Sunday, 13 April 2014

Artillery in Wargames

French gunners left to face the music



We have been using our current “house “ wargame rules for about six years.   Over that period they have been “tweaked” a little in response to problems encountered on the table, but by and large have remained the same.   I am quite surprised that they have survived so much practical wargaming over such a long period, and still provide a very enjoyable wargame.

We spend an hour or so wargaming most days, certainly five days a week.   All of our wargames are based on our 1814 campaign.   So each game is 12 moves long, to match the 12 hour campaign day.   If necessary we will game an extra move to resolve a close run battle.   Our aim is to finish one wargame a week, to avoid undue delay in the pace of the campaign.

Even after all of this time we still have the unexpected action, which requires adjusting the rules.  This week it was artillery in general, and infantry v artillery in particular.

Most of our wargames are decided by morale.   One side starts to fail morale, which often has a knock on effect.  Within one or two moves part of one army is running away.   Our morale rules call for a 3 or more with 1D6.   The initial dice roll is adjusted by plus or minus to reflect the status or casualties of the brigade concerned.   Generally a full strength brigade will function well until they have lost two or more “hits”.   One rout affects all brigades within 4”, so a knock on effect is quite likely to happen.

Gunners seem to be particularly prone to this problem.   Loss of a nearby infantry brigade will leave them without support, which is another minus on the morale charge.   When they rout they abandon their guns.   At the end of a game it is not unusual for two or more of the four artillery crews to be in rout.

Normally gunners are most at risk from enemy cavalry.    Infantry have not proved a problem, until our last wargame.   The gunners have three, or possibly four, opportunities to fire at an approaching infantry column.  The last one at short range.  So it is quite unusual for the infantry to get close enough to engage the gunners.   When they do, we allow them to skirmish, but not volley fire.   So average infantry, with no casualties, would roll 1D6 and require 5 or 6.

This week the gunners missed the infantry, then the infantry missed the gunners, then the gunners missed again and the infantry missed again.   I had not anticipated that the infantry could be so resilient, yet such poor skirmishers, and our rules do not allow actual hand to hand fighting.

We have a section in the rules called “Quick Results”.  It deals with such things as brigades caught in flank or rear by the enemy.   It provides an instant result without using the dice.   Usually cut down or rout with 50% casualties.   It now includes infantry v artillery combat.   When the infantry are 4” from the gunners the latter rout, but take their guns with them.   Nice simple answer.   No loss of guns or heavy gunner casualties.  And sufficient risk to encourage the gunners to withdraw before the infantry can get to close contact.

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