For Factors and attributes that have already been decided please visit the Napoleonic War Game page.
EDIT: Following a suggestion from user Altair1371 on Reddit the firing dice mentioned further down this page will change to 1 die for every 200 men.
Also, ‘Stress’ & ‘Misfires’ will be combined into one die roll called ‘Steady’ which will still be passable on a 5+.
While we contemplate the base sizes a little more from my previous post, let’s move on to another aspect of Napoleonic warfare. Namely, Musketry fire its accuracy and effect.
It is fairly common knowledge that musket fire was largely inaccurate due to a number of factors. Soldiers were not trained to ‘aim’ their musket but rather just to reload and fire. It wasn’t until after the wars that the command ‘aim’ came into effect.
How accurate was a musket? We know the ranges of the musket from my previous post Writing a Wargame – Part III. Also from that article we found a information from www.napolun.com in regards to hits at long range and effective range.
“– 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“:
|Musket||160 Yards||Accuracy||320 Yards||Accuracy|
|Prussian 1782 Musket||64||32%||42||21%|
|Prussian 1809 Musket||113||57%||42||21%|
|French 1777 Musket||99||50%||55||28%|
So we’ve some data here showing that muskets could hit 50-60% of the time at effective range while hitting 20-30% at long range. But this test was conducted under an environment where the firer could take time, not worry about approaching enemy soldiers, actually killing men in front of him, not worry about being shot by the enemy and also not have the distractions of the general sounds of warfare going on around them – in other words ‘battlefield stress’. I suspect all of these factors has an affect on whether a soldier was a) able to reload effectively and b) actually fire his musket.
Further on in the article I cited above from napolun.com, there is an interesting snippet on the effectiveness of muskets in combat and what factors would play a part in that effectiveness:
- Misfires could consist of up to 20%. According to Colonel Elting during prolonged firing the soldier had often to clear the vent of his musket with a pin carried on his pouch belt, and clean the barrel which fouled after 50 or 60 shots.
- Stress. The experience showed that the niceties of regular volleys were impracticable on the battlefield. Quite often the musketry took place outside of the real killing zone. The sight of enemy continuing his advance was enough for some and they began blasting off as soon as they had loaded their muskets. It was contagious. Once individual soldiers fired their muskets (without the order from their officers) the others began firing too. Within moments the entire battalion was covered with smoke. The fast firing relieved anxiety and occupied troopers’ minds and bodies. Some soldiers were so stressed that they loaded their rifles time after time but they never fired. (After one of the battle of Gettysburg the discarded 37,574 rifles were collected and sent to Washington to be inspected and reissued. Approx. 24,000 of them were still loaded, and 75 % of them had 2 to 10 rounds in the barrel. One rifle had been stuffed to the top with 23 rounds !
As we have no hard data to go on from combat in the era. We will have to rely on our first table while adjusting slightly for ‘battlefield stress’. At present I’m willing to go with a general 50% hit at short range and 20% at long range. But we also have to account for the 20% misfires that could occur.
The easiest way to account for all of these factors is to have a number of speed rolls when firing. when I refer to speed rolling I’m talking about the act of rolling the brigade as one group together for those at are firing.
We could then reduce the firing into a number of separate rolls to have a more realistic idea of firing in Napoleonic times. These rolls would be for Stress, Misfires and Hitting.
Our second bullet point above shows that our of a number of rifles taken from the Battlefield of Gettysburg for analysis a high percentage hadn’t been reloaded properly. 75% had more than one round inside the barrel. This makes it fairly simple to introduce a mechanic to that effect. Using a D6 or a D10 you can determine the number of men that wouldn’t fire due to ‘Battlefield Stress’. As D6 dice are more readily available i’d rather use these throughout our system. Therefore, to simulate battlefield stress, a soldier would theoretically only fire his weapon on a 5+ (which works out as 33.34% chance, slightly better than reality but usable all the same).
The first bullet point states that 20% of weapon fires resulted in misfires. Again, this should be fairly simple to show. Of those soldiers that successfully passed the first test they would roll a further D6 with a 2+ (83.35% chance) showing that his weapon was fired without incident.
Using our table at the beginning of this article we have the stat showing roughly 50-60% of time soldiers were able to hit the target. So let’s stick with 50%, on a D6 that would be a 4+ (50% chance)
Using the same table, it shows that hits were only made roughly 20% of the time. Converting this into a dice roll gives us a 6+ (16.67% chance).
So let’s use our largest battalions and smallest battalions in the game, the Russians and Hungarians.
They both decide that they will spend 1 action to form their 4 battalions in to line and 2 actions to move their battalions 2 moves, bringing them within musket range of their enemy. They then would spend 1 action to give fire.
|Unit||Men||Shots (6 Shots each)||‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)||‘Misfire’ Successes|
|Effective Range Hits|
|Long Range Hits|
|Austrian Line (Hungarian)||5,232||31,392||10,466||8,723||4,362||1,454|
There are two points here, I obviously don’t expect people to be rolling 10,000 dice at a time, so we need to establish the firing dice of each unit. Also, these stats are assuming that the unit is firing on a unit formed in line also. So ignoring the second point for now let’s suggest our smallest unit would use 6 firing dice for its 600 men. That’s 100 men per firing dice.
The number of dice each Unit/Country would receive per battalion:
|French Old Guard (Pre 1809)||945||9|
|French Old guard (Post 1809)||801||8|
|French Line (Pre 1809)||1,049||10|
|French Line (Post 1809)||825||8|
|Austrian Line (German)||1,188||12|
|Austrian Line (Hungarian)||1,308||13|
So following on from our last post, we’d still essentially be managing our units at a brigade level, as the Brigade Commander may display the strength of the Brigade. For example a Brigade Commander may have an indicator showing that Brigades strength is 1,400, meaning we would roll 14 dice initially.
Taking our previous example of the Russian and Hungarian infantry and replacing the men with firing dice:
|Unit||Men||Shots||‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)||‘Misfire’ Successes|
|Effective Range Hits|
|Long Range Hits|
|Austrian Line (Hungarian)||5,232||52||17||14||7||2|
EFFECTS OF FIRING
So what about the unit receiving fire? Per 1000 shots fired at a unit in effective range there would be casualties roughly on the scale of 100-150 per short range volley and 0-50 on long range (very rough estimates). When accounting for an action turn of firing (6 volleys) these would equate to 600-900 casualties per short range and 100-300 per long range. These casualties would be spread across the entire enemies brigade rather than one particular unit. At present I imagine distributing any effects of firing evenly amount the forward battalions of the enemy.
So if we go with Option 6 or 7 from our previous post (i.e. commanders have dice that show casualties for the Brigade) so for each successful hit on a unit you would reduce the battalion strength by 50 men. So for every two successful hits on a brigade they would lose 1 firing dice.
However receiving fire also had an effect on the morale of the unit, and I’m toying with the idea of having morale markers on individual units where each successful hit reduces their morale by one pip or they suffer a morale marker. Every time that unit wants to advance on an enemy within range it would have to pass a morale test before doing so. Failure would mean not advancing, these failures would also prompt the other units in base to base contact with them to also take a morale test. If one other unit fails that test within the brigade then the whole Brigade moves back a certain distance while taking a certain amount of damage (D3?), if three or more fail in total then the whole brigade routs and makes a full move back towards its own deployment zone while taking damage (D6?).
Commanders of brigade can use actions to reduce the pips of morale damage on any battalions under their control.
We have set a number of factors all of which aren’t set in stone yet as I’d love to hear further opinions on this.
- 1 Firing Dice for every 200 men in a battalion.
- ‘Battlefield Stress’ tests for units wanting to fire (5+ on a D6), which could be adjusted depending on the skill of the unit.
- ‘Misfire’ tests for units (2+ on a D6).
- ‘To Hit’ Scores of 4+ at Effective Range and 6+ at Long Range.
- Damage of 50 men per hit inflicted on the Brigade and 1 morale Pip on the Battalion.
- Morale tests for Battalions wanting to move towards (as well as receiving fire from the enemy).
- Commanders can use actions to improve morale of their Battalions.
As always I would love to hear any comments or ideas.
Also early days yet, but how does “Vive le France” or “Le Chapeau” sound as a title?