RE: The ‘battalion guns’ issue (inverted commas for Günter’s benefit
(sorry – as usual – I’m going to go on a bit…
The more I think about this the more I think Jim O’Neill’s (CoffinDodger) suggestions are pretty good.
I agree with Dave (and Ray) that players hunting around with their battalion guns trying to force morale checks is very gamey and should be curtailed, but having said that, players should be allowed at least some tactical flexibility with them (as Günter suggests) because from what I’ve read – they did have some! (I think Ray’s suggestions are mostly too restrictive - sorry Ray)
Now I can only really speak from my principal area of interest, the Revolutionary Wars (you Napoleonic chaps will have to tell me if ‘battalion guns’ take on different characteristics when they make a come back later on) but from what 1792-1802 sources we have the infantry at least tried to use their battalion guns flexibly in both attack and defence. Bricard’s journal that I mentioned earlier (which I regret I’ve never read in full – but I’ve seen chunks of it reproduced in various secondary sources) contains a wealth of interesting tactical situations involving battalion guns. From memory these include such things as –
• Battalion guns from several battalions occasionally being combined into temporary mini-batteries and operating with a degree of independence from their parent infantry.
• Battalion guns usually being deployed as a tight integral part of the infantry line when defending, but often being held back during attacks to cover retreats.
• Having said that – battalion guns DO regularly go forward with the infantry and try to support attacks (although a frequent problem seems to be getting them into a position where they can achieve more than fire one quick round because attacks develop so quickly and the target gets masked by friendly attacking troops).
• Battalion guns being deployed forward in support of skirmishers! Rare – but it does happen (one incident of this in Bricard’s journal).
The point I’m trying to make is that as often happens on the battlefield – whatever the ‘rules’ might say, local commanders adopt tactical solutions to the problems they encounter that are often not according ‘to the book’. A good set of wargame rules should certainly discourage atypical (unauthentic?) behaviour by players, but neither should they exclude it completely.
What I like about a lot of RtE is it doesn’t micro-manage everything. It allows broad well thought out concepts to control things while still getting outcomes with a good period ‘feel’. I certainly don’t want to see a whole raft of extra new rules introduced just to control battalion guns. Better to try and resolve things inside the existing rules structure without more than a minor tweak here and there, and otherwise let the players do as they wish (within reason). After all, if the rules are any good as a whole, and players go too far with their improvised tactical solutions, then the rules (and an alert opponent) should be capable of punishing them for their recklessness! But, yes, the gamey stuff has to be stopped.
So I’d go with something along the lines Jim suggested - giving battalion guns only one or perhaps two d6 to start with – but ALL modifiers then apply, including the “Battery” range modifiers at the end. I’m tempted to suggest battalion guns can still fire at extreme range (after all – they did, and as it stands the final 25% dice modifier will knock them down to just one dice whatever other modifiers get applied) but one change I’d make here is to only allow a hit on a 6, or alternatively don’t allow morale checks on casualties from battalion guns at extreme ranges. Dropping the refit rule for battalion guns is a good idea to balance things (with the added pay off of reduced record keeping - as Jim says).
One final thing – Continue to allow (light) battalion guns to move and fire with their attacking infantry (they did – so why not? Remembering to apply the -50% modifier for moving, so just the one dice per gun again; maybe two at Point Blank), but add two new Target Priorities just for battalion guns with Attack orders that 1) limit all firing to the enemy unit(s) or BUA directly targeted by the parent infantry unit, or 2) Other enemy units that counter charge the parent infantry unit during an attack. No other targets allowed during attacks.
Thanks for listening