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Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

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Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:42 am

After the battle of Dessau in the 1813 campaign I have some serious questions about the balance of cavalry in our Mod.

I was not able to witness SJ's Russian attack on Jeanathan and Joe but did have plenty of time to watch Andrew and Pat attacking Phil. I saw many French battalions either not in square at all, or trying to form square too late, ridden down and routed by cavalry charges.

My first question is for Phil - how many of your battalions did you TC and therefore turn the AI response off? How many did you leave with active AI?

If they were TC'd then we have no problem as doing this will get you defeated quickly if you don't first get them into square or stay extremely close to them giving yourself time to get them into square when charged.

If they were not TC'd then I think we have a problem.

Napoleonic cavalry was not generally used to charge infantry and destroy it. Its principal task (other than neutralising opposing cavalry) was to be a threat to infantry and force it to form square. The infantry had no effective choice in the matter - if enemy cavalry was around and its own was not, forming square was the response. Period. No ifs or buts. To not form square meant certain destruction. If the AI is not forming square early enough and remaining in square, then I think our AI .dll file needs to be tweaked to make the square forming happen sooner.

After infantry was weakened by artillery fire or the harassing of skirmishers and began to waver, then the cavalry would attack, but not until then. I sometimes (more often that I'd like) see infantry break and retreat and the hovering cavalry take no action. Again I do not know if the cavalry in these instances is TC'd which will kill any possible response or if the AI is just not reacting as it should and attacking such a juicy target when one is presented.

Can the AI .dll file be adjusted to make such instances less common?

Cavalry's final battlefield function was to pursue a beaten enemy or cover a retreat.

I'd be interested to read people's thoughts on this.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:12 pm

Cavalry was used with the specific intention of breaking the enemy lines in several well known battles; Eylau, Borodino and Waterloo. Eylau was a complete success, Borodino partially so and Waterloo a failure. The only doctrine was to use the tools available when they were needed.

In SOW, a battalion successfully forming square is based on several factors, the direction of the charge, the morale, experience and fatigue level of the battalion. It is also based on whether the brigade commander is TC'd.

If the cavalry is in front of the battalion then it will form a square sooner than if the charge is coming from the flank or rear. Tired and/or shaky troops are much more likely to fail to form squares in time regardless of the direction of the charge. The more experienced the unit, the more likely it will be successful in forming a square.

If the brigade commander is TC'd, then the battalion will form a square when the cavalry is much closer than if the commander is not TC'd.

Based on those criteria, cavalry will have the best chance of success later rather than earlier in the battle.

Cavalry pursuit of a broken infantry formation is dependent on the the squadron's morale and fatigue levels and also somewhat dependent on whether the regimental commander is TC'd.

Obviously, fresh cavalry has the best chance of success.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:44 pm

Thanks Kevin. These were frontal attacks and while enemy cavalry was sat within 250 to 300 yds threatening them, the infantry was not forming square. I can only assume this was because it was TC'd. If the AI was doing this I am very surprised.

Is it possible to increase the distance at which infantry will attempt to form square when under threat from cavalry?

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:59 pm

The distance at which the cavalry is considered dangerous is 250 yd or less. This value can be changed.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:53 pm

What would your view be on increasing this? To say 350 yds?

Will the perceived threat distance from flank and rear then be increased accordingly by the AI or do we have to specify numbers for those sectors as well?

I'm raising the whole subject because I saw many battalions ridden down by cavalry while in line or column in this particular battle. I'd prefer to see fewer battalions ridden down and more pinned in place in square which is what I think cavalry should be doing. The riding down should happen when the infantry wavers after being shattered by artillery or musketry.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  CaptainAndrew on Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:57 pm

There's also been quite a peculiar bug with infantry's reaction to squares: batallions would, instead of forming squares, form march columns. This also happened a few times in Dessau with Phil's infantry and I'm pretty much 100% sure that the AI isn't preparing to march but it's definitely reacting to the nearby cavalry. It just chooses to react with the wrong formation. Happens from time to time but mostly when playing games against the AI.
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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:04 pm

Will the perceived threat distance from flank and rear then be increased accordingly by the AI or do we have to specify numbers for those sectors as well?
Unknown. That part of the code is hidden from us.

I'm raising the whole subject because I saw many battalions ridden down by cavalry while in line or column in this particular battle. I'd prefer to see fewer battalions ridden down and more pinned in place in square which is what I think cavalry should be doing. The riding down should happen when the infantry wavers after being shattered by artillery or musketry.
Likely, the brigade commander was TC'd.

There's also been quite a peculiar bug with infantry's reaction to squares: batallions would, instead of forming squares, form march columns. This also happened a few times in Dessau with Phil's infantry and I'm pretty much 100% sure that the AI isn't preparing to march but it's definitely reacting to the nearby cavalry. It just chooses to react with the wrong formation. Happens from time to time but mostly when playing games against the AI.
It is designed that way. The unit is trying to form a square, but fails due to a bad morale check. When that happens, the unit is displayed in march column to make it very vulnerable to cavalry. The battalion has virtually no defensive capability. Sad

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Jeanathan on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:13 pm

It usually depends on who is commanding them, and by that I mean the skill of the player and how well they can time the order to either un-TC or react to cavalry movements. It can of course be a game mechanical issue, but it likewise it could also be the result of good cavalry charges and poor reactions to said charges.

Overall, what also decided the battle so decisively is the fact that if a side lacks cavalry and the other doesn't, the side with cavalry will always win.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:07 pm

Its that last sentence that is my concern. Why is this? Cavalry should not be that powerful in the Napoleonic wars. In spring 1813, with very little cavalry, Napoleon won battles.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Jeanathan on Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:42 pm

It's the fact that this is a game in all reality and not real life.

If we nerf cavalry so they are weak, we all know that the cavalry is weak, meaning it doesn't provide any fear factor. Which means people won't go into square, rendering cavalry useless.

It's the fact that we're playing a game, as unfortunate as that is.

If we want to recreate what you're describing Martin, then we'd have to force a rule upon cavalry commanders to not use their cavalry offensively unless it was to pursue stragglers.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  scauispo on Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:55 pm

I would have had about 3 battalions TC’d. 2 of those were placed in square, the other in skirmish behind those squares. These were elements of my left hand div which were facing you, Andrew & Pat. My right hand division was essentially out of my sight, so it was not TC’d at all. I did see many nonTC’d battalions not form square in a timely manner.
In other games I have seen cav defeat infantry & let them run away without pursuing. This was an exception.
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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:06 pm

I am not suggesting we weaken cavalry, but even if we did I think the mechanism of cav vs inf that are not in square would still have the cavalry winning.

I was more concerned about the infantry having time to form squares. It didn't look like this was the case at Dessau. On the other hand the shakiness of the French infantry and the domino effect of other units retreating nearby may have been a factor.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  midgetmanifesto on Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:54 am

Is there a way to make the 'square morale check' easier to pass?
It sound as though the target solution would be that infantry forms square more often when facing cavalry. Bumping the 'dangerous range' up might help. It'd be good to know if you can adjust the threshold of a passing 'square morale check' as that would avoid having to change much else.
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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:10 am

Yes, this is pretty much my thinking as well.

What are your thoughts Kevin? Could we make it more likely for infantry to pass the successful square forming check and also to increase the distance to enemy cavalry that this check is made so the infantry have more time?

What I personally would prefer to see is a body of cavalry forcing an opposing formation of infantry to form squares, pinning them in place, threatening them, to allow the combined arms team (if one is present) to bring artillery/musket fire to bear on them. This to me is preferable to seeing many battalions not forming square or trying to form it too late and being ridden down, especially early in a battle. When infantry are tired and shaky that would be a more likely event but not when they are fresh.

This would alter player mindset and expectation as well. A cavalry player would no longer go in thinking "which infantry can I quickly crush?" but instead "I need to get close to make these enemy form square"; I think this is a more correct process our players should be expecting. The crushing part comes later, after the horse artillery, etc has done it's work.

This would make it more likely that defensive cavalry would be employed to drive the attacking cavalry away; at the moment we can see defensive infantry shattered before their supporting cavalry has had time to intervene to protect them.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:39 pm

I'm actually thinking along different lines. The largest problem we have is the non-historic use of cavalry at the squadron level. Players, myself included, have a tendency to use it more like a scalpel than a meat cleaver. In most battles, cavalry was formed and maneuvered as a regiment. I am thinking it would be worth a few tests to change a scenario oob so that a cavalry brigade has only one or two regiments in it rather than 4-8 squadrons. Due to its size, such a unit would have a more limited role on the battlefield. It would have to have sufficient room to maneuver. It could not move easily to pick off a single battalion. Early in a battle, the only viable target would likely be another equally large cavalry unit since that is the only place large enough for any kind of maneuver. Later in a battle, when the lines open up, cavalry would play a dominant role on the infantry battlefield.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:21 pm

I agree with what you say and would be happy to run some test battles using this idea.

My concern is we get 2 regiments in a brigade instead of, as you say, six to eight squadrons. It only takes one of these regiments to get wrecked on a square to leave that brigade with little offensive power.

On the other hand at the lowest tactical level it was the squadron that manoeuvred; some of the best known examples being the French cavalry units that were milling about behind and among the allied lines at Waterloo.

I'd still like to see infantry response to cavalry threat sharpened up.

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Martin on Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:04 pm

Going from squadrons to regiments seems anachronistic to me, although I don't claim to be an expert on Napoleonic battles.

I think that mass cavalry attacks by large bodies of cavalry were actually quite rare.  Yes we all know about Eylau and Waterloo, but were these really typical, or are they so notable because they were unusual?  Maybe we've lost sight of the bread & butter work of cavalry (at any rate in the better armies), working with the infantry in much smaller packets.  

It's a long time ago since I read Nosworthy's book on Napoleonic battle tactics, but doesn't he have some deployment plans showing infantry brigades marching to the attack supported by just a couple of squadrons?

.......Just found one.  This is a French 1805 deployment.  A division of 2 brigades advancing.  Each brigade is supported by 2 squadrons.



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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:04 pm

I'm actually hard pressed to think of a battle when cavalry wasn't massed. To add a few names, Friedland had a massive cavalry battle on the north end of the field that would make the Great Frederick all atwitter. The Austrians at Wagram used a massive cavalry counterattack to stop Devout. This may have degenerated into squadrons attacking single battalions as it did at Waterloo. Borodino saw French regimental assaults on the Russian Center.

I suppose the Peninsula war would have been more at the squadron level due to the unsuitable terrain, but large scale cavalry attacks on the European plains were the norm.


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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Martin on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:35 pm

Good examples, but that's not the same as saying that all cavalry at Friedland or Wagram was used that way.  

Surely we have to cover both types of cavalry activity? At the moment it sounds as if we can, albeit the scalpel is too easy to use.  Isn't the answer to fix that, rather than remove it?  I appreciate that may not be as straightforward as it sounds.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:45 pm

Perhaps we could organise cavalry differently and have each regiment commanded by a brigade level commander. This way players can use squadrons individually or send in a whole regiment (aka brigade).

I think there is a good tactical/historical case to organise British cavalry as regiments instead of by squadrons since they seemed to be eager to commit everything both in the Peninsular and at Waterloo and keep no reserves.

Alternatively we could ask the question - "why do players use individual squadrons in scalpel fashion?" The answer is probably "because they're there" but if we could in some way discourage squadron use (but still allow it) and encourage more en-masse use that might help. Maybe we could lower individual squadron strengths to the point they become reluctant or less effective when charging big battalions?

Lastly I do not want this discussion to drift away from my primary request:

1) Infantry should form squares more easily / fail their square-forming morale check less often, and

2) Infantry I think need to form square against cavalry sooner (increase the threat range of cav).

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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.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:57 pm

I'm not saying action at the squadron level didn't happen, but it was not the predominate use of cavalry. Cavalry was the shock arm and massed itself for greatest effect. Squadrons were the most basic tactical unit, but unlike infantry battalions they were aggregated into larger formations when used on the battlefield.

SOW treats squadrons just like battalions, independent fighting units. That allow them to zip in and out of an infantry battle at little cost. This cannot be modded out. It is an integral part of the game's design. As I said, I can't think of any battle where such behavior predominated. Invariably in battle reports, mention of cavalry involvement is by regiment. For the infantry it is almost always by battalion.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:07 pm

I see what you are saying but what adverse effects will there be having cavalry limited to the regiment as the basic manoeuvre element?

And what do we gain?

We need to design rules that have a specific positive gameplay result and historically reasonable result.

I can see that regiments will get us away from the brain-surgery style use of cavalry we always see (nothing annoys me more than the player who sends a single squadron right across the battlefield because he knows he can drive away an enemy battery or two - this kind of play needs to be stymied) ...but will we lose anything?

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:35 pm

We won't know until we try it out in a couple of games.

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Re: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:37 pm

Can you edit the OOBs to let us try this tomorrow?

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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: Cavalry power in SOWWL KS Mod

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:49 pm

Yes, we'll give it a try tomorrow.

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