Monday, April 27, 2009

10mm Napoleonic rules...

Hello all! I am sorry things at the House of War have been slow recently... I've hit a serious painting rut (again) plus my 10mm Napoleonic rules are proving harder than expected to finish!

So... I am working mainly on the infantry rules. Infantry will be deployed in brigades, each with a commander. Commanders will be rated in a few different ways: First, either as aggressive, balanced, or defensive. Second, by "quality," from a +2 to a -2.

Each brigade will consist of a varied number of battalions and a brigade commander. Each battalion consists of two stands of infantry, as pictured to the right with a French line battalion. Battalions within a brigade must keep within 2 inches of each other, and the brigade commander must be within 2 inches of a battalion at all times.

Brigades (see the left for a British brigade) are commanded by division commanders. Division commanders issue orders. Depending on how far away their brigade commanders are and if there are other factors, the orders may be received and followed. If no orders are followed, brigade commanders roll randomly for what they do, modified by their personalities. Brigades can have a few different orders given to them. They can...
* Fall Back (a quick move back with no firing allowed)

* Hold (includes Change Formation, Deploy/Return Skirmishers and Form Square)

* Attack (advancing and firing)

* Charge (a fast advance into close combat with no firing)

Shooting is fairly simple, with a single roll made (modified by a few things, such as formation.) Generally a battalion will cause between 0 and 1 casualties, with chances slender to cause more than that. Range is 6 inches max, with 3 being nice and close.
Close combat is similar, with advantages for being in column and a few other important bits.

Battalions can take anywhere from 1 to 4 damage total, maxing at 4.
Battalion casualties are not removed from the table... after all, we like looking at our toy soldiers, so why take some off? Plus at this scale, it seems silly. The more casualties a battalion takes, the more likely it is to fail its "Steady!" tests, becoming Shaken and then Broken.

The key is keeping battalions Steady. Once a battalion in a brigade is engaged, then each battalion in the entire brigade must check at the end of each turn to ensure it stays steady in a "Steady!" test. There is a small chance (depending on quality of troops, formations, nearness of officers, casualties...) that a unit failing a "Steady!" test can become "Shaken," meaning that the men are starting to get nervous and look behind them. If they fail another check, Shaken battalions are then "Broken," falling apart and routing. Having friends fail Steady tests around you, being more than 2 inches from friends, being out on a flank, having enemies attacking your flank, or taking casualties make it more likely that battalions will fail their tests... being among other friendly troops, having quality soldiers, having your men in nice deep formations, and having your brigade commander nearby (double bonus if he is a quality officer!) helps to keep your mean steady and ready to fight.

To the right is a shot of a French brigade (made of four battalions) attacking a British brigade (consisting of three battalions.) The French are in column, which will help their ability to stay Steady as they march into the British guns, and have made sure that their brigade commander is near a flank, which will help keep the wings of the attack steady. The British are in line to maximize their firepower, with one flank held by Highlanders and the other being personally commanded by their brigade commander, which will help the British force pass their "Steady!" tests, especially on their vulnerable flanks. Both sides have skirmishers deployed in an attempt to shake their enemies up a bit before the fight starts.

Speaking of skirmishers, representing skirmishing in a pleasing way has been a big challenge, but I am honing in on a good set of rules. Brigades can put out skirmishers with "Hold" orders. A single stand of skirmishers is put out for every battalions. Skirmishers don't cause casualties and cannot be engaged. Instead, when an enemy battalion gets within 6-9 inches of them, the enemy Brigade is counted as Engaged and therefore has to start taking "Steady!" tests. This results in brigades slowing down and men losing morale, representing the sniping of officers as the skirmishers pour on fire. The most effective counter is to deploy skirmishers as well, which will result in a little skirmisher-vs-skirmisher roll-off when they get into range of each other. The winner's skirmishers take the field, forcing the others off, and force the loser's parent brigade to begin to take "Steady!" tests. It is all about keeping your men Steady! To the above left is a shot of a French brigade (including a converged grenadier battalion) advancing with their skirmishers deployed.

So... that is basically it. I'll get into some of the other details later... I plan to do some playtesting this week (I have a week off from work) and I'll post some photos as I go.

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