GDA2 – lessons from first game

Our game not far from when we finished. At the top right the French cavalry’s flank attack is in progress

My hobby year started off with real momentum. But this crashed to halt in early April, and I’ve made little progress since. A combination of holiday trips, a family crisis and gardening conspired to divert me. I can’t see myself getting back to the hobby room for a few weeks yet. The one bright spot is that I have kept the games going, with my two regular monthly groups, and I have had time to explore new set of rules: Général d’Armée 2 (the published rules don’t bother with the accents: I’m just being nerdy) – known hereon in as GDA2. I have already posted my first reactions. At the start of the month I played my first game with a couple of people at the club.

For this game I went for a similar scenario to my first club game of Lasalle 2, a very different game system, but in a similar space in terms of the scaling. A Prussian brigade of 9 battalions plus two cavalry regiments and two batteries attacks a French division of 10 smaller battalions and two cavalry regiments and two batteries. We used my normal Napoleonics, on 25mm bases, with four bases to a standard unit, and six for a large one (the Prussian infantry were in large units). Because of this small base size, we used the 28mm distances, but in centimetres rather than inches. We played on the same field size I have used for Lasalle 2 – 40in by 60 in, rather than the full 4 ft by 6 ft. Following my concerns about the complexity of the game, we decided to leave some of the rules out, notably the menu of ADC tastings, including the C-in-C commands. My fellow players provided the tokens, including a set of casualty trackers using rotating number devices (which can be seen in the picture – adorned with casualty figures).

The game itself proved a bit lacklustre. The Prussians moved to an infantry attack, but this took too long to develop. The French decided to send their cavalry round their left flank. This again took time, but they were able to deliver a devastating attack on the Prussian cavalry, catching it in the flank, and driving it from the field, causing complete disarray on the Prussian side. At this point we ran out of time. Subsequently we realised that this flank attack should have been kicked off with a Redeploy tasking, which the French player forgot to do – as the cavalry started off in the centre rear. that wouldn’t have been too hard, though.

Clearly the learning curve meant that we were slow. In a learning game it is worth taking time to refer back to the rules a lot. We decided that my attempts to simplify the game didn’t really work – and especially that the CinC intervention rules were critical to the balance of play. We also felt that the scaling didn’t work, as it was taking too long for the combat to develop – even after I allowed the attacking side to deploy much further in than the rulebook suggested. We decided next time to use the full rulebook, and the standard 15mm scaling, though using a 6ft by 4 ft playing area. The unit sizes would need to be kept the same, though, as I don’t have enough miniatures for the six-base standard battalions that you should really have for this scaling.

For all the frustrations we decided that the rule system has an excellent Napoleonic feel, and that this would be our standard Napoleonic system for club games.

It is also clear is that the game’s name is a misnomer. “Général de Division” would give a more realistic idea of the scope. Though the rules do provide for the use of an army corps, this would still need a very large playing area – or smaller scale miniatures. In the latter case, though, our experience is that there is a danger of things being too slow – though I do see Facebook reports of it being done successfully. I will resume development of my own big battle rules.

Alas, I am going to miss the next club day at the beginning of July. However, I have promised to lead a game at my other regular venue, which should entail two players a side. I plan to use the Gilly scenario from the 100 Days book (although this is not a historically accurate reflection of that encounter, on the evening before Ligny). I’m hoping that some of the other players will have some experience of the game – and I will certainly bone up on the rules – as we need to keep it reasonably brisk to get through ten moves.

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