Saturday, 24 July 2010

Movement and Curses

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) html editors are hard to find and rarely successful. Sadly, the blogger 'compose' mode editor conforms to type and can best be described as a What You See Is Not What You Wanted editor. So, after much bad language, I have reverted to editing in pure html mode and have switched off the 'compose' mode so that accidentally invoking it does not allow it to work its evil deeds on my efforts.

This post refers to the movement table at the end of this section of rules.

There is one rules mechanism in Charge! that I am eager to be rid of. Charge! instructs us that moving within a set distance of other companies (rule 7c page 56) reduces a company's movement rate: this is the method by which the rules prevent a battalion deployed in line moving at the same rate as a battalion deployed in coulumn of companies. There is good reasoning behing this idea: if a column has room to its flanks then it can navigate around terrain features that would throw it into disorder were the unit compelled to march through them.

But it matters very little to the individual infantryman whether he has thirty or a hundred men to his right and left: he is still expected to advance at the regulation pace of so many strides of regulation length to the minute. If a battalion in line advances across ideal terrain that happily resembles a parade ground then it will advance as rapidly as a single company in line. But if the same battalion advances in line across a battlefield which has all the typical features of a rural landscape, it will find its advance slowed as its various companies encounter obstacles.

If we can model the problem of terrain in our wargame, then we will see that the rate of movement of a line will be dictated by the frequency with which parts of it become entangled in obstacles. So we can replace a somewhat awkward rule with a more pleasing simulation of the problems of manouevre that were associated with linear tactics. This is made easy because we have hexagonal terrain, and so we are able to define unambiguously which terrain areas have the potential to impose these kinds of delay on a formation. We have only to scatter hexes that represent this terrain around the battlefield judiciously. Movement rates for the company in line and in column are therefore all that are needed.

I can therefore use a hex-based variant of the movement table (page 59) with the reduced movement rate for infantry in battalion line removed. I have reduced movement distances so as to favour a smaller table than the original authors of Charge! envisaged, using 1 hex as equivalent to 6 inches even though my terrain hexes are actually 4 inches across. For consistency the same system will be used when determining firing ranges.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Organisations, Formations And Movements

This post discusses the rules linked here.

I am going to try following the list of chapters that is used by Charge! So the first chapter discusses the organisation of units, their formations, and how this determines their movement rates.  This part is uncomplicated: the organisations used by both Charge! and The Wargame require little alteration.

The biggest change from Charge! rules is to use four twelve man companies instead of three sixteen man.  On aesthetic grounds alone, I prefer the 'square' organisation, and I suspect that Charge! adopted sixteen men per company solely because it uses firing groups of eight men.  But my musketry will use a system based on The Wargame and that uses six man firing groups, so the twelve man company will work well enough.

Light infantry are organised as per Charge! The use of open order formation is one instance where hexes are beneficial: it is easier to denote use of open order by limiting deployment to four figures per hex rather than having to carefully maintain proper spacing between every figure.

The cavalry squadron organisation of eight troopers plus an officer is nominally as per Charge! but in reality represents a slightly weaker unit as my officers are nothing but eye candy whereas in Charge! officers would fight along with the rest of the squadron. Cavalry don't fit so well into hexes.  A squadron must be able to opt between deploying in a single line or a double line: in the former case the space required dictates that the squadron can use two adjacent hexes.

The next step will be to lay down the various movement rates.  There are some problems here, but also some benefits from using hexes: but this will be covered in the next post.

I put a lot of photos into the section: they aren't particularly informative, but do give some feel for what the units will look like when conforming to hexagonal terrain.  The formations in column do not look pretty: the half hex offset between hex rows is aesthetically unpleasing.  So the photos in this case do serve to warn about how the look of the wargame suffers in this manner.

Friday, 16 July 2010


When I first started this blog I wrote that I was interested in developing hexagon-based rules for fighting my battles. Since then, although I have used traditional 'measurement by ruler' based rules, the goal of using hexes has remained fixed in my mind. My unit organisations have all been ordered to fit within 4 inch hexes, and my terrain has been constructed upon these hexes.

Using hexes has significant advantages. The speed with which a game can be played is speeded up because there is no measuring to be done: ranges can be assessed at a glance, movement distances are immediately apparent. More importantly for a competitive game, there are no ambiguities; no borderline cases where a distance might be 'in' or 'out' depending on how the ruler is held or on the prejudiced eye of the observer. Movement orders - defined by destination hex and facing - are made precise.

I have reached the stage where it is time to start setting down my ideas for the rules themselves. This is where the technology that is now available to us all comes into its own. My idea is to set out my rationale (if that's not too kind a description) for a particular section of rules in an entry on this blog, and to write out the rules themselves in an accompanying blog that contains the rules without any of the associated blurb.

There is sufficient precedent to show it is possible to create hex based rules, but whether it is possible to do so while retaining what represents to me the essential look and feel of old school rulesets is another matter. There are some obvious problems. The imposition of hexes removes all chances of making small adustments to position or facing: a battalion in line cannot face just where it wants. There is no move distance smaller than one hex, so penalties like 'half move up hill' cannot always work. Using a rules blog for the exercise will, hopefully, help a lot with trying to develop mechanisms that cope with all this: it represents an easily editable medium in html that I can update as the rules develop (or flounder). If I set the layout of the blog correctly it should be printable.

Inevitably, the rules are intended to suit only my personal taste, but anyone interested will be able to make suggestions (or point out shortcomings) in the comments section of the blog. All such help is gratefully received. And at the worst, the rules blog can be deleted without any great sorrow if - as is only too likely - the effort does not prove fruitful.