Experiments

I hate cleaning out the garage and we have a two-story one (you would need to see it to understand). It’s underway and it’s going to take weeks, countless weeks. It is full of the detritus of five or six moves. I tried to convince SWMBO that it should be left for future archeologists but no sale. On the plus side doing it is better than a gym membership. -d_guy

Some experiments with FK&P troop types.

The Slow Approach

Four units of 1646 New Model Army battalia (seasoned, shot heavy, 5 ammo, 3 hit, 2 to-hit) await the approach of four Highland clan retinues (small, seasoned, 1 ammo, 2 hit, 2 to-hit). The New Model have a +1 to-hit advantage with pikes. The colored dice in the pictures below simply encode the information above as a reminder.

To optimize the experiment, I will simply assume that each unit will automatically get one activation per turn.

Slow Advance - 1

Against common sense, the Highlanders (foreground) prepare to make a slow, stately, (uncharacteristic) advance.

 

Slow Advance - 2

The Highlanders move into long range for muskets and the New Model dutifully fires a volley, disordering one of the clan units.

 

Slow Advance - 3

The Highlanders move into close range and the New Model again obliges by firing a double volley. Another clan unit is disordered and one completely broken.

 

Slow Advance - 4

At last the Highlanders charge, receiving one more volley (happily with no major effect) as they make contact. The Highlanders expend everything they have, applying four to-hits per unit. With the remaining two thirds of the Highlanders now disordered, hanging disorders on the New Model becomes more difficult. They do mange to inflict three but the seasoned regulars save two of the three. The net result is that of the four NMA units, only one has become disordered.

 

Slow Advance - 5

Melee’ is a two-way street and the Highlanders now receive five disorders from the regulars. Superlative saves minimize the damage, but another Highlander unit is destroyed. The remaining two Highlander units did manage to pass their rout tests.

There now seems little point in continuing, since the New Model can now pour double volleys into the enemy (two units against each Highlander), flank them, or both.

Short of expending the single ammo chit, Highlanders have no means to counter enemy fire. They need that ammo to maximize their melee’ effect (effectively a simulation of a “Highland” charge). Staying in range of seasoned or veteran musketeers for anything but minimal time is suicidal as demonstrated above.

The Rapid Approach

Let us play it a different way. The unit values are as above but we assume an automatic THREE activations. This allows the Highlanders to make a rapid approach and charge to contact so that they no longer receive enemy musket fire except for the single defensive volley.

Quick Advance - 1

As the Highlanders charge home they receive a defensive volley from the regulars. This volley resulted in the disordering one of the four Highland units, a fairly minimal price.

 

Quick Advance - 2

The Highlanders expend four to-hit chits against each one of the engaged regular units. The results are less than optimum – a total of three disorders, two of which are saved. Since the left flank Highlanders are disordered, they required a “Nine” to achieve a hit so the “Eight” does not count.

 

Quick Advance - 3

The regulars now apply their melee’ to-hits. Because of the pike bonus they have three to-hits each. A total of four disorders are won, only one of which is saved. The left most Highlanders break (their flanking unit passes its rout test, however) but the right two Highlander units are disordered.

The Highlanders will now have to suffer THREE activations of the regulars who will stand and pour repeated double volleys into them. The now unopposed regular battalion on the Highlander left will also be able to first position for a flank attack then charge and likely roll up the remnants.

It seemed pointless to play this out. Even if all of the Highland units survive with no additional disorder (extremely unlikely) they will only have the option of attacking again or running (the most sensible course). If they attack (and they will still suffer defensive fire each time) they are now at a disadvantage in melee’ AND their enemy can absorb more disordering hits.

My sense is the rules are portraying Highlanders against regulars in a very reasonable and accurate way. They are not elite stormtrooper nor are they designed for head-on assaults against well ordered and trained troops. Historically they were most useful when employed where highland terrain could work to their advantage or to operate against the enemy’s flanks in more open terrain.

The hundred or so years between 1640 and 1745 saw the completion of the gunpowder revolution. The slow advance above is similar to the Jacobite left flank advance at Culloden in 1746. An advance that was shredded by the firepower of the British regulars. The quick advance is much like that of the Jacobite right flank at the same battle where full contact was made (and they did somewhat better than in the experiment above) but were defeated in melee’ by disciplined troops. At Culloden, the Jacobite firepower was poorly deployed and ineffectively used, giving the battle more of a 1646 look (with British bayonets replacing the pikes).

I will next move on to trying an experiment where the Highlanders DO have a terrain advantage.