Charge!

Or how to play War Games

Charge! - or how to play War Games, by Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant Colonel James Philip Lawford

»Charge! - or how to play War Games« by Brigadier Peter Young and Lt.Col. James Philip Lawford is an old school wargaming classic. The rules are designed for skirmishes and battles with late 18th century infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers. The authors recommend playing the game with 30 mm plastic or metal miniatures, but the rules readily adapt to any figure size from six to 40 mm. The smallest tactical elements of the game are Landwehr or light infantry companies with an officer, NCO, drummer, and twelve men, grenadier or line infantry companies with an officer, sergeant, drummer, and 16 men, the cavalry squadron of one captain or cornet, and eight troopers, a pioneer platoon of an officer or senior NCO and six sappers, and the half-battery with a section commander, five gunners, and one field piece. These platoons and companies form batteries, battalions, and regiments of up to 59 or, during the Napoleonic period, 78 wargame figures. Quartermasters and vivandieres with their pack horses accompany the troops. When the authors say »regiment« they are referring to the British army regiment with only one battalion. Accordingly, their downsized Landwehr or light infantry »battalion« is but a half-battalion of two companies. Anyone wishing to deploy continental European infantry regiments with two battalions in Charge! wargames would require at least 118 figures per regiment, plus regimental staff and train.

Contents

  • Title: Charge! - or how to play War Games
  • Period: late 18th Century
  • Type: Tactical Wargame
  • Time Scale: 1 turn = 30 to 60 minutes
  • Ground Scale: 1:200 (20 mm = 4 m)
  • Troop Scale: 1 figure = ca. 10 men
  • Basing: ca. 20 mm frontage per foot soldier
  • Casualty rate per turn, at 100 meters range: (unmodified)
    • Grenadier with musket: 0.58 hits
    • Line infantryman with musekt: 0.44 hits
    • Militiaman with musket: 0.35 hits
    • Light infantryman with musket: 0.50 hits
    • Jager with rifle: n.a.
  • Authors: Brigadier Peter Young, Lieutenant Colonel James Philip Lawford
  • Format: 122-page rule book
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Morgan-Grampian, London, England
  • Published: 1967

Chapters

  • War-gaming - the Origins
  • The Elementary Game
    • Movement
    • Firing
    • Mêlées
  • Playing the Elementary Game - The Battle of Blasthof Bridge
  • An Introduction to the Advanced Game - Organization, Formations and Movement
    • Command and Staff
    • Grenadiers and Infantry of the Line
    • Formations
    • Light Infantry
    • Artillery
    • Movement
  • Firing
  • Charges and Mêlées (General and Cavalry), Rallying
  • Artillery and Infantry in Mêlées, Special and Complex Mêlées
  • Morale, Field Works and Game Mechanics
  • Playing the Game
  • Tail Piece
  • How to Create an Army
  • Index to the Rules

The Charge! game rules are introduced, explained, and applied in the course of two sample battles illustrated in the book. While this is standard operating procedure of many period wargame rules and fun to read, modern players may find the prose unnecessarily verbose and difficult to get used to. Rule queries can be difficult to resolve, because the book is lacking structure and relevant text passages are not easy to find in the heat of battle. Fortunately, there is a comprehensive index at the back of the book which beats flipping through multiple-page battle reports in search of a specific game rule. With some practise, the rules will be fully memorized, requiring little if any future reference to the rule book. Regular players and wargamers interested in introducing new players to Charge! may want to create their own quick reference sheet. Despite their age, old school wargame classics like Charge! and The War Game by Charles Grant have lost none of their appeal. Both games give line infantry similar firepower, but Charge! places greater emphasis on skirmishers.

The lack of rifle-armed skirmishers, like Jagers and some Grenzers, may initially come as a surprise. The authors might have reduced the rate of fire of troops armed with rifles, and increased their hit probability, but the final result would have proven quite similar to that of voltigeurs and other experienced skirmishers armed with smoothbore muskets. This assessment is consistent with scientific evidence on the fire effect of smoothbore muskets: whether the barrel is smooth or rifled, what really matters is that the shooter actually aims his weapon. Line infantrymen only brought their musket to the shoulder and hastily pulled the trigger, while fellow soldiers close beside and behind them were brandishing ramrods, adopting a firing position, discharging their weapons, or being hit by enemy fire. Aimed fire by infantry deployed in line, standing shoulder to shoulder, proved virtually impossible under these conditions. The light infantryman, on the other hand, deployed in open or extended order, made use of available cover, routinely estimated the range to his target, sighted along the barrel, perhaps using the bayonet lug as a crude foresight, and only then took a well-aimed shot. This is why skirmishers often proved more effective in attacking fortification and suffered fewer casualties than tighly packed infantry assault columns.

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