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"The deployment of troops in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG)" Topic

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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2024 3:27 a.m. PST

Hello everyone,

In "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) in its "TROOP REPRESENTATION AND ARMY SIZE" paragraph it is explained that:

"A cavalry element represents a brigade of 6-10 squadrons (usually 1,000-1,500 men), or a commando (or about 500 men) of Mounted Rifles.

A foot element represents a regiment or small brigade of 2 very strong or 3-4 average battalions (usually 1,500-2,500 men), reducing to a single battalion (about 1,000 men) if Rifles (1898>) or Marksmen.".

All this while the front of an element in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) really represents 400 paces or 300 meters or 328.22 yards.

So just for a good laugh, I would like you to explain to me in what formations 6-10 squadrons of cavalry (usually 1,000-1,500 men), or a commando (or about 500 men) of Mounted Rifles are deployed on a front of 400 paces or 300 meters or 328.22 yards?

And in which formations always according to you are deployed a regiment or a small brigade of 2 very strong or 3-4 average battalions (usually 1,500-2,500 men), a single battalion (about 1,000 men) if Rifles (1898>) or a Marksmen battalion on a front of 400 paces or 300 meters or 328.22 yards?

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jan 2024 7:50 a.m. PST

The trick with rules where a single base represents a Brigade is to think of them deployed in depth – i.e a front line with supports further back. Not that difficult to fit them in then is it.

advocate Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2024 8:18 a.m. PST

It's a compromise, as you can tell from the possibility of it representing anything from 1000 to 2500 men. Yes, it feels a bit tight for most – though remember that many brigades would be deployed with some battalions in reserve.

But really, why pick on this particular ruleset? Others will be equally odd in their own way. I've always considered DBX to be pretty abstract, and never tried to look too closely.

Decebalus23 Jan 2024 11:02 a.m. PST

A cavalry squadron in two ranks is about 50 yards wide. Four squadrons with 50 yards space between them would be 350 yards. With a second row of squadrons you have eight squadrons in an area of 350 yards. That is exactly what HFG (and other one base = one brigade based systems like Volley & Bayonet, Grande Armee, Blucher) represent.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2024 1:07 a.m. PST

A brigade deployed in depth I understood but it is not a historical combat formation, at least for certain armies…

I understood that it was a compromise, like the fact that it represents between 1,000 and 2,500 men. But this is not even possible for historical formations of certain periods.

Yes, I understood that in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) everyone fights in column and at brigade level, a real massacre for armies of the 18th and 19th centuries. For the 16th and 17th centuries this would have been a little more appropriate and even then not for all armies…

I like the rule but I don't play it at the scale indicated…

TMP link

Martin Rapier24 Jan 2024 2:13 a.m. PST

A typical frontage for a British Infantry battalion attacking in WW1 was 500 yards. Eight waves of 100 men each with 5 yard linear intervals and 100 yard depth intervals.

They were much more spread out than their nineteenth century counterparts, who generally used 2 yard intervals in 'open order'.

Iirc Volley and Bayonet also uses 300 yard frontages for brigade sized elements.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2024 6:37 p.m. PST

Martin's right about V&B. Napoleon's Battles hit in about the same range. Infantry brigade. 500 man battalion=480 rank & file in three ranks=160 files of about 18" so 240' or 80 yards, or two ranks=240 files for 360' or 120 yards. Two battalions in the first line and two in the second. If you have to generalize brigade frontages in horse & musket warfare, Barker and Chadwick are in the right ballpark.

Of course, I'd be interested in your alternative number and the reasoning behind it.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2024 2:40 a.m. PST

@Martin Rapier
There is no question of the Great War in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG), but if it were the case your British battalion would have two elements on the front.

And if Volley and Bayonet also uses 300 meter frontages for brigade-sized elements, the problem must be the same.

​@robert piepenbrink
That's what I said, in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG), everyone fights in column and at brigade level, a real massacre for armies of the 18th and 19th centuries.

For the 16th and 17th centuries this would have been a little more appropriate and even then not for all armies…

During the Napoleonic Wars which front would occupy (if formed in line) a British infantry brigade of four battalions of 500 men?

Certainly not 300 meters of front…

And during the Napoleonic wars, what front would occupy (if also formed in line) a French infantry brigade of four battalions of 500 men?

Certainly not 300 meters of front…

And during the Napoleonic wars, what fronts would occupy (if also formed in line) brigades of 2000 Prussian, Austro-Hungarian or Russian infantrymen formed in line?

Certainly not 300 meters of front …

I had already noticed this problem below, but alas it seems that historicity is not the priority of wargamers…

TMP link

Whirlwind25 Jan 2024 2:39 p.m. PST

Okay, I will bite. 4 battalions of 500 soldiers in 3 ranks, deployed 2-up. 50 from each battalion are deployed as skirmishers. You then have 150 soldiers in each of the battalions, occupying 2' each. Even forgetting the supernumaries, that's 100 yards per battalion front, there is plenty of room to spare. A British battalion of that strength might get to 150 yards, but that is still within tolerance.

It isn't so much that every battalion is assumed to be in column, as Barker's assumption that a brigade will usually have only half its combat power as a maximum in its front line. I assume he gets that from Paddy Griffith. In any case, at an army level, it doesn't then matter if two adjacent elements represent one brigade in front of another, or two brigades side-by-side each with half their units forward, their other half in the rear.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2024 5:18 a.m. PST

How many Napoleonic infantrymen, all nations combined, can deploy in line formation on 300 meters of frontage???

You are off topic.

Indeed "I cleaned up last year", now I only have my huge collection of 25 mm MiniFigs and I have only kept three rules, DBA in its very first edition, DBR in its latest edition and "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) and I will never play them with troop representations indicated, because now I know that among wargamers, the more innovative the new ideas are, the more they will be unknown to players, especially if they are too realistic and respect historicity.

TMP link

Decebalus26 Jan 2024 9:41 a.m. PST

Paskal. Deleted by Moderator

Why don't you play HFG with a different troop representation, give us a nice report and tell us, what went wrong and what went good.

Whirlwind26 Jan 2024 11:21 a.m. PST


In a single line? About 1500. So 3000 in the area of a HFG base if you had two continuous lines; about 2000 if they are in 2-deep line.

(328 yards, 2'/man, so 492, *3 so just shy of 1500 men in one, single, straight line, plus whoever you have before or advance of the line).

Or put it another way, a strong British battalion in line might occupy 250m, a French battalion rather less; you might well fit two into the 300m proposed.

Honestly, this doesn't seem particularly complicated, or even vaguely the most ahistorical thing in HFG. You have been answered, you thought there was a mistake but there isn't, you should be happy?

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2024 2:41 a.m. PST

This works very well since there is nothing to change in the rule system, only the representation of the troops,which is lucky…

As for the Napoleonic era, over 300 meters you will never put 1500 men in line (obviously I am only talking about a single line, not successive lines…) and even less 2000.

How many fronts do you think an infantryman occupies?

Because in the latter case the depth of your infantry element which is at least 30mm deep or 150 real meters would indeed allow you to easily deploy an infantry brigade and more, but not in line but in column or in successive line…

So it doesn't work for certain armies in certain eras.

In my opinion the front of an element should have corresponded to the real front occupied by a unit of 1500 men on "a single line" 2 or 3 men deep by counting the spaces between the sub-units constituting this unit of 1500 men .

How many fronts do you think an cavalryman occupies?

@Marcus Brutus
You don't need to have written these rules to notice that there is something weird with the "TROOP REPRESENTATION AND ARMY SIZE" paragraph of "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG). It jumped out at me. Right away, I must not be the only one to have noticed this?

Whirlwind27 Jan 2024 3:28 a.m. PST


How many fronts do you think an infantryman occupies?

The answer is 22 inches link Call it 2' to make the calcluations a bit easier. So given a 3-deep line, for every 8" of frontage, you get 1 soldier; 1 every 11-12" for 2-deep lines. But you should know this, I did the calculation for you above.

So the real contention has to be Barker's assumption that the standard deplyoment for infantry in line is in 2 successive lines, or one brigade supported by another (if you put two elements together in HFG, it amounts to the same thing). Your solution is far worse than Barker's. Having the wider frontage assumes that the rarer deployment, all infantry of a brigade in a single line with no supports, is the basic condition.

laretenue27 Jan 2024 6:12 a.m. PST

I don't know whether this will work in HFG, and frankly I'm not that interested. But could Paskal not base his troops by half-brigades, and then place them in line or in depth as he pleases? Would double the accounting and maybe the time, but i don't think that seems to be an objection.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP28 Jan 2024 2:58 a.m. PST


How many fronts do you think an infantryman occupies?

Only 55.88 cms?

At a standstill I hope?

And the cavalry?

And the artillery?

I only have the Ospreys released on tactical and deployment issues during the Napoleonic wars to answer this type of question. I don't have time to re-check what they say about it, because at the moment, I am connected to other periods but I suppose the regulatory deployments of certain "brigades" of certain armies at certain periods treated by "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) will not, according to the authors of these books, be in connection with what you described and with Barker's hypothesis which is that the standard deployment of line infantry is done on 2 lines or more.

But it is true that my solution for an element to represent a brigade is much worse than that of Barker and even unplayable, because a brigade deployed in line occupied too large a front, therefore the front represented by that of an element the also becoming, it would be necessary to reduce proportionally in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG), the shooting ranges and movement distances, so as I said, it would be unplayable or almost (although this needs to be verified)…

But I expressed this opinion so that you understand that I did not want successive lines or columns…

Indeed, to do what I want, it is necessary either that the front of an element represents much more than 300 meters (to represent a brigade on a single line without support, i.e. the basic condition) or that the number of troops represented is much weaker and in both cases it is not what Barker wanted… Well I understood this a long time ago, but "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) I like a lot and I think that 'we can play it "in all sauces", whether an element represents a large troop as wanted by Barker or something much smaller in strength (as I do for the Plains Wars) as long as the front of the element only represents 300 meters and we don't change anything in the rule, it goes very well,except that I still don't really know how to classify the Indians as explained here TMP link

I don't think I think the problem with "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) is that the period covered is too long and as "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) is a generic rule, it doesn't work "historically speaking" for all periods covered by the rules.

paperbattles29 Jan 2024 3:13 a.m. PST

I hope my post will help somehow.
I agree with the fact that the wargames do not represent the real size of a unit. This comes out quite clearly from my experience on the field with my attempts of wargaming at 1:1 ratio.

I post some picture to explain better:

picture1: a huge Bavarian Regiment on 3 battalions on 4 ranks 2.100 papersoldiers.

picture 2: the same but battalions one after the other:

It seems evindent that the width of a unit is much more than what a wargame usually represents.

picture 3
here 1848 Battalion with 3 coys deployed one after the other

picture 4) 1805 a russian battallion under strength

The same for cavalry: picture 5 (1/2 squadron Piedmont 1848)

To try to solve it I also remade the units in the Leuthen Wargame of Clash of Arms because units were all the same and occupied a too little frontage
Picutre 7

and again picture 8 – SYW battallion very tight

I hope this will help. I don't know how to solve this problem wargame size vs reality size. For the moment it remains to me a big issue, still unsolved.

Please no fire on me… :-)

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2024 2:53 a.m. PST


Bravo, Very impressive and very beautiful thanks to the beautiful photos!

It's true that representing something realistic and historical with wargaming is very hard and I've been striving for this for decades.

Make it clear that the figurines, whatever their size, are only markers to represent only what they are supposed to represent via their outfits or uniforms and weapons without forgetting their formations normally on the table and that the most important thing is the real surface represented by the base and not just its front and that if in "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) 60 mm represents 300 meters we are not going to use figurines of 0.352 mm to represent human beings of 1.76 meters.

And even in a one-for-one game, the scale of the terrain is rarely related to the size of the figurines.

A one-on-one game that isn't a skirmish game or a gladiator fight should be super interesting.

The DBxxx system of "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG), I love it but I would have liked it not to be on the scale of the "brigade", that's why I strive to play it at a another scale, I did some tests without changing the rule with the American Indian Wars which I really like and it works however I have difficulty with the classifications of the Indian warriors of the different nations.

TMP link

Dexter Ward31 Jan 2024 2:56 p.m. PST

A brigade frontage of 300 metres is correct (on average) for the Horse and Musket period. Funnily enough, other army level sets such as Volley & Bayonet, Grand Armee, and Blucher all use the same frontage for their brigades. Do you think all their well respected authors have also not done their research?
I'm not sure why you keep saying 300 metres is the wrong frontage. Nor why you assume the battalions are all in one long line.
It is equivalent to 3 infantry battalions or squadrons of cavalry.
A look at maps of Napoleonic or ACW battles will show that most brigade deployed in more than one line of battalions, and that 300 metres is indeed the right size.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2024 1:04 a.m. PST

@Dexter Ward

In your opinion, a brigade frontage of 300 meters is correct if we assume that its battalions do not all form a long line in two or three ranks (and not a long file which is different from a line).

In any case I will not play "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) on the scale explained in the "TROOP REPRESENTATION AND ARMY SIZE" paragraph.

For the moment I really don't have the time to check the regulatory deployments, but as I said above, I only have the Ospreys published on tactical questions and deployment of infantry and cavalry of certain nations during the Napoleonic Wars to answer this type of question.

I don't have time to re-read and re-check what's written in these ospreys, because at the moment, I'm connected to other periods but "Do you think that all their highly respected authors didn't do their research either?

I think that the regulatory deployments of certain "brigades" of certain armies at certain periods treated by "Horse Foot and Guns" (HFG) will not, according to the authors of these works, be related to what you have written and with the Barker's hypothesis which is that the standard deployment of line infantry is on 2 or more lines.

To understand what I'm saying you need to know what I did for the plains wars and it works.

TMP link

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