Post by WS Pursuivant Esq on Jan 15, 2017 22:50:48 GMT
Well I've sort of read the rules but no opportunity to push lead.
I wanted to get my head around the Fire Mechanics.
Firstly Initiative is important to determine who starts first so this is mostly influenced by National Differences only. However it's a D6 shoot out with at best +1 vs -1 modifers and just determine s which player and brigade goes first. I suppose it's possible to get an initial advantage on the exchange between the first pair of brigades but netts out after that. It's certainly not who is quickest on the draw down the line.
The second part is all about the Hit Table and Fire modifiers from a D5 to assess hits.
If I read the Hit Table correctly the unit class of the shooter and its troop type impacts level of hits depending on the modified die roll column.
Most of the modifiers are negative IE reduce effectiveness and therefore likely hits.
For Infantry the only +1s were Target Inferior Shooting Unit Large Shooting at a units flank or rear.
Artillery get additional +1s and canister +2. Notably there were advantages against target unit depth such as head of marching column or deeper cavalry lines.
My overall observation here was some surprise that enfilading musket fire was not more effective than just a +1. I thought the Linear tactics were all about facing up to the enemy. It doesn't seem like a good idea to be exposing your flank to prolonged fire.
A Superior target shrugs this off even though an inferior shooter has their best chance of a turkey shoot for no return.
Have I missed something or is enfilading just not an important characteristic of Fire in this period?
Hi WS, I’m a novice at the rules and clearly these questions are for Keith, the author, to answer. Having said that, my guess on enfilading musket fire is as follows.
Clearly the rules attach some importance to enfilading and, as it stands, I’m not unhappy with this. Whilst enfilading by an infantry unit in line is always important, I’m prepared to accept it was not as effective in this era as we might think it would be. I reckon this became more important in much later eras where you have looser formations using aimed fire and armed with more advanced weapons (e.g., breach loading rifles, semi-automatic and automatic weapons). I reckon the ability of the men in a black powder era firing unit to use aimed fire was severely restricted and so not the “turkey shoot” you might expect.
For example, lets take a linear formation at exactly 90 degrees to a target linear formation. As we know, muskets are not very accurate weapons so the tactics of the period focused on concentrating fire to the unit’s front by lining men up shoulder to shoulder in 3 firing ranks. Because of this, the second and certainly the third ranks had a very limited arc of fire so, unless the battalion can incline the flank companies inwards, many of the shots fired by the flank companies will simply fly past the front and rear of the target unit. To give you an idea of how closely packed the men were, if you have Osprey’s Rossbach and Leuthen, on Pages 30-31 there is an illustration of 2 three rank units facing off.
If you decide to have a rule that allows the wings to incline inwards to concentrate fire more effectively on the target unit, this requires orders or relying on the initiative of more junior officers - either way this takes time. This is time during which I’m sure the target unit is using to react, the effectiveness of which will depend on the calibre of the unit under fire and whether officers become casualties, etc. In my view, to model this would complicate and slow up the flow of the game.
Out of interest, what modifier(s) do you think should apply and why?
HoW is an elegant set of rules with a well thought out engine at its core. Tinkering is fine but from my few games, I think +1 flanking fire works fine. What I like is the fact that modifiers are kept to a manageable list unlike rules of old that went on for pages. For today's time poor armchair general, concluding a game by bedtime is perfect! Again, and only because I am reading Duffy's book on The Military experience in the Age of Reason, there is an interesting table on page 207 from Scharnhorst of 1813. Described the decreasing effectiveness of musket fire as the range increases. The experiment used a large 100 foot wide pine board. At 100 paces, most shot hit but only half were penetrations. Similar stats for 200 and 300 paces. At 400, 23 penetration and at 600 only 2 out of 200 rounds fired. Muskets were clearly inaccurate tools and in the hands of troops under stress in a combat situation, the stats probably dropped even further. On page 234, it described the importance of enfilade fire and sweeping from multiple angles, so no doubt about that.
Given rules are an abstraction and simulation, I still think Keith has nailed it with HoW in terms of fast play and a minimisation of stats keeping (which I loathe). The whole mechanic of retreating and reforming is innovative and provides a sense of realism. SYW gaming has become bags of fun!
Post by WS Pursuivant Esq on Jan 17, 2017 12:56:13 GMT
Thanks for replies from Westmarcher and DaveMelb.
This gives me a better appreciation of what's important. Arguably since there are very few positive modifiers then the philosophy is that musketry effectiveness is only likely to deteriorate not be enhanced. The Unit Class is a significant factor driving the hit table.
I now see that weather effects are included in the rule options.
Enfilading does give a modest benefit and the bonus of scoring hits for no return plus the ability to then charge the exposed flank or rear.
My only issue is to understand why a unit firing at a superior unit is docked a point on effectiveness and boosted against an inferior target. I suppose the rationale is that Hits scored are more than pure casualties it's a composite of casualties and morale impact.
I was also wondering whether there were national technology differences on weapon effectiveness. I see rifles and carbines listed but only see a range impact. So a Prussian musket is not significantly different to a British one. It's the class, drill and discipline that counts.
I am not familiar with the period so did some digging on ammunition. This produced a very interesting article.
The +1 for enfilading fire was mostly about the morale effect - as you say WSP, having someone within firing range on your flank would have been a serious situation in the SYW. As for why only a +1, the simple answer is that I thought that was enough. Making it +2 might well be worth trying - in fact I might try it myself next time I get a game.
On all the other points you are correct. Getting fire initiative is often not that vital, but occasionally it is and rolling for it produces a nice bit of drama every so often.
You might want to read through the Author's Notes section on the site which funnily enough mentions both these points, and few others which give you a better understanding of my thinking.
I only wish I could have made the list of modifiers shorter - I kept trying to cut some out but in the end I felt they were alll justified by the level of tactical detail I wanted to include.
WSP, I didn't have your second post in front of me when I replied. Again, you have it right. In particular, hits are not just physical casualties but represent morale factors as well, hence the fact that superior units respond better to hits and inferior ones are likely to be more affected (p.26, see grey box in bottom left corner).
As for technology, I rated all muskets broadly similar. Training and discipline made the difference.
Post by WS Pursuivant Esq on Jan 20, 2017 13:29:02 GMT
I agree Grenouille d'escrime.There is nothing like something for nothing. Although one must also consider that the enfilador may by necessity expose their own flank in the act of firing on the enfiladee.
This was a surprisingly good read as a summary on the subject. It states
"The strategies invented by the English use the French enfiler ("to put on a string or sling") and défiler ("to slip away or off") which the English nobility used at that time.(2)"
It goes on to say that enfilade was an effective tactic because it meant that a shot along the flank of a unit was more likely to hit someone than attempting to gauge the range of a shot to the front....(or arguably rear? my comment).
So perhaps there is strong justification to score a +2 modifier for enfilading the enemy whereas only say +1 for shooting at the rear. Obviously both positions are attenuated at long range. Overall this may give an appropriate balance for the stratagem.
Davemelb's comment still bears further thought however. Is the firing unit able to take full advantage of an enfilading position as a unit smartly marches past 50 paces away ?. The width of the exposed (moving) flank may be a narrow target but it's front and rear are also valid. The question is how does the battalion coordinate it's fire or individual soldiers adjust their body positions in unison rather than just shoot ahead.
HoW rules allow a 30 degree field of fire. The question is whether historical troops actually had this latitude. I would ask what were the relevant justifying sources. Nevertheless as a simplified wargame simulation .....does it matter?
I am learning that Vauban fortresses were specifically designed to create enfilade positions to punish the attacker together with defilade positions for the defender.
If you can get hold of a copy at a reasonable price, then try Brent Nosworthy's "The Anatomy of Victory, Battle Tactics 1689 to 1763". It covers the period in greater depth than anything else I've read. As far as enfilade fire by muskets is concerned then its substantially increasing casualties against a line is doubtful. The process of "locking" three ranks of musket armed men standing shoulder to shoulder severely restricted the individual's ability to vary their field of fire. Aimed fire was rare and the very operation of the flint lock discouraged it, hence "levelling" was the order of the day. "Fast fire" only added further to the lack of accuracy of a far from accurate weapon. Then add the restrictions of coarse black powder on visibility after the first volleys! Platoon firing sequences could well mean that, theoretically, a battalion could completely miss a line marching past 50 paces away. So, very significant extra casualties from enfilade fire is not a proven case. However, much of the fast fire effect, as practiced by the Prussians, was a morale one. Fast firing infantry looked as though they could shoot you to pieces even though, as davemelb points out above, casualties were limited at all but very close range. 600 muskets firing at you from a flank would certainly make you nervous. So long as we approximate the battle in a satisfactory way for the players then no, it doesn't matter. Vauban fortresses were designed to very effectively enfilade attackers, with cannon as the primary defensive weapons. A whole different ball game there.
Again Duffy quotes examples where after '000s of rounds were expended, very little damage was done. Some units were amazed to find that after receiving a full volley, virtually no one was hit! The average soldier of the time would struggle to hit an elephant in a barn yard. That's certainly the impression I'm getting. As Keith rightly points out, the smoke after a volley or two would create a screen to further hamper already rubbish accuracy, plus moving target. It don't matter none!
For muskets it would,but it would appear to be opening for those cannon things.I would imagine a round shot could make a butchers yard going down an effiladed line of soldiers,what ever colour their uniform was