Monday, 12 December 2011

How many troops

In preparation for the first rules test game I have been thinking of the size of units for my Sharp practice variant. Now I a quite aware that this was in no way standardized but after reading all the orders of battle I could lay my hands on 500 rank and file seems to be about right for a battalion and a 100 for a company. I also decided on one "Big man per two groups" and as both a company at a figure to man ratio of 1:1 and a battalion at 1:5 would work out at 100 figures

This would mean
For a Company of Foot
10 groups of 10 two of which would be pike men giving you 80 musket  & 20 pike men five bigmen Company Captain Lvl 2-3 First Lieutenant Lvl 2-3 ensign Lvl 1-2 & two Sergeants level 1-2. I am aiming at a total of 10 levels of Bigman in a company. Supernumeraries would include musicians & if present a company standard

For a Troop of horse or dragoons
Still thinking about this but about 60 rank and file seems right though I would have to reduce the numbers for horse holders when the Dragoons dismounted & on the rarer occasions when the Horse would.

For a Battalion  of foot
10 groups of 10 two of which would be Grenadiers if present & 2 figures in each musketeer group would be Pikemen.if present. Big Men would be Major or Colonel  Lvl 2-3 Senior captain  Lvl 2-3 Senior Captain Lvl 1-2 & two Captains  level 1-2. I am aiming at a total of 10 levels of Bigman in a battalion. Supernumeraries would include musicians  at least two Drummers Kings & regimental colours or there equivalent & may be a number of troops to form a a colour party.

For a squadren of horse 
I am still thinking about this but about 45 rank & file seems right

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rules considerations. some more thoughts

I am still working on a force a play test game so most of the questions about how it all works rather depends on what happens when I have tried out the rules I have proposed and seen if they produce results that match the original accounts though finding battle accounts at this sort of level of detail - Granularity as it has been referred to is a bit of a challenge.

I am not sure about tests as such as Sharp Practice Lacks them using shock accumulation as its Morale mechanism but I have thought about the mechanisms described in TSS for determining if cavalry charge home as a basis. I however want to run some play tests first.

Thank you for your feed back it helps me to shape my ramblings into something coherent or as close to it as I get.

I am inclined to agree with the comment below that infantry against infantry fights tended to become prolonged musketry duels. Duels which where often  rather indecisive of all armies of this period only the Swedes in the great northern war bucked this tendency and settled things in hand to hand combat.

Monday, 24 October 2011

First Pictures - first company St Marie’s Parish Militia

These are imminent as I have nearly completed the figures for the League of Ausburg painting competition.
so watch this space.

Not the best photograh but my old faithful camera needs a bit of care and attention & I need to remember how to use Photo shop to tidy up the image

 This is a cropped image form the same set the figures are quite matt but the flash makes them seem very glossy. this is the front view of the competition entry

Musketry ranges & Musketry quality

I am at present considering changing these and changing the mechanism for determining effectiveness at a given range

Musketry ability
I said before that I liked the way Terrible Sharp Sword the ACW rules supplement  spit the characteristics of a unit down from the simpler elite good,  etc system of the Original Sharpe Practice.I have mentioned Drill in earlier ramblings so lets consider Musketry.

Musketry in this period and for much of the whole horse and musket era had little to do with personal marksmanship it was to do with a massed effect of formed troops firing in an orderly way. At the start of the period I am considering it was it would seem the aim to maintain a constant hail of fire on a target and this was done using a variety of rotational drills, but this reduced the shock effect of the fire and innovations before the period we are considering such as the Swedish Salvoes of the thirty years war gave people pause for thought.

However the concept of Volley fire was slow to develop and spread as the result of firing all your guns at once whilst certainly having an effect on the target left you with all your weapons unloaded. This was seen as a significant disadvantage when your effective rate of fire was one to two rounds per minute.especially if your Volley failed to put the opponent to flight and he charged you or by means of other firing drills maintained a more constant if lesser volume fire at you whilst you frantically reloaded.

I have already mentioned the effect of types of firing drill in an earlier article on this blog so I wont repeat myself here, and will limit myself to the quality musketry.

In Sharp Practice I would suggest the following ability levels

Pitiful- dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with one dice in two lost
Poor -dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with one dice in four lost
Adequate - dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with one dice in six lost 
Trained - dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with no modifiers
Good - dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with one dice in six added 
Excellent- dice rolled for effect as per firing drill in use by troops, with one dice in four added

I will come back to this later but I hope you see where I am going this is very much a work in progress 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pike & Bayonets

The pike by this point  a defensive weapon rather than an offensive one, there where exceptions notably the Swedish, with each company having  at most twenty to thirty per company of a hundred plus Musketeers.  It was used by most European armies as a deterrent to cavalry, with  the small group of pike being positioned centrally to the company and being advanced and lowered in the event of a possible cavalry charge.

Plug Bayonets
These are a spear head shaped dagger with a slim handle designed to fit down the bore of a musket and turn the musket form a fire arm to a short spear. This prevents the weapon form being loaded or fired.

Ring bayonets
These are similar to the above but feature a ring or rings which protrude from the hilt fitting  and fit over the barrel end allowing the spearhead shaped dagger like the plug bayonet to rest parallel to bore of the musket. This allows the musket to be loaded and fired with the bayonet fitted.
However the bayonet was heavy unbalanced the gun affecting the weapons accuracy and firing drills where ill adapted to loading a weapon with a fitted bayonet.

Thank you Steffano 

More On Musketry Drills -cavalry shooting

Thanks to a post on the Sharp Practice forum I think I need to add this 

Carcarole by horse this is just a variation on the rotational fire drills done by infantry and is becoming obsolete at this period as far as I can tell it was only used by the Austrians on any large scale & that the preferred technique for those cavalries  which used firing whilst mounted was a variation on the French pistol volley then charge with sword without reloading.

It does mean that we need to consider the horse Pistol as a mas combat weapon rather than something the odd Blaggardly villain might use on our hero to compensate for his lack of swordsmanship.

Given that the ranges for formed musketry are what they are I would range pistols as carbines but count the firer as being one level of musketry worse than they are for now. I am however considering changing the ranges a bit and using a similar mechanism to reflect loss of accuracy at range.

Thank you Steffano

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Disorder drill & musketery

In adapting Sharpe Practice to the period we have to consider every thing I have read so far on the period about manoeuvring infantry in the period suggests that it was rather more difficult than it became later in the horse and musket period. I am taking a wild guess that the cause of this was connected to the level of training of the troops and in particular the rather primitive systems of drill used.

So I am first going to use a set of characteristics for each unit based on the expanded  ones introduced in Terrible Sharp Sword where troops are rated for Musketry, Drill, Experience  & belief, here I am only really interested in Drill as the others I will consider separately and some like belief work as they are.

Rabble:- have no training or experience  at all, little better then Walllahs can be made to form line with difficulty but doing any thing with them other than them having stand and wait will be difficult and require a lot of  Officer & NCO effort.
Trained band:- Have had limited training often in out of date patterns of drill or limited sections of more modern drill from poor trainers, never used it or practised it out of the environs of a parade square or village green, can be relied on to stand in line, in well dressed ranks and files, to do basic formation changes, such as rotational fire, advancing pikes fitting bayonets but not with the alacrity of better trained troops and   change form column of march to line eventually if with difficulty and command input
Regular:-  This is the standard bench mark of professional soldiery they can stand in line and are likely to maintain correct dressing  when moving & can deploy from column of march to line with some efficiency and relatively little confusion, can carry out basic drill evolutions such as those outlined above well and with alacrity are capable of managing some sort of volley on command even they usually use rotational fire drill
Good:- Pretty much the best you can expect for most troops they can do every thing regulars above can in addition they will deploy from line to column with no confusion and maintain dressing and formation in most circumstances without needing constant input from their commanders

Polished:- Perfect but rarely found only the best of the best could do this in the period this lot could drill with the men of Fredrick the greats army without looking too shabby

I feel that in order to properly model the behaviour of the troops of the period I need to add an additional factor which I will call DISORDER  this works like shock and effects all groups in a formation like shock except that it has a maximum value of six and does not have any of the morale effects that shock does.However if a group in a formation or a formation has a Disorder of Six and suffers any further causes of disorder then this becomes shock as beyond a certain point being a milling mob will also  have adverse morale effects. It is important to note that disorder is independent of events which might break up a formation. such as cavalry charging too long at the gallop, or poorly drilled troops trying to manurer through difficult terrain.

Causes of Disorder 
These are many and various and depends on the troop types involved but for infantry my thoughts are as follow, I am thinking that single groups should not suffer disorder but suffer a penalty of being unformed, unless lead personally by a big man of status two or higher.

1 Changing form column of march to line or back again
2 Manoeuvring in line-expanding or contracting frontage
3 Firing 
4 Advancing your pike fixing & unfixing bayonets 
5 Moving in Line
6 Other causes -here just to remind me that other things might generate disorder that I have not thought of yet.

This is not a finished article but a WIP expect more shortly but work calls.....

Monday, 17 October 2011

On Musketry Drills

 Musketry Drills
This is where the bigest differences between the Napoleonic period or for that matter the most of the horse and musket period lie. There is first little or no volley fire as is represented in Sharpe Practice where the aim is to maximise the shock effect of fire in this period loading drill was more complex and less streamlined so rates of fire where lower than later and the emphasis was on keeping up a constant hail of fire and avoiding a situation where you could not fire at all. There where a lot of variations on the drills used more than one for most nations as they changed over the period but that said they boil down to one of two types Rotational Fire & Group    Fire  in the former each soldier loaded and fired very much in his own time after a possible initial "volley" though that might be missing if the weapons in use where matchlocks which though they where becoming increasingly rare as the period progressed where not always carried loaded,  The firming line was formed. and the soldiers would start to load then. In some versions of the drill the soldier actually  rotated through the ranks going back to reload and filtering forward to discharge his weapon. the advantages of this drill was that the line could be quite deep which was good for morale in a fire fight but the shock effect of the fire was diminished as it was spread out over time The firing line was also static whilst firing as to move it would disrupt the firing and be hard to do as it would be at all stages of the process of loading at any one time. In the latter the fire was coordinated and an attempt was made for groups within the firing line to fire simultaneously increasing the shock effect of the fire but still meaning that fire was continuous if delivered in sharp bursts as each group fired in turn.

Rules effect
All of this is modelled in Beneath the Lilly Banners so we can leave it alone, but for Sharp Practice we need to decide how to do this and I would suggest the following though I have not play tested them yet. Steve my gineapig requires painted toys to encourage him to partake of play testing. and I have only just broken my painting block.

For Rotational fire I would allow fire up to four ranks deep but roll half a dice per figure firing and halve the shock that results. I would also say for now that you only move or fire as shooting using a Rotational Drill takes both your actions.

For Group fire I would allow fire up to three ranks deep with half a dice per figure firing per action and only allow a movement action before a firing action for a firing line and even then I would have this cause problems as every thing I have read suggests that firing lines where hard to move  

I will go of and try this and the other rules changes and report back but would welcome your input as I go along

Rules considerations.

Rules of War
Whilst Under The Lilly Banners can be used as is the only change I am making is to use 15mm figures on a base size designed for 25-28mm figures increasing the number of figures on each base to make up for the size of figure being different form the size intended. as I always thinks this looks better. for element based armies mostly because I am I am afraid a big battalions heart.

Sharpe Practice whilst an excellent set of rules is still a Napoleonic set at heart and the nature of warfare in the early 19th century whilst still horse and musket was significantly different from that at the turn of the 18th century which is where we are.

My thoughts on the rules are as follows.

Characters:- I would be inclined to keep them simple just a name and a status & bring in the full rules when the character does something in a game which would qualify it as a proper Big Man 

Turn sequence:- I wouldn't change in general though changes outlined below would change it some what
Formations:- I would use the ideas from Terrible sharp Sword the Toofatlardies  ACW supplement for Sharp practice to allow Big men to command larger formations than outlined in Sharp Practice practice. It strikes me as being in period for there to be large linear formations, possibly rather unwieldy ones. Other wise I would not change the rules
Troop Types:- Would be Horse, Foot, Dragoons, Gunners & Labour as gun crews where large but the majority of them seems not to have been trained gun crew but civilian labourers drivers and such like I am assuming no light infantry as such with what battlefield role the had in small actions being done by Dragoons as they could be deployed at speed even if they fought when dismounted in close order  or ordinary foot  or horse sent off to do something ad hock like forage for supplies, scout  or the like

Formations:- Line dominates especially for foot or dismounted troops, but not the Napoleonic type of line as it will be much deeper firstly as depending on the type of fire drill the troops used many more ranks could reasonably fire and secondly because deep lines where more resilient even if it reduced the lines fire output. I also need to reflect the static nature of firing lines once they where formed and the effort they where to move. Column is only column of march and I will lift the rules form Terrible Sharp Sword to reflect this should it come under fire. Square as such did not exist and infantry had no good way of dealing with cavalry save hoping that they where put off by the handful of pike at the core of each company or by a last desperate volley before contact.

Bonus cards:- I think I am going to have to redo this almost entirely as the national characteristics a hundred years before are very different.

Movement:- Would remain the same except that I intend to introduce a mechanic to model the awkwardness of manoeuvring large linear formations and that under most circumstances a formation gets to either fire or move of which more an on an activation

Spotting:- would work as is I think

Firing :- is going to change quite a lot as the firing drills of this period where very different and had different aims form those of the Napoleonic Period. however the effect of fire on the target would be much the same and most of the other rules would not need changes, or at least not that I can see at the moment.

The rest of the rules are probably ok as they are though I dont see a use for some of them in a european setting, and I intend my big men to be kept simple at least to start with.

To be continued........

First Post - Setting the Scene

I have rather fallen in love with the new Warfare League of Augsburg figures and inspired by my wanting to enter their painting competition I have started my first unit which has turned out to be the beginnings of a company of French Militia and I am planing more to take part in a campaign set during the Nine years war in the imaginary Electorate of Marianburg representing an attempt by the French and their allies to persuade the Elector that trading with the enemies of France is a poor idea.

The action starts in the late spring of 1695 when negotiations having broken down after dragging on for nearly two years The French turn to diplomacy by other means and invade the Principality with a force large enough to over awe the Electors small army, including a sizable siege train for the walls of Marienburg are old thick and recently reinforced to modern standards after the fall and destruction of old Creutzfeldt seventy years ago during the thirty years war. However the Elector is wily enough to see this coming and  rich enough to hire several more regiments of horse and foot to supplement them. If the French want to fight about it then the Elector plans to give them one that they will remember.

I intend to use a modified version of TooFatLardies Sharp Practice for small actions with 25-28mm figures

and do larger actions with the League of Augsburg's Beneath the Lilly Banners using 15mm figures

I hope that you will find some amusement following me on this little adventure.