Basic Fire Combat Results Explained

Mil 210

The most common form of confrontation in our Civil War games is the traditional Fire Combat that takes place between two opposing units. This is your classical image of 19th Century warfare with men standing shoulder to shoulder and leveling their rifles in unison to fire at an enemy. While it may seem that the result of Fire Combat is a random number generated by the computer that is far from the case. In reality there is a mathematical equation to every fire combat and a range of numbers from which a result is chosen.

infantry unit 1 hex away. The standard range effectiveness of a Rifle at range1 is 4. Thus, the standard fire value for the unit would be 1360 (=340 x 4). The low-end combat result would be 6.8 (= 5 * 1360 / 1000) and the high-end combat result would be 34 (= 25 * 1360 / 1000). The actual combat result would be randomly determined between these two extremes. Randomly based on the fractional part of the actual combat result, the combat result is truncated up or down. This if the actual combat result was calculated to be 23.4, then this would determine a combat loss of 23 men 60% of the time and a loss of 24 men 40% of the time.

It reads harder than it is. Let’s do a few examples.

A 500-man “C” regiment has not moved during the Movement Phase and now is firing Offensively into an adjacent unit. The odds would be, according to above: 500 men with Rifles (effectiveness 4 at range 1) would create a Standard Fire Value of 2000 (500 x 4). The Low End Combat Result would be 10 (= 5 x 2000 / 1000) and the High End Combat Result would be 50 (= 25 x 2000 / 1000). With no modifiers in place the computer would choose a value between 10 and 50 as a final combat result. With Optional Fire Results turned on (which it almost always is) the game will actually choose two numbers at random and then take the average as a result. Taking twenty C-rated units with 500 men each I fired them into twenty 500-man enemy units in adjacent hexes. There are no variables in place here. In the twenty Fire Combat tests there were 580 casualties inflicted in total. We divide that by 20 and we get an average of 29 casualties per target unit. This is just about what I expected as the median between 10 and 50 is 30. As usual the math comes out right.

Q: How do I know what the Effectiveness of a weapon is at a certain range?

A: The Parameter Data will display the effectiveness of all the weapons in the game at their different ranges. For example the effectiveness for Rifles is listed in the Parameter Data as:

As another example we will take the two units shown below and fire at an enemy three hexes away.

Starting with the 2nd South Carolina their range effectiveness at three hexes would be 2. We multiply that by their number of men and arrive at 500. We then take 500 and multiply it by 5 to get 2500. We then divided that by 1000 to get the Low End Combat Result of 2.5. We then take that 500 from before and multiply it by 25 to get 12,500 and divided that by 1000 to get a High End Combat Result of 12.5. We now know the 2nd South Carolina will inflict between 2 and 13 casualties on the enemy (remember fractions can round up or down). The 3rd South Carolina’s calculations would follow the same formula to arrive at a Low and High Combat Result of 3 and 19. Enemy casualties, when you combine the two firing units, can then be expected to be between 5 and 32. If we take the median then they should lose about 18.5 men.

I conducted the firing just to display the above Fire Report and nailed my estimated losses at the same time. You can see the Fire = 500 750 that we calculated before and the total enemy losses were right on the nose.

All of this is fairly simple. You should now be able to have a pretty good idea of how basic Fire Combat Results are calculated in the games. It is when you add modifiers to the equations that things begin to get really interesting. For more information on that proceed to MIL 211: Advanced Combat with Modifiers.

I hate to start any topic with Math, but it cannot be helped.

The following section is directly from the User’s Guide:

A common combat results calculation is used for both fire and melee results. The combat results calculation is based on four parameters: a Combat Value, a Modifier, a Low Combat Value and a High Combat Value. For fire combat, the Combat Value is the adjusted fire value of the firing units. The given modifiers are applied to the given combat value to arrive at the effective Combat Value. Fire casualties are calculated using the standard combat results based on the effective fire value of the firing unit with a Low Combat Value of 5 and a High Combat Value of 25. The Low Combat Value and High Combat Value are the extreme possible casualties resulting from a base-line combat value of 1000. The Effective Combat Value is used to scale these accordingly resulting in low and high possible casualties. Finally, a random value is selected between the low and high casualty values to arrive at the final combat result. Example: Suppose an Infantry Unit of 340 men equipped with Rifles fires at an enemy