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Leadership Lessons


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Leadership is an all-important point in GBACW. While wargames of the day had been toying with leadership - I think of Legion and the rest of the PRESTAGS set - TSS was the first game I had that really used leader counters where they actually were required to act like "on-the-board" leaders. When you add in the importance of morale, and leader impact on that, plus the later concept of Brigade Combat Effectiveness levels, TSS changed the future of wargaming as we knew it in 1976.

That said, over 30 years later, can this all be so difficult? All the nuance is gone, right? Well, chess has very simple rules. It is not the rules, but playing well that is difficult.

That's the goal of this page of strategies and tactics when playing TSS or any of the GBACW system - learning to play the game well.

Russ Gifford writes:

TSS and the GBACW system simulate the importance of leaders by making them vital to success. Troops can only move one hex if they are not in a leader's command radius. Regiments that rout cannot return to good order without a leader to provide direction. It would seem that such a important role would mean these people should be kept safe and as far away from the shooting as possible, right?

In a word - NO! Leaders in TSS and the GBACW system are required to be in the thick of the fighting, as they were in history. The game promotes this many ways:

bulletRegiments stacked with leaders subtract a 1 from their morale check die roll.
bulletLeaders add the equivalent of 1 SP to a stack in melee!
bulletLeaders are required if you want to ensure a unit gets into a melee.

In short, the only way to break the opponent's line is to hit them hard with in their face tactics. This means marching your regiments into the front line, standing up to defensive fire, delivering your own offensive fire, and then threatening melee to get them to either give ground voluntarily (retreat before melee) or by a successful melee result.

These things are far less likely to happen without leaders involved. That means putting the leader on the line at the point of contact is almost required in TSS.  Leaders risk their lives almost every turn in TSS, and very frequently in all the other GBACW games.

Russ Gifford adds:

Ways to use leaders in TSS / GBACW:

Stacking the leader with the bigger regiments makes certain the opponent knows you are planning to come in on a melee. This may get them to retreat before melee, giving you the hex advance for free! (Advance after Combat rule in TSS2 [9.9], optional rule [9.9] in GBACW (Moves 57 - see errata sheet.) I strongly recommend this as a standard rule for all GBACW games.)

Need a unit to withstand defensive fire? A Leader stacked with the unit will up their ability to stand by over 16% - and if the unit is a 5 morale unit, a leader ensures they will pass that morale check!  (You have nothing to fear but a P/R check - or a stray bullet! TSS2 [17.42] GBACW [17.4] )

TSS2 did clarify that Leaders only give these benefits to units of their own command. Meaning, the brigade leader of the regiment involved, or a Division, Corps or Army leader that traces the chain of command to that regiment. (TSS2 [13.43] GBACW says "any leader in the hex.")

Remember, Leaders are never routed. [13.34] If there is only one unit in the stack with the leader, if the unit routs, the leader gets to go back with that unit [13.43]. Which is good news - that means that routed regiment will automatically rally in the Rally Phase [13.52 point 1]! Of course, that's true only as long as the leader didn't die or get wounded in the shootout! (Of course, some of the GBACW games have BCE requirements that do require BCE units stacked with leaders to make a die roll to rally.)

If there are two units in the stack, the leader has the option to stay with the second unit. (But in TSS2, the leader cannot remain alone in the hex - if the only unit in the hex retreats, he must retreat with it. [13.43])

But according to the rules [13.43], even if the first unit routs in a stack, if the leader was in the hex when they were fired on, the second unit that must take the morale check will still get the leader bonus. (exception: when the leader is killed or wounded by the fire that triggered the morale check. [17.72] 

Other points to remember -

bulletAny number of leaders may be stacked in a hex, but a unit can only be affected by one leader.  [17.51]
bulletLeaders must end their movement phase stacked with friendly units if within 5 hexes of enemy units. [17.52]
bulletIf a Leader is left alone in a hex (the unit he was with died due to enemy fire and the leader was not injured) the leader will be moved to the nearest combat unit in his command. [17.53] - unless surrounded by enemy units, enemy Zones of control, or impassable terrain.
bulletLeaders alone in a hex are instantly captured if an enemy unit enters their hex. [17.54]  

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This site was last updated 01/05/13