Friday, November 27, 2009

Horse Musket and Gun

Over the last couple of days I spent many hours pondering, considering, postulating, pontificating, and slamming my head against the wall over Horse Musket and Gun. There is no question that the rules are very close to the finished product, yet a couple of small incidental little "bugs" or quirks haunt the game.

In reviewing the previous versions of the rules, I am on the ninth rewrite and I have yet to really finish on version, I am really at a loss as a consider how close I am, yet how far away I feel. I kind of like running a marathon (Well I guess it is like running a marathon since I have only run a couple of half marathons) 25 miles down, 1 mile to go, but you may as well have another 25 miles for as little as in your tank.

Let me recap my problems:

Artillery the queen of the Battle Field is over powering the game. It is too effective. I know that for at least one of my loyal readers that probably doesn't seem possible. Yet Artillery alone stopped two brigades of Prussians and held a Division of Austrians at bay in the last game. In the game before that a couple of batteries at long range messed up the French defense so bad we might as well not have played. So the question is why is Artillery so effective? Good Dice, Cautious players, is Bombardment to effective, are players miss reading the charts, are the ranges to short?

I at first played off the Austrian Artillery as just good dice and might have played off the French Artillery as good dice, but it wasn't. Well at first for the French it was, but simply rolling 10, 11, and 12s was enough to hold off a Austrian Division

The Austrian players in the last game were a little worried about a few fatigue, yet the Prussian players attempted to push forward, and in the other game it was offensive Artillery fire.

In the last game only the Russians put a heavy battery in bombardment, the French never considered it.

I went through the charts two dozen times, it seemed like the French were reading the charts properly. However the scale of the game just put them in to long range early on where distance modifiers didn't seem to matter. Okay I cover the last two options in one paragraph.

I suppose there is another option, there could be too much artillery, however we are representing who batteries that actually existed in the period, I mean in 1812 we'd also have French Regimental Guns for a number of Corps, that just gets to be too much, but that isn't the period we are currently playing.

To me it seems like it is a combination of all factors are conspiring to make artillery to effective, so the question is what to do.

I have over the past several months making it more difficult to move Artillery, requiring Divisional, Corps and Army Assets to have an ADC attached to limber and reduced the prolong of all artillery. But that makes Artillery more difficult to move not less effective when it fires.

So what else can I do?

In Bombardment we are change x2 fatigue to +1 fatigue. This still makes Bombardment 33% more effective and since fire is completed before movement can be an effective measure on either the defense or offense.

I am looking at a way to reduce or should I say remove the fresh marker on artillery. I had considering giving artillery a different kind of bonus, but my goal has always been a simple game without 97 different bonuses or modifiers, but I seem to be getting that way anyways. So rather I am proposing removing the Artillery's Fresh Marker at the initiative stage (which I am renaming Administrative) on any turn the Artillery fired in the previous turn. I realize that in some game play the players may take advantage of that, but trying to monitor three phases seems too difficult. So after some thought my suggestion is to a check in the Administrative Step in turn after the artillery battery has fired the turn before. On a pass no changes, On the first pass the artillery loses its fresh marker, on the second fail it takes a -2 low on ammunition (which can be removed via a pass in the next administrative step.)

I am going to adjust the ranges of the artillery, shorting the ranges for Effective and Long Range, while increasing Extended and Extreme Range to make up the difference. I have pulled up the work of Chandler amongst others to evaluate what distances are, rate of fire, rounds in the caissons, and so and so forth.

A 12 Lbs can fire canister 500 yards. However its overall effectiveness decreases by 50% for every 100 yards (see Chandler). So if Canister is 100 percent effective at 0 yards it is 50% effective at 100 yards, it is 25% effective at 200 yards, 12.5% effective at 300 yards, 6.25% effective at 400 yards and 3.125% at 500 yards. So how would you map this out on the tabletop? In the 1830's the British Army did an extensive study on Napoleonic Artillery, I never understand why people always study the last war, rather than preparing for the next war, however I am going to refer to this test.

At 0 to 100 yards a single blast from an artillery battery would effectively kill or injury 64 men, at 200 yards this would decrease to 32 men, and at 300 yards 16 men, and so on and so forth. The rate of fire is approximately 1 round every minute, and Artillery only had a high point of slightly more than 95% effective at 0 yards (miss fires, bad powder, shells exploding, or worse guns exploding) With all this I created a complicated spread sheet modeling fire, and I got to say I was surprised at how well it lines up with the British Documents. In all I shortened the ranges of the artillery, Light Artillery ranges are changed to 0-4, 4-8, 8-20, 20-40, Medium Artillery 0-5, 5-10, 10-25,25-50, Heavy Artillery 0-6, 6-12, 12-30, 30-60 for Effective, Long, Extended, and Extreme.

Another change is to increase the bonus to +4 for effective range, this make the math against the chart work out to where I would like it to be. This is one of those changes simply to make all the math work out.

The way this works out, at Effective Range with a Fresh Heavy Battery should be doing 2 fatigue per round (10% no fatigue, 35% 1 Fatigue, 35% 2 Fatigue, 16% 3 Fatigue and 4% for 4 fatigue).

Another minor change, counter battery fire was so common in the last couple of games (with so much artillery on the table and as effective as it is) I have added the requirement that only Artillery on Bombardment orders can fire counter battery fire. Again I refer to both the writings of Chandler (and Richard Hook who I am sure is using Chandler as his source) that it took an hour of extensive fire to silence an enemy Artillery Battery, too few targets in too large of space. Followed on with "brigade batteries" rarely (if ever) fired upon enemy artillery because they were more concerned about supporting the infantry in case of a surprise attack or in case of a charge. To me this is a case that it happened so rarely that you probably don't need to model brigade batteries and should be concerned with divisional, corps and army assets. And we already have a solution for that, bombardment.

The Math on this puts most attempts in the -3 to -5 modifier range (55 to 45% effective doing 1 fatigue or no fatigue on a roll of 11). This also adds in the fact the counter battery is usually two batteries against one hits the fact that 3 fire phases should produce 2.7 to 3.4 fatigue, which I think is right in line with where it needs to be.

I am also reevaluating my Scenario, instead of allowing the defender 18 to 24 inches to deploy I am reducing the deployment zone to 6 to 12 inches. This puts more of the board in play and hopefully allows the attacker to better prepare an attack while under minimal fire.

So to recap

  1. I have increased the modifier for fire in the Effective (Shortest Range) by 1 to +4
  2. I have decrease the ranges for Effective and Long Range to be in line with British Study in 1835
  3. I have now requiring Counter Battery Fire to be in Bombardment Only
  4. I am changing my scenarios to give less depth to the defender.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Upcoming Game at the Levee Café

Tentatively I am planning on a late April (17th or 24th) game at the Levee Café. The game again will be 25mm Napoleonic's using Horse Musket and Gun; and again because of figure availability we will be revisiting the Fall Campaign in Germany 1813, as we refight The Battle of Dresden.

Joel Gregory, Jim Fitzgerald and I have already agreed to work to providing as many figures as we can for the game. While I don't expect to put out 12,000 figures I am hoping that a slight bathtubbing will get us to around 5,000 or so figures. Additionally the tabletop will be right around 200 square feet.

At this point it looks very do able.

Game at the Levee Café was another great success

I am happy, as well as greatly relieved, to say Saturday's game of Horse Musket and Gun (infantry action of the Battle of Liebertwolkwitz) was in my opinion a stellar success.

I need to provide a great number of Thank You's for the success.

At the Levee Café I got to start with my brother Brian Johnson, the Executive Chef and General Manager, who opened the Café early, made a special breakfast and laid out our lunch, as usual my brother thanks. For the other staff whose names I don't remember we do appreciate you going the extra mile and poor Emma who had to deal with 20 Geeks all day and did so with a smile.

For the figures I have to thank Joel Gregory, who provided the lion share of the figures including a number of buildings on the table top, Jim Fitzgerald who provided the Russians and a couple of brigades of French, and Keith Dalluhn who provided the Bavarians; Jeff Knudson who provided some of the buildings on the table top.

Everyone who showed up to play, as everyone should know I am so bad with names I am always happy to remember my own name on most days.

We had at the height of the battle I believe we had 20 players pushing slightly more than 3200 figures on 152 square feet of table top. We completed 6 turns (18 phases) in just over 8 hours. I am happy with 6 turns, even though I wanted 8 turns. Considering most players were new to the system six turns isn't bad.

I feel I also learned a lot about running such a large (25mm) game and the space requirements. We could of used another 24 Square Feet and that might have change the flow of the game some.

I'll post more on the game later.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 21st - Horse Musket and Gun at the Levee Cafe

On Saturday November 21st, 2009 at the Levee Café in Hastings, MN advance elements of the Army of Bohemia will clash with the elements of the Grande Armee in a recreation of the infantry action around Liebertwolkwitz, (October 14, 1813). The battle features 3 French Infantry Corps plus some cavalry vs. 4 Allied Infantry Corps plus some cavalry which occurs after the more famous Cavalry Battle.

Everyone is welcome to attend and play, there is no cost to play and all figures will be provided. As usual we will be paying for the room via services in kind, IE buying drinks and eating meals at the Levee Café. We have made special arrangements to have breakfast served on Saturday at the Levee Café as the Resteraunt no longer serves breakfast on Saturday; however I will need a head count before hand for breakfast.

The battle will be refought using Horse Musket and Gun in 25mm.
In the next day or so I will have a short version of the rules posted and will continue to be turning my notes into full blown rules.

Figures will be provided by Joel Gregory, Jim Fitzgerald, and myself with the possibility of a few others bringing their own commands.

On Friday evening we will setting up the terrain and preparing as many figures as we have available for the game. Jim and I are planning on eating supper around 6PM with the rest of the festivities occurring after dinner.

Saturday morning we will get special access to the Levee Café at 9AM, with breakfast around 10AM. We will be pulling and preparing as many figures as they arrive.

There will be a rules overview at 9:30 AM and the Game will start at 10:30. My goal is to get in two turns (six phases) before Lunch.
For Lunch I have ordered a buffet style meal which will be available for a donation or you can order from the Menu.

The Levee Café, 100 Sibley Street, Hastings, MN 55033

If you have any questions please contact me via email the_goldy_gopher(at)

Hope to see you all there.