Writing a Wargame – Cavalry

As always for the latest rules and updates please visit the Napoleonic War Game page.

TYPES OF CAVALRY

Napoleonic Cavalry had various different roles and names, but could generally be broken down into three distinct groups. These groups were split depending on the size and weight of the horse the cavalry rode.

Due to speed of cavalry and the range of musket fire, infantry would often only manage to discharge one volley from their muskets before the cavalry were upon them. This made them ideally suited for shock tactics.

Light Cavalry

4th French Hussars at the Battle of Friedland 14th June 1807

Light Cavalry included units such as Hussars and Russian Cossacks, Chasseurs à cheval and Chevau-légers. They were lightly armed and theirs role involved reconnaissance, raiding, skirmishing, screening, patrolling and tactical communications. They were also the primary units used in pursuing enemy armies once broken or to screen the retreat of their own army in the case of a loss.

Medium (Line) Cavalry

French Dragoons with a captured Prussian flag at the Battle of Jena.

Medium Cavalry units such as Dragoons and Uhlans originally Dragoons were designed to use their mounts to approach quickly and then fight on foot. However by the Napoleonic Wars this rarely happened (there are exceptions to this, on particular during the Peninsular Campaigns).

Line cavalry were used to cover the flanks of an army and as shock troops to charge the enemy.

Heavy Cavalry

French Cuirassiers at the Battle of Waterloo

The role of heavy cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars was the same as the Line Cavalry, to act as shock troops and charge the enemy troops.

Charges were in the most part carried out against an enemy’s flank with the aim to force them apart through fear and the initial impact of the charge itself. Primarily used to smash holes in the enemy’s battle line and exploit these breakthroughs.

Cavalry Organisation

All cavalry were organised in to squadrons rather than Battalions and these usually contained anything between 50-200 troopers. Light cavalry contained the most, while heavy Cavalry the least. This was due to the costs associated with raising the units. Heavy cavalry horses were the largest (which is why they have the title heavy) and sometimes there was more equipment carried by the troopers themselves such as body armour in the case of Cuirassiers.

To represent their size but combat efficiency on the table top, the strength value will likely have to changed to something closer to a factor of 1:10. This would mean that for every hit inflicted on the cavalry they would lose 10 men instead of 50 when compared to infantry. This would also be an ideal way of representing less casualties from gunfire, due to infantry only being able to fire one volley before cavalry engaged them.

Speed

A charge carried out by cavalry very rarely moved faster than a trot as can be seen from the sources I’ve cited below. They also had to work up to the gallop. Units would begin at walking pace, move to a trot and finally if needed the gallop.

On the Battlefield

Cavalry units would act in conjunction with the other arms of the military to attack enemy units. Infantry would advance on the enemy while cannon would cover their advance, cavalry would often be with the advancing troops. This would add to the enemies dilemma on how to respond to such an attack, should they form a firing line against the infantry and risk being over run by cavalry, or should they form square but suffer increased losses from artillery and gunfire.

This is what I would ideally like to represent on the table, for example and infantry attack without supporting would result in an enemy being more stalwart in its defence and also troops would be unable to run down the enemy should they break.

GAMING REPRESENTATION

We have an idea of the different units roles, now we need to translate this into the game itself.

Combat

We’ve as yet not covered any hand to hand combat within the mechanics of the game itself, but currently I believe combat should be linked to the firing dice, with each 5+ a successful hit against the enemy and likewise from the enemy. These dice may be thrown at the same time as the opposition, with both units taking the relevant amount of damage. (i.e. Unit A attacks unit B in base to base combat, both units roll 6 firing dice. Unit A scores 2 hits at 5+ causing 2 strength damage to unit B, while unit B scores 1 hit against unit A causing 1 strength damage. As a result Unit A withdraws from combat while suffering an additional D3/D6 casualties). In all likeliness this mechanic will need a lot of revision before I’m happy with the way it flows and affects all the units in the game.

Cavalry v Cavalry combat rarely caused as many casualties as cavalry v infantry combat, therefore all combat where units are attempting to hit cavalry units are only scored on a 6+.

Fatigue

Presently, I believe that each unit will have a fatigue value before the game begins. During the course of the battle, depending on different factors, this fatigue may go down or recover after a certain length of time. Thus, troops in a prolonged running battle with the enemy will eventually tire and become less effective. How this will be tracked or presented at present has still not entirely crystallised in my mind.

Galloping

I mentioned earlier that cavalry would have to build up to the charge. This can be represented in game by having cavalry spend 1 action for the walk, the next a action can then be a trot, which can then be followed by the gallop. In total this would mean three a cavalry unit would have to spend three actions to use a gallop.

To limit the gallop to charging enemy and not for moving across the battlefield, we’ll have to do two things. The first is to add a mechanic for fatigue, while the second would be to limit the gallop within a certain distance of the enemy. This is open for debate at the moment, but considering we have a gallop distance of 27 cm. I’m currently going to rule that cavalry cannot gallop unless within galloping distance of the enemy and a gallop action must end a units move closer to the enemy than when it started.

Also, due to the fact that much of Napoleonic cavalry would not gallop on the charge but instead trot at most, I’m limiting the charge capability for now to light cavalry only.

Shock Tactics

To represent shock tactics in battle, cavalry within 30cm of enemy infantry units cause unrest and therefore unless the enemy unit chooses to reform into square formation they will suffer a +1 morale modifier for all tests while in proximity of cavalry. This also may need further revision once game tests have been carried out.

Light Cavalry – In Game

They were used for reconnaissance, which could be useful in gaming terms. Currently I’m thinking of having a similar system to Blucher where units outside of a certain distance are just represented by a marker. Due to the speed of cavalry this makes them ideally suited to determining enemy forces. We can cover this topic in more detail at a later date. But perhaps light cavalry would have a larger ‘spotting range’?

They can still be used for shock tactics like the medium and heavy Cavalry although they would not be as effective. Therefore we’ll need to show this through our mechanics. Perhaps heavy Cavalry would inflict a +2 morale modifier on nearby units (apart from those in square), while light cavalry and line cavalry would only inflict a +1 modifier.

Also used for skirmishing, these troops were ideal for covering the advance and retreat of formations and scaring away the enemy skirmishers. As such Light Cavalry will be the only cavalry able to use the skirmish formation and any benefits associated with that.

Light cavalry will be the only cavalry type that are able to charge.

Line Cavalry – In Game

Line cavalry would cause the same +1 morale modifier to enemy infantry units while within 30cm as light cavalry, however these units would not be able to skirmish.

The fastest pace that line cavalry would be able use is the ‘trot’, due to keeping their lines dressed for visual effect.

Heavy Cavalry – In Game

Heavy Cavalry would cause +2 morale modifier to enemy infantry units while within 30cm. Heavy Cavalry would also be unable to skirmish or gallop.

Troopers in UnitStrengthCombat/Firing Dice
190-200205
180-189195
170-179185
160-169175
150-159164
140-149154
130-139144
120-129144
110-119123
100-109113
90-99103
80-8993
70-7982
60-6972
50-5962
40-4952
30-3941
20-2931
10-1921
1-911
Cavalry Unit Strength Table

SUMMARY

  • Light Cavalry only can use the ‘Gallop’ pace, and only if it has used two actions beforehand in the same turn which include ‘Walk’ and ‘Trot’.
  • Light Cavalry are the only cavalry type that are able to skirmish.
  • All cavalry cause +1 modifier to morale rolls of enemy infantry units within 30cm, apart from Heavy Cavalry who cause a +2 modifier.
  • Combat will be carried out using firing dice, with dice rolls of 5+ counting as a hit against the enemy unit. Hits can only be caused against cavalry on a roll of 6+.
  • Fatigue will come into play, once the mechanic has been established.

REFERENCES:

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Writing a Wargame – Deployment

I realise I’ve been getting a bit ahead of myself and getting stuck into the infantry firing mechanics.

So I want to take a step back and go over some more of the pre game stuff that would be needed before an actual game takes place.

This is a fairly short post, so apologies for those that like a meaty read. More of those are coming, I promise!

DEPLOYMENT

To determine how far apart our forces should deploy we need to analyse Napoleonic War battle maps to show the original disposition of the forces and the distance between them. This can usually be determined by using any scales that may be available on the map itself.

Deployment at the Battle of Waterloo

Above is the initial deployment for the battle of Waterloo. Here using the scale to the side we can determine that the right side of the battlefield the forces were roughly 900 metres apart (ignoring troops garrisoned in the villages and the farms in this instance). On the left, the forces are roughly 1200 metres apart, while at the centre they’re roughly 1500 metres apart.

That’s pretty close. But was Waterloo an exception?

Disposition of forces at the Battle of Austerlitz

At Austerlitz, using the scale provides the forces along the front vary between 1-2 miles apart.

Looking at other battles, we have the following distances:

  • Battle of Busaco – 1 to 2 miles apart
  • Battle of Jena – 1 mile apart
  • Battle of Friedland – 1 mile

So we’ve got a fairly consistent image here of battle lines being drawn up at roughly 1 mile apart.

To translate this into gaming terms is fairly simple. 1 mile on out scale of 1:5300 equates to 30cm plus change.

Therefore our armies should be deploying up to 15cm away from the centre line of the table.

ORDER OF DEPLOYMENT

Initially I’m going to use an alternate deployment method, in that the players roll off, the winner chooses which half of that table he would like to play on and then places his first unit.

In this case brigades are placed as one unit with all their battalions on the table at once. Players alternate placing brigades until all their forces are on the table.

Writing a Wargame – Strength, Firing Dice & Resolving Attacks

As always please check out my Napoleonic War Game page for the latest information on rules and adjustments to date.

UPDATES

Columns

After comments from user Altair1371 on Reddit about the effectiveness of firing on columns and the columns effectiveness themselves, I’m removing the +1 to hit modifier when firing at a column and giving the column +1 morale and the enemy it’s approaching a -1 morale penalty (at present). The reason for this is due to an attack column was often 50 men wide and 16(ish) ranks deep, the men inside the column felt fairly secure from small arms fire due to the many bodies around them and also it was still tightly packed enough to be enough of a deterrent for cavalry in many cases.

An attack column of this approaching a thin firing line 500 men wide 2 men deep (in the case of the British) was designed to punch through the line and effectively split the battalion in two. Also once in that position you’re already in a firing line against the rest of the line with enfilading fire. Imagine being at the point in the line where the French attack column will hit, you’ve got a couple of dozen buddies in immediate proximity against 600+ French fusiliers. Scary sight. Which was why the French used it. Many movies and TV shows show a very British point of view of the French attack where swathes of men are being cut down by fire, but the fact remained that if the column reached the enemy, the enemy would have fled, it was just a matter of time.

Ear in mind that firing from column would have been fairly ineffectual with only the first 150 men able to fire and if they did so the column would likely stutter. Therefore there will be no shooting while in column formation.

Morale

Following on from the 1st game test posted on here and further tests conducted after. The morale of 8 is a little too low for standard units and has resulted in a push and shove scenario much of the time with neither side making a large gain or even firing their muskets!

After adjusting this value to 10 the units closed much easier and would commit to firing at each other. More test will be needed but at this point I’m using 10 as the starting morale of a unit.

Any unit that is reduced to 0 morale during the course of the battle, is removed from play as the brigade would simply leave the field of battle and refuse to fight further.

Strength

On my test I showed the full strength value of the brigade and then had to work out with some maths how many firing dice that would equate to depending on their formation.

To make this a little easier I’ve decided to change the strength number to a ratio of 1:50. Therefore a British Battalion of 1000 men will be strength 20 etc, the full list of strengths are at the bottom of this post. A hit will still have the same effect (a unit loses 50 men) but it should be easier to track this way. This may well be adjusted further if this still appears to complicated when combined with the number of firing dice.

Firing Dice

This will be adjusted to suit the strength of the unit more easily. So a ratio of 1:4 for dice to strength means the British will have 5 firing dice (20 divided by 4) full table at the bottom of this post for the values by Nation/Units. For a quick reference sheet, I’m considering including the following table:

StrengthFiring Dice
25-287
21-246
17-205
13-164
9-123
5-82
1-41
Relationship of Strength to Firing Dice

RESOLVING AN ATTACK

That’s the updates over, let’s get to out next part. We need to finish off the attacks a unit can carry out and by this what happens when they reach each other and touch bases?

Combat in the open very rarely happens between two infantry units as can be seen from this extract from the Wikipedia on bayonet attacks:

“The bayonet charge was a common tactic used during the Napoleonic wars. Despite its effectiveness, a bayonet charge did not necessarily cause substantial casualties through the use of the weapon itself. Detailed battle casualty lists from the 18th century showed that in many battles, fewer than 2% of all wounds treated were caused by bayonets.[36]Antoine-Henri Jomini, a celebrated military author who served in numerous armies during the Napoleonic period, stated that the majority of bayonet charges in the open resulted with one side fleeing before any contact was made.”

OPTION 1

My first option to resolve base to base contact is to have each unit take a morale test. The lowest holds while the higher withdraws so much distance while taking 1 damage for each pip of difference between their morale scores.

OPTION 2

My second thought was that the base that is made contact with (the non-active player) would immediately withdraw 10cm and suffer D6 Casualties (from the successful unit firing on the retreating unit).

This may have to be altered when combat is made in built-up areas or dense terrain, but my current thinking would be Option 2 for open area combat and an adjusted Option 1 for built-up areas or dense terrain. My adjustment would possibly be, the victor would still take 1 damage to represent casualties from the combat.

Let me know what you think, or whether you think I’m missing a neat rule I could implement that would accurately represent this.

TABLE FOR NATION/UNIT STRENGTH AND FIRING DICE:

Nation/UnitStrengthFiring Dice
British Line226
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)195
French Old Guard (Post 1809)164
French Line (Pre 1809)216
French Line (Post 1809)175
Prussian Line134
Russian Line123
Austrian Grenadier195
Austrian Line (German)246
Austrian Line (Hungarian)267

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

Writing a Wargame – Musketry II

FACTORS AND ATTRIBUTES DECIDED

For Factors and attributes that have already been decided please visit the Napoleonic War Game page.

MUSKETRY – PART 2

After my last post I had an extremely well made comment on Reddit from user Altair1731 making two points.

The first was that I could easily cut down the number of dice being used during firing by using a ratio of 1 die for every 200 men instead of 100. Agreed, and I’ve now changed this to match.

The second was to combine the ‘Battlefield Stress’ and ‘Misfires’ into one roll of 5+ called a ‘Ready’ roll. This also seems sensible.

The second part of the shooting would be the ‘Fire’ and would be a roll to see whether hits are made at either long or short range.

Now onto our main points of this post, which is to cover the final aspects of Musketry fire.

2+/6+ ‘READY’ AND ‘FIRE’ ROLLS

The following rules may adjust either the ‘Ready’ or ‘Fire’ rolls of a unit. No matter the modifier rolls of 1 will always miss and 6 will always hit.

KEEPING YOUR POWDER DRY

Probably not a suitable name, but we’ll go with it for now.

Before a battle all the men in a force would prepare beforehand. They would clean their kit and weapons, before marching to the front. This is fairly simple to represent by having each Battalion roll 4+ instead of 5+ on their ready roll the first time they fire their weapons in the battle.

VETERANS/ELITE/CONSCRIPT UNITS

Another fairly simple one to represent veteran/elite experience and training would be to have veterans with a ‘Ready’ roll one pip better than standard troops i.e. 4+ instead of 5+ (note that keeping your powder dry can still apply and would improve this to 3+ the first time a veteran unit fires). They could possibly also have a higher starting morale value. Alternatively they could have one extra firing die. At present I’m leaning towards an improved ‘ready’ roll.

Elite units could have either a higher than standard starting morale value, an extra firing die, an improved ‘Ready’ stat or some kind of combination of the three.

Newly raised etc units may have either 1 firing die less or a ‘Steady’ roll of 6+. Poor morale could also be a factor, or a combination of two of these.

SKIRMISHERS

Hitting Skirmishers would be much more difficult than hitting a large body of men, therefore there would be a -1 to hit penalty against Skirmishers. (Note this would not affect long range as a 6 will always hit).

LARGER/SMALLER UNITS

Shooting a body of men that numbers twice your own volume would be an easier target to hit, this could be shown by having a +1 to hit modifier on the ‘Fire’ roll at effective range. Note that I’ve kept this bonus at effective range rather then long range as you would still have to hit a target that is little more than 6′ high.

Likewise, units which are at least half in number to the players own unit would be harder to hit, as those on the flanks would struggle with a large distance between themselves and the enemy unit. This can therefore be a modifier of -1 to the effective range ‘Fire’ roll. Again, no adjustment to the long range due to having the rule of a 6 will always hit at long range.

COLUMN & SQUARE FORMATIONS

Due to the packed mass of men, firing on a column or square would be more devastating than a unit in line formation due to enfilading fire. Therefore firing upon these formations would provide a +1 to hit modifier on their ‘Fire’ roll at effective range. Again, no affect at long range due to still having to hit a 6′ target at 300 yards.

EXAMPLE

A 2,000 strong Prussian brigade of standard infantry in line formation is firing upon a 4,000 strong Austrian brigade in column formation in effective range. This shot is their first of the game so far.

The Prussian have 10 Firing Dice and the following modifiers on their ‘Ready’ roll:

  • +1 for ‘Keeping Your Powder Dry’

They would therefore need 4+ on their ‘Ready’ Dice, resulting in 5 passes and 5 fails.

For the ‘Fire’ roll, the Prussians are rolling 5 Dice (the result of ‘Ready’) with the following modifiers on their effective range to hit (usually 4+):

  • +1 for firing at a unit twice theirs in strength
  • +1 for firing on units that are in column/square formation

The Prussians would therefore need a 2+ to hit on their ‘Fire’ dice for effective range (no further benefits can be applied either, as the Prussians are already at 2+ to hit). The result of this roll would mean an average of 4-5 successes.

EFFECTS ON MORALE

With each success accounting for 50 men, the Austrians would lose between 200-250 men and 1 firing dice. The brigade would also need to take 4-5 morale pips of damage, If they had a standard leadership of 8 (This would be determined by the lowest leadership of a battalion in that brigade), they would then need to pass a morale test on a roll of 3 or 4 on 2D6 depending on damage taken.

THOUGHTS

A failure of 1-2 more than their required roll would result in the unit making an ‘orderly retreat’ towards their own table edge a distance as yet to be determined while taking D3 damage.

A failure of 3 or more compared to what was required would result in a ‘disorderly retreat’ towards their own table edge a distance as yet to be determined while taking D6 damage.

Again, none of this is set in stone and I would love to hear peoples thoughts on these rules, also, if I’ve forgotten any aspect of musketry please let me know. Thanks.

Writing a Wargame – Musketry

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“:

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

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.

STRESS

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).

MISFIRES

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.

HITTING

Effective Range

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)

Long Range

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).

EXAMPLE

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.

UnitMenShots (6 Shots each)‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)‘Misfire’ Successes
(83.35%)
Effective Range Hits
(50.00%)
Long Range Hits
(16.67%)
Russian Line2,48414,9044,9694,1422,071690
Austrian Line (Hungarian)5,23231,39210,4668,7234,3621,454

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:

Unit/CountryMenFiring Dice
British Line1,07611
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9459
French Old guard (Post 1809)8018
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04910
French Line (Post 1809)8258
Prussian Line6617
Russian Line6216
Austrian Grenadier9489
Austrian Line (German)1,18812
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30813
Firing dice per unit

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:

UnitMenShots ‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)‘Misfire’ Successes
(83.35%)
Effective Range Hits
(50.00%)
Long Range Hits
(16.67%)
Russian Line2,484248731
Austrian Line (Hungarian)5,23252171472
Example of a four battalion brigade of Russian and Hungarian infantry firing in game

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.

SUMMARY

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.

We have:

  • 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?

Writing a Wargame – Base Sizes

Factors Decided

FactorValuePost
Scale1:5300Writing a Wargame – Part II
Base RepresentationBattalion/SquadronWriting a Wargame – Part I
Base Width40mmUnder Review
Single Turn Time Length10 MinutesWriting a Wargame – Part III
Actions Per Unit5Writing a Wargame – Part III
Troop Movement SpeedsSee BelowWriting a Wargame – Part IV
Factors Decided
Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm*
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm**
FootRough2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
FootDifficult1 cm
MountedDifficult
Troop Movement Card
*Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units **1 Action per turn

Comments from John on Part II have caused me to revisit the base sizes for our battalions, for those who haven’t read his comment John made a very good point:

I was thinking that a standard base size should imply a standard battalion size? Otherwise your large unit/small unit mechanics have to do quite difficult things to be fair to both Russian and Hungarian battalions.

So let’s look at how we reached the 40mm base width. We had the following table that was taken from Rod’s Wargaming website:

Typical infantry Battalion Strengths during the Napoleonic Wars

Looking at the table above if we take the largest unit (Hungarian Line) at 1,308 and the smallest unit (Russian Line) at 621 we have large differences between the battalion strengths and therefore also a large difference in their footprint on the ground.

So our original table showing what footprint each nation would take up width wise is as follows (bear in mind this is based on line formation of 3 ranks apart from the British which is in 2 ranks):

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0765.67 cm11
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9453.32 cm6
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8012.82 cm5
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0493.69 cm7
French Line (Post 1809)8252.90 cm5
Prussian Line6612.32 cm4
Russian Line6212.18 cm4
Austrian Grenadier9483.33 cm6
Austrian Line (German)1,1884.17 cm8
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3084.60 cm9
Unit Widths at 1:5300

We have a number of options that I can think of presently to get around this issue.

OPTION 1

Our first and most fiddly for the actual gamer would be to have accurate base widths for each nations units:

Nation/UnitMenWidth
(rounded to nearest 0.5mm)
British1,07655 mm
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)94535 mm
French Old Guard (Post 1809)80130 mm
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04935 mm
French Line (Post 1809)82530 mm
Prussian Line66125 mm
Russian Line62120 mm
Austrian Grenadier94835 mm
Austrian Line (German)1,18840 mm
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30845 mm
Prospective Base Widths

Some of these base sizes are pretty small, with the Russian units measuring only 20mm in width at 1:5300. This scale would mean only 4 6mm miniatures per rank.

OPTION 2

The second option is along the same lines as option 1, but adjusting our scale so that an the smaller infantry units take up 40mm in width, this would mean adjusting our scale to something almost double, but would mean a 6 foot length which is our aim would represent 3 miles instead of 6. Which would not make large scale battles feasible.

OPTION 3

Build in a mechanic to represent unit strengths on 40mm base. At the moment this is completely open, it could be anything from the number of men in a battalion divided by 100 to represent HP:

Nation/UnitMenHP
British1,07611
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9459
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8018
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04910
French Line (Post 1809)8258
Prussian Line6617
Russian Line6216
Austrian Grenadier9489
Austrian Line (German)1,18812
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30813
Prospective HP of Units

If HP is used how would this be tracked for 100+ battalions per side? In all likelihood, HP would have to come into affect even if Battalion width was adjusted to suit their relative footprint as well.

Also does this need to be divided by 100, if tracked easily can it be divided by 10? Thus when a HP is lost, 10 men from the unit are presumed dead or wounded?

OPTION 4

We use both realistic unit width and Health Points for each nation to more actually represent their strengths of the battalion:

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthBase WidthHealth
British1,07655 mm11 or 108
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)94535 mm9 or 95
French Old Guard (Post 1809)80130 mm8 or 80
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04935 mm11 or 105
French Line (Post 1809)82530 mm8 or 83
Prussian Line66125 mm7 or 66
Russian Line62120 mm6 or 62
Austrian Grenadier94835 mm9 or 95
Austrian Line (German)1,18840 mm12 or 119
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30845 mm13 or 131
Unit Strengths and Base Widths

The idea of being able to say for example “the British suffered 11,000 losses and the French 5,000” does appeal to me on a statistical level post game. If you were trying to recreate some of the engagements at the time and wanted to see how you stacked up against your real life counterpart this would be something to consider.

But this would require either two or three D10 markers per base, and if you multiply that by the number of battalions that will be in game this would result in 200-300 dice per side……

Or

A number of counters on each unit to represent HP lost. Again, would result in a lot of counters….

OPTION 5

We revert to a brigade system like many other game systems, but then that would mean going through what size base is best for a brigade.

OPTION 6

Instead of Battalion HP, could we use Brigade HP which is marked with the commander of that Brigade. A brigade may be made up of 4 Prussian units each roughly 660 men in strength, meaning a total combat strength for that Brigade of 2,640. Could this then be divided by a factor of 10 and represented on three D10’s? With each hit on a unit in that brigade reducing the value by 1?

There’s a lot to think about here, and I really would like some further opinions from people on what of the above options they think may be best? Or even if there’s an option I haven’t considered. At present, I’m leaning towards having accurate base widths, but using the Command stands to represent Brigade strength as a whole on 3 D10’s.

OPTION 7

The same as above but with all units base widths represented as 40mm.

EDIT

OPTION 8

Have battalions of all nations standardised at a certain strength according to the campaign they take part in and keep 40mm bases.

OPTION 9

Have battalion strength incorporated into the combat ability of the unit and keep the units on 40mm bases.

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Writing a Wargame – Unit Movement

FACTORS ALREADY DECIDED – From previous posts

FactorValuePost
Scale1:5300Writing a Wargame – Part II
Base RepresentationBattalionWriting a Wargame – Part I
Base Width40mmWriting a Wargame – Part II
Real Time Equivalent for Single Turn10 MinutesWriting a Wargame – Part III
Actions Per Unit5Writing a Wargame – Part III
Factors already decided

So I realise at the end of my last post I said that we’d be looking at formations and their affect on movement, however I’m actually going to bottom out the movement of different units.

INFANTRY BASE MOVEMENT

We established that infantry would march at 5 cm every 5 minutes (apart from the Austrians who move a little further, but I believe we’ll handle this separately later on in our rules when we look at individual factions). This would mean over the course of a turn an infantry unit would march 10 cm in good conditions (i.e. along a road), but we didn’t look at different ground conditions or terrain.

Before we go into that, let’s look at the quick march for the different nations as well and how fast their rates were:

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

So if we scaled down the quick step rates of the nations we arrive at the following distances over 10 minutes:

NationQuick Step (Paces per Minute)10 Mins @ 1:5300 Scale Distance
British10815.53 cm
French10014.38 cm
Prussian10815.53 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs12017.25 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs10515.10 cm
Russian11015.82 cm
Quick Step March Rates by Nation

Most nations are similar at around 110 paces per minute, apart from the Austrian 1807 regs which were at an increased 120 paces per minute. If we then break this down into 5 actions we have the following distance per action (2 minutes):

Nation1 Turn DistancePer Action (Turn divided by 5)
British15.53 cm3.11 cm
French14.38 cm2.88 cm
Prussian15.53 cm3.11 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs17.25 cm3.45 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs15.10 cm3.02 cm
Russian15.82 cm3.16 cm
Turn distance divided by Actions in a turn

This results in a fairly uniform 3 cm per action. Now we’ve calculated the Infantry March and Quick Step paces we have the following movement distances for infantry per action (rounded):

UnitMarchQuick Step
Infantry2cm3cm
Unit movements

We also have double time to consider if we go back to my favourite source of Rod’s Wargaming we’ll see that under the quickest step troops would move at around 120 paces per minute, however this was primarily used for wheeling and allowing companies to catch up to its unit after passing obstacles etc:

Chiefly to the purpose of wheeling. also in this time should division [companies] double, and move up, when passing obstacles in line, or when in a column of march the front of division is increased or diminshed“.

The Dundas regulations (The British Regulations during Napoleonic times) also state:

A company or division may occasionally run, a battalion may sometimes Quick Step, but the hurrying of a large column or of a body of moving in front [presumably the latter is a reference to line] will certainly produce confusion and disorder. It is never to be risked when an enemy is in presence though it may sometimes be necessary when a post or situation is to be seizes“.

This is an interesting point, battalions and division would run, but only under Quick Step, but also, the would NEVER run in proximity to the enemy. This is something we’ll have to take account of in our rules. This may mean that battalions are unable to Quick Step within a certain distance of the enemy.

In summary of foot troop movement, we have the most common Ordinary Step, used in the majority of circumstances. The Quick Step which was used, but never near enemy units and the Double Time, which was only used during formation changes and redressing of units.

Therefore for the purpose of our game we’ll have an Ordinary Step and a Quick Step, however, the Quick Step will not be able to be used within a certain proximity to the enemy. At present we’ll say this distance is roughly 20cm until we have some kind of firmer evidence to the contrary.

CAVALRY BASE MOVEMENT

C P Escalle’s “Des marches dans les armees de Napoleon” is quoted on page 291 of Nafziger’s “Imperial Bayonets”.

French cavalry were able to move at 4,800 to 5,000 meters (3 to 3.125 miles) per hour and infantry at 3,000 to 3,500 metres (1.9 to 2.2 miles) per hour. However the Regulations provides for movements of up to 4,000 metres (2.5 miles) per hour. The real problem was artillery and other cartage which could seldom exceed 3,000 metres (1.9 miles) per hour because of bad roads. A mixed arms force would move about 3 kph (2 mph) on strategic movement.”

If we take the above information on French Cavalry movement we arrive at the following for 1:5300 scale over 10 minutes:

Distance Covered in 10 MinsAt 1:5300 Scale
Cavalry830 Metres15.72 cm
Cavalry Movement

This tells us that the Cavalry would move only slightly faster than the foot troops on the march, which makes sense when moving your forces around the countryside.

But let’s take this a bit further and look at the average speeds of horses while walking, trotting and galloping. Taking our information from Wikipedia we have the following information:

GaitDistance Covered in 10 MinsAt 1:5300 Scale
Walk1.17 kilometres22.01 cm
Trot2.17 Kilometres40.88 cm
Gallop7.33 Kilometres*138.37 cm*
*A horse cannot maintain a gallop for more than roughly 2 km

On the gallop Wikipedia tells us that a horse cannot gallop for more than 1.5 to 3 kilometres at a a time, in game terms at scale this is the equivalent of a distance if 37.73 cm across the table. Therefore we would have to limit any galloping to only 1 action choice per turn and no more (fatigue will also have to come into affect here).

If we split these movements over the five actions we have the following:

GaitFull MovementPer Action
Walk22.01 cm4.40 cm
Trot40.88 cm8.18 cm
Gallop138.37 cm27.67 cm (limited to one action)
Cavalry Movement Speeds

So if we return to our unit movement card and add the Cavalry movement per action:

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry2cm3cm**
Cavalry4cm8cm28cm*
Unit Movements per Action
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20cm of enemy units

ARTILLERY BASE MOVEMENT

The following excerpt is taken from www.napolun-series.org

A battery would ideally move at the same speed and covered the same distance as did the troops to which it was attached. This distance could be anywhere from a few miles to 20 or 30 miles a day. When a battery moved independently, it was not limited by the movement of the troops and was thus free to cover as much ground as it could. All in all, there was not a great deal of difference in the distance travelled. Such gains as there were resulted from the absence of thousands of marching infantrymen, supply trains and other units cluttering up the roads. The battery was then able to travel without long delays due to the inevitable traffic jams caused by jostling troops.

So all in all horse artillery would move at the same pace as cavalry and foot artillery the same as infantry, this makes our movement card much simpler.

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry/Foot Artillery2cm3cm**
Cavalry/Horse Artillery***4cm8cm28cm*
Unit Movements per Action
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units ***Horse artillery are unable to charge

COMMANDERS/ADJUTANT BASE MOVEMENT

Commanders were generally (pun intended) mounted, so this makes our movement for such troops easier. Commanders will mostly be staying with the units, and at present I imagine commanders will give some kind of morale/combat benefit to nearby battalions.

Adjutants were used to carry messages between generals, these will be used for changing a divisions orders which we’ll get into at a later date.

FINALISED UNIT MOVEMENT CARD (PER ACTION)

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry2 cm3 cm**
Foot Artillery2 cm3 cm**
Cavalry4 cm8 cm28 cm*
Horse Artillery4 cm8 cm
Generals4 cm8 cm
Adjutants4 cm8 cm
Unit movement card
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units

Looking at the above I believe that this will eventually be condensed to just two lines; Foot and Mounted, and then broken down across the different terrain types.

TERRAIN

In terms of terrain, I think this can be broken down into a number of classifications:

Open
Rough
Difficult
Terrain types

These could then be broken down further into woods, villages, rivers etc each with their own rules. But for now lets look at the effects that terrain may have on the movement. We will also have impassable terrain features such as ridge lines etc, but for now we’ll stick to the three above which would affect troop movement speeds.

OPEN

As it sounds, gentle rolling hills and open land with no real obstables. Here though we may also have Roads, moving along roads should give a bonus to movement or at least no detriment to the movement value of a unit. As a result, we can’t affect our units ability to move through these areas too much, so maybe we should look at movement along the road as a bonus.

Roads, are fairly narrow in comparison to a battalion or cavalry squadron so to get the benefit of moving along a road, the unit would have to be in column formation, otherwise their would be no benefit as those marching in formation off the road would essentially be moving in open ground and would have to still redress ranks after trees, boulders etc.

Therefore we should give a benefit to moving along a road as perhaps +1 cm of movement for a whole move along the road.

i.e. The 48th Regiment of Foot are in column formation and start the turn on a road. Their usual movement per action would be either 2 cm in their standard March or 3 cm in their quickstep. As they are on the road, their movement would now be 3 cm for a March and 4 cm for their quickstep, as long as they finished that actions movement still in contact with the road.

This would have more of a benefit to foot troops than mounted, however mounted troops I believe would travel at a similar pace as to when in open ground due to not having to redress their ranks as much. Therefore I’m willing at this stage to keep the benefit of +1 cm along a road section for mounted troops as well. Should anyone find information that means we should revisit this, please let me know and provide me any links that you can.

ROUGH

Let’s look at how other rules sets deal with rough terrain.

Marechal d’Empire (Polemos) – In Marechal D’Empire (MdE) rough terrain has the affect of limiting all troop movements to 2 base widths (BW), troop movement in MdE is based on the number of bases in a force rather than the type of unit. So a smaller force of 2 BW’s can move 3 BW, a force of 3 BW’s can move 2 BW anything larger than 3 base widths moves at 1 BW. I believe that MdE is looking at this from the approach that larger forces are harder to keep dressed hence the need to moe slower for larger forces. But unless a unit is a column of 2 base widths the rough terrain has little affect on a unit. Breaking down their rules you would move through the rough terrain in either a 2 BW column (while losing a BW of movement) or form into a 3 BW column. Anything wider would reduce your movement by 50%.

Blucher – This set of rules does not consider anything rough terrain, you either have open or difficult.

Le Grand Armee – In this set, using an action for passing through difficult terrain will add a disruption marker to the unit. This does have its appeal, suggesting that once a unit is outside of the terrain it would have to pause to remove the disruption (redress its ranks) before continuing.

So as you can see there are a number of ways we can treat rough terrain. Currently I’m considering rough terrain to have a % movement discount on units for moving through it (in order for them to keep their formations in shape). Whether this is correct, is up for debate.

Using one of my favourite sources RodWargaming we have the following paragraph:

The Dundas regulations therefore see no need for troops to slow down when crossing rough ground or advancing through woods and battalions do not have to stop to reform after negotiating such obstacles provided they were originally moving in Ordinary Time.

This would suggest that movement through rough terrain did not affect the troops if they were marching at Ordinary Time.

We also have the following to consider:

Close Order was prescribed for firing (so that the second rank muskets could protrude beyond the front ranks) and Open Order would seem to have been used for movement. This reflects the fact that the men in the rear ranks need some clear space in front of them. It also helps to prevent them tripping over casualties in the front rank. As soon as the battalion turns right or left this space is reduced to 22″ per man. It is clearly impractical for soldiers to march any great distance this close to the man in front,

So the formation for marching would also have to be open order, with closed order reserved for firing lines. This will be useful when we come to analyse formations a later date.

So my suggestion is that rough terrain would have no effect on troop movement provided those troops were in open order and marching at ordinary pace. Therefore we would assumer that the quick step would not be able to make its full movement in rough terrain and would be reduced to the same as the March. This gives us the following movement card:

Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm**
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm*
FootRough2 cm2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
Unit Movement Card
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units

I do think that mounted troops may have been able to travel a little faster but we’ll consider this further. Should we split the difference and say that mounted troops cannot charge in rough terrain and there movement is reduced by 2 cm on the quick step, bringing it to 6 cm instead? This sounds more reasonable to me, but I would love to know everyone’s thoughts.

DIFFICULT

Difficult terrain would be such things as steep slopes, dense woodland, gulches etc. In all cases the movement of units would be seriously hampered. My first thoughts are that Cavalry would be unable to move into difficult terrain at all, while foot troops would suffer a 50% modifier to their movement rate.

At this point I imagine skirmishers would be able to move through terrain without penalty, but we’ll cover skirmishing formations at a later date.

So let’s look at our completed movement card:

Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm*
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm**
FootRough2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
FootDifficult1 cm
MountedDifficult
Troop Movement Card
*Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units **1 Action per turn

POINTS TO CONSIDER

  1. Mounted troops moving through rough terrain, should this be the same as their standard march move or should we set this at another value say half way between the march and the quick step rates, meaning a move of 6 cm per action in rough terrain instead of 8 cm?
  2. Fatigue, we still haven’t covered fatigue as yet, but we should consider fatigue on troops marching at the double.
  3. Skirmish troops, we’ve not yet looked at these but I would imagine that while skirmishing troops movements would not be inhibited in either rough or difficult terrain?
  4. Should difficult terrain be a 50% modifier?
  5. We’ll revisit our base sizes following John’s comments on Part II.
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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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Writing a Wargame – Scale II

So continuing on the them of scale from my previous post lets continue with our 1:9000 scale for now and look at the major powers and their battalion structure during the Napoleonic Wars.

For this I will be focusing on the Austrian, British, French, Prussian and Russian forces.

Image taken from https://rodwargaming.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/table-1.jpg?w=636

So as you can see each country had differing battalion sizes during the wars. So using our scale of 1:9000, and assuming that all nations had a line formation of three ranks (apart from the British who often fought in two), we get the following base widths.

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0763.34 cm6
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9451.96 cm4
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8011.66 cm3
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0492.17 cm4
French Line (Post 1809)8251.71 cm3
Prussian Line6611.37 cm2
Russian Line6211.29 cm2
Austrian Grenadier9481.96 cm4
Austrian Line (German)1,1882.46 cm5
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3082.71 cm5
All widths are based on a man taking up 22″ elbow to elbow.

The number of models aren’t going to add to the grand scale feel of the setting. So as mentioned in my last post we’re going to have to make some sort of compromise.

If the width of a base was increased to 40mm that would enable 8 miniatures per rank. That feels better but in some cases is an increase of over 100%.

Maybe the scale is a little too large? So let’s narrow down our scales a little more from the previous post. Let’s look at some of the famous battles of the time, starting with the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.

The Battle Of Leipzig is particularly important as during the Napoleonic Wars it was the largest battle to take place with 225,000 troops on the French side and 380,000 troops on the Coalition side.

Avon Napoleonic Fellowship: Guest blogger (6): Leipzig Day One ...

So in this case the battlefield was a little over 12 miles long.

Following this theme let’s look at the top ten battles ranked in order of the number of combatants:

BattleWidth of BattleTable Size Required at 1:9000 Scale
Leipzig12 Miles214 cm (7ft)
Dresden7 Miles125 cm (4ft)
Smolensk5 Miles89 cm (3ft)
Bautzen8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Wagram15 Miles268 cm (9ft)
Borodino4 Miles71 cm (3ft)
Lutzen8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Jena6 Miles107 cm (4ft)
Katzbach8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Waterloo5 Miles89 cm (3ft)
Battlefield lengths at 1:9000 Scale

This would suggest that apart from the really huge battle of Leipzig and the Battle of Wagram, all could be played in a space of 5 feet or less. Suggesting our scale may a little small.

Ideal table size that I’m looking at would be a 6ft x 4ft table. Therefore if we took the average battle size and discounted the larger battles of Leipzig and Wagram it would be roughly 6 miles. Here’s our target, 6 miles in a 6ft space. So taking the length of 6ft (182.88cm) and dividing it 6 miles by this, gives up 5278. So our scale actually needs to be 1:5300.

So going back to our earlier table with the battalion sizes by nation, these at 1:5300 scale would be the following base sizes:

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0765.67cm11
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9453.32 cm6
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8012.81 cm5
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0493.68 cm7
French Line (Post 1809)8252.90 cm5
Prussian Line6612.32 cm4
Russian Line6212.18 cm4
Austrian Grenadier9483.33 cm6
Austrian Line (German)1,1884.27 cm8
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3084.59 cm9
All widths are based on a man taking up 22″ elbow to elbow.

This makes scaling slightly easier with a foot equalling 1 mile. The larger battles can be played out either on a large table, or on multiple tables with multiple players.

Basing is slightly more of an issue, with the line formations being between 2.18 cm at the smallest and 5.67 cm at the largest, the average between these figures being 3.92 cm.

At this stage I’m going to keep to a 40mm wide base for all battalions to make it easier. With maybe half that width for Artillery and Generals.

40mm isn’t too small that the base is unmanageable while being small enough for Battalions to still be feasible.

I’m happy with the scale, but I’m open to thoughts and suggestions around this.

Hope you enjoyed. Next we’ll be either refining the scale based on comments or looking at unit orders.

Writing a Wargame

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