Napoleonic Wargame Club

Infantry fire and effective hit rate.
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Author:  Gary McClellan [ Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I'm on very limited time (and will be out of town for a couple) but I wanted to branch this out from the discussion in the artillery discussion.

This is from Brent Nosworthy's "With Musket, Fire and Sword: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and his Enemies" (p204)

Although there was no consensus about the exact 'coefficient of effectiveness' of musket fire, if we may use this term, just about everyone who attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of musket fire admitted the percentage of shots fired in anger that succeeded in hitting a target were extremely low. This, however, was the theoretical performance of musketry conducted under the most favorable of circumstances. Military men knew that the actual performance under battlefield conditions was much lower, and many tacticians attempted to calculate the percentages of causalities inflicted during previous battles. One contemporary historican noted that the Prussians at the Battle of Czaslau (-War of the Austrian Succession) had to expend 650,000 cartridges to inflict about 6,500 Austrian casualities- dead and wounded (i.e. a 1% casualty rate.) ....

At Vitoria, for example, the British infantry were able to inflict only one casualty for every 800 rounds fired.

Nosworthy then gives a range of estimates from different historians, some contemporary, others more modern:

Guibert: .2%
Gassendi: .03%
Piobert: .03%
Napier: .3%
Hughes 3% (as the high)

Of course, all of this is going to depend hugely on range, and a simple comparison of shots fired to losses is very bare bones.

anyway, time's up.

Author:  Geoff McCarty [ Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I'm on the side of 'muskets are trash' in the argument. I believe professional soldiers with well maintained fusils dry and properly packed charges were killing machines though. They would march to within 100 paces of the enemy in line and begin a well ordered non-stop rolling volley from one end of the battalion to the other. Unless that enemy formation could maintain a greater rate of fire it wouldn't just sit their and get buried. Lower casualty rates in historic battles had alot to do with massed manuever and retreat rather than the infantryman's accuracy. Sure did during our revolutionary war. ;] ... %20PhD.pdf

We should be results oriented concerning the engine though. How many casualties should one turn of musket attacking fire * strength produce? Currently, it is 0.075/man at range 1 (5 firepower) which maybe too high as a basis for all other game values. It is ridiculously low considering that even based upon an attacker firing for 5 minutes at 2 rounds/minute that's a 0.0075 kill chance at 100 meters. I could see equal numbered battalions facing off at 100m doing at least 10% hits a man/minute which would translate into a '5 minute attack' based musket firepower of 6.7. The problem with increasing musket firepower further is the low morale check threshold and goofy overall casualty rates.

Author:  S_Trauth [ Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

If you're going to go there, then you need to be cleared on the terminology. It isn't the engine, but rather the PDT values being used on the table to define what the Weapons.Dat file uses. The OOB files assign what Weapons.Dat field is used in a unit.

Now, if you begin talking about effectiveness, or ineffectiveness or whatever - then you are talking about ratings being assigned - not to mention whatever the time scale being used is.

In the example above it looks like '5 minutes of firing' -well, 5 minutes of firing, naturally, is a different ratio of a turn length in a 10 minute turn, versus a 15 or 20 minute turn - so what part of the turn constituted movement to contact? Was it any? Half? All? Or anywhere in between? It sounds like 100 meters apart standing still and hammering away at each other -as if just beamed in there -but that couldn't really be... and considering a turn based structure, it is already being abstracted.

Ok -so now I have to do the math - and let's assume a 500 man unit. If a 500 man unit causes 10% damage per minute --- that's 50 men down - then multiply that by the arbitrary 5 minutes being used - and you got 250 men down -and that isn't, apparently, counting lost men due to running off and being permanently out of the battle. How many battalions do you have in these situations in a given turn? Multiply that by the loss -and how long does your modeled battle then last?

-as an aside -too, you can rate weather to make weapons' at a different strength -for example, say hot weather and being more of an impact due to increased fatigue that is can be argued to be translated to strength loss -or whatever impact makes a unit less effective -albeit in a more permanent fashion than say a fatigue point accrual on the unit.

In this case -it isn't 'engine' so much as maths. Maths, do though, in my opinion need to be modeled to turn scale.

That, though is entirely the Scenario Designers' discretion.

Author:  Geoff McCarty [ Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

The engine or program produces the results. We cannot affect many hardcoded variables as scripters. We are working around flaws of the engine in order to realize a better game, understand?
5 minutes because I've abstracted for the player turn only being half of the firing time despite movement being fully one sided. My 'realistic' combat results example would require the depreciation of strength over the course of turns. In an equal strength and accuracy engagement the battle would last 4 turns before the initial defender was reduced below 2/3rds strength (attacker FE*0.9/turn). Too bad we don't have PzCs prorated fire effectiveness value which is one of my favorite bits of that engine.
A 67% fire modifier would square the fire casualties to 0.01. 50% for artillery could model lower extreme range casualties. A -17% melee modifier would square the attack:defense ratio to 1:2. I wouldn't advocate using weather lines for the base game at all because it's a hack. I just like square numbers but, the resolution integer values are okay as is except the program's melee ranges compared with fire. Mostly due to the hardcoded disorder/rout threshold as I stated above.

Author:  S_Trauth [ Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I doubt I will understand how it is that any cogent argument can be made in the absence of establishing some common denominators.

Or put another way, a 5 factor at 1 hex in a 10 minute turn, mathematically equates to a 7.5 factor in a 15 minute turn. Or a 10 in a 20 minute turn scale. It cannot be a constant effect if the turn scale is different -or rather the ratings have to be scalable as are the turn lengths, and that is set by the scenario designer.

Proportion of turn doing other things is a red herring, if the above is ignored.

Weather effects are not a hack, as one doesn't have to look terribly far to see where weather has had a modifying impact on a battle. Or if you will, hotter weather can make a battle last shorter due to the fatigue caused. Colder weather can have an impact as well.

Author:  Geoff McCarty [ Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I erred when I said: "I could see equal numbered battalions facing off at 100m doing at least 10% hits a man/minute". I meant 'man/turn' or 2% man/minute. My example was supposed to bring down historic casualty results to some level that the game system might simulate. As I said even a '6.7 musket' maybe game breaking. Pictured is a civil war era target sheet of 30"x30" (?). What would be the result of 600 men firing at 600 men with a target profile of over 200 of these sheets? I'm certain it would be a higher than a 2%/min. rate of attrition.
Game modding should work holistically within a system to improve it's gameplay. If the modification can better actualize reality than great otherwise, oh well at least it plays better. Attempting to realize action time scale in a strict turn based tactics engine takes imagination. Full attack fire should be considered twice the volume as halved attack or defensive fire. Therefore we can imagine that full attack fire is 1/2 the turn length while half attack and defensive fire is 1/4. This can help to attenuate at some lower fraction of time scale the casualties produced within the program to realistic Napoleonic combat casualties. In a phased turn full attack fire can be better considered as 2/3rds the turn length while half attack and defensive fire would be 1/3rd. It is basically a red herring but, I wanted to better explain the rationale.
The OP and other (out of context) history references suggest that musket fire was deficient. I propose that stand off range musket fire accounted for over 50% of combat casualties in Napoleonic battles. Within NB attempting linear combat is totally trumped by withdrawal, cavalry charge, artillery fire, and infantry assault. I believe the game system should be better organized in some way to reflect my evaluation of history. What do you think the game's musket fire and other values should be in regards to enhanced gameplay and/or realism?

Author:  Bill Peters [ Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

During the 10 min. turn we have Op fire and fire by the player. Again, if you watch the turns and watch ONE unit you could conceivably see it inflict upwards to 180 men in 10 mins. I think that is a bit tbh but oh well.

And frankly the losses in the series are too high. If anything the value could be lower to 4 or even 3 but 5 has worked for years.

Folks are welcome to copy the PDT file and do their own thing. That is what the H&R project did. I did it as well when I was playing the NIR game back in 1998.

I like John's logic on the high and low values in the combat formula. It produces varying results rather than "This amount of men ALWAYS would produce this amount of casualties."

Geoff - you have yet to address the fact that muskets jammed AND I now bring up the SMOKE from the firing that definitely would have rendered accuracy almost useless.

Smoke was something I was hoping we could have in the series. The First Fire rule too. Thus the "5" value takes into account smoke and fouling of the muskets and so on.

I am considering raising the fire ratings for rifles. They were very accurate for the most part. Whether its a member of the 95th Rifles or a Jager unit where the men were hunters by trade the weapons were more accurate than a musket.

Author:  Geoff McCarty [ Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

When a soldier's musket misfires he would try to clear the frizzen and repowder it if needed then refire. If that doesn't work than he'd have to goto the rear to unfoul it. If even 1% of soldier's weapons fouled every 10 minutes it would be a calamity. An 18mm bore was pretty fool proof unless the powder got wet. Smoke dissipates into the air. The reason battalions used alternating peleton firing order was to allow the smoke to clear and for controlled steady fire against the target. An experienced line officer would order aiming adjustments. Musket range is point blank so generally its a matter of the standing musketeers to fire at the enemy's feet (due to recoil and magnus effect) around 100 paces away while the kneeling rank fires level to the earth. It's apples to oranges but, a single blind and mentally incompetent claymore mine would decimate a battalion at 100m.
Forgot to mention that my 'evidentiary' picture target above was fired at from 100 meters. It's also a percussion capped musket which reduces alot of the recoil before the ball exits the barrel that would affect a flintlock musket. Firing deliberately probably from a prone or braced position while aiming isn't like firing in battle line either. Still, I'd say 500 men with m1777s firing 5000 balls in 5 minutes at a 125x1.6m target profile from 100m should score from 50 to 150 strikes. The current 'musket 5' resolution without modifier is (500 * 5 * [5, 25] / 1000 = [12.5, 62.5]) or a mean 37.5/attack. So, a full turn attack fire could be thought of as 2m30s of volley and be within my margins. I'll write up a 100pace/5min. scenario and see if anyone plays it. ;[
The lower rifled musket rng1 value is supposed to simulate how difficult they were to reload I believe. I'm doubtful if that would affect kill rate considering it's increased accuracy. At 300m even a bullseyed musketball has less than 150 joules and would lightly wound rather than incapacitate. Maybe, 5rng1, 3rng2, 1rng1? For CEF, I'd claim that Russian weapondry should be no less effective than French. The powder and cannister arguments are from Anglo-Saxons who cannot be trusted ever. ;]

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

That any other form than a volley of musket fire was done for smoke to clear is new to me. Fire by peloton or by rank or what ever other form there was was usually done a keep some control on the fire especially in the face of cavalry.

Please not that kneeling fire again, it wasn't conducted by 3 rank formations unless in some very special situations.

Usually musket fire degenerated into a fire by rank after 2-3 volley's if not right after the first one as most battalions just didn't had the fire discipline to conduct volley after volley for a longer period. Exception might be the British. If fire discipline was lost fire was done by rank so both soldiers(1st & 2nd rank) reloaded and fired as a "team" without having to wait what the men left or right of them were doing.
That the discipline of such a battalion was gone can be seen in some personal accounts of Prussians at Jena-Auerstedt, one officer said that he wasn't able to do anything with his battalion as the men just fired like they wanted and he was unable to stop them, once the battalion started to retreat although in a wrong direction he was fine with it as the battalion was finally moving at all.

I'm not sure all this talk about theoretical fire rates and historical casualty rates brings us anywhere if all the time the basic engine mechanics are not considered.
Casualties in game are simply the loss of combat power, so if one thinks that if X men are lost by a unit it equals X men killed & wounded he is simply wrong.
The effect in game has to be considered first before the math plays a role. The only sense of lines is to maximize fire to stop assaults. Too low fire values would just lead to players not doing so and rather slugging it out by doing melee after melee all the time. The usually musket fire value of 5 is too low for this as even a 1000 men line only does about 70,31 casualties on an equally sized attacking column and that leads to a morals check only in 41,28% of the cases. That means out of 10 attacking battalions only about 4 would do a moral check at all and with the usual base moral value of C only 1(1,33) out those 4 would fail their moral checks and become disordered.

The point here is that if the assaulter isn't stopped the following melee will force a moral check on the defender and by that the troops quality comes into play, I'm fine with that but while the assaulter can always enforce a moral check with a melee the defender can only do it less than half the time with the current musket value of 5.
In my view a good line should be able to stop assaults more frequent, at least more than half the time. Some historical statements point out that usually no assault was done unless the enemy showed signs of wavering. In game terms the defenders line has to be disorder before the melee should be considered as the defensive fire would be too devastating and the melee would not succeed.

A shift to a base musket value of 8 at 1 hex would lead to 52,94% being triggered in case of a 1000 men line defending vs a 1000 men column. Before complains about the size come up, even a 1000 men line firing at a 250 men column would bring the probability only to 81,82% that a moral check has to be made.

Overall it's the question whether the musket fire should be as low as now so infantry can conduct a fire fight for an extensive time as the casualties are just not enough to disorder or rout one side or if the fire value should be set higher to achieve higher casualties to make a disorder/rout more likely.
The funny things is that both somehow seems correct, if the firefight takes longer fostering factors like smoke etc into the fire value and by that set it low seem correct. But the high fire value is also correct as it would make a fire fight a short decisive action so not smoke, foul muskets, etc have to be considered and by that a high value can be justified too.

Author:  Gary McClellan [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I agree that we tend to think of "losses" as those who are KIA/WIA, not counting those who skeedaddle, or just a general loss in combat power.

I've not looked into NAP warfare in awhile, as my focus of course was on the previous era, but at least from my reading, even with trained troops, the ability to keep up the "official" firing methods may be a bit overrated in any case. Fire very quickly tended to degenerate into individual fire pretty broadly. The first "big" fires would often be using one of the standard techniques, but as the firefight kept going, things got shaky in a hurry.

In any case, to be honest, I don't consider the fire factors to be the real issue here. I think that an automatic Final Defensive fire would be very good, and I think a mechanism to "spread" infantry fire between the various units in a hex would also be good. Not "passthrough" fire, but simply spread it. Right now, 4x350 regiments on the attack are better than 2x700, because unless a cannon hits passthrough fire, any defensive fire will be focused on one unit, and not all of them. So, if the final defensive fire hits for 80 losses, it would be spread semi-randomly through all the attacking units, instead of stacked onto one, forcing all of them into a morale check.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

Gary McClellan wrote:
The first "big" fires would often be using one of the standard techniques, but as the firefight kept going, things got shaky in a hurry.

The "First Fire" rule of the colonial games Bill mentioned would be handy here.

Author:  Gary McClellan [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I remember years ago getting the old Yaquinto boardgame Close Assault. (The AH game Firepower was a followup game using the same system. CA was WW2, while FP was more modern stuff.) I'm not going to get into the mechanics right now (though I always thought it was an underrated game.) However, I remember the Designer Notes by S. Craig Taylor talking about the work of SLA Marshall, and how he taught that in a standard action, you had only a few soldiers who would actually operate effectively. I think the term was "natural soldiers" or the like. So, one guy would be huddled down, or if he fired at all, firing like Hawkeye Pierce shooting his .45 into the sky. The next guy over might be laying down some very effective fire with his gun.

I've never tried to track down which of Marshall's works that was in, but I do wonder about it in terms of this era as well. With the tight formations of this era and the very mechanistic drill, maybe even the "poor" soldiers would be more or less roboted into doing something. Or would they? I don't know. Maybe they're the ones who are going to bury their musketballs into the dirt 20m short of the enemy or fire them so high in the air that only a passing vulture would need to worry about them.

The point though, is that mechanistic "x troops fired y times in z minutes" is a bit too reductionistic.

So, in trying to pull SYW together, one of the things I tried to keep in mind was the effects and how the different pieces interreacted. It goes without saying that between the subtle differences in the engine and some of my own choices, we've ended up in a different place than the NAP games. However, in the NAP games, it gets more complex. I was able to reduce the Column to the Column of March, and not have to worry about how it would serve tactically. Likewise, I didn't have to worry about simulating McDonald's mass column at Wagram. (On the other hand, I did have the fun of figuring out how the British Infantry could stand against the entire French Cav force at Minden without forming square.)

There's a constant interrelation between those things, and looking at how things work together is how we tighten up the games.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I have to rethink what I posted above as a different approach could be taken. It makes no sense to consider raising the casualties by 60% for the lousy gain of about 11% higher probability to trigger a moral check.

The different approach is to think about what happened in reality and then think about what results, functions, etc. in the game fit to them in an abstract way.
Bill always pointed out that melee includes fire combat, in that case it includes the final volley to stop the attacker, that is seen in the defender to attacker base melee ratio of 1:1.66.
Now the melee will result in the defender being at least disordered even if the attacker fails his melee, next phase the defender would fire with 50% what could simulate the degenerated fire combat that occurs after a volley.

That means the defensive fire at 1 hex doesn't have to be seen as THE final volley to stop the assaulter but rather as fire on a greater distance, a distance at least enough to allow for more then just one volley and for more control over the fire process as the units doesn disorder and by that its fire doesn't degenerate.
By that the musket value of 5 on 1 hex seems again a good choice as the real final volley is included into the base melee odds.

Author:  Geoff McCarty [ Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

I don't see what is so convoluted about figuring basic principles of volume of fire for the sake of realizing rates of attrition. Especially, in a thread of this title. The expected attrition is how all functions should formulate. I have said under the engine's conditions that a 0.02/minute rate of attrition maybe too high but, would be my expectation of musket range formation fire. Broadening the subject to morale, training, and bird augury won't solve if noone but me can present an attrition formula of one musket formation firing at an adjacent one in a turn. Denial isn't a counter argument.

Since the thread title is "Infantry Morale and Effective Rout Rate" now: ... of%203.pdf

A simple table under 'morale checks and routing' pg. 3 of that document. That we're using absolute values in the 'loss / (loss + (str/10))' can be considered a subset of the disorder spreading effect of the program. So, if a 1000 man column loses nearly an entire platoon at it's front than despite human emotion and reaction qualities they are no longer physically organized in the same manner as before they took fire. A smaller formation taking the same losses can be considered as only twice as likely to become disordered because smaller formations are more cohesive and easily reformed. The see-saw effect of the losses:proportion equation is that given 10% the losses the 250 man formation now has over 3 times the chance to disorder than the 1000 man formation.

It's the mandatory morale test afterwards that I think is greaty flawed whereby (pdf next table) a simple prorated pyramid scale based on a narrow 1-6 range is used. The rout test, command test, and leadership attributes are way to narrow for their supposed definition. We have 3 hardcoded combat multipliers ranging 156 (5-160) digits and more decisive rout test values only of 6 possible random results. That's a really lopsided system of values which encourages the scripter to bypass morale. It's like (not really) a Dungeon's and Dragon's character being attacked for dozens of hitpoints in damage and than having a vorpal sword decapitation die roll every round. Who care's about the hitpoint currency (men) when you must put up with the chaos of incapacitation every round (suddenly R counters everywhere). That's some Japanese level RPG evaulation.

Your next statement is that "everyone pissed themselves and ran away in Napoleonic battles". Well my opinion is professional soldiers would rather die gripping their intestines than waste a chance at so much enjoyment as unrestricted homocide. My opinion nullifies yours in the argument so let's return to the program functions and maybe come up with a moderation of these ridiculous switch effects in a TBS game. For morale rout testing the easiest solution is to increase quality across the board. We could maybe even return to the off topic subject of infantry fire and effective hit rates.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry fire and effective hit rate.

Nobody denials anything, we bring other factors into it as other factors played a role in reality. The simple solution that X men throw Y pounds of lead onto a target in Z time so I know how many kills there are is a total over simplification of a fluid combat situation. At best this kind of calculations can justify borders in which the combat results should be found but nothing more. For example in your "Hexagon Dimensions" thread you point out yourself the varying distances from hex to hex, shouldn't this somehow be considered? Yet you want to ride the situation like we would be in a testing facility under always the same conditions.

Now pointing to the CW doesn't help as it lacks any consideration of the base size of the unit. In the CW series 25 casualties yield a 50:50 chance to trigger a moral check, that is so on a 100 men unit and the same on a 1000 men unit. The Napy series uses the size of the unit, so big battalions have to suffer big losses or a moral check is very unlikely.

Now yes the d6 approach is too raw, 2d6 would surely have been finer but that is a futile discussion on things that won't be changed, at least not by us.

What the last paragraph is about goes beyond my understanding. Especially why quality should be raised, the usual lowest level of C that slid units have already gives a 66% chance to make the moral check what seems OK in general with the necessary trigger check in fire combat.

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