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Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

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Jason
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Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Jason on Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:12 pm

I seem to be having a random thought day....might reflect the tedious paperwork I am dealing with today Smile

In Game 6 I seem to remember France was looking to develop and introduce breech-loading muskets on a large scale, possibly almost universally. I think the rules (doing this all from memory) stress that such weapons, as well as expensive and time-consuming to develop and build, were prone to jamming etc.

So

1) Does anyone know if France did introduce them on a large scale in G6? If so, any indications if it has been a success?
2) Has anyone else given it a go? if so, did it work?

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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Guest on Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:42 pm

In previous positions I have tried a few experiments with types of musket. The results were very mixed. In most environments flintlocks with socket bayonets were more reliable than matchlocks. However, once I started to fiddle with various innovations I had problems - the same ones you identified: jamming, poor range finding, misfires, incompatible sizes of ammunition, etc.

Conclusion: if you are going to change basic weaponry it is a very long term project (5+ years) which probably needs incremental improvement throughout that time period.

Historically musket patterns didn't change greatly. The British Brown Bess was used for over a hundred years from the 1720s, which I think says it all. It was reliable and trusted by the men. Imagine the consequences if your new weapon misfires and the men simply give up and lose confidence in it?
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Ardagor
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Ardagor on Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:20 pm

Also the problem with breechloaders at this time was the breech was the weakest part of the gun and it would be worn on use and it would blow up into the face of the soldier if the metal was unable to take the strain some day. It would not take a lot of such incidents to make the men less than happy about their weapon.

So you would need well educated soldiers, capable of caring properly for an advanced and fragile weapon and be able to notice the signs of danger.
Then the army would need a workshop to keep the guns in pristine condition or perhaps bring along enough guns to replace them when they became worn.
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Jason
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Jason on Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:49 pm

I must admit RKL, I had the same problem the one time I tried to improve even a standard musket, they kept blowing up. Since then I have been loathed to event try. And, yes you are right on the effects on your men of weapons blowing up Very Happy

Ardagor, good point! It would make it a bit of a risky weapon of choice for an army on campaign


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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Guest on Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:11 pm

Yes, it is a problem - using weapons that inflict more damage on your own forces than they do on the enemy!

It may be different in a more advanced game where other nations have researched the improvement and been able to manufacture it successfully. I think there is a stronger case to be made for using improved muskets in 1730 than there is in 1700. In the specific case of breech loading guns Ardagor is correct, in which case it is metallurgical improvements that would be required for reliable manufacturing. A very long term project indeed.

The other issue is of course maintaining standards. If you adopt a standard callibre for say artillery, then your supply situation should be easier. However, if you are constantly changing the types of musket used by your troops it makes it harder for your quartermaster and logistics officers to get the right size of ammunition for the musket. As you know I can see major advantages in having standard units, equipped for the purpose, but those units use simple, reliable technology.

With 700 muskets to 1F and a single arsenal able to produce only 1 batch each month at a cost of 3,900, the time to equip even a moderately small force would appear prohibitive. Even if you invest in lots of arsenals to increase manufacturing capacity, you will still be trapped in an upgrade cycle as new incremental improvements come along.

Naval improvements are far easier to implement across class of ship.

The rule Book of Revelations goes into various improvements like this in some detail on pages 2-6.

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Jason
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Jason on Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:23 pm

I do agree with you on the advantages of having standardized units, another reason I have avoided making too many changes.

Yes, the cost and time to produce a single batch of breechloaders should have killed the idea, but the player I am thinking of did seem to think he could overcome this.

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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Guest on Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:46 pm

Interesting to learn how he did so if you come across an explanation.

Over the years I've tried all different kinds of chemistry-type improvements and the vast majority resulted in wasted effort for no result. I still don't understand why my quite reasonable proposal for Ninjas throwing grenades packed with TNT was turned down. I was equally unsuccessful with gun-cotton tipped rockets. Simple enough to make with the materials available at the time, but rejected by the GM. My prospecting for uranium did yield results, but unfortunately my metallurgists couldn't figure out what to use it for.

You can improve the metal with crucible steel, but that is a very late period development.

In the rule supplement Carte Blanche it is suggested that integrated cartridges are used instead of paper cartridges or bullets. But it requires the discovery of mercury fulminate and puts a greater strain on the breach. There is quite a lot of information on pages 4-5, which ends with the following: The prevailing Army opinion at large in the 18th century is that only excellently drilled soldier should go anywhere near a breechloading weapons since the average soldier is to ruin them, and even then the escape of gases from the breech mechanism made them unreliable weapons!

I think that makes it clear that such weapons are discouraged even if the technical difficulties can be overcome.

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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Deacon on Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:59 pm


I agree that these kind of weapon innovations are discouraged, but I also think there is sort of a game balance issue at stake as well.

If Richard allowed a significant advantage to be invented and developed, then either everybody would want to do it. In which case, after a great deal of work the game ends up back at the same place because now everybody has the advantage. Or alternatively, only the big rich nations can do it, and now the smaller nations are even more disadvantaged damaging game integrity.

I think as a consequence, Richard has to be relatively clear about the directions research advances can go. If you try something new and innovative, he has to limit it's effectiveness for the sake of game balance.

Of course, I could be wrong Very Happy
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Jason
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Jason on Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:41 pm

I think you're right Deacon and I think the balance is just about right. I still find the breechloaders interesting though not enough to go and develop them Very Happy

Richard has been very good at allowing me to 'rediscover' certain lost Chinese technologies. Whilst I don't want to sound boastful, I think I might be able to take responsibility for things like kites, paddlewheel ships and hand-held crossbow being in-game...
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Deacon on Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:50 pm


If so, kudos to you!

I appreciate how players by their actions have expanded the game. I think it's the greatest benefit of a hand moderated game. It can develop organically in whatever direction the players want to take it.


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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by J Flower on Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:21 am

I fully agree with Deacon on the strength of the Hand moderated Game. It allows for players to help the game to develop. Which is a benefit to us all.

There are a few minor things you can do to improve your weaponry without large scale costs or research, Iron ramrods is a prime example, leather caps & covers for the muzzle & firing mech, teach your troops to keep there powder dry.

Improvements in Gunpowder quality & manufacture are also a benefit, altough you need to be careful as more powerful powder means reducing charges so you need to get the balance right or you will get exploding guns& muskets so a slow introduction is maybe best testing results as you go.

If you look historically, many things were avaliable, the technologgies were there the question must be why didn't they introduce them, cost? ethics? a conservative military not ready to except new innovations? In that respect Richard is maybe right to keep such things on a tight leash.
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Jason
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Jason on Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:36 am

I do agree on the historical point Smile I think we all have a natural tendency to go for improvement in game and at times we need pulling back. I do have a habit of trying to find details of quirky weapons from the period and try and introduce them so Richard def needs to keep an eye on me Very Happy
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Re: Mass Introduction of Breech-loaders

Post by Ardagor on Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:24 pm

I am also one of those who love to experiment with strange designs.
Design, test, explode in a non intended way, redesign, test again. But it is fun anyway.

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