Help support TMP


"Cavalry in column v cavalry in line?" Topic


59 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Game Design Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board



1,743 hits since 19 Feb 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

flipper19 Feb 2017 11:50 a.m. PST

Hi

Been milling over a situation recently, which someone may be able to give me some inspiration on: basically 2 cavalry units of 4 bases each (no particular rules set), one is in column of 1 base behind the other and is frontally charging a line of cavalry head on (also of 4 bases) assuming they are of a similar quality and terrain in open.

Obviously there is little or no small arms fire so my question is how do you expect on a generic level this combat will break down/work out.

I am inclined to look at the problem from a grand tactical perspective rather than tactical (I am working on ideas for the former and yes, I know this level is normally a single base of figures…).

Any thoughts welcome.

Camcleod19 Feb 2017 11:54 a.m. PST

Column is outflanked and driven off.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

Does it not depend on variables…?

Like Cossacks vs Grenadiers a Cheval de la Garde?

Just outside Paris, end of that campaign, or instead at the crossing of the Berezina?

Uphill or downhill? Morale, the ground, support, etc I know nothing about throwing of dice and gaming rules, but imagine that the relative formation is nothing remotely as important as a dozen other factors in deciding outcome.

Cavalry against infantry…now that is different

Sho Boki19 Feb 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

This is not even battle column against line but road column against battle line. Road column have big morale penalty and non-existent initial charge.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 12:30 p.m. PST

Well, for Gawd's Sake, don't fall for the imbecilic argument that column depth in cavalry is a force multiplier, as in "One nail drives the other!"

While TMP is best appreciated for the opportunity to ask questions, advice, ideas from the widely game experienced members, please don't forget to do a little reading for yourself.

To find very affordable copies of Ardant du Picq's seminal work, "Battle Studies: Ancient And Modern Battle," just follow this link

Please don't be put off by the reference to "Modern Battle," as the book was written shortly before the Franco-Prussian War by a long service (North Africa) French Officer, when battlefield cavalry still had its place in the world's armies.

And, best of all, it's a short, easy read. Get the 1921 Edition, if not a copy or reprint of the first English translation.

Some Enlightenment To You!

TVAG

Shedman19 Feb 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

IMO

The head of column would break through the line

This would however disorder the rest of the column

Meanwhile the remainder of line would go in on the flanks of the column

The main part of the column would then have to face out to meet the flank further disordering it

So advantage is with the Line

In Bloody Big Battles terms only the first 2 bases of the column would fight against all 4 line bases

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 12:46 p.m. PST

It could also represent a sequential charge of squadrons against a line, which was done succesfully by British horse, apparently.

Sho Boki19 Feb 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

In cavalry only first line of horses worked.
So no break through the line for road column ~4 head horses.

If you use "battle column" instead of road column 2 bases in front and 2 in rear, then you may play charge by echelons. You still have morale and charge penalties comparing to full line, but you may force to go through morale test twice.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

How long do they manage to stay in formation once melee breaks out?

Sho Boki19 Feb 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

If nobody don't run away even after first clash morale test, then formation is lost for both sides and melee started.

flipper19 Feb 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

Hi

'While TMP is best appreciated for the opportunity to ask questions, advice, ideas from the widely game experienced members, please don't forget to do a little reading for yourself.'

What a thing to say!!!

'This is not even battle column against line but road column against battle line. Road column have big morale penalty and non-existent initial charge.'

The formation of the column would be 1 squadron wide not a road column.

Thanks 'Shedman' your answer is very useful.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

There are so many variations of 'cavalry columns', as well as 'lines' that column vs line doesn't mean much. There were far too many tactics involved within those formations.

A good book by an experience Napoleonic cavalry officer is

On Cavalry Outposts Duties by F. De Brack

link

There are a number of period books on cavalry available free from Google.

As one example. De Brack describes his regiment in column coming up against an Austrian cavalry column. Both charged, but his regiment had the trailing squadrons in their column fold out, widening their front. De Brack believes the Austrians weren't as experienced and could not match the French maneuvers and routed before contact.

Another example of the same kind of tactic was at Balaclava with the British Heavy Brigade. They charged a much larger column of Russian cavalry. The first two squadrons hit the much wider front of the Russian column, plowing through it, while the latter two squadrons parted and hit both Russian flanks.

At times, an open column of cavalry would hit a line of enemy cavalry, the squadrons in the back waiting for the enemy line to flank the first squadrons, then flanking those enemy squadrons themselves.

Cavalry vs cavalry tactics were far more fluid and complex than usually represented.

forwardmarchstudios19 Feb 2017 1:24 p.m. PST

"As one example. De Brack describes his regiment in column coming up against an Austrian cavalry column. Both charged, but his regiment had the trailing squadrons in their column fold out, widening their front. De Brack believes the Austrians weren't as experienced and could not match the French maneuvers and routed before contact."

This was what I would have assumed they would do.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

This was what I would have assumed they would do.

A column wouldn't in every case. One effort was to do the unexpected, take advantage of the enemy's assumptions.

Sho Boki19 Feb 2017 2:07 p.m. PST

"The formation of the column would be 1 squadron wide not a road column."

So you mean 4 squadrons unit, each base = squadron?
I myself use 2 regiments units, each base = ~2 squadrons.
But still.. all 4 bases in long column on table, with single base in front, mean "road column" when confrontating with enemy units.

There are little difference in game terms, what road or maneuvre column you have against full line. Anyway line will be at least 4 times wider.

But, despite the bad odds, column may win.. by higher morale/bravery.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 3:21 p.m. PST

And a column in almost never closed up. They have spacing up to the full sqdn/ line/ front length plus margins ( manoeuver space) or half ( platoon wheel) to wheel / turn sideways..
Cavalry manuals tell you that " columns " or reserves of 1+ sqn have the ability of getting sub units to the flank either offensively or to prevent outflanking.
As said above, very fluid, a lot of bets on what the other side will do, out. Slarting, pretense..
And in the end most of the time hardly ever a melee, the one side whose outlook is perceived as bleak, runs away.
Memoirs of Wolfe Tone son, a subaltern in chasseurs cheval in 1813, said only once for all the combats, was he in melee.
Cats fights. And it can last very long. Manouevering, testing, watching each other move. Quite unwargamely these chaps.

So to answer the initial question ;))
Best KISS as some dice mechanism which will quickly represent the results of the too many variants. Best if , say half the time nothing decisive beyond recoil happens.

Rod MacArthur19 Feb 2017 4:00 p.m. PST

An Elucidation of several parts of His Majesty's regulations for the formations and movements of cavalry 1808 contains (amongst many other matters) diagrams and explanation of a British Cavalry Regiment of four squadrons charging an infantry line in a full distance column of squadrons.

If the first Sqn breaks through, fine, if not it will break left and right, then the second Sqn will hit the line before it has had time to reload, which means it will probably break through. The next Sqn splits into half Sqns as it hits the gap in the infantry line and wheels left and right to roll up the infantry. The fourth Sqn is in reserve.

The same principle could work if a cavalry regiment in column charged a cavalry line.

Rod

Grelber19 Feb 2017 4:25 p.m. PST

The original post has the column charging, but doesn't say what the line was up to. My understanding was that cavalry caught at the halt could expect to have their clocks cleaned.

Grelber

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 7:00 p.m. PST

The original post has the column charging, but doesn't say what the line was up to. My understanding was that cavalry caught at the halt could expect to have their clocks cleaned.

Grelber:

You'd think, but there are several examples of cavalry waiting for the charge and beating the oppostion:

page 60 of Chlapowski's "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer."

The beginning of the 1809 Campaign:

The cuirassier division arrived, whith the brigade of Carabiniers at its head. They deployed it straight away, for he [Napoleon] saw the Austrian cavalry, in columns in front of Ratsibon, had begun to advance towards us. Soon an uhlan regiment in six squadrons trotted up to 200 paces of the Carabiniers and launched a charge at full tilt. It reached their line, but could not break it, as the second regiment of Carabiniers was right behind the first, and behind it, the rest of the cuirassier division. I saw a great many Carabiniers with lance wounds, but a dozen or so uhlans had also fallen…."

It was more important to present an unbroken line, boot-to-boot than charging. I have several other examples, both successful and unsuccessful. Again, keep the enemy guessing.

evilgong Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 9:25 p.m. PST

Not charging but firing carbines from the saddle could work too.

I'm not sure if there were similar deciding factors to be found when officers decided that not charging / counter-charging was a good tactical choice.

David F Brown

Phil Dutre20 Feb 2017 12:46 a.m. PST

Isn't this a moot discussion if you don't even know what a "base" or even the "formation" is supposed to represent?

Wargamer's fallacy: discussing real-word tactics and battle outcomes based on the behaviour of toy soldiers without context.

David Brown20 Feb 2017 2:27 a.m. PST

Shedman,

One could simply reverse that argument:

Column of squadrons vs. line. First squadron/s hits line and punches through. Rest of the Line falls back or halts in disorder, remaining column squadrons follow up. Advantage is with the column.

As has been mentioned there's no guarantee of success in either formation.

A cavalry line cannot guarantee its ability to flank a column, just as a column cannot guarantee to defeat a line by breaking through and/or fanning out with reserve squadrons. Otherwise if line was such a guarantee of success why bother fighting in column of squadrons, etc?

I suspect its far more to do with who keeps formation and gains morale ascendancy as they close in. I think both McLaddie and jcfrog makes some very good points.

DB

flipper20 Feb 2017 3:22 a.m. PST

Hi

'Isn't this a moot discussion if you don't even know what a "base" or even the "formation" is supposed to represent?'

In my second post: 'The formation of the column would be 1 squadron wide'

Anyways, I think I will play around with Shedman's pointer:

'In Bloody Big Battles terms only the first 2 bases of the column would fight against all 4 line bases'

and let the dice decide…

Sho Boki20 Feb 2017 4:34 a.m. PST

This is the right solution.
2 bases will fight, if column is 2 + 2,
and 1 base if column is 1 + 1 + 1 + 1.

David Brown20 Feb 2017 5:14 a.m. PST

Sho,

That assumes the rear Column squadrons are stationary. Therefore they do not move or have any impact on the melee.

Yet with the Line formation we have the assumption that the flank squadrons manoeuvre to hit the column.

I think the suggestion that several have made is that both formations have the potential to manoeuvre those squadrons to enhance their combat capability. This potential is affected by morale, unit capability, experience, etc.

So, basically, the better quality the unit the better able to manoeuvre and better able to win the combat, as opposed to its initial formation.

DB

(P.S. Nice figures BTW!)

Sho Boki20 Feb 2017 5:46 a.m. PST

@ David Brown

We talk about first charge and clash, yes?
Then rear squadrons don't participate. But they will participate in melee.

Procedure of Minibattle between cavalry Units in one turn is roughly following..

1. Both sides go through Bravery/Morale Test.
One with shorter front get penalties. If one side fails in test, they don't charge.

2. Clash. Sides, who continue charging, give blows according to their formation and quality.
After this, Unit, failed in previous Bravery Test, run away.
(If this Unit have better (fresh) horses, they may run away even before clash)

3. If both sides charged, new Bravery Test must be made.
In this time without front penalties.
If nobody run away, melee rounds repeadetly continued between all bases until one side fail in Bravery test and run away.

I name this phases as "melee", but this is not melee literally, but additional maneuvres of squadrons after first clash of fronts. There are different Battle Values and casualties for "Charge" and "Melee". But only Bravery Test select the winner.

(P.S. Thanks! :)

M C MonkeyDew20 Feb 2017 7:26 a.m. PST

It depends on the size of the unit doesn't it?

A troop will be in line regardless. If its in column its not in a combat formation.

A squadron as well, although under certain circumstances it could have one troop in front of the other.

A regiment would have the most flexibility in how to deploy its squadrons.

Having fresh troops to throw into the combat last usually means victory so IF the column withstands the first impact with the line then the column is likely to win.

So again this depends on what exactly your figures and ground scale represent. What is the separation between units etc. Will the unit in column have sufficient opportunity to make its reserve felt before the outnumbered forward element is routed? etc.

De Brack sited above is a great work on the subject.
In game terms "Napoleonic Wargaming for fun" by Paddy Griffith has rules for several levels of play along with text explain why these differences matter. It will give you a good place to start with some nice rules to try out.

Bob

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 11:20 a.m. PST

So, basically, the better quality the unit the better able to manoeuvre and better able to win the combat, as opposed to its initial formation.

David:

Yes and no. The British cavalry weren't as good as the French at manoeuvre, but still did a decent job of winning with their Johnny-one-note approach.

I think the key is this: Each side made the tactical decision of what to do before the charge which was communicated…once moving, they were committed. The tactical choice might or might not be the right one depending on what the opponent did. Either way, they didn't change the tactics in the middle of a charge.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 12:38 p.m. PST

Phil Dutre +2!

gamer120 Feb 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

IMHO the take away from the various input is, either could win, depends on lots of other factors, depending on how detailed you want to get, keep it simple, consider the obvious things like quality, morale, etc and then let the dice tell you which side won and how much all those other factors mattered:)
The rules I use are for convention play and even though they are on a battalion, battery, squadron level I let the dice represent most all those other factors so you/players can spend your/their time moving, rolling dice and fighting. If a gamer wants to find a reason he/she lost because of the rules and not because of bad decisions or dice, no matter how detailed your rules, they will find a reason it was not their fault they lost:)

evilgong Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 8:12 p.m. PST

One advantage of DBx-style rules, where an element might represent C.300-600 sabres, is that the positioning and manoeuvering of individual squadrons can be subsumed within the element.

If one side prevails in a combat you can rationalise that result might represent one side getting the jump on the other – perhaps by a reserve squadron being unleashed at the opportune time – or any other reason that need not be directly depicted and computed on the table-top.

Regards

David F Brown

keithbarker20 Feb 2017 10:14 p.m. PST

Phil Dutre +3

To make a good "game", if cavalry in column have an advantage such as in movement, then you should also give them a disadvantage or give cavalry in line their own advantage.

But generally in "grand tactical" games you should leave the exact choice of formation to the regiments colonel, you as the commander of the whole force should not be able to control that detail.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 10:30 p.m. PST

But generally in "grand tactical" games you should leave the exact choice of formation to the regiments colonel, you as the commander of the whole force should not be able to control that detail.

Not if they are moving and fighting by brigade or division.

Sho Boki21 Feb 2017 12:08 a.m. PST

We should not to be able in real life, but we want to be able on table..

Mike the Analyst22 Feb 2017 4:42 p.m. PST

Remember that in a game we freeze time and evaluate a result. Cavalry can move and manoeuvre a lot within the time-interval of a turn. The British cavalry advance at the end of Waterloo (Waterloo Letters) describes one regiment moving forward in column of troop which then deployed into line to charge the French.

One idea I have been considering is to count up the bases within the command radius of the cavalry commander, modified by the tactical ability of the commander and maybe his subordinates to determine the strengths to be used in the combat.

The line is essentially a defensive formation, it stops the enemy cavalry from advancing freely and forces a fight. The column is looking for a breakthrough, quickly bringing up strength from behind to disrupt the enemy lines (infantry and cavalry).

Consider the combat or battle of Liebertwolkwitz 1813, one of the biggest cavalry clashes of the Napoleonic wars with the French mostly in column and the allies using mainly linear formations in combat. See link

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 5:28 p.m. PST

Mike:

Line for cavalry was not a defensive formation anymore than column was an offensive formation. At Liebertwolkwitz, the decisions as to formations was made at fairly high levels and both formations were employed for both offensive and defensive actions during the battle.

One idea I have been considering is to count up the bases within the command radius of the cavalry commander, modified by the tactical ability of the commander and maybe his subordinates to determine the strengths to be used in the combat.

That is not now cavalry was commanded. A 'command radius' could only be a reasonable thing for a Corps or Army commander, particularly for the French. At lower levels, IF troops were formed together into brigades, command was done by voice and bugle, and it didn't matter how far the commander was from on or the other end of a line or column.

4th Cuirassier23 Feb 2017 5:54 a.m. PST

I have to say that the point where a ruleset starts talking about 'command radius' is the point at which I stop reading. Ditto 'zone of control', 'stands', and so on.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 9:44 a.m. PST

I have to say that the point where a ruleset starts talking about 'command radius' is the point at which I stop reading.

4th Cuirassier:

I agree. For the most part, the various "Command Radius" rules are examples of mechanics which attempt to *make* the player act in historical ways [keep troops together, in this case] using processes and tactical limits that have absolutely no relationship to reality.

Analsim23 Feb 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

Flipper,

At the Grand Tactical perspective you are aiming for, I'd suggest that you simply focus on the three (3) axiom of a historically successful Cavalry Charge:
1) Speed
2) Discipline
3) Audacity

Given the COL vs. LINE dynamic you provided in your original post, here is how these three axioms would play out.

1. Speed = Halt-Walk-Trot-Gallop-Charge. Each is faster than its predecessor.

2. Discipline = Has an opposite effect related to increases in Speed. Meaning the faster you move, the harder it will be to preserve the Cavalry unit's formation and 'Discipline'. With that in mind, you can rightly assume that a Cavalry unit in COL formation will be able to travel at a potentially faster rate, while still maintaining the integrity of its formation (i.e. its discipline) over a similar Cavalry unit in LINE.

3. Audacity is the result of Leadership, Awareness and Timing. Call it the ability to recognize an opportunity and Charge!

OK, tying this all back together. Here's what I am recommending that you consider doing.

The Cavalry Charge Process:
a. Determine 'IF' the Charge will even takes place. If it Does, Then:
b. Each side determines its Charge Formation
c. Both sides pick a Speed Level: Halt-Walk-Trot-Gallop-Charge (secretly, like using a chit). Each faster Speed beyond HALT, gives the Cavalry unit a 10% increase in its CV value (maximum of 40% for all out Charge)
d. Both sides determine their Cavalry unit's FINAL formation Discipline (at impact) by rolling a die on a matrix that depicts the probability of maintain their formation at a given speed. Cavalry units in COL would have a greater ability to maintain their formation discipline over a LINE. 'HOWEVER', Cavalry Units in LINE have a bonus combat value over a similar Cavalry in COL. Say 1.25x greater than its base combat value, as an example.

EXAMPLE OF PLAY:
Cavalry 'Side A' wants to Charge 'Side B's' Cavalry unit.
Side A: Hussars (CV=15) Passes its 'Charge Test' (i.e. whatever) and opts for Charging the enemy cavalry unit in LINE, at a Trot. However, they fail their Speed/Formation check and have their CV reduced for being Dis-ordered.
Side B: Chasseurs (CV=12) Also Passes its 'Charge Test' and opts to counter-Charge in COL, at a Charge! They pass their Speed/Formation check and CV is adjusted up 40%.
Both sides cross index their Cavalry Unit's "Speed vs. Formation" on the Cav. Charge Matrix and see if their formation is degraded (e.g.. Dis-ordered, Disrupted or what?) and apply the results to their cavalry units.

Resolve the CHARGE Combat after applying these factors:
1) Initial Combat Value of the Cavalry Unit
2) Modified by Formation: LINE* or COL. *+ 1.25x for LINE.
3) Apply Final Cavalry Discipline Result after rolling for the effect.
4) Roll combat results.
5) Apply Results

Side A: Failed the Charge discipline Check and ends up with a Final Combat Value of: 16.8
Side B: Passes the Charge discipline Check and ends up with a Final Combat Value of: 16.8

I had deliberately had this combat turn out to be EVEN, just to show you how an inferior Chasseur Unit could possibly take on additional Risks to compensate its fight with a better Hussar unit.

SUMMARY – This mechanism provides the Player with a simple and FUN way to historically influence outcome of the engagement at the Grand Tactical Level without adding needless complexity to the game. Hopefully, you can see the impact and considerable finesse involved in deciding 'Speed and Formation' and how that decision impacts the unit's final Formation (i.e. discipline) and Combat Value prior to resolving the fight.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

Analsim:

It might be easier than that. The tension in a cavalry charge was always between order[discipline] and speed. For instance, French cavalry charged at the trot to preserve order.

Audacity tends to be associated with quick responses to opportunities and light cavalry. The Union Brigade charge at Waterloo actually 'charged' at a little better than a walk. Was that 'audacious'?

Heavier cavalry went for order, while light cavalry went for audacious. [See De Brack "On Cavalry".]

Just have two factors: Audacious and Discipline, weighted by type of cavalry as well as the other factors like leadership and training etc.

flipper23 Feb 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

Hi

Thanks Analsim – an interesting game mechanic.

Your suggestion would have to cover all cavalry v cavalry combat – I do wonder if it would be as simple and fun as you imagine when played out over multiple combats and bounds?

I am playing with an idea that foregoes morale being tested (often by both sides) and just go straight into contact and allow the dice (bucket of dice with 1 die per base strength point – a base is likely to have a value of between 3-5)) with a small amount of modifiers (the quality of the unit, any major terrain considerations…) and settle for a narrative reading of the result.

When I say 'narrative', I mean putting some reading on what took place – so if a unit of Prussian landwher cavalry enter combat with the French guard cavalry heavies and WIN, due to throwing a whole leap of 6's to the guards low throws … well, the narrative is that (an unrepresented?) Prussian horse battery raked the flanks of the guard causing terrible losses and much disorder!

Conversely and more likely, both sides throw an 'average' mix of die and the Prussian cavalry rout off.

The 'narrative' here is that perhaps the Prussians didn't even contact the French and bolted as soon as they realised they were facing the guard.

If a 'narrative' approach is taken, certain rules can be sidelined.

I am waffling on a bit because I like the idea of rules that work seamlessly – I am in 'game' rather than 'simulation' mode at the moment and I can't help but feel that a good 'game' (think of a relatively simple but fun board game)seems relatively natural, easy, unambiguous and flowing – whereas even quite simple miniature rules can get 'stuck' in all kind of ways.

evilgong Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 3:07 p.m. PST

Hiya

McLaddie said

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I agree. For the most part, the various "Command Radius" rules are examples of mechanics which attempt to *make* the player act in historical ways [keep troops together, in this case] using processes and tactical limits that have absolutely no relationship to reality.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


This is the point where rules writing becomes an art.

You can draft a particular part of the rules to make something impossible, or you can give it a slim chance of success but a painful trade off applies if you fail.

(You can flip that for 'compulsory' rules too.)

The 'impossible' rule has the virtue of simplicity and clarity, the 'slim chance' adds detail to the rules – so the rules writer's art is to decide where to draw that line to give historically plausible outcomes and an enjoyable game.

As a general concept I prefer rules that allow the player to do stupid things and suffer the consequences. They will soon learn.

I don't have a visceral hatred of 'command radius' rules as they can mean different things in different rules. 'Support' rules are something I always view with suspicion.

David F Brown

Sparta24 Feb 2017 2:31 a.m. PST

It is interesting that so many hate command radius. When you look at historical formations, most brigades were usually operating within a relatively confined space. Is it not a reasonable abstraction that units that are within a shorter distance of each other – perhaps represented abstractly by fx a brigade commander marker – will be easier to command and control than a brigade that is dispersed?????

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 9:22 a.m. PST

Is it not a reasonable abstraction that units that are within a shorter distance of each other perhaps represented abstractly by fx a brigade commander marker will be easier to command and control than a brigade that is dispersed?????

Sparta:
It is unreasonable because:
1. It doesn't represent how command control was carried out.
2. The game dynamics of Command Control ask the player to do things a real commander would not do or would not have to worry about.
3. It creates combat issues not seen on the battlefield.
4. It assumes that outside some 'command range' that a unit is 'out of command' which is at best a gross overstatement, and usually unhistorical in any sense of the word.

So, yes, the command radius may be simple, but it is unreasonable IF the idea is to represent a command dynamic found on the battlefield, particularly at the division or brigade level for 18th or 19th century warfare.

To represent the actual command method isn't complicated and provides for dynamics far more 'realistic.' And like most military processes through the centuries, it follows the KISS principle.

Command Radius rules are used in a wide variety of situations, which at larger scales start to make sense. At the lower levels it is an example of the kind of rule that has players forced to do something that 'looks right', but has nothing to do with how things were done on the battlefield.

Mike the Analyst24 Feb 2017 10:24 a.m. PST

McLaddie and others, I am happy to explain what I mean by defensive and the command radius.

I do not mean that cavalry statically line up to defend a location, cavalry do not hold ground. By line I mean a wide deployment with little depth using local action to prevent any advance by the enemy. Second line reserves would be used to block any breakthroughs. The deployed line means this is the ground we will fight over and cannot easily be outflanked by a column of cavalry.

Of course a line can be used offensively, but the line retains this ability to block out a wide area that cannot be entered by the enemy without a fight.

As for command "radius" (not something I normally like ditto for command pips, but we use game mechanisms to generate outcomes rather than model the details of a combat).

Given that the norm in any rules is that a unit is moved in its movement phase until it come into contact. We then pass to a firing and assault phase based on locations at the end of movement. We may then say the "turn" represents 10 or 20 minutes. Some rules would say count the bases in contact and allow a second rank for support as well as overlapping units.

All I am saying is that any cavalry within a turn (or half a turn) should be considered to participate in the combat dependent on the terrain, the organisation and the capabilities of the commander. The initial contact of bases establishes the focal point for the cavalry engagement. To determine a very limited combat based only on the units in contact risks stretching the cavalry fight over many turns as the second and third lines can only engage next turn or the turn after.

If you consider a French cavalry division comprising 16 squadrons formed up in a single column one squadron wide, 16 deep then at full distance this would be approximately 1km deep. The divisional commander at the head of this column would direct the leading regiments to deploy and fight whist marshalling the reserves to support the combat front. At a trot the rear of the column would only need 5 minutes to get to the original point of the head of the column.

Taking the Liebertwolkwitz example, the allies were able to bring the advancing French column to a halt and push it back by a succession of charges. Later the second French attach in deep column was countered by allied cavalry in line in front and overlapping the column plus the sending by Klenau of some light cavalry to take the column in flank.

In wargame terms I am giving Klenau the command ability to include in one single combat all the units that were used historically and I am calling this a command radius. In one melee phase all of Klenau's force will combat Mulhaud's division.

The alternative would probably need several turns of initiative, morale and combat dice throws, to achieve the same end but several turns is probably too long when compared to the time of the combat.

I agree that cavalry vs cavalry tactics were far more fluid and complex than usually represented. I am suggesting a way to get the result without the complexity.

Analsim24 Feb 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

flipper,

This Cavalry Charge mechanic is basically a spin off on: "ROCK--PAPER--SCISSOR" when it really comes down to it.

So, once players are familiar with it, multiple Cavalry engagements could be resolved rather quickly.

In response to the Guard vs. Landwehr comment, The Guard's base CV would probably be the 'critical factor' in this particular engagements between these two forces, that is, assuming of course that both sides were equal going into the combat.

Yet again, maybe this is just the first round of combats. Thus, a 2nd Landwehr Cav. unit would have better prospects against a Blown/Reforming Guard unit.

But, don't get too wrapped up in what I think or suggest. I was only hoping to help you consider different approaches, perspectives and/or options to this critical part of Napoleonic warfare.

However, having said that I was also interested in illustrating how game & simulation can actually go 'hand in hand' together even with some historical flavor added.

regards,…Analsim

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2017 10:06 p.m. PST

As for command "radius" (not something I normally like ditto for command pips, but we use game mechanisms to generate outcomes rather than model the details of a combat).

Mike:
Thanks for the explanations. I certainly think your general approach is valid as are a number of your points. I agree that if the game has twenty to thirty minute turns, a lot of detail will be left out. It's like "driving to work" in twenty minutes. We lump a LOT of actions and decisions within that 'outcome' when we say that we 'drove to work.'

The questions are what decisions the player makes at what level within that time-period and what would be the results.

Liebertwolkwitz is a good example. The cavalry actions covered at least a three hour period, or nine turns or more. Within that three hour period, lots of things happened, most without Klenau's direction as far as I can tell--his command ability was really only seen in his organization of the attack on Liebertwolkwitz itself later in the day. A number of cavalry units involved were not under his command. There are a number of more detailed accounts of the action. Here is one--in three parts:

link

There are some considerations here:
1. The French entered the combat in a long column, probably because of the space available in the French battle line and the village on their right, and

2. because originally, Murat was ordered to simply delay the Allies' attack on Liebertwolkwitz and protect the grand battery Napoleon had organized. Murat took the combat further.

3. There were numerous charges and counter charges during the time, reserves generally determining the outcome of each. The Allies repeatedly attacked the head of the column, with fewer attacks against the flanks. One such attack was completely destroyed when surrounded in the column.

4. At different times, the French did deploy in line, the French dragoons on the left flank for a series of charges, which were also outflanked.

5. One reason the French were not able to deploy and utilize their greater numbers was that the three Allies, Russian, Prussian and Austrians were quick to counter-charge, even when outnumbered, delaying and disorganizing the French columns. Even so, the French did gain ground on the Allies until forced to retire.

6. There was a lot of effective skirmishing by the French dragoons on the flanks during this time, goading charges from the enemy, though beaten back.

A game is more than simply 'historical results'--I can roll a single die and get such a result. The question is how to portray the battle as a process involving any number of decisions by *somebody* with many results during that three+ hours and how the players would be involved.

In wargame terms I am giving Klenau the command ability to include in one single combat all the units that were used historically and I am calling this a command radius. In one melee phase all of Klenau's force will combat Mulhaud's division.

So, was the combat involving Mulhaud's division resolved in 20-30 minutes? Did Klenau have any influence on the Allied actions during that time? What? If the conflict took longer than one turn/20-30 minutes, how could that represented?

Lion in the Stars26 Feb 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

A good book by an experience Napoleonic cavalry officer is

On Cavalry Outposts Duties by F. De Brack


Worth every penny!

Sparta26 Feb 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

Thx for your respons McLaddie what would your alternative be in a system when one does not want written ordrers?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2017 10:35 p.m. PST

--what would your alternative be in a system when one does not want written ordrers?

Sparta:

In a twenty to thirty minute turn? I don't particularly like written orders myself. Either too open to interpretation and semantic quibbling, but often generic orders tend to be straight-jackets. In this case, cavalry, I think written orders for brigades isn't appropriate at all.

Cavalry division commanders as well as brigade commanders seem to have had a lot of decision-leeway. I think a trip-wire kind of rule would work best. I am assuming a cavalry brigade being the lowest command unit in the game, though it could be represented by several stands.

Cavalry brigades are positioned defensively to respond to cavalry moving into their charge range [somewhere between 600 and 900 yards for the cavalry to COMMIT to a charge, not actually galloping.]

The moving player then has to decide where to move his cavalry into enemy cavalry range, because it will initiate a charge [There could be a roll to see if the enemy cavalry commander decides to charge or not.] Obviously, when cavalry moved into range of enemy cavalry during a charge move, there could be a counter-charge.

Results, win or lose will usually disorder the cavalry involved. This encourages both sides to have reserves to either cover the disorganized cavalry or to charge them before they recover. With lots of cavalry like Liebertwolkwitz, it will be a see-saw, drawn-out affair as long as both sides are willing to position and commit brigades.

Higher level commands like corps and army commanders such as Murat and Klenau would basically be deciding when and where to commit reserves rather than controlling the movement of each brigade.

What will keep this kind of system from being too complicated in processing all the trip-wire events is that very few engagements were the size of Liebertwolkwitz and will involve maybe four to six brigades on a side at the upper limits. The area necessary will also limit the engagement just as the village and gun line limited the maneuver space for the French at Liebertwolkwitz.

Certainly not a perfect solution, but a lot closer to how cavalry acted and was used. I am developing a similar process with the game rules I am designing at the moment.

Pages: 1 2