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econ21

Why are muskets better in melee than rifles?

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I'm about to buy this game, but reading about it, I am curious about one thing. Why do smoothbore muskets have a higher melee rating than rifles? 

I know in the Napoleonic period, rifles had a lower rate of fire, so would be less effective if an enemy was closing. But that doesn't seem to be the case in the ACW: there's a separate fire rate statistic in the game and it is, if anything, slightly higher for rifles. 

I don't know how the stats affect actual performance, but the differences seem large: 95 for a Farmer musket compared to 60 for a Springfield M1855. 

Thanks for any insights!

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8 hours ago, econ21 said:

I'm about to buy this game, but reading about it, I am curious about one thing. Why do smoothbore muskets have a higher melee rating than rifles? 

I know in the Napoleonic period, rifles had a lower rate of fire, so would be less effective if an enemy was closing. But that doesn't seem to be the case in the ACW: there's a separate fire rate statistic in the game and it is, if anything, slightly higher for rifles. 

I don't know how the stats affect actual performance, but the differences seem large: 95 for a Farmer musket compared to 60 for a Springfield M1855. 

Thanks for any insights!

In practice the damage rifles do on the approach tend to balance them out. Rifles have much better range and accuracy, and slightly better rate of fire. Morale and stamina have a bigger impact on melee than damage, and he unit with rifles will virtually always have an advantage in morale since they hit first. 

 

Since you should almost always always soften up the enemy with a few volleys before going into melee, rifles are almost always better in general use. 

 

Two big exceptions. First, if you have a unit of muskets that you keep protected for their entire advance and then melee with them, they are better. 

 

Second, rifles are expensive, so it's still worthwhile to equip green troops with muskets, and phase the rifles in slowly as you capture them. 

 

The main thing to remember is that melee is bad for both sides no matter what, and you will be firing at range even when you plan to melee. Setting up a good situation for melee (getting lots of cover fire, making sure your troops are in good condition, etc.) matter much much more hannwhich weapon you have. As soon as the enemy breaks it doesn't matter if they had farmer muskets.

Edited by inktomi19d

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Smoothbore muskets can be loaded with "buck and ball", which is a combined musket ball and buckshot load.  This acts somewhat like a shotgun load and is very effective at short range.  The buckshot would ruin the rifling on a rifled musket though, so wasn't an option for rifles.

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Also you ever been hit by one, they make great clubs when needed and a bit more sturdy than a fancy rifle.....well that is my reasoning.

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8 hours ago, Fred Sanford said:

Smoothbore muskets can be loaded with "buck and ball", which is a combined musket ball and buckshot load.  This acts somewhat like a shotgun load and is very effective at short range.  The buckshot would ruin the rifling on a rifled musket though, so wasn't an option for rifles.

I never heard of that - it makes the ACW combat even more bloody than I realised. It would certainly explain the difference in stats. Thanks everyone for the quick responses; time for me to buy the game!

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Technical point:  "Buck & Ball" is only slightly overrated, as manufactured rounds only used one caliber ball and no more than 3 buckshot pellets. ;)

Still,  point taken. If a buckshot pellet took out an eye you're still depriving the enemy of that man's weapon.

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I think it's just for balance purposes, really.  Since you can't shoot the enemy very well (the preferred method of delivering death), the only other option you have is to fix bayonets and try to shank the buggers.

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General Econ21, I do hope and pray that you are a supporter of our Union under President Lincoln as I share my answer with you. Previous posts have started to circle in on the truth about the efficacy of the smoothbore musket with a 69 cal ball and three buckshot  versus the rifled single Minie ball. At far range over 100 yards the rifle was definitely superior say at a shooting range, although the typical soldier was not trained to be a marksman at 300-500 yards. In addition the vast clouds of black powder smoke would obscure a target on a still or day with low wind.

   The 69 cal came onto its own in the melee as described, not so much due to the weight of the ball, but the three buckshot. In addition, regardless of the game, the rate of fire was slightly faster as the ball either fell to the bottom of the barrel or required a gentle ramrod to get it there. This is in contrast to the tight fitting Minie ball requiring much more effort to seat the projectile on the powder, sometimes requiring a rock on the ramrod to hammer it home after many rounds were fired. I experienced this myself in live fire at the target range. This is documented. Also is the fact that the smoothbore 69 cal could be loaded easily with two balls and six or more bucks. This was done by a Union Regiment at the upper stone wall at Pickett's Charge although the Rebs did not close to a melee. I believe extra boxes of buckshot was opened and laying around. to just add more in.

So ultimately, I use the smoothbore for charges of trenches and shock trooper stuff, whereas the rifles for longer range decimation of the traitors. I believe in a real battle I would prefer a smoothbore as a attacker trying to take a trench or fort, and a rifle as a defender generally speaking.

Please do not share this information with any of Jeff Davis's Generals, and Goodspeed to you General Econ21 in your advance onto Richmond.

   -Gen Dr Meat

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