The Battle Map system arose from a need to maneuver troops outside the game board without resorting to expand the table size. Through the years of collecting Seven Years War and Spanish Succession armies we had exceeded our table space and so a solution was desperately needed.
One item that had not escape our notice; the greater the table surface the slower the game moved, especially so when moving troops that had no direct influence on the outcome of an engagement taking place elsewhere. With this in mind, we tried various methods such as moving only the head of the column or substitute a block of wood for the complete group. The latter helped create a “fog of war” element to the game, but did not save us any appreciable amount of time.
The current Battle Map system also experienced teething problems, which to choose, node, hexes, or squares. We ended with squares. The idea was each square would represents a game board but lacking precise detailing of terrain features this allowed us to use the DBA terrain placement system. All that was known on the map were the essentials to distinguish arable from hilly, forest or littoral terrain.
Sketched on an A4 sheet, the Battle Map represented an area that could be easily covered in a day’s march. Tracking off-table formations without having to reveal its composition created a “fog of war”.
Current play tests are now a seamless transition from map to board and vice versa when withdrawing from the table. Playing large scale battles were no longer a problem and like true battles the point of contact could swung from one area to another giving the player a method to develop a decisive stroke. All that was needed was to swap game boards to start a new engagement which takes place elsewhere, thus creating a sense of a dramatic battle developing.
A simple grid sketched on an A4 size sheet with each square 3 x 3 cm. will give you 9 by 7 squares, ample marching room. At current scale this represents 9 x 7 miles or 63 square miles campaign area. We found the Random Map generator a helpful tool if historical maps are difficult to source, but you will need to fill in roads, rivers and towns if needed.
The map movement phase precedes any game board activity. This follows a similar procedure as a standard DBA game; a die score determines the amount of activity a Corps commander may execute during that phase. Divisions may march, initiate an attack, withdraw from the battlefield, or engage in activity requiring stationary placement, such as construction.
Counters for both sides can be made to represent divisions of infantry, cavalry, and reserve units which move a number of squares for each type in that hour. What have yet to be determined are the number map turns any counter may move before fatigue sets in. The overriding goal however is to avoid unnecessary record keeping.
Further to be tested are force marches by divisions which would result in temporary loss of units after a certain number of turns. A.P. Hill’s force march to Antietam comes to mind.
On to the battlefield
The moving player declares his intent to attack with the defending player on his response phase may choose to remain or withdraw. Both actions deploy and engage or form up and withdraw cost an extra pip in addition to the move.
If an engagement occurs, this follow the standard procedure as written in the basic DBA game setup; defender sets terrain.
These need testing, the use of the aggression factor and its effect on deployment.
Off the battlefield
A player during a game may decide to withdraw his troops from the battlefield. To make an orderly withdrawal the following conditions should be met; the retreating element or group is beyond 3BW distance of the enemy and within a move of its base edge. During the player’s next map movement phase, one pip is required to extricate from “the battlefield” in addition to a pip needed to move to the adjacent square.