Lately Jim Fitzgerald and I have had many a long discussion on the one real sore spot in Wilderness Wars and that would be the interaction of Continental Militia and British Regulars.
The issue goes like this:
British line unit of 4 stands of 16 figures, in conjunction with two others in its brigade, is moving up on continental militia unit made up of five stands of 15 figures.
In the first turn the units are just less than 12” apart.
The militia unit because there is no reason not to fires a volley. (Target is in the open, formed troops in line, each strength factor over 4, D class troops, long range). Result on four dice is 14 -1=13, resulting in two casualties on the British.
The British are penalized heavily for moving and firing and than giving up the +2 first volley don’t shoot.
No Morale Check for either side.
The second turn the British move to just under 6” apart.
The militia unit fires again (Target is in the open, formed troops in line, each strength factor over 4, D class troops). Result on four dice is 14+2=16, resulting in three casualties.
The British return fire (British First Fire, Target is in the open, B Class Troops). Result on four dice is 14+4=18, resulting in three casualties.
Militia Morale Check (Rear Support, D Class Troops) resulting in 25% chance of failing morale. Law of averages says no failure in the first round
British Morale Check (Rear Support, B Class Troops, -25%) resulting in a 14% chance of failing morale. Again the law of averages says no failure in the first round.
Third Turn British move to under 3” apart.
The Militia unit fires again. (Short Range, Target is in the open, formed troops in line, D Class Troops). Result on Four Dice is 14 +4=18 resulting in three casualties.
The British return fire again (Short Range, Target is in the open, B Class Troops). Result on three dice is 10+5=15 resulting in three casualties (61% chance)
Militia Morale Check (Rear Support, D Class Troops, -25%) resulting in 38% chance in failing morale. Law of average says one of three will fail.
British Morale Check (Rear Support, B Class Troops, -25%) resulting in 14% chance of failing. Law of averages says one of three British Regiments will fail morale check.
Assuming continuation of this pattern for each militia unit that fails there will be a corresponding British unit to fail, the exception is that a fourth continental battalion with fail with the third continental/British pair assuming it is in the line and can be shot at, which generally it is not.
To further skew the result you are more likely to only become disordered rather than rout or even break.
Another option for the British is to stay out of range in turn one, move more than half in turn two, but the result is more skewed to the continentals as the British first fire will cause one maybe two casualties and the second round three casualties while taking five casualties at the same time frame.
The Third option is to try and charge, but the British will have two morale checks and as most of their units are shock infantry the units fail.
As you can see this is really something hanging over us like a dark cloud. We have already instituted some house rules to alleviate the issue. First we went to three figure bases for most militia, making them either formed or unformed. We changed the rear support rule so that the supporting unit must be of equal or greater level than the supported unit. Finally we ruled all bases in the period would be considered "open order" as terms of targeting for small arms and artillery.
We are going to try a forth house rule out and it will be in play on May 17th. A strength point is represented by four figures rather than a base. So the militia will be worth three quarters of a strength point rather than a full strength point. As with Wilderness Wars any partial strength point would be rounded up; ie 15 figures is equal to 4 strength points.