Recommend
37 
 Thumb up
 Hide
212 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9] | 

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: What is the driving 'philosophy' behind Napoleonic Battles? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dave Terhune
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
flag msg tools
This is a blatant example of frivolous geek gold spending.
badge
I spent 100 geek gold and all I got was this lousy overtext.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Always capture or destroy the supply wagons. I don't care what era you're fighting in. Armies wouldn't have baggage trains if they didn't depend on them for something.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
marc lecours
Canada
ottawa
ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
The "science" of wargame design is fairly good at modelling combat strength, movement and attrition. Not too bad at modelling terrain effects and supply lines. And pretty bad at modelling morale (national morale, army morale and unit morale) and panic.

How would you even start to model morale? Sometimes the enemy attack inspires the soldiers to be heroic and stand and fight to the last man. Other times a similar attack inspires the soldiers to run for their lives. Soldiers waiting around all day on a battlefield are constantly exchanging rumors with other soldiers that have a view of other parts of the battlefield. Some soldiers can't wait for their turn to be heroes, others are deadly afraid and praying for divine protection.

In games, unit morale is often, just a single demoralization chit that is placed on the unit. Or a single die roll. I think morale is more complex than that BUT I don't know how to model it simply. Heck, I don't even know how I would model it in a fiddly complicated way. How do you show that attacking a unit might actually increase its resolve to fight? How do you show the tipping point where suddenly a unit switches from wanting revenge to wanting to run? How contagious is morale loss? How many minutes or days or weeks does it take for a unit to recover from morale loss?

In general wargames either don't deal with morale at all, or have some CRT result that causes defenders to retreat or have a die roll that leads to demoralization chits that are placed or removed from units. All of these are very simplistic compared to the detailed way games deal with combat and movement.

As for your point about key locations, these are generally treated as key map locations that are worth victory points. But this is not the type of key location that you mean. You want the key location to be about how the army is placed. When that key point is lost, the officers and soldiers realize that their position will start to unravel. Probably the only way to model that would be for the player who lost such a key location to resign instead of losing more. This would required changing the simple win or lose victory conditions that most of our wargames have.

12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SDawg wrote:


To contrast that, I'd suggest (again, based on two or three books-virtually nothing) that Napoleonic battles were really fought in order to induce panic in the opposing army-and that panic was induced when success was established at a key point on the battlefield (however one defines 'success' and 'key point'). Again, based on my limited understanding: a successful battlefield commander KNEW where the key point was, and KNEW to either keep pushing right there, or keep reinforcing right there. I suspect if an attacker broke the enemy line at that key point, panic ensued through the enemy army and the battle was won (and it wouldn't have ensued if a breakthrough occurred elsewhere-at some non-key point). For the attacker, if a breakthrough didn't occur at that key point, the attacking army was done: the battle was a failure, even if casualties were relatively low at that point in the battle.
This is not limited to Napoleonics. And gaming doesn't address it nearly
well enough across most eras where it applies. But, remember (especially in
more abstracted systems) that the 'losses' are not just battlefield
casualties - they generally include the unit being rendered ineffective.
Designs that include a force morale, in addition to this, can actually
model the rationale for battle fairly well. Key terrain points can
be included in the unit losses to define the effect on army morale.


I'd love to see a system that worried more about defining where the
key fighting was occurring situationally, based
upon the players' intentions), and made that even more important than
the number of lost units though. La Grande Guerre 14-18 does this on
a strategic level, but it would be fantastic to see at the grand tactical.
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Smith
United Kingdom
Newport Pagnell
Buckinghamshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think you're trying to focus it down a bit too narrowly/specifically into one thing such as "taking the key point(s)".

Most battlefields will have key terrain but this is a means to an end.

The overall objective of pretty much any battle in any period is to break the enemy's will to fight and cause their army to collapse as an effective opponent by some combination of morale and casualties. But the exact route to that may vary. Manouvere is one way you can achieve this(either to get a local advantage in numbers and/or to turn a flank and induce panic, or perhaps to get across their line of supply/retreat with panic and maybe surrender resulting, either immediately or in due course. Napoleon himself liked to manouvere offensively if at all possible, often 'fixing' the enemy to the front then hitting flank(s) or the rear by surprise. The battle of Ulm was a famous victory where his manouvere trapped and forced the surrender of an enemy army with very few casualties. However, in a minority of his battles it was much more of an attritional, head-on grinding down to make the enemy break first (Borodino, Waterloo).

C&CN, for example, models this ok for a simple game, IMO, in that you usually get flags for eliminated enemies (representing morale/flight as much if not more than actual casualties), but also for VP locations (which can e.g. represent getting into or threatening the enemy's rear/line of supply, inducing panic). And of course holding some locations that are not specifically VPs also aids you getting more eliminations - by giving you a superior arty platform, say.
21 
 Thumb up
1.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dr Caligari
United States
King of Prussia
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can't remember the source, but I do recall reading some contemporary stating that the goal of the battle was to rout the enemy with a bayonet charge.

By "rout" he meant getting the enemy to flee in panic and then take possession of the field. The type of battle to avoid was a continuing firefight which, he thought, was usually a stalemate and did not decide victory or defeat.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think that intricate timing was more important in the Napoleonic era than in most other eras of warfare. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery each had their own abilities and roles, and a successful commander knew how, when and where to commit them. This is very hard to simulate in a turn-based game, even with interrupts (it's notable that many Napoleonic games have charge and counter-charge interrupts to try to deal with this.)
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

No, Napoleonic battle was not about key points or breaking lines or keeping pushing.

It was an attritional contest but where the resources were freshness of the troops not their physical lives or mere presence, and where the primary driving question in that attrition was a complex set of combined arms relationships, the original "paper scissors and rock", in which only dumb commanders fought "fair" by mindlessly mashing like on like.

Every formation and force type had a counter. One sought to employ the correct counter for the enemy and stance immediately in front of you, while trying to keep all ones arms coordinated with one another enough to continually have the right "tool" to "draw" next. One played the enemy out of one "suit" or another and then rode the resulting asymmetrical advantage in the combined arms escalation chain to an overall advantage in remaining fresh reserves.

Enemy formations certainly did panic, but they did so when they faced the suit and type they could not counter. That was simply one way in which local defeats and successes manifested themselves. They still needed to be strung together into an overall victory by running the enemy out of fresh reserves.

What paper scissors rock relationships am I talking about? You have the three arms, you have multiple formations for the infantry arm in the form of skirmishers, lines, columns and squares, you have offensive and defensive stance, you have fire and shock, you have forward and reverse slope positions, and you have classic spatial maneuvers like wing attack, envelopment, refusal of a flank, frontal assault, tactical withdrawal. Each has a role in the orchestra.

Skirmisher order using fire beats formed infantry standing on defense. Artillery grand battery beats formed infantry or cavalry on forward slopes, and is especially dangerous to infantry standing in square. Cavalry annihilates open order skirmish infantry in open ground, readily defeats artillery especially if it can flank it, and defeats formed infantry that cannot form square. It loses to infantry in square and blown or not fresh cavalry loses to countercharge by fresher cavalry.

Fire defeats local concentration, shock defeats locally spread formations. Lines are best for fire but vulnerable on their flanks especially to cavalry; columns are moderately better for shock and significantly faster to form into square to defeat enemy cavalry. Between otherwise equal formed infantry, freshness and order and to a lesser extent morale readily defeats otherwise similar enemies. Unsteady or low morale infantry is especially vulnerable to cavalry because they generally can't make it to square in time to defend themselves on a charge warning. Heavier cavalry beats lighter cavalry in shock between the two, but lighter is faster, and doesn't get blown as soon when engaged.

With so many combined arms and formation match ups to choose among, any given position the enemy occupies with any arm can always be dismantled and defeated if the opponent can fix them there and choose what to fight them with. This doesn't result in even trading down, it results in lopsided fights in which the winner with the right arm loses little, just a bit of freshness, and readily inflicts 3 times the losses they take.

Therefore to protect a given formation type requires knowing its specific counters, anticipating their advance, having the counters for those counters nearby to support, and switching what the enemy faces at the proper moment. He sees skirmishers and batteries so he sends cavalry for shock and he finds infantry in square on which those rally, then a countercharge. Or an attacker freezes enemy infantry into square with a cavalry threat and then hauls up horse artillery to shoot down those immobile infantry squares with fire from beyond range of effective reply.

Both sides are attempting this, with differing levels of success here or there. Each commander is trying to gauge not only the local opportunities but the trade offs the enemy commander is facing - he can't have his ace cavalry everywhere, for example. A feint here of the left with this arm draws an enemy reserve from that suit, and that opens the right flank to attack by this arm because the reserve to counter it is already committed in the wrong place.

Spending reserves patches any given local crisis. But the remaining supply left in the "till" declines with each commitment. One crisis is repairable, three crises that stress the same suit and the commander is out of resources to meet that type of threat efficiently. He must meet it anyway or lose. He is forced to resort to less efficient counters, to like on like exchange. This spends down what he has left and leaves his to date more successful opponent in past wins and past efficiency of exchanges with three or four "high card" fresh formations to his enemy's one. Then he plans a final "combination" that will stress the enemy past breaking, and when it hits the entire enemy army sees that this time no reserves can ride in to save them. "Sauve qui peut" is cried (save yourselves if you can, roughly), and the demoralized army breaks on the field.

This isn't happening because the final combination picks a magical piece of ground, nor because the enemy army just irrationally took fright at something. The officers and then the experience men see what is happening and they know what is coming next. As they waver, the rest panic. Panic only registers a defeat that has already occurred in the technical means to continue the struggle.

I hope that helps.
72 
 Thumb up
3.28
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Will Saponaro
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
Once the fire is linked, souls will flourish anew, and all of this will play out again.
badge
May you find your worth in the waking world.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Phillip Sabin talks about this failure in his book Lost Battles: Forty Battles & Campaigns of the Ancient World. The book also serves as the rules for the game by the same name. I've yet to experience how well this is simulated in his system, but it seems to be a central tenant of what his game (analytical model) was intended to address. He draws a distinction between the full-on committals in most war games vs what must have been more hit and miss probing and positioning leading to hours of combat with only 1% losses on both sides before one side breaks and then the one-sided casualties are sustained.

His book and model are intended for ancients, but it is funny you bring this up to the Napoleonic battle...

Sabin's book even starts with an admittedly controversial quote from another author that Alexander could have defeated Wellington, given the limitations in warfare changes pre WWI
8 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
You know with Hitler? the more I learn about that guy, the more I don't care for him
badge
contrarian
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MAddMAnn wrote:
Phillip Sabin talks about this failure in his book Lost Battles: Forty Battles & Campaigns of the Ancient World. The book also serves as the rules for the game by the same name. I've yet to experience how well this is simulated in his system, but it seems to be a central tenant of what his game (analytical model) was intended to address. He draws a distinction between the full-on committals in most war games vs what must have been more hit and miss probing and positioning leading to hours of combat with only 1% losses on both sides before one side breaks and then the one-sided casualties are sustained.

His book and model are intended for ancients, but it is funny you bring this up to the Napoleonic battle...

Sabin's book even starts with an admittedly controversial quote from another author that Alexander could have defeated Wellington, given the limitations in warfare changes pre WWI
Controversial is one word for it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Townsend
Italy
Roma
Lazio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You are asking a difficult but very interesting question because each battle in a sense determined its own 'philosophy', depending on the respective commanders, arms, supplies, aims, geography, weather, and time.
As for an underlying philosophy of the whole era its very name gives a clue since it was the extra-ordinary fellow who dictated the tempo and style of battle and campaign that set it apart from the more limited scope and style of warfare of the preceeding period.
I guess then Napoleon's dictums on warfare would be a good place to start. I don't know if Jomini wrote on aims so much as tactics.
The other combatants, as always, soon started to catch on but began a bit wrong-footed since their armies and leaders were essentially of a different style, at least to begin with. Which shows again that the 'philosophy' will differ even between the two combatants in the same battle.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MAddMAnn wrote:
Phillip Sabin talks about this failure in his book Lost Battles: Forty Battles & Campaigns of the Ancient World. The book also serves as the rules for the game by the same name. I've yet to experience how well this is simulated in his system, but it seems to be a central tenant of what his game (analytical model) was intended to address. He draws a distinction between the full-on committals in most war games vs what must have been more hit and miss probing and positioning leading to hours of combat with only 1% losses on both sides before one side breaks and then the one-sided casualties are sustained.
Having tried the game, rather than reading the book, I have to say
I was not impressed.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M St
Australia
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
rubberchicken wrote:

How would you even start to model morale? Sometimes the enemy attack inspires the soldiers to be heroic and stand and fight to the last man. Other times a similar attack inspires the soldiers to run for their lives. Soldiers waiting around all day on a battlefield are constantly exchanging rumors with other soldiers that have a view of other parts of the battlefield. Some soldiers can't wait for their turn to be heroes, others are deadly afraid and praying for divine protection.

In games, unit morale is often, just a single demoralization chit that is placed on the unit. Or a single die roll.

In general wargames either don't deal with morale at all, or have some CRT result that causes defenders to retreat or have a die roll that leads to demoralization chits that are placed or removed from units. All of these are very simplistic compared to the detailed way games deal with combat and movement.
I think that was true "in general" 30 years ago, but in general certainly isn't the case today.

First, I think you have to acknowledge that morale happens at many different levels. What you are talking about here is unit morale. Yes, old designs often don't go beyond that but if you look for games that model morale at higher levels (higher formations - divisions, corps, armies), I think that designs that cover it are today more frequent than not.

Then, the question becomes, how is that morale influenced. That's where things get complex. For example, the Napoleonic 20 system has an underlying "morale track" where you check how your army is doing. Any activity really is an expenditure on this track. The commitment of the Imperial Guard becomes an expenditure that can break the army. That, of of course, is not how morale works. If the Guard marches up, it improves the morale. Seeing it fail is what imposes the cost. So, although this is called a "morale" expenditure it seems much more like a simple fatigue expenditure which obeys different laws. But you can't say that the system does not try to address the point.

Much more frequent are systems that

I think morale is more complex than that BUT I don't know how to model it simply. Heck, I don't even know how I would model it in a fiddly complicated way. How do you show that attacking a unit might actually increase its resolve to fight? How do you show the tipping point where suddenly a unit switches from wanting revenge to wanting to run? How contagious is morale loss? How many minutes or days or weeks does it take for a unit to recover from morale loss?

In general wargames either don't deal with morale at all, or have some CRT result that causes defenders to retreat or have a die roll that leads to demoralization chits that are placed or removed from units. All of these are very simplistic compared to the detailed way games deal with combat and movement.

Quote:
As for your point about key locations, these are generally treated as key map locations that are worth victory points. But this is not the type of key location that you mean. You want the key location to be about how the army is placed. When that key point is lost, the officers and soldiers realize that their position will start to unravel. Probably the only way to model that would be for the player who lost such a key location to resign instead of losing more. This would required changing the simple win or lose victory conditions that most of our wargames have.
I think they key point about key locations (sorry) is that to a certain degree they are clear to the men on the field. They are partly driven by the terrain, but also by the decisions that either side makes. When Napoleon at Wagram saw Davout's banners move beyond Markgrafneusiedl he knew the battle was won, even though this was about 5 miles away. This was not because there was a hill there, but because it was the hill on which the main defensive line rested. This is not specific to Napoleonics - the importance of Cemetery Ridge came about not because it was higher than Seminary Ridge or because it was a local sightseeing spot, but because that's where the Union found itself when night fell and they decided it was good enough to hold. In Napoleonic terms, the importance of the ridge at Mont St Jean was that Wellington chose it to make his stand. The trick is to connect these high level decisions to the way that units move on the battlefield, and writing those rules is tricky. The key, I've found, is orders.

If you have an order system, like the various 19th century Gamers systems (CWB, NBS, LOB etc) then you can make the connection. Note that all of these systems deal explicitly with the morale of all levels of command from brigade level up. Early version of these rules went all the way to the individual army commander, suggesting ways in which particular leaders would react to particular types of success and setback, but they could not express that in unambiguous rules.

However, the situation of the army and orders can be tied up to morale, which is affected by success or failure. Just like a ridge becomes important when a side decides to defend it, so a successful defence or it being overrun will affect the morale of the troops involved, when under other circumstances this would just be a hill to slog across. Of course losses still matter as well.

I've done some games, for example Salamanca: Marmont vs Wellington, that capture that relationship. Copies are a bit hard to find though.

On this page you can find a bunch of tiny Waterloo games (60-90 minutes, well, Quatre Bras is probably more like 45) that are built on that principle. The system is really built for the campaign level (where you have more flexibility for picking your own location to stand), but it works even at that level.

http://www.dbai.tuwien.ac.at/user/mst/games/from/from.html

One aspect that you've mentioned is the question of contagion of morale. That's where normally the solutions are reasonably simplistic: you either get something where a unit runs "through" another (presumably not literally but close to it) or situations where sufficient parts of a formation are gone that the remainder is assumed to fail. I only know one system that really deal with the question of contagion literally (for any era), and it was fascinating. That was the so-called Advanced Rules that Kirk Schlesinger published in MOVES for Men At Arms. So this was not Napoleonics but Ancients. Now, Men at Arms had some bright ideas but the execution was dismal. The Advanced Rules could not overcome all of that and the game is either forgotteon or remains infamous. But one thing that they could show was that notion of a "sympathetic rout" - the fact that if part of the line was broken, units close by would waver and possibly run as well. It's an important effect at lower scale and not usually handled.
13 
 Thumb up
0.27
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob Zurunkel
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MAddMAnn wrote:


Sabin's book even starts with an admittedly controversial quote from another author that Alexander could have defeated Wellington, given the limitations in warfare changes pre WWI
Alexander at Waterloo
8 
 Thumb up
0.27
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Smith
United Kingdom
Newport Pagnell
Buckinghamshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JasonC wrote:


Therefore to protect a given formation type requires knowing its specific counters, anticipating their advance, having the counters for those counters nearby to support, and switching what the enemy faces at the proper moment.... Both sides are attempting this, with differing levels of success here or there. Each commander is trying to gauge not only the local opportunities but the trade offs the enemy commander is facing - he can't have his ace cavalry everywhere, for example. A feint here of the left with this arm draws an enemy reserve from that suit, and that opens the right flank to attack by this arm because the reserve to counter it is already committed in the wrong place.... One crisis is repairable, three crises that stress the same suit and the commander is out of resources to meet that type of threat efficiently. He must meet it anyway or lose. He is forced to resort to less efficient counters, to like on like exchange. This spends down what he has left and leaves his to date more successful opponent in past wins and past efficiency of exchanges with three or four "high card" fresh formations to his enemy's one. Then he plans a final "combination" that will stress the enemy past breaking...
Great explanation - when is your best-selling card-game based on this coming out? (I can see it in my mind's eye.... cards or tiles a bit like Pocket Battles: Celts vs. Romans) which you deploy in L/Centre?r zones, but with added cards for formations and a few for special terrain). Edit: or maybe somebody's going to tell me it already exists!

The OP's 'key points' do complement this explanation in a sense, in terms of there being terrain which is favourable or unfavourable to the use of one suit; and of course if you can cut troops off (sometimes even without fighting) panic may ensue.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Anthony Simons
United Kingdom
Royal Wootton Bassett
Wiltshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SDawg wrote:
Operationally, the whole idea of blitzkrieg is to break through the front line in order to get at and destroy the support infrastructure (resupply, refuel, communications, etc).
Similarly, there were underlying strategic objectives in Napoleonic warfare, usually related to logistics and/or tactical effectiveness.

Napoleon's objective at Austerlitz, for example, encompassed degrading both the political and military effectiveness of the Third Coalition. The battle was the result of strategic decisions made by Napoleon to engage the enemy on his terms.

Taking, for instance, Napoleon's Triumph, the designer has managed to reflect the tactical flow of the game very well; however, the deception by Napoleon (which was the "philosophy" adopted for that battle) was clearly very difficult to simulate (especially as a player new to the game is unlikely to be new to the battle). From the designer's notes:

"This problem puzzled me for a long time. A seeming endless series of ideas (variable victory conditions, secret victory conditions, random
victory conditions, etc.) were tried, but they all failed. It was only through the development of victory conditions that changed when the
French reinforcements arrived that the problem was finally solved. This system forces the Allies to attempt an attack, but once the French
bring on their reinforcements (thereby springing Napoleon’s trap), the Allies get much easier victory conditions and just have to hang on to win."


When you consider the goal of the designer, it makes perfect sense to introduce a system whereby the (historically) difficult means of deceiving force strength whilst maintaining tactical control can potentially work against the commander if it is badly done.

I can recommend Rachel Simmons' games; they are very well thought-out and presented.
10 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon M
United Kingdom
Hitchin
Herts
flag msg tools
Avatar
Three are two different ways of winning a battle. The first is where the enemy troops are routed from the field. If you like the army decides it has had enough, units fleeing cause contagion and the entire army ends up in retreat.

The second is where the commander see that the opponent has gained sufficient advantage that withdrawal is the only option to attempt to preserve his force. In a single wargame battle this never occurs as the commander of the losing side doesn't care about the lives of his cardboard soldiers and also doesn't care about preserving a force for a future battle. So why not fight on to the bloody end.

Waterloo is the former. The bulk of Naps army decided to bunk out. A battle like Eggmuhl is the latter. Charles realised that the attack by Nap in the south couldn't be held and his punch had hit clear air. The only option was to withdraw over the Danube to preserve his force. Otherwise to fight on would have found his units out of position and the French rolling up his line.
5 
 Thumb up
0.07
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Freddy Dekker
Netherlands
Friesland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Volfield wrote:
Always capture or destroy the supply wagons. I don't care what era you're fighting in. Armies wouldn't have baggage trains if they didn't depend on them for something.
I disaggree.

Taking the enemy bagage can mean losing the battle.

Your troops will start looting and not be very interested in getting back into the fight.

Usually the bagage train would be a fair distance away from the battlefield and the supplies there in would not be neccesarry for the battle in progress.

So most likely your enemies troops will not even notice what happens in the rear and while part of your army is busy looting they will possible defeat your main army.

After the battle they will make up for the loss of their bagage with yours...



8 
 Thumb up
0.07
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ron A
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jon_1066 wrote:
In a single wargame battle this never occurs as the commander of the losing side doesn't care about the lives of his cardboard soldiers and also doesn't care about preserving a force for a future battle. So why not fight on to the bloody end.
There ARE single battle wargames that take this sort of problem into account. In the Wing Leader Series, units have cohesion, if they fail a cohesion check, they must drop out of the battle. Losses, firing ammo, breaking a formation into smaller pieces, unit skill (expert pilots vs green flyers)-- all have an effect on cohesion.

In NATO Division Commander, units have fatigue levels. As fatigue increases, their ability to move and fight decreases. You have to bring in fresh forces to continue an attack.

While I admit that games like this are probably in the minority, they do exist.
4 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jon_1066 wrote:
Three are two different ways of winning a battle. The first is where the enemy troops are routed from the field. If you like the army decides it has had enough, units fleeing cause contagion and the entire army ends up in retreat.

The second is where the commander see that the opponent has gained sufficient advantage that withdrawal is the only option to attempt to preserve his force. In a single wargame battle this never occurs as the commander of the losing side doesn't care about the lives of his cardboard soldiers and also doesn't care about preserving a force for a future battle. So why not fight on to the bloody end.
To some extent, these are the same thing. Although, in terms of modeling
them, they should be different.

Also, it's not only the troops deciding that they've had enough, but
also (sometimes) seeing that there is no way forward - as with the
guards breaking becoming infectious.

There is no reason that systems cannot (and most do to some extent) model the
commander's decision to withdraw. This is where terrain objectives
often figure in. Victory conditions can also be used to determine how
terrible a loss is - which works unless you have players who disregard
such hints (to be treated like ignoring any rules really) and insist that
victory is a binary result only. I'd rather play with someone who cheats
in other ways, to be honest.
3 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sagitar wrote:


So most likely your enemies troops will not even notice what happens in the rear and while part of your army is busy looting they will possible defeat your main army.



Not just busy looting either. Troops nearby may be attracted to the booty,
or take morale effects due to not getting their share. The looters are
very likely out of the battle, as they weigh themselves down with spoils
and remain disorganized.

Of course, there should be some reason in the system not to just
expose your baggage train, to prevent you from trying to game the
system by parking it in front of your army.



3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Terry Lewis
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jon_1066 wrote:


The second is where the commander see that the opponent has gained sufficient advantage that withdrawal is the only option to attempt to preserve his force. In a single wargame battle this never occurs as the commander of the losing side doesn't care about the lives of his cardboard soldiers and also doesn't care about preserving a force for a future battle. So why not fight on to the bloody end.

Jon, I must respectfully disagree with the above portion of your comment. I collect and play "war games" or historical conflict simulations first and foremost because of a life long love of history, and I have known and played a variety of sims with others who had similar views. Such gamers tend to bring an historical mindset set to much [most] of our gaming. Why not "fight on to the bloody end" rather than withdrawing to "preserve" forces for the next battle? Because it would not be historically sound!

You are dead wrong when you say that this "never occurs" -- I have done it on many occasions and I have seen it done on many occasions! This is just simply how an historical mindset might play out a simulation -- not because of "caring for cardboard soldiers," but because that would be the historically sound way to do it!

TML [a retired professor in Oregon and a Gamer for 50+ years]
6 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

To rubber and M St re "How would you even start to model morale?"

It isn't even all that hard and can be done quite objectively, though as Mark points out one does need to distinguish between different scales (unit, formation, whole army) and allow for each to have its own form of stress.

But the basic answer has to do with loss and their consequences. Units and formations break before they are physically destroyed, and there is a clear relationship between the losses they take and their doing so. It does vary, but even its dispersion has a characteristic span. Concretely, the losing side in Napoleonic battles loses something like 15 to 35% of their force and the winning side between that and half that. It is rare for any formation to suffer even 50% losses and those that do practically always dissolve, and greener ones dissolve much, much earlier than that.

Morale modeled too high results in battles that produce too high a loss figure before decision. The commanders are fully willing to mash their forces together more forcefully, but the historical actual men weren't all willing to die today for king and country. Accurately modeled morale results in armies that reproduce the range of observed "brittleness" seen in actual battles, produce realistic overall loss results, and so forth. If you model morale too low - rarely the error designers fall into, incidentally - then armies run away from each other too soon, without inflicting historical levels of loss. The normal error is in the other direction, and is common, but it clear evidence of morale modeled too high.

Understand, there was no physical difficulty on a Napoleonic battlefield for the men present to kill (or wound) each other in the time available and with the weapons available. The full ammo they carried onto the field could be shot off in at most a few hours - but battles lasted 4 to 6 times that long. They would, with achievable accuracies at ranges definitely actually reached in closest approaches, at at formations actually used - suffice to shoot down everyone present 5 to 10 times over. But well over two thirds of all the men who walked onto the field walked off it unscathed at the end of the day.

The reason is that they did not all approach that closely, for that long; that therefore, the shots they did take did not expend even their modest available ammo, and did not achieve anything like the achievable accuracy of closer range musket fire at formed infantry targets that theoretical firepower calculations and experiments prove were physically possible.

Those levels of lethality were not *morally* possible. They were playing chicken with loaded guns, depending on how close they approached each other and how long they'd stand there taking fire before one side had enough death and ran. They would suffer a round of Russia roulette with 1 bullet and call it their honor; they would not suffer 2, and if their commanders forced them to, they dissolved in flight.

FWIW.
9 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Steve S re how modern players try to approach Waterloo, your characterization is unfortunately fair for a number of games on the subject which shows not that Napoleonic warfare wasn't an attritionist struggle of reserve expenditure cross combined arms efficiency hunt, but that the games are inaccurate about formation resilience and related matters.

Yes, modern wargamers all too often treat any unexpended movement point as a tactical crime, don't hold reserves, strive to get their strongest units into the heaviest possible action as soon as physically possible, strive to engage along the longest possible frontage, and strive to pack men in to the areas they think most important as much as they can. They do all these things thinking that firepower times time will linearly result in enemy losses and the higher they can drive those the faster they can reach decision and win.

But Napoleonic battlefields did not feature loss rates the commanders couldn't control and therefore needed to move their entire army to maximize. Instead the loss rate could be dialed higher than the men could stand in finite time just be closing with the enemy to ever closer range. The fundamental thing about a smoothbore musket isn't that its physical accuracy is X and X is low; it is instead that its physical accuracy at range N is X but its physical accuracy at range "N minus as far as you can jog in one reload time" is 5X. That is why shooting first is flinching and disorder is defeat (no one is left with loaded tubes to cover you as you reload if your formation falls into disorder).

Smoothbore muskets are as deadly as the men carrying them are brave. Time is not scarce on a Napoleonic battlefield; unspent men are scarce, space along the frontage is scarce, ammo isn't scarce compared to bravery and time isn't scarce compared to ammo.

The difficult thing on a Napoleonic battlefield isn't to drive the loss rate higher, it is to shift the loss ratio at all in your own favor. Your lined frontage and the enemy's bleed at the same rate unless you catch them in disorder, or in the wrong formation, or facing the wrong arm. If you mindlessly mash like into like and the enemy pulls out the right counter you simply lose, you don't succeed in driving his loss rate linearly higher for having committed more men or committed them for longer.

You can't commit them for longer by committing them sooner because they won't stand the reachable heat of action for even half the day. They won't stand the peak heat of the closest approach to the enemy for more than about 30 minutes, if that. That is why the army needs ranks and reliefs and reserves - because a whole formation can, as Ambrose Bierce said of Shiloh, "in two volleys seemed to have quite poured out its spirit". A man with a loaded musket is decidedly bravery than a man with an empty one.

The thing the max attrition by max engagement time by engaging as soon as possible with as much as possible gets wrong is the expected "wind" of a formation in action. Its very low in the real deal compared to an 8-7 panzer corps out of Russian Campaign that can be expected to kill as much as possible if it fights as many times as possible and never the worse for wear.

In the real deal, 20,000 infantry caught by a flanking cavalry charge while in the wrong formation can dissolve into a fleeing mob in less than five minutes. They can lose a quarter of their strength in the process for trivial loss to the enemy and the remainder can be shaken for the rest of the day, to less than half their original combat potential given their remaining numbers. That being the case, engage as early as possible to have them in action as long as possible is a Bad Idea. Instead the focus is on fighting when and where you can be advantage and avoiding premature commitment in unfavorable conditions. If you don't, you don't maximize a delivered firepower integral through time - you just lose.

A corps of 8000 infantry blunders in front of a grand battery of 72 guns and is pounded by its fire for nearly a hour. It dissolves in disorder with half its men casualties and the rest ineffective for the rest of the day. Combined arms errors aren't punished with a 25% loss in exchange efficiency - they are punished by useless wipeout in return for nothing, or by a 1 to 3 effectiveness compared to even potential and that much again compared to favorable use that catches the enemy the same way.

The commanders treated their formations as having quite finite "wind" as a result, and considered spending their reserves faster than the enemy as a rapid way to defeat, not a recipe for success. They wanted to be the last man standing, not the first to the hot spot. Picked shots are the effective shots. Less than most effective shots can be justified if they can positionally bring about or force poor shots for the enemy.

So a frontal charge to seize the Pratzen Heights can be justified even if the immediate brush there is an even exchange, if the enemy will be forced to counterattack it, into guns brought up and so forth, to avoid their army being cut in two. Cutting their army in two can justify frontal hard even infantry fighting by Davout's whole corps if as a result of a defensive success in that even encounter, two Russian corps are surrounded, forced to fight in multiple directions, pounded by massed artillery they can find no shelter from, and then charged once thrown into disorder and turned into a mass of fugitives and prisoners.

The even exchanges are only justified by the outlier clean wins they make possible. Arranging those is the only way to make it to the second half of the battle with far more fresh forces than the enemy. And that is the only way to actually win.

FWIW.
25 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Norm Stewart
United States
Falls Church
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
M St wrote:
[q="rubberchicken"]
One aspect that you've mentioned is the question of contagion of morale. That's where normally the solutions are reasonably simplistic: you either get something where a unit runs "through" another (presumably not literally but close to it) or situations where sufficient parts of a formation are gone that the remainder is assumed to fail. I only know one system that really deal with the question of contagion literally (for any era), and it was fascinating. That was the so-called Advanced Rules that Kirk Schlesinger published in MOVES for Men At Arms. So this was not Napoleonics but Ancients. Now, Men at Arms had some bright ideas but the execution was dismal. The Advanced Rules could not overcome all of that and the game is either forgotteon or remains infamous. But one thing that they could show was that notion of a "sympathetic rout" - the fact that if part of the line was broken, units close by would waver and possibly run as well. It's an important effect at lower scale and not usually handled.
Mark makes a number of good points, but I particularly think better modeling of morale could provide a major boost in simulation insight. I think of morale as largely driven by the participants not wanting to get killed (or looking to improve the odds of surviving). In trying to understand how formations and positions crumble, modeling contagion of morale should at least be attempted; and a bottom-up approach would be a lot more convincing. The more problematic a unit's situation appears to them (exposed flanks, cavalry, Guard bearing-down, loss of key defensive terrain, their neighbors running to the rear), the more likely they will not stick-around for the posthumous awards; and the more this cascades, the more likely larger formations will be affected.

In almost all games, a unit's nearby friends totally shrug-off its decimation or terrorized flight; and this is a major reason that bold breakthroughs often lead to only the surrounded elimination of the brave attacker. Admittedly, games may abstract a number of defensive reactions - but there is still frequently too little pay-off.

A few games require morale checks for units retreated through, and fewer games require one for adjacent units. Also sometimes adjacent steady units provide a morale benefit. This is a design area that could use more elegant solutions - I do recognize the need to keep the mechanics under control.

These concepts seem most applicable to linear tactics from ancients to 19th century; but I bet the basic dynamics are close to universal.
11 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Norm - the good games definitely do include morale effects above the unit level and local contagion effects. Wellington’s Victory, for example, requires morale checks for a neighboring unit routing, though formed units don’t check for a skirmish company rout.

Then some systems add BCE effects that lower formation morale or prevent rally or both, if a larger formation has lost too much. And then global morale for the whole army is added in many games, that gets docked for losses, frequently for routs while the units are routed, and sometimes just for formation engagement time (e.g. each active brigade costs 1 morale per hour in Wellington’s Victory), and last some global morale cost or benefit from holding or losing specific terrain objectives.

In WV, units also check morale for being in a cavalry charge threat zone, for leader loss, as well as the neighboring unit failures including lost melees. The first failure normally only causes disorder, but disordered units rout on any failure.

Not all games use all of those - WV doesn’t have BCE, Schumpter’s Napoleons Last Battles variant does - but the good ones definitely have morale impacts bigger than one unit at a time for taking losses.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9] |