Sunday, 22 October 2017

Musket and Artillery Firepower

Casualties and morale are the determining factor in our (house) wargame rules.   It is quite difficult to inflict artillery, skirmish or musket casualties, but once received they have a decisive effect.   Melee always results in casualties, often to both sides.   These casualties have a lasting effect throughout the campaign phase.

For each casualty morale and combat effectiveness is reduced.   There are tables which add and subtract for each type of combat and morale.   Each casualty reduces the dice throw by one.

Defenders have a huge advantage in artillery fire.   If there is no penalty for continuous firing they tend to fire as soon as the enemy enter long range.   The attackers, on the other hand, quickly mask their own artillery as they advance.

Defenders also have an advantage in skirmish and musket fire.   They usually get in the first volley, and again there is no disadvantage in firing at long range, even if the chance of a hit is slight.

Over the years we have introduced ammunition control, especially for artillery.   Maximum moves in our games is 12 moves/hours.   So we allowed each gun to fire a maximum of 6 times per game/day.   This reduced the amount of firing in a game, but the defenders still had a considerable advantage.

We are now trying out a new rule.   When an artillery crew, skirmish or musket volley takes place cotton wool (to represent smoke) is placed in front of the gun or brigade.  
If they do not fire next move the smoke is removed.   If they fire again whilst the smoke is in place the dice throw is reduced by one.

The result has been very pleasing.   Artillery will still often fire at long range, but are much less likely to fire when the enemy are within striking distance of them.   This is particularly true of cavalry.   

We use alternative move rules.   We have a game chip for each commander, which are put in a box.  When a chip is drawn that commander moves next.   As the game gets to the decisive move(s) who moves first can decide the winner of the game. 

When cavalry charge artillery the gunners dice to see if they can evade (providing there is cover to do so).   If they win they can choose to evade or to fire.  If they fail they have to fire.  If they fire, and roll sufficiently high to achieve a hit, the cavalry must test their morale in order to charge home.   If the charge home they rout the gunners with 20% casualties.

If the artillery chip came first, the gunners have the option to fire on the cavalry at long range.   They roll two dice and would require 9 or more, 10 or more if they have smoke.   If they wait until the cavalry turn they fire at short range and only require 7 or more, 8 or more with smoke.

It has surprised us both how cautious we have become about firing since the introduction of smoke.  The process is simple.   Artillery fire is the first sequence of a move, and you simply remove the smoke if the gun does not fire. 

There was a problem with cotton wool blowing around the table.  But that was easily solved by sticking the wool onto a plastic counter.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Start of Linares Campaign

Linares Campaign Map

I am trying out a new type of map for this campaign.  I will use this new style to plot campaign movement and also for the campaign diary blog.  But there is also an old style map with square numbers to transfer the battle to the wargames table.

This is the fifth phase of the campaign in Southern Spain.   The French objective is to move south and capture Saville.   The French have won two of the previous phases, the Spanish the other two.   This would imply that both armies are equal, but in fact the French were quite superior in ability.  The phase results are due to the Spanish having better luck at critical dice throws.

I am still trying to get the balance right between the two armies.  So once more there will be major changes in the orders of battle.

The French have 16 infantry brigades, 4 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.  Half of the infantry are C class.

The Spanish have 26 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.   There are 14 regular infantry brigades, but 10 of them are C class.   There are 12 militia brigades, all are C class and are independent of the regular army.
For this campaign I am trying to increase the influence of the Spanish irregular troops.   The Spanish outnumber the French in infantry, but half are militia garrison troops.   When a city or town is captured by the French the militia garrison take to the hills and become a guerrilla band.   But they must remain close to their original garrison town.

Guerrilla attacks on isolated garrisons or supply trains are decided by a single dice throw.   They need a 6 to rout a garrison or capture supplies.  However there will be at least six bands operational and each can attack every two or three days.   

The introduction to the campaign is now on the campaign diary blog.  It includes a history of the Spanish in southern Spain, all of the campaign maps and photos of both armies.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

1813 Campaign Review

I have started work on the next phase of the campaign, which will be set in Southern Spain.   In preparation I have been updating the maps, and making some new ones.   It seemed a good time to review the campaign to date.

The campaign started in April 2009 as a solo campaign.   I converted it to PBEM in September 2009 and back to solo again in February 2016.   The campaign maps and rules have changed during that period, and it even went into 1814 for a few months before returning to 1813 again!   However the basic concept has remained unchanged.   It is a fictional campaign with a series of mini campaigns, which I call phases.   There are five campaign areas, three in Germany and two in Spain.   It is designed to provide good wargames and to make use of all of my model soldiers and buildings.

It is difficult to calculate the total campaign phases, because when it was PBEM all five campaign areas were in play at the same time.   When it is solo only one campaign area is gamed at a time, and each of the five are gamed in sequence.  This is to allow me to make use of the different wargame armies and scenery in rotation.   However I do know from the campaign records that since 2009 the campaign has provided 111 battles to wargame. 

Since the PBEM campaign was converted back to solo in February 2016 there have been 23 campaign phase, and the location and winner of each is shown on the map above.    If you click on the map it will enlarge and make it easier to understand.   The French only won nine of those phases, and the Austrians remain undefeated after five campaigns.

The next campaign will be set in Linares in Southern Spain, and is the hex with the white star.   I expect to be able to start the campaign this week, and hope to post an introduction here on the blog next week.