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"indirect fire" Topic

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HappyHiker20 May 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

Most wargames do not allow indirect fire, either for Artillery or Longbow.(I'm thinking medieval and Napolionic not sure about WW2 etc). Is there a reason for this ? Is it too overpowered? I'm modding Rank and File for Medieval and I was thinking of allowing indirect fire if the target unit is twice the distance of the nearest friendly unit.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 9:13 a.m. PST

When they state that say 2-3 ranks of bowmen can shoot, this is a sort of indirect fire. Hardly one would shoot without seeing the target, if only for the linited amout of ammunition. The leader / front rank needs to see. Not too sure, in batlle you can pinpoint your arrow fall at a respectable distance.
Howitzers did do it, best samole is a converged battery, half entrenched, out of direct sight of the lower positioned Russian guns, at Borodino, on the left side ( Fr view) of Eugene. Still visible. Leaders were directing the slow but annoyingly efficent fire.
If not in the rule, it is easy to have or imagine a fairly adjacent officer directing it, who can see the targets. They even occasionally did it early 1914.

MajorB20 May 2020 9:23 a.m. PST

Indirect fire is where an observer can see the target and calls "fall of shot" back to the firer.

That isn't how it works with multiple ranks of archers. An archer would know that if he inclines his bow at draw at a particular angle then the arrow would fall around a given range. Generally, archers were trained to shoot at "bow shot" (roughly a furlong, 22o yds) so there is no need to aim. When 1000 archers are loosing arrows at a rate of 10 – 12 a minute, that's ~10 -12,000 arrows a minute on the target.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 May 2020 10:00 a.m. PST

You're talking about two different things I think.

Indirect fire is shooting at a target you can't directly observe. And yes, howitzers did this during Napoleonic times. Cannons could not elevate their barrels to get a high enough arc.

The second thing you;re talking about is direct fire (the shooter sees the target) but firing over friendly troops in between firer and target. Rules generally don't allow it because with few exceptions, armies didn't do it. And if you make a rule for an exception it will be done willy nilly all the time.

Look at where batteries deploy in a Napolonic battle. In FRONT of infantry or between. Not behind.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 10:45 a.m. PST

I can't speak to medieval uses, but during the Napoleonic Wars, firing over slopes at targets that couldn't be seen was done all the time. The French artillery fire at Waterloo is an example. It was referred to as 'untargeted' or 'random' fire.

Whether games you are thinking of have made this 'overpowered', I don't know. It obviously wouldn't be as effective as direct fire.

Andy ONeill20 May 2020 11:43 a.m. PST

Alexander the great had mixed units with archers at the rear. I would guess they must have had a spotter of some sort to one side.

More common would be the english longbow approach.
They deployed in quite open order.
Certain lead archers would be watched by those in the rear and they'd follow direction and angle.
When shooting at a distance, that is.
This sort of archery is area fire.

I think there were one or two instances during 100yw where english longbow were used for area fire against fortifications. To suppress defenders.

Indirect fire without an observer correcting must have been to relatively poor effect. Random seems quite an appropriate name.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 2:05 p.m. PST

Yes, what mean. Not sure what the question wanted. Just a bloody foreigner after all. 😘

HappyHiker20 May 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

Ok thanks, so maybe I don't mean indirect fire. I mean shooting over the heads of a friendly unit at a target you can see. IE archers behind a line of spear men, or cannon behind infantry lines. Did they not really do that, have I just seen too many afternoon movies in Technicolor?

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 2:46 p.m. PST

That's not indirect fire, and they really did do that.

Martin Rapier20 May 2020 11:21 p.m. PST

They even did in the Dark Ages, chucking spears etc over the heads of the shield wall in front.

As to how overpowered it might be, well it depends how good you think pre gunpowder missile weapons were.

HappyHiker20 May 2020 11:51 p.m. PST

So how come most rules don't allow that? Some rules get really complicated, but still don't allow archers to shoot over spear men or canon over infantry, unless on a hill.

Walking Sailor21 May 2020 7:30 p.m. PST

Cannon and howitzers are two different things.
Cannon shoot horizontally, they can't shoot over anything on their level.
Howitzers can loft their rounds up and over intervening terrain.
Troops don't like anything trying to shoot from behind them. Note Extra Crispy's final line about deploying the guns.

Archers could aim high and their arrows would fall on to the target. The Anglo-Saxon word for "cloth" is "clout". Shooting clout is practiced today as a competition to see who can drop their arrows closest to a clout (cloth) laid on the ground. It is a type of area fire. See Major B's math above. It was this type of fire that killed Harold Goodwinson standing behind a shield wall at The Battle of Hastings (Senlac Hill).

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