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Subject: Armies on the move: a question rss

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eryn roston
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Something I noticed recently in my wargames had me perplexed so I thought I'd ask you all.

In my strategic-level war games from Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, to Here I stand, to Napoleonic Wars, to For The People, Armies can all move and fight in the same action. Not only that, but they can evade, intercept and basically dance around the map, bobbing and weaving like Cassius Clay.

Then we get to Paths of Glory and blammo. No more move and fight. No more interceptions. Shifting Sands (based on the same system) also no move and fight (except for the armor divisions).

Is this just a function of different designs or does this model something historical? Were armies that much MORE mobile before airplanes, and the combustion engine?

-E





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Carlo Marinozzi
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I think is a thing named "design for effect".

Creating a game, you have to convey your explanation of a particular conflict and choose the more meaningful aspects: speaking of WW1, the mighty but cumbersone nature of the armies is well reflected in the move-no attack structure

Carlo
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Jon M
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I think it is to do with the fact that old armies were a smaller self contained entity to some extent and could offer battle or refuse it. It would take quite some manouevering to force an enemy to battle.

The more modern era sees huge armies with enormous supply requirements. It probably was much harder to move a First World War army with it's heavy artillery, ammunition requirements, etc. It was still reliant mostly on horse power and it could still only move as far as a soldier could march. Compare that to Henry Vs army in the Agincourt campagin. It was almost entirely mounted so could travel at the speed of a horse and was significantly smaller with much smaller supply requirements so could be much more manouevrable.

The railway allows you to move a significant number of troops a long way. This is usually represented by strategic movement since you really need to control the whole journey. You generally can't detrain straight into a battle as a large fighting formation. So the effect you get is operational movement is slow and strategic movement is fast. In pre-industrial games you generally don't get any strategic movement.
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Con
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Penny of king Sigtrygg II Silkbeard of Dublin
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On the whole, pre-US WWI was not a war of manouever. It was a war of large, cumbersome formations which were slowed down by supply, transport and coordination constraints on the occasions when they started to look as if them might start to make fast progress.

On the Western front, with heavily-manned continuous lines on both sides from Switzerland to the sea, there was no scope to manouver around the enemy. While both sides tried to stage breakthroughs that might allow them to manouver, they had very limited success in this. On the Eastern front, there was more space, which gave some additional scope for manouver, but even there the large size of the formations, and the supply, transport and coordination constraints, made mobile warfare very difficult.

Why was this different to, say, Napoleonic warfare? I'd pick out four particular points.

1) The numbers were much bigger in WWI, so they took up much more of the landscape.
2) The optimum level of concentration of troops to be effective in combat was much greater in Napoleonic times. With trenches, repeating rifles, machine guns and indirect fire artillery, a given number of troops could cover a much greater frontage effectively in WWI than in Napoleonic times. So the formations took up even more of the landscape.
3) Supply was a greater constraint in WWI than in Napoleonic times. With a much greater weight of artillery and a much higher rate of infantry fire, just keeping armies supplied with the materials they required to fight was tough, and the negative consequences of moving ahead of supply were greater. Moreover, while Napoleon's troops often resorted to living off the countryside (i.e. thieving) during grand strategic manouvers, allowing them to move ahead of their army's logistics, this was seldom an option as the main source of food during WWI because of the greater numbers, and because the speed of advance was so much slower.
4) Cavalry were almost obsolete for combat purposes by WWI.
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Martin Gallo
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This might also be a factor of the scale chosen by the designer, in combination with what has been discussed previously. I am not an expert at these matters and having not played these games for a few years now I no longer recall any of the assumptions about scale, etc.
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