Moving and deploying in built-up areas

The aspect of the game that has most changed in the 4th Edition is related to built up areas (BUA for short). In fact, one of the first suggestions we had from Bob Coggins when we started the project was that the whole system of movement, firing and combat in BUAs needed to be revised. Here we discuss some aspects regarding the deployment of units in BUAs and the movement of formed units through them, while comments on the firing and combat system will be discussed later.

First of all, in this edition we refer collectively to towns, villages, large farms and similar terrain features as built-up areas (BUA for short). As always, remember that at the scale in which this game is played, small isolated farms or buildings would have a limited impact and would not be represented on the tabletop (they are represented by the random dice results; more on this in incoming articles).

On the other hand, not all the area covered by the BUA is actually built-up! There are still orchards, streets, plazas, open fields, etc, where formations can fit. So, a typical early nineteenth-century European village would not only be represented by the actual buildings, but also by stone walls, granaries and fences that where located the vicinity and are collectively the BUA. Remember that battles were rarely fought inside truly big towns (other than sieges, which are not covered in Napoleon's Battles), and on average, most of the BUAs where roughly of a similar size. In some historical scenarios, some really big towns will be represented by more than one BUA base and some small (but really key) features might be also represented (such as Le Haye Sainte in the Waterloo scenario), but otherwise, all the BUAs are treated as generic ones, especially in fictional engagements or competitive games (or tournaments).

Now, going back to their relevance in battles, units are allowed to remain formed in BUAs and move through them, since players may assume that the formations occupy the relatively open parts of the BUA (remember: the area covered by the combat bases is not wholly crammed with soldiers!). On the other hand, this movement has been slowed down: after all, the formation is delayed while negotiating narrow passages between buildings. We recommend that model buildings can be removed from the tabletop to allow units to be freely positioned in BUAs. As a result units can be partially or totally located in BUAs without deploying. This does not mean that the formation is continuously maintained across a BUA, since the whole area is not occupied by the formation, the integral unit commanders will choose where to place their units, and since this is out of the scope of a high ranking officer (which is the role the players of Napoleon's Battles take), players do not control (or bother) how the formation is held while in the BUA, only the position of the unit as a whole.

On the other hand, to obtain the fully defensive benefits of the BUA, the unit must be deployed in it. Deploying units means that (most of) the formation is broken into small components (companies or even groups of soldiers, sections or single guns) and occupy the best defensive positions (barricading streets and gaps in hedges, using multi-stored buildings etc). Hence the formation is no longer in column, line, etc., but in a particular formation that we term as "deployed in the v". Obviously, no unit can be deployed while another unit (either friendly or enemy) is fully or partially in the BUA.

It also takes time to deploy a unit in a v. Historically some of the troops would be held as a reserve in the open spaces of the BUA, with allocations being made continually to replace losses, reinforce threatened spots etc. As it takes time to recall all the troops and form them up n close order again, a unit deployed in a v cannot freely exit the BUA.

Obviously, these changes are complemented by those to be made to combat related aspects of BUAs. When towns, villages and significant farms were focal points of a battlefield they were associated with savage hand-to-hand fighting (they where normally the only part of a battlefield where the soldiers would meet their enemies at such close range with limited ability to back-off). We aim to reproduce these particular parts of battles with the new ruleset, following the advice of Bob Coggins, our own experience and consulting historical reports. These clarifications for movement and deployment in BUAs will be complemented with those for firing, combat and morale related to BUAs.