Monday, January 13, 2014

Command and Control: Modified Charles Grant rules.

Just recently Mark Dudley of Ilkley Old School blog spot  proposed an interesting compromise of Charles Grant's The War Game morale rules to fit his 16/32 figure infantry and 8/16 figure cavalry units.  The two numbers for each means that depending upon the scale of the action he can field the 'standard' 32 figure infantry, or, for larger battles, 16-figure battalions.  Given that Mr Grant's rules involves infantry units of 5 officers and 48 men; and cavalry of 4 and 24 - that is to say large units with an HQ element distinct form the main body of troops.
Two infantry regiments in the service of the Grand Duchy
 of M'yasma.  Each comprises mounted CO, subaltern, flag and
musician, 1 8-figure Grenadier coy, and 3  8 -figure musketeer coys;
a total of 36 figures apiece.  Figures are ESCI.
Mark has decided to dispense with the distinct HQ element, bringing the officers in with the main body.  But then he was faced with the two-fold problem of how to assess morale.  Particularly he needed one rule that would work irrespective of the size of the battalion.  He also wanted it to be easily assessed - increments going up by easily determined fractions of the whole.  Simplest seemed to be to apply a modifier to morale for every 1/8th lost from the original strength.

But how to deal with officer casualties?  First of all, how to determine them? (Roll of 1D6 each time the unit takes losses, as Mark does).  What is the moral effect?  (Further loss to command and control).
Two Napoleonic French units of (mostly) first generation Minifigs that I've never
had the heart to retire.  The lead unit has been augmented by
a few otherwise orphaned kneeling firing guys of indeterminate
origin.  Lacking musician figures, these units don't really 'fit'
the Charles Grant 'model' for determining command and control.

Here's my comment:
"I reckon you have a good compromise, here, but much depends upon how many 'officer figures' you have in your organisation.

"I've headed in much the same direction as you have with my Napoleonics, my 27-figure infantry units (6 coys of 4 plus HQ of officer, flag and musician) being reduced to 24 (and thus generating new units).  My organisation used to be inconsistent in this respect, my cavalry (mostly) being 12 figures all up.

"Going back to the Chas Grant handling of officer casualties, it seemed to me that there need not be any change, there.

"I think I feel a posting coming in in my own blog on this subject, so I'll enlarge upon it there.
My standard WSS Imperialist battalion/regiment: 2 Officers,
2 flags, 2 drummers and 30 other ranks.  No separate HQ line.
Figures are Wargames Factory plastics.

It seemed to me this is an interesting topic upon which to enlarge.  Having dispensed with the separate battalion HQ in my Napoleonic armies, and am doing the same with my new War of the Spanish Succession army.  Incidentally, I'm also going the flexible route with the WSS, with 36-figure infantry and 24-figure cavalry units as standard, but which may be split respectively into 18-fig and 12-figure units.  My 7 bn and 3 cav rgt army then comprises 14 bns and 6 cav rgts.  Part of the reason for the change to my Napoleonic armies was my acquiring second hand a  British army comprising 20-figure battalions that included an officer, drummer, and two flags with 16 'other ranks.'  To make it 'fit', the other armies really had to be adjusted. 
Double-scaled WSS Imperialists: the 36-figure unit split
into 2 18-figure battalions comprising Officer, flag, drummer,
and 15 other ranks.  When painted, the two units will (obviously)
have the same uniform.
But I'm not consistent.  My 7YW-period imagi-nations armies comprise 36-figure line infantry each with 4x8-figure companies (1 grenadier) plus HQ of mounted Colonel, subaltern, flag and drummer; and cavalry of 2x8-fig squadrons plus HQ of C.O., flag or guidon, musician.  Although I have occasionally thought to change it, my ACW infantry standard remains C.O. flag, musician and 24 other ranks (though there are some variations in the numbers of 'other ranks').  Cavalry units are smaller, but retain the 3-figure HQ thing.

American Civil War Union regiment comprising
CO, flag bearer,  bugler, and 24 'other ranks'.  HQ element distinct from battle line.
Figures are Airfix, the flag paper and wire attached to the running figure.
Now, for these games, my combat system for musketry is are very similar, and owes a great deal to Charles Grant's original idea, but with modifications.  Actually I thought I had invented my idea, but CG's scheme, which I had read some time before, must have been lying dormant in my memory.  At any rate, it involves volley groups to obtain 'hits' and a method of resolving 'hits' into 'casualties'.  I won't go into details here, but I regard my method a refinement that is easier and less rigid to apply, and slightly less bloody.

How officer casualties come into effect lay in my method of resolving 'hits'.  As my method did not 'pick out' individual figures within a specific 6-figure target group, but was added to and applied across the target unit as a whole, the appearance of double 6s in a 'hit group' would imply an officer casualty; and treble-6s a General Officer casualty if there was one present (i.e. standing within 5cm [2"] of the target unit).  
24-figure Austrian and Hungarian Grenadier columns,
 led by skirmishing jager, attacking a French-held village.  The 'HQ'
figures form the second rank within the columns.
I find that this system would work whether you had a separate HQ group or not, provided the number and type of officers were exactly the same.  The main difficulty is that it isn't easy to accommodate Grant's system for 5 HQ figures to 4 or 3.  These days, I am disinclined to trouble with officer casualties at all, but I do like the idea of flags as trophies.  So my rule sets have an option whereby, having lost a melee, a unit takes a separate 'morale' check to determine whether it kept its flag(s) - one colour or two in a given unit representing a 'stand' of colours.  Otherwise, if an officer is a casualty, his identity is diced for if there is a choice.  For instance, 101st new York has taken some stick and it is determined that an officer has been lost.  The choices are the C.O. and the musician (not the flag).  Rather than 50-50 the option, I enact that a 6 needs to be rolled for the CO to be taken.  The reason is that the CO figure represents one man and his HQ staff.  Several of the staff may be lost with the CO surviving.  Had the musician already been lost, then there is no option: off goes the CO.  The musician, then, is there solely to absorb one 'officer' casualty.  The presence of the CO himself offsets some of the effect of losses, cancelling one negative. 
American Civil War infantry in action.  Airfix figures.  The stone wall,
by the way, is made from real stones.
I reserve the loss of the flag to a melee outcome, or - very rare event this - the annihilation of the unit.  Years ago, in a Gettysburg refight, a regiment of Howard's Corps, facing most of Rodes's Brigade just west of the town lost every single figure in one bound to incoming musketry and gunfire.  Even though there was a heck of a lot of incoming, this outcome I had never seen before with my rule set and was totally unexpected.  I awarded the flag to the nearest Confederate regiment.
Imperialist infantry in battle array, the 4-figure HQ element in each 36-figure
regiment forming a '3rd line'.  Hilburghausen and Arenberg Infantry form
the front line, Alt-Colloredo the second, together with Trautmannsdorf
Cuirassiers.  Infantry are Airfix AWI 'Washington's Army' and
'British Grenadiers'; the cavalry are ESCI Napoleonics with tricornes
replacing the helmets.
The reason for this simplification is that my armies having developed somewhat piecemeal, there are some inconsistencies in composition of the units.  The numbers in my Austrian battalions when switching from 27 to 24 figures, were eked out by a large surplus of drummers I had obtained some years before on account of a mistaken order (which turned out to be a piece of luck). So each of my Minifigs units comprises 1 officer, 1 flag, 2 drummers and 20 other ranks.  Other units, made up of figures from other manufacturers (Warrior, Hinton Hunt (?) and another, unknown lot), all obtained second hand, have a different composition.  As a result for Napoleonics at least, I have pretty much dropped officer casualties at all, barring the flag thing.


  1. I used to track officer and nco casualties in my semi-skirmish rules which had 8 - 12 figure companies inc command figures + battalion command. It added flavour but added work to check constantly and was a pain if someone had multi-figure bases and if course varying organizations had hidden artificial benefits or penalties. Theory wise the more I thought about it the less likely it seemed that all the officers in a compnany (or really a 2 company 'division' since I only had 3 or 4 in a battalion) would be shot at the same time so really it was just chrome to cover yet another random morale measure so I reluctantly dropped it.

    I've actually found it really hard to find specific, detailed evidence to back up the whole slowly degrading morale thing but that's another topic.

  2. I think that we might be inclined to make too much of the officer casualty thing, but it can add flavour to a campaign. It seems that officers - even general officers - could be replaced reasonably quickly and without too much disruption to the overall battle (give or take the commander of the Russian left wing artillery at Borodino - but that was only because he strayed away from his command anyhow...).

    As for the 'slowly degrading morale' thing, I also have my doubts. The way I handle this is that the higher the losses, the harder it is to 'pass' a morale test, but the (main) occasion for testing is heavy loss in a short time. I still use the arbitrary 50% rule, however, which means the unit will be exhausted for the purposes of any positive action. It is theoretically possible for my units to go to 49% casualties without a morale check, provided this loss is over an extended time period (for a 36-figure unit, no more than 3 figures lost per turn. It would take a minimum of 6 turns to reach the 50% 'exhaustion' level without a morale check.

    I use the 10% threshold as sufficient traumatic a loss in one turn as to call in question the unit's willingness or ability to continue what it is doing. Even then its stance will make a difference, as well as the margin by which the unit fails.

    Perhaps I will develop this theme in another posting. It was quite a lively topic in the 'Wargames Rules design' Yahoo group.

  3. Ion,
    I apologize I haven't gotten to your blogpost sooner. I too have been reading up on Charles Grant's "The Wargame" of late and am converting it to his "Scaling Down" recommendations in the appendix of the book. I will have 6 stand battalions with 12 figures each for larger battles.

    My only issue is - how to differentiate between periods? Did CG ever publish modifications? Or do we just use the rules as they are, changing the uniforms of the Soldiers and the year on the calendar?

    Also - your results in the game with Howard's Corps against Rhodes' Division at Gettysburg were entirely realistic. Entire Regiments melted away against that advance.


    1. My copy of 'The War Game' does not have that appendix, and only fairly basic changes to accommodate 'Marlburian Warfare' - a two-page chapter. Charles Grant did publish a distinct 'Napoleonic Wargaming' book, since republished with additions by his son (C.S. Grant).

      As originally published, the Napoleonic rule set featured the same '5 officers and 48 other ranks' of the War Game, but at least some of the game mechanics were different. The musketry was a whole deal less lethal, and the range was shorter, At that, according to C.S. Grant's annex - 'The rules-Observations over 30 years' - this system was superseded by a tabular-and-average-dice system apparently pioneered by Charlie Wesencraft (or somebody).

      Although I don't know that Charles Grant ever published an ACW rule set, I believe he used a HQ plus 24-men regimental organisation very similar to my own.

      I think I might expand on this with a further posting.
      Cheers, and thanks for your interest,

    2. Ion,
      The latest edition of "The Wargame" has an appedix called "scaling down" and has suggestions for smaller units for bigger battles or smaller tables.

      the instructions make sense although I have not yet tried them:

      figure count for shooting is groups of 6 and the deduction scheme increased to 3,4,5 instead of 2,3,4 ensuring fewer casualties per shooting.

      Mr Grant says he has played games with 24 figure regiments with no problem. I am going to try some napoleonic games with 12 figure battalions of 6 stands (2 per stand).

      So this ensures when a stand is lost there is a morale check. When 2 stands are lost it's a worse morale deduction, and when 3 are lost you're at 50%. I am eager to try it although I haven't gotten around to it quite yet.

      I may try 8 stand, 16 figure battalions as well.


    3. The thing about the Grant approach (and mine) is that it can accommodate different sized units quite comfortably. My 18th Century armies are standardized om the 36-figure unit (regiment/battalion) - 4 coys of 8 figures and a 4-figure HQ. But Ursula's regiments comprised 28 figures (4-fig HQ, 4 coys of 6) and the Army of Jotun-Erbsten, battalions of 16 musketeers and a 3-figure HQ. Of course a 19 figure battalion can't live in a fire fight against a 36-figure unit, but two can!

      Your 12-figure system sounds very like one I saw described in which the writer used 8-figure battalions in 2-figure stands. I can't remember the exact details, but I gather a green unit would break after any loss; an average one after losing two, and an elite unit could stand 50% losses (2 stands) but no more. His was a very simple combat system, which I suspect well suited his army-level games. Yours sounds very like that, but a bit more sophisticated.

      When I started out our group used Charge rules modified for 9-figure foot battalions/regiments (1 officer, 8 other ranks) and 5-figure horse. These were used for Napoleonics. Although that was the tactical unit, there was a strong tendency to use the foot in Divisional columns of 4 units each. There were a good many problematic areas in this modified rule set, but the results were (in retrospect, surprisingly) reasonable.


    4. Ion,
      I like rules that are maleable. Grant's rules are great in that they can accomodate a certain amount of changes.

      The 12 figure system comes right from Grant, although to read his recommendations, he's only gone as low as 24 figures per unit.

      The big trade off of course, is morale, where less apt units will take morale checks and losses much earlier in the game.

      I've seen charge though I've not played it. I'll have to give it a look.


    5. Steven -
      I'll continue this with another posting (in a day or two). I'll mention the points you have raised here.