Saturday, April 18, 2009

Horse Musket and Gun - Game April 18th

Today I rolled out the latest version of the “Horse Musket and Gun” Rules for public trials to see how they played and how the game flowed beyond conceptional discussions and lots of dice rolling. I am again amazed at how well the game flows and how fast everyone seems to pick up the basic concepts.

Of course with all trials the one issue that I have been so concerned with reared its ugly head again.

For the 200th Anniversary of the Battles along the Danube during the Austrian invasion of Bavaria the game today featured what else, an Austrian and French battle.

The Austrian IV Armeekorps faced off against the French 2e Corps. This battle put several differeing twists into the game that the players needed to account for.
The 2e Corps was a newly reformed formation in the spring of 1809, every battalion was a 4th Battalion from either Ligne or Legere regiment, mostly filled with new recruits of the class of 1809. The French units were smaller than many players were expecting and rated as 2nd Rank Line.
The Austrian IV Armeekorps was a veteran formation in the spring 1809 and was probably as close to paper strength as you ever see Army going into the field. The large Infantry Units were supplemented with a number of Archduke Karl’s Legions and two light brigades.

Austrian IV Armeekorps – FML Rosenberg
Division Dedovich
Brigade Grill
IR Ludwig - 3 Battalions 24 Figures
IR Koburg – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
Brigade Neustadter
IR Czartoryski – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
IR Ruess-Greitz – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
Division Bartenstein
Brigade Riese
Mittrowsky IR – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
Bellegarde IR – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
Brigade Waldegg
Chasteler IR – 3 Battalions 24 Figures
Archduke Karl Legion – 2 Battalions 20 Figures
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
Division Somariva
Brigade Stutterheim
Grenz Regiment 12 – 1 Battalion 24 Figures
Vincent Chevaulegers – 2 Divisions 12 Figures
3Pdr Grenz Battery – 2 Stands Light Artillery
Brigade Radivojevich
Grenz Regiment 13 – 1 Battalion 24 Figures
Stipsicz Hussars – 2 Divisions 12 Figures
6Pdr Cavalry Battery – 2 Stands Medium Artillery
IV Armeekorps Reserve Assets
12Pdr Battery – 2 Stands Heavy Artillery

French 2e Corps D’Armee – Oudinot
Division Seras
Brigade Conroux
6th Legere – 1 Battalion
24th Legere – 1 Battalion
25th Legere – 1 Battalion
9th Legere – 1 Battalion
16th Legere – 1 Battalion
27th Legere – 1 Battalion
Brigade Albert
18th Ligne – 1 Battalion
24th Ligne – 1 Battalion
45th Ligne – 1 Battalion
94th Ligne – 1 Battalion
95th Ligne – 1 Battalion
96th Ligne – 1 Battalion
Brigade Jarry
4th Ligne – 1 Battalion
18th Ligne – 1 Battalion
54th Ligne – 1 Battalion
63rd Ligne – 1 Battalion
Division Asset
6Pdr Battery – 2 Stands of Medium Artillery
Division Claparede
Brigade Coehorn
17th Legere – 1 Battalion
21st Legere – 1 Battalion
28th Legere – 1 Battalion
26th Legere – 1 Battalion
Tirailleurs du Po – 1 Battalion 32 Figures
Triailleurs corses – 1 Battalion 24 Figures
Brigade Lesuire
27th Ligne – 1 Battalion
39th Ligne – 1 Battalion
59th Ligne – 1 Battalion
69th Ligne – 1 Battalion
76th Ligne – 1 Battalion
Brigade Ficatier
40th Ligne – 1 Battalion
88th Ligne – 1 Battalion
64th Ligne – 1 Battalion
100th Ligne – 1 Battalion
103rd Ligne – 1 Battalion
Divisional Asset
6Pdr Artillery Battery – 2 stands Medium Artillery
Light Cavalry Brigade Colbert
9th Hussars - 12 Figures
7th Chasseurs a Chevel – 20 Figures
20th Chasseurs a Chevl – 12 Figures
Heavy Cavalry Division d’Espagne
Brigade Raynaud
4th Cuirassiers – 20 Figures
6th Cuirassiers – 16 Figures
Brigade Fouler
7th Cuirassier – 20 Figures
9th Cuirassier – 10 Figures
Corps Assets
12Pdr Positional Battery – 2 Stands Heavy Artillery
12Pdr Positional Battery – 2 Stands Heavy Artillery

I instructed or highly suggested that both sides take to the offense on turn one.

The battle didn’t take shape as I had intended, no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy or turn 1 of a wargame. In almost every other previous public games we have played the players have been ultra aggressive. The overall game was just a few too many figures for our table space, but I figured it was okay because both sides have lost brigades early on. In this game all but two players were content to site just out of long range and take pot-shots at one another. This is not something that the rules simulate very well as if no other actions occur it add a fatigue remove a fatigue. It would take several luck rolls to force things to break. The other extremely ultra conservative in-action was one of usual more aggressive players went total turtle defense on turn 1.

On the opposite end of the table top from the Turtle Defense jack Anderson went over the top with his assaults against the French positions. The problem from a game stand point was that he did it with the worst rated troops on the Tabletop, the Two Austrian Light Brigades.

It’s hard to sit back and discuss the flow of a game when such “unusual” anomalies of game play are occurring. However the players understood the system and for the most part the game went smoothly. There were a couple exceptions, twice the kibitzing on the table-end of the game away from me caused some slow-downs.

From a game play standpoint we still have an issue of interaction between cavalry and infantry during the close to combat. I tried again to make the rules as streamline as possible and less gamey, but we end up with too many dice rolls. I think I will reorganize the flow and ordering of the actions.

Another minor concern/problem is that Jim and I weren’t on the same page as were the all the rules were. I suppose we will have a sitdown before the next game so we are playing the same version.

The other noticible issue is terminology. I will have to “clean-up” some of the terminology so that it has less specific connotations in several cases. Light Fortifications will become “Light Cover” as an example.

I think the number of figures probably would be okay for 12" wide table but t 10" wide it is just a touch short in depth. I will have to adjust scenarions accordingly. We will have some more discussions on Frenc Divisional Assets.

I have a number of figures sitting on the painting table that just need basing and flock, that we could have used for this game. No excuse I was just lazy. Eight Austrian Guns, 1 Battalion if Hungarian Infantry, 20 some Austrian Commanders, and gosh knows what else. All needed. Time to get off my ass and finish them up.

In the end I have to thank the players, Fitz, Joel G., Joe K., Tom, Noel, Jim, and Elliot for putting up with my concepts and providing some feedback. While I know a couple players went what the hell did I just play, everyone else seemed excited byt the rules. All and all I have been asked to run another game and will do so, probably in May some time, maybe May 9th.


Anonymous said...

For fatigue, you could either change your rules so that units could only recover when un-engaged/not under fire, or you could throw out the recovery rule entirely. If a player chooses to have their units sit and be shelled for an hour, they will take damage and loose efficiency/stamina that they will not be able to recover during a battle.

Jeff Johnson said...

The situation between Jim (who’s last name I will someday learn) and Joel Gregory brigades on Saturday created an issue that isn’t necessarily within the scope of the rules to correct. They spent nine phases (three hours) shooting at one another at extended (third band) ranges. The distance and formations made it so that there were only a 45% chance of doing one or more fatigue per unit per phase, yet they were removing 1 fatigue per turn as well. Had either side shortened the distance between the units to the long (second band) range there chance of doing a fatigue point increases to 64% (15% for a crooked number). Both sides realized this conundrum but neither was willing to risk a unit to do anything about it.

the_fitzer said...

Why are you arguing for penalizing the troops that sit at long range and snipe at one another all day? What is the historical basis for this penalty?

Why are you arguing for penalizing someone who was following orders, especially in light of the fact that his opponent was not pressing an attack? If the opponent doesn't press an attack, is no longer being fresh not enough of a penalty, given that this was the condition on a number of Napoleonic battlefields where there were quiet sectors that would suddenly become active late in the battle?

The issue between the French (those being shelled) and the Austrians (those shelling) was that the Austrians were hoping to break the French with long-range fire and were disappointed by the rules not allowing them to. The French were ordered to hold a gap, which they did. The Austrians would not attack the gap until way late in the game, and then moved only tentatively. This was not a case of the rules ahistorically restricting an attack. Rather, this was a case of a timid commander hoping to do something ahistorical and finding that the rules wouldn't let him.

knightwire said...

I think the removal of the 'Fresh' status seems adequate as well. I think a lot more artillery would be needed to have the effect that the Austrian player was hoping for. As he didn't have more, using what he did have at an extreme range shouldn't really be too much of a detriment to the other force. IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Not having played or seen the rules, I was simply responding to the question Jeff was posing in his post.

I don't see it as penalizing anyone. If you're going to post your division within range of enemy artillery, you will take *some* casualties, and the player should understand that. If you don't want to take damage, either hide your troops behind terrain or keep them outside of artillery range. Otherwise, accept that a certain amount of damage will be done to your command and get on with things. Putting your troops in engagement range to pin the enemy without assaulting them can be a useful tactic, but there will be a price to be paid for doing so.

Again, not knowing how the rules function, I'm not sure what the effects of fatigue are supposed to be on the units. To my way of thinking, if a unit is going to take a steady diet of 8- or 12-pound artillery balls for an hour or two, there will be a reduction in the combat effectiveness of the unit either from straight casualties or the psychological effects of the bombardment. Unit cohesiveness can be built back up, as can morale (to a certain degree), but in my opinion stamina/fatigue/combat effectiveness should be reduced either for the day, or at least until the unit is withdrawn to a position where it's not getting fired on anymore.

Expecting to break an enemy solely through long-range artillery fire is wishful thinking, agreed. If you're going to allow units to simply slough off the effects on long-range fire, then save everyone some die rolling and remove the extreme range band.

the_fitzer said...

Your basic premise is incorrect about the rules. That last range band does have an effect, though very small. Loss of the Fresh status does have a big effect on your unit's performance. In addition, bombardment from heavy artillery can be very effective at the maximum range.

The issue here, however, was a brigade of infantry with a light battery in support was trying to engage a single battalion in open order at maximum range and not making much headway. To be sure that battalion was taking fatigue, just not enough to make it check morale.

I think that the penalty to the unit that was following its orders and holding its ground was sufficient and I do not believe that you should be rewarding an inert player for using ahistorical tactics.