After a long gaming hiatus and an ACW game looming on the horizon for the weekend, thoughts turn toward wargame mechanisms to pass the time while away from the paints. Today's conundrum? Forced Movement as a result of Close Combat and how to treat it in wargame design.
Force Movement is a term I use for mandatory (as opposed to voluntary) movement for either the attacker or defender as a result of Close Combat. Close Combat I consider primarily as short range firefights with the possibility of sharp, yet quick crossing of bayonets while one side attempts to encourage the opponent to give up his position. For this exercise consider the following:
The Red Force has one BMU (Basic Maneuver Unit) in primary contact with Blue Force's Primary BMU. Each Primary BMU has one Adjacent BMU and one Tandem BMU in supporting positions. Both supports can participate in the Close Combat in a secondary role. Diagram A illustrates the initial situation with Red Primary attacking Blue Primary. Let's make this a horse and musket era game with each BMU representing a battalion.
Say Red wins the Close Combat. Red Primary advances while Blue Primary falls back as shown in Diagram B. What actions should the Adjacent and Tandem BMUs of each force be mandated? Two options are considered.
One option is to regulate that only the Primary and Tandem BMUs conduct forced movement as shown in Diagram C. Red Tandem could remain in place but a tandem, rear supporting BMU advancing to accompany the Primary seems reasonable. In this situation, Adjacent support does not advance. Similarly, Blue Tandem could be passed through by Blue Primary on its fallback to the rear but pushing Blue Tandem back as Blue Primary withdraws seems reasonable. Blue Adjacent, while not falling back with the Primary, wheels to avoid exposing a flank.
The second option considered is Forced Movement having each Primary BMU and both Tandem and Adjacent supports conducting mandatory movements following the conclusion of Close Combat. Diagram D illustrates the result of all of Red's BMUs advancing while all of Blue's BMUs fall back following a successful attack by Red upon Blue.
Of the two options presented, only the reaction of Adjacent BMUs differs. Should a differentiation exist between how Tandem and Adjacent supporting BMUs are treated? Should Adjacent supports actively engage in Forced Movement at the conclusion of Close Combat or should Adjacent supports remain passive? Should Red Tandem remain passive as well and not tag along with Red Primary? Should Blue Tandem be passed through by Blue Primary suffering perhaps disorder, morale check, or something else? Should Forced Movement depend upon whether the BMU is in an Attacker or Defender role?
I have my own notions but would enjoy reader input and feedback. My two options could be dismissed altogether and a third option (or more) might surface.