Home Forums Horse and Musket General Horse and Musket Can you "shoot them out of cover" ?

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    Ivan Sorensen

    While playing a popular game (which I shall not mention here, because the exact rules aren’t relevant to the discussion) we got to talking:

    During the game, we had a unit behind a stone wall which had a lot of fire directed its way, with rather minimal effects (as we’d expect).

    This spurred the conversation:
    Should the rules even permit firing at units in “hard cover”, other than to inflict general disorder?

    The argument presented was that firing at troops in defended positions with musketry was likely to be so ineffectual in real life, that almost any chance offered on the dice would be vastly exaggerated.

    The player argued that to realistically deal with troops behind defensive works, you had to either hit them with artillery, charge them or outflank them and games should reflect that.

    Thoughts for or against ?

    Nordic Weasel Games


    I would differentiate between a unit cowering behind their hard cover, not exposing themselves & hence immune to small arms fire with a unit that uses the cover to rise from, albeit, minimally, to take a pot shot etc. thus exposing themselves to some casualties from return fire. And surely the second group would be more prevalent than the first unless the “cowerers” are on the brink of a catastrophic morale failure.



    John D Salt

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, Sir Andrew Skeen (“Passing It On”) maintained that “it is next to impossible to inflict loss on men behind cover with direct rifle fire”. Unless, as Ochoin mentions, they are exposng themselves over or around the cover to shoot back, or the cover is not proof against the bullets being used (GPMG in the sangar destruction role will do a good job on brick or breeze-blocks) then the blokes are, to all intents and purposes, invulnerable. They are also blind and impotent.

    Phil Barker’s well-regarded WRG armour and infantry rules, in various versions, made it impossible for bullet fire to kill infantry elements halted in the open, as well as behind cover, showing the fact that infantrymen can find effective cover in what looks very like a featureless field.

    Finally, even if you do have HE weapons that can inflict casualties on the skulking enemy, you need to close and clear the position in order to be sure that the bad guys have been dealt with.

    All the best,



    Agree that if infantry behind serious cover aren’t firing back they can’t take any serious loss, just keep their heads down or even persuade less motivated ones to relocate.

    This too shall pass


    I believe Ivan likes skirmish level games? My understanding of Great War trench warfare meant a disproportionate number of head wounds as that was the bit of a soldier sticking out when he chanced a shot.

    Thus, if you allowed “hits” in a skirmish game with a unit fighting from cover, more deaths than wounds?


    donald (I don’t know much about WW1 & less about skirmish gaming so apologies if the above ideas jar).


    I would humbly submit that standing behind a stone wall presents very little in the way of cover, unlike say, a nice well built trench or the cellar of a stone building. It offers even less if the soldiers have their heads and shoulders exposed, as close order musket armed soldiers tend to do , or they can’t operate their weapons.

    Give them breechloaders, let them lie down and loophole the wall and it is a very different story.

    Give both sides post 1900 rifles and stone wall offers as much cover as a piece of paper. Unless it is very, very thick. The penetration stats for 303 are quite illuminating. Let alone NATO 7.62.



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


    I dunno, Martin. The Confederate infantry lining the sunken road at the base of Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg had it all over the Union troops who attacked them in seemingly endless waves. They lost some 500 troops and shot down over 5,000.


    The sunken road wasn’t a proper trench. It was perhaps 4 feet deep with a stone wall on the side facing the enemy. It was also in a slight depression so that Union troops suddenly discovered enemy troops within easy rifle range who seemed to spring up out of the ground. But the guys in the road suffered far fewer hits than the ones in the open.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by vtsaogames.

    This too shall pass


    To me it is simple troops declared in hard cover not engaging in combat can not be hit by direct fire, conversely they can not return fire.  So if your attackers hot foot it toward the hard cover not being defended by the troops cowering in hard cover the position can easily be taken.  Minimal casualties on both sides thus complying to modern day health and safety requirements.


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