Field of Battle, 3rd edition, by Brent Oman was released in May 2020. It is a substantial book at over 180 pages, but more than half of that is period specific rules, QRS's for each major period covered, and the associated Army "lists" (In FoB, these are more very broad guidelines than any rigid set of lists). There are also full color version of the card fronts for both Season of Battle of Field of Battle which can be photocopied and printed onto card stock or similar. The spiral bound format is new for Piquet/Field of Battle, and is really nice. No broken bindings from thumbing through the rules again and again (although really that is seldom necessary after a couple of games) , and the rules will lay flat on the table.
The current cost for FopB3 is $40 for the print version, or $25 for the pdf version. Both (plus many other FoB/Piquet products) are available from Piquet wargames.
A bit hard to read with the glare, but specific period rules, play sheets, and Army guidelines are provided for:
The English Civil War
War of Spanish Succession
Great Northern War
Seven years War
American War of Independence
Mexican American War
American Civil War
Plus the Season of Battle simple Campaign System.
Professionally printed cards are available. These are my rules of choice for the Napoleonic Wars in particular, so getting the decks was a no-brainer for me.!
The 3rd edition cards came out really nicely. With slimming down the number of card types, and 108 cards there are more than enough for 2 sequence decks; the remainder of the cards are for use with Season Battle, the simplified abstract short Campaign system included in FoB3.
An example of one of each of the standard card types. In FoB3, Ordinarily, every sequence decks will have the same composition except for the Lull and Leadership cards, namely 3 Army Morale, 3 Infantry Fire, 3 Artillery Fire, 2 Tactical Advantage, 3 Melee, 1 Move 1 Command, and 3 Move cards. Inferior decks will have 3 Lulls and 2 Leadership, Average 2 Lulls and 3 Leadership, and Superior decks 1 Lull and 4 Leadership cards.
Special cards, added to some decks as needed. A plethora of options are listed for both the Incident and Special Event Cards, replacing the many specific special cards of previous versions of Filed of Battle.
A sampling of the Season of Battle cards. essentially there are 2 Weather cards and six decks of 7 cards each . Only 2 decks would be used for any one Campaign, choosing suitable colors for the combatants from among the options. There is also a deck of 54 terrain cards for Season of Battle available; I already had a deck from play testing, and once again a full set of color sheets of the card backs for those is also included in the rules. All of these cards are really nicely done.
*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a sample scenario and very detailed playthrough of the rules, based upon the battle of Caldiero in 1805.*
I plan to do a full review of FoB3, but for now, here are my previous reviews of the 1st and second editions:
Field of Battle, and Field of Battle 2nd edition
Field of Battle by Brent Oman is one of my favorite wargames rules sets of all time. With the release of the second edition expected in July, I thought it would be useful to post a review of the 1st edition (green text) that I did a year or so ago (also posted on Mark Severin's site), followed by a listing of my own House Rules for FoB 1st edition Napoleonic games (brown text), followed by a description of many of the changes in the second edition (blue text, with my comments in purple) so you can skip to whatever section(s) interest you. In most cases, the changes to the second edition of FoB are more a matter of clarification and/or fine tuning the rules, rather than wholesale revisions. The description of the 2nd edition changes is based on the draft of December 2010, and reviewed with the permission of the author. They may well have been (and probably were) at least some minor changes made since that draft.
REVIEW OF FIELD OF BATTLE, 1ST EDITION
TITLE: Field of Battle (1st edition, 2006)
AUTHOR: Brent Oman
PUBLISHER: Piquet, Inc.http://www.piquetwargames.com/
PUBLICATION DATE: 2006
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM: https://groups.io/g/PiquetFieldofBattle
(The nearly twenty year old group migrated from yahoogroups in 2019, when the change in their policies became intolerable.)
PRICE (with date): $30.00 (in 2010) * Note that the Piquet Master Rules are NOT needed or used with Field of Battle.
REVIEWED BY: Peter “Gonsalvo” Anderson – While I had nothing to do with the development of Field of Battle aside from providing the figures for and participating in the big playtest game held at Historicon in 2005, I have written 2 rules sets for Piquet (Band of Brothers, 2nd edition; Hostile Realms), and a scenario book for the 1809 Campaign using these rules.
PERIOD COVERED: 1700 – 1900 A.D.
Includes the Napoleonic Wars (1792 - 1815), and also The War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714), Great Northern War (1700 -1721), Jacobite Rebellion (1745) Seven Years War (1756 – 1763), American War of Independence (1775 – 1781), Mexican – American War (1846 – 1848), Sikh Wars, Crimean War (1853 - 1856), Franco Austrian War (1859), American Civil War (1861 – 1865), Maximillian Adventure (1862 – 1867), Austro – Prussian War (1866), Franco-Prussian War (1870 – 1871), Zulu Wars (1879), Mahdist Wars (1881 - 1898)
Field of Battle is a full size ( 8.5” x 11”), 100 page bound rule book with full color cover and black and white interior.
Separate playsheets ( 2 pages only) are included (plain paper – I suggest printing out one of the online files for these ( especially the color version that I did!) 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 now available from Piquet. In addition, I have designed my own full color cards for Field of Battle (with the standard of the relevant nation on the backs of the cards) that print out onto Avery Business card stock using a home inkjet printer.
SCOPE: tactical warfare during the Horse and Musket era
Typically a player will control 2 to 5 Command groups, with roughly 8 to 25 units, say about 100 – 200 figures depending upon basing.
Four stand units of Infantry represent about a battalion of 480 – 720 men, four stand units of Cavalry represent regiments of 400 – 600 men, and 2 stand units of Artillery represent 6 – 8 guns with crew. (I have scaled these up to as much as three times these ratios, i.e. 1 infantry unit = regiment of about 2000 men, etc., and it has worked fine).
- Ground scale: 1” = 25 yards
- Time scale: 1 turn = variable amount of time, from 30 minutes to 2 - 3 hours.
- Figure/Base Ratio: roughly 1 figure = 50 men; For 25mm figures, 3 - 4 Infantry, 2 Cavalry, and 3 - 4 crew plus a gun per stand are suggested, but again this has no effect on play whatsoever.
- Recommended Figure size: 25/28mm, but not really important; players have used 6mm to 40mm.
- Table Size: I have used these rules on tables as small as 5 x 6 feet, and up to 24 feet or more.
- Game Length: three to four hours
Basing is not terribly critical to the play of Field 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”.
Field 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 Move, Artillery Firepower, Infantry Firepower, 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 27 cards. There are another 11 kinds of special/optional cards that can be used to represent special events, characteristics, etc.; my favorite is the “Sneaky Heathens” card, used in Colonial type games to allow the Natives a surprise move interrupting the European player's actions. The 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 Field of Battle, the player's units are organized into Command Groups, which would typically represent a Brigade or Division. 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, French Leaders in 1805 will, on average, be much better ( have higher Leadership Die types) than Austrian ones, but by 1813 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 8” for Infantry and Foot Artillery, 12” for Cavalry and Horse Artillery. On “Even” Leadership Die rolls, special things are allowed, such as changing facing or formation, resolving melees immediately for attack columns, and cavalry, and so on.
Fire Combat: Infantry and Artillery units 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 “puff of smoke”, and may not do so again until the appropriate kind of Firepower card is turned by their side, at which point smoke 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, formation, 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. Infantry start with 4 Unit Integrity (UI), Cavalry 3, and Artillery only 2. When a unit reaches zero UI, it routs; if it reaches -1, it is removed from play entirely.
Close Combat: A similar procedure is used to resolve Melee in Field 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. There are some special provisions for victorious Cavalry and defeated artillery.
Morale: There are no “morale checks” in the traditional sense in Field of Battle (exception – the optional “Resolve” card, which I have yet to ever 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 going Out of Command (like “shaken”), retreating, or routing outright. 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, bad things will happen, ranging from one Command Group pulling back and going Out of Command, to the battle ending in a retreat by the entire army right then and there.
Hofkreigsrat House Rules for FoB Napoleonics, 1st ed.
Hofkreigsrat House Rules for FoB Napoleonics, 1st ed.
As much as I enjoy Field of Battle, like most other Napoleonic wargamers, I have my own biases when it come to Napoleonic Warfare on the tabletop. The following are some very minor adjustments that I make to the game in order to more closely reflect my own tastes. Feel free to use some, none, or all of them in your own games.
Infantry not in Square versus Cavalry: As a general rule, cavalry attacking infantry in good order frontally will usually be defeated, especially if the infantry is “loaded”. That is as it should be, but I feel that for the Napoleonic era, cavalry is still a bit weak when compared to the infantry. Therefore, we give infantry not in Square fighting Cavalry a Down 2 modifier. Other formation modifiers still apply, particularly the Up 1 for Infantry in Attack Column. 2nd edition note: the second edition has improved the average CD ratings for most Cavalry, and several other rules modifications that may change the effectiveness of Cavalry in the game, so this modifier may need to be re-examined for 2nd edition games!
Foot Artillery Mobility: We allow Foot Artillery to perform one action per MOVE segment, regardless of whether the LD roll is even or odd, and in exactly the same fashion Horse Artillery can perform two actions per MOVE segment. The introduction of militarized drivers during the Napoleonic era greatly improved the mobility of field artillery when compared to, say, the 7 Years War.
Artillery Combat Die Ratings: Considering the lack of bounce through fire, as well as the negative modifiers for Artillery in Melee (which includes last minute defense of Battery fire), we feel that artillery are a bit underpowered as per standard Field of Battle ratings. We therefore rate all Napoleonic artillery UP 1 for CD from the values listed in the main rules. 2nd edition note: The ratings for units have been altered so this may also need re-evaluation for 2nd edition games.
Leader Casualties: We find the loss of leaders on a D12 roll of “1” to happen rather too frequently for our tastes; loss of leaders slows the game down considerably. Therefore, we roll a D20 for Leader casualties instead of a D12.
Corps Command: Where present, Corps Commanders may re-roll any ONE Leadership die roll (even a “1”) of his subordinates (using his own LD type) on each MOVE or MOVE ONE COMMAND card; the new roll, even if worse, stands. This does not subject the Corps commander to a Survival Test.
FIELD OF BATTLE, SECOND EDITION
AUTHOR: Brent Oman
RELEASE DATE: September 2011 (hurrah!)
Changes introduced by the Second Edition include:
- Leadership Die Rolls: Now only WINNING even LD rolls allow “fancy Business”, but all units may initiate melee on a winning Even LD roll, not just attack columns.
- March Column: Units that BEGIN THE GAME (or enter the table as reinforcements) in March Formation may deploy at any time using a MOVE segment for the change; thereafter normal deployment rules apply. (I originated this and have been using it for years - necessary, especially for any scenarios where there are reinforcements marching onto the table!)
- Limbered Artillery: Similarly, artillery units that BEGIN the game (or enter the table as reinforcements) may unlimber at any time using a MOVE segment for the change; thereafter normal deployment rules apply.
- Skirmishers: ignore terrain penalties for Class II and II Terrain on an winning EVEN LD roll.
- Players with multiple command groups must choose which group to roll for first, then move that group. Then chose the next, and roll for an move that group, Then the next, and so forth. You may not roll for all your groups and then decide who to move and in what order!
- Leaders: Army Commanders may now ONLY move on a LEADERSHIP card, and only a single (16”)segment. Command group leaders move with their commands, and as many segments as their command rolls, as well as up to 16” on each LEADERSHIP card.
- Rout Movement: is now 8” + D6 for infantry and 12” + D6 for Cavalry (less variable than previously)
- New rules/clarifications are added for moving into and out of town sections, and across rivers, fords and bridges. (I think these are very helpful)
The variability/overlap between ratings has been reduced somewhat – in other words, it is more likely that RAW and RABBLE units (D4 defense die types) will have CD's of 8, and less likely for them to have higher CD's than prior, and conversely fewer if any CRACK and ELITE units will have CD od 8, and more will have CD of D12+1 than in FoB1. Cavalry have moved up about a die type for CD on average, and Heavy Artillery have moved up somewhat on average, too.
are unchanged, however a semantic change in Sequence deck quality is introduced, now ranging from Abysmal to Poor to Average to Skilled to Excellent (instead of Superior to Excellent). Sequence deck compositions are unchanged.
No significant changes.
- Procedure: Melees now only end when at least one side suffers 1 UI loss; if this doesn't happen in a given roll, any effects (Out of Command for units that roll Odd) are imposed immediately, but units remain in contact, hits are *CARRIED OVER*, and another round fought immediately. This continues until at least one side suffers 3 hits or more total(1 UI or more), at which point the melee is over and the loser retreats a distance equal to the total hits suffered in all rounds fought. (this should make Melee more decisive)
- Modifiers: a) The UP 1 for Initiating melee applies only on the first round if initiating melee on an Even LD die roll, but for all rounds when initiating on the MELEE card. b) The unit with a higher Defense Die Type gets an UP 1. c) Units that are Outnumbered (engaged by 2 enemy units) get a DOWN 1 modifier, plus there is a new procedure for resolving 2:1 melees.
- Results: Units that suffer 2 or more UI in a single round will ROUT; units that lose 2UI or more in a single round vs. Cavalry that rolled EVEN are destroyed.
- Pursuit: Victorious cavalry and Natives that roll Odd in their final round lose 1 UI as pursuers; no actual pursuit move is made, and the UI may be regained. There is no Morale point cost for this Pursuit UI loss; however, if this reduces the victorious unit to zero UI it is removed from the game (rather than routing). (I like this change, as I tend to dislike Pursuit rules in general)
- Routed units that are contacted by the enemy are destroyed outright, but no additional Morale Points are lost for this.
- New rules are added for Cavalry evading from melee against infantry and artillery, and Limbered Artillery and Skirmishers evading from melee. In all cases this occurs AFTER the first round of melee (if they survive without Routing).
- Squares in Melee: have a new procedure, but the cavalry vs infantry in square modifier is eliminated (I personally question if this was intentional or an oversight!) (Update 6/4/11 - Brent sent me the final drat, and the modifier is in there is a slightly different form.) Squares may only be engaged in melee on a Melee card, not on an Even winning LD roll.
RALLYING: the procedure is unchanged, but modifiers have changed slightly; the test is now DOWN 2 for Routers at zero UI, but only Down 1 for Routers with 1 or more UI remaining. The TACTICAL ADVANTAGE Card also may now be used to modify the roll.
ARMY MORALE CARD:
- New rules (harsher penalties) are imposed for armies whose C-in-C has been lost and not yet replaced.
- New Army Morale test results – now, if your C-in-C fails the roll, game over; your army retires from the field! If your C-in-C has been lost, the army automatically fails the roll. (I like this change; for large Multiplayer games Morale Points may be tracked and the Morale test taken on a Corps by Corps basis)
MELEE! CARD: This card now allows units within HALF a move segment of the enemy to move into contact with the enemy and resolve melee immediately. There are restrictions: Target must be in line of sight, move must be straight without change of facing (incline move is allowed), and no interpenetration of friendly units is allowed. Additionally, the ½ move to contact may NOT be used across rivers (and presumably streams), fords, or bridges. (I absolutely adore this change; we tested it in two games at Historicon 2010, and I liked it so much I've played with this rule ever since. It speeds up the game, and now the appearance of the MELEE card is often a big deal, as opposed to fairly ho-hum previously).
TACTICAL ADVANTAGE CARD: May now be used to modify any ONE roll other than an Army Morale check/ (Question: does this include the LD vs LD roll for Initiative?; one would think not but it appears to be allowed by the above). (I like this change, too - it puts a bit more usefulness in this otherwise fairly bland card).
POINTS SYSTEM: a decidedly optional points system is included in FoB2. Points range from a low of 34.4 for a Rabble Light Artillery battery to 127 for an Elite Heavy Cavalry unit; a standard Regular Infantry unit is 60.6. (Myself I'd probably divide these by 5, rounding up/down for a little easier math (to me at least) – that would make the Rabble Light Artillery 7 points, the Regular infantry 12, and the Guard Heavy Cavalry 25. Actually, I probably wouldn't use it at all, but still it can be useful to have for those who like them, and when trying to assess a scenario for balance.)
RANDOM SCENARIO GENERATION: FoB2 includes a system for this; I have no further information about this, but would note that Brent has already done scenario generation in great depth for Theater of War and also Command Piquet previously; I would expect the system to be similar to those, but I could be completely wrong there!
Detailed (very) walk through of the Battle of Caldiero, 1805, using FoB3
This was an unusually long game, and there's certainly no need to read all of this... unless you want to!
Caldiero: The Scenario