leadership Die rolls, special things are allowed, such as changing facing (changing formation during the game is not allowed), resolving melees immediately, and so on. Pulse of Battle adds a number of subtle new rules for Movement, including an optional initial Army Move. Units in disorder move and sidestep half the usual allowances. Light Units (Psiloi, Peltasts, Light Bow Infantry, Light Chariots, Light Cavalry, and Horse Archers) can continue to move after shooting, and all of the preceding aside from light Bow Infantry can use a special Skirmish movement to move forward, shoot, and retire backwards. Light units can also move backwards at full speed, wile others move back at 1/2 speed, and they can sidestep twice as far as normal units. They also  Finally, troops can evade attack and/or withdraw from melee when opposed by enemy units that are  slower than they are.

Missile Combat: Units with Missile Weapons may “fire” (asses the effects of fire combat up to that point) at any time, but once they do so, they are marked with a “arrows” marker (or similar), and may not do so again until the Missile Combat card is turned by their side, at which point the "arrows" markers are removed. Each unit has a Combat Die type ranging from a D8 to a D12+1, and a Defense Die type ranging from a D4 to D10. Higher die types are better. To resolve fire combat, the unit modifies its Combat die type up or down (hierarchy: D4 – D6 – D8 – D10 – D12 – D12+1 – D12 +2, etc) based upon a limited number of straightforward modifiers for range, armor, etc., and compares their die roll to the opponent's Defense Die roll. If the Combat die roll is higher, for every 3 pips of difference, the target loses a unit integrity. Medium and Heavy Infantry, Cataphracts, and Elephants start with 4 Unit Integrity (UI), Non- Cataphract Cavalry/Camelry, Chariots, Light Bow Infantry (formed lightly to unarmored archers) and "Pelttasts" (includes many looser order troops, often javelin armed, who fight primarily by skirmishing, but are more willing to mix it up in hand to hand combat if needed) have 3 UI, and Psiloi (usually skirmishing archers, crossbowmen and slingers), Scythed Chariots and War Engines only 2. When a unit reaches zero UI, it is removed from play entirely. There are no Routs in Pulse of Battle, a distinct change from Field of Battle, but rolling "Even" and higher than the target still results in the target unit being forced back the pip difference in inches, with the target unit being thrown into Disorder as well if its die roll is Odd.

These markers are available from Litko Aerosystems

Reversse side of theLitko  arrow markers... in case you wanted to paint them or something!

Melee Combat: A similar procedure is used to resolve Melee in Pulse of Battle, but this time only the opposing Combat Die types are used, and both sides modify their die type by a similarly short, straightforward table of modifiers. At first glance, it may indeed seem that there are perhaps too few modifiers, but the rules are rather subtle. One notable new modifier is that of Shock, which applies to the very first round of Frontal melees only; the unit with the highest Shock rating (ranging from a low of War Engines to a high of Pike) gets a bonus in the first round of melee only. Up to three rounds of Melee can be fought per card. In a new twist, if both sides roll Odd, no further additional rounds are fought on that card. Once again, the Even/Odd system is used to determine if units fall back from melee, whether they become disordered, and whether hey "pursue" and/or can follow up a defeated enemy. Phalanxes never withdraw from frontal melees. Overall, the system is much more nuanced than it appears at first read. There are no longer any routs caused by melee combat (or anything else); units that reach zero UI are removed from play immediately, however. One modifier that is missing is one for "Superior Numbers", i.e., 2 on 1 melees. Brent has explained his thinking on this, but so far I'd be inclined to add it (UP 1) as a House Rule. 
Morale: There are no “morale checks” in the traditional sense in Field of Battle (exception – the optional “Resolve” card, which I think probably should be added to the sequence decks of most armies in this era) use in a game), but when combat inflicts damage upon a unit, and the Combat Die roll doing so is “Even”, the enemy generally suffers additional effects, ranging from becoming Disordered if the enemy roll is less and also Odd, retreating, or just withdrawing if the outscored unit rolls even. This greatly speeds up play. At the same time, each army starts the game with a limited number of Morale Points, averaging about one per unit. Each time a unit takes hits, one Morale Point is surrendered for each Unit Integrity lost. When an army reaches zero Morale Points, it is subject to the Army Morale Card. If/when it is turned by an army with zero Morale Points, the army's  Commander-in-Chief roll his Leadership Die against a D12, and if the Commander testing loses the die roll, the game ends with a retreat by the entire army right then and there.

Leadership:  In addition to the MOVE mechanics discussed above, Leaders can rally off Disorder and even UI losses on the Leadership card. This is based upon their Leadership Die and a few simple modifiers. Most leaders are at risk during the battle (assessed on the appearance of the Army Morale Card); the Army Commander is at risk only if he attempts to rally units, is involved in combat, or contacted by Light Cavalry. It will be an unusual battle where at least SOME leaders are not lost. Leaders can attach to a unit under their command, giving the unit an UP 1 in melee; however, they then can only rally that unit (as long as they remain attached), and each time the unit is shot at or fights a round of melee they must check for survival - a roll of "1" on a D12 eliminates them. New Leaders appear on the next Leadership Card, but until that happens no units of that Leader's Command Group may move at all!

Army Lists:   There are the expected Army lists, covering about 70 armies. These are intended simply as guidelines, although if used they allow only limited flexibility in army composition (appropriately so, I would say). Some judgement and knowledge of the armies is necessary to select, say, the Defense Dice types for the units (which in turn influences their likely Combat die rating). Imagine that!  :-)

Chrome:   There are special rules for Phalanx, one time casting of Pila and similar (a bonus in the the first round of one melee only), rampaging Elephants and the "dreaded smell factor" of Elephants and Camels. Other than that, and those covered above, not a lot. This is intentional on the part of the author, who states in the Designer's notes "Essentially, battle in this period was straightforward, with timing and audaciousness quite often being rewarded with victory. Weapons were simple edged missile and melee weapons, and the success of units and armies was more dependent upon the quality of the warrior and his leaders than on the length of his sword or if he was carrying a pike or a spear."  The rules group units into broad functional categories; if you are looking for a "rock-paper-scissors" sort of ancient rules, these are almost certainly not the set for you. I will admit that upon reading the rules through, this made them appear, well, a bit on the bland side. Having played them now, that is clearly NOT the case!

Introductory Scenario:  None is provided in the rules, which I think was an unfortunate omission, especially for a rules set as different as Pulse of Battle is from other rules, even Field of Battle itself. Fear not, gentle readers, for I have taken the liberty of providing you with one, for the Battle of the Trebia, 218 BC, elsewhere on this blog.  LINK1  Like any wargames rules set, you really have to actually play Pulse of Battle a few times to get a feel for how it all fits together. While I can't do that for you, I have tried to do the next best thing, by providing a heavily illustrated, annotated (and hopefully, entertaining) battle report of an action fought using the same scenario. LINK2  and LINK3.

Finally, some  Pulse of Battle Q&A from the Piquet Yahoogroup:

Q: Light Cavalry when in deep formation can shoot all around. It therefore seems odd that unless I throw even I can not move in any direction. I ended up side stepping the max movement to the side which just looked wrong. Am I doing something wrong?

A":  They are still a unit, and cannot simply "transport" to a completely different space - they have the advantage of Skirmish movement, as well as being able to sidestep twice as much as other units, so they are still very flexible.   Give them too much maneuvering advantage and then they get used as super "attack the flank" units which is just wrong.   Unless that's what you want - they are your rules now!

Q: If I am light cavalry facing cavalry which is 6" away and the cavalry have thrown up 4 on an even throw they can charge to contact. The Light cavalry can evade. Can it evade each segment or just once during the whole enemy movement phase? If it can only evade once it is automatically caught so why evade and run the risk of being disordered?

A:  In this instance, you're probably not in the best situation to evade!  Evasion needs to be considered prior to the "get out of jail free" type move.  The enemy is close in your example - probably too close for safety.  Evade when they're farther out.  See the evasion rules.

Q: Just for absolute clarity that means that to use my Light Cavalry bow and still have a chance of evading other cavalry I need to operate between 10" and 8" away from the cavalry. Any further away and I can not fire. Any closer and a Triple Move means the cavalry can catch the Light cavalry even if they evade. This is the case even for Cataphracts.

A: The choice is all yours on how you control your cavalry.   Do you want to risk being charged?   Play it aggressively and move up/fire/fall back and still end up close?   Or are you more cautious and wait for double or triple moves to give you more cushion.   Remember - the enemy also rolls for movement as well.  Just because you are 1 move away doesn't mean that he'll get there.  He could roll a 1!  Or, the tactical situation might make it a bad choice for him to advance, or?????

Q: What happens if evading away from a unit would take the evader off the table edge? Can they come back? Are they lost and if so how does that affect the UI and Morale points situation?

At:  Since they are evading, and not routing, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and move along the baseline.  I wouldn't remove them from the table.

Q:  In the melee resolution are there just three classes light, medium and heavy? I had elephants vs heavy cavalry and did not know if Elephants should count as heavier than the heavy cavalry.

A:  Yes, 3 classes.  See page 10.  Elephants are defined as Heavy.

Q: In 4.5 Interpenetration do I take it that the bullet points only apply to Medium and Heavy units? As such there is no penalty to either unit if Lights are interpenetrating mediums or heavies or visa versa? 

A:  First line of 4.5 - "Interpenetration is allowed by and through all Light Infantry and Light Cavalry".   The tighter restrictions (bullet points) apply to Medium and Heavy units.

Q: If an elephant is behind but touching a unit of Mediums and the elephants roll even and plus 4 on a move card can they move through to the other side of the medium unit and then use a full move segment to charge an enemy unit?

A:  First line above the bullet points - "To interpenetrate a friendly unit, movement in a segment stops at contact with the friendly unit".  So, if you start the move already in contact, then yes, you'd move to the other side on a move segment.  If you weren't in contact, 1 segment to touch the friendly unit, 1 segment to move to the other side of the friendly unit (still in contact).  If you were lucky enough to roll a triple move, then you could use that 3rd segment to move into contact with the enemy.

Q:  I noticed in the Melee card definition there is a reference to an UP 1 for the initiator of the Melee. There does not seem to be any other reference to this in the rules or the play sheet. Is it just something that had slipped through from FoB2?

A:  Aargh.  Yes - its still there in effect - the shock modifier.  But it's not the same as the blanket initiating melee modifier from FoB2.

Q:   Destruction and Pursuit; if an enemy unit is beaten in combat by Cavalry or Warband, and that beaten unit’s losing roll was odd, then Cavalry or Warband have to pursue.  But if you destroy an enemy unit who lost on an odd roll, do you still pursue (with the loss of a UI)? As we read the rules, we thought not as the initial rule on pursuing on page 56 says you only do it if they fall back.  However, the logic of the UI loss is that the unit has lost casualties/moral/motivation, etc, and technically speaking is still there when it reaches 0 UI.  So assuming that destroyed enemy is still there and routing away from you, should it be pursued?

A:  My intent would be for the condition to cause the pursuit, even if the UI loss destroys the enemy.  If they don't roll odd and lose all UI, you wouldn't pursue.

Q:    We were not clear as to how the moves available to Light Bow Infantry differed to those that can use Skirmish Movement.  On page 29 the rules say that light units can always continue to move after shooting, up to the full amount they are allowed.  Later, on page 30, in describing Skirmish Movement, the rules say that skirmishing light units (so not including Light Bow Infantry) can move forward, shoot, and retire at full speed, ending up facing the enemy.  It states that this move is not available to Light Bow Infantry. 
The question we have is that taking the rules for movement on page 29, this seems to mean that a unit of Light Bow Infantry could (if it had 2 or three move segments available to it) move forward, shoot and then move backwards at full speed (which it is allowed to under the rules on movement to the rear on page 29) and end up facing the enemy.  How does this then differ from Skirmish Movement, which is specifically not available to this troop type?

A:  The difference is that Skirmish movement allows full movement to the rear as well.   Light Bow Infantry isn't "skirmish" like Psiloi and Peltast (unless that is how you want to classify them for your game), so they can fire and move, but only forward, or rearward with the 1/2 speed penalty.

Q.  What is Skirmish Movement? From what I can see it's the ability to move up, fire, and move to the rear without penalty facing the enemy. Isn't that the same capabilities given to ALL light units?
Page 29 - Light units (Light Bow Infantry, ...) can always can always continue to move after shooting; up to the full amount they are allowed.
Page 29 - Light units (Light Bow Infantry,...) may move to the rear without penalty, up to the total maximum movement allowed.

A: The difference is that Light Bow infantry cannot use Skirmish Move and thus cannot do all three - move forwards, shoot, and then move backwards, or, for that matter, move forwards and backwards on the same MOVE card (of course, not much reason to do so, unless they were going to shoot). That is what differentiates Skirmish Movement form regular movement. In addition, Light Bow Infantry when moving to the rear move at 1/2 speed like all formed troops.

Additional Clarification re: Light bow infantry:
  • Skirmish troops can move forward, shoot and move back in 1 segment (that’s Skirmish Movement).
  • · Lbi can move forward and shoot at any time in that move and continue moving forward (1 segment).
  • · Medium and Heavy troops can move forward and shoot or shoot and move forward (1 segment).”

Q:    Indirect shooting; just how many layers of missile troops can one have behind a front unit?  The rules simply state that they have to be deployed behind, and touching the unit in front to be able to do this.  So you could have several units of medium infantry archers behind spearmen, or indeed a number of units of horse archers behind each other, or next to each other if in deep formation and shooting sideways. Was there intended to be a limit on how many ranks could do this?

A:  It is a single unit.  On page 41 - Indirect Missile Combat:  A unit that is deployed behind and touching a friendly unit to its front....

Q:    Leaving the table: if your fall back move would take you off the table, do you in fact leave the table, or do you slide along an edge or stop?  And if you do leave the table, should you lose any remaining UIs?

A:  I allow them to stay on the table.

Q:    Bow armed cavalry; the rules specifically mention light cavalry, light chariots and horse archers as having bows; they also mention that medium cavalry might have them.  This may seem a naive question, but can heavy cavalry or cataphracts have them as well? I am not asking about a particular period in history, but more in principle; ie was it intended that these troop types be allowed missile weapons, or are they to be regarded as purely melee troops?

A:  If you have them, the rules will work with them.  You can rate as you wish - its a huge time period, and I'm certain that they existed somewhere, sometime.

Q:    Warbands: in our game with the Republican Romans versus the Celts, the Celtic warbands got thrashed by the Roman infantry, and we couldn’t see how warbands could in fact stand up to the Romans.   In all our melees, they started at best equal to the Romans, and often went one or more die-class down in subsequent turns, even though the Romans had lost their HTW.  One obvious advantage was to have the warbands in deep formation, and have two hit the Roman linear formation one after the other.  We also thought about playing around with proportions of heavy and medium foot in each army (eg making more Romans medium – okay in an early Republican army, but not in a later Republican or Imperial one, and/or making more warbands heavy). However, none of these seemed to be an answer to their relative weakness in this scenario.  So we wondered if you had any suggestions as to tactics to make them more effective?

A1:   Warband Charging is near the top of the Shock listing, so they will get that benefit in the first melee round.  They won't have the greatest staying power, since they are typically Medium infantry, vs. Heavy infantry.   Warband could double up on a linear opponent if they go into the deep formation.  They also treat terrain as 1 class lower for movement.   They are a volatile lot, as they will also tend to pursue.   They're a challenge, but that's the fun!

A2:  For an all "Barb" army like the Celts or Gauls, I'd add one, or maybe even 2 Warbands Charge Cards to the Barbarian Deck. These cost no impetus to turn, and allow additional movement and melees where the WB will get the UP 1 for Shock in the opening round in most cases.     I'd also definitely add the "Hairy Barbarians" card to the "CiviIlized" Sequence deck as well - that makes up to THREE extra chances for Barb movement and charges. Of course the Barbarian Leaders and Sequence deck will likely be inferior, but still, that's a heck of a lot of mobility and charge opportunities.    Finally, the Barbarians should probably outnumber their civilized opponents by ? 25-50% or so - more flank threats, more Morale Points to burn. 
The Roman (etc) player should know his troops and leaders are better man for man, but the crush of seemingly endless Barbs charging them again and again should make the battle feel like a struggle to keep their heads above the tide of hairy unwashed Barbs. Some might liken this to waiting at the entrance to the Flea Market at Historicon when they open the gates.  :-)

Q:  At page 68 under Warband Charge card's definition it says that:  units moving on a Warband Charge card will modify their Quality Die Up 3...  What's a quality die? And where may I find the QD for units?

A:  Quality Die is the same as the Defense Die.

Q:  On page 39 under Rampaging Elephant , after the die for sliding where may I find the rampaging back distance?

A:  The Rampage distance is just the same as the Fall Back distance for normal combat - "rampage" is just a term used to capture the random nature of the unit's movement when it "routs" - goes to 0 UI.

Q:   On page 58 under multiple melees it reads: Hits do not carry over from previous melees to multiple melees. What this exactly means? I can not accumulate hits from my multiple units meleeing a single enemy unit? If so, where is the advantage of attacking with more than one unit, with narrower frontage, such as Deep or in a Phalanx?

A:  The advantage is that UI losses and/or Disorder suffered from melee with the first unit will apply to the outnumbered unit in its combat with the second unit.

Q:  What is the point of Horse Archers? As far as I can tell, they work the same as bow armed light cavalry except that they have a 360 degree arc of fire when in deep formation. This would let them maneuvre interestingly while shooting. Is that the intention?

A:  Yes.  The 360 arc combined with the very flexible movement makes them quite the handful to deal with.

Q:  I note that bows have the same range for infantry and cavalry. I assume that this is because these rules pre-date longbows but I am slightly surprised.

A:  Our group discussed differentiating foot vs. horse bow ranges.  However, it would only be a couple of inches, and given the way skirmishing units have movment flexibility, as well as the way the opportunity shooting works, that difference is never seen on the table.

Q: I was expecting some advantage for lance armed cavalry such as cataphracts. Instead, they work just the same as heavy cavalry armed with swords. Or do cataphracts count as heavier in melee than heavy cavalry or heavy infantry? I assume that the answer is to give such troops a higher quality and so a higher DD.

A:  I didn't want to go down the path of identify weapons that a unit was armed with in order to give them an advantage.  You can account for it in the ratings as you suggest.

Q:  I don't see any advantage to being in deep formation in melee. Is it just that this will allow two units in deep to attack one unit in linear formation? But the linear unit has just as good a chance of beating off both the deep units. In FoB there was some advantage to depth for melee.

A:  Similar to the answer above, I didn't see evidence to suggest that whether a unit was in 6 or 8 ranks made much difference.  Spear and pike armed units have the Deep option as well as the much deeper Phalanx deployment options available to them.  Otherwise, it just didn't seem significant to worry about my Romans being in 6 ranks vs. 8 or 10 "ranks" of smelly German barbarians.  And yes - PoB "is" different than FoB.   It went through quite an evolution to get where it is, but it models what I wanted - troop type, troop capability, the fog of war, and most importantly, the friction on the battlefield.

Q: What happens when a unit gets a second disorder? I think it loses an integrity but I couldn't find it in the heat of battle.

A:  Nothing.  A 2nd disorder doesn't further hurt the unit.   Disorder is defined on page 70 in the glossary.   It works the same as "Out of Command" in FoB, but "Out of Command" doesn't have the right descriptive sound for the ancient era....

Q:  What happens on a lull card when the other player seizes the initiative but has no cards left to play? Does he shuffle his deck and turn a card?

A:  Nothing.  The turn is probably very nearly over if this has happened.

Q:  Under 4.5 Interpenetration it says that Romans can interpenetrate freely without movement penalties, but they still have to roll win even on the move card to do it, right?

A:  Romans amaze and befuddle their enemies!   See page 37 - while other medium and heavy infantry require a won even movement roll, and then have penalties (stop on contact, then move to other side), Roman medium and heavy units can always interpenetrate, without movement penalties.

Q:  Can you shoot when evading?  We had LBi were in front of MI bow, and wanted to evade the former from my charging HISp. As light troops the rules say they can shoot and carry on moving. In fact light troops can shoot at any point in their move and then move to their full extent, whilst MI/HI can shoot and move, or move and shoot. So we accepted that he could shoot, and then evade.  Is this correct?

A:  It would really be non-initiative fire ("Opportunity Fire"), so yes, if you aren't marked as having already shot, they can shoot.

Q:  The rules talk about making a “full move” when evading. Do they mean the absolute maximum distance a unit can move, or the maximum distance a unit can move backwards?  The latter is relevant to LBi and then MI & HI (and other troop types?) as they can only move half a move backwards (so is that half move their full move?).

A:  Yes, it is a full move segment - no rearward move penalty.   They're evading - skedaddling, running.....

Q:  Rampaging elephants move the “required distance”, but that term is not defined.  Is it in line with their normal movement, eg so much forwards, so many base widths sideways, so much to the rear, etc. Or is there a separate distance we should be using?

A:  The required distance for rampaging elephants is whatever the number of hits were to cause them to drop to 0 UI - the same as fall back distances.

Q: When units fall back from melee through other friendly units should it cause disorder to the units passed through and the unit falling back?

A: Disorder is not caused by falling back through a unit. You can add this as a house rule if you wish, its just not in the rules as published (nor was it intended to be).

Q: The Roman CinC died in battle. We didn`t get to revealing a new Leader card. We understand that at that point a new CinC would be selected from the sub commanders. Our query is what happened before then? Unable to find it in the rules when we rolled for Initiative we just rolled a d6 for the Romans. What should we have done?

A: Check page 61 - Effects of Losing the Army Commander. Things are grim if the big guy takes a dirt nap!

Q: A unit advances on a light unit and it evades; then the evader is charged by another unit, can it attempt to evade again or can it only have one evade attempt per segment?

A: It can evade again.


  1. Great review of a great version of FOB/PK

  2. I liked several of the answers to some of the FAQs I looked at. Especially the one about Light Horse sticking around too long too close to enemy cavalry and the 'stay on table' thing for non-routing evaders.

    1. I think Brent has done a good job of modeling the behavior of the various troops classes as set forth above. The rules are far more subtle than they appear on first reading.

  3. That is a very thorough review! Not only game review but Q&A, scenario, and House Rules. Clearly, you are very familiar with these rules.

    Nice job!

    1. I am very familiar with the parent rules, Field of Battle. As always, playing through the rules twice, then reading them again after playing them once clarifies a lot of things that you would have missed otherwise!

  4. Good review, thanks! Would like to pick these up at some stage.

    1. Glad you found it useful. I think you'd enjoy the rules.

  5. Thank you for the detailed review (and also the battle report that I have also read). I have always been interested in the Piquet family but have been put off by the two rules books (even though I do have the master set!). PoB sounds right up my alley - Sgt Steiner report got me looking at these rules and the review and your report has tipped me over the edge.

    1. Thanks! I think you'll enjoy them, Shaun. I assume that in all the words of the review, you realize that the Master rules are not used with PoB (or FoB), right?

    2. Yes, I realise that the master rules are not required. Thanks for making sure I did not need them though! I was more getting that, while interested in Piquet rules, I had got no further than getting the master book.

    3. Although they share a lot in common, there are many differences between the FoB based rules and the standard Piquet based ones. If you like PoB, it is well worth exploring the others as well especially for one on one or solo games.