Many thanks guys for your replies. I very much appreciate this information and feedback. The first-round modifier is definitely something I’ll be looking at.
And thanks Vic for clarifying the issue with the combat log. After studying the in-game combat summary, I realised that it contains a lot of useful information. (And the combat simulator is an even more helpful feature. Really useful.)
As for the first, it is actually probably for a few reasons:
1. weapons had low firepower and one needed a fair amount of troops to throw lead down field. They were slow to reload and they didn't have much range.
2. infrastructure. There wasn't a good road network so it was harder to supply troops away from a strong communication network.
There first can probably be summed up there being no machineguns.
I have actually been thinking a lot about this issue and I agree with your conclusions.
In fact, it is not just machine guns but defensive weapons in general (massing armies together became really problematic by the late 19th century when you had quick-loading long-range rifles – though it took generals a while to realise this!)
As I touched on in my previous post, what’s notable about pre-20th Century warfare is that even an attacking army with only a small superiority would often win the battle. This couldn’t have happened if the defenders had had machine guns!
This had big implications for strategy, not just tactics. If you had split your army into lots of divisions spread out along a front, and one division was suddenly jumped on by much larger force, then the defenders would be overwhelmed before you had any time to respond. You had to keep your forces compact for mutual protection.
As you mention, logistics are also important. It’s not just the lack of good roads. It’s also the complexity of maintaining a supply line (depots, garrisons, wagon trains etc). Each separate army needed its own supply line. The garrisons needed to defend these lines would have to be just as big for a small army’s supply line as for a big army’s, so you needed to limit the number of your armies.
Napoleon was in fact the first general to break these rules when he introduced the corps system, with each corps advancing along its own axis. This was a big step towards the modern concept of the front-line. But even Napoleon’s armies were compact by modern standards: the corps were supposed to be one day’s march (about 20 miles) from each other.
And even Napoleon concentrated his corps together for major battles, which followed the traditional “battlefield” model: 100,000 men on each side facing each other over a couple of miles. Which brings us back to those other issues requiring armies to be clumped together for combat.
The other issue is communications. Of course, they didn’t have radio in those days. You had to communicate with couriers. So you needed your subordinate commanders to be fairly nearby for any hope of coordination.
You don't want everything in a single stack, but to maneuver and utilize the concentric bonuses, which should probably be higher since facing was more important in this era.
This is going to depend a lot on the campaign you want to simulate. Actually, there are some campaigns where I DO want everything in a single stack (at least for a particular theatre), because that’s what actually happened in those days.
The thing to remember about the concentric bonuses is that they provide a huge incentive for players to split up their forces, rather than clump them together in historical fashion.
In fact, historical examples of field battles involving ATG-style concentric attacks are few and far between. Now why is that?
Maybe one reason is that armies were very slow-moving in those days, and defending armies did not sit around waiting to be surrounded. Typically, they would just move out the way. (In most historical periods, battles never happened unless both sides wanted to “give battle”.)
If the scenario turns are, say, a fortnight or a month in length, then in reality the defender would have had time to react to the attacker's manoeuvres. Some compromises may be needed, e.g. with the concentric bonuses, to encourage historical results.
When you do look at those few historical battles with concentric-attack features, what you notice is that the tactical benefits weren’t as great as you might think.
Napoleon at Leipzig is a classic example. Facing was not a problem because his army was deployed in a circular formation. (He did lose the battle in the end, but only after a three-day fight and outnumbered two-to-one. Not so much because his enemies had attacked him in the rear. They attacked him from different directions because they were coming from different directions to begin with.)
You seldom had a situation where an attacking army crept up behind a defending army and suddenly stabbed it in the back unawares. The time it takes to approach with an army is much more than the time it takes to about-face some of your troops to defend your flank, or even your rear.
Of course, no general liked to be encircled. But the problems with encirclement were more likely to be strategic rather than tactical. Mack surrendered at Ulm because his supply line was cut off, not because his troops were facing the wrong way. The game engine handles issues like supply well.
As for cavalry and initiative, I am not sure I totally agree with you. Against early infantry with musket without much range, cavalry was intimidating, and the would likely reach the lines before the the infantry could really reload. That said, a charge into a mass of muskets wasn't a good idea.
In the game, initiative just gets to decide who fires first. So it’s not a matter of how fast it takes to reload. Infantry are almost always going to be able to use their weapons before the cavalry get to use theirs. This is also true of pikes as well as muskets. (In fact, in the early era, pikes rather than muskets would be the problem for cavalry - a formidable obstacle in fact, unless the infantry was already disorganized).
As far as subsequent rounds of combat are concerned, I think infantry should also get to fire first. The point is that if cavalry were repulsed in the first charge, they would not remain locked in melee or some such (as unrealistically depicted in the Total War games, for instance). They would retire, regroup and charge again. So musketmen would get to fire at them first, all over again.
But I think this initiative benefit for infantry should only apply in defence. If infantry try to attack cavalry, the cavalry should get the initiative benefit (they would literally run rings round the infantry). Defending infantry should also get to fire at attacking infantry first, so I would give infantry higher initiative in defence compared with attack.