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Battle of Villafor Depot

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Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  kg little mac on Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:58 am

With great trepidation I accepted command.  

The afternoon was cold and gray, very cold and very gray.

I told myself over and over, "Don't attack.  Don't do it.  Show restraint."

The plan was simple.  Each of our three divisions would march north down its main road until we found the enemy.  Then we would deploy our guns and try to gain superiority before committing to the attack.

I had 1st division, deployed at Periera, marching toward Frechas.

Pepe with the 2nd division, deployed to my right, headed toward Villa Real.

Steve with 3rd division (our smallest), deployed to my left, marching toward Mira.

When I got to Frechas, I could see French guns on the ridge: open, uphill, horrible looking place to attack.  Again I said to myself, "Don't do it.  Get your guns up and blast away.  See if they come forward."

Soon I received a courier from Steve saying French infantry occupied the woods near Mira.  And Pepe sent me one saying there were no French as far north as Escriz.

I knew the French were on the reverse slope.  And I knew marching up that slope in the open was going to be painful.  So I said to myself, "DON'T DO IT."

But I knew I had to.  So I sent Steve a courier telling him to keep the attention of the division in front of him, that the battle would be decided on our right.  I then sent Pepe a courier ordering him to attack northwest, on my right.  That I would fix the enemy on the ridge and he should attack their flank.

My guns were blazing away at the French battery on the ridge and Pepe got his guns involved as well.  I think the French battery was firing at our guns, because my infantry brigade made it to the crest of the ridge with only minor damage (the French battery on my left did most of the damage).  I sent a battalion forward and captured two guns and forced the others to retreat.  Sharpe brought his brigade up on my left (Sharpe had the second brigade of my division).  We formed a good line and started giving it to the French.

I could see quite a few squadrons of French cavalry behind the French infantry line to my right/front.  I knew Digby would be patient with his cavalry (unlike me), so I brought up my cavalry brigade in hopes of forcing the French cavalry to commit.  

Another French division came up on my left and drove Sharpe and I back, but we dished it out as well as we took it.  Until finally both Sharpe's brigade and mine were exhausted.

I told Pepe he had to either crush the French or call off the attack.  He answered back that he would push with all his might.

Steve and Rich kept the French right busy.  Sharpe and I fixed the center.  Pepe and Martin were the heroes.

What a glorious sight when I finally pushed over the crest of the ridge and saw nothing but battered, broken French units and Pepe and Martin a hoopin' and a hollerin' as they cut through the French like a hot knife through butter.

As usual, exhausting.  I am spent, but happy.

Thanks to everyone.

Video of Pepe and Martin conferring on how best to attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM-lxsxeXBI
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:16 am

I was very worried by the sight of the six squadrons of dragoons on the French left that I was facing off. I was very fortunate in that they belonged to Kevin and he played his usual tactic of giving them defend orders so they came forward to counter any breakthroughs. Pepe's Brunswick brigade did a lot of damage to the left hand French infantry brigade and as ordered Kevin's AI dragoons came forward to plug the gaps in his line. This involved throwing themselves at the Brunswick infantry that Pepe skilfully got into square. After the dragoons dashed themselves onto the squares 3 or 4 times I only had to bring a couple of squadrons forwards and charge the remnants to see them off.

I was helped a lot by my boys being Exp6 Hussar Psychopaths so the job required no real skill.

They even captured a cuirassier squadron later on Very Happy

I did suffer needless losses against the French guards at the very top of the hill because I was elsewhere and not paying attention. Two squadrons got punished this way.

I was very confused as to where the battle lines were. Wellington asked for help in the centre and with 4 squadrons left I got my division commanders OK to go help out but I had no idea where the centre was so I asked His Grace and got the answer "on Pepe's left". This confused me somewhat and so I went around behind Pepe's division and tried to help out on the far slope of the hill. A cuirassier squadron was capturing some of our guns and a couple of French battalions were following up but by the time I got there the cuirassiers had been driven off and I charged the two battalions and made them fall back. I think it was either Sharpe or Mark who retook the guns or else there was a point blank canister cannon duel between guns of the same battery (one of the sillier features of SoW) and the captured guns were destroyed.

Things looked under control on the top of the hill after that so I went round the back and saw some French guns moving up and sent a squadron after them with my favourite AI order which is "attack weak targets" and they wreaked havoc. Nothing to do with me I promise!

I had three squadrons left and forgot to look at my map so by the end I was heading off to help Steve and Rich in the SW and moving away from the depot in Villaflor, but I see from the replay that one of Pepe's brigades captured it. I really should pay more attention to the map! I was so confused still about where our centre was that I thought Steve and Rich were it and I had failed in my orders to help out!

Right until the final whistle I assumed the French had won.

I think this shows the benefit of having a player take over a cavalry brigade command in a division. My cavalry were able to easily defeat Kevin's theoretically stronger squadrons purely because of the limitations of AI orders.

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The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Iberalc on Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:54 pm

Mark/Soldier wrote:Steve and Rich kept the French right busy. Sharpe and I fixed the center. Pepe and Martin were the heroes.

That's not right, one of the lovely things of this game is the teamwork, so we were the team that did things better or had more luck. Without Steve and Rich holding so well a bigger division and your strong attack on the Fench line, we couldn't have done so well, and kept our forces in good shape for the final effort.
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  henridecat on Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:00 pm

My first excursion with Cavalry (commanding a brigade of Dutch and Belgium Light Cavalry attached to 3rd Division) in which I was not terribly dashing or bold, but held the attention of a superior force on the French right sufficiently long for Pepe's 2nd division to take the objective, though of course I had no knowledge of events on the other side of the battlefield, I could only hope that they would be favourable.



My troops marched up the road towards Villaflor and encountered the enemy just South of Mira, it was debatable whether the Frenchies had been guarding that road as they only moved into sight when my men appeared. My cavalry deployed back with one squadron menacing the enemy infantry, forcing them into Mira wood. Unfortunately my judgement about musketry effectiveness was rather flawed and the Dutch Hussars in the lead took rather too many casualties. I dropped them back, but really a bit too late.

There then followed a period where I postured near Mira, standing roughly astride the Estrada Seixo, while waiting for the Infantry to arrive, eventually they did, but so also had the French Artillery who caused even more casualties to my brave troopers.

Then much to my chagrin,  the Hussars who had borne the brunt of the fight fled the field. I was now down to 4 squadrons and one of them was looking a bit apprehensive!

As the Infantry now held the left adequately I decided to move to further left, hoping I could put the wood between my position and the French Artillery and cause the French line to be extended. However their line was already in place and I encountered another French Battery and, horror of horrors 5 squadrons of French Cuirassier (eeeek!).

There followed another period of posturing while I steadily lost men and hoped  the French would not charge. Then a French infantry unit, which had been battered by attacks from Picton's infantry broke from the wood. Before I could stop them one of my squadrons charged into the back of them, was counter charged by the the Cuirassier whom they surrendered to.

The action then proceeded apace, seeing the success of their comrades the rest of the Cuirassier bore down on my wavering line and my men fled.

At that point the game froze for me (I suspect some activity on my PC, possibly a Skype notification, must turn it off next time) and quite likely my character was killed in the mass rout anyway.


Last edited by henridecat on Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  kg little mac on Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:27 pm

"That's not right, one of the lovely things of this game is the teamwork, so we were the team that did things better or had more luck. Without Steve and Rich holding so well a bigger division and your strong attack on the Fench line, we couldn't have done so well, and kept our forces in good shape for the final effort."

Fortunes of war, Pepe.  Sharpe and I spoke on the GCM ts server after the battle.  Both of us agreed; cresting the ridge and seeing your boys pressing into French remnants was very satisfying.  Heroes.  No doubt.

Your name will forever be associated with Villaflor.
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:20 pm

Villa 4 France Nil, a great cup final.

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"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  MJP on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:20 pm

The situation from the French side was one where we were defeated despite not making any gross errors.   It wasn't for a lack of communication or command, we understood for the most part the grand tactical situation.   Rather, i believe we were defeated on the tactical level today.    

I was in reserve today and held the center of our line.   I chose to occupy my original position favoring the defensive benefits of the streams and small copses of woods of my position over the slighter higher ground a bit to my east.   MTG was ordered to pull back from his initial starting position to my left and he deployed on the slightly higher ground southeast of my position.   It was clear pretty early that the main assault would come from the east and bring it's full weight to bear on MTG.   Lately he has squarely had a target on his back it seems!    When i brought my division forward to support him, i felt at the time the battle was going well.   He looked to be holding his own and with my infantry and cavalry brigade on his right, we were able to push back the left side of the French assault.   Note i specifically say push back because i don't think I destroyed it, rather just got them to fall back after giving them a nosebleed.   However the reports were coming in that MTG needed support on his left and at this point the guard was committed and my right hand brigade and cavalry begin shifting left.    Again, we held our own for a considerable amount of time until MTG was forced to quit the position which left my division really exposed and la garde recule and that was pretty much that.  

The overall casualty difference in the battle was negligible, but where the Allies had defeated us in my opinion was that on our left flank where the battle was decided we were in a situation where we had 2 human players each controlling a division fighting 4 human players with smaller commands.    There was a point where MTG was fighting 4 players on his own.   There was a point after MTG was pushed off that i was fighting 4 players on my own.  I'm learning quickly that this is most definitely a key to victory as you can just pay more attention to the details and exercise more effective control of the troops.   For example, in my first big push, i had hit Sharpes Brigade of English and he was able to very effectively counter me with timely square formations, timely fallbacks, and just general good control of his troops.   The result was that though i was able to push him back, i was unable to destroy him. Had he been in command of a full division, i believe the success would have been greater. Though it must be said that he is irritatingly efficient with his troops as he is in the GCM. Which is a good note to bring up that i like in the KS Mod that you aren't given the identity of enemy commanders in game. It's an interesting wrinkle.

One mistake we made was that i don't think we took advantage of being on the defense as much as we could have.   When MTG had first built his line i should probably should have moved at least an infantry brigade and my two artillery batteries forward to align with his chosen defensive position rather than staying back and counterattacking later.  An earlier move would have had my two batteries firing on the English the entire time they were closing rather than trying bring them up to support an already fully engaged line.    The result was that my guns were never really an effective part of our defense and i didn't have an appreciation of the actual English dispositions.  

For me, this battle was a new situation and very much a learning experience.   I don't think there is anyone on our side who was at fault.  We communicated well, we engaged relatively effectively, we were just defeated at the X's, and O's level the sum of those micro-tactical setbacks added up to overall defeat.    

Well done to the English for coordinating their attack well and managing their troops so effectively.   At one point, i intercepted a courier which gave me hope that they were getting ready to call the attack off, such a close run thing it was. But in the end, we were defeated. The Emperor is not pleased.

Matt

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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  MJP on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:25 pm

Question - will a cavalry unit that is set to "hold" or "defend" as MTG does for counter charges actually counter charge is the cavalry Brigade commander is TC'ed?
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:31 pm

I think TCing a brigade commander nullifies the orders he's given, so the answer is almost certainly 'no'.

I wonder though if a single cavalry unit that isn't TC'd will have any initiative of its own? I think it countercharges if charged (auto-distance) but otherwise I think it just faces the enemy and eats bullets.

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The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  MJP on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:58 pm

Thanks. So this explains why i've read the experienced KS guys TC to get to position and then un TC the brigade at the point of contact. I really need to get over trying to TC everything and learn the courier command system. Otherwise i'll only ever be effective at max 2 brigades.....
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Iberalc on Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:16 pm

Our plan was so simple, during the “in battle” briefing I was thinking in repeating it aloud just in case I had missed something. I took 2nd Division with Mr. Martin/Digby as commander of the biggest cavalry brigade in our side.

After advancing to the north on the right flank of the Corps through Villa Real. We realized the French were going to defend the ridge, and I was ordered to move northwest towards the depot to get in contact. Martin/Digby’s cavalry was at Escariz so he had to move west.
I got nearer Villaflor and saw the French attention was fixed to the south and mainly southwest, so I think they were late to discover the bulk of my division coming. First they must have seen our cavalry.

I had deployed a battery and the French guns to my front changed their facing towards us, my second battery was arriving when I got the order to attack in conjunction with 1st Division.
I took a Brunswick (guessing they were Belgians) Brigade to the rear right flank of the leading brigade in the attack (Mark/soldier) they were of the same nationality. We advanced and engaged the 2-3 battalions on the enemy’s left, I couldn’t move around them or deploy my second brigade because of French cavalry to the north, after a while the French Dragoons came in, it was a full brigade charging our flank, deployed the Brunswikers into squares and supported by Martin’s cavalry we got most of the enemy squadrons on the run.

There remained a few battalions and squadrons to our front, so slowly I was advancing my brigade to engage enemy units supported by our cavalry at all times. I could see some redeploying of French units from the center to cover our front. Now I had room to deploy my reserve brigade and bring my guns forward.
Even when I could see some French reserves behind the ridge, I thought at this time, we were doing a good job, but everything was too nice, we were damaging the enemy and 2nd Division was in an excellent shape, I had a brigade of Germans eager to fire their weapons.
Then Mark and I had an exchange of messages, he asked how we were doing and about the security of our right flank and let me know that 1st Division was worn out and under pressure. I reassured him about our flank and told him I was putting everything in an attack.

I saw French units pulling back from their center to form a new line on their left, to my front on top of the ridge with cavalry in their flanks.
I contacted Martin and urged him to get rid of the cavalry, there was a sharp clash at the end of the French line as our cavalry charged. I attacked with my fresh brigade on the right of the Brunswickers that were already starting to feel the strain of the battle.

And then I thought I was going to break the enemy line, but it seemed that more troops were reinforcing it and some of my battalions retreated, forward again and we are getting the upper hand, melees and firefights, now it seems that the French are going to break my line.
The fight was at very close quarters, both lines were just a few yards apart, I’d say we avoided any high terrain bonus by our foes that way.
I could see far away French wagons going away to the northwest, and remembered the saying “the last battalion will decide the issue”, so helped by my guns reorganized my battalions and sent them back to the fight.

Judging by their uniforms, I’d say in this last stage of the battle my KGL seasoned mercenaries met the Imperial Guard. At the end the French retreated from the top of the ridge and we were able to move on the Depot at Villaflor.
When I approached a highlander battalion, the last of Sharpe’s brigade, I could hear the sound of the pipes blowing away, what a really nice courtesy of the KS mod to enjoy the end of a really tough battle. It was the highlanders who took the objective I was a little bit north.

My final thoughts about the last two games, this weekend are:

I have seen/experienced combined arms actions with coordination of artillery, cavalry and infantry to a level I had never done before.

What bloody battles! Yesterday when the battle was coming to an end, moving my troops over the ridge I barely could see any spot of terrain, everywhere there were the debris of war.

Pepe/Perponcher.


Last edited by Iberalc on Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Uncle Billy on Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:17 pm

Filthy Engleesh invaders. When I created this scenario, I did so with the intent of giving cavalry a large role. It is a very open map and both sides had an abundance of horse, especially the Allies. What my calculus failed to do was anticipate that I'd be on the receiving end of all that cavalry. With 6 squadrons of dragoons, I wasn't too worried about any of the enemy light cavalry that was likely to show up. I felt that even if they could not defeat them outright, they would at least neuter them and reduce their threat to the infantry.

But unfortunately, Digby had the poor grace to hold back his hussars until my dragoons spent themselves trying to counter all the Allied infantry breakthroughs. Then he set them loose and my poor infantry had no real chance. I was shocked to see the large number of Allied troops move so quickly on my front and flank. At one point I thought surely I was facing all three divisions, or perhaps there was a 4th I forgot about. It was a very well coordinated attack by all three arms. As the enemy gained ground, he continually moved up his artillery and did quite a bit of damage to my lines and squares.

As MJP said, there was nothing in our battle plan that could be pointed to as a fatal flaw. We were simply out-generaled. From my limited perspective, Digby's expert use of his hussars made it impossible to mount a credible solid defense. I'm confident my boys would have lasted much longer had they only British infantry to contend with.

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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  henridecat on Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:28 pm

More of those hated acronyms, GCM, TC.. where is the glossary guys? Laughing
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Re: Battle of Villafor Depot

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:11 pm

GCM = Garnier's Campaign Mod. Its a website-based linked battles system where each player plays MP (multi-player) battles reusing his/her same division over and over so the regiments gain and lose experience and a 'history'. You can drop by this MP groups forum here:

http://www.sowmp.com/gcm

They are very well organised and are a more competitive group than us so wear your thick skin. They don't use couriers and HITS. I think they use about a 100m camera limit, though this varies. It's a pretty intense group with battles every day. It's where I started my SoW MP gaming and I made some good friends there.

TC = Take Command; the act of placing a unit directly under your orders instead of letting the AI control it. It has a benefit of making it do exactly what you want and never using any initiative but its downside is it's braindead and won't react at all to an enemy - even if its being shot in the back from 50 yards. I tend to TC cavalry squadrons quite often as they can be pretty unpredictable under AI control. I'll also TC some infantry sometimes when they are in the centre of my line and can't be flanked. I do this because the AI has this tendency to pivot its lines about every few minutes to face the biggest threat. I think it looks odd plus your unit won't shoot while redeploying so it wastes valuable killing time Wink

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"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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