Saturday, 12 January 2013

Hell Broke Loose - Playtest - A bit about units

The basic make up of units is based around Unit Integrity rather than figures and stands, so the number of stands (and figures on them) is not that important providing the units are consistently based and look 'about right'.

Unit Integrity (UI) points represent the staying power of units. During the game UI is reduced by enemy action and recovered during rallies. On reaching zero UI a unit routs. On reaching -1 UI it is destroyed / scattered and removed from the table. Stands and figures are not removed during the game except when units leave the table in rout or pursuit, or they are destroyed.

However, here is how I have chosen to make up my units. After much trial, and effort, and an awful lot of re-basing over the years this is the best solution I've come up with. Each figure represents 40 to 50[ish] actual men.

My stands are (frontage first):
  • Close formed infantry: 45mm x 45mm. 6 figures per stand.
  • Formed infantry: 45mm x 45mm. 4 figures per stand.
  • Skirmish infantry: 60mm x 45mm. 3 figures per stand.
  • Formed cavalry: 45mm x 60mm. 2 figures per stand.
  • Skirmish cavalry: 45mm x 90mm. 2 figures per stand.
We have tried to keep most units for Hell Broke Loose within the bounds of the Field of Battle (by Brent Oman) and the Ager Sanguinis / Ager Proelii format, but.... 

Here are some typical units:

A Spanish Colonela. It has 2 stands of close formed pike, 2 stands of formed sword and bucklermen, and 4 stands of formed arquebus. 

A Colonela unit has 6 UI (unit integrity) points, 2 are stubborn.

This unit is veteran, 'C' class, specialist shooters, specialist melee (sword and bucklermen). 

Combat Die: D8 (D10 shooters, D10 versus stopped pike square.)
Defence Die: D8

Here is a unit of formed Italian arquebus in line formation (stands in a line). It comprises 4 stands of formed infantry. 

Formed infantry units have 4 UI points. 

I have chosen to class these as 'C' class, specialist shooters.

CD: D8 (D10 shooters)
DD: D6
Here is a unit of skirmish Gascon crossbowmen in deep formation (2 stands up & 2 stands back). It comprises 4 stands of skirmish infantry. 

Skirmish infantry units have 3 UI points. 

I have chosen to class these as 'D' class, specialist crossbow.

CD: D6 (D8 shooters)
DD: D4

(Note the officer stand on a round base for easy identification).

A big unit of Swiss in pike square formation. It comprises 18 stands of close formed infantry.

Pike squares have 4 UI points plus 1 stubborn UI point for every 3 stands. This one has 10 UI, 6 of which are stubborn.

This unit is 'A' class, fierce (can melee on even die march cards, push back on winning marginal advantage melee).
CD: D12
DD: D8

Note: Typically, pike squares are smaller than this. I'm basing my collection around 12 stand pike squares - each representing, with a unit of skirmish arquebus, about 4000 men.

A unit of French Gendarmes in line formation. It comprises 4 stands of formed cavalry.

Formed cavalry units have 4 UI points.

The forward unit is 'A' class fierce / The unit to the rear is better, it is elite 'A' class, fierce.

CD: D12 / D12+1
DD: D8 / D10.
A unit of Italian mounted crossbow. It comprises four stands of skirmish cavalry.

Skirmish cavalry units have 3 UI points.

This particular unit is 'C' class.

CD: D8
DD: D6
Artillery units. Each comprises a single stand.

Artillery units have 2 UI points.

These units are both 'D' class.

CD: D6
DD: D4

Armour and Weapons

I would like to quote, in full, the rule as it is written in Hell Broke Loose:

"Armour classification is extremely difficult at this period. Soldiers were not uniformly equipped and wore a vast variation of panoply. Consequently, I have decided to simplify and abstract an approach to factoring it into the combat tables.

In melee, there are two armour classes. Firstly, all troops fighting versus ‘fully armoured’ troops receive a Down 1 modifier – this modifier reflects the almost total protection afforded by the high grade armour to ‘noble’ cavalry (Gendarmes, etc.) typically fighting on barded of horses. Secondly, any unit that can claim to be significantly better armoured than its opponent gets an Up 1 modifier to reflect this – the term ‘significantly’ is important; minor variation should not be counted.

For missilery there are two armour classes. All troops shooting versus men in ‘full harness’ receive a Down 2 modifier – this modifier reflects the almost total protection afforded by the high grade armour to the ‘noble’ cavalry (Gendarmes, etc.), fighting on horse or foot, and the barding of horses. All troops shooting versus men in three quarter armour receives a Down 1 modifier. Arquebus fire counts the Up 1 modifier in the missilery table versus all armoured targets as well as the negative modifiers for the target’s armour. Artillery never counts armour.

Close combat weapons are dealt with differently than in most rules. In melee, the training class of the wielder and the interaction of the weapons involved are deemed more important than the weapon itself. Consequently, the interactive weapon effect is factored into the Melee Combat Table and Superior Weapon Table."

Peter and I have found, through playtesting, that armour should be ignored wherever possible. We do not give Genitors and Stradiots a benefit for having shields; we tend to class all infantry as unarmoured unless a good argument can be made for one type over another - such as well equipped front rank mercenary pike versus lightly clad arquebus armed foot. Once you get over this disregard for what your wargame figures are wearing the game works much better.

Defence Die (DD) have little to do with armour. The term is a carry over from Brent Oman's Field of Battle (published by Piquet) on which the bulk of these rules are based. We thought about other terms but, because we said "defence die" regardless, we kept it. In these rules, Defence Die are largely a morale and training factor. DD give units a die to roll against the effects of shooting, to determine 'morale check' modifiers on Command sequence cards, and to determine move rate (see below).

Units get no initial Combat Die (CD) bonus for their weapons which makes things look rather odd on a roster sheet, but please do not be fooled into thinking that everything is the same. The melee combat table, especially, has been designed to bring out the positive and negative factors of differently armed and formed troops when fighting each other.
On the subject of hand held missile weapons. We have only considered two: arquebus and crossbow (pistol will follow), and we don't distinguish between different types of either (no heavy or light). Shooting rules are, at best, rudimentary. This is for three reasons. Firstly, it makes the game run more quickly and more smoothly. Secondly, from what I've read, the effect of all hand held missile weapons was broadly similar - the rise of the arquebus was probably more down to cost and training time than its battle winning potential [at that time]. Thirdly, generally shooting in the battles of this time seems to have been very random in its effect, so complexity rather defeats the object by over qualifying it (if you see what I mean).

We have down rated artillery a great deal during play-testing. Again, we found that making it over powerful spoilt the feel of games. We now class it almost exclusively as 'D' class. It does well against pike blocks, but most other targets get away lightly unless targeted by multiple batteries at close range. Artillery is also, due to the fact that it can only use Artillery Action cards, virtually immobile.

A Note On Defence Die and Movement

The use of Defence Die as the base rate of movement for units came fairly early on. It was largely due to having read about the speed that well trained troops could manoeuvre about the battlefield compared to less well trained troops - comments about the Swiss and Landsknechts being foremost - and DD (range D4, D6, D8) rather than CD (range D4, D6, D8, D10, D12)  was the obvious choice.

We liked this idea a lot but, if all C class troops (DD: D6) move at 6" per move, what about the different move rates for cavalry. Initially we upped cavalry movement by 50%. It was not wholly satisfactory. But when we added the Swift Troops sequence card (to give very fast moving troops extra distance) the overall answer became immediately apparent: we added the Cavalry March sequence card and gave everything the basic DD move in inches.

Thus, most infantry and barded cavalry (manoeuvring at the walk) have a move rate of DD inches and they can only move on March sequence cards (usually 2 per deck); Cavalry that manoeuvre at the trot can also move on the Cavalry March sequence cards (1 per deck); Cavalry that manoeuvre at the canter (and troops deemed very fast by scenario) can also move on the Swift Troops sequence cards (1 per deck).

Hell Broke Loose has its roots firmly in Field of Battle. This rule set has the multi-move move, based on commander quality an luck, as one of its core elements and liking Field of Battle very much, we kept this: units can move up to 3 times a card. So units with a DD of D6 can, if their commander rolls high enough, move three times on a single card for an 18 inch move - if they were die lucky, swift moving cavalry might move 4 x 3 times in a game turn for a move of 72", and that might be one move immediately after another whilst your opponent looks idly on. Time and movement in all Piquet style games is flexible - see Clauswitz's thoughts on what he called 'friction in war'.


Warrior Pope said...

I like the basing looks very good. While playtesting at first we will go with the way we have them based until I can convince the club to rebase!

Dalauppror said...

Thanks for a realy good and interesting run through of how you base your minis !

Best regards Michael


Basing, under the rules, is not important at all. There is no head counting involved. As long as units look right the number of stands and figures makes little difference.

This collection has now been based and rebased 4 times. I'm still not sure about the light cavalry - 60mm x 90mm perhaps, to give them skirmish infantry frontages? But at last I'm quite happy with the rest of it, especially the infantry. Cracking colonelas was the key I think - that and deciding pike should have a seperate 'order' (close formed)with 6 per base rather than 4.

Phil said...

Fantastic units, with great bases! A wonderful work...

Milan said...

Hi James. I'd love a set.