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Battlefield Tactics

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Battlefield Tactics

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:06 pm

Hi guys

I want to open a discussion about ideas concerning how we play our SoW online games and what we think are reasonable tactics to use versus the AI or a player opponent.

I don't want this to become a witch-hunt against people's playing styles but my thinking is that we ought to be able to agree a framwork that we should endeavour to play within so that our games are more beleivable and feel more real.

SoW is a fair simulation of Napolenic battles but it is by no means perfect and we are faced with all kinds of limitations.

Our most common battles are encounters between two corps and in such cases historical senior commanders would always cover their flanks with detachments of (probably) light troops, both mounted and on foot. Therefore the extreme ends of a position would not be black and white as they are in SoW but would gradually become a lighter grey as the distance from the centre of the position increased and the picquet lines thinned out. There would, in effect, be no easily turned flanks.

Artillery that was left in rear bombarding as the AI does would never be unsupported; reserve would be held near them for protection and reserves generally would always be maintained. The AI and our players rarely keep corps level reserves, at least not in useful locations to support division-level batteries.

The anomalous deployments are partly a lack of code-writing in the AIs routines and partly because this is, after all, a game and no-one wants to stand around for three hours playing four old guard battalions that will never be committed.

However we ought to give consideration to what the Napoleonic battlefield was like and try to agree rules of play that will still give us entertaining games while also giving us more beleivable games.

I think that we should no longer send cavalry deep behind the enemy's main attack and take out artillery batteries or other weak targets of opportunity. This would largely be impractical for the reasons given above, plus several other good reasons such as the time this would require and the breakdown in communications with mounted forces far from the corps HQ. Our cavalry forces could work on the flanks of our posistions but should restrain themselves to attacking only the flannk of the enemy's most frontline troops. Cavalry is usually needed in the main line by infantry commanders who are under pressure.

Although it isn't always historically correct I think adding a cavalry brigade to each infantry division might help, though I know we've discussed the pros and cons of this before. I remember saying I preferred a cavalry division as it was more correct but because the game doesn't deliver a 'correct' simulation I think we should play for effect rather than stick to strict realism.

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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: Battlefield Tactics

Post  Uncle Billy on Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:33 pm

Those are all good points. The cause is that we are all aware of 20th century military doctrine. The Warsaw Pact made it a priority to get into the rear of the enemy by any means. Who doesn't want to command 3rd Shock Army? Very Happy It's difficult to ignore what is so obviously correct by today's standards. I agree we should try to do so whenever possible though.

Coincidentally, after yesterday's bloodletting a few of us talked about other non-period behavior.

One point I resurrected was the use of all available artillery batteries during the entire battle. A large fraction of guns were always held in reserve to replace those that became combat ineffective due losses, fatigue or lack of ammunition.

Another would be not fighting in the woods with any non-skirmish troops. There is no way to prevent the AI from doing so, because there is no practical way to tell it that moving through the woods in formation is illegal and it needs to find another route to its destination. We'd could agree to do this as players, but I fear we'd spend a large amount of time redirecting battalions that want to do exactly that.

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Re: Battlefield Tactics

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:19 pm

With the new rule of artillery fire blocked by friends within 150 yards I am finding myself TCing units a lot more, simply to make then get away from standing in front of their own guns. I had to ask Phil yesterday 2 or 3 times to move one of his (AI) battalions that chose to just stand there and caused one of my batteries to fall silent.

This brings up another issue which is that historically brigades, divisions and corps never intermingled because command control would collapse. We as players should always endeavour to deploy on wider fronts with more space between our units and never allow our brigades to overlap the combat frontage of a brigade in another players division. I find myself exasperated quite often when an AI brigade of another player's command "muscles in" on a combat one of my brigades is waging because the AI is not programmed to recognise there is a combat already going on.

This is just a failing in game design as the AI just has no idea about these concepts, so again, I think its a case of us players riding along our lines, TCing as needed to get our brigades to support friends but not "trample on their turf".

As to 20th century doctrine, I agree. We don't often play with forts due to the variety of maps made in the pre-fort game era that we use but players should never ever think to bypass an enemy-held fortified building. It should be attacked directly.

Adding fortified defended buildings is a way to balance scenarios as a defender needs fewer men to hold up an attacker and an attacker needs a lot more time to press past 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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