Dale's Wargames

My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Postscript to Tin Soldiers in Action

Loss of Commanders

In the Conclusion to Tin Soldiers in Action I ended the game after the Allies lost their Commander-in-Chief as I realized that everyone was out of commander, save the Prussian Jagers, and thus would only have one action per turn. It looked like the French were going to fire twice each turn while the Allies would, at best, fire back once, and that is only if they did not have to spend an action clearing the disorder.

What you did not see was that I was desperately trying to find the commander replacement rule. At first I thought that the rule did not exist, that it was just another rule on my list of expected rules every game should have. And I was okay with the game ending in a loss if you lost your Commander-in-Chief. However, I was on a business trip this week and I took my copy of TSIA so I could read up at night (I still had not read the sections after the period lists) and I noticed that there were some rules that stated certain figures "act as like Commander figures, but are not replaced when removed, like Commanders are". I messaged the author and he pointed me to the rule I missed. (There is always at least one!)

At first, I did not like the rule. If Commanders are so easily replaced – essentially with no penalty – players would continually risk them. I went back and re-read the rule.
A new commander may be sent in as a replacement at the end of the command range phase.
So that is actually not so bad. The normal turn sequence is that you turn a card, see which command is activated by that card, see which units within that command are in command range and which are out, then carry out the actions for each unit in the command. So in my test game I lost my Commander-in-Chief during his action phase. So when his card came up next, on turn 5, all of the unit would be out of command on that turn, then his replacement would reappear. So you are guaranteed to lose command for only one turn of actions. So it was possible for my troops to continue to soldier on from that point; it was not quite as grim as I had imagined.

The Points System

There are two systems suggested in TSIA on how to select your forces: a points system and a "modular" system. I decided to cost out the two forces to see how close I was. Just a note: I don't believe in equal point games. I believe that the attacker should have a 4:3 ratio in points, unless the defender has strong positions, in which case the attacker should have a 3:2 ratio in points. (This stems from my days playing Column, Line, and Square as a kid, where those were the standard ratios.)

The French

French Line: average professional infantry, musket, skirmisher: 12.75 points per tin soldier or 306 points for 24

French Lights: average professional light infantry, musket, skirmisher: 18.75 points per tin soldier or 56.25 points for 3

French Medium Artillery: superior professional artillery, medium muzzle-loading artillery: 40 points per tin soldier or 120 points for 3

French Heavy Cavalry: superior professional cavalry, close combat weapons: 64 points per tin soldier or 256 points for 4

Commanders: no cost

Total French points: 738.25

The Allies

British Line: superior professional infantry, musket, skirmisher: 16.75 points per tin soldier or 201 points for 12

Prussian Landwehr: average amateur infantry, musket: 9.75 points per tin soldier or 117 points for 12

Prussian Jagers: average amateur light infantry, rifle, skirmisher, sharpshooter: 21.25 points per tin soldier or 42.5 points for 2

British Light Dragoons: superior professional light cavalry, carbines, skirmisher: 64.75 points per tin soldier or 129.5 points for 2

Commander: no cost

Total Allied points: 490

The French were had about 85 extra points for a 4:3 ratio game. So all things considered, the Allies did pretty well. The British lost their tiny cavalry contingent and a Prussian Landwehr battalion, but the French lost nearly two full line battalions.

For the point cost it seems like cavalry may be a little overpriced and artillery a little underpriced. But one game is not enough to tell. Besides, point systems are notoriously hard to balance.

The Modular System

At first you might wonder: what is a 'modular' system for building armies? The idea is that the players determine the number of building blocks – really they are 'commands' – for their armies, and then they define the specific units within each command. It is modular in that it allows you to plug in different varieties of commands in order to build your concept of what the army is like.

The players agree upon a base number of commands to start with, then modify the number by applying handicaps, who is attacking, the nature of the army being modeled, and so on.

Two out of every three commands are infantry; every third command is either cavalry, artillery, or a "corps" command. You also determine the basic size of the infantry, cavalry, and artillery units. There are then tables of unit information for each command. For example, if you choose infantry units of 12 tin soldiers each, a command would have four units of 12 tin soldiers each if the troops were average professionals, but they would be six units of 12 tin soldiers each and one unit of 6 tin soldiers if the units were of inferior amateurs. There would be no reason why you could not have one command of larger units of average professionals and another command of smaller units of superior professionals to model the 1809 Austrian army, for example. You just cannot mix within a command.

The corps command modules do have a bit of a mix and match composition, being a mix of some artillery and some cavalry. This is also where specialists, such as pioneers, rocket artillery, and scouts appear, if you are using those special rules.

After getting the basic commands and units designated, you are free to rearrange units so that they are more mix and match. In this way you can get a command that has, for example, a smaller unit of superior light infantry with larger line infantry units and an artillery unit in support. It is also possible to merge smaller units of like types, training and quality into larger units.

It then goes on and provides army and period rules to give the forces a better period feel. For example, during the Age of Enlightenment, infantry units are given the Battalion Gun special rule, every fourth infantry unit of 12 tin soldiers is given the Assault Troops special rule, every superior professional light infantry unit of six tin soldiers may be given rifles and the Sharpshooter special rule, etc.

Note that the modular system can be expanded by writing your own composition lists that fit your concept of what armies during the chosen period are like, using the provided models as templates.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").