Generals and the Battle

13 03 2011

Generals are the basic command and control unit of McPherson and Revenge.  As discussed previously,  in fifteen minutes of game time all generals represented in the game will have a chance to influence the battle by issuing orders, improving unit moral, resupplying units and just being there.  In general, the better the general, the more they can get done.

Quick Review; The bag o’ destiny contains a chit for every brigadier and division commander in the game.  Once drawn, players determine if that general will go now or go back into the bag.  Once it is established that it is a generals turn, he will issue an order.  Generals can issue additional orders, once the effects of a previous order is complete, if a successful skill roll is made using the generals command efficiency.  Each new order is modified with an additional +1 thus making each additional order  increasingly difficult.  Once a general fails to issue an order they are done for the turn.

The options for commands available to a general depend on whether the general is a brigadier or a division commander.

Note: “Generals” are not really a single guy on a horse but rather a general and his entire staff.  This might be hundreds of men including several with sufficient rank to assume command or make decisions.


Cumming Chit

A brigadier commands a number of regiments, usually between 3-5, and is responsible for the tactical operation of these units.  Regiments are unlikely to do anything without a brigadier issuing a direct order.  Think of brigadiers as having the ability to make soldiers shoot and move.

Order options for a brigadier include:

  • Issue an “order” to units to move, change formations and/or fire
  • Replenish ammo to a depleted unit
  • Recover a unit’s morale
  • Order an assault
  • Order units to improvise cover
  • Increase Battle Karmatm
Division Commanders

Logan Chit

Division commanders typically commanded between 2 and 4 brigades and were responsible for coordinating a series of attacks, making sure that support was available and coordinating battlefield data between other units.  If units are reinforced just in time or earlier, then somewhere a Division commander was doing his job.  The Division commander had a meaningful job on the battlefield but the civil war battle was the brigadier’s fight.

Order options for a division commander include

  • Issue orders to “reserve” units (Fire and or move, improvise cover, assault)
    • Replenish ammo to a depleted unit
    • Recover a unit’s morale
    • Hurry a Brigadier
    • Increase the command efficiency of a subordinate brigadier
    • Increase Battle Karmatm
Corp and army commanders

Corp and army commanders also have a place on the battlefield but because of the tactical scope of McPherson and Revenge I have deliberately chosen NOT to represent them.  I reserve the right to change my mind later and I have created chits and intend to create a miniatures for Generals Pemberton, McPherson and Mclernand.

If I change my mind I will likely treat corps and army commanders as Division commanders.

Reserved Units

Reserved Units

One of the quirks of my command and control system is that it likely that some units can end up not receiving an order with the rest of their brigade.  Additionally it may be unwise to issue an order to a unit this is operating in conjunction with another brigade.

If a unit ends NOT getting ordered over the course of its brigadiers turn then it will get marked as being “Reserved”.  Reserved units are eligible to receive orders from their division commanders or from other brigadiers in conjunction with their own units.

Issuing an order

An order is not just telling one or more regiments to do stuff.  An order must have a certain consistency across all units.  Units must move in a block, maintaining their relative positions

The number of units affected can include all regiments in a brigade and adjacent reserved units from other brigades that can moved together.  Units may not change formations differently or at different times.

Additionally units may be ordered to “quick time” which will allow them to move and extra distance but will impact the unit adversely by restricting their ability to react and by producing stragglers.

“Movement” (including quick time and formation changes) along with “Fire” will have their own rules summaries later.

Replenish ammo

When a regiment fires it could run out of ammo.  Once a unit is low on ammo it will receive negative modifiers.  A unit may be ordered to check to find more ammo.  Usually a regiment that was low on ammo would be pulled briefly off the line and would go to where ammo was available.

This check will be conducted using the units skill dice (2 dice if green, 4 dice if elite) and will be modified by the range to the nearest enemy.

+3 if within 4” of the enemy

+2 if within 12” of the enemy

+1 if within 24” of the enemy

Running out of ammo will be covered when I explain “Fire”

Hurrying subordinates


A division commander can make a brigadier go potentially earlier in a turn.  A successful “hurry” check, will cause an extra activation chit to be placed in the bag o’ destiny.  Only one such chit can be put in the bag for each brigadier.

If either chit is drawn then an normal activation check is made.  If the general successfully activates on either chit then then the other one is fished out of the bag o’ destiny.

Improving command efficiency

A division commander can lower his own command efficiency by one point and raise the command efficiency of one of his subordinate brigadiers by one point.  Its that simple.

Officer casualties might decimate a particular general (or rather the general and his staff) and a division commander might order some of his own staff to go and help prop up the disordered brigade.

Other Orders

Morale checks, assaults, improvised cover and Battle Karmatm will each be covered in their own rules blogs.

Officer casualties

Officers (and their staffs) become less effective as the battle goes on.  In battle commanders would become increasingly less informed, and casualties were shockingly common amongst officers.  To model this, every time an order is issued there is a chance that the command efficiency of the general can be lowered.

When an order is given, the range of the effected unit at its closest to the enemy is measured and an appropriate number of dice is rolled.

1 dice – within 4” (this distance is a total swag.  I am also considering 2”)

2 dice – within 12”

3 dice – greater than 12” (and orders that DON’T involve troops)

The command efficiency of the general is lowered by one whenever all dice roll a “6”.

Interestingly, the more able the general, the more orders it issues, the more casualties it receives.  Makes sense to me!

Written orders

Generals could fail to give their initial order.  Dice are fickle that way.  This brings up a fairly unpleasant scenario where troops are unable to do the most basic thing (such as fire at a nearby enemy or march straight up a road).  To mitigate this, at the beginning of a new turn (where the bag o’ destiny is reloaded) each general may write orders to their troops.  This order should conform to one of the options listed for brigadiers and division commanders above.  An order should be spelled out, such as “Buford: march up the road, quick time and take the left fork by the farm”.  Nothing too fancy, but relatively precise.

Once the general is activated, the controlling player has the option to use the order and automatically make their initial order check.  Officer casualties still need to be checked however. 

General influence on the battlefield

Each general has a number of dice equal to its command rating that it may give to units to supplement rolls over a turn.  These dice must never be more than a third of the dice being rolled (or, stated differently, must be outnumbered at least 2:1 by the units making the roll)   Dice, once used are removed, and are replenished when a general is done issuing orders.  Please be sure to use your bonus dice… they don’t keep.

These dice actually sit on the table next to the general’s miniature.  Incidentally, generals do not occupy space or literally exist on the table.  They are abstracted.  They are everywhere and nowhere.  They do not move and may not be targeted.  Casualties are caused when issuing orders only.