Game Test 3 – Deployment Phase

I tested a deployment phase the same as that featured in Chain of Command by TooFatLardies as recommended by a number of people on Reddit.

Deployment Phase Test

I’m pleased with the results so far, it does need tightening up however. My initial thoughts are:

  • You have a number of markers representative of the number of Light Infantry and Light Cavalry units in your force for the battle.
  • Units come on at a certain point on the board, players take it in turns to move all their units onto the battlefield.
  • Once all units are at the entry point, players take it in turns to move the units 15cm at a time to claim as large a deployment zone as possible.
  • Movement is 15cm regardless of terrain (apart from being unable to cross rivers without using a bridge or ford).

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Writing a Wargame – Skirmishers

I’ve left this one alone for a little while, whilst I’ve spent some time deciding on other factors.

But I’m keen to have this troop type crossed off my to do list due to their role in the wars and including everyone’s favourites the 95th.

BAKER RIFLE

A replica Baker Rifle

So let’s start by taking a look at the Baker Rifle. The weapon of the 60th and 95th Rifle regiments as well as the King’s German Legion during the 100 days.

The Baker Rifle although much more accurate than the smoothbore musket wasn’t widely used due to both it’s slow reload time and it’s expense compared to a musket.

While a trained soldier with a musket could fire four shots a minute, a rifleman could only manage two. However the range of the rifle was much further than that of the musket with its effective range being twice that of the musket. Thomas Plunket of the 1st Battalion 95th Rifles is said to have managed to shoot General Colbert at the Battle of Cacabelos at a range of around 600 yards which is twice the long range of a musket.

Thomas Plunket’s shot

This makes our like easy in some respects so that the effective range of the Baker Rifle in game would be 4 cm while the long range would be 8 cm.

SKIRMISHERS

Not all nations employed skirmishers, but they were prominent during the Peninsula Wars.

Often deployed in front of an advancing Brigade, the Skirmishers would firefight with enemy skirmishers and pluck out officers from the enemy formation.

This makes representing them on the tabletop fairly simple. Skirmishers can still fire like any other Brigade, however their hits do not cause any damage on the strength of a unit, instead the unit hit suffers 2 morale damage.

Musket armed Skirmishers will only be able to fire these shots at the usual range. However, Rifle armed Skirmishers would be able to fire at double the range but due to the time it would take to reload can only use half the fire dice that the equivalent musket armed troops would be able to use.

TABLE REPRESENTATION

Talavera Order of Battle

Skirmisher Strength/Firing Dice

Above is a screenshot taken from Wikipedia showing the Talavera order of battle for the Anglo-Spanish forces. As you can see the usual tactic was to attach a single company of rifles to a brigade (usually those lacking their own light infantry). This is a pretty tiny unit. In our game terms it would currently be presented as a 1 Strength, 1 Firing Dice unit.

Even battalions with light companies armed with muskets would only throw forward at most 50 men to act as a skirmish screen.

Base Size

Base size would not be an issue and a company would still be modelled on a 40mm wide base due to the men spreading out and taking advantage of cover.

Unit Coherency

These skirmishers would close to within range of the enemy at which point they would hold position sniping enemy officers while the brigade they’re attached to advanced and attempted to drive the enemy away.

For this reason Skirmishers do not have to be in base-to-base contact with other units of their brigade, however, they must remain within 4 cm of their parent unit so that they can quickly find safety should cavalry approach.

Additional Actions

Brigades with attached Rifle companies or battalions with light companies may choose to deploy a skirmish screen for 1 action. This screen is then represented by a skirmish base on the table deployed in base to base contact at the front of the battalion.

Actions for Skirmishers are carried out separately to its parent brigade and Skirmishers do not take morale tests for moving within 10 cm of an enemies radius. It cannot be targeted by shooting unless by opposition Skirmishers.

When the skirmish unit uses a move action, the skirmish unit can move in any direction at ‘quick pace’ (if able to do so) as long as the unit stays within 4 cm of its parent battalion.

The Skirmish stand will also not move closer than 2 cm to an enemy brigade.

Skirmish stands can be charged by enemy cavalry or skirmishers. If cavalry successfully charge Skirmishers the skirmish unit is considered destroyed. Remove it from battle and reduce the parents battalion strength and modifier by 1.

CHANGES TO THE GAME AS A RESULT

  • Skirmish formation is not available to battalions.
  • Brigades that have light infantry or rifle infantry attached may deploy them at the cost of 1 action.
  • Destroyed Skirmishers count as 1 damage and 1 morale loss for its parent Brigade.
  • Skirmishers act independently of its parent brigade but remain within 4 cm.
  • Skirmish stands cannot use any other formation other than Skirmish until they rejoin their Brigade.
  • Skirmishers armed cause 2 morale damage to enemy units but no strength damage.
  • Rifle armed infantry have an effective range of 4 cm and a long range of 2 cm however they have half the firing dice (if deployed as a battalion).
  • Rifle armed battalions may still only deploy one stand as skirmishers.
  • Actions available to Skirmishers are:
    • Fire!
    • Move 3cm (if able otherwise 2cm)
    • Fall in (rejoin the Brigade)

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Writing a Wargame – Command and Control

The aspect of command and control can possibly be one of the most important aspects of wargaming the Napoleonic Period.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks and how this may apply. A suggestion from Chris via the Baccus website has now started to crystallise this idea.

Looking at other Napoleonic War games the most common approach leans towards each player rolling a number of dice and then activating that number of units. To me this does not feel in keeping with the period of time, when orders were given before the battle began and then adjusted mid battle either hand written and delivered by messenger, Aide-de-Camp (ADC) or in some cases like the Duke of Wellington by themselves. Therefore I feel this does not suit our rule set when we are trying to replicate the period.

My initial ideas were for each general to have a number of ADC’s to which orders could be passed. These ADC’s would ride to their destination and effectively act as command markers for that unit. The ADC’s would travel around the table at ‘Trot’ speed to deliver their messages.

When I mentioned this to Chris, he mentioned his unique “Coup d’Oeil” (CdO) idea which could work in tandem with ADC representation.

The idea behind CdO would mean that Generals start out with a number of these as “Decision Points”, depending on the General they may start with more, or less. These can be used to deploy forces at the start of the game once the deployment areas have been decided upon.

A General can also build these points up during the course of the game with a basic value each turn plus extra for certain events. Once a General reaches a certain amount of Coup D’Oeil points they can spend them on either issuing an order via ADC or calling up reserves. Initial thoughts on this are:

COUP D’OEIL

  • A General will start with a number of Coup D’Oeil points.
  • Each turn, +1 is added to their Coup D’Oeil value.
  • If the general is positioned on a hill this will give them a further +1 Coup D’Oeil each turn.
  • +1 for each enemy unit that is ‘Revealed’.
  • +1 for each enemy unit that is broken and flees the battlefield.
  • -1 for each friendly unit that is broken or flees.
  • There may be additional Coup D’Oeil points per turn for holding battlefield objectives.

Coup D’Oeil may be spent on:

  • Deploying Units at the start of the game.
  • Issuing activation orders to units.
  • Bringing on reserve units.

ORDERS

Orders will be tied into Battlefield Objectives, my initial thoughts are to have a number of primary objectives (such as Hougoumont or Le Haie Sainte at Waterloo), and a certain number of secondary objectives (perhaps holding a certain village, or pass through a forest etc). These objectives would be given numbers and shown on the battlefield in the form of objective markers. (very Warhammer-esq I realise, but if it isn’t broke…..)

An order would consist of giving a Division or Brigade the order of capturing a certain objective on the field. At the point where a General has enough CdO, he would issue an ADC to travel to his target. The arrival of the ADC at the unit indicates they have been activated. The ADC may have the number of the Objective that the Division or Brigade has been requested to attack (or hold), this may be represented by an ADC miniature with a Dice on the base representing the objective number. From that point onward that unit may only score “Tactical Points” should the unit hold that objective, if it holds any other objective other than the one it has been assigned no “Tactical Points” will be gained, a new ADC will need to be issued to change a units target.

At the end of the game the side with the most “Tactical Points” is considered to have won a “Tactical Victory” while the side that inflicted the most casualties has won a “Strategic Victory”.

Writing a Wargame – Your Comments

When I started this idea, I never thought that it would have as much following as it seems to be gathering! So first of all I want to thank everyone for all of their time spent in reading my ramblings and putting up with grammatical and spelling errors! Also for all the fantastic comments I’ve received not only on this blog itself but from the other sources I’ve shared the articles on (Reddit, Baccus etc).

I would like to take some of the comments that have been sent to me and respond to them in this article. I will then play test through these ideas later this week.

“Command & Control: ADCs as activation markers could be realistic and workable (other rulesets use this approach too). I have a thought about how you might be both innovative and realistic. Rather than a die roll for command pips – which I know you don’t want, and I have my reservations about it as well – maybe you could have a ‘Decision Point’ mechanism? By which I mean, a General only gets to send an ADC off with a new order when he has reached a Decision Point, as calculated by some criteria.

Deciding those criteria has a lot of scope for you to shape the game. How about basing it on a General having to accumulate enough Coup d’Oeil points to make a new decision?

A General might accumulate Coup d’Oeil points simply by passage of time, as his picture of the battle becomes clearer each turn.

Also when there is a significant development such as taking or losing a terrain item of designated value (perhaps more value closer to him).

Also more CdO points depending how few enemy formations remain undetected: a bonus point each turn when 75%+ have been detected, 2 bonus points when 100% detected? This would give extra reason for retaining a reserve, to keep the enemy guessing and limit his options.

Better Generals might need fewer CdO points to issue an order; worse Generals would need more.

Bad weather or concealing terrain might reduce CdOs; being on top of a hill yourself might help.

Formations breaking (whether friends or enemy) would also generate CdOs and prompt decisions.”
– Chris via Baccus

I love this idea, I had briefly mentioned to Chris about wanting to use ADC’s as order markers, Chris took it and came up with this fantastic idea which is simply to good to ignore!

“(General comment: to keep the game moving, defender makes one reaction choice, 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 dmg to the base morale, making these choices harder to execute than just standing.)” – Doug via WordPress

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.)” – Doug via WordPress

My Thoughts here would be for a player to have an order of battle sheet (roster) showing the units morale and Strength (rather than the number of men), 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).” – Doug via WordPress

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.

 “One idea I had in my game that I mentioned last week was that I was going to have an initial scouting phase (similar to the patrol phase in Chain of Command of you’ve played that) where you begin the game with your HQs setup on your board edge then take turns to move them up (while staying within communication range of eachother) until they meet the enemy and are frozen in place to give you a dynamically created deployment area. It allowed players to decide where they thought was the most important area of the board and try to manoeuvre to control it. Also meant that the first few turns of the gane didn’t involve just moving troops up. All this to say that your discussion of light cavalry’s role has made me think that they should maybe come into play in this phase.” – Shindigero Via Reddit

“Regarding your deployment article, I’ve got an idea for gamifying the deployment system. It could be an option to make more unique battle lines than the standard 6” from center line.

I’m plagiarizing this from Chain of Command’s patrol phase. Designate light cavalry and certain infantry as scout brigades, and move them onto the table. They can move as normal, but once they close within 12-18″ of the enemy they are frozen in place. Continue moving them until one or both sides have “locked” all of their scouts. At that point you deploy the remaining troops, who can be placed anywhere behind the scouts.

You could play a bit with this. Treat defensive locations like the Borodino redoubts as static “scouts”. There’s even a tradeoff of how many scouts you want to use: more obviously gives you better control over the initial line, but you also want some leftover scout cavalry to secure your flanks.”
– Altair1371 via Reddit

This is another great idea, where both Altair1371 and Shindigero essentially suggest the same thing. I’m considering using the number of light infantry and light cavalry battalions inside a players force as the number of markers they have available for the Deployment Phase of the game. Once their locked, this will determine a players deployment area.

“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.)” – Doug via WordPress

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)?”
– Doug via WordPress

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.” – Doug via WordPress

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.

“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.” – Doug via WordPress

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

“In connection with battalion sizes, and since Clausewitz has been mentioned, let me report what Clausewitz said about the large Austrian battalions: namely that the extra men were ‘in a sense wasted’. I think he meant that the large battalions were unwieldy and inefficient at bringing all their force to bear effectively. Part of that story would be their ratio of ~50 men per officer, as against 35-40 for other major nations and 22 for British. (Per the table on ‘Rod’s Wargaming’.)” – Chris via WordPress

Another interesting point that was also confirmed by Doug, Larger battalions becoming unwieldy, and I’m willing to adjust the the units so that the maximum strength for a battalion would be 20 (1,000 men) meaning the maximum firing dice for a single battalion would be 5 Combat/Firing Dice.

Writing a Wargame – Issues with Tracking

So I’ve a number of things that I’ve had suggestions for and also some items I don’t think are entirely pinned down yet. I’ve also got an extensive work list ahead of me to get this finished.

KEEPING TRACK OF UNIT MARKERS

My first question is, as has been fairly pointed out by Chris Pringle, whether I have too many points that players will need to keep a track of during the game/turn.

What’s Being Tracked?

Strength and Formation will be tracked by Brigade while Morale and Actions will be tracked by Brigade. How will this be done? Firstly let’s have a look at the potential base and solutions that may work.

We’re going for a 40mm wide base for all battalions at present along with a Commander Base which the size has yet to be decided upon. If we assume at present that the Commander Base will also be the same size as a Battalion/Squadron Base we may have the following:

Potential Base Layout

This is a potential solution using 7mm dice holders available from Pendragon to hold the dice on the bases.

For this however, it does require quite a few dice and may also mean adjusting the strength values of each unit.

The alternative option is to keep the markers for morale and actions on the commanders base, but then use a sheet with an order of battle (which I can write a battlescribe file for) to make notes on strength and formations.

Order of Battle

The only issue with this is ensuring that you know which battalion is which by the use of labels of some kind.

This method can also be used to track morale as well should you wish.

However I am worried that this may all become a tedious paper keeping exercise during the course of the battle.

Further options may be to remove formations completely like many other games, however due to the mechanics using a 1-2 combination attack being the most effective between infantry and cavalry attacking enemies and the effect it has on morale I would ideally like to keep this.

Should I drop strength and morale? I feel that morale is a key mechanic of this game. While strength may be a nice to have to track casualties etc to compare to the historical battle that you may be re-enacting.

Another option would be tie strength and morale together into one attribute. A battalion with 1,000+ men may be strength 10 hence a morale of 10, fire dice could then be tied to this by dividing the figure by 2 or 3. If casualties are then to be recorded perhaps players can record the hits made against their battalions (if they so wish) and times the value by 50 to arrive at a casualty figure.

I’m also thinking of keeping the 5 actions per turn, but then also allowing units to make 2 reactions.

GOING FOWARDS

For now I’m running with:

1) I’m going to keep the current strength mechanics of the brigade marked by either 2D10’s on the commanders base or on an order of battle.

2) Returning to 5 Actions AND 5 Reactions per turn. Therefore no need for tracking.

3) Formations can be tracked via a single dice on a battalion base.

4) Morale working as it currently is, with either Dice on the commanders base or on a written order of battle

I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts.

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

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

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