For my game in developing at magyarkhangamez.blogspot.com i am working on a wargame...
For some supportbonusrules I want to hear how you think of it....
Lets assume a line of units encounter a line of units.... or soldiers encounter soldiers or hooligans encounter hooligans for a hand to hand combat fight
In what way does the unit of 100 men benefit in morale that his friends are nearby? See the picture, unit B is fighting unit F.... is it reasonable to think that its morale is boosted cuz his friends are adjacent...but does it matter that they are fighting too? or is their presence enough?
And units behind the ones fighting.... knowing that hundreds of friends comming from behind.... will that boost morale too?
I am working on a system to balance the units leadership so that weak units with large numbers have a reasonable chance to withstand better enemies....
I haven't personally been in any large scale battles where people were stabbing each other with sharp implements, so I can't speak from experience. However, the historical records that we have indicate that morale had a huge effect on the outcome of battles. In fact, the majority of casualties were inflicted after the battle was won/lost. This is why the victorious army rarely took many casualties.
Take for example the Battle of Asculum, from which we get the term "Pyrrhic Victory" (meaning a victory won at a very high cost).
Both sides started with around 40,000 soldiers. The Romans were defeated and took 8000 casualties (around 20%), while Pyrrhus was victorious and took 3000 casualties (less than 10%). If this had been a wargame we would think Pyrrhus won easily, but in reality Pyrrhus was dismayed at taking so many casualties and is famously quoted as saying, "One more such victory, and we shall be undone."
Getting back to the original question, yes the presence of friendly soldiers has a big effect on morale. More specifically, units which were attacked on the flank or rear almost invariably routed very quickly. Units which were not flanked by friendly units routed very quickly. Yes, simply having friendly units on both flanks increased the morale of the unit substantially. Units which saw a routing unit usually also routed, creating a domino effect. Units attacked by an enemy which they could not effectively counter (e.g. light infantry facing cavalry) routed very quickly -- before they had taken casualties.
Taking further examples from the Battle of Asculum, "Pyrrhus sent light infantry to occupy the difficult ground which had proven a weak point the previous day, forcing the Romans to fight a set battle in the open." In the open the Roman legions and the phalanx were equal, but in difficult ground the Romans had a slight tactical advantage because they had a more agile formation. Light infantry could never stand up to heavy infantry in the open, but they had such a huge advantage in the difficult ground that the Romans wouldn't even dare to attack them.
"Pyrrhus deployed the elephants against the third and fourth legions; these too took refuge on wooded heights." Note that Pyrrhus had only 20 elephants and each legion had around 8000 heavy infantry. The heavy infantry thought they were at such a disadvantage against the elephants that just 20 elephants made 16000 men run for cover -- and this is even before the elephants were close enough to actually attack them.
Taking another example from the Battle of Heraclea which shows the importance of morale over casualties:
"Unable to make any significant gains in action, Pyrrhus deployed his elephants, held in reserve until now. The Roman cavalry was threatening his flank too strongly. Aghast at the sight of these strange and brooding creatures which none had seen before, the horses galloped away and threw the Roman legion into rout." Note that the Romans had around 5000 cavalry, and these fled at the sight of 20 elephants. The sight of the cavalry fleeing was enough to make 35000+ infantry flee too -- before the elephants even attacked them. Pyrrhus then sent his cavalry in to run down the Romans as they fled.
After that lengthy diversion (sorry, I tend to type too much once I start talking about historical battles), from the looks of your game a simple way you could model morale would be to get -1 morale for each adjacent enemy unit. In your combat example, units B, C, E, F, H would all be at -2, while A and D would be at -1.
Incidentally, minus morale for each enemy unit accounts nicely for other morale triggers. E.g., if you have a rule for triggering a morale check when taking casualties from archers, then a unit which is in combat would be more likely to flee from archers than a unit which is not. Similarly, if the death of the general triggers a morale check then units in combat would be more likely to flee than units not in combat.
As for units behind the ones fighting, historically almost all armies fought with deep formations (each unit 8-16 ranks deep, with multiple units behind as reinforcements). Thin formations required very disciplined troops and/or an exceptional general to stop them from fleeing. It wasn't that thin formations took more casualties, but they were much more fragile and could not sustain long combats. Many historical battles lasted all day, and although much of that time was spent posturing and maneuvering the actual melee could go for several hours. Combat is very tiring (think of it like playing an intense physical sport for several hours without a break), and realistically the front ranks would fall back when they get tired and get replaced by fresh soldiers from behind. Knowing that reinforcements were available was also a big morale boost.
In your game, one way you could model this would be to give +1 morale for each adjacent friendly unit that is not in combat. That way if you have superior numbers you can choose between trying to surround the enemy (which gives the enemy minus morale) or keep your extra units in reserve (boosting your own morale).
thx for this lovely reply....
I myself am pretty experienced in pc wargame due total war.... but your text is excellent to read and understand.... there is a thin line between realisme and gameplay
I use the support bonus to enlarge the change units pass a morale check... and surrounding the enemy works out in the game by being able to deal blows and thus lowering the chance the enemy will pass a morale check for combat result....
So you would say that friendly units occupied in combat will not support morale...in a game?
I think that having adjacent friendly units would give a morale bonus regardless of whether they are in combat. Likewise adjacent enemy units would reduce morale. So a simple calculation would be [number of adjacent friendlies] - [number of adjacent enemies].
In the middle of a melee it would be very difficult to see what is going on more than a few metres away, so as long as I have lots of friends surrounding me I'm going to feel pretty safe (because I can't see the thousands of enemies just over the hill).
Philip Sabin's Lost Battles is an excellent study of simulating ancient battles through games (http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Battles-Reconstructing-Clashes-Ancient/dp/082...). I can't remember what it said about morale other than also making kos' point that casualties in battles of the period stem mainly from morale collapse and the slaughter of fleeing troops. The mechanics are very simple, probably too simple for the game you're describing, but it's worth a look.