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

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Shelf.


I went up to clear the table this morning so I could use it as a work surface to repaint some dog training apparatus for Kathy. Somehow this seems to have involved putting some of my ceramic buildings on the table to see how they fit the 6" grid. What followed seemed almost beyond my control  ..........

After a year's rest, the Red Queen's troops march onto the table.
40mm homecast 1840's conversions.
Since it appeared that I was about to replay the scenario I figured I could at least change the armies and period. Its been a year since my 1830's/40's Atlantican troops were last on the table so it seemed like a good time to get them out.  The last thing I did with these was to reorg them into 18 man  battalions based as  3's and 6's. Not ideal but it worked with each 3 counting as 1  ie the equivalent of 6 figure battalions. I looked at other options but they all resulted in "large" battalions which would have needed to be matched by larger artillery and cavalry units to maintain the balance.

One of the things that is not immediately apparent during the transition from musket to rifled musket to breech loader and eventually magazine rifles is that while ranges went up a little for serious combat and a lot for skirmishing, casualties did not except during the introductory period of each change.  There appear to be 3 main factors. 

One is that despite increases in ammunution allotments, the men acquired the ability to shoot everything they had in very short periods of time and therefore the officers had to control (prevent) shooting except when most needed. When engaging in a low intensity exchange of fire, higher rates of fire mean less since neither is firing at anything full speed or they would run out. The ability to take cover more easily and that increased range are the main advantages of the improvements for skirmishers.

Another, closely related, is that not everyman is a marksmen, even if properly trained rather than being a 1/2 trained conscript. This means long range shooting was best left to a small number of sharpshooters while the rest saved their ammo for the short range firefight.

Lastly, tactics changed. A line went from a close order line on the position to be held with a thin screen of skirmishers to a thick line of skirmishers taking cover on the position with the rest in support under cover to the rear, ready to counter attack, reinforce, defend the flank etc. Dispersal and cover countered increased rates of fire, ranges and accuracy.

During periods of transition the side with the newer weapons would reap the benefits but eventually things would even out. A low level detail analog game would need to show this, a more abstract just needs to know if someone has an advantage and what the result was.

The point? Ever since "meeting" Morschauser my rules have tended to rely on differential advantages not absolute effect. This means the game today used the same rules but with shorter ranges, something that had its own effect on tactics.

But its late. A report on the game tomorrow.


4 comments:

  1. Sounds like an excellent endeavour.

    After giving some thought to the army band and my own airfix guardsmen, I think I will suggest the follow rule.

    A band is an infantry unit that may not fire or battle in melee. Any unit adjacent (0-6 inches) to the band or another contiguous unit that is in contact with the band may move an addition six inches. Up to three infantry units may be affected. Such units suffer double casualties if fired upon.

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    1. I like the idea. Perhaps a die roll to inspire the troops? or make at least make the players play mouth bugle and drum. The double casualties could be a problem as it would mean remembering next turn that this unit not that one marched with the band, so perhaps a +1 for the enemy against them if they attack with the move bonus? or a prohibition on using the rapid march to attack?

      Might try something along this line once I paint up the Zinnbrigade Drum-major, fifers and drummers that I cast last year.

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  2. A splendid effort Ross. They look excellent deployed as you mention in the photograph.I await the the report with interest.I do like Conrad's band rule.
    Alan

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