Sunday, 7 February 2021

By request - for Allan Mountford: On Casualties, by Duncan Macfarlane

These scans are of an article which appeared in Miniature Warfare & Model Soldiers magazine in November 1972.


Rob said...

No real surprises there, most wargames are 'bloodier' than reality. I think casualties' in the rules should be equated to 'losses' in real life (include prisoners who are effectively removed from a unit's strength) as I doubt there is separate mechanic in any of the three rule-sets for prisoners. If this is done LWS is still about double; WRG closer for the French but OTT for the British, and SJR similar to WRG but without the extremes that WRG can produce.

The analysis really should only consider 'casualties' from the combat outcome that occurred, i.e. two French wins followed by a British win (i.e. ignore possible dice score that reverse the outcome). Other results were possible in reality but did not occur therefore, reality can only validate the casualties for those results.

IMO the problem arises with the wargaming concept that melee casualties occur during a melee rather than during the pursuit of the side that cracks first. While this is often obscured by missile effects it is true of infantry as well, and has been the case throughout history being a noted phenomenon during Hoplite warfare. In essence combat is a morale contest; the French, were unperturbed by the small numbers of British cavalry in the first two charges but as they did not pursue (presumably for tactical reasons) they inflicted few casualties. The British of course did win when the French saw writing on the wall and many were taken prisoner (probably wounded as well) during the pursuit.

Conclusion, for a given outcome the casualties of the loser are not unreasonable (if the victor pursues) but should be roughly halved for the victor (and the loser if there is no pursuit).

Vintage Wargaming said...

Thanks Rob

The article is, of course, almost 50 years old.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Fascinating.. what a brilliant read..

Doug said...

I think this article is highly dependent on sources that could well be coloured. British retire, French flee. British pursue, French advance. The language is highly subjective. So while it is an interesting article, I would have to say the written sources should be verified and examined.

Keith Flint said...

Just shows how far rules have come since the early 1980s. With actual casualty removal much less common, it is outcomes that matter, not precise casualties. And of course most rules these days tell us that wargaming 'hits' include disruption, fear and confusion over and above actual dead and wounded.

All this seems far more sensible that calculating and comparing exact numbers of casualties.