100 Minutes Campaign, some musings

100 Minutes Campaign, some musings

 I was very taken with the ideas around Archduke Piccolo’s  100 Minutes Campaign  as it seemed to map very well onto the higher level approach I’ve been trying to take with my newly rebased 6mm Napoleonics. French Corps with four infantry stands, a gun and a cavalry stand were exactly what I was aiming for. The game is also aimed at short campaigns, rather than single set piece battles, so things like outflanking, reinforcements are catered for automatically as part of the game system, rather than scenario bolt ons.

While pondering where I could set this up using my Hexon, I had a think about one aspect the Duke commented on himself. The casualty rate was….quite high. I think this is an inevitable consequence of the Memoir 44 type combat system where each stand rolls a dice with very high chance of eliminating an enemy one and the number of hits determining who won or lost the battle. The Archduke suggested some sort of reinforcements every few turns, but how else to resolve combat if the manouvre units are Corps? In mass warfare in both the gunpowder and pre-gunpowder age, casualties are usually a function of who wins, rather than being a determinant of victory.

As I was away on holiday, I had a bit of a think and looked the actual irrecoverable casualty rates in ten Napoleonic battles ranging from Marengo to Leipzig, and how the related to the winners and losers. In the battles I looked at generally the winner suffered fewer casualties in both percentage and absolute terms, and generally the side with more troops won (but certainly not always)  in line with Clausewitz’s observation that 2:1 was generally sufficient to guarantee victory. 

The loser generally lost around twice the casualties of the winner (it ranges from 1:1 to 3:1) of which around half were prisoners, captured in the immediate pursuit, and the percentage loss for winners was 10% to 25% and losers 16% to 30%. Interestingly the number of battle casualties each side suffered (as opposed to prisoners) was generally roughly the same, with a slight preponderance to the loser but unrelated to the relative size of each armies. Some battles (Wagram, Borodino) degenerated into a huge slugging match with very high losses on both sides.

Where does this leave us? Well for me, it prompted memories of playing AHGCs ‚War and Peace‘, which also resolved battles at Corps level, albeit with 40 mile hexes and month long turns, with the battles resolved in multiple rounds to allow for reinforcement and demoralisation. The combat system uses a 2D6 (aka DBA type opposed dice throws), and combat losses per round of combat are generally around 10%, but can also involve one side becoming demoralised. Once one side is completely demoralised, it runs away and generally the losses aren’t enormous but are suffered disproportionately by the loser.

W&P has leader ratings and ‚morale‘ (actually quality) ratings for each army, but it is just as easy to pro rata the SP of each Corps represent troop quality so e.g. 1 stand = 4000 French infantry or 6000 Prussians or whatever.

Anyway, I guess I’m looking at some sort of opposed D6 system (like DBA) with win/lose and the degree of loss on each side determined by the degree of difference. Modified by leader quality, odds ratios and maybe terrain, this will end up looking some like the bell curve CRT in Tom Mouats ‚Sandhurst Kriegspiel‘ modern grand tactical rules. 

I’ll kick a few more ideas around while simultaneously figuring out how to fit a 12×15 Hexon grid on my dining table. I may have to reduce the battlefield size a bit and have the outlying Corps march on from off the table.

A first draft is something like this. Use the standard method to rate the participating Corps combat strength (one per stand plus one per combat arm present), losses are as a percentage of the stands (round fractions up). so e.g. a force of 12 stands loses 10%, so 1.2, rounded up to 2 stands. 

Roll opposed D6. Modify each dice by:

Odds: 3:2 +1 2:1 +2 3:1 +3 etc, per terrain advantage +1, add in leader ratings if relevant (1-3) -1 if enemy unsupplied. 

Most Army leaders are (1), some are (2) and only Nosey and Boney are (3) – straight from W&P.

Draw = both sides lose 10%, fractions always rounded up. Else:

Winner always loses 10%.

Lose by one or two, lose 20% and retreat.

Lose by three or more, lose 30% and retreat.

If the winner has more cavalry stands, lose an extra stand.

Every other loss must be a cavalry or artillery if available. Leaders hit on a double 6.

Something like that anyway. I need to fiddle around with the odds and results a bit.

I’m also strongly tempted to have a ‚march to the guns‘ option as in W&P so adjacent Corps can attempt to intervene, and you can do things like Jena-Auerstadt where one flank wins a battle then moves to reinforce the other, or Waterloo where Napoleon can wait in agony for Grouchy, only for it to be the Prussians.

Anyway, I’ll get a game set up and try it out, as theory and practice are not the same thing. 

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Autor: Martin Rapier / The Games We Play

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