Home Forums General Game Design Question for Historians and Game Designers: Effectiveness at Different Levels

This topic contains 10 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by McLaddie McLaddie 6 days, 21 hours ago.

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  • #62270
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Whilst I was writing a reply to Norm Smith on a recent blog post http://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/polemos-general-de-division-2nd-battle.html?showComment=1494785492277#c5556427145687221588 I made a comment that I would expect, all other things being equal, that differences in effectiveness between two armies would be equal or increase as the size of the unit or formation increased i.e. if Red’s infantry battalions were 50% more effective than Blue’s, then Red’s Brigades would be more than 50% effective than Blue’s, and Red’s Divisions would be (slightly) more effective still.  Conversely, the effectiveness at company, platoon and section would be closer.

    The Polemos Napoleonic’s ruleset consists of two separate sets of rules: General de Division, in which a base of infantry represents a battalion; and Marechal de l’Empire, in which a base represents a brigade or regiment of 3-5 battalions.  It gives a combat modifier of +2 to Veteran infantry in the first, +1 to Veteran Infantry in the second.  It is nationality agnostic, so no increased/diminished efficiency for specific nations is represented.  The more I think of this, the more I am surprised that the modifiers are pitched this way around: what do you think?

    #62281
    norm smith
    norm smith
    Participant

    I wonder whether it is because if the battalion itself is veteran, its veteran integrity is whole (i.e. the whole unit is veteran) and so it can be given a good modifier to reflect the certainty of that, where-as in the next formation up the chain, it may be the case that not all the battalions within the formation can be relied upon to be veteran to the same degree and so the modifier becomes a more generalised one (i.e.lower).

    That is only a guess on my part.

    Does Polemos give say a guards regimental / brigade formation the +2 to reflect that a higher majority of its battalion components are more likely to be veteran / good or whatever?

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by norm smith norm smith.

    http://commanders.simdif.com

    #62283
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Norm,

    It is a good idea but I don’t know.  There is nothing specifically written that I know of to support that.

    My own idea was that brigade/regimental level combat is seen by the designer as more chaotic (there isan extra level of activity going on) so flattened all the modifiers to increase the relative importance of the dice roll. After flattening the situational modifiers, the troop quality modifiers had to be flattened too so that troop quality didn’t double its importance compared to situation.

    However, I am very much interested in the overall dynamic at work in both real-life and wargames, not just relating to this particular set.

    All the best

     

     

     

     

    #62295
    Patrice
    Patrice
    Participant

    I don’t play this these rules nor this size of game, but it’s not only about mathematics.

    I can well accept that a single battalion (or even individual soldiers I’m a skirmish gamer) of veterans has +2 vs average foes: they can aim and shoot calmly at short range, and in melee there are better.

    Whereas for larger units (and more distance) you can lose some of these benefits. Shooting above very short range with period muskets is not effective. And as you mention there can be a chaos effect in the formation and in generalship. Also there probably is an overall balance needed in the game; even in the same game the designers had to take it into account, there may be other factors involved in a battle between large units (?)

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    http://argad.forumculture.net/

    #62313
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    The factors which influence the outcome of a Corps or army level engagement are different to those which influence the outcome of regiment or Brigade level ones.

    Individual unit effectiveness matters less, and is far more about attritional bean counting, and the ability of commanders to manage the relative rates of attrition.

    The specifics will also vary be period as Tactics and weapons change the relative dynamics of attack, defence and Manoeuvre.

    As Clausewitz and Napoleon both observed, Napoleonic battles were principally won by superior numbers. Genius and troop quality barely came into it. If trying to assault a defended village with a Brigade though, clearly the Imperial Guard will have an advantage over a bunch of militia though.

    In other periods, certain unit qualities may indeed have a multiplier effect at formation level but this more generally applies to more modern periods and devolved decision making, but even the best divisions in the world have to fed, supplied and moved.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #62333

    Tom V.
    Participant

    I think a good example of non-linear scaling would be the Franco-Prussian War. Line up 2 battalions 500m apart and the French would likely win easily. Line up 2 divisions 2km apart and it might be a draw. Line up 2 corps and my money will always be on the Prussians.

    Lower levels are dominated by weaponry and higher by command, imho.

    #62336
    McLaddie
    McLaddie
    Participant

    Whirlwind:

    I think that would have to be considered on a unit to unit basis. I don’t think it will hold up generally. Too many exceptions. Here’s an example of that not being the case: Wellington’s well-know comment about British cavalry:

    “I considered our cavalry so inferior to the French from a want of order, that although I considered one of our squadrons a match for two French, yet I did not care to see four British opposed to four French, and still more so that as the numbers increased, and order (of course) became more necessary. They could gallop, but could not preserve their order.”

    He goes on to say that the British cavalry could maneuver somewhat as a brigade but not as a division, something he felt the French excelled at. So, Wellington saw British squadrons superior to French squadrons, but British cavalry brigades and divisions inferior.

    Several British comments run to the effect that the French were better skirmishers than the British, save for the 95th, but the French like Pelet felt the British had a better system than the French organizationally. [supporting the skirmish line and rotating the skirmish line through the reserves.] Obviously, this is all somewhat of a perspective thing, whose opinion of effectiveness you are viewing, and only British Napoleonic being considered.

    Overall, I think that it is difficult to make any generalized statements on ‘overall’ effectiveness when there are so many differences in operational needs at different levels of command/organization.

    I have the Polemos rules, but I haven’t played them, so I can’t really comment on them. There certainly could be differences assigned to armies depending on the level of command.  I think there could be an argument made for the French higher commands being superior to the Russians, for instance, but Russian battalions being somewhat superior in a head-to-head fight… though not so much in maneuver.

     

     

     

     

     

    #62341
    Bandit
    Bandit
    Participant

    My general disposition is that different sized bodies of troops fight and respond differently to pressure.

    As an example:

    A division that covers perhaps a half mile or mile of frontage does not respond to being outflanked in the same as as a battalion that might control 150-180 yards of frontage. While there are several potential opportunities for a division to repel a flank attack by refusing elements to confront it, a battalion has far less time or resources to confront such a problem. Similarly, the methods for putting pressure forward against the enemy vary as the resources do, so a division fights differently than a battalion does.

    To pickup on McLaddie’s point about cavalry, while it was not called ‘doctrine’ at the time, there are definitely elements of what we consider doctrine in terms of how different armies formed, organized, and trained. There is a bit of a joke that while the quality of the Allied cavalry was generally better than the French, the French method was that if the enemy attacked with a squadron, you replied with a regiment, if the enemy attacked with a regiment, you replied with a brigade. Meanwhile, the French had trained to perform mass cavalry actions with upwards of a corps, while the Allies rarely did such, creating an artificial ceiling on how high one side could commonly raise the bet.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #62351
    Phil Dutré
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    I don’t think that scaling up effectiveness works at all.

    In order to make 3 platoons work together and act as a battalion, you need more than just combined firepower. You need to know how to make them work together. That skill can be wildly different at all levels in a military organization, and can flatten out, or even reverse, underlying levels of effectiveness.

    The higher up the chain you go, in the end, the only thing that counts are numbers. Whether your individual soldiers are more effective than the enemy’s individual soldiers is not much of an issue … It is an issue for the individual soldier, but it is not that much of an issue to win the war, although it might determine how fast you might win the war.

    #62354
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Interesting comments all, thanks very much.

    Just one point of comeback at this time: the objections that a particular army could be better or worse at particular levels, although absolutely true in themselves, I don’t think are relevant here because the change in modifier applies to all forces, regardless of nationality.  So the effect would have to be systemic in a given period, not contingent on the doctrine of individual nations.

    All the best

     

     

    #62374
    McLaddie
    McLaddie
    Participant

    I don’t think are relevant here because the change in modifier applies to all forces, regardless of nationality.  So the effect would have to be systemic in a given period, not contingent on the doctrine of individual nations.

    Well, then I guess such a ‘systemic’ difference wouldn’t be justified historically, unless there is evidence of it that I don’t see.  Any answer would have to start with the historical justification for systemic differences in ‘effectiveness’ in the first place.  Any awarding of modifiers at different levels of command/organization would have to be based on what the designer saw as ‘effectiveness’ differences in the first place.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 21 hours ago by McLaddie McLaddie.
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