At first i was quite frustrated with the 3 block inf. units.But just as with the British Army with it's weak Cavalry, it does oblige us to play the Russian Army with a defensive strategy-units hugging the keystone defense Artillery units,taking full advantage of cover available.As Richard says " The Napoleonic tactics you will need to execute to gain victory conform remarkably well to the advantages and limitations inherent to the various Napoleonic National Armies.."
We have terrific replay value with this expansion. Mother Russia rolls can strengthen all Line Units, if all infantry and flag results.They have the potential to provide up to 5 Cossack Units or upgrade all Artillery Units.So because the dynamic of the game can really change on every replay,i personally don't have a problem with the 3 block units. I really do enjoy playing the Russian Army, and that's due to repeated playing.And i think that's the key.And now we have the Tactitian Deck.I do understand what you guys are saying, but if we did upgrade all INF. Units to 4 Blocks to reflect Stubborness,the Limitations inherent in the Russian Army would be removed. We would then probably play the Russian Army as if it were French,with a more aggressive,offensive style of play.But wouldn't that feel historically inaccurate and less fun and challenging?
Having looked some more into this, I'm not actually sure that Infantry unit strength has much overall affect on balance of scenarios.
So the effect of the Russian Line being 4 and going to 5 strength by Mother Russia being significantly different on scenario balance from 3 going to 4 seems to be not likely.
However, the issue for me is that the Russian Line Infantry seems to not behave historically.
Russian infantry seemed to be;
resilient and durable
all the things that Austrian infantry seem to be (without the battalion mass) , but tougher and quicker.
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
To be fair, Russian Line Units in Square are certainly resilient.There is a 1 in 2 probability of upgrading Line Units on Mother Russia rolls.And the Tactician Cards certainly help to provide that 'stubborness' feel.The inherent ability to ignore 1 flag, very helpful in holding on to Objectives or denying French Objectives.And with Grenadier Units providing close support,overall the dynamic of Russian Infantry being reluctant to give ground, i think, is captured.
And when this is all combined with Cossacks,Cavalry units and Artillery,along with taking advantage of high ground,buildings and fieldworks,as a defensive Army, the Russians are formidable.
However, if there are scenarios with no Pre-Battle Mother rolls and French Line Units retain their bonus in close combat with infantry,one could introduce a 'house rule' that allows Russian Line Units to be upgraded, corresponding to the number of command cards in the Allied players hand.But this is something i haven't playtested.The thing is, Mr Borg and other playtesters must have already asked themselves these questions and thrashed it through with multiple playtests,which is why i'm reluctant to employ 'house rules' and instead play it as it is.But that's just my view.
so after some more experimentation I've come to a few conclusions;
1. Infantry unit strength has little or no overall affect on balance of scenarios.
2. a negative Mother Russia roll (i.e. where all Russian LN start at 4 and an INF die result depletes a LN unit to 3) is pretty close to the same as a normal Mother Russia roll in most instances.
French and British observer accounts of Russian infantry performance stress
- stoic durability under fire
- poor marksmanship
- eagerness to use bayonet
- ability to march distances at speed
- tactically used columns over lines
Yes Russian fire was considered poor. Not just because of markmanship, but also because of a lot of poor craftsmanship in the making of Russian muskets coupled with irregular boring from factory to factory.
There was also something akin to battalion mass using their column formation.
So, coupled with the 'ignore 1 flag', a battalion mass would be useful in keeping cards. That then might be worth the avoidance of 5 block units. I personally have no data of what the keeping of cards works out as a numerical measurement in result stats, but I could see in scenarios I have already played where that would have been a great help.
Also, Russian infantry formations were not numerically the size of Austrian, whether talking of battalion, brigade or even corps sized. That in itself would steer me away from 5 block Russian infantry, let alone their ignoring of a banner to boot. You'd never shift them
A little house rule i have not playtested,but which i really like the idea of, is Russian Line Units Battle Back with a +1Die.The player is then rewarded for choosing not to retreat and i feel would help to create that feeling of doggedness and stoicism in the Russian Army.