Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

No Remounting Required!

If there is a more onerous chore in all of wargaming than remounting an army, I cannot think what it might be. A good firend of mine commented that he’s done it three times for his Napoleonic armies, and remounting over a thousand figures often took him months of work. With the average half-life of 90% of the wargame rules out there being about five years, you’d better be VERY sure that you like a set of rules before making this commitment!

What has always struck me is how completely unnecessary remounting should be in this hobby. It results from one of the continuing bad ideas in design and false perception of many gamers. That idea is that organization structures and minor tactics below the batllaion level ever really mattered in the 18th and 19th century. This sort of thinking probably originated for many people with Fred Vietmeyer’s old “Column, Line, and Square” Rules which carefully denoted the variances in number of companies and used an idealized muster for each company. It became very important to reflect these lower level organizations down to a single figure. Of course, these musters varied from army to army, and were, in themselves, idealized “averages”.

But the idea caught on, mostly, I believe, because it allowed some wargamers the pedantic joy of quibbling about the various relative company structures of all armies. That and the arcane arguments about various unit frontages splitting measurements down to the last meter of ground are caviar to quasi-scholars. What was never really proven is that it made a shred of difference in a battles outcome! It did mean that as the figure ratios changed by the scope of the game design, or the scale of the figures, each set of rules would represent these company/ stands in a slightly different manner-both in the size of the stand and the number of figures on it, and also insist that if you were going to play the game-you HAD to remount your figures to suit.

How much simpler it is to simply state that X number of stands are a unit, and use that abstracted “unit” to represent , say 500-700 men-roughly a battalion( or a regiment or a division-depending on the game’s design level and ground scale) and move on!

Now most game designs are heading that way and deliberately abstracting the company and battalion structures-simply to allow gamers to try a set of rules without going through the laborious chore of remounting. Even better, the designers seem to be moving away from the misleading and meaningless insistence on all manner of minor drill and the value of drill regulations as an integral-or even accurate and meaningful-representation of battle. Maybe there is progress in wargaming, rather than repetitious circular reasoning by people that are simply reinventing the wheel every 10-20 years!

Never remount-except for aesthetic reasons; Never play rules that insist you do! Call that Jones’ First law of War games.