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musketenfeuer.jpgHow to achieve a mass fire effect, but still have hits against individuals. This is the problem of tactical, but not so personal that they are really role-playing, miniatures games.

The goal is to allow the volley, because ten men could actually get together and do that. But at the same time we want to allow sharp shooters. Just because the matchlock had a low rate of fire and short range, there is no reason why some men would not have chosen to master the weapon and get the most out of it. Most would not, of course, but at the individual level it is only reasonable that we make provision for the individual shot.

It’s easy enough to have one man shoot at one man. It’s easy enough to have a mass of men shoot at a mass of men when at the end you are removing abstract homogenous casualty figures. But if you have a mass fire effect, say from a volley of muskets, when every shooter is a known individual shooting at a group of targets who are also known individuals, the problem of hit allocation rears its head.

Guerra Floridas apportions the hits according to the target ranks – an automatic assumption that cannon-fodder get it first.

Avalon Hill’s Up Front applies a base number for the volley, and then adds a random modifier and inflicts this on every target figure. But in this case they are modelling potentially high rates of fire.

But then again, to talk of rate of fire is to talk about time. And what is the time scale for More Escarmouche? Certainly a personal scale, measured in minutes. But is it so short that we are addressing individual discharges of matchlock muskets, as we are in Escarmouche?

These thoughts have been chasing themselves in my head over the last 48 hours. The main cause is my natural revulsion at the idea of a table. The idea of table implies a slowing down of the action. Tables have gone right out of fashion. The second is the fear that the dice economy will either level out differences so greatly that any talk of individual differences in the characters is simply window dressing. Or worse, that individual differences become so strong that the dice roll is irrelevant: “Sgt Cleft never misses”. Or, even worse still, that the whole thing becomes too luck driven.

These are normal considerations, and they only really come out at play test time.