Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Notes sur le FOW Napolienne

Damn historical accuracy!  I will play Flames of War!
So over on Facebook this morning, someone posted a picture asking if anyone would play "Flames of War: The Napoleonic Wars."

The consensus of the group seemed to be "no," and I made the point that Flames of War simulates modern combat with tanks, machine-guns, and so forth, and doesn't translate well to other types of warfare. You'd have to change the core system so much, it wouldn't really be FoW any more.

Then I got to thinking, okay, it's silly, but how would I adapt Flames of War for Napoleonics anyway?

So, it's a crazy idea.  Let's do it anyway!

1) First we'd have to change how the representational scale of the game.  Flames of War uses a 1:1 WYSIWYG representation of figures.  As several people pointed out, this would not work for Napoleonics.  I suggest having each figure represent more than one soldier, and each stand represent a larger unit than a fireteam.  FoW currently uses 6-15 infantry stands in a typical game unit, representing a Platoon.  If you made each stand represent 10 soldiers, 10 stands would be a company (roughly), and the game overall would be battalion scale.   If you made each stand represent 50 soldiers, then 6 stands would be a battalion (roughly), and the game would be played at regimental size.  Etc.  In my experiments scaling FoW up and down, I've found the actual size of the base and the figure on it matter a lot less than you might imagine, so this is very workable.  Except maybe for painting 15mm Napoleonic color schemes.

2) Most stands would need to be in a formation of some sort: a line, a square, a column, etc.  We'd need to write rules for how these are represented on the table top, but I'd suggest that the bases need to be touching in particular shapes, and that casualty removal be changed so that as stands are lost, the formation retains its shape.  Not particularly hard to do.  Changing from formation to formation should probably occur in the Movement step, and require a Skill roll.  Pinned units should be unable to change. The different formations should get different advantages: squares would get a bonus against cavalry (I suggest cavalry charges would fail on a 2+), columns would get a moving bonus, etc.

3) In normal FoW, we assume that better skilled troops are using maneuver and terrain to prevent themselves from being hit by enemy fire.  Aside from some skirmishers, this doesn't seem like a good representation of Napoleonic tactics.  I'd suggest that instead, the success of shooting depend on the firing unit's skill.  In most accounts of Napoleonic war I've read, better trained troops could put out a higher rate of fire.  We could screw with the RoF rules in FoW, but I think it'd be easier to use the existing skill ratings.  Obviously, most infantry would be unable to Go to Ground or Dig In.

4) Artillery could be handled with FoW gun rules or artillery rules.  You could treat guns as direct-fire guns with an RoF, or you could use the template, depending. The template would represent an area being targeted with fire, and has the advantage of punishing troops that are bunched up in a square.

5) Pinning in Flames of War represents the reactions of soldiers to modern rapid firing weapons.  It's not a great representation of how people in Napoleonic times would react to musket or cannon fire.  but I think we could shoe-horn it to fit.  Assume that instead of being "Pinned," affected infantry are "Disrupted" or "Shaken," and need a turn or two to recover.  Then we can use Defensive Fire and Pinning normally, according to FoW rules, to see whether that bayonet charge falters.


Ivan Girsch said...

My idea behind expanding the writing of Ben Seib’s Napoleonic FoW rules was first to try and make some easy to apply rules using a set of existing rules, the Battlefield Flames of War set. A local wargames group was heavily into Flames of War and there were no Napoleonic players amongst them. I copied some stuff from WRG. Secondly to see if I could convert more realistic movement and firing distances into the set!

One problem Napoleonic wargaming has is that units are based around a battalion or regiment. So how do players justify placing these units in for example the church yard Unterlaiching that was actually defended by two companies of infantry. In the ‘army lists’ for Napoleonic FoW the smallest unit is a company although some nations can have platoons.

Another problem Napoleonic wargaming has is ground or tabletop scale. I have read numerous articles on wargame rules about accuracy verses playability, for example cavalry would move half way across the board if they were to convert their real movement distance to the game scale; well this is true. At a walk cavalry could travel 100m in a minute or at a trot or canter twice that distance whereas infantry could only achieve about 23m. Cavalry move four times faster than infantry at a walk and up to eight times at a trot or canter. So if 15mm infantry move 100mm per turn cavalry should move 400mm-800mm but we accept 150mm-200mm. Why are cavalry so slow?

Just because the original FoW rules were written for WWII combat and have been modified for another period, in this case Napoleonics, doesn’t mean that the unit structure has to follow. One figure doesn’t have to represent one man; one figure can still represent multiple figures. The ratio I chose is 1:10.

I used the French as the datum point using their company frontage as the standard size. A French company was divided into two sections each with a frontage of 12m and a depth of around 3m, 20 or so men wide and 3 ranks deep with sergeants standing back behind the third rank. A little scale problem here that a lot rule writer ignore when deciding on base sizes so with this version I have too.
A French squadron of heavy cavalry drawn up in battle order presented a full double row length of 48m.Using this as the standard and allowing for cavalry to become spread out during the charge, a 120 man squadron of cavalry will have a frontage of 55m which is represented by 4 cavalry bases.

Movement is calculated using 1 pace as 26 inches and 15 paces is almost 10m. Converting this to the game scale and then rounded up, 15 paces are equal to 1 inch.

With firing or shooting distances I have again used the scale of 1 inch equals 10m. Info from the internet and out of the books I have show that muskets could fire a few hundred metres but were only accurate at less than 70m where as cannon appear to be the opposite. Cannon at close range were powerful things but the balls would strike the ground and bury themselves or go straight through the 3 ranks causing only a few casualties. It would appear that cannon were better at longer ranges above 300-400m allowing the ball to bounce though several battalions. I have tried to reflect this in the rules. Canister is good at close range and losing power the further it travelled.

When using another period rule set to create another period you don’t have to follow every paragraph or section. For example pinned in FoW does not have to have a corresponding section in Napoleonic FoW.

Tom de Mayo said...

Hey! Thanks for commenting. I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner. Quite interested in your conversion for Napoleonics.

Ivan Girsch said...

Tom, I just found your reply on a FB Group I follow. I have taken up Napoleon at War and wonder where they got their idea from. I can send you my latest update.

Im have thought of tinkering with the ground scale to use the Hovel building (which I have) where the battalions frontage is in pro[ortio to the buildings. Hovel scale stand size 30mmx30mm 4 stands to a French infantry company 9 figures to a stand ratio 1:3