In every conflict there are those small unexpected events that often have a crucial effect on the outcome of the battle. There are few battles of the Napoleonic Era that did not suffer from misinterpreted orders, lost units, hidden obstacles, firing on friendly troops and so on. Fortunes of War event cards are designed to represent these effects, they add a level of uncertainty to miniatures battles much like that encountered in historic battlefield reports.
Special Event Cards
- Lost Patrols
- Friendly Fire
- Critical Morale
- Enemy Deserter
- Order Confusion
- Superior Scouting
- Exceptional Leader
- Uniform Confusion
- Forced or Flank March
- Ammunition Expenditure
- Peasant Support or Resistance
The event card system is compatible with any set of rules or figure scale, but you may want to adapt the cards to your particular style of game. Prior to deployment, each side draws one event card for every 10 units, or part thereof, in the army. Again, the actual number of cards used may be adjusted to fit a particular scenario or large battle. One to three cards per side seem to work best, otherwise the battle may be dominated by too many chance events. In multiplayer games, each participant might draw a card, and be required to keep it secret even from fellow players. Event cards may be played at certain times in a game, at the player’s discretion.
Some of the cards are beneficial, some not, and many can be played against the opponent. Some cards are particularly effective if saved until the right moment. The cards listed below are only examples. Game designers may want to add other events to the card stack, making the game that much more interesting.
Playing the Cards
To prepare the cards, simply copy or print the details onto paper or card stock. This can be glued to an old playing card or thicker cardboard for extra durability.
- Forced March. Play this card at the start of the game. The vanguard of the army marched through the night to arrive on the battlefield ahead of the enemy. The player may deploy any four (4) units up to three (3) normal moves onto the table at the start of the game.
- Lost Patrol. Play this card at the start of the game. A part of the army has become lost and arrives on the battlefield late. Four (4) randomly selected units are delayed and not deployed at the start of the game. Roll for the delayed arrival of each unit at the beginning of each game turn following deployment. A D6 result lower than the current turn number means that the delayed unit arrives at the player’s table edge this turn.
- Peasant Support. Play this card at the start of the game. The local peasant population raises a battalion of Militia to join the player’s army at the start of the game. Battalion figure strength should be equal to a line battalion of the player’s army.
- Peasant Unrest. Play this card at the start of the game. The local peasant population has been alienated by the looting and rapacious behaviour of the player’s army. One (1) randomly selected infantry or cavalry unit must be detailed to quell the trouble, precluding it from joining the battle.
- "Three Cheers for the Colonel" Play this card at the start of the game. One (1) randomly selected unit in the army has a new commander who proves to be capable and popular. The man raises his unit’s morale status by one level (eg 2nd to 1st class Infantry) for the duration of the battle.
- "The Colonel is a prancing fool". Play this card at the start of the game. One (1) randomly selected enemy unit has a new commander who proves to be incapable and very unpopular. The man lowers his unit’s morale status by one level for the duration of the battle, e.g. Guard becomes Veteran, Veteran becomes Conscript, depending on which rule system is used.
- "I’m off home lads". Play this card against an enemy unit which failed its morale check this turn. Discard after use. The unit scatters with no chance of being rallied and is removed from play. The unit counts as having been destroyed for victory purposes.
- "Go again Sir?". Play this card on a friendly unit which failed morale this turn. Discard after use. The unit automatically rallies and is so inspired that it may take a free tactical move outside the normal turn sequence.
- Flank March. Up to four (4) units may be kept off table during deployment. These units are sent marching around the enemy’s flank, and they may arrive at any point along the neutral table edges. Play this card in your own movement phase at any time after turn two of the battle. Discard after use. Flank marching units must roll a 2 or better on a D6 to arrive on table that turn. Units which fail to arrive may roll again in subsequent turns.
- Rough Ground. Play this card during an enemy movement phase. Discard after use. One (1) chosen enemy unit has encountered an area of unseen rough terrain such as a swamp or ditch. Their movement rate is halved this turn only. Possible variant: The newly identified obstacle is actually placed on the battlefield, effecting other units marching across the same spot, friendly or enemy.
- Bad quality Powder. Play this card during the enemy fire phase. Discard after use. The fire effect of one (1) enemy unit is halved, rounding down. The card may be played against artillery.
- "Don’t shoot!". Play this card during the enemy fire phase. In the smoke and confusion of battle, one (1) enemy unit mistakenly fires at a friendly unit. Discard after use. The target of the friendly fire incident is a unit on the same side, either in front or on the flanks of the firing enemy unit. The fire effect against the friendly unit is adjudicated normally.
- "The General has been hit!". Play this card during an enemy movement phase. Discard after use. An enemy brigade commander has been unhorsed or lightly wounded at a critical moment, causing great confusion. No unit from that brigade may move this turn, although they may fire and defend themselves in melee combat as normal.
- Heroic Speech. Play this card at any time. Discard after use. The commander of one (1) unit has inspired his men with an heroic speech. The unit gains an extra movement and fights as one morale class higher for that turn only.
- "Where the hell is that wagon?". Play this card during the enemy fire phase. Discard after use. One (1) enemy artillery battery has temporarily run out of ammunition and may not fire this turn.
- Confused Orders. Play this card during an enemy movement phase. Discard after use. One (1) enemy unit misinterprets its orders and will do the opposite of what was intended. Note: If the effect of order confusion is difficult to determine on the tabletop, the unit simply has no movement this turn.
- "The Prussians are coming!". Play this card at any time during the battle. Discard after use. Up to four (4) enemy units believe that they are about to be attacked in the rear. The effected units take an immediate morale check with the appropriate rear attack modifiers. Note: To add realism, the effected units should be from the same brigade or division.
- Enemy Deserter. Play this card at any time during the battle. Discard after use. An enemy deserter reveals vital information. The owning player may look at all of the opponents’ Fortune of War cards or remove from play one (1) randomly drawn Fortune of War Card.
- Brilliant Scouting. Play this card at the start of the battle. Discard after use. The enemy has been outscouted, the owning player may decide who deploys his troops first.
- Luck of the Irish. Play this card at any time during the game. Discard after use. The owning player is blessed by the Gods of War with good luck. One dice roll may be rolled again, and the better of the two results may be chosen.
These cards should provide for an element of uncertainty that is all too often missing from our wargames, but which frequently shaped historic outcomes. The event card system is easy to use, and it adds much exitement and suspense to the game. (The article originally appeared in Histoire et Figurines, used with permission).