As Phil and Michael and I were playing Maurice yesterday, we considered a few things about the rules and our collections. The current campaign has seen us using 12-figure infantry battalions as the standard on-table unit. We've been finding that the games seem to lack the expected 18th century linear aspect. The smaller units are very maneuverable and the infantry combats devolve almost immediately into a maelstrom of small battalions maneuvering this way and that. The expected linear look is lost. Whether this is historical or accurate is, frankly, not of interest to me. I have in my mind's eye a certain picture of 18th century battles, fostered no doubt by period artist representations.
In reality, the 18th century battlefield was probably far more chaotic and messy than the image that my puerile 13-year-old wargamer's mind absorbed. But no matter. This is an ImagiNation project and I'm old enough to know what I want and how I want to see it.
So what to do? We've decided to go back to my original concept of 24-figure infantry battalions. This will, I hope, accomplish a few things:
1) My collection was originally planned for the 24-figure units and I won't need to change a thing. Phil may need to do some jigging but it shouldn't be too much of a burden.
2) The look and feel of the larger units is far more satisfying and also fulfills one of my original intents to go old school and model BIG BATTALIONS.
3) The larger battalions on the tabletop will be more difficult to maneuver (i.e. wheel) and the chaotic breaking up of the infantry line will be less likely to happen. The flanks of these larger units will be of more importance as well. With the smaller, more maneuverable units, it is easy to cover the flanks of other units by quickly wheeling to compensate. Not so easy or quick with the bigger, wider battalions.
4) Although it isn't the main reason for the change, the larger battalions will mean fewer units in the army and thus fewer Army Morale points to start a game. This will, I suspect, mean faster games. Losing a battalion in a force of four will mean much more than losing one in eight.
So this means that the current campaign has been halted while we reconsider and reorganize. Anew campaign will be coming down the pipe soon!
Another discussion revolved around army deployments. Maurice provides a terrain generation system and army deployment area limitations. But the way in which a gamer deploys within those physical limits is not regulated. Non-18th century style deployments are possible and common. These types of deployments are perfect examples of modern attitudes and approaches to tactics and deployment. As example, I was considering my deployment yesterday as the attacker. I first considered the standard 18th century cavalry-infantry-cavalry deployment. After discussion with Michael, we decided on a most non-18th century style (at least in my mind) and stacked our infantry on one flank and the cavalry on the other. In the center was a small screen of infantry and artillery. While it was ultimately successful in breaking Phil's army, it had neither the look of an 18th century battle nor the atmosphere. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to win and using whatever means are available within the parameter of the rules to achieve victory. But it was decidedly non-18th century. And perhaps not gentlemanly. "Gentlemen of the French Guards, please fire first..."
An 18th century general would have a completely different way of looking at his options (if he had any at all). Piquet's original 18th century supplement Cartouche had what I thought was an innovative way of limiting a player's choices in deployment yet not completely restricting him. Six basic deployment schemes were available, with the most simple and common being infantry in the center in one or two lines with cavalry on either wing. Each level of choice above this made the army deployment potentially more flexible. The choice of deployment style or scheme was dependant on a general's ability. Thus the worst generals would be restricted to maybe only the first or second choice while a brilliant general like Marlborough or Frederick might have the most flexible options.
I must find this supplement and see if we can bolt it onto the deployment of Maurice. More to follow on that idea!