Combat, be it melee or shooting, can share most of the same mechanics. I went back and forth with whether or not their should be a saving throw. Given that most simple games do, I thought I’d be different and dispense with them.
Lets take shooting first. I read once in an old Strategy and Tactics magazine, the one with the game Ney vs Wellington, that a musket was about 95% accurate at about 40 yard, 45% accurate at 100 yards and 5% accurate out to 200 yards. These are probably generalizations. I do agree that accuracy falls off at about 50 yards. The musket is probably not the limiting factor. It is the MK-I eyeball, the optical range finder that has not changed since the dawn of humanity that limits accuracy. Even in todays modern military, a firefight rarely occurs outside of 300 yards, which is the same range that firefights developed during the American Civil War.
I digress. The accuracy numbers are almost certainly only valid for a man who has no pressure and plenty of time to aim. For our purposes, we can fudge these into probabilities on a six sided dice. At close range, even under duress, a man can remain pretty accurate. So at short range, a roll of 3+ is a successful hit on a target in the open. Since we have no saves, a hit is a “kill.” At medium range, a 5 or 6 on a six sided die is a hit. We could over think this and say that 2 hits are required for 1 kill at long range and only a 6 is a hit. We are playing a game here. A 6 is required to hit.
We could say that we roll 1 die per figure shooting. That would probably result in a rather quick game. I’ve seen 1 die per 2 figures in games that had saving throws. I think for our game 1 die per 3 figures is good enough. At close range casualties will mount quickly. At longer range casualties will almost certainly mount slowly resulting inn a prolonged firefight. Round up the number of dice because this is being designed for a collection based as 3 figures per stand. So really you are rolling 1 die per stand.
Ranges can be whatever you want but short range is out to 1 quarter maximum range. Medium range is out to half maximum range. Long range is out to maximum range. Generally there can be a cover penalty of -1 or -2. -1 is appropriate for most cover. The target could be woods or inside a wooden building. -2 should be reserved for the toughest of cover such as trenches or higher stone walls. If the modifier puts you at a 7 or more to hit, then your fire is ineffective. It may seem a little harsh but it keeps a player from fighting the action at Marye’s Heights from long range. The player will have to move in close just to hit the enemy at a disadvantage while the enemy will likely delivering casualties at twice the rate!
You are probably wondering, “What is with the to hit numbers anyway?” 3+ is twice as likely as 5+ while 5+ is twice as likely as 6+. With that, we can ow discuss the melee, which units will hit on a 4+ in an even fight.
With melee you can have a list of situations that may favor one side or the other. Sum up the totals that apply to each side. If the difference is 1, the disadvantaged side hits on a 5+ in melee while the advantaged side still hits on a 4+. If the difference is 2 or more, then the advantaged side hits on a 3+ while the disadvantaged side hits on a 5+. I don’t want to make this too granular. Melee is messy. Casualties are always going to be inflicted on both sides.
In a melee, one side or the other must win. There are no ties. If the casualty totals are even, the attacker is repulsed. Otherwise, the victor is the side that inflicted the most casualties. This total for victory purposes can be increased if a general or other supreme commander is in the fight. He will usually add 1 or 2 to the total for victory point total calculations.
Finally, you are probably thinking that melee should be more bloody. Well, it has been shown time and time again that hand to hand combat was rare and short. One side or the other usually broke before the enemy came to grips. When combat did occur, other engagement would be resolved quickly.
That is enough for tonight. I would like to thank Vincent Tzao for kicking me into gear. 😉