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Larger Units


Strategiser
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@ David:

I have a quick question about basing and, by extension, the Larger Units:

So the Recommended Basing section in the Introduction shows different basing sizes under each scale depending on the type of commander and the size of units (battalions, squadron groups, and batteries). This is all good and clear, which I assume is also where the combat phase modifier for Larger Units comes into effect. HOWEVER, the 150 yard scale (which I understand is the default scale for 10mm figures) only shows one consistent 30x30mm basing size for all unit sizes. THEREFORE, my question is how do you distinguish different unit sizes under 150 yard scale and how do you then define the Larger Unit modifier if/when all base sizes are the same?

Thanks. 

 


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David
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Strategiser,

Support for multiple base sizes to represent different sizes of Units was introduced in ESR Original Edition based on play tester feedback, and it was maintained in ESR Second Edition. The basis of the mechanic is actually two Combat Resolution modifiers: vs Larger Unit -1 and vs Multiple Units -1. The practical result is that if you have a Unit on a larger base in contact with a Unit on a smaller base, then the smaller Unit suffers a -1 penalty, making it effectively one lower in its CR in this circumstance. If, however, there are two smaller Units in contact with the larger Unit, then the larger Unit suffers a -1 penalty for vs Multiple Units – the net result being the first combat between the two sides is equal. If the larger Unit prevails, then the smaller Unit which resolves second will suffer a -1 for being vs Larger Unit, but in the first contest, size does not matter, the two smaller Units become equivalent to the larger Unit.

With that said, representing smaller and larger Units isn't very practical. Unit sizes vary throughout campaigns from battle/scenario to battle/scenario. In far more cases than not, we also don't have accurate returns for historical Unit sizes in most engagements, thus, when looking at historical events, we know campaign averages but we only know uncommon snapshots of Unit strengths. Even if we had this data in a comprehensive form, it doesn't make practical sense for a wargamer to produce multiple Armies so that they have Units of the "correct" size for each battle – especially since the advantage of a larger Unit becomes nullified when the larger Unit contacts two or more enemy – which it is often required to do since on the attack it must close directly with the enemy.

The net result of all this background is that while some players really like the added color of representing multiple Unit sizes, it actually adds only a small bit to game play – a trade some will feel is worth it and others not. Meanwhile, when we launched our ESR Box Sets in 1:160 scale (aka 10mm) we had to do two things: Pick a default ground scale (1"=150 yards) and decide on a base size(s) to provide. We determined that we would simply be opening a can of worms in terms of number of miniatures needed (varying with stand size) and correct makeup of bases provided (which would never actually be correct). And therefore decided to standardize. The impact on game play is… well tiny. And as leading up to this decision we had a broad spectrum of players contacting us and either telling us they were basing their Units uniformly or asking if there was any downside to doing so, it has been predictably well received.

Considering that Units re-allocated their men to maintain frontage (many French battalions in 1814 fought in two rank lines instead of three rank to cover the needed frontage), and that Army Commanders of the period judged the strength of Armies by number of battalions, any given battalion can be safely presumed to be of "effectively strength" – not correct paper strength, but rather enough that it remains effective and functional in the field. Therefore, the net benefit of having more men in a given Unit is not a simple a question as X is bigger than Y, because Units almost never fight in a vacuum.

Sorry that is more internal background than you were asking for, but I wanted to make sure we offered you context rather than just some summary statement of "Eh, variably base size really doesn't matter but you can do it if you like it."

-David


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Strategiser
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@david

Many thanks for this comprehensive reply David. I always appreciate this! 

Makes very good sense and I certainly agree that constantly re-basing stands and figures for each battle would be extremely tedious in practice and so I wanted to clarify as to why that rule was there in the first place and the reason it was not applied to 150 yard scale. But it is all very clear now, thanks again! 


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tolstoy1807@gmail.com
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Austrians are often a problem, with sometimes a thousand men per battalion. One solution might be to add an additional infantry stand for every three infantry stands in the formation.


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tolstoy1807@gmail.com
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I'm building armies of 10 mm troops = a Prussian corps and a French corps, for starters.

I think the units look a lot better with more troops per base - 12 instead of 10. That means using 1.5 inch bases for infantry and cavalry - I can fit 5 troopers on a cavalry base. I don't mind the extra painting. I've found the tens are easier than 15s to paint, by far.

But that will limit my game scale to 75 or 100 yards per inch.

So I wanted to ask, if I get enough figures to do a big battle that requires a scale of 150 or 200 yards per inch in order to get the whole battlefield on the table, would I be out of line to decree that an infantry stand for THIS game would be 1,000 men and a cavalry stand be 500? Another way to put it: each infantry stand is now 2 battalions and each cavalry stand now 2 squadron groups or a full regiment. An artillery battery would then be 2 batteries. That way, I could fit it all on the table and do Wagram or Leipzig or Dresden. I think this is called "bathtub gaming."

If I try that, the question is, wouldn't that change the fatigue points per stand, from 1 fatigue point per stand to 2? A division with 10 battalions would be reduced to 5 stands if bath-tubbed this way, meaning it would disappear fast using normal fatigue points...so I wanted to know if it would do to give each stand 2 fatigue points? The division of 5 stands would have 10 fatigue points with this modification. 

If I did so, then I'd first double all the skirmish and artillery fire ratings. When assessing damage, ordinary fatigue would proceed at 1 point per result - skirmish and artillery fire would result in the listed number of fatigue points, rushed deployment would result in 1 fatigue, etc.

But if a stand routs or is wiped out, it would count as -2 fatigue points. If you don't do this, you'd have the anomaly of a division losing perhaps 4 out of 5 stands but losing only 4 fatigue points out of 10.

Any comments on the math?


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David
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Hi there!

Obviously you're the one playing, you can do anything you want.

Posted by: @chris

But if a stand routs or is wiped out, it would count as -2 fatigue points. If you don't do this, you'd have the anomaly of a division losing perhaps 4 out of 5 stands but losing only 4 fatigue points out of 10.

Unfortunately a lot of things will break, not just Fatigue thresholds. Specifically, I believe results will become more polarized.

• Deployment times will be drastically decreased to the tune of about half, which significantly changes the speed a scenario develops, the time deployed troops have to fight before reinforcements are able to join in… etc…

• As you note, Fatigue thresholds will be halved unless you adjust the value of a Unit for Fatigue, but that will cause different problems, and if you increase the Fatigue taken when a Unit ties, routs, or is removed, we can presume those events will happen with similar commonality as they would in a normal game, but their impact was just doubled.

• Commitment of artillery, rallying of Units, etc… will all behave differently than expected by a wide margin as well, since to get two battalions back normally, you'd need to make two successful Leader Action rolls; failing the first prevents the second, but succeeding with the first and failing with the second still gets you one. If each stand is two battalions, then there is no direct correlation to the normal scheme of results.

• Doubling the skirmish and artillery values will also create some strange outcomes, both will be necessarily more consolidated in their area of effect, and that will play a significant role in giving you different results than if played normally.

• Combat Ratings [CR], Assessments, and Fatigue accumulation are all based off the assumption of designing around an average outcome with the outliers actually driving events (i.e. variation from average is what allows the game to move, if you actually got average results… practically nothing would happen). There are less stands, therefore less chances. It could also lead to less times a Unit is supported and therefore increase the number of Rout results.

• The Assessment impacts of every artillery battery counting as two will potentially mean substantially increased negatives for an enemy who is enfiladed or fired upon at close range, while the Formation with friendly artillery committed with get a larger bonus. The positives and negatives will sometimes match up with the norm, but as with the other areas there will be several circumstances that can no longer happen.

All of these things suggest to me that you will get a significantly more polarized game play, where minor events will have a disproportionate impact on the outcome compared to a normal game.

-David


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tolstoy1807@gmail.com
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Well, that's good to know. I think some of the distortions you spoke of would not affect play much, but others would have major effects. I could live with deployment being a bit faster, since at 150 or 200 yards per inch, the distance in inches will be smaller anyway. But most of the problems, especially involving artillery, are huge. 

On our 10 foot table, you can fit a single line of 100 stands at 3mm or 80 stands at 1.5 inches. I guess the next question is, does this differential make that much difference? 

 


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David
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Posted by: @chris

On our 10 foot table, you can fit a single line of 100 stands at 3mm or 80 stands at 1.5 inches. I guess the next question is, does this differential make that much difference? 

Ultimately it is all in the eye of the beholder, but depending on how you factor it, that is a 20-25% differential, which is pretty large.

At 100 yards (appropriate if the typical battalion is approximately 1.5" wide) a 10' long table would give you about a 7.5 mile long battlefield. Of course at 150 yards that same table will be 10 miles long… and it gets difficult to find Napoleonic battles that are larger than 10 miles wide.

-David


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tolstoy1807@gmail.com
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One of the things I like about ESR is that you can scale it so you have "room around the edges." Maps in almost any battlefield atlas do the same thing - they show you what's beyond the flank. I like that aspect in all the games I've been part of or observed. I think I will go back to 3cm bases, as they make it easier. However...

How do you arrange 10 figures in a French battalion? It's 1/6 voltigeurs, 1/6 grenadiers, and 4/6 fusiliers. It doesn't divide by 10 very well. I'd like the stands to look organized and proportional. Any thoughts on how to do that?

Sorry this is off topic. Perhaps it belongs somewhere else. 


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David
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Posted by: @chris

How do you arrange 10 figures in a French battalion? It's 1/6 voltigeurs, 1/6 grenadiers, and 4/6 fusiliers. It doesn't divide by 10 very well. I'd like the stands to look organized and proportional. Any thoughts on how to do that?

Well, honestly, any way you prefer as the way the figures are mounted won't impact game play. But to answer your question, two ranks of five with elites and command figures up front and fusilier companies in the rear rank is how we base our French demo Units.

-David


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pmyers920@cox.net
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@david

following up on ignoring different sized battalions, do you intend that just for basing, or combat modifier too? Given that the modifier is written as base size, do normal and large infantry get the modifier v. Cavalry? And everybody against artillery?

thanks,

Phil


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David
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Posted by: @pmyers920cox-net

following up on ignoring different sized battalions, do you intend that just for basing, or combat modifier too? Given that the modifier is written as base size, do normal and large infantry get the modifier v. Cavalry? And everybody against artillery?

 

At the point of Combat Resolution it becomes a highly debatable consideration. Overall, I'd say the group you play with needs to be onboard with any implementation because the rules explicitly allow for modifying the CR value of a Unit for size. With that said, in our introductory games at conventions and my own games, we ignore it completely.

If I was to use the size modifier in a game, I would probably do it just as you suggest because it is straight forward and fairly defensible historically.

With that said, while you can certainly make a case that cavalry Units are smaller than infantry Units, cavalry also Fatigue drastically faster, so the balance is not as direct as it may first seem. With artillery Units it would seem easier to scale down their CR value rather than remember "which batteries are how big?" and since artillery is never going to end up in Combat Resolution with other artillery, that means the impact of that implementation would be a permanent reduction in the artillery's CR anyway.

Hope that helps.

-David


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sayam45cal@hotmail.com
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    Wow, this is all great and points directly at my Austrians.  Would it be fair to add a third rank of figs to the standard infantry bases to represent a larger unit?  The standard footprint of the unit doesn't seem to change even though the unit could be in line or column.  Plus visually the larger units can be more easily identified.

     For a second alternative going with paper strengths say a French battalion is at 800 and an Austrian at 1080.  I was also thinking of adding an extra Austrian battalion for every 3-4 at the standard base size.  

     I think the game plays very well and cleanly if you don't alter for the Austrians but I would like to find an answer that doesn't unbalance the game if possible.  

     Many thanks, you are doing wonderful work!

 


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David
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Posted by: @sayam45calhotmail-com

Would it be fair to add a third rank of figs to the standard infantry bases to represent a larger unit?

Not a bad idea if you want a visual indicator.

Posted by: @sayam45calhotmail-com

I was also thinking of adding an extra Austrian battalion for every 3-4 at the standard base size.  

Difficult to say if this would impact outcomes more than desired… it might be subtle enough to work so all I can say is test it and see.

-David


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sayam45cal@hotmail.com
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      It's worth a try just to see the look on my opponent's face, heh.  

                              Many thanks and be safe!


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