Game Test 1 – Musket Fire and Reactions

For this test scenario we have two brigades on each side.

For the ‘Red’ side:

  • Brigade 1, made up of four battalion totalling 4,000 men.
  • Brigade 2, made up of three battalions with 2,800 men in total.

for the ‘Blue’ side:

  • Brigade 1, made up of four battalions totalling 3,200 men.
  • Brigade 2, made up of four battalions totalling 3,200 men.

We are in the blue players turn, and neither his or his opponents units have yet fired their weapons. All red units are deployed in line formation and all blue units are currently in column formation.

Disposition of forces

The player choose to activate Brigade 1 (Blue B1) and use 5 actions to take them to just inside 4cm (3.3cm away) of the enemy 1st Brigade (Red 1B):

Result of Blue Players Actions for Brigade 1

During the blue players last 3 actions of his movement, the red player chose not to react each time (their only reactions available at this point being withdraw 2cm or change formation).

On his last move, the red player has one final reaction ,in which he can now add fire. However he chooses to hold his fire, hoping to use the +1 to ‘Steady’ modifier for ‘Keep Your Powder Dry” at close range next turn. To do so he has to take a morale test on 2D6 against his morale of 8:

Red Morale Test to Hold Fire

The red player fails, and the nervous men in the Brigade give fire early, with the rest of the line in the Brigade following suit. He has two battalions at the front of his formation in ‘Line Formation’, the Brigade has 4,000 strength, however only the front battalions can fire which is half of the Brigade. Therefore he uses (4,000/2) = 2,000 / 200 = 10 Firing Dice, ‘Steady’ usually requires a roll of 5+, however as this is the first time this brigade has fired he can add +1 to his rolls meaning rolls of 4 or more are successes:

Result of ‘Steady’ roll

He scores 5 successes, completely average. Next he rolls these successes as his ‘Fire!” dice, the enemy is at long range, and he therefore requires 6+ to hit, no modifiers are available at long range:

Result of ‘Fire!’ roll

He manages to make one hit on the enemy formation at long range. The enemy now suffer 1 Damage (50 men) and -1 to their morale:

Result of Red side fire.

As the blue side has now received fire on Brigade 1, that unit will have to pass a morale test to remain where it is. A failure of 1-2 more than 7 would result in a move equivalent to an action backwards, while suffering D3 damage. A failure of more than 2 would see the unit make a disorderly withdrawal while suffering D6 damage:

Blue Morale Test

The Blue player rolls a 9 which is 2 more than their current morale of 7 for Brigade 1, Brigade 1 now withdraws 2cm, while suffering D3 damage:

Casualties

The Blue player rolls a 3 which on a D3 is equivalent to 2 damage, the Blue player now withdraws his unit 2cm:

Effects of Blue Orderly Withdrawal

Here we can see that the Blue player has now retired his 1st Brigade 2cm, and has accounted for the two damage by reducing his strength by a further 100 men, and his morale by 2 bringing it to 5.

On his next turn he can choose to use 3 actions before moving to restore his morale to 8, and then advance and fire or advance and advance on the Red Brigade.

Or he may decide its a fool errand and withdraw his Brigade and bring another stronger unit in to take the position.

GAME SCENARIO RESULTS

The Blue attack was repelled in this instance and (for fun) during the time of 11:50am and 12:00pm he has lost 150 men.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

This is my first play test of one small part of the game but my conclusions are as follows:

  • The Reactions allow a little more realism into the game, instead of waiting for his turn a player can choose to react to anything within 10cm of his unit.
  • Too many dice rolls? The Red player had to roll 2 dice for leadership to hold their fire, then their steady dice followed by the fire dice. Meaning red player rolled a total of 17 Dice for the Action. While the Blue player rolled, 3 dice for his leader ship and damage.
  • Time taken for this one action was well under 30 seconds for the red player, and less than 10 seconds for the blue player.
  • I believe I need to implement a hold test for the unit being approached (in this case Brigade 1), perhaps a morale test each time blue player moves closer?
  • Maybe also try an option where morale is set slightly higher (10?). Depends on how long you want the unit to hold for.

EDIT – FURTHER TESTING

I’ve tested having the units with morale 8, and testing to make an action once inside 10cm, it resulted in 4 turns of moving forward and backwards with very little gain and no firefight. Will do a follow up test on a morale score of 10.

That’s it for now, but feel free to try this out yourself and let me know the results of what you find and how long it takes you. Please also try the morale tests once a unit has an enemy approach it. Let me know what you think!

CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE:

The battlefield and units were created using www.battlechronicler.com

The 3D dice rolling was from Teal 3D Dice Roller

Battle Chronicler - The best way to make war game battle reports

2 thoughts on “Game Test 1 – Musket Fire and Reactions

  1. You asked for feedback so here goes, keeping in mind opinions are subjective. I took your example and reworked it as I thought the turn was intended. My observations in parens:

    During the blue players movement, the red player may react: try to withdraw 2cm or change formation or hold fire (and save his ‘+1 Fresh’ modifier for next turn) or fire. (Good, like having player choices. To do anything except fire, he has to take a morale test on 2D6 against his morale of 8. (Good.) He rolls 11 and fails. Some nervous men fire, and the rest of the Brigade follows suit.
    (General comment: to keep the game moving, defender makes one reaction choicel, not with each incremental Attacker advance). Add ‘Stand’ as a reaction, with defender making a morale check. To withdraw or change form or hold fire adds drms to the base morale, making these choices harder to execute than just standing.)

    The Brigade has 4,000 strength, but only the 2 front battalions in ‘Line Formation’ can fire. (4,000/2) = 2,000 men/ 200 men per die= 10 Firing Dice. (Calculating is easy with round, even numbers but could be a pain for a 3150 man unit.)
    The brigade is ‘Steady’ (‘Experienced’ might be a better term since “Steady” suggests a morale test outcome.) meaning it needs rolls of 5+ to succeed. However as this is the first time this brigade has fired, he can add +1 to his rolls (4 + to succeed). (I like having an Initial Fire bonus for being ‘Fresh’ and having unfouled muskets.Historically accurate.) He scores 5 ‘successes’. (What does a ‘success’ represent? Because the player is again re-rolling below for hits below. This seems to be an unnecessary step. It’d likely be when a unit suffers casualties (below, with attendant screams, blood and howling) that ‘d shake a unit’s morale most).

    Next he rolls for these successes as ‘Fire!” hits. Since the enemy is at ‘long range’ (Outside of 2 cm?), he requires 6+ to hit. He manages to make one hit. Blue now suffers 1 Damage (50 men) and -1 to their morale dropping it to 7:(Maybe combine fire range into unit options? ‘Hold fire until Middle Range’? +1 ‘Hold fire until Close Range?’+2 Hold fire ? +3 You might also want to think about the morale impacts of being in good defensive terrain.)

    Blue will have to pass a morale test (roll less than its morale of 7) to remain where it is. If it fails by 1-2 pts (ie 8 or 9) it would result in a move equivalent to an action backwards, while suffering D3 damage.
    A failure of more than 2 would see the unit make a disorderly withdrawal while suffering D6 damage.

    The Blue player rolls a 9 and will suffer D3 damage and withdraw 2cm. He rolls a d3, getting 2 damage, (reducing strength by 100 men and morale by 2, bringing it to 5) and withdraws his unit 2cm. (How are losses of men tracked since fire is calculated using # of men)?

    On his next turn he can choose to use 3 actions before moving to restore his morale to 8, and then advance and fire or advance and advance on the Red Brigade. (This seems a bit too magical in effect. 150 men just died in a 10 minute period, the attack was thrown back but everybody in the unit is now back in top form? Very doubtful.) Or he may decide its a fool errand and withdraw his Brigade and bring another stronger unit in to take the position.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK? my conclusions are as follows:
    -The Reactions allow a little more realism. Instead of waiting for his turn a player can choose to react to anything within 10cm of his unit. (Reactions are good as they keep the passive player involved)
    -Too many dice rolls? The Red player had to roll 2 dice for leadership to hold their fire, then their steady dice followed by the fire dice. Meaning red player rolled a total of 17 Dice for the Action. While the Blue player rolled, 3 dice for his leader ship and damage. (Way too many die rolls IMO, and I like buckets of dice.)
    Time taken for this one action was well under 30 seconds for the red player, and less than 10 seconds for the blue player. (Not bad, but seems to have been an awful lot of rolling to get a relatively meaningless result, especially if you allow units to restore themselves from comb at effects so quickly and easily. Per Clausewitz, units in battle start out as hot glowing coals. As battle rages, men get stressed, thirsty, tired and eventually exhausted from physical and mental effects of combat (gunsmoke, crash of guns, screams, fear of being killed, adrenaline surges and crashes, holding/using a heavy musket, not eating, etc.). By end of battle the units are dying embers.

    I believe I need to implement a hold test for the unit being approached (in this case Brigade 1), perhaps a morale test each time blue player moves closer? (See above)

    Maybe also try an option where morale is set slightly higher (10?). Depends on how long you want the unit to hold for. (At 10 minute turns, there is going to be lots and lots of die rolling, and subsequent undoing of combat effects.
    Maybe dont allow recovery of morale, or do so slowly at 1 level /turn and then only if you make a successful roll, with a bonus if you are not proximate to the enemy.)

    For what its worth, I tried out many of the above concepts in my rules journey.One observation? Players didnt normally try to hold fire, instead having ‘a use it or lose it’ mentality.
    Anyway, my .02 for what its worth.
    – Doug B.

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    1. Doug,

      Apologies I’ve been so busy recently I somehow missed your excellent message and didn’t read it in its entirety!

      “(General comment: to keep the game moving, defender makes one reaction choicel, not with each incremental Attacker advance). Add ‘Stand’ as a reaction, with defender making a morale check. To withdraw or change form or hold fire adds drms to the base morale, making these choices harder to execute than just standing.)”

      This seems to be a sensible solution, and would reduce the number of rolls required during the process. The reaction choice would come once an enemy unit closes to within 10cm. The player would then choose the moment to use it and at that point roll their morale test? A failure resulting in the unit fleeing. One thought I had about this was that as the enemy got closer a unit would become more and more nervous the closer they got, which was initially why I included a morale test for each action within 10cm – but I am willing to ponder on this further.

      “The Brigade has 4,000 strength, but only the 2 front battalions in ‘Line Formation’ can fire. (4,000/2) = 2,000 men/ 200 men per die= 10 Firing Dice. (Calculating is easy with round, even numbers but could be a pain for a 3150 man unit.)”

      My Thoughts here would be for a player to have an order of battle sheet (roster) showing the units morale and Strength, through which they can refer to a quick reference guide showing the number of firing dice the unit may have.

      “The brigade is ‘Steady’ (‘Experienced’ might be a better term since “Steady” suggests a morale test outcome.) meaning it needs rolls of 5+ to succeed. However as this is the first time this brigade has fired, he can add +1 to his rolls (4 + to succeed). (I like having an Initial Fire bonus for being ‘Fresh’ and having unfouled muskets.Historically accurate.) He scores 5 ‘successes’. (What does a ‘success’ represent? Because the player is again re-rolling below for hits below. This seems to be an unnecessary step. It’d likely be when a unit suffers casualties (below, with attendant screams, blood and howling) that ‘d shake a unit’s morale most).”

      The shooting process was originally 3 steps being a roll to determine how many men would not freeze or reload their weapon incorrectly (historically this was roughly 75%), then another roll to determine how many misfired (historically 20%), followed by how many hit the mark. These three rolls were broken down into two steps, “Steady” and “Fire”, Steady being the Freeze and the misfire roll combined. I may yet rename this to “Ready” instead of “Steady”. The successes from the “Steady” roll are the number of dice they can roll on the “Fire!” roll.

      “Maybe combine fire range into unit options? ‘Hold fire until Middle Range’? +1 ‘Hold fire until Close Range?’+2 Hold fire ? +3 You might also want to think about the morale impacts of being in good defensive terrain.)”
      This may streamline the entire process as instead of having the actions/reactions as described above each player may declare what they will carry out before the process begins. (i.e. Red Player – the active players may say that they wish to change move 3 times towards the Blue players unit, bringing them within 2cm, change formation into line for another action and with their final action give fire. Blue Player responds with, I will hold and give fire at long range) They both make morale rolls for this, maybe with modifiers, each action maybe -1 morale? So they test once instead of multiple times? I will consider this further.
      “Blue will have to pass a morale test (roll less than its morale of 7) to remain where it is. If it fails by 1-2 pts (ie 8 or 9) it would result in a move equivalent to an action backwards, while suffering D3 damage.
      A failure of more than 2 would see the unit make a disorderly withdrawal while suffering D6 damage.
      The Blue player rolls a 9 and will suffer D3 damage and withdraw 2cm. He rolls a d3, getting 2 damage, (reducing strength by 100 men and morale by 2, bringing it to 5) and withdraws his unit 2cm. (How are losses of men tracked since fire is calculated using # of men)?”
      Losses would be referred back to the Strength chart I’ve referenced earlier in this comment. So a Brigade would be referenced as strength 15 rather than 750 men. When any damage is taken this strength value along with the morale value is reduced by 1 point. With morale being the only value that can be recovered.
      “On his next turn he can choose to use 3 actions before moving to restore his morale to 8, and then advance and fire or advance and advance on the Red Brigade. (This seems a bit too magical in effect. 150 men just died in a 10 minute period, the attack was thrown back but everybody in the unit is now back in top form? Very doubtful.) Or he may decide its a fool errand and withdraw his Brigade and bring another stronger unit in to take the position.”
      I accept your point on this, I think perhaps a better solution would be to use either 2 actions to recover 1 morale, or alternatively all 5 actions to recover 1 morale. I’m leaning towards the latter as a player would have to bring up fresh troops to try and take the position while recovering that Brigade for 4-5 turns.
      “my conclusions are as follows:
      – (Way too many die rolls IMO, and I like buckets of dice.)”

      Perhaps the suggestions above may improve this?

      “Maybe dont allow recovery of morale, or do so slowly at 1 level /turn and then only if you make a successful roll, with a bonus if you are not proximate to the enemy.) “

      I like the idea of only recovering if not within a certain distance of the enemy.

      “For what its worth, I tried out many of the above concepts in my rules journey.One observation? Players didnt normally try to hold fire, instead having ‘a use it or lose it’ mentality.”

      Perhaps if the incentive was increased from 4+ to 3+ on that initial roll?

      I like this comment so much I’m going to post this as an article shortly and play test the ideas out tonight. Thank you so much!

      Like

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