Sunday, 14 September 2014

Hills in Wargames



This subject has been raised a few times over the past few months.  

If troops “behind the crest” of a hill cannot be fired upon by artillery, but are themselves allowed to fire at close range on attackers climbing the hill, then they create a big problem in a wargame.

This has proved particularly difficult in our PBEM campaign battles.   The two armies are pretty even at the start of each campaign phase.   There are a lot of hills on all of the campaign maps.   Most battles have similar types and number of troops on each side.

Since we reintroduced hidden movement the attackers have a good advantage.   We use a card to indicate the location of each corps.   When they come within 16” of each other they are “spotted” and must replace the card with figures.   The defender has to deploy with one corps per scenery square, but the attacker can concentrate.   Then the attacker can spot using his cavalry, and react to the defenders deployment.  In this way he can concentrate and hope to smash one of the defending corps before the others can react to the attacker.

But hills make this impossible.    The defenders cannot be spotted, but can easily spot the attackers.   The concentrated attackers cannot inflict casualties on the target corps.   In fact the opposite happens.   The defenders are hidden, except for their skirmish line and artillery.  So they can pound the attackers before they reach the crest of the hill.

In a recent game this brought the whole problem into sharp focus.   There were three hills across the width of the table, each with a defending corps.   There were no open flanks.   So we finally had to grasp the nettle and sort out the rules.

Our first solution was to allow artillery to fire on defenders behind the crest, but within musket range of the crest.   So the defenders would not have the advantage of firing on the attackers as they reached the crest.

Our second solution was even better.   Any troops behind the crest of a hill, but within musket range, would have to roll 1D6 when enemy come within sight.   Plus 1 for British or class A.   Minus 1 for class C.   Total of 4,5,6 would be OK.   But 3 would be disordered, 2 would be shaken and 1 would rout.

The second solution, the dice throw, had a greater effect.   Although none actually routed, and only one was shaken, the threat was enough to convince the defender it was better to move to the crest just before the attacker reached musket range.

We fought the game twice.  Once under the old rules, which raised the whole subject.   Then under the amended rules.   The difference was dramatic.   The defender was no longer confident to wait for the attack.   One shaken brigade was sufficient to make him bring forward the remaining infantry and a normal firefight decided the matter.

Not only a good solution from a wargame point of view, but also a model which was quite historical from a tactical point of view.

No comments: