I had a bit of free time this weekend so I decided to play some solo games. The first two on Saturday were a Volley & Bayonet American Revolution game. I had opted to play Piquet for smaller American Revolution battles, but I decided to give Volley & Bayonet one more try at the lower scale (in this case the battalion scale). Taking an idea from Sam Mustafa’s Blucher Waterloo cards, I made cards/counters for all of the units present at Guilford Courthouse (see here: 2-3rds Paper AWI Army 1 and here: 2-3rds Paper AWI Army 2). They are 2/3rds scale (so a linear stand is 2″ x 1″). I based them on this order of battle: Guilford Courthouse Battalion 1-80 July 2015 Roster, which uses a scale of 1 SP = 80 men or 2 guns. I played on a 6′ x 4′ table, which at 2/3rds scale is about the size of the actual battle of Guilford Courthouse. The table was fairly open with the key terrain feature being a wooded (counted as orchards) ridge that ran part way across the center. I was able to play the scenario twice in about 4 hours.
The results were not that good. In both cases the British forces were nearly wiped out, only a few SP left after both games, and the Americans took low casualties in the first game and moderate casualties in the second game. I’ve played lots of Volley & Bayonet at the regular, regiment, scale, but this was one of about 10 games I have played at the battalion scale. In all of those games, it seemed like the casualties were just too many. We tried a true Camden scenario and a Guilford Courthouse scenario several times back in the 1999-2000 era when I lived in Arizona and had the same results. Likewise, I played in a Saratoga battalion level game at Greg Novak’s house when I lived in Illinois (around 2003). It also was very bloody.
This mystified me as I had figured out the average number of 6 hits and the average is far lower than what seems to happen when the game is played. For instance, a 3d6 non-stationary linear infantry stand in melee needing a 6 to hit should have 0 hits 57.8% of the time, 1 hit 34.8% of the time, 2 hits 6.9% and 3 hits .5%. Well I must be Mr. Las Vegas when it comes to rolling 6s as those were not the results I got. In one melee a unit (stationary, linear infantry) rolled 4 6s (out of 5d6) which should only happen 3.2% of the time. So my die rolling was far different from normal, but that had happened in every battalion scale Volley & Bayonet game I have played.
So what’s the big take from it all; Volley & Bayonet is a high casualty rate game, but at the regiment scale that makes sense as 1000-1500 men battling it out for an hour could easily break one or both units. But when you get to 30 or 15 minute turns, the casualty rates are too high. So I think it was a good idea that Frank Chadwick did not include the lower scale rules in the second edition of Volley & Bayonet. Greg Novak seemed to be able make the lower scales work for the American Revolution somehow, but I can’t figure out how he did. Maybe he just played with unlucky players! I think not using Volley & Bayonet for my Greene’s Southern Campaign is a good idea. That’s a pity as everything besides the casualty rates works very well in the game. I think I’ll still play the regimental scale (the basic 1 SP = 500 men or 6 guns) as that seems to work with the time frame of each turn. I’m glad I tried the test games as they showed me that for a battalion level solo game, Piquet is the best way to go.