|Requires||Light Infantry Doctrine|
|Building Needed||Army Board|
This firing plan for musketry ensures an infantry unit keeps up a continual barrage of shots against an enemy.
Nearly all line infantry carry smoothbore, muzzle-loading muskets. These take considerable time to reload after firing: anything up to a minute for poorly trained or nervous troops. During that time, the enemy can close or return fire unmolested. In the time it takes to reload, a unit can be cut down, its half-loaded weapons useless in the face of an aggressive foe. It is sensible to make sure that not everyone in an infantry unit is reloading at the same moment, this, in turn, means that not everyone should be firing at the same time.
Platoon fire is a way of dividing a unit into smaller groups that each fire, reload and fire again in turn. The result is a "rippling fire" down a line formation and, as the last platoon fires its muskets, the first is ready to fire again. A unit can always give some fire to the enemy at all times, even if this is less than a complete volley. When more than one unit is involved all the troops in every first platoon fire, followed by all the second platoons, and so on, creating several rippling barrages down the battle line.
The word "platoon" in this context does not have the modern meaning of being a sub-unit of a military company. Platoon assignment to what was a "fire group" was made on an ad hoc or informal basis, and could mean a whole regiment being assigned to a "platoon".
Platoon fire is where small groups of the line fire at once going down the whole unit. When researched, it replaces Fire by Rank for Grenadiers, Guards, and their equivalents. Ironically, although Platoon Firing benefits units with low reload skill the most--as each individual soldier has a longer break between shots, with faster reloading soldiers being unable to take advantage of their superior reloading speed--it is available mostly to units with high reloading skill. The Prussian Life Guard, for example, have a base reload rate of 65--enough to cut reloading time to five seconds or less--but they use Platoon Firing once researched. Although Platoon Firing is a more advanced researched technology, whether it is better than Fire by Rank is debatable.
- Quicker response time when switching to new targets that are also within range
- Harder for the enemy to approach frontally without taking casualties
- Greater volume of fire past three volleys (for units that have poor reloading skills)
- Greater casualties per shot fired as individual targets are less likely to be shot more than once
- Constant pressure forces enemies to reform lines repeatedly, slowing their ready time to deliver more fire
- Slower response time when initially encountering enemies; regiment has to spread out which requires a few seconds. This is particularly problematic when facing an opponent that is flanking, or when facing enemies that are approaching sequentially
- Lesser volume of fire than Fire by Rank before the fourth volley; always lesser volume of fire for units that have good reloading skills
- Spreading out of units sometimes causes friendly fire to adjacent regiments if not properly managed
Platoon Firing does not work against most cavalry including horse and camel riders. Instead, the first rank of infantry fire, followed by sporadic firing. However, Platoon Firing is still utilized against elephants.
As Platoon Firing is arguably unwieldy and less powerful than Fire by Rank, it is sometimes prudent to simply avoid researching it. Although researching Platoon Firing unlocks the ability to construct Army Staff Colleges (and therefore the rest of the military technology tree), it is possible to circumvent this requirement by capturing a region that already has an Army Staff College erected.