Writing a Wargame – The Turn

FACTORS ALREADY DECIDED – from previous posts

Battle Scale1:5300
Unit RepresentationBattalion
Unit Width40mm
Game Factors Decided

PREVIOUS POSTS

Writing a Wargame – An Introduction

Writing a Wargame – Scale

Writing a Wargame – Scale II

INFANTRY MOVEMENT

So we’ve settled on a scale of 1:5300 giving us base sizes of 40mm wide. I think that we now need to follow on from this by looking at Infantry movement rates as well as the various ranges of the weapons at this scale. This in turn may give us an indication what kind of length of time a turn may represent.

Starting with movement, the march speeds of the various nations would differ slightly as shown by the below graphic:

march-rates-table
Taken from https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com/miltary-historical-research/military-historical-research/napoleonic-infantry-march-rates/ with thanks.

A pace works out to be roughly 76.2 cm, therefore if we look how far each nation would march in 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes and convert this to our 1:5300 scale we would have the following information:

NationPaces Per Minute5 mins at Scale10 mins at Scale15 mins at Scale20 mins at Scale
British755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
French765.46 cm10.93 cm16.39 cm21.85 cm
Prussian755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs906.47 cm12.94 cm19.41 cm25.88 cm
Russian755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Regular march rates of infantry over 5,10, 15 and 20 minute intervals at 1:5300 Scale

We can see that apart from the Austrian 1807 Regs every nation pretty much moves at the same rate of 75 paces per minute. This gives us a basis of how far each unit would move in a turn.

The one important piece of information that we can use in the future is that over five minutes a unit will move roughly 5cm at 1:5300 scale. This would suggest that what ever length of time our turn represents, it would be easier to have it as a multiple of 5.

MUSKET RANGE

But we also have to look at the range of small arms fire. The popular weapon of the time was the smooth bore musket, which although devastating on the volley, wasn’t accurate and didn’t have a great range.

Taking the popular weapons of the time and converting their ranges into our scale we have the below information:

MusketEffective RangeEffective Range (1:5300 Scale)Long RangeLong Range (1:5300 Scale)
French “Charleville 1777” Musket100 Yards1.73 cm300 Yards5.18 cm
British “Brown Bess” Musket109 Yards1.88 cm327 Yards5.64 cm
Prussian “Potzdam” Musket75 Yards1.29 cm300 Yards5.18 cm
Ranges of Muskets during the Napoleonic Wars

As we can see there is a strong similarity in the ranges of these weapons, effective range being roughly 100 yards and their long range being around 300 yards. This discounts the British Baker Rifle at present which we will look at, at a later date.

The interesting information to take from both this and the previous table on unit movements suggests that a musket could fire roughly the same range as unit could move in five minutes.

As for accuracy? Well the following information was taken from www.napolun.com:

– at 160 and 320 yards out of 200 rounds fired at a large target, approximating the size of a formed infantry company, the following number of hits was obtained“:

Musket160 YardsAccuracy320 YardsAccuracy
Prussian 1782 Musket6432%4221%
Prussian 1809 Musket11357%4221%
British Musket11658%5528%
French 1777 Musket9950%5528%
Napoleonic Musket Accuracy

This information will be particularly useful at a later date when we come to the shooting phase of our game rules.

So in five minutes a unit could march the distance of a long range musket shot.

OUR SECOND CHALLENGE

So if a unit can move as far as a long range musket shot this could potentially mean that in the shooting phase a unit would fire either 1 volley or none at all. Not much shooting going on there then! However, we know that this wasn’t the case and that historically units would either receive many volleys before charging the enemy or they would stand and fire while plucking up the courage to charge. We have to replicate this.

One solution could be to break each units movement up into a number of actions. i.e. A Battalion has 3 actions it can make over the course of the turn. These can be Fire & Reload, Change Formation, March etc.

By breaking this movement down, a march move would not be the same as the musket range.

This doesn’t solve the issue of the enemy unit being unable to fire however, an addition to this could be that once a unit makes an action, an one enemy unit can make a reaction (i.e. Fire & Reload).

There could also be some kind of morale test for the units to close the gap between themselves. This brings us into additional attributes for each unit. We’re already know each unit will have a movement attribute, but we may also need further attributes in the form of “Leadership/Morale” and “Shooting”.

These attributes are often combined into one in many other war games (such as “Quality” in A Song of Drums and Shakos or “Elan” in Blucher). Do I want to combine these attributes as well?

If we look at the world of Warhammer 40,000 or Age of Sigmar, units may have multiple attributes. You may say that this is due to their being less units on the field, however if we consider an army of 100,000 in the Napoleonic era, this would roughly involve a hundred battalions give or take. In Warhammer 40,000 or AOS, there are often 100 models on each side, sometimes more, so I don’t feel this needs to be a barrier to the speed of play as all units could act in unison if necessary (i.e. all battalions in the 6th Division move towards the enemy, all units fire on the enemy Brigade).

LENGTH OF BATTLE

One aspect of the game that we’ve not taken into account yet is the average length of a battle, they were generally fought over the course of day during daylight (Waterloo was fought between 11am and 7:30pm), so if we take an average battle length of 8 hours for a battle day we can split our prospective turns up over this period of time:

Turn RepresentingNumber of Turns for 8 hours
5 Minutes96 Turns
10 Minutes48 Turns
15 Minutes32 Turns
20 Minutes24 Turns
25 Minutes19 Turns
30 Minutes16 Turns
Turn lengths

Judging by the above table a turn length of 5 minutes is not feasible as this would result in far too many turns, while 30 minutes would result in troops moving 30 cm a turn which is too far. I also think for this reason 25 minute turns and 10 minute turns are also discounted. That leaves us with a choice between 10, 15 and 20 minute turns. At this point I’m leaning towards the 10 minute turn, and between 3 and 5 unit “actions/reactions”.

So going back to our earlier movement table, let’s see what their movement would be broken down into 3, 4,and 5 reactions over 1 turn of 10 minutes:

Nation10 min move at 1:53003 Actions4 Actions5 Actions
British10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
French10.93 cm3.64 cm2.73 cm2.19 cm
Prussian10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs12.94 cm4.31 cm3.24 cm2.59 cm
Russian10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Movement broken down into “actions”

This makes things much simpler for us. All the movements are below the Musket range, and in particular 4 and 5 would require 2 actions to move the same distance as musket fire. So an action would then equate to 2.5 minutes or 2 minutes.

This may seem like it makes troop movement difficult, but I would imagine that unless you’re close to an enemy, you could simply say all the battalions in this unit are using all 5 actions to move towards the enemy, and then proceed to move them as one group.

Once within a certain range of the enemy, the enemy could then perform reactions to your actions (but these may be limited to firing or changing formation).

At present I’m happy with going for a 10 minute turn length and 5 actions per unit.

IN SUMMARY

After all this, I believe that we’re set on the following factors of the war game:

Scale1:5300
Base RepresentationBattalion
Base Width40mm
Real Time Equivalent for Single Turn10 Minutes
Actions Per Unit5
Factors decided

We also have a number of attributes we can continue to work on:

AttributeValue
Infantry March Movement over 5 minutes5cm
Musket Range5cm
Morale/Leadership/FatigueTBA
ShootingTBA
Unit “Actions”5
Unit “Reactions”TBA
Unit Attributes

As always, I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to offer any suggestions or criticisms. I will be going more in depth into individual units at a later date once the bare bones of the system is constructed.

Next time around we’ll look at formations and their effect on movement.

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5 thoughts on “Writing a Wargame – The Turn

    1. Thanks Doug!

      I’ve just had a look at the Forward March Studios website, it really does give a lovely grand scale feel to the table. A major part of my hobby is painting the miniatures however, and the loss of detail at 2mm would bug me I think. That said I will order the sample and have them printed up to see what I think once I have them in the flesh.

      I’ve just read through a few posts on Jean Jodoin’s forum and I must admit I’m hooked, the page you’ve linked is an issue I have already started thinking about as well. Morale and gunfire, as the posts say on Jean Jodoin’s page, a bayonet charge very rarely met an enemy in the open ground (built-up areas are a different story), but it would as he says result in three options. The crucial one is the fire fight that takes part between the two side and how to represent this while also trying to urge your side to either stand or charge and not flee is going to be an interesting part of the rules.

      Like

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