Napoleonic boardgame (war and peace) rules suggestions (long)

For those who don’t know the game but do know Napoleonic warfare, I’m asking if there were many instances in the Napoleonic Wars where whole LARGE armies were bagged by making them retreat toward a city that is a supply source for them and they refuse to retreat further and lengthen their supply chain. Or, did they instead, when defeated in the field, retreat away from the city and toward the next nearest supply source?

[long explanation follows]

I’ve broken out my old Avalon Hill wargame, War and Peace, which simulates the Napoleonic wars on the strategic level. The intervening years of poring over Games Workshop tomes in hopes of understanding their convoluted, most often misleading, and often plain contradictory rules has lead me to more easily understand the somewhat better written rules from Avalon Hill.

But I still have one rules issue, and I am asking for good suggestions for a resolution on this rather than a rules clarification since it’s pretty obvious the rule is contradictory.

A force can be in a hex (around 40 miles to a side?), either in the field or inside a city if there is a city in that hex and it is not filled to its maximum capacity.

Major Cities also function as Supply Sources for countries that control them. If a force is forced to retreat, it must retreat into an adjacent hex provided that it does not end its movement further away from a Supply Source than it started. Unfortunately, the rules do not say what happens when a force is forced to retreat when it’s in a hex with a major city that’s a Supply Source and the city is already filled to capacity, since any adjacent hex would be 1 hex away from a Supply Source, and the hex they’re in is 0 hexes away.

The rules do say what must happen when a force is forced to retreat when it’s inside a city: it surrenders.

Now, those of you who know Napoleonic warfare, what rule would make more sense in this situation? Would Napoleonic armies falling back on their supply source just disintegrate if defeated in combat in their home territory, whereas they would be able to successfully retreat if they were not in their territory? To me that would too harshly penalize the defense. Can you guys also tell me if it sounds as unrealistic to your minds as it does to mine?

On the other hand, the rules clearly state that you cannot end your retreat further from a supply source than you started. One solution would to amend that and say if you cannot retreat into the city due to exceeding its maximum capacity, you retreat one hex away toward the NEXT nearest supply source.

I never played that particular game but most wargames give units defending in a city a defensive bonus in combat. I feel this partly reflects the real-world fact that troops defending in a city would realize they could not run away out to the surrounding countryside and would fight harder - a “last stand”. If these troops were defeated anyway it would be realistic to assume they were been wiped out. So I think it’s realistic to have a rule eliminating units forced to retreat from a city.

It makes sense to me, accepting the idea that defense of a home territory would often require commanders to sacrifice their troops’ lives to defend the city’s populace, rather than being allowed the political expediency of removing the bulk of their forces.

Napoleonic war games tend to emphasize attacking, rather than defense, in order to simulate the huge successes of invading forces during that time period.

Ahhhh, War and Peace. I haven’t cracked that game open in a while. I seem to remember that you could retreat into a city if you lost a field battle. As to whether you could do that if the city was already full? I’m not sure. I would be willing to bet that question was answered in the Errate Box of The General at some point. If you care, I could dig out my old copy and see if it was.

Could you if it’s not too much of a bother? I do remember seeing strategy advice in old Generals for W+P but not errata. (Also, does it say how much the Guard Cavalry cost? Not that I’m planning on buying any, because in most situations Guard units are slightly worse than regular line units for twice the price unless you play with the Committing the Guard rule which doesn’t apply to cavalry, but something is just left hanging when there is no pts cost listed for Guard Cavalry.)