Biggest issue with most games is the command and control, complete ignorance of weather and pointless skirmishers. I cannot say that I like command radius and that is the greatest grievance of DSLB. I do like the unpredictability of the troop activations, and the skirmish system which is abstract, but does represent them quite neatly. I have previously thought about the command structure, but ignored equally important factor: smoke, dust and haze. During black powder era battlefield has a tendency to become rather quickly very hazy affair. Tens of thousands of muskets discharged repeatedly in area encompassing few square kilometers does create very thick hindrance.
So, I thought of following. Battlefield would have a Visibility Condition Level (VCL), which would gradually chance for the worse during the conflict. Smoke, haze and dust all contribute to the overall battlefield VCL. Visibility Condition is set as percentage: Maximum would be 100% and minimum would be 10%. Excellent Condition, and without intervening obstacles, unit, or commander could see 60cm away (about 1km). Reduced to minimum, distance would be 6cm (about 100m).
Weather and Conditions
Base Visibility Condition can be reduced by weather, and reduction can be any amount desired. Rounding to closest 10% would make things easy of course. Weather such as torrential rain, mud fog etc. have other ill effects:
- Mud reduces move rates by one (L to M, s to VS and so on). Unit can always move minimum move but to doing so and not having sufficient move capacity, unit receives disorder. Example: Unit in line (S move) moves uphill (reduction to VS) in mud (no reduction possible) = Disorder. Unit can only gain 1 disorder this way.
- Rain reduces visibility and approach dice (drizzle 80% VCL, Torrential 60% VCL and reduce one die from approach, eg. line would have 3 dice instead of 4).
- Bitter cold reduces Army break point by 1 or 2 depending on severity.
Smoke, haze and dust: During the battle, every discharge of massed infantry, gun batteries, or burning location will contribute to the total amount of hindrance in the battlefield. Each 5 approaches, or gun battery shots (or elements of Grand Battery) will reduce the Visibility Condition Level (VCL) by 10%. Two 10 sided dice could be used to keep track of the battlefield VCL. Example: After 20 approaches, and gun battery shots VCL would be 60% and units could observe enemies no further than 36 cm away (3L).
Fire: Unit can set Buildup location on fire by spending an action and retreating back from the location with 1 additional disorder. Such location contributes to the VCL by 10% and cannot be entered, or occupied by any unit.
Wind: Fresh breeze can reduce the effect of smoke. In this case, every 10 approaches or gun shots contribute 10% to VCL.
Additionally, messages would have increased chance to become lost.
Effects of line of sight: Unit which cannot see another unit, cannot move to approach distance of the unit until seen but they can probe towards the enemy positions.
- Defend – this keyword would mean that units can be set to defend the named position. If position is already occupied at the time when sighted, units stop. Unit cannot approach enemy unless forced out of the position by someone else.
- Probe – Maximum of 50% of the brigade strength can move towards enemy positions, but can engage if enemy is seen and has more disorders or are numerically inferior.
- Advance – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must take control of named position.
- Reinforce – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must move to reinforce named position.
- Withdraw – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must conduct withdrawal and not engage any enemy.
- Regroup at X – units must attempt to regroup in named position.
Note that there are no orders that specify one to attack, or general attack. Subordinates will only accept orders that specify named positions because only covered ground counts. Orders cannot have conditional complexities. Attacking enemy is action that follows when position is contested.