24 August 2011

GameTalk - Charge!

When the cavalry charges, it's an impressive sight. The thundering hooves, the mounted riders towering a full 10 feet above a standing man, and the war cries of the charging riders...

How does one model the true effect of the cavalry charge crashing onto the poor bastards stuck absorbing it? Especially in a game in which morale is not modeled?

Do you have any examples of good models from games you've played (or designed)?

By: Brant


Anonymous said...

IIRC from my reading, after the invention of firearms and bayonets most cavalry charges did not actually close with the enemy - they either got shot to pieces and shied away, or the infantry panicked and scattered first.

I haven't played many pre-20th games, but I do remember the venerable old SPI post-PRESTAGS game Musket and Pike had a rule for the "caracole", where reiter cavalry would charge up to within pistol range, deliver a volley, and ride off again. And didn't American Civil War cavalry often carry shotguns for the same reason? (that is when they weren't firing their carbines, acting like dragoons).

But yes, it's an impressive sight. Who can forget all those cavalry charges and countercharges from the 1970 film Waterloo....

Anonymous said...

Most of the pre-20th Century wargames I have played either give cavalry units a higher attack value, or provide a combat modifier when attacking. In pike-and-shot era games, this modifer can be negated (and even overwhelmed) if against a wall of pikemen, and in Napoleonic games, the same versus square formation.
IIRC, the SPI game Gondor (part of the War of the Ring series) gave an overwhelming combat advantage if Rohan cavalry units attacked in wedge formation. Instead of defending with pikes or squares, Mordor could send in Mumakil (war elephants) which caused the cav units to break.

FWIW...I think there are only a few historical cases where infantry squares were broken by cavalry charges. One by the KGL at Garcia Hernandez in the peninsula war, and a couple times at Quatra Bras (french cav surprised hastily formed brit squares).

Tally ho,

Jack Nastyface

besilarius said...

Years ago (we won't be exact here), Don Featherstone's magazine Wargamers Newsletter had a good give and take on how many squares were broken in the Napoleonic wars.
Now, they only considered properly formed squares, not ones caught while getting into formation, on the move, etc.
The final consensus was that there were only five occasions where properly formed squares were broken by cavalry.
One occasion was at GArcia Hernandez, when the King's German Legion Heavy dragoons broke two squares.
One was at Aspern-Essling, when a French light horse regiment (20th?) under Denis Parquin managed to catch an Austrian square which had just fired a volley into a different French unit, and was caught with muskets empty before reloading.
Another was at Dresden, when Latour-Mauburg got some lancers onto another Austrian square. Due to the heavy rain, the infantry could not fire. Due to the mud, cavalry could not actually charge, and the Austrians had successfully pushed off a regiment of cuirassiers, but when the lancers started spearing troops by reaching over the line of bayonets, the square's morale collapsed.
At this point, these are the only agreed events that I can remember. For some reason, I want to suggest another occasion was at either Gross Beeren or Dennewitz, but cannot be certain.
The final examples all were occasions when a piece of luck fell into the cavalry's laps.
At Garcia Hernandez, a dying horse fell into the square, breaking the solid face, and quickly other troopers dashed through and into the inside of the square.
At Aspern-Essling, Parquin managed to wheel his regiment from the targeted unit, into an adjacent one that had unloaded muskets. At Leipzig, a unit which had fended off heavy cavalry, had its morale break when the line of bayonets could not keep the lancers, with their longer weapons, from killing men in the deep square.
It was agreed that a properly formed square was never broken by a simple cavalry charge.