|Voltigeurs to the Advance!|
After much conversation with various members of the group and some good thinking time in the car here is my proposal:
The Skirmish phase, like bombardment. represents the activities of an entire hour of combat. Any skirmishers involved, whether they win or lose, may not issue further small arms in the tactical combat phase (except for return fire, opportunity fire or supporting defensive fire).
The Skirmish "Winners":
- The winning skirmishers may continue to act as screens in the tactical phase or can opt to withdraw to behind the ME frontline of formed troops prior to tactical combat.
- The winners conduct their "free shot" per rules, limited only by max weapons range.
- The winners suppress the opposed skirmishers allowing their side to advance and bring fire at full effect upon the enemy.
- Skirmishers involved (integral or otherwise) may not initiate small arms.
The Skirmish "Losers":
- Defeated skirmishers must withdraw and take casualties per rules.
- Defeated integral skirmishers form up with their units and may count for Infantry mass, but cannot deploy or conduct small arms.
- Skirmish losses for withdrawing screens can never be less than one figure, but in all other cases skirmish losses are rounded down.
When to Use Skirmish Combat:
- When you wish to suppress opposed enemy skirmishers so you can bring fire on opposed formed MEs and cause casualties which degrade enemy combat performance (without skrimish combat, skirmish screens cannot be forced to retreat without charging or advancing formed troops to point blank small arms range).
- When your skirmish screen is unopposed, but you want to close with the enemy with formed troops or otherwise get a the "free shot". Each victorious Excellent skirmisher fires like Old Guardsmen and each victorious Good skirmisher fires like a Grenadier (Crack Line for British) at point blank range, with little risk to themselves.
Tactical Consequences of Rule Change:
- Integral skirmishers that are used in Skirmish combat cannot be used to "bring fire" later on in the tactical phase. To keep the initiative the parent unit would have to move extreme range and engage in small arms. For Non-British trained armies, a 12 casting front line would fire/receive return fire at between 72% (Old Guard) and 12% (Conscripts/Landwehr), with average being 24% (Crack/Vet Line). British trained would fire at between 72% (Guards) and 36% (Crack/Vet.), with Conscripts and lower being unable to return fire.
This proposed change attempts to reconcile both camps. Skirmish combat is retained, but integral skirmishers do not get multiple bites at "skirmish combat" per hour. No changes are made to the ability to screen for troops engaged in skirmish combat and a bright-line rule is established for what to do with integral skirmishers when they lose.
I've added the option to withdraw behind the front line at the end of skirmish combat to clear the field so that MEs may bring fire more easily and keep the initiative. I also clarified how to deal with fractional casualties (as skirmish combat gives casualties at a flat % of a force).