The idea of the Historicity & Realism project (H&R) is to offer a set of game settings in order to improve some of the aspects in which the original PDT, OOB and scenario files are flawed from historical perspective. We hope to find a number of players who want more historical feeling for their battles: less blitzkrieging, less melee massacres and more manoeuvre, firefights and morale breaking.
Below are the approximate losses (including captured and missing) at major Napoleonic battles from both sides as % of the total involved:
- Maregno — 25%
- Austerlitz — 24%
- Jena-Auerstedt — 23%
- Eylau — 28%
- Wagram — 27%
- Borodino — 30%
- Dresden — 14%
- Leipzig — 19%
- Ligny — 21%
- Waterloo — 29% (including 3-4% captured at the end)
Most of these battles lasted for long hours and on a few occasions a few days but no battle accounted for more than 30% losses.
In HPS it is common for battle losses to reach levels of 40-50%. No army would sustain such punishment and keep fighting. But electronic soldiers are too impervious to fatigue and disorder, too willing to attack yet one more time and to withstand enemy fire to the death. The current morale and fatigue system of HPS units allows players to send decimated and highly fatigued units back into the fray, to kill and be killed.
This (among other reasons) provokes battles with way too high casualties and unhistorical tactics through too aggressive handling of the troops. HPS players often employ unhistorical and unrealistic tactics because mostly, players act in the manner which is most rational under the limitations of the game engine, while historically the men would abandon the field before reaching these high casualty levels.
Another main cause for unhistorical tactics is too aggressive troops handling. HPS does not simulate strategic factors and there is no tomorrow. Players do not need to worry about preserving the army for the next day. They can send everything they have to try to achieve victory for the day, ignoring their casualties. If the PBEM opponent surrenders, the cost of victory does not matter. Accordingly, no HPS player would hesitate to send the Guard in Borodino, while Napoleon preserved them because he knew he would have to fight another day.
Had the units be transferred to the next battle of the Campaign, this would promote players to be more careful and less aggressive. The solution to this problem is difficult, as HPS does not simulate the strategic aspects of Napoleonic warfare and hence it’s beyond the scope of H&R. The aim however is to address the tactical aspects like formations, melee, morale etc.
HPS battles are often short but brutal. In a recent Borodino PBEM (NRC), both French and Russian players sustained 30,000 losses within 11 turns, even though the battle had not started through the entire line and the game was played without morale-boosting optional rules and with overall morale reduction (similar to New Settings project).
In striving for perfection some players, every now and then tried to came up with complex house rules (e.g. no attacking with units with above 50% losses), while game developers introduced a number of improvement (no ZOC kills). One of the first (and best) attempts to correct the same issues in old Battleground series was the New Settings Project (which to some extend inspired H&R). However, today BG games are mostly in the past, house rules are too complex and hard to follow, while in-game improvements have not gone far enough to be significant.
H&R philosophy is that with new settings, the tactical aspect of the game, casualty ratios and tactics employed will become more historical. The idea is to avoid house rules and to offer the new settings through alternate OOB and PDT files with modified scenarios, encouraging more historical behaviour driven by the game mechanics.