Monday, June 15, 2015

Muskets & Mayhem CORPS Level Playtest

I played the first game of Muskets & Mayhem Corps Level rules today with a very small force consisting of a unit of 5 French Battalions and 2 Artillery Batteries attacking a ridge held by 3 British Battalions.

This game brought to light some issues with morale, the question of adjudication of morale checks, and some other small issues that should be addressed prior to moving forward:

Here they come, lads!!
 First of all, the sequence of play worked perfectly and although the British didn't really need to win initiative (they sat stationary for 85% of the game), once the French closed and the British position became more dangerous, the initiative roll took on a new importance as the one who moved first would be in an advantageous position during firing.
And they came in the same, old way.
 Just like in the original Muskets & Mayhem, stationary troops get an advantage by firing first.

 The French advanced straight in column right up to the British position.  Solid musket volleys and good rolling in melee push all of the French battalions back.

The question of morale nagged me the whole time.  When to check?  How to check?  Here's how it played out:

Whenever a unit takes a Strength Point Loss, it makes a Morale Check.  The basic morale is the same number the Battalion makes to shoot and make saving throws.  (all units in the game were regulars, so their basic morale is a 4+ on a 1D6.).

First question - since your troops are ordered to charge - do you make a pre charge morale check?  Or dispense with the pre charge MC?  I didn't do it as I saw it as an unnecessary, redundant penalty.

Then I thought that was too simple and probably unrealistic.  So here's what I came up with this game - if morale was Shaken (yellow beads) or disorganized (black beads) you had to pass a morale check to carry out any movement.  Shaken simply roll your morale and carry out operation.  If you were disorganized, you could attempt to pass MC with a -1 modifier.  If you pass, you move from Disorganized to Shaken.

Rally order simply removes all Shaken markers, and Disorganized becomes Shaken but the unit must remain stationary and cannot do anything else that turn.

I thought these were good compromises.
Reeling after the first assault, French troops all shaken or disorganized.
Onto the melee.  So melee was handled just like shooting.  Units attack with their SP dice, depending on how many they had.  Therefore 2 beat up French Battalions, each with strength point "2" got 4 dice when attacking a fresh British Battalion that gets 4 dice.  Worked out nicely this way, and I think handles multiple unit combats very neatly.

Loser of the melee retreats and loses 1 level of morale.  If already disorganized, unit disintegrates REGARDLESS of strength points.

Disorganized Units:
Disorganized is a very dangerous state for units to be in.  A disorganized unit who fails a MC after melee is wiped out.  A disorganized unit who fails a MC after shooting, loses 1 additional strength point.  (does not count for rallying units, on rally orders.  Failure just means they sit there as they were before they attempted to rally).
French Division Commander considers his options...
I like the artillery rules alot.  The ranges are solid for the Napoleonic era and my 2 batteries were able to really bring the hurt onto the smaller hilltop, and effectively softened up the British Battalion prior to the ground troops assaulting it.  Once contact was made, the roll of the artillery diminished considerably as the hills were masked by friendly troops.  Long range these guns fired with 1 die.  Effective range 2 dice.  Close range 3 dice.  Had the British had a battery in support, the game may have played out differently.

 Light Battalions and Skirmishers.
At some point I wished the British player would have had skirmishers to fire at the massed French columns cruising right towards their position but didn't think to include skirmishing in this game.  Probably need to rethink that. (option with your Brigades or Regiments to detach a battalion to skirmishing duties, break it up into small stands, and work their way forward from the main body).

Ahhh what the hell.  DIVISION ADVANCE!
Another problem revolved around timing of morale checks.  Trying to remember to make a morale check in the morale phase was tough so I ended up taking MC's immediately after casualties were caused.  In this way, I made sure I didn't forget.  With 20 or 30 Battalions on the table, this kind of book-keeping would be tough, especially in the heat of battle!
If you HAD to have the Morale Checks in a separate phase, you could place a marker (casualty or skull & crossed bones etc) marker next to the lads as a reminder.

I marked casualties with red dice but casualty markers or stones would probably look much cooler now that I think about it.
A different strategy this time - the French will advance in line and fire on the British.

New tactic works as another battered British Battalion leaves the field.
 If the British would have had reinforcements behind the hill as was customary, they probably could have held onto the position.
French occupy the small hill.

Thoughts so far:

Well a little choppy but otherwise a very fun and satisfying game, at least as much so as the original.  I am looking forward to playing more of this and incorporating more units, cavalry, grand batteries and the like.

PS orders were given to individual battalions, not brigades as I had originally though.  I have no idea how realistic this is, but it makes the game move faster and is probably more fun as it allows you to maneuver and fire.


  1. Now these look like my kind of rules! Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting.

    1. Steve,
      Check the post prior to this one for the full sequence of play. If you like these, stay tuned! I plan on playing more versions of this until we get it right!


  2. Will do Steven. Is there a full draft set available? Could do with the info regarding units starting hit points if possible?

    1. Steve,
      Not yet. I was just finishing a draft set for the tactical version (about 7 pages) and Duc de Gobin and I were working on the concepts for the higher level version and working through some bugs.

      Right now, since I'm play-testing, all of the "regular" units start with 4 hit points. The hit points weren't based off historical unit strength (although they could be) but in my mind were more based on morale and the unit's ability to withstand fire.

      I will be coming out with more as the days go on! A full draft version is in the works for later this week!

  3. Excellent Steven,

    I'm liking the results you're getting here.

    Also, agree with your sentiment re. pre charge checks. Very interesting discourse on the nature of the morale roll, and something to work on I think. It makes a lot of sense that morale checks now required to move when worn down at this level I think.

    I think there's a universal morale check rule that will emerge with regard to when/how it is rolled etc., it just hasn't developed yet - but it will come I think as we play more games.

    Again, crucial that we're seeing the strength of the turn sequence and the importance of stationary troops within it.

    I'm going to try and get another playtest of both levels of game in soon.

    Also Hello again to 'Stokie Steve' - who actually made me aware of the existence of 'SNappy Nappy' back in 2013. Good to see you're back in the game mate. These are the rules you've been looking for :)

    1. Thanks Darren - I really enjoyed the playtest. I have another one ongoing now with more French and British Battalions. Lots of fun so far. The British are trying out a reverse slope defense this time.
      I figured there should be some penalty for being disordered or shaken as it represented a unit in varying levels of distress.

      I think the morale rule is a decent representation and enough abstract to be good for this level of command - until something better comes along :)

  4. And you know what - the strength of M&M is its turn sequence and morale controls.

    I think I'd sent you a copy of 'Lightning War' for WWII - and the turn sequence really coordinated play there. Some tweaks with regard to all arms combat and nature of warfare, and there could be a version of M&M for WWII ;) (stop me when I go to far LOL)

    1. Don't be silly - there is no going "too far!" You know, I was thinking this could also be "the game" for squad-based, WW2 infantry combat. This could be the next manifestation of squad leader in miniature - the turn sequence is certainly adequate for most periods of battle where firearms are used.

      Hard to beat Muskets and Mayhem as a name though?

  5. Really looking forward to seeing these rules. Definitely look like my kind of gaming. Could I ask a favour? I'm currently not getting any notifications from Blogger, could you email me please when there's a full draft available? Email is

    1. No problem, Steve, glad to hear you like them. If you'd like to see the tactical version, you can do a search of "Muskets & Mayhem" in the search box of the upper-left hand corner of this blog.

      Also - maybe I'll post them to Google or start a google group. Would that be helpful?

    2. Great idea Steven. Count me in!

    3. Will do sir. I plan on writing something up over the next few days.

  6. Happy to play test these with colonial troops - British vs Zulus - if you want to extend them to late 19thc.

    1. Stuart - if you do a search on this blog for "Muskets and Mayhem" you will see tactical level of rules (Battalion & Brigade). They would be appropriate for Colonial Warfare and you wouldn't have to change anything!

      I will hang these rules up somewhere for you all to download and view once I have the site up and running.