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 27, 2008

Light Infantry Changes

Light Infantry in Bad Going: DBN penalizes all but foot skirmishers if in contact and in Bad Going. Foot skirmishers are defined as Jagers, Guerillas, and Light Infantry, so it aligns with the "light infantry and auxilia with muskets" concept. That tells me that I have to change the modifier on my table so that any "other than OO infantry or Light Infantry" are penalized.

So Jesse, thanks for the discussion and making the argument that lights in loose order should not be penalized. It will further differentiate LOI and LOL, which is good. The question then becomes: should light infantry cost 1/2 point more? This would make elite light infantry cost 2 points, which seems a bit excessive.

Light Infantry in Close Order: I had originally allowed light infantry to be as based close, loose, or open order, based upon how they were used tactically. It now makes sense to consider units historically designated as "light infantry", but formed in close order, to simply be close-order infantry (COI) and do away with the close-order light infantry (COL) designation. This essentially makes lights and grenadiers in close order the same. I can live with that! :)

UPDATE: For those that want to see the DB-AWI rules, which are a constant work in progress, I have them available here. Please let me know if you cannot access them. As I update them I will post the notice on this blog, in addition to updating the file in the Sierra Vista Historical Gamers forum on Yahoo.

Two More DB-AWI Games

Even though I have not posted more games or rules, I actually have been doing work on DB-AWI (changed from DBAWI, for no particular reason). Let's start with discussing the outcomes of the two games.

Game 1: In this game I was the Patriots and the British were on a hill, but would only reluctantly come off.

Here is a view of early in the game:



I had militia rifles in the woods on my left and cavalry covering both flanks. My opponent was new to DBx games and didn't take the suggestions to keep his troops together in order to reduce the number of pips, so he had little penny packets all over the table. Here is a little later in the game:



The Patriot right has now engaged the British and flanked them with their cavalry. It is the beginning of the end. The game ended up with the Patriots winning 5-1.

Summary: This game lasted a long time. I thought I had broken the system. Instead, it was really a function of the fact that we were both rolling very high for pips every turn, which allowed both of us to recover from the disorder AND still attack somewhere. Also, the hesitance of my opponent meant he did not take some calculated risks when the opportunity presented itself. Given that it was only his second DBx-type game, I don't blame him.

Game 2: Today I played a veteran DBA player and it turned out vastly different. I played the British on the same board, only they were approaching the ridge this time. (Sorry, no pictures due to camera problems.)

As it turned out, each of our left flanks were the strong side, so it became a race to see who could turn the others' flank. At a critical moment, the Patriots tossed for 1 pip, so he could not bring his Rifles to bear upon my flank. The ensuing firefight between the two lines left the British elites intact on the left facing a disordered American line. The British General (I also got only 1 pip) ordered the British and Hessian Grenadiers to fix bayonets and give the rebels some cold steel. That was the final straw (well, that and the rebels rolling a '1' while I rolled a '6'), as the Continentals fled. It was a British 4-1 win.

What went wrong? Mostly, it was the Rebel commander not realizing the high minus for
loose-order infantry attacking open-order infantry in bad going. This is a standard for DBN. My opponent's point was that the attacking loose-order infantry was light infantry, so should be like DBA auxilia (good in Bad Going). Good point. I need to think about it. I think he is right, but that means I need to start coming up with nominal army lists in order to limit the amount of light infantry that either side can purchase, as it would give light infantry an advantage, with no increase in point cost.

All in all it was a very enjoyable game, and not just because I won. :)

Summary: Game played much different than the first one. Two things were different, which made for a vastly different result:

1. In the first game my opponent and I kept rolling high for pips, allowing us to constantly remove the disorder. In the second game, my opponent and I kept rolling low for pips once the firefight started, so neither of us could easily recover the damage AND make aggressive moves. This not only makes the initial firefights more decisive, but for a much quicker game.

2. My opponent in the first game was less aggressive than my opponent in the second, and stayed on the hill, forcing me to attack uphill, which they are not wont to do. It essentially required I firepower my way through the first game and firepower is less decisive (less chance to destroy a unit) than close combat. In the second game my opponent came aggressively off the hill and met me on my side of the middle.

I am working diligently on the rules, using the WADBAG publication as an outline for what should be covered. Looking over those rules I noticed that the following are the most significant differences between DBA and DB-AWI:

1. Being in column has a penalty if you are caught in it when the firing starts.

2. Disorder. (Yes, I finally broke down and used markers.)

3. Units can shoot from woods and be shot at (I limit it to 100 paces through woods only, and you cannot shoot through woods [i.e. in and out]).

4. Being flanked in DB-AWI has additional penalties in firing and close combat as compared to DBA.

5. General are detached sub-units (per DBN).

There are a few minor things that I thought was a good idea when I started, but have decided isn't worth the bother to remember, so I'll be changing that. I am also going to start some nominal army lists, but will probably focus on the Southern Campaign first (and most) as that is my interests. I will also start experimenting with a sliding scale (i.e. each element can represent a different number of people, depending upon the size of the battle).

Friday, December 05, 2008

DBAWI Game #2

So, now that I have set some new firing factors and developed a new firing results table, it is time to see how badly I have screwed up the game!

Preliminary

Before I even start, I get some feedback from Jim Wright that he thinks the factors for Rifles might be too high. A valid concern. However, here is how I see it:

1. The Rifles, in relation to line infantry, are better at shooting. To me, this is right. Those classified as "rifle" are generally better shots and take time to aim. (AWI units that consist of a mix of rifles, muskets, and fowling pieces are not classified as "rifle" in my games.)

2. The Rifles are vulnerable to the bayonet.

3. The Rifles are skittish around enemy cavalry.

4. The Rifles are less effective at long range (i.e. outside of musket range).

This last point may not seem as obvious, as it dawned on me as I was playing the first game. I am pretty specific about the wording on the Firing Factors table. In most cases, the factor only comes into play only if the unit is being fired upon. So, a musket unit in close or loose order that cannot return fire, as the range is greater than 200 paces, does not trigger the fire factor of "-1 If OO infantry and being fired upon, unless by other OO infantry" as the second condition ...and being fired upon... is not met.

There are some other ramifications to writing factors in this style; maybe I will address them in another entry. Also, realizing this before the beginning of the battle I changed the following:

Factor WasFactor Became
+1 Firing at CO Infantry-1 If CO Infantry and being fired upon
-1 Firing at OO Infantry, unless being fired upon by OO infantry+1 If OO Infantry and being fired upon by other than OO infantry


This change reversed who gets the modifier (the target, not the firer), thus changing conditions for long range rifle fire and increasing the chance for the attacker to double the defender.

The Game
The British Army

The American (Patriot) Army

The first thing you can note about the two armies is that I am now using a 12-point purchase system, counting militia as a 1/2 point, line as 1 point, and elite as 1 1/2 point.

Game Setup


The British (on the left) are attacking. They are arrayed in two lines moving up the center through the pass. The Light Infantry is posted on their left flank to move over the pair of hills and the cavalry is on their right flank to cover the infantry from being attacked by enemy cavalry or to threaten riflemen.

The Americans have a less conventional setup, mostly because I haven't mounted up enough Patriot militia line. A single militia line unit is in the front line defending the pass, backed up by three Continental units. On their left flank are two militia rifle units in the woods, ready to flank the British attack as it moves through the pass. Continental Light Dragoons are farther out to the left with the hope of outflanking the attack when the opportunity arises. On their right flank the VA and NC state line are arrayed into two lines to flank the attack and to stave off the British light infantry attack. An additional Continental Light Dragoon unit is out on the far right flank available to threaten the British light infantry.

Turn 1 - British: The main attack moves up the center while Butler's Rangers (non-elite light infantry unit) crests the hill and covers the flank of the attack.



American: With few pips, all the Americans can do is move the militia rifles along the edge of the woods to start the envelopment of the anticipated attack up the center.



Turn 2 - British: The main attack continues up the center while a 2nd light infantry unit (this one Elite) joins Butler's Rangers on the hill.



The only problem is, the Highlanders are just barely within range of one of the rifle units.



The Highlanders recoil; the first line is now disrupted. (In DBA, what this means in real terms is that an additional pip is required to move the unit - because it is not part of a group - and the front line has to slow by the distance of the recoil.)

American: The state line troops on the right wheel left to try and complete the envelopment while troops from the 2nd line move to block the British light infantry. The Continental cavalry on the right moves forward on the right to start flanking the lights.



Turn 3 - British: The main attack up the center continues on, but the second line is starting to catch up with the first line due to the Highlanders slowing them down (caused by the rifle fire). The British light infantry crests the second hill, threatening the flank of the VA state line.



The rifle fire on the Highlanders again causes it to retreat, but the British fire causes both the militia unit and the NC state line covering the American right flank to flee! The VA state line recoils from the fire from Butler's Rangers.

American: The American commander comes to life (6 pips!) and there are lots of opportunities for maneuver. To start, the Continentals advance forward now that the militia line has fired their volley and are apparently retiring from the field. The VA state line on the right shuffles farther to the right to try and hold off the British light infantry. The NC state line splits up, both moving forward to shore up the two combats. Meanwhile, the Continental Light Dragoons on the left continue their ride around the left of the woods to attempt to be in position when an opportunity charge presents itself.



The VA state line cannot hold in the face of two light infantry units (one being elite) with an uphill advantage, so they recoil. Meanwhile, the Highlanders finally give up the ghost and flee (another 6-1 die roll combination).

At this point the reader might question the fire results table not destroying a unit when it is doubled. After long consideration I really felt like I wanted fire combat - in this era - to produce disruptive effects, and that close combat would be required to destroy the enemy (and thus win).

One of the side effects that destroying units produces is that it frees the commander from having to spend pips to bring forces back into play. Of course, a commander can't spend pips on destroyed units, but it seems that units that have recoiled or fled create a certain level of chaos and opportunity for further destruction of good units. So not removing the chaos can have some positive effects on play. Anything that increases the tactical choices of the player without greatly increasing the complexity of gameplay is fine with me.


Turn 4 - British: The light infantry continue to press their advantage as they lower bayonets and charge down the hill at the VA state line. As the British have a fair number of pips this turn, the first line slides towards their left flank while the grenadiers in the second line move up (almost in line with the first line).



The grenadiers shrug off the fire coming from the rifles in the woods, but the Hessian fusiliers on the opposite end of the line recoils from the close range fire of the VA state line. The charge of the light infantry only yields a recoil from the other VA state line unit, giving the Americans another turn to shore up the flank and recover before it is too late.

American: The Americans continue to shore up their line and apply firepower to the British. One of the Hessian Fusiliers units flees.



Turn 5 - British: The British have a goodly number of pips and shore up the line, but with the British Grenadiers fleeing from the fire of the Continentals and the Hessian Fusiliers recoiling, the British right flank is starting to crumble. The American right flank again recoils from the lights on the hill.



American: With 6 pips, the Americans decide to make the big push. The entire British line is pressed. The picture below shows you the American attack.



All that effort and the Americans retreat on the right flank! Arrrgh! The basic close combat factors of close order infantry is better than loose order infantry and that extra -1 is hard to overcome.



Turn 6 - British: With a renewed vigor, the British spring forward on the counter-attack and press the American line along the entire front.



American disaster! Three units are destroyed and two (along with the general) forced to recoil!



British 3, Americans 0

American: The Americans make a desperate gamble and attack on the right and center. (What the picture below does not show clearly is that the skirmishing Continental Light Dragoons on the right flank the elite British light infantry.)



The American counter largely succeeds! On the right flank the British elite light infantry are destroyed by the flanking cavalry and Butler's Rangers are forced back. On the left flank the British Legion cavalry is also forced back.



British 3, Americans 1

Turn 7 - British: The British get fancy on their right flank. The Grenadiers march into contact with the Continentals, allowing the British Legion cavalry to provide support from the flank. On the British left flank, Butler's Rangers, supported by Hessian Fusiliers, attack the VA state line, supported by the NC state line.



It is over! The Grenadiers, both British and Hessian, wipe out the Continentals and the American General.



British 6, Americans 1

Aftermath

The main mistake I have made to date is giving an advantage to the firer on a hill, when it should have the disadvantage. That will be reversed on my next version of the rules. Units will still have an uphill advantage in close combat, of course.

The argument has been made before that although the technical aspects of firing a musket makes the person shooting downhill less effective, the doctrine of the day indicated infantry would still attempt to gain the heights, therefore some material advantage should be given infantry that is uphill. I know longer subscribe to that school of thought. Given that the scale of DBAWI is much smaller than say, DBN, the use of terrain should be viewed in terms of that smaller scale. In grand tactical terms, gaining the heights might be of great advantage, but in tactical terms, shooting downhill should be disadvantaged. See the battle of King's Mountain for commentary of the effects of hills on musket and rifle fire.

Rifles

This game used militia Rifle units. That dropped their firing value from +4 to +3 (if it was being shot at). Maybe I need a LO militia rifle unit and drop the OO factors by -1. I think I need another battle first, however. Right now I just don't see them dominating.

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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").