Sunday, June 4, 2017

First Thoughts on Muskets and Marshals: Game Scale

I have been looking at a variety of rules sets and have decided to use Muskets and Marshals for my Hinton Hunt project.  I have not yet played with these rules, so my comments are based only on several readings of the rules.  This first look will hypothesize on the game scales.
Game Scale:  The game scale is not mentioned in the rules, but I have determined a scale from the implications that can be gleaned from the rules.  A unit of infantry is 24 figures, a unit of cavalry is 12 figures, an artillery battery is a gun model and 4 crew figures and a unit of skirmishers is 6 figures.
Reading through "The Napoleonic Wargame" by G.W. Jeffrey, and using the distances he mentions for the various arms and formations, I interpret the game scale for the above units to be as follows:
1 Infantry figure = 20 infantry
Infantry units are battalions of 480 Men (24 figures x 20 = 480)
1 Cavalry figure = 20 cavalry
Cavalry units are regiments of 240 men, composed of two 120 man squadrons (6 figures x 20 = 120)
1 Artillery crew figure = 1 gun and 20 crew 
A four-gun battery and 80 crew is represented by 1 gun model + 4 artillery crew figures (and a limber).  A larger battery of eight guns should be represented by two model guns and 8 crew figures and two limbers (which represents 8 guns and 160 crew).
These unit strengths indicate that the ground scale should be roughly 30mm = 25 yards (1mm = .83 yards or 30 inches).
For instance, one stand of cavalry (two figures) represents the standard 2 lines of cavalry (two lines of 20 men and horses, one behind the other).  Mr. Jeffrey says that each horse and rider takes up between 3.5 and 4 feet.  Using 3.75 feet as the average, a line of 20 horsemen then takes up 20 x 3.75 feet, which is 75 feet, or 25 yards.  Cavalry are mounted on 30mm stands, so 30mm = 25 yards.
Artillery Batteries are mounted on 60mm stands. Per the above calculation, 60mm is the equivalent to 50 yards (2 x 25).  Per Mr. Jeffery, an 8-gun battery takes up about 100 yards (allowing 14 to 15 yards between each gun).  That is the equivalent to two gun models and eight crew.  A smaller 4-gun battery (as represented in the game) would take up about 50 yards with one gun model and 4 crew.  This works out just right.
Infantry generally deployed in three lines.  In the game, a line of infantry is represented by a double row of 3 figures (so on a 40mm base, we have three figures, with a second 40mm base of three figures directly behind the first) for a total of 6 figures.  120 men deployed in three lines is 40 men per line (120 divided by 3).  Allowing 2.5 feet per man in line (Mr. Jeffrey allows only 2 feet per man, but with the jostling and movement necessary in combat, allowing a little elbow room makes sense to me) the frontage of the unit works out to 100 feet (40 men at 2.5 feet per man), which is 33.33 yards.  This compares to the cavalry perfectly:  at .83 yards per mm, 30mm = 24.9 yards (very close to 25) and at .83 yards per mm, 40mm = 33.2 yards (very close to 33.33).
Thus, I am satisfied that mounting the figures as set forth in Muskets and Marshals will yield appropriately sized units with realistic frontages. 
I have not analyzed the "skirmisher" formation because I am not sure what it represents.  Perhaps a portion of a battalion deployed as skirmishers?  I might build an entire battalion of skirmishers/legere/rifles, etc., and then let them deploy in 6 figure detached "units" that can operate independently.
My only quibble with the formations as given in the rules, is that a cavalry regiment should be allowed to attack as separate squadrons if the player wishes to do so, i.e. not only a 6-figure frontage (with another six figures behind the first six), but also on a 12-figure frontage.  From my reading, cavalry often attacked in the two-line formation, which is represented by a single row of stands.  See General de Brigade, p. 26:  "For purposes of the game cavalry "line" includes any cavalry line formation that is two or more squadrons wide.  This was the standard formation adopted for charging."  Perhaps calling the six stand wide formation the "cavalry line" formation, and the 6-figure frontage (with three more stands of 6 figures directly behind) a "cavalry attack column” would settle the issue.
If you would like to read the rules, and get your own free copy (which I highly encourage) click the following link:  Muskets and Marshals


  1. Hi Nolan - the figure scale although not given was originally based on the old London Wargames Section rules of one figure = 33 real men and one model gun = 6 real guns. I guess it doesn't really matter as a scale of 1:20 works just as well with the rules although gun batteries may have to be 2 models.

    The cavalry line at 6 figures was adopted purely as a space saver on the table. A 12 figure frontage takes up a lot of table space. Operating in 6 figure squadrons would be difficult to incorporate into the morale rules but may be possible with some modifications.

    I look forward to to seeing what you make of the rules in play.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I will take a look at how things work out at that scale. As I was thinking about your comment it occurred to me that I can give the rules a workout with my 15mm figures based for Napoleon's Battles. I will keep you posted.

    2. I am not opposed to rules that "save space." We want our wargame space to represent a large area of terrain, so such rules perhaps allow more maneuver. I haven't got there yet, but I suspect that the shorter weapon ranges also help with the space saving aspect of the rules.

  2. Interesting thoughts on ground scale. I am also looking at Musket and Marshals but also like the classic 'Charge' rules.

    1. Hi Mark. I see no reason why we can not use multiple rules sets gaming with these figures based for Muskets and Marshal. Since the basing (for Muskets and Marshals) is to scale, using Charge! should be an option.