Casualty figure removal mod

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Contrarius
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Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Contrarius » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:43 am

I used to play Napoleonics a long long while ago. Mostly I used WRG's 1685-1845? rules, so my armies (1/72 scale, i.e. 23/24mm, with some 25mm figs, mostly commanders) are based for casualty removal, with plenty of single and double bases for each battalion.

Now, I really love Sharp Practice, and have adapted the basing of some of my units to suit that - mainly skirmishers on sabot bases. But I yearn for some bigger scale battles. Am thinking about G d'A but simply cannot get my head around using dice and/or roster charts to track casualties. It seems to be the ultimate cop out. I mean, you have the counters there on the table - namely the figures, so why not use them to mark your unit's casualties and dispense with those horrible dice littering the table? (Sorry, I just cannot abide those little dice and counter dials; shock markers I don't mind, even a dozen or more per unit - I use little red beads for Sharp Practice.)

So, just wondering, has anyone figured out a way to play G d'A using the actual figures in your battalions to track casualties? I'm quite ok with additional 'casualty markers' in the form of dead/wounded men, as long as there aren't too many of them.

Archdukek
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Archdukek » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:35 am

I play GdA using 28mm on multiple bases, so using dice or counters as markers works well for me. However, there no reason you need to play that way, individual casualty figure removal would still work.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that in GdA a unit in line will maintains its frontage until it breaks after it takes 10-12 hits. If you field a standard battalion of say 24 figures in two ranks you could simply remove figures from the back rank to track casualties that way. More of an issue if you use smaller battalions in single ranks.

The other option if you are happy with dead or wounded men, is to base a few on square bases marked 1-4 around each side and place one of these in contact with the unit with the number immediately next to the unit indicating the number of hits taken. You shouldn't need more than 2-3 in total per unit.

4 hits is the magic number in GdA with various penalties kicking in for each 4 hits taken and standard line infantry or cavalry units dispersing when they take 12 hits.

John

Contrarius
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Contrarius » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:21 pm

Thanks John, for your great reply. Looks like there may be hope for me and GdA after all! A few issues though.

Does unit frontage actually stay the same as a unit takes casualties? For small numbers of casualties I'd agree. The NCOs and officers simply push men forward from the rear ranks. For larger numbers of casualties, most of which would be wounded men and their mates falling out to treat them, I get the impression from the sources that frontages did shrink. Then there is also the effect of the men physically clumping together for safety when under great strain. With two-deep British units this would be especially noticeable, as a line with a depth of only one man has a significantly reduced resistance to external stresses.

I'm slightly less keen on the casualty figure marked 1-4, as I don't like having numbers of any kind visible on the table top as they become distracting. Also, knock the figure over by accident, and you've lost the coded information. But perhaps the physical location of the casualty marker can serve the same purpose: 1- to the rear; 2- to the right, etc... ? Well, it's just an idea, and probably won't work in practice.

Generally speaking I don't like rules that have absolute cut-offs, like 50% casualties means your unit disintegrates. Or worse still, 2 out of 4 battalions gone means your brigade is now demoralized and has to retreat. In practice units survived far higher casualty rates, especially when defending fortifications. Morale is a very fickle beast, sometimes 5% casualties would be more than enough to send an army running for the exits, at other times units held their ground after suffering 75% casualties or more. So the 12 casualties and your unit disappears from the field is a bit problematic for me. I would much prefer to see it being forced to retire, or falling back to the safety of cover, where a general might hope to kick and harangue it back into some sort of order or amalgamate it with other units, and send it forward again (if only as a supporting line). One of the chief functions of light cavalry is to prevent such attritioned units from reforming and being able to reenter the fray. Remove them from the field and you might as well remove your light cavalry as well.

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Trailape
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Trailape » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:00 pm

Why not simply maintain a roster if you're adverse to using markers, dice or dials ect.
Fwiw I have a single casualty figure on a base with a dice frame that holds 2 12mm dice. As 12 is the max any unit can sustain it works perfectly and two small green dice next to a dead or fleeing figure on the table doesn't at all look out of place. Actually with nicely textured bases they look quite nice.
And a unit can go 'pop' before reaching 10 or 12 casualties due to adverse Discipline Test Results,....
As for the reduction in frontage issue....
As a rule a battalion maintained a certain 'footprint' in the line and even if the frontage shrank it never shrank that much that the loss of frontage was as big an issue as its inevitable demise. Either it stood there, died there or fled from there.
I AM MY BROTHER'S KEEPER

Archdukek
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Archdukek » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:46 pm

On frontages as Trailape suggests a unit would endeavour to maintain its frontage as long as possible before becoming ineffective. The dispersal rule in GdA really represents a unit's capabilities deteriorating until that point is reached when it's no longer combat effective. A sensible player will pull them back before they reach that stage since having units dispersed will play havoc with your Brigade Morale.

Also it's not strictly a 50% cutoff, that's just a coincidence of using 24 figure units. Units can vary in number of figures and morale levels.

John

Contrarius
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Contrarius » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:20 pm

@Trailape - my point was that the figures themselves are a form of token, why add yet another form of token (dice or casualty marker) or even worse a separate roster? You're just making things more complicated.

I like to see at a glance the state of my battalions, not have to read it off dice or look it up in a roster. When the formation physically shrinks and is trailing casualty models or is disordered (bases askew) I can see that immediately.

Admittedly with no figure removal there's the convenience of having fewer bases to physically move on the table, but I use magnetic battalion sabot bases anyway, so that's less of a problem.

I realize that it's irrelevant in GdA for morale if you have 12 or 36 figures in a "standard battalion" but that kinda messes with my preferred system for tracking casualties using figure removal. Which all makes me wonder if GdA is the right rule set for me...

Archdukek
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Archdukek » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:42 pm

It would be a pity to dismiss an excellent ruleset over the matter of casualty removal which I think you could make work without in any way compromising the rules. However, each to their own.

John

Contrarius
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Contrarius » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:51 pm

Archdukek wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:42 pm
It would be a pity to dismiss an excellent ruleset over the matter of casualty removal which I think you could make work without in any way compromising the rules. However, each to their own.

John
...which is precisely why I'm trying to figure out a workaround. It seems otherwise to be a very interesting set of rules, with many novel mechanisms, certainly streets ahead of the main opposition sets which are over-simplistic and lack even the flavour of the Napoleonic era.

Contrarius
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Contrarius » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:03 pm

It's not only the casualty removal. I'm having problems with a few other aspects, some of which I mentioned above and in other posts on this forum. The chief of these is the "dispersal", as in vanishing, of units that cross a magic threshold. And with them, the demoralization of whole brigades, again upon transgressing arbitary thresholds. I suppose it's a simplification of reality considered necessary for the sake of progressing the game and getting a decisive result within the standard club games session of three hours or so. I'd much prefer something like the shock system used in Sharp Practice, but that would likely be too cumbersome to use in a divisional game with 10-15 battalions a side.

Archdukek
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Re: Casualty figure removal mod

Post by Archdukek » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:25 pm

Any rule system needs a mechanism to determine when a unit ceases to be combat effective usually related to the number of casualties and loss of cohesion in the unit. Often this is determined by a morale test which applies various modifiers to a dice roll but which one could argue is equally arbitrary in its effects.

GdA dispenses with separate morale tests per se instead building them into other mechanisms be that the Charge Procedure or Discipline Tests as a result of coming under heavy fire. The more units are exposed to enemy action the harder it becomes to keep them in the fight. In my experience units rarely disperse merely by reaching 12 casualties, instead their discipline will crack from coming under heavy fire or they will fail to stand against a charge or will lose a Melee and break. There is nothing which feels arbitrary about the loss of a unit or the faltering of a Brigade. Rather it feels a natural consequence of keeping them in combat too long and failing to reinforce an attack or defence.

A Commander in Chief can influence the consequences through skilful use of his ADCs but once things start to go against you things can quickly slide away and their are never enough ADCs to go round.
Certainly I have found the GdA rules to give an enjoyable, challenging game with a strong Napoleonic feel which rewards correct tactics and specifically the use of reserves both within the brigades and at Division or Corps level.It pays to keep units in hand for your lead troops to fall back on when things go wrong or to exploit success. To my mind the mechanisms work well to give historically plausible results in a reasonable period of time. I can't really ask for anything more.

John

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