Category Archives: Warhammer

Battlefield Objectives

What’s the point of fighting in a particular place? If you look back over history, virtually all battlefields had objectives of some kind for both armies which they fought over.

At Waterloo both armies fought over control of Le Haye Sainte, Hougoumont and the hamlet of Papelotte.

Nassau Troops at Hougoumont Farm

These could have been considered primary objectives on the battlefield, with both armies aiming to control them. Secondary objectives may have been points on the ridge which Wellington’s army held, as well as Placenoit and La Belle Alliance held by the French.

The French aim was to defeat the allied army before the Prussians arrived, to do so they had to secure the farms to stop any fire on their advancing forces after which they had to take the ridge line upon which the allied army stood.

By looking at these battlefields in this fashion we can see between 2 to 3 objectives on each one, sometimes more. Securing these objectives would often mean a tactical victory in the forces that did so.

If we’re to have a pick up and play option in our game and we want to get the most out of historical reenactment as well we need to have objectives of our own battlefield.

OBJECTIVES

First thoughts would be to have 3 primary objectives on a battlefield and 3 secondary objectives. All these would be numbered 1 through 6. Players would place three objectives each, a player’s own objectives would be their primary objectives while the opposing players would be their secondary.

These objectives must be placed on a terrain piece on the table top, such as a hill, village, forest etc.

Primary objectives would score an army 3 ‘tactical points’ if they held it at the beginning of a turn. While secondary would score an army 1 ‘tactical point’.

Holding these objectives would also grant a player additional Coup d’Oeil points.

HOLDING AN OBJECTIVE

Holding an objective would mean having more units in proximity to the objective than your enemy. The proximity to which a unit could hold an objective could be 10cm.

ORDERS AND OBJECTIVES

A unit cannot hold an objective unless they’ve been given an order to do so. For example, an ADC must have been sent to a brigade to assign them an objective number. For the rest of the game once the unit receives it’s objective it may only score points for being near that particular objective. If a player wants to change a units Objective he will have to send another ADC to do so.

ADC’s

Generals can send an ADC to a Brigade once they have enough Coup d’Oeil points to do so. The ADC moves at the same speed as mounted troops at the ‘trot’ pace. If an ADC has to move through difficult ground it is considered to move at the same ‘march’ pace as infantry.

Once an ADC reaches a Brigade that Brigade is considered ‘activated’, players would place a marker next to the unit to denote its activation. The player can also choose which objective he wants that unit to attack, once he’s decided, he then marks this on the marker for his opponent to see. From that point onward that unit can only score ‘tactical’ points should it hold the objective specified.

TACTICAL AND STRATEGIC VICTORIES

A player who has accumulated the most ‘Tactical’ points by the end of the game is considered to have won a ‘Tactical’ victory.

The other player may still win a ‘Strategic’ victory if he manages to score more ‘hits’ on his enemy than they do on his own forces. Remember that hits for infantry count as 50 men per hit killed or wounded, while for Cavalry or Artillery a hit would count as 10 men killed or wounded. A player can then calculate how many of his men were killed or wounded during the course of the battle and compare this to their historical counterpart if they are re-fighting a particular battle.

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Battalion & Brigade Formations

I ironically started writing my own set of rules because I couldn’t find a ruleset that would suit what I wanted to do. Namely representing battalions on a relatively realistic scale on the tabletop with movement and effects realistically modelled but in a quicker format than other such rules were doing them previously. I also wanted a set of rules where I could either play a matched game against my opponent or re-enact a historical battle.

Part of this will be to ensure that Brigade and Battalion formations are easily represented on the tabletop without too much trouble.

There were three main battalion formations.

The Line

Taken from Napolun.com

Above is a typical line formation for infantry at the time. 3 Ranks of men spread out over a considerable distance. Line formation of three ranks was used by most of the main factions apart from Britain whose battalions often fought in two ranks.

The obvious benefit of fighting in line formation was the battalion had the most amount of muskets available to fire on the enemy. In three rank formations the first two ranks would fire while the third would pass their loaded muskets to the second rank to fire.

The weaknesses of the line formation were that it was vulnerable to flank attacks from cavalry, and column attacks could smash through the thin line of men if they made it through the fire.

To represent this in gaming terms I’m currently using the following rules:

  • Battalions in line can use the maximum amount of firing dice allocated to them. (I.e. a brigade is 80 strength made up of 4 battalions, the battalion would fire 10 firing dice – one quarter of 80)
  • Battalions in line are vulnerable on their flanks in close combat. Therefore when attacked in the flank they roll half their allocated combat dice (Combat will be covered on a later post).
  • Battalions in line cannot use the ‘Quick Step’ pace (and by result this means the Brigade cannot also use ‘Quick Step’ pace. This is due to the time taken to redress ranks after passing obstacles.

Column Formation

Taken from Napolun.com

There were different forms of column, such as the column shown above which was ideal for marching long distances across the battlefield at a faster pace than when in line. There were also attack columns, which in some cases had files of 50 men and 16+ ranks. These columns were designed to move quickly through enemy fire and smash through opposing infantry lines. Columns were not the useless plodding advance you see so popularly depicted on TV series and films (Looking at you Mr. Sharpe).

They were also a small deterrent to cavalry due to the men being packed tightly together and cavalry horses often refusing to charge at densely packed men.

However as you are no doubt aware, they were vulnerable to artillery fire and enfilading fire through their many ranks.

Despite this, men in column felt more secure than when in line formation due to having so many comrades in close proximity.

We can represent all these factors on the table:

  • Brigades can add +1 morale for each battalion in column formation within their unit.
  • Column formation allows the unit to use ‘Quick Step’, all units must be in column for the unit to take advantage of this.
  • Artillery and small arms fire on columns deal double double damage.
  • Very little firing was made from battalions in column formation, therefore when battalions are in column they are not able to fire.

Square Formation

Square formation

The square formation was ideally suited to repelling cavalry attacks. It was however, very vulnerable to small arms fire and artillery fire.

Square formations also reduced a units firing in any one direction so that a unit may only have one quarter of its muskets available to fire.

As you may also appreciate after looking at the picture above, moving in square and retaining its shape to deter the cavalry was almost impossible.

Table representation:

  • Units in square cannot move.
  • The number of fire dice they can use is reduced to 2.
  • Artillery and small arms fire on square cause double damage.
  • Cavalry cannot attack a unit in square.

So that’s the main battalion formations covered, but what about Brigade formations?

There were many brigade formations, some used only once some used many time. Let’s look at an example or two.

Taken from Napolun.com

This shows a brigade where the front units are in line formation and the rear supporting units are in column. This could be used on defence, allowing the front units maximum firepower against approaching enemy and the rear units in column to allow them to move forward in support of needed.

This would easily be represented on the table top by having the units in the same formation.

What we could also do is for every “rank” of battalion behind the first +1 morale would be added to the brigade. For example, if we use the example above where there are six battalions of 1,000 men and have three units side by side in line with three units behind in column. The front units would be using 20 firing dice for firing their weapons while also having +1 morale for the brigade having two ranks and +3 morale for having three brigades in column.

Taken from Napolun.com

Multi Brigade formations may also be possible. In the picture above you can see MacDonald’s Column at the Battle of Wagram. This was suited to advance towards the enemy with four battalions able to use their full firepower, while having their flanks protected from cavalry by Brigades in column formation.

The above could be represented by:

With this, our rules would currently suggest, that 1st Brigade has 5 units in column therefore will have +5 to its Brigade morale, 3rd Brigade would have +3, while 2nd Brigade can use its full firepower to the front, safe in the knowledge that cavalry cannot attack its flanks.

In our game we could potentially have options to; A) join brigades together to create divisional formations like above, this would cost maybe 2-3 actions for each brigade that wishes to do do. B) be able to detach units from Brigades for certain tasks. (i.e. detaching a unit of skirmishers to hold a village while the remaining Brigade advances on an enemy position).

SUMMARY

Formation Summary:

  • Line Formation – Gives full allocated firing dice to its unit, Battalions in line roll half of their combat dice when fighting in melee. Battalions in line cannot use ‘Quick Step’ and any Brigade the Battalion is inside also cannot use ‘Quick Step’.
  • Column Formation – Allows the use of ‘Quick Step’ Pace, all units inside this Brigade must be in column formation to do so. Brigades will be granted +1 morale for each Battalion within its formation that assumes column formation. Units in column formation cannot fire. Small arms and artillery fire, cause double damage to units in column formation.
  • Square Formation – Cannot move. Its number of firing dice is reduced to 2. Small arms and artillery attacks on this unit cause double damage. Cavalry cannot attack units in square formation.

Following on from this I will include the following options for actions:

  • Join Brigade, for each Brigade that wants to attach to another, they must spend a full 5 action points to do so. This would represent the period of time it take to get organised. There will be an upper limit currently that no more than 3 Brigades can attach to each other in this fashion. Likewise Brigades can detach from each other for a cost of 5 action points. Once Brigades are joined together, they act as one unit using their actions together. This could be represented by a General of Division stand of some such. Alternatively, Brigades being joined together may cost Coup d’Oeil points.
  • Battalion detachment/Skirmisher Detachment. Units may be detached from their parent Brigade for the sole purpose of holding an objective. This would cost 1 Action point. From that moment onward the detached Battalion will have a morale of 8 (a base morale of 7, +1 for the single battalion). If the Brigade a Battalion detaches from has a lower morale than 8, then it assumes its parents morale upon detachment. Battalions can then rejoin their Brigade at a cost of 1 action.

A NOTE ON MORALE

I realise that at this stage I have a fair number of morale modifiers and that these may well not be balanced as yet. But my intention is to have a foundation with which to build upon in the future.

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Game Test 2 – Musketry Fire and Reactions

I carried out some further game tests over the weekend, with varying size brigades between 2-5 battalions of 1,000 men.

CONDITIONS

  • All battalions started with 1,000 men.
  • Formations were kept to line formation throughout.
  • Actions were limited to; Move 2cm, Recover 1 morale, Fire and Withdraw 2cm
  • Reactions were limited to; Withdraw 2cm, Fire, Recover 1 morale and Hold
  • Brigade formations were kept with 2 battalions to the front.
  • These were head to head conditions. Should a battalion vanquish its opponent it would take no further part.
  • Brigades would only attack the Brigade in front of them.
  • The test length was 10 turns (1 hour 40 minutes – Real time equivalent) or until a unit was defeated.
  • Brigade activation is decided by Dice from a bag. A blue dice means he gets to decide which brigade to activate and a red dice the red player. There are only as many dice in the bag as there are currently units on the table.
  • Units are able to act within 10cm of an enemy depending on a successful morale roll.
  • Units received reactions depending on a successful morale roll following each enemy move within 10cm of their position.

TEST 2A

  • Blue forces started with a Brigade of 4 Battalions.
  • Red forces started with a Brigade of 4 Battalions

This resulted in a real back and forth with the majority of the ground captured by the Blue forces.

Result

Inconclusive – 10 turns reached.

  • Blue forces received 600 men killed or wounded.
  • Red forces received 750 men killed or wounded.

TEST 2B

  • Blue forces started with a Brigade of 3 Battalions.
  • Red forces started with a Brigade of 2 Battalions

Another tug and war test with both units ending roughly where they began the test.

Result

Inconclusive – 10 turns reached.

  • Blue forces received 400 men killed or wounded.
  • Red forces received 600 men killed or wounded.

TEST 2C

  • Blue forces started with a Brigade of 3 Battalions.
  • Red forces started with a Brigade of 5 Battalions

Blue was victorious over the red forces in turn 4 of the test following a volley from the Blue Forces causing 5 damage, which then caused the Red Brigade to fail a morale test and receive 6 damage for being in close proximity.

Result

Blue Victory – 4th Turn.

  • Blue forces received 200 men killed or wounded.
  • Red forces received 600 men killed or wounded.

TEST 2D

  • Blue forces started with a Brigade of 2 Battalions.
  • Red forces started with a Brigade of 5 Battalions

Red was victorious over the Blue forces in Turn 9 of the test, the Blue forces had been pushed to their own table edge and another 10cm retreat would have meant leaving the table. However, destruction came first.

Result

Red Victory – 9th Turn.

  • Blue forces received 1,150 men killed or wounded.
  • Red forces received 150 men killed or wounded.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOLLOWING TESTING

Actions/Reactions

Following this test, it was obvious from the outset that each unit was essentially receiving 10 actions per turn once in close proximity to the enemy. It has become obvious that Actions/Reactions need to be combined so that a unit is only allowed 5 actions or reactions in total. They can do this in any fashion. If they feel they need to take the fight to the enemy, they may wish to spend all five actions advancing, or 3 advancing and reserving 2 actions to be used as reactions to enemy movements.

I believe this will develop as a nice mechanic once other units and formations are introduced. For example, should I spend five actions now while the enemy is low on morale to try and break them and remove the unit from the field or reserve 3 just in case the enemy decide to press ahead. Or, should I save all my actions for reactions because I need to hold the position I currently occupy.

Brigade Size

Brigade Size, didn’t appear to have much relevance to the combat, either side has a 50/50 chance of winnning.

To revise this, I would like to take a basic Brigade morale of 7 then for each Battalion that is included in that Brigade add +1. (i.e. a Brigade has four battalions, it starts with a basic morale of 7 then adds +4 for each battalion in the Brigade bringing its total starting morale to 11). This would represent the confidence the men contain in being part of a larger Brigade.

Brigade Formations

It may be necessary to change Brigade formations, for example, a player may wish to have three battalions at its Brigades front rather than two. Any changes to the brigade formation should cost 3 actions to account for the movement.

FUTURE TESTS

I’ve set up a YouTube channel for the game itself, and all future tests will be shown as videos on there. When I post my first video I will post the link on this site.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts or what further tests I should carry out. There will be plenty of testing to be done in relation to other aspects such as terrain interaction etc.

CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE

Once again all screenshots are taken from Battle Chronicler. http://www.battlechronicler.com

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