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  • #14088
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    From time to time I experiment with writing rules that involve what I call “lingering” combats.  That is: units can remain locked in combat over the course of several turns before somebody breaks.

    This is so “right” in so many ways, from an historical standpoint… yet it’s nearly impossible to do well in a game.  I always end up giving up on it for several practical reasons:

    1. It doesn’t look right for cavalry.  Cavalry combats were more fluid, and dramatic advances or retreats were common, so you need an outcome/result/mechanism for falling back and advancing after combat in any event, just to cover these instances.  Thus you don’t eliminate fall back rules by doing this; you just end up with at least two sets of combat outcomes (for units that do fall back, and units that don’t), meaning:  more rules.

    2. It doesn’t work well for flank attacks.  If you attack somebody in the flank or rear and don’t break him, then you’ve got to introduce rules for how/when he can turn to face you in some subsequent turn or phase.  And that opens up more complications, such as: what if his unit doesn’t have the physical space to turn and face?  What if you charged an enemy march column in the flank and didn’t break him… does he swing the whole march column around to face you, or can he change formation and face you? (Do you need more rules for special formation changes in the midst of combat, and so on?)  More Rules.

    3. It complicates shooting.  Do you allow people to fire into melees?  If so, under what conditions, and with what line of fire?  (Must the shooter not have any portion of a friend in his line of fire or sight… etc.   More Rules.

    4. It complicates movement rules.  Once your unit is stuck in with the enemy, is it frozen?  Or can it fall back in its own movement phase? If frozen, some weird things can result, such as being stopped half an inch short of an enemy, because of being in contact with a different enemy. (Or whether the enemy can waltz past your unit if you’re stuck in combat? And if not, then how far away does he have to be?)  If your unit can still move in some way, such as disengaging, then you need rules to cover the circumstances for how/when and against what sort of opponents.  More Rules.

    5. It can result in “traffic jam” combats with lots of units facing many different ways.  I charged you and didn’t break you, and you then used another unit to charge the flank of my charger…  and next turn I used another unit to charge the flank of the unit you just used to charge my flank….   More Rules, more complicated combat resolutions.

    —-

    I’m sure other people can come up with some other reasons for why these sorts of “lingering” combats are problematic from a game design point of view.  So my question is:

    Have you ever seen a game that used “lingering combats” well?  Smoothly?  Without major glitches?

    I’ve seen games do them poorly.  (Warhammer Fantasy comes to mind, and of course the mythical beast that was VLB.)  But I can’t think of any really successful applications of this concept.

    I welcome nominations.

     

     

     

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by Sam Mustafa.
    • This topic was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by Sam Mustafa.
    #14095
    Altius
    Participant

    I’m clearly no expert, but I’ll share a few of my unplaytested, shoot-from-the-hip thoughts on a couple of the points you made above:

    2. It doesn’t work well for flank attacks.

    You mention rules for turning and facing the enemy. I would think that if a unit is attacked in the flank or rear, it would pretty much be an automatic about face. I wouldn’t think the men would need to be ordered to do so unless they were already facing an enemy to the front, but I think it would result in the unit becoming disordered. To summarize, I think a unit attacked on the flank or rear should be instantly disordered, should be able to respond with a reduced melee value while facing away, and it should be the owning player’s option to turn about face. Doing so would allow it to begin the next round of combat facing the enemy, but disordered. 

    3. It complicates shooting.  Do you allow people to fire into melees?  If so, under what conditions, and with what line of fire?  (Must the shooter not have any portion of a friend in his line of fire or sight… etc.   More Rules.

    I think they should be allowed to fire into a melee, but casualties should be taken by both sides. Friendly fire incidents happen, and I think that possibility is appropriate in a game. Resolving it depends on how much detail you want add. The simplest approach is to just split the casualties down the middle between friend and foe. Or you could make something more elaborate based on the angle of the shot, or ratio of attackers to defenders, etc. Personally, I think that’s just needless complication that slows down the game. Id rather just spread the losses equally and move on.

    4. It complicates movement rules.  Once your unit is stuck in with the enemy, is it frozen?  Or can it fall back in its own movement phase? If frozen, some weird things can result, such as being stopped half an inch short of an enemy, because of being in contact with a different enemy. (Or whether the enemy can waltz past your unit if you’re stuck in combat? And if not, then how far away does he have to be?)  If your unit can still move in some way, such as disengaging, then you need rules to cover the circumstances for how/when and against what sort of opponents.  More Rules.

    Hail Caesar allows certain troops to attempt to exit melee. Their approach is pretty simple, but I think, in general, highly mobile troops should have the option to attempt it when facing less mobile troops (Light cavalry vs heavy cavalry, skirmishers vs line troops, etc) as long as they are not disordered. But withdrawing from a melee is a very tricky thing, and if it’s not done well, then your unit can fall apart. So, in game terms, If you allow a unit to try to pull itself out of a melee, you handle it with a die roll. If it succeeds, they fall back. If it doesn’t, it routs. No middle ground. 

     

    Have you ever seen a game that used “lingering combats” well?  Smoothly?  Without major glitches?

    I actually can’t recall any that handle it particularly well, but I’ve played several in which the lingering combat was (I felt) handled badly, and it just ruined the game for me. It’s a tricky thing to do well. 

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by Altius.

    Where there is fire, we will carry gasoline

    #14099
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    I would think that if a unit is attacked in the flank or rear, it would pretty much be an automatic about face.

    But what if the unit can’t turn to face, due to the proximity of other units, or due to impassable terrain, etc?   Or what if “turning to face” would require something silly.  For example:  I charge your march column on its flank, but I don’t break it.  In order to turn to face me, do you really swing the whole column around so that its front base can face me, while the rest of the column wheels around behind that base like some marching band?  (Assuming, even, that you have all the space required to do that?)

    That’s what I was talking about earlier, with regard to additional rules needed to change formations in these sorts of instances.  I suspect that a LOT of rules are needed to cover all the different ways this can play out.

    I think they should be allowed to fire into a melee, but casualties should be taken by both sides. 

    In one of our play tests, we had a situation in which the rule said you can’t shoot into a melee, but then you get situations like this:

    A-1  B

    A and B are on the same side.  A is fighting 1.  B is behind 1 and has a clear shot at “1” but… what now?  Should he be allowed to shoot at just “1”?  Or does his shooting endanger A, also, even though he couldn’t possibly hit A?  If A and 1 weren’t in combat, but were just 1mm away from each other, there would be no question:  B could shoot at 1 without worry.  But if you move A that 1mm into contact…  now suddenly he’s in danger of getting shot by his buddies?

    More rules required.

     

    Hail Caesar allows certain troops to attempt to exit melee. 

    A good point;  I’d forgotten that Hail Caesar does have lingering combats.  I also noticed that H.C’s combat chapter is more than twice as long as Black Powder’s.  I haven’t played H.C., so I don’t know if that’s the reason it requires so many more combat rules.

    Page 31 stipulates that a unit in combat can’t move.   So…  what happens if I attack you on your flank?   Do you just sit there all game until I finally hack you to death?  Does that apply to cavalry also?   And I assume that H.C.’s rules for squaring-up opponents makes contacts more… regular.  (Although squaring-up often has its own issues, as you can be forced to square-up into a spot from which you then can’t retreat, despite having been able to get in there, obviously…  but that’s another story.)

    I ask because I’ve only read the rules, not played it, and it’s not clear to me how or if these things are addressed.   How does Hail Caesar handle situations like the ones I described above?

     

     

    #14100
    Spurious
    Participant

    This seems like an issue that in some ways could be resolved by having a turn equate to at least a rough time scale. From my experience and readings, any combat of more than a couple of minutes is going to have pauses and moments of reorganisation, sides pulling back even if just slightly try and get reorganised. Physical exhaustion is going to set in quite rapidly in an extended brawl, so these pauses happen fairly naturally. That and specific formations go out the window when surrounded/flanked. Automatically disordered is entirely reasonable.

    Given that, I much prefer systems that would allow several rounds of close combat to be fought within a single turn to get a conclusive result of at least both sides stopping for a bit, if not breaking and running. Note this is specifically hand-to-hand distance not short range firefighting close combats of the more modern eras.

     

    #14101
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Re: flank attacks

    I have no solutions, just a few thoughts to throw into the mix. Flank attacks were deadly – which is why commanding officers went out of their way to avoid them. If an attack column in a game is attacked in the flank it should be in desperate trouble and probably rolling on morale/command and control/whatever** to see if it breaks before it gets a chance to move and/or fight. If it is attacked front and flank in the same turn, it breaks.  End of.

     

    **Negative modifiers for:

    • Having been fired at from the front that turn
    • Enfilading fire that turn
    • Any other causes of disorder
    • Attacked in flank by cavalry

     

    Of course this doesn’t make for a very good game as your French columns get destroyed by marauding enemy cavalry, but it would make the player think about protecting his flanks more than happens in many games I see.

    "I'm not signing that"

    #14104
    repiqueone
    Participant

    I have no problems with lingering or continuing melee combats any more than with continuing firefights.  I have always viewed melee as a combination of very close range firing, and people dashing about, along with an assortment of hand to hand situations. Of course, even continuing melees should resolve decisively within a move or so.

    It can even be the “milling about” that is described at Waterloo by the French horse after they reached the British Squares. The attack on Hougomont could be seen as an hours long continuing melee.

    I also think the problem is better resolved, and less conceptually challenging. ( and rarer) in designs that do not have a fixed turn sequence, or fixed move distances, if for no other reason than the “perfect” planned move is less frequent, both in the attack and in defense.

    It is also linked to indecisive combat results because many designs are very linear in their modifiers ( +1, +2, etc.) there are ways to make the advantages more exponential and pronounced for certain situations such as rear or flank attacks, that minimize indecisive encounters except those where a wavering delay might more likely occur, such as a direct frontal attack.

    Finally, it assumes that each turn has only one melee opportunity, and that those opportunities for resolution are also fixed in number and sequence.  In DFII, for instance, melee resolution opportunities can vary from zero to four opportunities in a turn!  Few continuing melees survive a full turn without resolution.

    I think the operating term is resolution.  Whatever occured on the table was not a simple combat effect, hit or miss, but the resolution of a complex interaction of forces at close range in a confused and chaotic environment.  It might take some time for both commanders to become aware of the outcome-as shown on the table- even after it had been decided in “reality”.

    All this facing, etc. may be an imaginary, or at least rare, possibility in reality.  A unit that is flanked is flanked, and, at the very least, disordered enough that any organized change of facing once contact is made is probably an impossibility.  The same is true of a rear attack-I doubt many units could form a coherent response to being meleed from the rear.  It is what it is.  Resolve it, hopefully within the turn.

    I think most rules work hard to allow the gamer a way out of a bad situation.  Gamers certainly massage rules to provide an escape hatch.  I say make them live with their problems….You’ve been flanked, you perfidious Englishman!

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by repiqueone.
    #14106
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    I much prefer systems that would allow several rounds of close combat to be fought within a single turn to get a conclusive result

    That works fine if you just want to show two units that have been beaten up by prolonged combat, but it’s not really the same intent as “lingering” combats, which is:  “these two units keep fighting while a lot of other stuff happens around them… for several turns.”

    Flank attacks were deadly – which is why commanding officers went out of their way to avoid them. If an attack column in a game is attacked in the flank it should be in desperate trouble and probably rolling on morale/command and control/whatever** to see if it breaks before it gets a chance to move and/or fight. If it is attacked front and flank in the same turn, it breaks.  End of.

    I actually like the idea of very deterministic or “sure-thing” combat results like that, as they’re so simple and clear.  But a lot of players don’t like them, and I do understand their problem: if you make anything a sure-thing, then you give players a massive incentive to try it, out of all proportion to its likelihood or its historical frequency.  For example, if my tank has a 100% chance of killing yours within 12″, then all my tactics will involve shooting at 11.9″, and all of your tactics will involve a desperate attempt to stay just beyond 12″ away.  Or if flank attacks become all-powerful, then the game can become a dance of death as players do all sorts of bizarre moves in an attempt to qualify for that “Instant Flank Death” by just one millimeter of unit frontage.  I’ve seen players do stuff like this.  It can make games very cheezy.

    I also think the problem is better resolved, and less conceptually challenging. ( and rarer) in designs that do not have a fixed turn sequence, or fixed move distances, if for no other reason than the “perfect” planned move is less frequent, both in the attack and in defense.

    A fair point.  If the players are already accustomed to the idea that they can’t be sure what any given “move” represents in terms of time, and if they’re OK with the idea that units might sit around, seemingly immobile and helpless, for a lot of game-time, then they’re more likely able to make the conceptual leap when they see a unit that has been attacked on its flank and is just sitting there helplessly, turn after turn, getting hacked at like a bad steak.  (Because that sort of frustrating or unexpected result is more common in the game in general.)

    I’m OK with that, and in fact, I like those sorts of games. But as we both know, many gamers are very literal-minded.  They need to see things played-out on the table in a sort of narrated and linear process, or they can’t conceive those things as happening.  They often react very negatively and sharply against a game that has an alternative concept of time or sequence. And let’s face it;  one size doesn’t fit all.  For some games, a fixed sequence can work better.

    I think most rules work hard to allow the gamer a way out of a bad situation.  Gamers certainly massage rules to provide an escape hatch.  I say make them live with their problems….You’ve been flanked, you perfidious Englishman!

    Again, I agree, but I was more concerned with the practical game-mechanic problems that I listed above.  The practicalities of working these sorts of “lingering” problems out on the table – in my opinion – stem from the fact that we introduce one thing (combat resolution) that may or may not be resolved in a single “turn” (or whatever your game-time increment is.)

    That represents an anomaly in the game’s rules:  just about everything else you do in a game gets resolved at the moment you do it. All the game’s systems and logic are built around that assumption: You decide something, do it, and resolve it, and then move on to the next something.  And that’s true even if you have a non-linear or asynchronous game sequence…  you’re still just breaking the game into bits, in whatever sequence, but resolving each bit as you do. *

    Thus: if combat resolution is the one thing that might not get resolved as it occurs… then you’ve got a real problem because it requires a billion exceptions and additional things to consider.  (i.e., More Rules.)

     

    * I’ve experimented with systems in which “resolution” of all types occurs randomly.  For example, all disorder from moving, or damage from shooting or combat, gets racked up on units, but nobody knows when the time will come to resolve that. Then – Bang – resolution comes and you figure out what happens, or who breaks, etc.  I’ve never been able to get that sort of a system to work because it creates “Zombie Units” (in the words of one of my playtesters) which are effectively dead and yet still rampaging around. To make it work, you have to start watering down the concept so that the damage has some sort of effect before the “resolution”… and once you do that, you’ve essentially mooted the whole concept (because now you’re resolving things as they happen, just like in any other system), so now you just have a game with too many rules.

     

    Can anybody who plays Hail Caesar tell me how that rule on page 31 works?  You’re not allowed to move a unit that’s in combat, so…  what happens if I attack your flank somewhere in the open?  Do you never turn and face me?  Even if I roll like crap turn after turn and the combat lingers on for ages?

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #14107
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Just to throw some more gasoline on the fire.

     

    From what I’ve read about close combat during the Napoleonic period, apart from sieges and attacks on what we wargamers are pleased to call ‘built up areas’,  ‘lingering’ melees (another word we wargamers like to use) between infantry units didn’t often happen.

    Either the defenders broke the attackers with musketry before they closed, or the attacker persuaded the defenders that staying around to receive their final volley and charge might not be healthy and that pissing off was a better idea.

    Caveat: I’m sure exceptions exist. The clue’s in the word ‘exceptions’, so don’t bother if you want to start another pedantry contest.

    As you say Sam every rule can be exploited, but tabletop armies tend to be blessed with superhuman powers of durability that most real life commanders never saw in their troops.

    "I'm not signing that"

    #14108
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    From what I’ve read about close combat during the Napoleonic period, apart from sieges and attacks on what we wargamers are pleased to call ‘built up areas’,  ‘lingering’ melees (another word we wargamers like to use) between infantry units didn’t often happen.

     

    Yeah, I wasn’t necessarily just thinking of horse and musket.  Although if we zoom-out the scale enough, combats in the H&M period do seem to “linger” in firefights for a while.   I was also thinking about Ancients, Medieval, etc.

    #14109
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Does this mean you’re thinking of branching out into ancients?

    "I'm not signing that"

    #14110
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    Well, my immediate priority is a Sci-Fi zombie football RPG that can be used for the Russo-Japanese War.

    #14111
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Will it have rules for naval combat?

    "I'm not signing that"

    #14112
    repiqueone
    Participant

     

    “The practicalities of working these sorts of “lingering” problems out on the table – in my opinion – stem from the fact that we introduce one thing (combat resolution) that may or may not be resolved in a single “turn” (or whatever your game-time increment is.)

    That represents an anomaly in the game’s rules: just about everything else you do in a game gets resolved at the moment you do it.”

     

    Sam, I don’t want to go all “Zen” on you here, but the statement above is only true if you declare a lingering or continuing melee to not be an outcome.  It is an outcome from an action that is immediate,but its similar to the old Magic 8 Ball result of “Ask Again.”  It is unique in that the outcome does not resolve into a positive or negative for the involved units-yet.  But it will.   I agree that the mechanisms of melee should, on the whole, minimize this outcome, but I see it as a perfectly acceptable result.

    I agree with you that many wargamers are painfully literal in their conceptualization of wargame play, and demand a procedural narrative that demands little from either their imagination or any need to step outside the usual and expected machanics from any number of rules.  However, I don’t think units just “sit-around” to any greater degree than in a standard Igo-Ugo design.  When the other guy is moving-you’re not-and you are standing around just as much-just not in the same predictable way.

    I also don’t think that a designer gains much from curbing his creative insights to fit what he perceives the audience might like.  In fact, he has much to gain from positing some new approaches that provides a refreshing change from the same-old, same-old. Who knows, they might really like it and grow to prefer a different approach!  Time and sequence are the key tools in a designer’s kit, and many more gamers are now coming to grips with creative expressions of both time and sequence.

    Pragmatically, the idea of a continuing melee occurs in most games, it just masquerades as something else.  How many games have melee resolutions that allow for incremental back and forth rugby-like pushing matches?  Quite a few.  That , too, is an indecisive and on-going melee, it just requires the bother of moving units an inch or two back and forth and dozens of die rolls that a continuing melee construct handles more efficiently.   The rugby scrum melees found in many games have the unfortunate trait of potentially going on forever ( and some do!), whereas most continuing melee mechanisms promise some sort of resolution within a turn or two.

    In my opinion, the issues you are pointing out are as much conceptual as they are any firm characteristic of a game mechanic.  I have to admit I’ve seen continuing melees that bother me-primarily because they are too common and go on too long-but, on the whole, if well executed, I’m fine with them.  The answer may be to create melee mechanisms that tend to be very decisive and minimize any “lingering”.  One of the reasons I like the addition of dice to a roll vs a linear +1,+2, etc. is that it tends to do just that.

     

     

    #14118
    Sam Mustafa
    Participant

    Pragmatically, the idea of a continuing melee occurs in most games, it just masquerades as something else. 

    Yeah, and I’m OK with that.  In fact, I think it’s often the next-best thing to a true lingering combat.  For example, you might have a “fall back 1 inch” rule, or whatever, which effectively locks you in, if the rules forbid you from doing much once you’re that close to the enemy.  That’s usually the solution I’ve used in my games, to avoid the problems I listed above with “true” lingering combats.

     the statement above is only true if you declare a lingering or continuing melee to not be an outcome.

    No, I think it’s just a practical matter of game mechanics, frankly. If all the rest of the game’s mechanics depend on such-and-such being resolved/completed before you start to do anything else…  then a lingering combat is an anomaly.  It will be the game’s only mechanic that carries over into the consideration of all the other mechanics, and it will inevitably do so in messy and complicated ways, as I listed in the original post.

    Every time you write a rule for any other topic, you’ll have to include a caveat for units that are locked in combat.  For example: shooting.  A unit can shoot… unless it’s locked in combat.  A unit can move…  unless it’s locked in combat.  A unit changes formation in this way… unless it’s locked in combat.  And so on.  Because it’s a fundamental exception, it will require a lot of special rules.

    Is there anybody out there who plays HAIL CAESAR and can answer that question about the rule on page 31: You’re not allowed to move a unit that’s in combat, so…  what happens if I attack your flank somewhere in the open?  Do you never turn and face me?  Even if I roll like crap turn after turn and the combat lingers on for ages?

     

    #14124
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    Is there anybody out there who plays HAIL CAESAR and can answer that question about the rule on page 31: You’re not allowed to move a unit that’s in combat, so… what happens if I attack your flank somewhere in the open? Do you never turn and face me? Even if I roll like crap turn after turn and the combat lingers on for ages?

    Hi Sam,

    In HC, formed units of cavalry and elephants can respond to an opponent’s charge by performing an immediate turn-to-face (see pp. 60, 61). Other formed units continue to fight to their flank for the duration of that combat engagement. Given the attested devastating effects of flank attacks on formed infantry in historical accounts of ancient battles, the tabletop effect of a -1 modifier for the duration of a HtH combat engagement, which typically lasts for 1-3 turns, seems quite reasonable to me. YMMV, of course.

    Cheers,
    Scott

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    #14132
    Bandit
    Participant

    I concur that this works best in games that either don’t apply a timescale to the turn or a very short time scale because generally speaking I think most combats were fairly quickly decided. This is however directed related to the game scope. A “lingering combat” between two divisions is very different in a game where the basic unit is a regiment or battalion of which a player controls 3-5 than if the basic unit the players controls is actually a division… In the first “lingering combat” will be a more natural and organic situation that once engaged the many subunits of the division remain roughly within combat range of each other. In the second you might actually want mechanics to govern the situation. This then relates back to the timescale of the turn. The longer the turn represents or the more linked to time the turn is, the less sensical it is to provide for “lingering combats”.

    In general I think all of your listed concerns / complications must be addressed regardless of the notion of lingering combats. I can completely agree that how you address them will vary if you are trying to directly build in some form of “lingering combat” mechanics. But excluding “lingering combats” from a game design does not get you out of addressing these concerns.

    1. It doesn’t look right for cavalry. Cavalry combats were more fluid, and dramatic advances or retreats were common, so you need an outcome/result/mechanism for falling back and advancing after combat in any event, just to cover these instances. Thus you don’t eliminate fall back rules by doing this; you just end up with at least two sets of combat outcomes (for units that do fall back, and units that don’t), meaning: more rules.

    I believe this varies based on the game scope, but in some I’d concur.

    2. It doesn’t work well for flank attacks.  If you attack somebody in the flank or rear and don’t break him, then you’ve got to introduce rules for how/when he can turn to face you in some subsequent turn or phase.  And that opens up more complications, such as: what if his unit doesn’t have the physical space to turn and face?  What if you charged an enemy march column in the flank and didn’t break him… does he swing the whole march column around to face you, or can he change formation and face you? (Do you need more rules for special formation changes in the midst of combat, and so on?)  More Rules.

    The rule could potentially be as simple as “nope, you can’t” so the level of complication that must be added is relative to the level of detail and options you wish to provide. I’d also say that in the context of many rule sets you still have to address this concern even without this “lingering combat” consideration. Everything from Johnny Reb to The Sword & The Flame to Guns of Liberty to BattleTech address this question and none of those provide for “lingering combats”.

    3. It complicates shooting. Do you allow people to fire into melees? If so, under what conditions, and with what line of fire? (Must the shooter not have any portion of a friend in his line of fire or sight… etc. More Rules.

    Depending on the turn sequence you have to deal with this anyway. Lots of rules have closing to contact / lock into mêlée happen prior to resolution of fire. All of those rules must then address this problem even if they don’t allow a mêlée to linger for multiple turns.

    4. It complicates movement rules.  Once your unit is stuck in with the enemy, is it frozen?  Or can it fall back in its own movement phase? If frozen, some weird things can result, such as being stopped half an inch short of an enemy, because of being in contact with a different enemy. (Or whether the enemy can waltz past your unit if you’re stuck in combat? And if not, then how far away does he have to be?)  If your unit can still move in some way, such as disengaging, then you need rules to cover the circumstances for how/when and against what sort of opponents.  More Rules.

    This is another thing I think commonly needs to be addressed regardless of the “lingering combat” concept. Can I halt / prevent your movement by contacting you is a valid question in all game systems. BattleTech: Can a BattleMech evade my move to contact? The Sword & The Flame: Can your cavalry roll their remaining dice to evade? Johnny Reb: The target is marked move, how much of its move does it get to complete before I make contact?

    5. It can result in “traffic jam” combats with lots of units facing many different ways.  I charged you and didn’t break you, and you then used another unit to charge the flank of my charger…  and next turn I used another unit to charge the flank of the unit you just used to charge my flank….   More Rules, more complicated combat resolutions.

    Played The Sword & The Flame tonight and had several of these happen even though that game does not allow for “lingering combats” as you define them. The issues were resolved without much complication. TSATF really doesn’t have many complicated aspects. The issue is addressed in TSATF simply by saying, “The mêlées are resolved in the order contact was made.” Not incredibly graceful because you have to remember the order of contacts, but perfectly functional within the context of the game.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by Bandit. Reason: italicized game names
    #14135
    Sparker
    Participant

    Interesting question. I was about to pitch in and say that Empire V did allow ‘lingering combat’, in terms of representational time, since each Tactical combat impulse represented 20 minutes, but of course combat resolution forced a decision rather than permitting a second or third round of combat, so I guess in rules terms that is not allowing ‘lingering combat’. But, in my opinion at least, whilst introducing some interesting concepts, the rules were too over engineered to be useful.

    WRG 1685-1845 (July 1979 Edition)(!) did allow combat to ‘linger’ in the sense that a round of hand to hand combat could go on into a second or third round:

              A combat that lasts into a second bound is called a melee

    However here again in time scale terms a pair of bounds equated to half an hour of elapsed time, so again I’m not sure it properly fits into your definition of ‘lingering combat’ if defined by represented time, or game mechanics time…

    But IMHO Black Powder most certainly allows combat to linger, and it does so smoothly and credibly. Unfortunately, given the ‘brandy and cigars’ approach in which these rules are written, we don’t really get a feel for the time scale…I suppose in the Black Powder vernacular such swottish questions are just too tedious to address…

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #14229
    McLaddie
    Participant

    It was Clausewitz who pronounced that battle was composed of multiple consecutive actions, each made up of two phases, the destructive and the decisive.  i.e. the gamers’ fire and melee phases

    According to Chausewitz the destructive element could take hours to complete, the decisive mere seconds.

    The destructive phase was the deliberate application of relentless pressure with small arms fire, in the form of skirmish or close range volley action and cannon fire, either in mass or close-up, or both.

    The decisive phase followed the destructive in the form of shock action in an attempt to charge to contact, either with bayonet, sword or lance.

    At Albuera for instance, the firefight between the Allies and French V Corps lasted two or more hours, interspersed with attempts to charge on the part of the French.  Both sides saw the firefight as ‘a waste’ and an uncommon experience.  It took the Polish Lancers only a few minutes at most to decimate Colburne’s brigade from the flank.

    Professor Sabin concluded that ancient hand-t0-hand combat went in rounds of no more than twenty minutes, with breaks where both sides would actually take a breather… OR fresh troops would take their place, such as the Roman ability to replace front lines.

    Depending on the scale, I am not sure that prolonged melees make sense historically, as Connard suggests.  Prolonged firefights perhaps, but they would be fairly rare.  When the Iron Brigade and the Stonewall Brigade squared off in a close firefight [80 or less yards] because of the smoke they couldn’t see each other for most of the twenty minutes of the firefight.  Both sides actually stopped firing to see what had happened.   If the game has ten minute turns, then being locked in a firefight makes sense.  If it is a thirty minutes to a turn, it doesn’t.

    Of course, the question assumes that something historical can actually be replicated by game mechanics.

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by McLaddie.
    #14233
    repiqueone
    Participant

    Or….as has been argued many times before, the validity of using time as a constant in a recreational wargame.  I have never seen a successful application in a recreational wargame of movement, fire effect, melees, order transmittal, or routs and retreats being represented by accurately “scaled” time or even wholely consistent with each other.

    We “fool” ourselves into thinking that we are seeing the unicorn, but it turns out it’s a lame horse.   I await an example of the use of time in a recreational wargame that is accurate, internally consistent to any degree finer than the oft used 15 minutes, half hour, or hour thrown in as a sop to our need for an illusion of time elapsed.

    Name the rules that do this.

    It will be a revelation to me having seen wargame rules for over half a century to find out that this mythical beast exists.

    #14235
    Bandit
    Participant

    Bob,

    Can you relate that quest / challenge back to the topic? I’m missing the connection.

    #14240
    repiqueone
    Participant

    Yes, you apparently are.

    #14241
    Bandit
    Participant

    Bob,

    It was an honest question. Can you answer it or you’d rather blow me off?

    #14258
    Sparker
    Participant

    I await an example of the use of time in a recreational wargame that is accurate, internally consistent to any degree finer than the oft used 15 minutes, half hour, or hour thrown in as a sop to our need for an illusion of time elapsed.

    Name the rules that do this.

    As hinted at above, ‘Empire V’ paid very close attention to precisely this, with the ‘hourly round’ subdivided into varying 20 minute tactical bounds, according to the intensity of the combat and tactical prowess of the army concerned.

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #14272
    Etranger
    Participant

    Isn’ta large part of the issue the morale of the combatants? Most of the ‘lingering combats’ I can think of occurred when both sides were still determined to do the other side down. Once the morale of one side breaks then ‘run away’ seems to be the operative principle.  That’s assuming that they think that they can get away of course.

    Surely if a unit is assailed in front and then from the flanks (etc etc) then at some point Johnnie Faintheart is going to think ‘bugger this for a game of soldiers’ and try to escape? Perhaps the morale rules need to reflect a units willingness to stick around over multiple turns? After all armies have been known to collapse in a matter of minutes, and equally to resist for far longer than anyone would expect.

    #14274
    McLaddie
    Participant

     I await an example of the use of time in a recreational wargame that is accurate, internally consistent to any degree finer than the oft used 15 minutes, half hour, or hour thrown in as a sop to our need for an illusion of time elapsed.

    Well, while you’re waiting [Sparker suggested an answer], the question is about ‘lingering’ combats, which implies a slower time than ‘quicker’ combats, which involves slower and faster ‘time’ and the relative  sequence in which things happen so one is  lingering and one isn’t .  The notion of a  ‘lingering’ combat requires a consistent regulation of time in game terms to accomplish creating even a simple  difference between lingering vs non-lingering combat.  The minute you have a narrative of this happened, then that happened, you have an attempt to establish an internally consistent use of time.

    So back to the issue. Historically, close  combat seems to have been quick, quicker than fire combat, and some fire combat ‘lingered’.  And how much is happening in a turn as far as fire, movement and combat  dictates what constitutes ‘lingering’.  If you take the scale out to brigade-sized combat, then actual combat within whatever ‘time’ has been chosen could be said to ‘linger’ because individual lines of battalions would be battling back and forth within that ‘time.’   At smaller scales  any ‘lingering’ combat would be simply a series of small combats before any definite ‘win/loss on the larger scale was achieved.

    The first issue  would be at which scale is the question being asked?

     

    #14302
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Lingering combats aren’t particularly uncommon in cavalry combat in General de Division.  It gets round all the difficult stuff by (I think) not allowing other cavalry to enter the combat once it has started i.e. you effectively can’t hit an ongoing cavalry melee from the side or rear.  The better tactic in GdD is to keep another unit back 600m or so as a reserve and if you lose the initial cavalry combat, hit the opposition before they have a chance to reform properly.  It all works reasonably well (at least this particular bit does,  I don’t think the rules really deal too well with some of the ‘physical’ aspects of how the bases interact in any part of the game).

    I hope that helps

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #14336
    repiqueone
    Participant

    McLaddie, You never fail to amaze me.  First of all, Sparker did not answer the issue at hand,  EVERY set of rules proposes certain time intervals, and the only sets that don’t end up looking too foolish are those that opt for rather broad and unspecific parameters of 15/30/ 1 hour intervals.  Even Empire had its problems in this regard, which resulted in “telescoping” Movement (Remember???), odd breakdowns of time- and eventually, without overt admission, treating it as somewhat elastic.

    The fact is, any game that a sane wargamer wants to play really can’t be a time-motion study or people will run screaming from the room.  Occasionally, observing some of the more byzantine approaches in some games, people DO run screaming from the room.

    Flatly said, using comparative measures for many things, including time, does not require a consistent regulation of time, which is why, in many designs, comparative evaluation is superior.  All you have to say is that some things take longer, but without a need to put a stopwatch on the differences.  There are just TOO MANY variables in actions taken in battles, exceptions are too rife, to sit down and think that you can truly measure these things and then make them presentable rules.  George Jeffreys’ is the poster child for your premise.

    As for close, I presume melee, combat, even there one must be careful.  Much of the perception of what is occuring is set by the rules, and in the gamer’s minds.  Certainly melees in congested areas, towns, and along certain terrain can take much more than an instant.  But, even that aside, there are instances such as the cavalry scuffle at Mars la Tour, the on-going combat at Hougoumont, or the at that same battle, the milling about (still a melee contact) of the horse around the British squares at Waterloo tyat went on for more than an instant.

    But even common melees were not just pure fisticuffs, but a mixture of approach, scattered fire, some hand to hand, or the threat of it, and then a resolution.   How long did this take?  I suspect it varied pretty noticeably.  How aggressive were the attackers?  How Timerous were the defenders?

    Surely, as I said above, MOST melees should resolve in a single phase or turn, but should all?   In DFII a melee may not be resolved in a phase, but the likelihood of it being resolved in a turn is quite high (since both players will get the same phase, though always at another point in the turn).  I postulated the standard 30 minute turn-but how much of the turn’s time is a phase?  Are all phases equal, no.  Why should they be?

    The excessive literalness of your argument really doesn’t lend itself to useable, or, frankly, historically justified, set of rules.  Contrary to Sparker’s assertion, no rule set I have seen in the last 50 years can succeed without allowing for either a varying, or amorphous, treatment of time-whether admitted or not.  The introduction of card activation and sequencing rightly put the emphasis on a sequence of events occuring, creating a narrative, but with NO exact definition of time elapsed during that narrative.  (no one expects each card to be exactly 2 minutes 30 seconds of time!)

    I would say your observation about scale does have some merit.  Certainly a personal one on one would resolve quickly, while a battalion, brigade, or divisional resolution of combat could take, progressively, a bit more time. Even more to the point the outcome of the combat might not be clearly known to command for more than a little passage of time-while the typical wargame table outcome is always immediate.  It could be said that a lingering melee, is just a melee whose outcome is not yet clearly known to command.  It may, indeed, have been decided, but its just not clear tothe command/players yet! It may be the most “realistic” form of tabletop combat! 😉

    Just say a melee occurred and it was resolved, and let all the pettifoggery go.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by repiqueone.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by repiqueone.
    #14340
    Pijlie
    Participant

    It actually seems a horrible idea to play a game that requires bookkeeping of elapsed time periods of varying length to determine what your troops can or cannot do. Such a game would also require variable movement rates, firing rates, ordnance used… brrr it boggles the mind. The question for a time scale (which was not the OP question as I read it) seems completely irrelevant to his original question: how do you play lingering, prolonged combats in a satisfactory way?

    Me, I am not looking for the perfect battle simulator but rather for the perfect war game. In such a game I would not want to emulate any time scale since, let’s be honest, for most of the time in a battle very little happens except troops watching each other across the field and tossing bullets, cannonballs, spears or arrows at each other for quite a while. That would be very boring.

    I would rather have a game condense these boring parts and play rules that enable me to get to the exciting parts as quickly as possible, without over-simplifying things. Which would be quite a feat in itself, but I digress. Back to the question of playable prolonged combats, I would say that prolonged cavalry combats should be rare, because of their fluid and clashing nature. Prolonged infantry combats should be more common, especially when attacked frontally. Flank and rear attacks should decrease the chance for a prolonged combat since units would often be broken and scattered by such attacks. Also, even in a prolonged combat the side that wins the upper hand more often than the other one should have an increased chance of eventually winning the combat.

    I think the rule sets of the Black Powder stable do this rather well. Units accumulate points in a combat based on kills, support, troop type end/or winning previous rounds. The loser is obliged to take a Break Test, modified depending on how badly he lost. Cavalry combats only prolong when ending in an absolute draw and there is no loser to take a Test. In all other cases the loser, broken or not, withdraws.

    Infantry combats tend to last longer as the Testing loser may get a Hold and Fight result and fight on. However, winners of the previous round get extra points for the following round, setting up a disadvantage for the loser. Flank and rear attacks further enhance this disadvantage, creating a bigger chance for an instant break-and-retreat.

    Failed tests may not be fatal and may result in a retreat, disordered or not, which gives the winner new options and gains him terrain. So long combats cluttering up the table are not common and the game tends to remain dynamic and manoeuvrable, although BP does not give the option to fire into a melee IIRC. The Warlord rule sets regularly attract criticism for their lack of specific period character, but whether this is justified or not, the combat system is a quite simple and elegant system really.

    http://pijlieblog.blogspot.nl

    #14344
    Bandit
    Participant

    repiqueone,

    I’m going to ask again: Can you relate what you’re saying to the topic of the thread?

    I’m with Pijlie in that I don’t see your fixation on arguing about timescales to be necessarily linked to the thread topic. I *think* you are attempting to argue with McLaddie but so far nothing either you’ve observed is in opposition with what he’s said.

    Seems to me that if the topic is “lingering” combats then some combats must take more time than others, otherwise, all of them would be lingering because they’d all be resolved in the same timeframe. I don’t think I read anyone proposing to measure things to the minute or second, but rather that “lingering” events must by definition take longer than “non-lingering” events.

    Whether that is measured in minutes, turns or turns representing minutes doesn’t change it.

    #14345
    McLaddie
    Participant

    McLaddie, You never fail to amaze me.  First of all, Sparker did not answer the issue at hand,  EVERY set of rules proposes certain time intervals, and the only sets that don’t end up looking too foolish are those that opt for rather broad and unspecific parameters of 15/30/ 1 hour intervals.  Even Empire had its problems in this regard, which resulted in “telescoping” Movement (Remember???), odd breakdowns of time- and eventually, without overt admission, treating it as somewhat elastic.

    repiqueone:

    Glad to hear it. I’d hate to be mundane.  I was sure you wouldn’t accept Sparker’s suggestion, so there was no point in going further with it.  Actually, any number of games go for much shorter time periods than 15/30/ 1 hour intervals, particularly skirmish games, but Mike Collins’ GM for instance has four minute turns.  Few of them end up looking any more ‘foolish’ than games with longer intervals.  Some of the ones that look the most foolish time-wise are games with 1 hour intervals.  Snappy Nappy comes to mind.

    So how do wargames succeed in not ‘looking too foolish’ concerning a use of  ‘consistent time’?  And what would be required for a game to have ‘consistent time’?

    But, even that aside, there are instances such as the cavalry scuffle at Mars la Tour, the on-going combat at Hougoumont, or the at that same battle, the milling about (still a melee contact) of the horse around the British squares at Waterloo that went on for more than an instant.

    Quite true, so as I said, the first question is what time scale are we talking about in discussing ‘lingering combat’?  Depending on the time scale, each of the above dustups could be represented by a series of separate attacks and resolutions up to a single combat resolution and avoid the issue of ‘lingering combat’ altogether.  Hougoumont is a good example. over the duration of the battle, there were six separate attacks with skirmishing in between. No need to view that as a lingering combat, depending on the scale.  Most attacks were over within a half hour.

     I think the rule sets of the Black Powder stable do this rather well. Units accumulate points in a combat based on kills, support, troop type end/or winning previous rounds. The loser is obliged to take a Break Test, modified depending on how badly he lost. Cavalry combats only prolong when ending in an absolute draw and there is no loser to take a Test. In all other cases the loser, broken or not, withdraws.

    So, from the sounds of it, all the issues that were originally viewed with concern are handled by the Black Powder rules.  Right?  If not, which aren’t resolved?  Of course, the time intervals are completely absent and the scale is variable.  A neat way to dodge any possibility of  ‘looking too ‘foolish’ concerning a consistent portrayal of time.

    So, back to the issue at hand. To speak of ‘lingering combats’ having anything to do with portraying historical combat, the question remains:  What time scale are we talking about here?  The issues will be different at different scales.  For a game like Grande Armee or Volley & Bayonet a brigade+ combat ‘lingering’ over just two turns would be two hours or more of combat, while a skirmish game like Sharpe Practice a lingering combat of one or more figures would be maybe five minutes.  Different things all together.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A FESTIVE NEW YEAR TO ALL. 

     

    #14346
    repiqueone
    Participant

    Actually, I think Sam was looking at game mechanics-specifically how to handle unresolved actions-specifically melees-in an efficient way without multiplying the “special cases” required to deal with, what Sam sees as the game effects engendered by “lingering” melees.

    Sam said,

    “No, I think it’s just a practical matter of game mechanics, frankly. If all the rest of the game’s mechanics depend on such-and-such being resolved/completed before you start to do anything else… then a lingering combat is an anomaly. It will be the game’s only mechanic that carries over into the consideration of all the other mechanics, and it will inevitably do so in messy and complicated ways, as I listed in the original post.

    Every time you write a rule for any other topic, you’ll have to include a caveat for units that are locked in combat. For example: shooting. A unit can shoot… unless it’s locked in combat. A unit can move… unless it’s locked in combat. A unit changes formation in this way… unless it’s locked in combat. And so on. Because it’s a fundamental exception, it will require a lot of special rules.”

    My replies were that I don’t see the necessity for these problems being either serious, or requiring reams of many added rules, especially in certain game designs that: A.  Use card sequencing. B. Have decisive melee outcomes (specifically not based on linear +1,+2 die additions) C. That some lingering actions such as fire fights and some melees that either by terrain, unique circumstances, or very closely matched combatants did in the “real” world linger.   D. That the results of melees were in some cases unclear for a bit of time in the “real” world, and so perhaps the lingering melee as a matter of history in sense did exist, and such occurrences, though rare, are not ahistorical. E. Scale did,indeed, play a role and the discussion was aimed primarily at Battalion/Divisional/Corps level and not skirmish-which was inevitably quick.

    McLaddie brought in the issue of time, with following quote:

    “…the question is about ‘lingering’ combats, which implies a slower time than ‘quicker’ combats, which involves slower and faster ‘time’ and the relative sequence in which things happen so one is lingering and one isn’t . The notion of a ‘lingering’ combat requires a consistent regulation of time in game terms to accomplish creating even a simple difference between lingering vs non-lingering combat. The minute you have a narrative of this happened, then that happened, you have an attempt to establish an internally consistent use of time.”

    To which I replied nonsense, and then discussed using time as a comparative “Slower/Faster” does not require a fixed, regulated, or internally consistent use of time.  That was the subject of my last posting.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by repiqueone.
    #14347
    repiqueone
    Participant

    Mcladdie,

    Happy Holidays to you and Bandit, I am now moving on to holiday cheer, both emotional and liquid.  I am hoping for a lingering meal, lingering friends, and lingering good cheer that lasts over several turns.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by repiqueone.
    #14351
    Bandit
    Participant

    “…the question is about ‘lingering’ combats, which implies a slower time than ‘quicker’ combats, which involves slower and faster ‘time’ and the relative sequence in which things happen so one is lingering and one isn’t . The notion of a ‘lingering’ combat requires a consistent regulation of time in game terms to accomplish creating even a simple difference between lingering vs non-lingering combat. The minute you have a narrative of this happened, then that happened, you have an attempt to establish an internally consistent use of time.”

    To which I replied nonsense, and then discussed using time as a comparative “Slower/Faster” does not require a fixed, regulated, or internally consistent use of time.  That was the subject of my last posting.

    Gotcha, well thanks because now your post makes more sense to me. I happen to agree with McLaddie on this simply because in the most generic sense, saying that one thing takes more time than another requires some notion of 1x vs 2x vs 3x even if none of them are mapped to minutes or hours or anything else. I’d even go so far as to say that while you could ignore discussion of such in any given set of rules, it would still exist. We do that in our daily lives. I’ll be heading down the road for a family Christmas celebration in about an hour and I’ll linger there for some amount of time greater than an hour. If someone wanted to they could calculate how many increments existed in each and what the proportion is.

    What you’re saying is one doesn’t have to – OK, sure, I’d grant that.

    What McLaddie is saying is, even if you don’t calculate it, the increments and the ratio still exist – which they do.

    What Sam originally posited was that you may find you’ll need to address these differing increments in various areas of the rules because during, say, the “shooting phase” everyone can shoot, unless they are busy, why are they still busy? because they are in a lingering combat which look longer than… stuff that didn’t linger.

    All three of these seem pretty obvious and correct to me. Sam expressed that he thought it made for lots of rules, necessarily. You think it doesn’t, necessarily, require a lot of rules within the bounds of XYZ system types. I’d go even farther and say that it can be implemented in most systems without special case rules. McLaddie makes no comment about it being easy or difficult to address but makes the point that it does need to be addressed either passively or actively in the design of the system.

    Again, all of this seems both obvious and correct to me without any fundamental disagreement.

    #14352
    McLaddie
    Participant

    To which I replied nonsense, and then discussed using time as a comparative “Slower/Faster” does not require a fixed, regulated, or internally consistent use of time.  That was the subject of my last posting.

    repiqueone:

    Uh, “comparative “Slower/Faster” requires an internally consistent use of time for that comparison or the notion of ‘faster and slower’ to have any meaning. Where there is no consistent monitoring of time–a game sequence of events–faster and slower don’t mean much of anything.  THAT consistency is what Sam is talking about when he writes:

     No, I think it’s just a practical matter of game mechanics, frankly. If all the rest of the game’s mechanics depend on such-and-such being resolved/completed before you start to do anything else… then a lingering combat is an anomaly. It will be the game’s only mechanic that carries over into the consideration of all the other mechanics, and it will inevitably do so in messy and complicated ways, as I listed in the original post.

    It is the inconsistency in sequencing that he is concerned with.  “Time” in a wargame is that sequencing of events, whether you stick a 15 minute label on some portion of it  or claim such attempts are a fool’s errand.  A ‘lingering’ combat involves ‘more time’ from the sequencing of activities as he notes.  That adds complications to the sequencing of events…which is what a great deal of any rules are describing.

    My replies were that I don’t see the necessity for these problems being either serious, or requiring reams of many added rules,… 

    To amaze you some more, I agree.

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by McLaddie.
    #14354
    McLaddie
    Participant

    Me, I am not looking for the perfect battle simulator but rather for the perfect war game. In such a game I would not want to emulate any time scale since, let’s be honest, for most of the time in a battle very little happens except troops watching each other across the field and tossing bullets, cannonballs, spears or arrows at each other for quite a while. That would be very boring. 

    I would rather have a game condense these boring parts and play rules that enable me to get to the exciting parts as quickly as possible, without over-simplifying things. Which would be quite a feat in itself, but I digress. 

    Pijlie:

    I agree it could be boring. However, just to toss more fuel on the fire, how would it be a “perfect battle simulator” if a good portion of the battle was left out because it was ‘boring?    I see the ‘condensing’ the boring parts as a legitimate simulation approach.  Of course, that would not be seen as a ‘consistent use of time’ by some, but I don’t think that is the case.

    Back to the question of playable prolonged combats, I would say that prolonged cavalry combats should be rare, because of their fluid and clashing nature. Prolonged infantry combats should be more common, especially when attacked frontally. Flank and rear attacks should decrease the chance for a prolonged combat since units would often be broken and scattered by such attacks. Also, even in a prolonged combat the side that wins the upper hand more often than the other one should have an increased chance of eventually winning the combat.

    I think the rule sets of the Black Powder stable do this rather well.

    I think that prolonged combats for infantry would be firefights, not melees from all that I have read.  Personally, I can’t say what Black Powder does well as I don’t have any idea of what history and information the rules are supposed to emulate. There is a lot of both out there. I’d be guessing what they’d used.  The designers do say they wanted to create ‘a convincing portrayal of real combat’ but I’d have to know what ‘real combat’ they were using as a template to have some basis for any conclusions.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by McLaddie.
    #14360
    Pijlie
    Participant

    I think that prolonged combats for infantry would be firefights, not melees from all that I have read.  

    Why would they have to be firefights? For centuries soldiers have relied mainly upon close combat weapons and there are examples of long melees dating from ancient times until modern ones. I think defining projectile firing as the “destructive” phase and melee as the “decisive” phase is too simple. Many melees were “decided” after prolonged close combat fighting by exploiting breaches in enemy lines or reinforcements arriving.

    Personally, I can’t say what Black Powder does well as I don’t have any idea of what history and information the rules are supposed to emulate. There is a lot of both out there. I’d be guessing what they’d used.  The designers do say they wanted to create ‘a convincing portrayal of real combat’ but I’d have to know what ‘real combat’ they were using as a template to have some basis for any conclusions. 

    I really can’t see the relevance of this information you are missing. When I play a battle with the BP rules, use historical tactics and the battle evolves in ways I would expect it to given my knowledge of these tactics and their effects in reality, the rule set works for me and it seems to have been written well. I care little for the information that has gone into it, but very much for the experience that I get out of it.

    http://pijlieblog.blogspot.nl

    #14367
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    What are the examples of long melees, from ancient times to modern (and what are we calling ‘long’ in this context)?

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #14369
    Pijlie
    Participant

    I have no idea what we are calling “long” or if there are even enough reliable sources to determine how long most battles lasted but then again I didn’t have any interest in a time scale. now did I? But Thermopylae, Pydna and Cannae come to mind from ancient times. Stamford Bridge from the Dark Ages and the stand of the Black Band at Pavia from the Rennaissance. I am sure there are many more from the times and occasions when missile weapons were not destructive enough to force the decision and melee was necessary to achieve this goal.

    http://pijlieblog.blogspot.nl

    #14371
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    I am mainly interested in the facts of ‘long melees’ from the physical point of view – how long can people actually keep fighting for (in mortal combat).   Such evidence as I have suggests that humans are just not physically capable of fighting that hard for that long – 15 minutes as an absolute maximum maybe, and probably far less?  Obviously that says nothing about what happens at the level of a unit/formation, so isn’t relevant to the OP.  Still, interesting to me.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #14412
    McLaddie
    Participant

    Why would they have to be firefights? For centuries soldiers have relied mainly upon close combat weapons and there are examples of long melees dating from ancient times until modern ones.

    Pijlie:

    Well, I am saying that from an 18th and 19th Century view point, most all commanders saw it that way.  And again,  it all depends on what was happening during those combats.  As mentioned before,  such intense fighting can’t be sustained for long periods of time by individuals.  That is one reason they have ’rounds’ in wrestling and boxing and the like.  It is believed that one reason the Romans could actually exchange battle lines with their legions is that there were lulls in the battle, where both sides simply ran out of juice and had to back off to ‘catch their breath’.   So, from the standpoint of an entire battle, it would be a prolonged melee. For those in the front lines it would be periodic.  The only other way it could work is if the front line fought to exhaustion, were killed or wounded and the next line behind them took their place…  but if that were the case, we would see the huge casualties through attrition being created on both sides regardless of who won, and that isn’t what we see in the casualty numbers. Casualties are very asymmetrical during the ancient period into Medieval times.  Of course, it is mostly inference from a lack of sources. Here are a couple of discussions about it:

    http://balagan.info/philip-sabins-analysis-of-ancient-warfare-in-lost-battles

    Or see  Philip Sabin’s “The Mechanics of Battle in the Second Punic War”  in The Second Punic War: A Reappraisal  Tom Cornell, Boris Rankov and Philip Sabin, 1997  pp. 70-78.

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