Sunday, 5 July 2015

Muskets & Marshals (version 5)

In preparation for Vintage Waterloo I thought I had better get on and make the rule revisions to Muskets & Marshals that Roy and I discussed after our last game. One of the main changes was to make cavalry units 12 figures strong rather than the 18 figure establishment we had before. The reason for this change was chiefly because finding 18 Hinton Hunt figures of the same type is well-nigh impossible but also to make cavalry units a bit more manoeuvrable and numerous.

When I originally devised the rules I had in mind a game with 5 or 6 units per side, lots of dice rolling (I’m sorry but to me it isn’t a wargame without the thrills and spills of dice rolling) and of course – casualty figure removal (a great way to get an instant visual appraisal of the state of play). Both of these activities are quite time consuming and for a game the size of Vintage Waterloo they may prove a bit unwieldy but we’ll have to wait and see.

The game does make for some fairly brutal outcomes with units being whittled away rapidly in combat but then the idea is to have a result within about eight turns of play. With a bigger battle combat situations will inevitably be more complex and I think artillery in particular will be a bit of an unknown quantity – possibly being too effective.

Cavalry though is perhaps the hardest element to get right in a Napoleonic wargame so this afternoon I had a quick run through with the revised rules to see how they worked out. I picked a simple scenario, 3 French cavalry regiments against 2 British foot regiments. I chose to keep the British units in line rather than square because even in line, steady troops like redcoats ought to be able to beat off a frontal attack from cavalry.

France's finest ready to take on the British - the guard cavalry is nearest the camera with the Horse Grenadiers (second rank) about to experience their first combat.

It's first combat for the 42nd Black Watch too - steady lads!

Having survived their morale tests (although the 42nd became disordered) the British volley fire was devastating. This was partly because there was a saving throw modifier for 'first volley' but mainly because British troops get to re-roll 4 dice per volley (this has now been amended to 2!). Every one of my newly painted Horse Grenadiers are hors-de-combat.

At least the Polish Lancers didn't break, but they won't be charging home either.

The French reserves come foward...

 ...and meet the same fate - not a single British casualty!

Second attempt - this time the British have already taken casualties (the guards are disordered) and are assumed to have already fired so no longer qualify for the 'first volley' modifier.

 The guard cavalry fair no better than before - although at least the horse artillery has finally scored a hit!

However, the lancers and Chasseurs have broken the guards who are now routing. This is more like it but they probably would have survived had they formed square.

So I think the lesson is don’t attack infantry in line with your cavalry unless the infantry are showing signs of wavering. Marshal Ney take note.

To view or download Muskets & Marshals 5.1 click here.


Doug said...

Beautifully presented figures!

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, like the French cavalry en masse, looking forward to the big game.


Stryker said...

Thanks for the comments chaps!

the Archduke said...

Do I spot the Bateman brush on those Cuirassiers? I too struggled with the first volley issue in my rules and concluded that it should apply negatively (ie minus for subsequent volleys). Initially, it gave a machine gun effect to my infantry and was disproportionate in that in most games the majority of volleys were "first". Looking forward to the event.

Stryker said...

Archduke - the Cuirassiers were painted by Don and refreshed by me, Don also painted the line lancers - the other figures are from my own brush! That's an interesting idea with the negative modifier but it would make it impossible to hit at long range with my rules. The best solution may be to do away with the first volley rule for Vintage Waterloo.

the Archduke said...

My apologies to you and Don. Failure in the Austrian Intelligence Unit....... Is it actually so bad if units that have already fired cannot hit at long range? All that smoke and fouled barrels? I should fess up here that I did as you suggest and just lost the first volley rule.

Stryker said...

You made a good point that the majority of volleys do tend to be "first" volleys (as the number of game turns tends to be limited). I think we may just ditch the rule - for Vintage Waterloo at least.