By Jack Scruby, 1969
Over the last eighteen years that I have been involved in wargames with military miniatures, there has come along two major Ideas that have changed the basic factors involved. The first was the use of MORALE, which can be attributed mostly to Ted Haskell of Lansing, Michigan. The second was the Morschauser Roster System, dreamed up by Joe Morschauser of Scarsdale, New York.
And now, after several years of experimentation, my friend Michael Frank of
Visalia, California, has come up with the “Unit Efficiency” war game that I believe will become a major contribution to wargaming, as its implications become known throughout the hobby.
Like the Roster System, the Frank Unit Efficiency pare (or UE as we will call it in this article) can be used in wargames of all periods from ancient to modern times. What it does is give a flexibility of performance to war game units that heretofore have had the same capabilities. And the method is very simple, which it must he to be successful, and any war game general can adopt it for his game without any problems whatsoever.
The UE theory is used best when soldiers are mounted for the Morschauser Roster System type game, although it would be possible to adapt it for individual movement type games (where the soldiers are not mounted on moving trays). But it is necessary that a written record of each unit (battalion, company or regiment depending on how your war pare army is organized) be kept throughout the game. On this Poster sheet one will not only keep accounts of the number of casualties Inflicted upon a unit, but also will keep account of the Unit Efficiency of the unit.
Actually, the Unit Efficiency of the war game unit has to do with morale, or the Combat Ability of the unit, or its efficiency in how it reacts in combat. However, under the Frank system, this UE can vary, according to the type of troops represented by the unit, by the particular unit during the miniature battle. Actually, this is not new, as many rules I have seen take all this into account. What is new, however, is the fact that the element of “chance” is the biggest factor on which UE depends.
To explain the theory easiest, I will use the Napoleonic war period as the example. However, as you will see, the UE game can be used for any war game of any period with a few adaptations.
The Unit Efficiency of the Napoleonic troops is tied directly to the dice you use in the war game. The digits representing the UE of any troops are related to the digits on six sided dice. Thus, Landwehr or militia type troops would he rated at 2; Fusiliers of regular line regiments would be rated at 3; Grenadiers and Light Infantrymen would be rated at 4, with such troops as Riflemen, Guard Jagers, etc. rated at 5, and Guard Infantry and cavalry rated at 6. Light cavalry could be rated at 3, while Heavy Cavalry might be 4, Cuirassiers as 5.
These digits then, are the UNIT EFFECIENCY of the battalion at the start of the wargame. Whenever anything affects a battalion unit during the wargame, its UE must be determined by a dice roll. For example, a battalion of Regulars is charged by cavalry can they form square in time to ward off the attack? Roll their UE number, and they automatically form square. Fail to roll their UE number, and they are caught in motion trying to form square and are crushed.
There has just been a firefight. Will your battalion stand or run as a result? Take their UE point, roll one die and multiply the two numbers together If you have a higher total than your opponent, your battalion will stand. If you fail, your battalion will retreat, they will lose one UE point for having been defeated, and you must dice their new UE point in order to rally them.
A unit is holding a stone wall against severe attack. Automatically this defensive position will give them an additional UE point. Your unit is caught in flank: automatically you will lose a UE point from the value of your battalion. Troops forged in square will be allowed two additional UE points against a cavalry attack. Troops that have panicked and are retiring in disorder, and who cannot be rallied on two game moves will lose another UE point.
These are some examples of the flexibility potentials of the UE type game. To find out if your UE point is gained when the die is rolled, you must roll the digit on the dice that represents the unit, or LESS. If you roll OVER (higher) than the UE point, the unit his failed and suffers the consequences.
Obviously then, the better the soldier, the less chance they have of failure. For example, Guard Infantry or cavalry would not require a dice roll at all to perform anything, since their digit is 6. Guard Jagers or Riflemen, whose value is 5, would only fail if you diced a 6. Regular Infantry are rated at 3, but If their Grenadier and/or Voltigeur companies are attached actively to the unit (and not in special assault battalions), they automatically are at a 4 (because of the addition of their elite troops to the battalion). Thus, only a throw of 5 or 6 would cause them trouble and of course, if you happen to have Landwehr or militia in your army, with a UE of 2, you can figure they automatically will not stand in combat for very long (although) have seen a Landwehr unit rated at 2, successfully stand off an attack by Cuirassiers because they happened to throw the right dice combination!).
The total idea of Unit Efficiency alters the war game in many respects. No longer is it necessary to fight a battle to the last man, for under this system, casualties may be very small, but loss of UE (i.e. combat and morale ability) can come fast, and a strong battalion of Regulars rated at 4 can quickly drop down to 2 and then will have lost enough fighting ability that it can never hold its position for the rest of the game.
At the same time, the flexibility of UE can be increased if desired by using
numbered cards, by using 8 sided dice, or by other methods provided the player wishes to go more “in depth” on this idea. To war games of the African Colonial period, for example, six digits are really not enough to take care of all the varied types of troops possible. The same is true of games of the Thirty Years War, where there are many variations of weapons, armor and men.
Basically then, the Roster Sheet is used to account for the casualties one suffers, and for the UE value of the battalion unit. Since this is normally kept a secret from the opponent, the value of a battalion may not be known until it comes into combat, once it has been in combat it either is going to win or lose, and Its UE will be affected as a result. Once a unit starts its UE downhill, it often steamrollers and the unit is never any good throughout the rest of the came.
And of course, it is this factor which makes the UE system so valuable to wargaming For as in real history when a unit is hurt in combat, it will never he the same as it was before it went Into combat. As a result the tabletop general must make tactical changes during the battle because of this factor. No longer can one count on brave battalions dieing to the last man holding onto a suicidal position that they have no right to hold, simply because they are lead soldiers! For under the Mike Frank Unit Efficiency
Game, A battalion that has suffered in combat cannot be counted on to hold to the last men – there aren’t enough UE points to do so!