What part of “I hit you” didn’t you understand!? (Casualties)

When someone looks at a war film or sees a reenactment, they can expect to see casualties.  They will see the real affect of combat.  In a wargame, you see the same thing though modern methods would have you mark casualties or hits with chips or on a roster.  The beginner will likely have a hard time coming to grips with the notion that there are ubiquitous hits and once the unit takes so many, it is destroyed.  They will likely want to see the effect of combat.  Even for the veteran who wants a clean battlefield with out the bother of making casualty markers will find that it is far better to simply remove figures.  After all, we are trying to model combat in a game in some loose sense.  So, if you hit something, it should be removed from combat.

Try explaining to a 7 year old why when he hit one of your units 7 times none of the figures were removed.  The modern wargaming way seems to have been brought about because we paint figures and want them to be on the table for the maximum amount of time.  We WANT our hard work to be displayed!  This was a notion that Henry Hyde and Neil Shuck discussed at length in an episode of “A View from the Veranda” podcast when talking about Black Powder and Hail Caesar.   While this method may be convenient in many respects, it does not seem to model reality from the child’s mind.

So what does a casualty removal system do for you?  The main advantage is simple.  All of your record keeping is done in a visual way in game.  When a unit takes casualties, you simply remove the required amount of figures.  Upon gazing at any unit on the board, you can clearly see that it has taken casualties.  Now this brings up a drawback.  You have to be able to move all of those singly mounted figures.  That can take time in a large game.

One way of dealing with moving single based figures is to have large movement trays.  A movement tray is a large block roughly the size of a unit to which the figures are temporarily attached.  The drawback of this method is that trays can be ugly.  Also, when a unit takes casualties, the tray will not be full anymore thus making it even less attractive.

Another way to speed up movement is to have multiple figures on a stand.  Ideally you could have 3 figures on a stand.  One stand would be split so that there would be 2 figures on one stand and 1 figure on another.  This way, when a unit takes casualties, you can “make change”.  The stands are small enough so that you could display a unit in various formations as required y the game.  It is slower to move stands than with a movement tray but considerably faster than moving a unit of individual figures.  It is a nice compromise.

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