Monday, January 28, 2019

TWO FLAGS ONE NATION (ACW) First Play Questions

It was inevitable that during my first play of Norm Smith's "TWO FLAGS-ONE NATION" ACW rules I would have some questions.  I wrote them down in my phone for easy reference later.  Unfortunately last night's blog post was hurriedly typed and I wanted to devote another blog post entirely to questions that arose from play.

The good news?  Well as it turns out, I was playing with the WRONG VERSION (dated) of the rules.  Since the version I was using, a newer version has come out that rectified some of my very questions!  Quite embarrassing for me - but great in the sense that some of my questions are no longer even relevant and another playtest is in order.

Anyways here goes.

Most of my questions, as you will see center around timing and when certain things are supposed to happen within the rules.  

1. The concept of the timed disorder really threw me for a loop and I got confused when multiple disorders piled up on top of another.  Disordered for 15 minutes, then another 10, and another 10.  When does the clock start?  Is it the turn it happens?  (say start tracking disorder at 10:18am?)  The moment it happens?  The next turn?  Also, if I get a disorder effect, and the turn ends up being longer than 15 minutes, are they automatically NOT disordered?  Or would I now still have to take a capability test?

I believe this was rectified with the elimination of the turn clock and the concept of timed disorders.  Now a unit is simply disordered upon failing the capability test, and must "rally" by passing a capability test.  I think?

2. My next question had to do with artillery status, and command.  How many actions are afforded to a battery in a turn?  So, if I start a turn unlimbered, I am assuming I would limber with a capability test (like a facing change) and afterwards, I would not be able to actually move until next turn?

Is the opposite true?  So if I start the turn limbered, I could technically move, and unlimber in the same turn?  (although no firing).

Also, are batteries attached to brigades in the beginning of the game?  And if so, must they be in command?  From reading the rules I feel as if they do not need to be "in command" although I tried playing them that way anyways (the battery was attached to 1st Brigade on the Union left).

3. I believe the Division Command stand does NOT afford a unit "in command" status.  I am quite certain the rules mention this specifically but I thought I'd ask.

4. Do all disordered units have to take a capability test at their next available opportunity?

Norm specifically asked about squares and I must admit I did not have any trouble with the squares vrs hexes.  The artillery was in a square there part of its fire arc was obscured by woods to their front-right, meaning their shooting was confined to straight ahead and to their left, however I did not have any issues with firing.  I will say however that this was a very straightforward battlefield, not quite so complex as some battlefields I've set up.
squares marked by flocked pennies

I used Norm's advice for playing Tigers at Minsk with squares (fire arc is 3 squares wide immediately in front of the firing unit's square) and I thought it worked out very well.  I did allow diagonal movement and firing, as long as there was Line of Sight that existed from firer to target.  The LOS rules using squares is very restrictive - even if the line clips the tiny corner of the square with cover in it, then it (LOS) may not pass through the square at all.  Having these restrictions in place also sped up game play.

So there you have it - a really interesting and fun game that produces many decisions on the part of the commander.  I will play TFON again soon, especially while it's fresh in my head.  The more I play it, the more keen I am on playing EAGLES AT QUATRE BRAS for a large scenario like Aspern-Essling.


  1. Excellent stuff. I must get these on the list too. I still haven't played TaM yet. Must get to it.

    1. Darren - I was planning on playing Norm's "37th Guards" scenario for Tigers at Minsk, based on "The Guards Counterattack" Squad Leader game. I spray painted grey pennies to mark the squares and already have the buildings and troops for this game. Now it's only a matter of time. Literally - I have to find the time to play it!

  2. While I am reluctant to answer rules' questions before Norm chimes in, I will take a swing at them. Norm will correct me where I err.

    1. Timed Disorder: obsolete.
    2a. Artillery Number of Actions: One like everyone else.
    2b. Artillery Limbering/Unlimbering and Movement: Changing formation requires passing a CT.
    Unlimbered Artillery: If CT passed, an unlimbered battery may limber and move. If CT failed, it limbers and may not move.
    Limbered Artillery: Limbered artillery may move and attempt to unlimber at end of movement. IF CT passed, artillery unlimbers. If CT failed, artillery remains limbered. Only one formation change allowed per turn.
    2c. Artillery Attachment: Artillery could attach to brigades but artillery is never out of command.
    3. Div Commander and OOC units: Nope. DIV Commander cannot bring Out of Command units into command.
    4. Disorder and Rally: Yes, all Disordered units attempt Rally in Rally Phase. RALLY ought to specified as MANDATORY like RETREAT to avoid confusing RALLY as an Action.

    Let's see how I do...

    1. Many thanks, Jonathan - all of your answers seem quite sensible to me and if I recall, are in the rules.

      I am very relieved that the timed disorder is gone. In a large game that would have been alot of bookkeeping I think to track when those units would come out of their disorder.

    2. It was a LOT of bookkeeping and I often got mightily confused!

    3. I am SO glad I am not the only one who was confused! :)

    4. Yeah, I had little chits of paper all over the place marking disorder durations. Some units had more than one.

  3. Steve, thanks for the questions and Jonathan, thanks for answering all correctly, I will just recap with a little detail if I may ... as I like being wordy :-)

    1. The internal game clock has gone, so Disorder is no longer a timed event. Instead each Rally Phase, a unit must try to recover to good order. This is in addition to any action it may have taken earlier in the game. I like the game clock, but it was not earning its keep here. It was essentially an administrative burden and I know Jonathan developed his own way of calculating Disorder simply as a one or two turn occurrence - however, now a unit will remain disordered until it recovers, but it has a fair chance of doing so.

    2. Units change formation at the start of their Movement Phase. They will always be able to change formation, but if they also wish to move, they must additionally pass a Capability Test. Limbered artillery is an exception, because they of course may wish to change formation (unlimber) at the end of their movement, so they move, but instead can take a CT at the end of movement and that is to see whether they can change formation (unlimber). If they fail, they stay limbered, but of course in their next Movement Phase, will be able to automatically change formation at the start of their Movement phase - the issue for them is it will then be another turn before they can fire, so failing the CT test costs precious time.

    2b. In general batteries are attached to brigades in the scenario, but they can be shown as being independent at the start of player if this is appropriate / needed, just give them their own commander. Units should attempt to remain within 2 hexes of their commander, otherwise they are marked as being out of command, which means if they do move, it must be towards their leader. Artillery is excepted from this rule. It seldom happens, but it does allow artillery to operate from fire positions of choice without regard as to their brigade leaders location.

    3. The Divisional Commander is used as a game marker, placed each turn, it represents you the player and has abstracted command 'style' capabilities - but that does NOT include putting units into command.

    4. Under the latest version of rules, Rallying is shown as being compulsory. This is simply because the rules had been working on a 'why wouldn't you' principle, due to the fact that Rallying is an ADDITIONAL act, and so is done regardless of whether or not the unit has taken an action earlier in the Turn Sequence. Formalising the phase as 'compulsory' just fell out of recent text tweaking and rule refinement that is an ongoing process.

    The squares seem to work well as an alternative to hexes, though I can understand how Line - of - sight could prove to be very restrictive, perhaps relaxing it to allow only the footprint of the feature to block for squares would work or gauging LOS from anywhere within the square to anywhere within the target hex i.e. not strictly centre to centre - though my own preference would be for tighter ruling. perhaps with game mats being marked in squares is becoming increasingly acceptable to figure gamers and such mats are being bought / made, I should do a 'square' variant of the rules. My gaming buddy has just bought To the Strongest Ancient rules, so who knows, I might come to favour the square :)

    Again thanks for putting this on the table and discussing it on your blog especially as under the old rules, it was a bit of a slog, with frequent questions cropping up, so thanks for staying with it.

    1. Norm,
      Thank you for your answers to my questions. Much appreciated - as is your "wordiness" on my blog, which believe it or not has been invaluable as I've surfed back to many of your rules explanations over the years to see how you've explained things.

      I'm glad to hear that I wasn't somehow the odd man out and had a hard time with the timed disorder. I don't know why this wasn't as big of a problem with EAQB (?)

      I really appreciate the flexibility of artillery and I think what you've done with the capability test is genius. I like how units are not completely punished for failing, they just simply cannot carry out an action they were attempting. THis is where many rules writers I feel get it wrong, likely punishing their units too much (Johnny Reb comes to mind).

      Thank you for the latest and greatest link. I am looking forward to the changes you make with EAGLES AT QUATRE BRAS as well. In my shopping around for a solid, Grand Tactical rules set, I'm inclined to give EAGLES QB a go for perhaps Aspern Essling, or at the very least, a portion of Aspern Essling with what my squared board can manage.

      I used to dislike squares, until I tried Tigers at Minsk with squares and I'm sold on them now! Thanks much for your comments, Norm.

    2. Thanks Steve, While TF-ON has been developing EAQB has stood still, allowing TF-ON to become more reflective of my present thinking on rules, but when I pick them up again, I am hoping to make them pretty much fall out of the TF-ON set, so that there is really high compatibility.

      I'm sure that EAQB will lose something for that but gain more overall, though it might mean a change of scale for Eagles and so I remain a little unsure on how far to carry that process at the moment. One of the things I think will be will useful are the reaction rules when a unit being charged can attempt to respond, onto the current list I would add going into square and then the wording that currently discourages ACW cavalry attacking formed infantry frontally will move over to square based terminology etc for the napoleonics. Then there will be the question of whether attack-column should actually be shown, or should we trust that the unit commander is using the right formation for the moment. I mostly feel that formations brings a napoleonic feel, so I think TF-ON (napoleonic) would be bringing formations to the party.

      I would be interested in your views as to whether to moving Eagles to a TF-ON footing would be progress or the baby being thrown out with the bathwater :-)

      Capability testing does produce a lot of dice rolls, but on balance I have decided that this comes into its own once units get to the 3 - 5 range of casualties as they move from what is essentially a state of being fresh to becoming increasingly exhausted.

      As ever, I appreciate your involvement with the rules and allowing a space on your blog to highlight them.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I meant to say that I agree that the Capability Test is a good mechanic for not be too punishing, but rather laying the hand of restraint on the player and I particularly like that a failed test for charging units does not stop the charge, but rather turns the charge into a 'half hearted' affair and that the reduction of fire that falls from that has an effect of also dampening down 'self casualties' to the attacker as the number of opportunities to roll a '1' also reduces with the 'lighter' attack. It tends to make units that have around 4 casualties, switch over to the defence unless a situation is more critical and needs urgent involvement .... and a lot of shouting by the leader! (above comment deleted and repeated here to improve its sense!)

    5. Norm,
      Lots to think about. Formations certainly lend the period "feel" to a Napoleonic game but the scale makes them so much more important. EAQB is nice in that it enables you to fight a battle and command multiple divisions, and still maintains that feel with the concept of brigades adopting attack columns.

      You'll reach an important decision point when you set to work on these!

      I think if you reduce the unit size, then there is no question as to the relevance and inclusion of formations. If you decide to stick with brigades as the unit, then you keep the formations as you have them now. either way, it's an important part of the period, and of the rules as you have them now, imparting an important capability onto units who are in said columns. The concept of a capability test would fit very nicely into EAQB I think, regardless of the scale of the units. It would go even further in portraying more skilled armies on the table, which is another hallmark of the Napoleonic game - troop quality.

      Overall, a move towards TFON is necessary as I think your systems are tight and should be more standardized (also this will allow you to develop an AWI and SYW version ;) )

  4. Latest rules version can be down loaded via this link;

  5. Steve, as a total aside, I have just seen an advert for the upcoming Miniature Wargames mag and it shows a Tigers at Minsk article, using Hexon and 15mm, I think that might interest you because of the scale. Here is a link to the first 2 pages of the article.

    1. I just read the teaser - congratulations are in order, Norm! The article looks good. Im glad to see others recognizing these great rules you've written.

  6. Oh wow! You hit the big time, Norm! :) thank you for sending along.