Thursday, 9 January 2014

Carnage & Glory II - What's it all about then?

Carnage & Glory II in action over Christmas during our Corunna game
As you will know from my previous posts I have become and am a very keen user of Carnage & Glory II when it comes to playing Napoleonics and I have often mentioned the granularity that these rules give to the game that doing the same with a paper based set of rules would make cumbersome.

To illustrate why I think these rules are so good, I thought I would share the thoughts of the designer Nigel Marsh who took the time to answer a follow up question on the C&GII Yahoo Discussion Group about the design concepts and approach needed by players when playing C&GII. In summary, you need to treat your little metal warriors like the human counterparts they represent.

My question was prompted by the thought that I wanted to be able to brief my players, particularly those new to computer moderated games, on the guiding principles they needed to apply when making their command decisions. I think you might find the following response from Nigel very enlightening.

Obviously C&GII is unlike other traditional rule sets where even the simplest formats require a minimum of accounting, charts and die rolls. In those the players have a literal eye to the mechanics of the system - this is a +1, that is a -2 etc. Some gamers need that approach, and that's fine, they need to measure their chances of success - we don't play to lose.

Some gamers need dice, and that's fine too, they need to balance their general ship with a healthy dose of chance, ‘I lost because I rolled badly’ or ’I won because the dice were with me’. There has to be an imponderable component, nothing should ever be entirely predictable, and C&GII is no different - behind the screen the system is comparing factors, rolling multiple dice, and determining the results. But it's never a simple comparison of numbers balanced to chance. Morale and fatigue play an incredibly important role in the mechanics of the system. 

Whenever I run a game at a convention when new, and even experienced, players are involved, during my briefing I will always point out that the morale and fatigue are represented on a floating scale, and that fatigue is not merely physical, but mental too. Pointing out that combat stress or mental fatigue is a very important factor. I then explain that fresh troops will typically overcome fatigued troops, sometimes regardless of numbers, and situation. Then I explain that 99% of the time a combat unit is input to the computer there will be a resulting fatigue loss to that unit. To recover fatigue a unit needs to avoid movement, avoid fire and combat. With cavalry I'll explain that the horse may be more physically fatigued than the rider. With artillery I'll explain that a limbered battery will recover fatigue more quickly than one deployed for action, explaining that the combat stress of being deployed is more pronounced than when limbered. The players should not think of their units as simple inanimate playing pieces, but that they should perceive of them in human terms, and that  the more they do, the more fatigued they may become.

When it comes to morale, I will explain that a unit will start an engagement with a certain base morale, based upon the troop classification and experience. I will point out that the rating on the print out [C-, B+ etc], is a composite, which in addition to morale classification and experience, also includes fire and combat ratings. I will then explain that morale can go up, and that it can go down, it's not a static component. Therefore, even the most elite unit can be overawed by a less experienced combat opponent, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, less experienced units, may be more impulsive, simply because they do not have a veterans perspective of the inherent dangers of a certain situation - such as charging home on a fresh battalion or battery. A unit can literally 'get its blood up' by stopping an enemy charge, or breaking an enemy line, their morale can soar in such instances. But equally, it can plummet, when it fails to stop a charge, or is broken by fire action, or evicted from a strong point, and recovery may be impossible at that point. Essentially, a unit will experience highs and lows of morale during a game.

Strength losses can be relative too. For example, a conscript unit, may be more brittle than a veteran unit, and the consequent effect of losing 10% strength to them is much greater, in a morale sense, that the same losses to a veteran unit. A crack guard unit may simply hang in there, taking enormous loss, whilst a conscript militia unit will break to the rear having suffered less than 5% losses. On average, a typical unit will be capable of sustaining losses of between 10 and 25 percent. After that the average unit will have 'had enough'. You may be able to recover it, and get it to 'hold the line', but at the first 'test', it will probably break and run.

Another important element to the game are the compulsory movement markers. These are the visual cues the players will have to determine the relative combat efficiency of their and their opponents units. A white marker [no advance] reflects possible fatigue, morale or strength loss - the unit is beginning to show signs of distress - it may recover fatigue, and may recover morale, but it can't replace losses. The unit's still combat worthy, but it's being tested. A red marker [halt or retire] reflects increased fatigue, morale and strength loss - the unit is showing obvious distress, men are voluntarily abandoning the unit, NCO's and officers are working hard to keep the men in the ranks. In the case of a retirement, the NCO's and officers may be fighting a losing battle, as the unit,to some degree of another, is showing signs of imminent cohesive collapse. Again, the unit may recover fatigue and may recover morale, but it's can't replace losses, and is becoming less sustainable in the line of battle. This unit is in trouble, and both sides know it.

The offensive player that does not take heed of these visual cues will probably lose. A target unit without a marker, either white or red, reflects that its morale is good, its fatigue is rested, and its losses in men are slight. That unit has no need to fear a similarly rated attacking foe; they will typically perform their duty and repulse any attack. Too many gamers will be too impulsive and simply charge home putting their faith in 'rolling a six', or 'columns always beat a line'. When they then get decimated in the defensive fire action, and thrown back in rout, they may cry foul - but the reality is, they are simply getting what they deserved. They should try that again, when the defending unit has a 'halt' marker, in which case I will guarantee - and this is 95 percent predictable - that the halted line will break. The issue for the attacker is to be in the right spot at the right time to affect the charge on the 'halted' unit, and the issue for the defender is to ensure that he has no potential 'halted' units in positions where an attacker can take advantage of the situation.


  1. Jacko said
    Thanks for posting that. I have been on the lookout for some rule sets for my own solo actions and have read your battle reports and was interested in C&G2.

    Hi Jacko, sorry, your comment got deleted by mistake, so I have copied to the post. Thanks for your comment, and welcome to C&G II.


  2. Interesting to see another "user" in action. I use the rules myself and just to demonstrate how flexible they are I use one 60x30 base as a unit with NO sub elements. So one battalion is one base. Only needs a formation marker to make it work.. I really like the rules ,particularly if you play solo.

    1. Hi Robert,
      I agree, the flexibility with C&G allows a lot of variation in how you want to play. With the trend in rule sets not to force you to rebase your figures, C&G is right in there with that thinking.