Sunday, 23 May 2010

Thoughts on artillery

I've been terribly busy with work so the painting total for May has been truly pathetic, just 20 figures finished for the entire month. Quite appalling. I might get a few more in before the end of the month, but maybe not.
 I like to get in a little painting session most mornings before I head off, just 15 or 20 minutes, you know, cup of tea, bit of quiet morning radio. You 
can't actually get a massive amount done but it adds up. Anyway, this past month I've been leaving an hour or so earlier, so no chance of getting anything done, and in the evenings I'm too knackered.
Thought though, can take less energy, and I've been thinking about artillery in ITGM.
This was prompted by something in Noel's blog  where he mentioned they were playing a game using smaller sized gun batteries. I've done this a few times, where normal battery sizes are reduced by one gun, and its usually resulted in an excellent game.
Austrian 6lb battery: This could go down to a 3 gun battery
So, thinking about this leads to possibly expanding some rule changes to go along with this reduction.
I've always resisted tinkering with ITGM, its always seemed a case of "its not broke, so why fix it?" and to a certain extent I still adhere to that. Whatever set of rules, whatever period, there are ALWAYS knock-on effects from even the tiniest rule change. As long as these are foreseen then all well and good, but they often aren't. However, I think I can say I'm probably as familar with ITGM as much as anyone so I reckon I can cover most eventualities.
If we reduce battery sizes (4 gun down to 3, 3 gun down to2 and 6 gun down to 4) then obviously this will reduce the effectiveness of artillery on the battlefield (and I can already hear the Russian players squealing in protest). This needn't be the case. To compensate for reducing battery sizes one simply increases the number of batteries. Whats the point? I hear you say? It means individual batteries are not so powerful, are not quite so immune to enemy action, and would need to be sited more carefully and protected by infantry, cavalry or terrain.
There are a few other rule changes concerning artillery I'd like to throw into the mix while we are about it.
Horse artilley fire twice in a turn if stationary.
I've never read anything that supports the notion that horse gunners employed a higher rate of fire. I HAVE heard that when PG originally wrote the rules he lacked horse batteries so made the few he did have more effective.
So I'd do away with that rule. With most horse bttys now being only 2 guns (except Russian and Prussian which would be 3) it would make them less devastating. At the moment there is a tendency in games not to have that many of them. I think I'd sooner see more small battys than the occasional larger one.
Russian horse guns: Not so fearsome if there were only 3 guns and they fired just the once per turn
(from J.Lander's collection)
The benefit of having 2 gun bttys means that their frontage is less than a 6 man cavalry squadron, so providing they are anchored on terrain, or other troops then they can't easily be charged. They are however quite vulnerable to counter-battery fire..but it would be the same for both sides. 
Another rule I would do away with is firing guns overhead (as opposed to howitzers) from the flat up onto hills and vice-versa. It didn't seem to happen much from what I can gather. No problem with firing over friendlies from hill to hill.  
French foot artillery: Connoissuer figures 
Lastly, there is the minus 4 incurred by guns firing cannister at single rank cavalry. Noel is convinced this is a misprint which has been followed by convention for years.
If one reduces the battery sizes, and does away with the minus 4 against single rank cavalry then it actually ends up about even (the guns might be a little ahead) when you look at the fire tables.
So, those would be my changes.
Incidental problems would be to do with the possibility of more formations with muliple bttys which would lead to more Grand bttys and convergence of fire. Therefore care would have to be employed in how you construct OB's. 
Take a "typical" game.
lets say currently you have 3 corps, each  of 10 btns and a cavalry regt each with a 4 gun btty. Plus a reserve btty of 4 guns. You also have a cavalry corps with a 3 gun horse btty    
A total of 19 artillery models. If one reduced the btty sizes this would go down to just 14 models.
This may not be desirable. How to solve this? Giving extra bttys to formations willy-nilly might not be the answer because one increases the ability for units to converge fire. One solution could be in this instance to fiddle about with the poundage, ie allow some or all of the guns to be 12 pdrs, or one could perhaps give the cavalry corps 2 x 2 gun bttys. Or one could give some of the infantry outfits additional 2 gun horse btty's to accompany their inherent cavalry, and introduce a another rule forbidding convergance fire between horse and foot from the same formation.
Just a few thoughts.
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