As described above in the Sequence of Play section of the rules, the PIP Phase is the one in which the moving player rolls dice each turn to get PIPs (command points) for the Divisional generals in his Corps and then spends those PIPs to do things with units: moving/pivoting, changing formation, limbering/unlimbering, firing, and charging. Firing and charging are resolved in the two phases that follow the PIP Phase, namely the Firing Phase and the Charge Phase.
PIP die allocation
- For each Corps, decide at the outset if the Corps will begin by operating with a Plan or without a Plan. (You can change this later; see below.)
- If the Corps Commander has a Plan, the Divisional generals are ranked (when the Plan is formulated, at the start of the game or subsequently) as to which gets the highest, second-highest, third-highest (etc.) PIP die on any turn. This represents the carrying through of a prepared plan.
- Reinforcements: a Divisional general arriving on the battlefield with reinforcements may be inserted anywhere in the Plan’s ranking of Divisional generals at no cost, for the first turn after the turn of their arrival on the battlefield.
- If the Corps Commander does not have a Plan, average all the PIP dice for that Corps that turn, rounding down: this is the number of PIPs available for each Divisional commander in the Corps that turn.
- To shift from having a Plan to not having a Plan, or to having a different Plan (with a different ranking of PIP dice within the Corps), a Corps Commander spends one turn forfeiting all PIPs for all Divisions under his command. The intention to do this must be expressed before the roll for PIP dice.
- It's FAST-PLAY: Because its mechanics are quite simple compared to most Napoleonic-era rules, two players should be able to play an exciting, eventful battle in about two hours.
- It's CORPS-LEVEL: One or two infantry units together make a Brigade, four to five make a Division. The rules work best when each player handles one Corps. Larger battles, with multiple corps, need either more players (each taking a corps) or more time (perhaps 4-5 hours for a large battle like Austerlitz). An ordinary-sized dining room table will easily accomodate a corps-level battle, with lots of room left for maneuvre; a large battle like Austerlitz would need a ping-pong table.
- It's EXCITING: Becaues the rules simulate the management of a battle by a Corps or Army commander, with command decisions being effected by Divisional generals, actual confrontations at the regimental level are partly (though by no means wholly) out of your hands. This means you have to react to, and plan for, developments at the battlefield level rather than micromanaging battalions; it also means that individual confrontations between regiments always have an element of suspense and drama.
- It's HISTORICAL: Battles are won and lost on momentum, on exploitation, on the efficient use of reserves, and on planning for contingencies. There is always the chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, as at Marengo or Eylau or Waterloo.
- It's COLLABORATIVE: Because of the element of random chance which generals have to manage, ultimately the outcome of a battle is unforeseeable, and even the best plans can falter or the worst troops can suddenly find their courage and save the day. This encourages an atmosphere of collaboration between players, who become observers of a reimagined historical event more than attack dogs seeking to destroy an opponent. As Wellington said, "Generals commanding armies have something better to do than to shoot at each other," and it is in this collaborative spirit that these rules are written and freely distributed to the public
Those familiar with many different Napoleonic rules systems may find it helpful to have a quick summary of the mechanics:
- No distance firing for infantry: Infantry must be in base-contact to fire. Artillery range is 7" for effective fire, 12" for long range.
- No casualty-counting: Units are either eager (the default), shaken (from being fired on), or routed.
- Units are hard to destroy: Units are destroyed only by being surrounded when required to flee or by routing off-table. This means there is a lot of rallying and a command only disintegrates when the general truly loses control over it.
- Morale Checks happen at the start of every turn (shaken units try to regroup), when charging or being charged, or when shaken and on the losing end of a firefight.
- DBM-style PIPs allow generals a limited number of moves / actions per turn, depending on a die-roll, their role in a Plan, and the quality of the general.
- Simple Sequence of Play: Try to De-shake; Get & Use PIPs; Firing Phase; Charge Phase.
- Limited formation-changes: Infantry can be in square, and artillery can be limbered or unlimbered.
- Little distinction among troops: raw, ordinary, and veteran troops, but no distinction amongst various types of infantry (Light / Line / Rifle) or cavalry (save for minor bonuses for cuirassiers and lancers).
- Simple terrain: hills block line-of-sight for artillery and provide a morale advantage; Built-Up Areas (BUAs), Hills, linear terrain features (walls, hedges, streams), and Redoubts provide a morale boost.
- Basic relationships of arms respected: cavalry charges can be spectacular, but can go nowhere or get carried away; squares resist cavalry but are vulnerable to artillery; artillery is hard to charge from the front; cavalry is vulnerable to artillery; generals can aid units but thereby risk being carried away or killed.
- What you see is what you get: There is no need for record-keeping (apart from reckoning how much time has passed, to allow reinforcements to arrive on time). Everything is visible on the actual battlefield, with the use of markers to indicate Firing, Shaken, or Routing troops and Limbered or Silenced artillery. There are no zones of control, the rules for contacting enemy in the flank or rear are very commonsensical, and artillery line-of-sight is generous rather than hair-splitting.
Fleeing & Rout