While working on this version of my Hearts of Tin rules, I noticed that I was referring to a growing list of things that earned a negative modifier when shooting or fighting. For example: "-1 if troops other than skirmishers having moved through broken or difficult terrain this move, or if....". With no offence to someone I both like and respect, it was beginning to look a little Barkeresque. It seemed to me that if I just gathered all these causes in one place and gave them one name, it would make the rules clearer and any QRS a little cleaner and shorter.
But what to call them? As a place holder, I fell back on an old term: "Disorder" even though I knew it only really applied to one of the items. Here is the list
" DISORDER. Disorder is used in these rules to represent various things that reduce a unit’s ability to deliver effective fire or reduce its impact during a charge whether by temporarily disrupting a unit’s formation or consuming time during manoeuvring. A disordered unit suffers a -1 penalty when shooting and in melee. All disorder is automatically removed at the end of the brigade’s activation. A unit becomes disordered if it:
(1) is any but skirmishers or pack animals that move in broken or rough terrain,
(2) changes formation or facing or moves to the flank or rear
(3) is artillery or mounted infantry that moves, (ie has to mount/dismount, limber etc)
(4) if it moves through friends or has friends move through unless one of the units are skirmishers
(5) is prone infantry with muzzle loaders and stands up or is charged,
(7) Is so designated so by the GM or as the result of a special rule".
The main feature that these things have in common is that they eat up time and distract a unit from their external things like the enemy. Logically, this means there should be a reduction in movement distance, which is what I used to do. It always "felt" right but too often produced the "wrong" effect.
This all stems from the game being structured into fixed length turns while the real world is not, but I happen to like a turn structure for a game. The smaller the time segment allocated to a turn, the more accurately one could measure activity but the slower and more complicated actually playing the game becomes as you try to track too much data and too many interactions over the 100's of turns that a game lasts. It also perversly makes it harder to make the game accurate because we now have to account for all the things that lead to "hurry up and wait" syndrome or why most troops spend most of a battle doing nothing. So, we compromise and apply various fudges such as assuming that turns contain variable amounts of delay.
Here I place myself firmly in the footsteps of Lawford and Young who boldly state that they make no effort to adhere to a rigid time scale and that a turn may represent an hour of not much or a few minutes of action. If I adhered rigidly to a time scale of 15 minutes per turn then the most pessimistic rates of march over rural terrain would indicate that once in motion, a body of trained infantry in line should be able to move at least 30" in one turn. With a turn based game on a small table, that just doesn't work for me so I have arbitrarily reduced moves to 12" which means a unit which has to deal with an obstacle or execute a formation change or do some fancy maneuvering just spends more time moving whether because the turn is longer or because they spend less time doing other things like shooting or "hurrying up and waiting". This seems to match the feel I get from memoirs. These often mention that something disrupted an attack but I can't recall any cases of an attack stalling at cannister range because the men had had to deploy into lie before starting.
The problem is that on 4 or 5 occasions recently, I have found myself or others somewhat confused by the use of the word "disordered". I need a new word and am soliciting suggestions for another term for this list of things that temporarily reduce a unit's combat effect. Some thoughts that come to mind are Distracted, or Delayed. (note the use of D is not required!),
Comments and suggestions please?
While thinking about here is a video link to the Fort Henry Guard demonstrating how to "Shoot with a -1 penalty then retire 2 inches"
EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)
"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."
-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
RFP: Looking for a better word
Born and raised in the suburbs of Montreal, 5 years in the Black Watch of Canada Cadets, 5 years at the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean followed by 4 in the navy. 25 years with CPC in IT simultaneous with 23 years running a boarding kennel. Inherited my love of toy soldiers from my mother's father. Married with a Whippet, 10 Italian Greyhounds and 3 cats. Prematurely retired and enjoying leisure to game, maintaining our 160 yr old farmhouse and just living.