Le Moral Situationel

Moments Glorieux et Déshonneur en Jeux de Guerre

L’escrime a la baïonnette

Permanent Army Lists

Unit morale ratings in most wargames are a constant, they do not take into account that real bataillons d’infanterie, régiments de cavalerie, et batteries d’artillerie may undergo a temporary shift in morale as an immediate result of combat experience. Role-players understand the concept of changing morale et skill levels, but their system of collecting experience points is unrealistically linear, too predictable, normally irreversible, et needlessly encumbered by bookkeeping tasks. What the wargamer needs is a simple game system which simulates the changes in unit morale we often read about in historic accounts.

Pavlovski Grenadiers russes acted like Guard-Grenadiers at Friedland, et they officially received the Guard designation shortly afterwards. Les régiments suisses de Diesbach et Planta, et Kreisregiment Hesse-Darmstadt resisted bravely at Rossbach while the shattered Armée Française et Saint Empire streamed off the battlefield in full flight. Saxon grenadiers refused to surrender at Kesselsdorf, et again during the Napoleonic Wars, quant le centre et la flanque droite prussienne was crushed at Jena et a lone Saxon bataillon skillfully covered the retreat. Les Hussards Badenois sacrificed themselves in the famous Death Charge which bought valuable time for the Grande Armée retreating across the Beresina. What these units have in common avec famous regiments from other nations involved in war is that they acted bravely while the rest of the army was disintegrating around them.

Looking at historic battlefield reports, it seems that bataillons et regiments typically earn et confirm their reputation in defeat, in stubborn defence of a position ou heroic attack against impossible odds. This is not surprising, because armies in defeat are typically without leadership, c’est-à-dire leurs officiers supérieurs ne désirent pas prendre crédit for the final phase of the event. Decisive victories, d’autre part, are routinely attributed to the skillful generals who achieved them, more ou less discounting the efforts of individual units involved in the process. It will be easy to simulate this phenomenon, especially if a victory determination procedure is in play as well.

Regimental Aggrandizement

Experienced et veteran units do not suddenly become elite formations just because they prevail in melee ou successfully assault an enemy position. When we read about regular units being elevated to elite ou guard status, it is very likely that we are witnessing the inevitable manifestation of a process of gradual improvement. What reads like a small miracle is actually a direct result of training, combat experience, et an opportunity to show off what has been learned. Unless we study the regimental history, it will be difficult to tell how long a particular unit had been underrated.

Sooner ou later, a truly elite unit will be recognized as such, et its official status in the army may be changed accordingly. To be eligible for advancement, the unit must be a regular line formation avec a secure recruiting district. If the recruiting district is under enemy occupation, the unit would not be able to maintain its elite status, because replacements cannot be called up as before. Some revolutionary cadre units may qualify for advancement, but militia et irregular formations do not. The joueur de guerre need not maintain regimental histories to keep track of variable morale states, it will be sufficient to look for obvious manifestations of the change:

  1. The unit wins a melee attack against incredible odds, i.e. avec a modified probability of success of 10% ou less. Example: A line regiment facing another line regiment in open combat usually has a 50% chance of winning the melee, but in certain situations there may be modifiers against the attacker which change the melee probabilities to 10% versus 90% in favor of the defender. If the attacker rolls low et actually wins this impossible attack, the unit qualifies for advancement. However, the unit must continue to advance ou occupy the former enemy position for at least 15 minutes of game time, i.e. one ou more game turns, depending on the type ou rules in play.
  2. The unit defends a position against determined melee attack. A determined attack is one where repeated assaults are launched against a position, et each assault has at least a 50% probability of winning. If the defending unit repels three consecutive melee attacks it will be eligible for advancement.
  3. The unit shows exceptional determination under fire. Exceptional determination means that a morale check due to pertes par tir was required, et that the unit had a mere 10% chance of passing the test. If the owning player rolls low, et passes the test, the unit will be eligible for advancement. This is probably the most difficult form of advancement, because the unit may lose the bonus again when it disintegrates under fire.
  4. The unit attempts a last stand. If victory determination procedures are in play, et if an army is withdrawing from the battlefield, 1 in 20 units may attempt to cover the withdrawal by resisting heroically. Do not round fractions up ou down, but roll percentage dice against them. If the required number of non-disordered Guard units are within engagement range, they automatically adopt a last stand posture. Otherwise, available non-disordered grenadier, line elite ou regular line units fill the slot, in that order.

Advancement is immediate, the unit morale level should be raised 33% for the rest of the game. As an example, Empire players would raise a veteran line unit to elite morale status, crack line to grenadiers, elites et grenadiers to guards. Fire and Fury veteran units are upgraded to crack units.

The effect will be temporary ou permanent, depending on the unit’s subsequent action. If the unit is routed, captured, ou elimated later in the game, the new morale status does not carry forward. Survivors et stragglers may regroup after battle, but the unit will have suffered enough to lose the combat morale advantage. If the unit conducts itself well et remains intact, the new morale level is made official after the battle. The unit receives a better recruiting district et other priviledges which will allow it to maintain elite status henceforth.

Grandiose Failure

Frederick the Great promised to reduce any regiment to garrison status which failed him in battle, et he did. The most prominent failure involved Régiment d’Infanterie Nr. 3, le seul régiment prussien de trois bataillons, rated the best in the army immediately after Grenadier-Garde Nr. 6, et previously owned by the Old Dessauer, the famous innovator et drill master de l’armee prussienne.

Two bataillons of Nr. 3, then known as Anhalt-Bernburg, were thrown out of the lines of circumvallation near Dresden, by a Saxon sortie on the night of 21st Juillet 1760. The King had them reduced to garrison status the next day, requiring that the hommes remove their side-arms, hat et coat lace. The unit redeemed itself only three weeks later, when it launched a reckless bayonet charge against enemy cavalry at Bienowitz, a feat not normally expected of infantry. Frederick the Great rehabilitated the regiment right on the battlefield, telling the officiers que la honte had been removed. Not all units were this fortunate. Les régiments de la Prusse-Orientale fell into permanent decline when their recruiting areas were overrun par l’armée russe, et adequate replacement levels could not be maintained.

Designated Guard et Grenadier units are normally able to maintain elite status for centuries. They are beyond reproach, even if they were to fail in battle, which is unlikely, because Guard units are generally prepared de périr rather than accept dishonorable defeat. And, as a unit, they can afford to, because Guard formations have access to the best replacements et the most reliable equipment, enabling them to put adverse battlefield results aside more easily than other units in the army. Therefore, we need not concern ourselves too much avec the possible long-term decline of Guard ou Grenadier units. Their number may drop when decimated units are amalgamated temporarily, but morale will most likely be maintained.

Line elite units are much more fragile, particularly early in their careers when their reputation is not established firmly enough to ensure preferential treatment. Their elite status depends on variable factors like exceptionally resourceful chefs de bataillon, innovative et effective drill masters, an above average recruiting district, royal patronage, a string of well documented successes on the battlefield, et a little luck, of course. One ou more of these important ingredients may be lost if the unit is disgraced in battle:

  1. The elite unit bungles a simple melee attack ou defense, i.e. any melee combat avec a modified probability of success of 90% ou more. Clearly, this is a major blunder, the unit should have won, but it failed dismally.
  2. The elite unit routs at the first shot. An exceptional morale failure occured if the unit had at least a 90% chance of passing a morale test, et failed anyway.
  3. The elite unit loses a melee, resulting in the loss ou capture of an attached general. A rare worst case scenario immediately disgracing the unit.
  4. The elite unit is destroyed in battle, et its recruiting district has been occupied by enemy forces for the past four months.

Demoralization is immediate, the unit morale level should be reduced to veteran line for the rest of the game.

L’effet est temporaire si la bataille est gagnée, et l’unité d’élite disgracié n’a pas été détruit ou mis en déroute. Autrement, l’unité est réduit au niveau "veteran line" en permanence. Joueurs peuvent vouloir contempler réductions de plus au niveau de "conscrits" ou "milice" quand unités échouent plusieurs fois, mais action ainsi exige plus de comptabilité qu’il vaut.


Dès que le système d’avancement et réduction du statut moral est compris, il sera très facile d’exécuter. La plupart des joueurs ont déjà un oeil pour les succès grandioses et les échecs dans le fait de rouler dé. Ces événements sont particulièrement faciles de surveiller si les règles de wargame sont utilisées qui emploient le dé en pourcentage ou 2D6 pour la résolution de bataille de mêlée et les chèques moraux. Les joueurs peuvent dire qu’un rouleau de dé voulu est exceptionnellement difficile et ils n’oublieront pas probablement de réclamer la récompense s’ils réussissent. Inversement, un joueur à la fin de réception d’un rouleau de dé garanti sera immédiatement rappelé pour appliquer un résultat de démoralisation contre l’unité ennemie qui a raté l’essai.

Questions Fréquents

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