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Subject: Leader Abilities rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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So it is clear now the Bourbons are heavily favored. As others have pointed out Marlborough is underrated, and the combined TR rating of the generals on each side is equal. Of course he was not perfect. He became overconfident after Oudenarde, and his moves after that battle leave much to be desired. He ultimately did not win the war and when Winston Churchill said "he quitted war invincible" one can only surmise that he did not understand the horror and the consequences of Malplaquet. Villars was more accurate: "if it please God to give your majesty's enemies another such victory, they are ruined." It turned the tide against the alliance, with Britain only securing terms through through actions that give the perfidious Albion myth some merit. I'm not surprised though. Winston Churchill's grasp of history and warfare was uneven.

Still, the game makes it nigh impossible to win a victory on the scale of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Oudenarde. It reminds me of The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition), where Napoleon is only slightly better than Kutuzov, which would be a joke if not for their ratings in Kutuzov. In Age of Napoleon Napoleon is a beast but not invincible. The same should apply to Marlborough, who's greatness in the annuals of British military history is rivaled only by Wellington.

Early French defeats were due to bickering among the French generals and Louis XIV's declining abilities. The French, having been successful in the previous decades, failed to reform their tactical doctrine. The game does not really reflect this, although it is accurate in putting France in the stronger strategic position at the game's start. This is arguably why France won the war (seems more like a draw to me), although like all 18th century wars the winner paid a high price and suffered in later battles.

To remedy this imbalance, I have some ideas. I love leader abilities since they can reflect the special talent and liabilities of the various personalities while making each unique. Tell me what you guys think.


Dutch and British Superiority

Dutch and British corps count results of 4 as half-hits until 1709.

Alliance Leader Abilities

Baden: TR 2 for the purposes of siege combat.

Eugene: TR 3 when fighting without any other friendly leaders.

Galway: After a battle in which there are surviving corps, flip one corps from its reduced to its full side.

Marlborough: Always causes 1 extra hit in battle. May re-roll 2 dice in any battle or siege. If attacking an army, unless Tallard is present, that could otherwise avoid battle, they must roll a 2-6 to avoid battle.

Overkirk: TR 2 if fighting with another commander.

Starhemberg: May re-roll 1 die in any battle.

Bourbon Leader Abilities

Berwick: At the start of each turn on a result of 5-6 he is removed from play for that turn. This can occur several times in a row.

Boufflers: TR 2 for the purposes of siege combat.

Max Emmanuel: If he is captured or killed in battle, the alliance immediately gains 2 VP.

Tallard: He must always roll a die in order avoid battle. This die roll cannot be superseded by other leaders.

Vendome: At the start of each battle, after the inactive army has decided whether or not to avoid battle, on a result of 6 he is TR 0 for that battle.

Villars: CR 4 until 1709. His counter is never demoralized.
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Kris Van Beurden
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Wait, so every allied leader gets a bonus ability (I'm not sure if Eugene gets a bonus ability because you omitted a character I think?), and five of the six bourbon leaders get a penalty? I think this is overly harsh, especially with the British/Dutch bonus. Big victories can be won / big allied advances can be made during the turns when Villars is fighting camissard rebels or intriguing in Versailles ...

Good, the Bourbons are favored. But this would be a step too far imo (without any testing of course, just gut feeling)...
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Charles Vasey
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gittes wrote:
Tell me what you guys think.




These are interesting ideas but since I disagree with your historical analysis of the situation comments on them would not really help. However, I believe the problems of history (though that's the problems I perceive rather than the ones you perceive) are better dealt with by more general changes than giving individual leaders special abilities.

What about the Marquis de Ruvigny gives him the ability to reform corps? I'm reading on the first peninsula at present and this would help.
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Tegarend wrote:
Wait, so every allied leader gets a bonus ability (I'm not sure if Eugene gets a bonus ability because you omitted a character I think?), and five of the six bourbon leaders get a penalty? I think this is overly harsh, especially with the British/Dutch bonus. Big victories can be won / big allied advances can be made during the turns when Villars is fighting camissard rebels or intriguing in Versailles ...

Good, the Bourbons are favored. But this would be a step too far imo (without any testing of course, just gut feeling)...


That is my gut feeling too. So the question is, what sounds good to you?

To me three things are obvious:

1. Marlborough is underrated

2. Putting Vendome and Berwick, talented as they were, on par with Eugene and Villars is silly.

3. Berwick and Villars find themselves in high command positions far too often. If anything, Villars needs a mechanic like you see in Civil War games that prevent Grant from taking full command in 1864. Maybe he should not be promoted until 1709?
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Charles Vasey wrote:
These are interesting ideas but since I disagree with your historical analysis of the situation comments on them would not really help.


I'm not so sure Mr. Vasey. In spite of some earlier disagreements over historical matters, I was hoping you would respond to this post. You are a sharp man with a greater knowledge of this era in particular than I have. That, and you designed Chariot Lords and Unhappy King Charles!

So really, anything you think I am wrong about or that I am overlooking, please feel free to tell me. This is a conflict I only know about in the broad strokes.

Quote:
However, I believe the problems of history (though that's the problems I perceive rather than the ones you perceive) are better dealt with by more general changes than giving individual leaders special abilities.


The simple answer that I see is, one should bid to be the Bourbons. I admit I am not a fan of such things, although they are easy to implement. Do you have any ideas?

Quote:
What about the Marquis de Ruvigny gives him the ability to reform corps? I'm reading on the first peninsula at present and this would help.


I really struggled with him because I mostly know about Marlborough's campaigns. He seems to have had a knack for organization, but I may be wrong here. Any advice you can give would be welcome.
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Kris Van Beurden
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I am not really well-read on the conflict & maybe my Bourbon players are always incompetent (usually I play this game solo, so I guess he is incompetent), but usually what happens keeps within the historical possibilities - lots of maneuver in Flanders (usually eventually reaching into northern France), some fighting in Germany (knocking out bavaria), sometimes reaching into France by way of Strasbourg, Italy remaining fairly unchanged (sometimes the "money" spaces are conquered by alliance, sometimes not), Spain being invaded but successfully defended by Bourbons.

As far as I remember the "real" conflict going, in the early turns the Allies would have received a few "Major Victories) and the cities in Flanders + Bavaria, but those things can happen in NPWS. They are just not amongst the most likely events. However, in my experience the allies can recover easier from a major defeat in Flanders than the French ... those 2/3 additional RPs are in my opinion close to enough to balance the Bourbon defensive position.


My games usually ends in the high teens, low twenties VPs (and usually indeed minor Bourbon victory). However, I don't think things should go much worse for the Bourbons in the early years. If anything should be changed, it should be that Bourbons in the end game weaken somewhat faster (or at least, each game as fast). Maybe decide on two events that have to occur in 1708 when the new deck is added (or even one?). French Financial Collapse always occuring in 1708 could perhaps go a long way to solve this bourbon imbalance?

... or indeed there is always blind bidding ...


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At present I've not formed my views with enough certainty to be worth stating them, even worse, I have a design sketch of my own on the topic and too often therefore my thoughts drift that way.

I do not regard the French as being tactically backward but I find data on the period hard to obtain; in desperation I translated an account of Neerwinden on my Yahoo Group. It revealed a combat style which I can only describe as charging; the French units were always ripping about led by charismatic nobles and royals. It reminded me of a slightly less energetic Swedish army of the GNW. But this was an army energised by the presence of Luxembourg, did the generals of the SWOS lack a giant like him (giant in the metaphorical sense only)? Did French armies respond best to a "fighting-general" like Villars? The answer is that I'm not sure, but I feel there is something there.

You raise the question of Berwick being in command too often, I could swear he got bounced in Spain at least once (or was that Orleans?) for cheeking the Princesse d'Ursins. The game, possibly wisely, misses out the internal politicking that meant many a general's worst enemy was on his own side or at Court.
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Well, the internal politicking is slightly there with the Versailles event card
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Good point, it all depends how far you want to take the detail. I came up with a Blood rule in my sketch, you had to have a certain number of "of the Blood" commanders to keep things looking right; thank goodness for Henri IV's bastards!
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Charles Vasey wrote:
I do not regard the French as being tactically backward but I find data on the period hard to obtain; in desperation I translated an account of Neerwinden on my Yahoo Group. It revealed a combat style which I can only describe as charging; the French units were always ripping about led by charismatic nobles and royals. It reminded me of a slightly less energetic Swedish army of the GNW. But this was an army energised by the presence of Luxembourg, did the generals of the SWOS lack a giant like him (giant in the metaphorical sense only)? Did French armies respond best to a "fighting-general" like Villars? The answer is that I'm not sure, but I feel there is something there.


That might explain much, including Villars' success. It certainly does not appear that Tallard inspired his men.

As for the French being backwards, I think it more or less the British and Dutch having a better tactical system. It included "rolling" fire, more compact ranks of infantry, and cavalry trained for shock. The French gradually adopted rolling fire as the war dragged on and it showed.

Quote:
You raise the question of Berwick being in command too often, I could swear he got bounced in Spain at least once (or was that Orleans?) for cheeking the Princesse d'Ursins. The game, possibly wisely, misses out the internal politicking that meant many a general's worst enemy was on his own side or at Court.


There is the Versailles card, but the problem is, it happens once and that is it. Maybe it should be reshuffled into the deck?

Berwick was an English bastard. Sure, his father is James II, but he is not "of the blood" which is why I like this idea of yours:

Charles Vasey wrote:
Good point, it all depends how far you want to take the detail. I came up with a Blood rule in my sketch, you had to have a certain number of "of the Blood" commanders to keep things looking right; thank goodness for Henri IV's bastards!


It would also work in games on the other conflicts of the era. It would prevent the early Ascension of Maurice de Saxe, another talented foreign bastard.
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Tegarend wrote:
I am not really well-read on the conflict & maybe my Bourbon players are always incompetent (usually I play this game solo, so I guess he is incompetent), but usually what happens keeps within the historical possibilities - lots of maneuver in Flanders (usually eventually reaching into northern France), some fighting in Germany (knocking out bavaria), sometimes reaching into France by way of Strasbourg, Italy remaining fairly unchanged (sometimes the "money" spaces are conquered by alliance, sometimes not), Spain being invaded but successfully defended by Bourbons.

As far as I remember the "real" conflict going, in the early turns the Allies would have received a few "Major Victories) and the cities in Flanders + Bavaria, but those things can happen in NPWS. They are just not amongst the most likely events. However, in my experience the allies can recover easier from a major defeat in Flanders than the French ... those 2/3 additional RPs are in my opinion close to enough to balance the Bourbon defensive position.


My games usually ends in the high teens, low twenties VPs (and usually indeed minor Bourbon victory). However, I don't think things should go much worse for the Bourbons in the early years. If anything should be changed, it should be that Bourbons in the end game weaken somewhat faster (or at least, each game as fast). Maybe decide on two events that have to occur in 1708 when the new deck is added (or even one?). French Financial Collapse always occuring in 1708 could perhaps go a long way to solve this bourbon imbalance?

... or indeed there is always blind bidding ...


Sounds a lot like my sessions, although two of my five have seen the Bourbons win a total victory. For one, Mediterranean Sea control is a harsh mistress. I'm also very good at playing nations in the same situation as the Bourbons. In my last session both Villars and Berwick were removed due to cards in the same turn and I managed to actually increase the Bourbon victory point lead. Granted, my opponent had the worst card draw of the entire session, but he was not particularly incompetent in his moves. What hurt him in part was that the Bank of England was never formed and the Financial Collapse never happened. I do like your idea about automatic events.
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gittes wrote:
Charles Vasey wrote:
I do not regard the French as being tactically backward but I find data on the period hard to obtain; in desperation I translated an account of Neerwinden on my Yahoo Group. It revealed a combat style which I can only describe as charging; the French units were always ripping about led by charismatic nobles and royals. It reminded me of a slightly less energetic Swedish army of the GNW. But this was an army energised by the presence of Luxembourg, did the generals of the SWOS lack a giant like him (giant in the metaphorical sense only)? Did French armies respond best to a "fighting-general" like Villars? The answer is that I'm not sure, but I feel there is something there.


That might explain much, including Villars' success. It certainly does not appear that Tallard inspired his men.

As for the French being backwards, I think it more or less the British and Dutch having a better tactical system. It included "rolling" fire, more compact ranks of infantry, and cavalry trained for shock. The French gradually adopted rolling fire as the war dragged on and it showed.

Quote:
You raise the question of Berwick being in command too often, I could swear he got bounced in Spain at least once (or was that Orleans?) for cheeking the Princesse d'Ursins. The game, possibly wisely, misses out the internal politicking that meant many a general's worst enemy was on his own side or at Court.


There is the Versailles card, but the problem is, it happens once and that is it. Maybe it should be reshuffled into the deck?

Berwick was an English bastard. Sure, his father is James II, but he is not "of the blood" which is why I like this idea of yours:

Charles Vasey wrote:
Good point, it all depends how far you want to take the detail. I came up with a Blood rule in my sketch, you had to have a certain number of "of the Blood" commanders to keep things looking right; thank goodness for Henri IV's bastards!


It would also work in games on the other conflicts of the era. It would prevent the early Ascension of Maurice de Saxe, another talented foreign bastard.


I hear what you say about the Dutch and British system but I have not seen any evidence for it actually being better. I suspect it is a Chandlerism. Our "historical tests" involve battles where Marlborough out-thought rather than outfought (in my view) so we do not know if the underlying systems were better. Without the Duke being present I believe the French had a very good record during the war.

Berwick was certainly English but his Royal grandmother was a Daughter of France, and his great-grandathers included Henri IV, that makes him more acceptable than a mere noble without any Royal blood. My rule includes bastards in "the Blood", so it would include the Duke of Vendôme.

Sadly a very good general, the duc d'Orleans (the brother of Louis XIV rather than the Regent d'Orleans) was denied further opportunities because he had to be retired at the same time as his royal brother.
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Charles Vasey wrote:
I hear what you say about the Dutch and British system but I have not seen any evidence for it actually being better. I suspect it is a Chandlerism. Our "historical tests" involve battles where Marlborough out-thought rather than outfought (in my view) so we do not know if the underlying systems were better. Without the Duke being present I believe the French had a very good record during the war.


I certainly trust you on this since you've been translating some works. Also, it seems only Eugene and Marlborough, both together and seperate, achieved consistent battlefield victories against the French, so there is some weight to this observation.

Quote:
Berwick was certainly English but his Royal grandmother was a Daughter of France, and his great-grandathers included Henri IV, that makes him more acceptable than a mere noble without any Royal blood. My rule includes bastards in "the Blood", so it would include the Duke of Vendôme.

Sadly a very good general, the duc d'Orleans (the brother of Louis XIV rather than the Regent d'Orleans) was denied further opportunities because he had to be retired at the same time as his royal brother.


Oh, I forgot about Henrietta Maria!

I'll look into the duc d'Orleans.
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gittes wrote:


I'll look into the duc d'Orleans.


from Guy Rowlands "The Dynastic state and the Army under Louis XIV"

Louis XIV’s brother Philippe, duc d’Orléans - known as Monsieur - was a major asset Louis shrank from deploying to full advantage. Philippe had captured Zutphen in 1670 and Bouchain in 1676, before winning a major victory at Cassel in 1677 and following it up with a successful conclusion at the siege of Saint-Omer. Louis was proud of his brother’s achievements, even to the point of placing a vast canvas by van der Meulan of the Battle of Cassel on the great staircase at Versailles, but he was also horrified by Monsieur’s disregard for his own safety. He was henceforth confined to acting as Louis’ deputy when they campaigned together, as in 1684 and 1691, though in 1693 he was entrusted with command in western France. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to see this last appointment as an insult by an insecure elder brother, for in the Nine Years War Louis was consternated by the prospect of an Anglo-Dutch attack on the French coast. He could spare a few regular troops were such an eventuality, but instead placed his trust in Monsieur. In the event of an invasion probably only Monsieur (or the king or the Dauphin themselves) could mobilise the gentlemen of Normandy, Brittany and Poitou in sufficient numbers to make a force capable of repulsing the Allies when backed by a handful of regular battalions and several regiments of milice. Based at Laval in Mayenne, from where he could rush to any part of the coast, Monsieur was a highly active commander not only supervised military administration but also repaired major local highways. But his career was also governed by that of his elder brother, and when the King retired from active campaigning so to, for precisely that reason, did he. Considering the Duke was still in rude health, though aged 53, with years of invaluable experience behind him, it was a domestic decision which Louis could perhaps, at the time, ill afford to make.
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I don't think we should lose sight of what the game designer was aiming for. This is intended to be an extremely fast playing simple game that gives players an overview of the grand strategy of this important war. Perhaps it would have been a little better if it was a full CDG treatment like Washington's War instead of separating out the event cards from the action point cards (will come back to that later). However, players who have learned the game and the available strategies might be able to knock out a game in 3 to 4 hours. The limit to the depth of the game may limit the number of replays. However, the game still works as a great short intro game to this huge war.

Generally, having a lot of special abilities for each leader would produce a list of extra things that players have to remember or look up as they play what is supposed to be a fast game. Paths of Glory gets bogged down a little bit with the many exceptions to general rules. And World in Flames players are often declining to play with Leaders in Flames, which assigns unique special abilities to many leaders, because it bogs down an already detailed game.

Regarding restoring corps to full strength: Players can do this using action points, limit of one per card play, so no need to reflect a particular general's ability to do this. In fact, the Bourbons, being short on resource points and being mostly on the defensive, will use this ability more often than the Alliance.

Regarding Vendome vs Berwick vs Villars vs Eugene. Given the leader values of 0 through 3, I have no problem with the way these four leaders are all assigned a value of 2. If the range of values was 0 though 4 or 0 through 5 perhaps there would be room for arguments as to whether one was really better than the other. However, comparing historical performance in battles and campaigns, and considering that two leaders per side impact battles in this combat system, I think the ratings are correct for these leaders. Vendome and Berwick were excellent, and I don't think that Villars was superior, except perhaps in ego. Eugene's great victory at Turin was against 0 rated leaders (Vendome was not there). Berwick did a great job in Spain in 1707, and Vendome did a great job in Spain in 1710. Both performed well in Flanders, but Vendome was not supported by his royal blood co-commander at Oudenaarde.

Regarding Boufflers and Baden seige rating: This system already allows a leader with a 1 rating to improve the defense in a siege, which is what Boufflers did historically. Boufflers and Baden don't seem to have improved the attack in sieges over the capabilities of other unnamed leaders. Might be worth playtesting a variant giving all named leaders with a tactical rating of at least 1 a bonus in siege attack. But I doubt that would make the game better. Sieges work extremely well in this game, and seem to proceed at a historical pace.

Regarding Marlborough: He does suffer more defeats in this game than he did historically, because there is the potential for a lot of luck with the buckets of dice system. Instead of adding special abilities for each leader, perhaps the player whose leaders in the battle have higher ratings than the enemy leaders could elect to use the difference in the rating as dice reroll options, much the way dice reroll options are used in VG The Civil War. In that game players can either reroll their own die or can make the other player reroll theirs. Since the difference between the command ratings in many battles of NPWS will only be one or two, this change would not radically alter the game, but might make it a little bit harder to defeat Marlborough in a field battle. The dice reroll option could be in addition to adding hit dice, or in lieu of adding hit dice. That idea might be worth playtesting.

The leader removal cards seem to have less dramatic impact than they do in a full CDG. Because these cards are played at the beginning of the year, their impact can be countered by reassignment of other leaders. But if the leader removal cards could be held and played during the year, providing the card was drawn by the side that benefits from it (which should happen about half the time), the impact of the leader removal could be made more dramatic. A simple rule variant like that might be better than using special rules for each individual leader.

Another variant which has been discussed before, is to allow the player with the initiative, per the turn track, to decide who must do their winter phase reinforcement and build actions first. I can't remember if that might help with the perceived Bourbon edge in the game or not. This would allow the player with the initiative to force the enemy to deploy leaders first so that the player with initiative can then deploy leaders in response.

Could NPWS be converted into one with more depth and longer playing time? I'm not sure that would work given the design choices and mechanics used. But I think NPWS opens the door to strategic gaming of this really grand war. So perhaps the pump is primed for a Paths of Glory or VG The Civil War type treatment of the WSS in the future.
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Kris Van Beurden
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Great post, Warren!

However, changing the leader removal cards would be bad. It would lead to problems in retreating & avoiding battle ... the rules that make this game (for me) so cool.

I forgot to mention that I always play with the Initiative optional rule, something that really helps Alliance in the early game. I still think Bank of England and French Financial Collapse should have a "If this event didn't happen before 17XX, play it instead of the Allied Event this turn" clause. Any game where those fell somewhat early, the game was in favour of the Allies (any game in which they did not fall at all was obviously a bourbon victory).

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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Generally, having a lot of special abilities for each leader would produce a list of extra things that players have to remember or look up as they play what is supposed to be a fast game. Paths of Glory gets bogged down a little bit with the many exceptions to general rules. And World in Flames players are often declining to play with Leaders in Flames, which assigns unique special abilities to many leaders, because it bogs down an already detailed game.


I disagree with this for a very simple reason. It works in Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and that is not a long game between experienced players. I like my leaders to be more than just rated for combat and command and I often apply abilities to them, but usually the abilities I add are along simpler lines than the ones presented here. For No Peace Without Spain I think it might be best to limit the abilities to the war's three outstanding generals: Marlborough, Eugene, and Villars.

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Regarding restoring corps to full strength: Players can do this using action points, limit of one per card play, so no need to reflect a particular general's ability to do this. In fact, the Bourbons, being short on resource points and being mostly on the defensive, will use this ability more often than the Alliance.


Why not reflect it? While the mechanic is there, I'd like some reflection of a general's ability to get his house in order. If anything Marlborough might benefit from it. He was a master of organization. However, it is not make or break. It is just an idea.

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Regarding Vendome vs Berwick vs Villars vs Eugene. Given the leader values of 0 through 3, I have no problem with the way these four leaders are all assigned a value of 2. If the range of values was 0 though 4 or 0 through 5 perhaps there would be room for arguments as to whether one was really better than the other. However, comparing historical performance in battles and campaigns, and considering that two leaders per side impact battles in this combat system, I think the ratings are correct for these leaders. Vendome and Berwick were excellent, and I don't think that Villars was superior, except perhaps in ego. Eugene's great victory at Turin was against 0 rated leaders (Vendome was not there). Berwick did a great job in Spain in 1707, and Vendome did a great job in Spain in 1710. Both performed well in Flanders, but Vendome was not supported by his royal blood co-commander at Oudenaarde.


I admit this is debatable and I was thinking that if I had designed the game I would have made the ratings more along the lines of 0-4. However, I think Eugene and Villars were a cut above the rest. They campaigned throughout the war and had many more victories than failures. Some of this is reflected in their CR 6. I would like to see more.

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Regarding Marlborough: He does suffer more defeats in this game than he did historically, because there is the potential for a lot of luck with the buckets of dice system. Instead of adding special abilities for each leader, perhaps the player whose leaders in the battle have higher ratings than the enemy leaders could elect to use the difference in the rating as dice reroll options, much the way dice reroll options are used in VG The Civil War.


This is a fantastic idea, and the mechanic works wonderfully in The Civil War. I'll try this out the next time I play.

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The leader removal cards seem to have less dramatic impact than they do in a full CDG. Because these cards are played at the beginning of the year, their impact can be countered by reassignment of other leaders. But if the leader removal cards could be held and played during the year, providing the card was drawn by the side that benefits from it (which should happen about half the time), the impact of the leader removal could be made more dramatic. A simple rule variant like that might be better than using special rules for each individual leader.


Not bad, but I'm still annoyed with Villars and Berwick being in command far too often and for too long. I think for Berwick I'll keep the rule I have in place. After all, there is a reason he was not regularly in army command.

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Another variant which has been discussed before, is to allow the player with the initiative, per the turn track, to decide who must do their winter phase reinforcement and build actions first. I can't remember if that might help with the perceived Bourbon edge in the game or not. This would allow the player with the initiative to force the enemy to deploy leaders first so that the player with initiative can then deploy leaders in response.


Another good one Warren.

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Could NPWS be converted into one with more depth and longer playing time? I'm not sure that would work given the design choices and mechanics used. But I think NPWS opens the door to strategic gaming of this really grand war. So perhaps the pump is primed for a Paths of Glory or VG The Civil War type treatment of the WSS in the future.


This is a point I do not agree with. I think the simpler a game is the more open it is to modification. Adding a few rules will not make it into a bloated chrome feast like Clash of Monarchs. However, is No Peace Without Spain any less involved than Wilderness War? Not really, but Wilderness War lines up perfectly with the history. No Peace Without Spain mostly does, except as far as I can see in regards to leaders.

Thanks Warren for the long and considered reply. I am glad this post is generating discussion.
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Which d'Orleans showed up to take over command from Berwick in Spain immediately after Almanza in 1707?

As for platoon firing systems vs volley firing systems, note that the Dutch, British, and the troops in their pay from Denmark, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Prussia, etc., used a 3 rank line. That is going to have inherently more firepower than a 4 or 5 rank line, as the 4th and 5th rank can hardly be used as anything other than a reserve. Of course, French and Spanish battalions were often quite understrength (especially at Blenheim) and may not have had a 4th or 5th rank if they were attempting to maintain their usual frontage.

The French were familiar with the idea of volley fire, and it was part of their repertoire of tactical techniques. But the French seemed to regard platoon firing as a defensive technique, and use of the tactic may have varied from regiment to regiment depending on the inclinations of the regimental or battalion commanders.

Also, the platoon firing system probably required more training to get it right. This is a guess on my part, but the Dutch and British allies and troop in their pay may have been able to afford to expend more practice rounds than the French and Spanish and Austrians and Empire troops. And the British and Dutch and the troops in their pay were well trained enough to use platoon firing during an advance. I'm thinking that the difference in training might have led to a difference in how long individual battalions could sustain orgainized fire before breaking down into more disorderly fire. The platoon firing system also may have made it inherently easier to sustain organized fire longer, as compared with volley fire by rank across the face of the entire battalion. This is a bit of speculation on my part, however.

I don't think it's fair to call a belief in the superiority of platoon fire a "Chandlerism." He is far from being the only writer on the topic.

But I don't think that a difference in the infantry performance was the only key to the results. Cavalry performance had a lot to do with the results. Weak and depleted squadrons and battalions had a lot to do with the results at Blenheim and Almanza. Victory did, in those cases, go to the bigger battalions. Also grand tactical maneuvering on the battlefield had a lot to do with the results. Not seeing the need to give some of the Allies extra hit dice before trying some other option first. But it's an interesting thought.
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Also, the platoon firing system probably required more training to get it right. This is a guess on my part, but the Dutch and British allies and troop in their pay may have been able to afford to expend more practice rounds than the French and Spanish and Austrians and Empire troops.


Perhaps, but this might also have to do with the commander. In 1744 Maurice de Saxe had his French army preform some involved target practice and combat training, which paid off in his campaign in Flanders. It is in keeping with his style of command. Admittedly though, French finances were in decent order in 1744 due to Fleury's frugality.

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But I don't think that a difference in the infantry performance was the only key to the results. Cavalry performance had a lot to do with the results. Weak and depleted squadrons and battalions had a lot to do with the results at Blenheim and Almanza. Victory did, in those cases, go to the bigger battalions. Also grand tactical maneuvering on the battlefield had a lot to do with the results. Not seeing the need to give some of the Allies extra hit dice before trying some other option first. But it's an interesting thought.


I've been playing through a solo session today to try out the rules. The one about British and Dutch superiority is getting the axe. Interesting idea, but superfluous at this scale.
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Re Berwick: He did have some commands during the war, including Spain, on the Moselle, and I believe in the Dauphine. However, there were few big pitched battles in the war, and Berwick had the luck of being in few of them, and in overall command in only one of them. Imagine how Turin in 1706 might have turned out if Berwick had been in command on the French side.

Perhaps Berwick does get too much use in the game. Perhaps there should be a card that flips Berwick to his replacement side for a year here or a year there.

Vendome saw quite of bit of campaigning in Italy, Spain in 1710, and for a short while in Flanders in 1708. But perhaps he too could be subject to a card that would flip him to his replacement side for a year once during the game.

I wonder if Compass Games could produce some additional event cards.
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Re Berwick: He did have some commands during the war, including Spain, on the Moselle, and I believe in the Dauphine. However, there were few big pitched battles in the war, and Berwick had the luck of being in few of them, and in overall command in only one of them. Imagine how Turin in 1706 might have turned out if Berwick had been in command on the French side.

Perhaps Berwick does get too much use in the game. Perhaps there should be a card that flips Berwick to his replacement side for a year here or a year there.

Vendome saw quite of bit of campaigning in Italy, Spain in 1710, and for a short while in Flanders in 1708. But perhaps he too could be subject to a card that would flip him to his replacement side for a year once during the game.

I wonder if Compass Games could produce some additional event cards.


I'd keep Vendome around without any certain rules. After all, he was entrusted with taking on Marlborough for good reason and as you point out, he was active throughout the war. Oudenaarde may not have been his fault, but like Zama and Waterloo, it is proof that any commander, regardless of skill, can have a rotten day. It also doesn't help when you are going up against Wellington or Scipio.

I like the flipping idea with Berwick.
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gittes wrote:
Warren Bruhn wrote:
Also, the platoon firing system probably required more training to get it right. This is a guess on my part, but the Dutch and British allies and troop in their pay may have been able to afford to expend more practice rounds than the French and Spanish and Austrians and Empire troops.


Perhaps, but this might also have to do with the commander. In 1744 Maurice de Saxe had his French army preform some involved target practice and combat training, which paid off in his campaign in Flanders. It is in keeping with his style of command. Admittedly though, French finances were in decent order in 1744 due to Fleury's frugality.



Yet when I translated Comte Pajol's account of Lawfeld there was the same attacking style as at Neerwinden and precious little mention of standing and firing. Of course there may be a heroic style at play here, but Pajol had seen combat and might be expected to know his onions.



 
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Which d'Orleans showed up to take over command from Berwick in Spain immediately after Almanza in 1707?


Monsieur died in 1701 so it was his son (the later Regent) who commanded in Spain.
 
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Charles Vasey wrote:
gittes wrote:
Warren Bruhn wrote:
Also, the platoon firing system probably required more training to get it right. This is a guess on my part, but the Dutch and British allies and troop in their pay may have been able to afford to expend more practice rounds than the French and Spanish and Austrians and Empire troops.


Perhaps, but this might also have to do with the commander. In 1744 Maurice de Saxe had his French army preform some involved target practice and combat training, which paid off in his campaign in Flanders. It is in keeping with his style of command. Admittedly though, French finances were in decent order in 1744 due to Fleury's frugality.



Yet when I translated Comte Pajol's account of Lawfeld there was the same attacking style as at Neerwinden and precious little mention of standing and firing. Of course there may be a heroic style at play here, but Pajol had seen combat and might be expected to know his onions.


Hey, I hope I know my onions!

That lines up with what I know about the battle as well. It wasn't that Maurice was innovative, only that he re-instituted discipline, a point he also emphasizes in his Rêveries. My only point is that he emphasized training and used target practice extensively. However, judging by the kinds of attacks he ordered and his thoughts on shock in Rêveries, it seems he also preferred the bayonet. Now I'm wondering if Suvarov read his work...
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Was it that the French more than others responded to "plungers"?

Louis XV actually appeared on the battlefields, whast an opportunity for a young noble to shine!
 
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