Quite some time ago I gave the free rule set 2×2 Napolenoics a try. It is a set geared towards corps battles in 2mm on a 2′ by 2′ table. Perfect for my table size constraints and preferences. It also features the most restrictive pinning and disruption rules I have seen in rules for the period. If your infantry fires it is basically stuck in place unless there is no enemy around and it manages to rally (difficult). The authors call this the glue of war and it makes you think twice where and when to commit. It also makes reinforcements more important as you cannot simply shift some units to redress the line.
I can understand that such concepts are less strict in commercial rules as I think many players don’t like to lose control over their troops. When playing 2×2 it takes quite a bit getting used to it. My previous test where positive but the rules were unclear in some cases. The current version of the rules is much better though.
In fact I enjoyed the battles, the learning experience and different take on the period so much, I played three battles in an evening.
As these were test games and I didn’t want to label my troops again, I used C&C Napoleonics blocks as troops. The armies stayed the same for all three games:
1 Light infantry
2 Light cavalry
2 Heavy cavalry
1 Foot artillery
1 Light Infantry
6 Large infantry
4 Large light Cavalry
1 Horse artillery
1 Foot artillery
Th first table was deliberately plain in order to get acquainted with the rules again. Austrians were the attackers and brought light cavalry in via the flank.
The French weighted their right flank with heavy cavalry. Due to the lack of distinct terrain features the battle needed some time to find its frontlines and focal points
Every green marker shows a pinned unit (can pivot but not move otherwise). Every green marker with a yellow stripe shos a disrupted unit (immobile and weakened). As you can see the entire conflict bogged down to lines of troops stuck in. Only reserves and cavalry can move freely at this point and they decided the game. Combined infantry and cavalry attacks on the right flank secured a French victory.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the second battle. It featured a good central position the Austrians managed to secure. Woods on one side where the Jägers and Grenz infantry shined and a village on a hill on the other side of the main road. The French committed their forces piecemeal while their cavalry tied up some forces on the flank. An Austrian counterattack in the center broke the French.
With every battle I added more terrain to the table. The rules suggest that you might want to go overboard as the scale of the game is quite large. The Field of Glory: Napoleonics terrain generator was used for every table.
In this battle the Austrians had an advantage in forces early on, as their reinforcement rolls were better. The French quickly managed to secure the village and hill as perfect defensive position though. The Austrians made the judgement call to challenge the position before more enemies arrive.
The French managed to hold on and began flanking maneuvers on both flanks while the center was pinned in place.
The end of the game with another French victory. While the Austrians could stem the bleeding to their right, French Cuirassiers and punched through from the left and scored the final blows.
I had a blast. This rule set is a hidden gem! I still made some mistakes and I’m still learning how to play strategically. For these quite simple rules, there is a lot to unpack. Some modifiers seem to make no sense at all at first but when you play the game they facilitate a game that makes sense.
There is no direct command and control friction, only rally rolls tied to your HQ. Rallying didn’t have that much impact on my games but what strategic decision making did matter. More so than in many other games. Where it might be costly to order a concentrated attack in Black Powder, Blücher or Bloody Big Battles, it can outright cost you the game in 2×2 Napoleonics because your infantry will get pinned and cannot retreat at will for a long time.
This glue of war, as the authors call it makes the game very interesting for me. I can see that it would cause problems with rulesets that have a long playing time (2×2 Napleonics plays very fast). No turn limit or geographic victory conditions can also cause problems of very static games against another human opponent.
I still have a bunch of 2mm stuff from Irregular Miniatures which now have a new purpose. I’m basing them for 2×2 Napoleonics to play some quicker battles with.
Rules wise I think most things make sense. Light infantry and artillery is very weak in melee to the point that they seem too much trouble to field in an army. I can live with cutting lights as units are brigades and skirmishing is beyond the scale and complexity of the game. This would mean that woods are basically impassible terrain though. Artillery could get a better melee modifier if assaulted frontally.
I will draft some house rules and test some out in the next battle.