The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

How to Contact? That's the question...

Yep, the Welsh Teulu's been contacted alright...
"Contact" feudal style...flank & rear on the Teulu, frontal on the Serjeants
from my Dark Ages blog, HERE

Interesting post query in the AMW yahoogroup: 
"How does one make contact in the NT rules - conform in full edge to edge contact, or stop at initial point of contact?"  NOTE: This would be a corner unless one started exactly parallel to the Charge Target Unit.

There are actually a number of interesting game design questions that orient around this issue.
1. What does melee represent in the game? in the earlier periods, it means actually getting up close and stabbing people - in the later periods, it means firing muskets up close and then charging a wavering opponent who promptly scampers off.
2. Do the mechanics have unintended consequences? as in does conforming result in a change of direction for a retreat from the melee, perhaps to the advantage of one side? Should they get this advantage?
3. How complex should this be to reflect reality as we understand it? as in do we need two pages of rules and 7 diagrams to explain it??
4. Can I explain this to a newbie / does it makes sense to a normal person?

It should be noted that none of NT's rules I have - and the only set I don't have is Napoleonic Wargaming - explain it or say anything besides "contact the enemy unit". It seems to me that it sometimes matters, and sometimes doesn’t, and the NT thing is probably to let players wing it! So what are some issues around it?
First, is the period Ancients through Pike and Shot where NT has melee being one of the primary means of resolving combat? Or is it a period where firepower is more dominant? In the former, I think one can make a good argument that it is more realistic looking to have them be in full contact, and that generally the attacker will conform to the defender as their object is to get fully into contact.
For the latter periods, “melee” is really more “getting threateningly close until the one side or the other blinks and scampers off”. In that case, I don’t conform them as I think they’re not really in physical hand-to-hand combat. However, if the defender was in a fixed position like a town or breastwork, then I’d conform them since I imagine the attacker having to get very very close to have any encroaching effect on the defender.
For One-Hour Wargames, the cavalry in Horse & Musket / Rifle and Saber charge and bounce if they fail to destroy their target. For that case, I think you can argue that the attacker can just choose as it’s up to the cavalry commander to decide to where he wants his squadron to rally back.  Also, it’s sorta realistic to give cavalry that extra movement and option to be very mobile. So there I’d let the player decide if he wanted to conform or not, and therefore set up a possible bounce to take him where he wants to go. It shouldn't get abused much as it's only 6" back, which is half shooting range, so using this as a move option for a unit that has a 12" move anyway doesn't seem tempting.
Presently, I’m playing a lot of the “Wargaming: An Introduction” ACW rules. There, I do NOT conform them as the detailed mechanics of charging just have it make a lot more sense to resolve the whole thing as more of a morale clash. Again, if they were attacking a fortification or breastworks, I’d probably force the attacker to conform.

My next venture will be Simplicity in Practice, his set of "generic" horse & musket rules, which I will most likely pursue as a “first corner or point of contact” and not conform them.