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.