Behind the Lines
|Rate of Fire||2 shots/ minute||12 arrows/minute|
|Effective range||100 yds||500 yds|
|Percentage of missiles likely to hit a target in a 5,000-shot Volley at 150 yards:||10 - 15 %||35 - 40%|
The only effective counter-measure Napoleon could have applied was his superiority in artillery, and the archers would have seen the guns coming long before the gunners could open fire - ample time to scurry out of danger and regroup at the next suitable position.
Of course, Napoleon might have unleashed his magnificent cavalry, but horses are even bigger targets that foot-soldiers and the highly trained steeds at Agincourt proved no more able to stand up to a rain of steel than any other poor dumb brute tormented by sudden excruciating pain.
Naturally, we're just fooling around here in the time-honored "alternate history" manner here. But in every department except "visual effects", the longbow was a vastly superior weapon to the Brown Bess smoothbore, and we think our "what-if" scenario has a lot of merit.
Perhaps some of our readers could war-game it and let us know what happens…
Enjoy the newsletter,
The Newsletter Team
Comments? Questions? We'd love to hear from you through our general feedback contact form.
The Historical Short section is designed to provide a brief snapshot of an interesting historical event or trivia that is a little off the beaten path of regular historical discourse.
The Worst Light (Or Sub-) Machine Guns Ever Wuz! (Part 1)
To judge from reader feedback, one of the most popular sidebar features we’ve ever published in this newsletter was “The World’s Worst Weapons”. So popular did that feature prove to be that we naturally began thinking of follow-ups along the same lines. In a spasm of cleverness that surpassed our own usually high standards, we even came up with an “award for “negative superlatives” (worst, laziest, dumbest, most cowardly, most sexually ambiguous…you name it, military history provides colorful examples OF it…whatever “it” may be!). So for this issue, we’ve chosen to honor a representative group of the absolute worst-looking and worst-functioning light automatic or submachine guns in the annals of military history.
Let’s begin with the undisputed Tog Dog of them all!
The Worst Of The Worse: The Infamous French Chauchat
One of the hoariest principles of aesthetics states that “form follows function”. If that be true, the evolving appearance of submachine guns could serve as a handy subject for an intriguing, if highly eccentric, dissertation. Generally speaking, the light automatic weapons that proved most successful in combat also tended to be the sexiest-looking ones as well.
Think about it: the German MP-40 (so often erroneously called the “Schmeisser”), the Bren, the M2-carbine, the Thompson (especially with its impractical but ever-so-cool-looking 50-round drum magazine), etc. – these were efficient, lethal, dependable weapons, trusted by their gunners and feared by the enemy. The one visual quality they all have in common is their slim, deadly, elegance. They had, for want of a better word, “character”. Even movie directors know that – it’s the main reason why a far greater percentage of German soldiers carry MP-40s in the average World War Two movie than ever carried them in actual service; the very “look” of that guns whispers “NAZIS! BEWARE!” into the ear of your subconscious!
On the other hand, the weapons that looked like mechanical pigs tended to function crudely and without any touch of redeeming grace; they lacked even the clean, honest, utilitarian lines of well-made plumbing. They were redolent of the grease, sweat, and burning-ozone smells of a machine-shop, and although in well-trained hands they could kill someone just as dead as a hand-made Tommy Gun wielded by a George-Raft gangster in a pin striped suit, there was a world of existential difference (from the observer’s point-of-view) equal in its significance to the difference between the artistry of swift decapitation by a Yojimbo-class samurai and the barbarous excesses performed by the average deranged serial killer hacking-away with a meat cleaver.
Had enough high-flown rhetoric? Okay, fine; we know you get the point by now, so we’ll pass on to the conclusion of our speculation: To a remarkable extent, and to an extent not found in any other type of infantry weapon, the uglier a light automatic gun happened to be, the less effective it tended to be in battle.
Exhibit A is today’s winner: the ugliest, crudest-looking, most pointlessly unwieldy, and most ergonomically counter-productive automatic weapon ever issued to ground troops; even today, 93 years after its debut in combat, it is still widely considered to be the most worthless, unreliable, and universally despised weapon not just of the First World War, but perhaps of the entire Twentieth Century.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the notorious contraption known as
…a weapon so bad that a number of French soldiers were actually
court-martialed for trying to sell or trade them to the Boche!
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The Historical Perspective section is intended to give readers the "history behind the game." This month, Will Trotter gives us the first part of a series about the evolution of military technology before during and after the American Civil War.
Crucible of Blood - The American Civil War And the Evolution
of Modern Military Technology
Part 3 - In America’s Military, Dark Clouds Gather, and Confusion Reigns
William R. Trotter
Until the 1850s, the only “contemporary” subject of study in the realm of “military theory” was the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte. While studying those epochal events was (and still is) highly useful to a professional soldier, the world-wide burgeoning of technology had rendered “military science” at least co-equal in its importance to “theory” rooted in historical precedent. To those younger, more progressive officers who wished to stay current with, or even a bit ahead of “the curve”, theories propounded on the basis of new developments had perforce to be speculative in nature. Every officer who was not a hopeless blockhead understood that the long-range rifle musket, the multiplying new patterns of artillery, the telegraph, the steamship, and the railroad, would inevitably render future military campaigns as different from Bonaparte’s as Napoloen’s were from those of Julius Caesar. The hardest question to answer was HOW.
Within professional military circles, debates were spirited, and if you read numerous excerpts from the military journals published during the decade proceeding Secession, you can discover, among the baroque welter of highly personal prognostications, two dominant overall philosophies gradually taking shape. While they DO roughly correspond to “Liberal” and “Conservative”, those labels are a gross oversimplification. I prefer to use the terms:
UTOPIAN / FUTURISTS
REALIST/ SKEPTICS (as in “weapons evolve and machine change, but
human nature remains both obdurate and beyond the realm of mere logic!”)
The position of the technologically hip Futurists may be summarized thusly:
With a powerful map editor and a versatile engine, Advanced Tactics: World War II has been cultivating a vibrant and enthusiastic community of scenario makers. This feature provides just a snapshot of all the incredible user-generated content available for Advanced Tactics completely free of charge. Thanks to a terrific community, purchasing Advanced Tactics today means buying a title which is at least double the value it was at its original release.
World at War v33
(by Tom Weber)
Without doubt this scenario is one of the best. It has been fine tuned and balanced through more then 33 iterations and now brings one of the best global ww2 gaming experiences available. The scenario can be played by up to 5 players as Germany, Western Allies, USSR, China and Japan. Each turn represents a month. Units can be considered corps level. All sides have special equipment and troops like SS, flak88 and kamikazes. The scenario comes with weather zones, manpower modelling and dozens of special action cards for each side. And zillions of special historical rules and choices. For example the Western Allies can choose to spend political points to boost the French and avoid a Vichy France after the fall of Paris.
Special rules ensure historical play, while leaving room for divergence.
Building capitol ships takes time as hulls are slowly completed.
By clever use of different hex scales the map size stays reasonable and thus fun and playable
Race For Cherbourg
This scenario zooms into just a few weeks of war in the top of Normandy in 1944. It shines in its attention to detail and proves that bigger is not always better. Each turn represents a day. Units are on a regimental level, though independent battalions are present too. The designer especially did a good job on this scenario because he added a lot of artwork by taking into account the 1944 troops and equipment and the scenic Norman landscapes.
Special cards to influence the battle
Excellent historical research provides an educational experience
The Order of Battle as well as the landscape is very historical
American Civil War
(by Tom Weber)
The American Civil War. Each turn represents a month. Raiders and militia are modelled. Differing quality of the generals on both sides is represented. Several other historical events are in this scenario, like the option for the North to choose the Emancipation Proclamation. Furthermore, the scenario models the seasons and the rail system.
This scenario uses action cards to let the player buy new units
Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery make up the armies
In this section we provide a rundown of the latest updates from Matrix Games, just in case you missed a press release or two.
This time of year is busy for everyone and here at Matrix is no exception. We have some particularly interesting things going on around now. For one thing, the highly anticipated tactical game Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge, is slated to release very shortly. And if you haven't missed our banners, press release, and note in this newsletter, we're having our biggest holiday sale EVER! Massive discounts on a huge variety of titles are coming to Christmas trees everywhere so take advantage of this great deal while it's still available!
And as always, anyone who would like to drop us a line and give us some feedback, complaints, death threats (or how 'bout some Christmas cheer for a change, eh?), etc., please don't hesitate to do so through our general feedback contact form.
Thanks for reading and happy holidays!
The Newsletter Team