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How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

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How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:41 pm

Hello,

I'm currently practicing with the HITS system in single-player mode to trying to get used to the system, and I'm looking for any advice on how best to command my troops.

I'm particularly curious as to the best way to word orders using the limited menu options available.

Commands like 'Move your unit to' seem to be about the most useful, but only if the location you have in mind has a clearly defined name (like a town).  There doesn't appear to a way of saying  'Move your unit to defend the hill north of Waterloo', or even 'Move your unit to support Picton.'

The best I've managed to come up with during practice is to ride personally to where I want a unit to go, and then issue a command for it to move to a position relative to where I'm standing e.g. To Halkett 'Move your unit to my left flank.' or to Ross  'Move your unit to my front.'  But that has the obvious limitation of requiring me to stand there until they arrive,  I'm not quite sure what would happen if I moved.  Would everyone shift with me?  .... I'm not really sure.

I'm used to Peter Turcan's system where orders are issued using natural language commands reminiscent of adventure games.

For example,
"D'Erlon, at 1 15 pm order Donzelot defend the hills 1 mile south of you"
"Lobau, transfer your cavalry to Reille"
"Drouot, at 6 30 pm give support to Reille, D'Erlon and Milhaud"


It was also possible to construct quite complex instructions to 'Defend a line between the village of Waterloo and the woods 1 mile to the west.', and the AI would interpret your desires and seek to carry them out.  Not always successfully i must admit.

But I'm curious how one can formulate similar orders using the SOW system.  I real life of course one would explain everything to your sub-ordinate, or the courier, and they would then pass the information on, but as far as I know you can't refer to the map and say 'I want you to go here.' (point to location on map), or 'I want you to defend a line between here and here.' (drawing the line on the map.)

So, any advice on how to make it happen?
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:02 pm

Kevin is the man among us who uses the couriers orders system the most. I do know however that if you go to place X and then order a subordinate formation to place itself relative to X then it will still do so even after you ride away. The data of your location is sent when the messenger departs, and is not modified as you ride elsewhere. (If you think about it, its logical).

I deploy my command by using the command map, which is brought up by the N key. I just click on the map where I want my subordinates to go, give them a formation to assume on arrival and tell them to use roads if that's what's needed, or let them go across country if its not. You can add waypoints to order an approach route by holding down the CTRL key as you click the command map.

While it could be seen as a bit "cheaty" my mind rationalises it in this way. My ADC gets a map of the battlefield from his saddlebag and I dictate to an officer that I want commander X to take his formation to a place I indicate on the map. An ADC then writes my message down and rides off with it.

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Uncle Billy on Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:18 pm

The only practical way to move a unit to the hill one mile north of town is to use Digby's method. It's what I use also. In SOWGB it was possible to call up the command map when issuing courier orders but that feature was deleted in this game due to the new gui system. I used the courier orders system exclusively in that game, but very rarely use it in this one.

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:24 pm

Mr. Digby wrote:I deploy my command by using the command map, which is brought up by the N key. I just click on the map where I want my subordinates to go, give them a formation to assume on arrival and tell them to use roads if that's what's needed, or let them go across country if its not. You can add waypoints to order an approach route by holding down the CTRL key as you click the command map.
Ooo! I'll have to check that out.  I never even knew that existed, but like you I can't see it as cheating.  I'm sure most officers had a map of some sort in their saddlebag and even if the ADC didn't have one I could show him on my map where I wanted the unit to go and he could show the commander of the unit on his map when he arrived.  He just needs to remember what I said.
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:46 pm

When using the command map select the formation/general first. Then hit N to open the map. The N key preps a destination for whatever is selected and to my embarrassment I've sometimes inadvertently had the wrong unit selected and sent it off miles in the wrong direction. Embarassed

There's also a few players who just ride to a hilltop and then select a commander and click on the distant terrain to make him go there. Then give him a formation to adopt upon arrival. That works too.

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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: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:48 pm

Yes, I've just been doing in my last practice session.

My other favourite trick is to select another unit from the OOB, tell it to go somewhere and then decide to move myself without deselecting the other unit. Embarassed

Also in the last practice for some reason there was an ammunition caisson following me everywhere, I have no idea what I did to make that happen, unless it was my packed lunch.

Ooo! another interesting thing in the last practice (bearing in mind I played this same scenario about six times now).  But i was standing there fuming at the fact that my artillery commander seemed determined not to deploy where I told him to, when this figure came galloping over and stood next to me.  And it was Marshal Ney  affraid  complete with bright red hair.  Wish I'd thought to take a screenshot.  I was expecting to be bawled out for taking too long, but in fact he never said a thing, and then just galloped off.
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:57 am

Last nights practice session well btter in some ways and worse in others.

The Command Map process seemed to work, although I find it disconcerting that there is no physical indication that it has (e.g. nothing appears on the map to confirm the locations or waypoints you have selected.) and the only evidence that the order has been sent is the sound of the courier galloping off  (in fact, usually several couriers as I found that clicking the location sent a courier, then selecting 'Use Roads' sent another, and any additions like 'Probe Stance' sent another.)

The Duke of Brunswick and I (Rowland Hill)  found ourselves well ahead of the army heading towards the objective alone (not sure why, he was there first and I galloped over to join him).  We spotted the French apparently crossing our path from left to right in what looked like Corps strength with multiple batteries and heavy cavalry as well as infantry.

Immediately order Brunswick to deploy his Division at our location (Brunswick Move to my Rear Centre, Defensive Stance.) and he appeared to react and so I moved back to a safer distance from the French cavalry.  The trouble was that he seemed to conform to my movements and so in the opening phase of the battle Brunswicks units seemed to be retreating away from the enemy instead of deploying to face them.  They eventually stopped when I did, which makes me suspect they were orienting themselves on my position rather than the map location I was at when i issued the order, but it may just have been a coincidence.

At the same time I tried ordering up the rest of my army relative to Brunswick's Corps.  

The orders I issued were:

Colville 'Move your unit to the left flank of Brunswick'
Picton 'Move your unit to the right flank of Brunswick'
Stedman 'Move your unt to the Rear Centre of Brunswick'

So, i was hoping to produce a three division front oriented on Brunswick with Stedman in Reserve.

It seemed to work in a fashion in that over the next few hours I spotted units from all four divisions on the field, and Picton's were usually on the right, and Colvilles generally on the left.  But to be honest the battlefield looked like a real cluster-frag, and I think what Picton and Colville were doing was trying to cram their entire Divisions right up against Brunswick (the commander) instead of his unit and so everyone was trying to squeeze into the same patch of grass.

In Turcan games they would have formed a combined front but I suspect this game engine doesn't have the scripts for that.

I also discovered another issue with HITS, which is probably realistic, and that is that when there is a lot of cavalry about you can;t see a damned thing.  i spent ages last night staring at the backs of various cavalrymen, and whenever I moved to a clear spot another bunch would block my view. Mad

A few screenshots of last nights battle.  These were taken at just after 4:30 pm, towards what I think is the end of the battle, the French seem to have become less energetic in their attacks and have fallen back beyond a screen of tree's to lick their wounds.  So, I'm assuming at this point that I've won and have just ordered a general advance (e.g. Ordered all units to Attack)
Spoiler:
The view to the left flank, where Brunswick and Colville are still engaging a few French skirmishers and pushing forward towards the tree line.  This area was the scene of some heavy fighting with massive French cavalry attacks followed by a strong column assault that ended up forced into square and shot into submission by massed musketry from Brunswick and Picton.
Spoiler:
The view to the right where some dragoons from Picton's Division appear to have trapped still more Frenchmen in square and is moving infantry forward to punish them.  You can just see more French infantry cowering in the woods.
Spoiler:
The view to my rear showing fresh troops moving up to commence the attack.  The dead bodies show the high water mark of the main French attack.  They look like mostly French Grenadiers and Cuirassiers.

Notice the almost complete lack of artillery in these screen shots, they all seem to be cowering in the rear somewhere.
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:26 pm

You seem to be getting the hang of commanding. The KS team has not done a lot of work on the courier system. Apart from adding more locations to maps that couriers can send units to, its basically the vanilla game. As I said before, I am more of a 'point and click' person so can't comment on how robust it is.

I agree that the AI probably sends its units to "Brunswick's Left" and then places them far too close. We'd need to get into the courier system and define a sensible distance from the person of the Duke, say 500 yards. This would then form the location of that divisions commander so the space required may need to be greater still.

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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: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Uncle Billy on Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:44 pm

I sounds like you are beginning to get the hang of things.

As you discovered, the AI corps commander will tend to cluster his troops in one location. This is part of the programming we don't have access to and therefore can't fix. From a player's perspective, it is better that he take the role of corps commander and directly order the divisions to their deployment areas. That way you can avoid much of the Chinese fire drill effect. By giving the divisions appropriate stances, you can withhold some from the battle until needed.

As the battle progresses and the enemy is pushed back by your advancing troops, the guns will tend to stay in their original firing positions. This is historically accurate, especially for foot batteries. Horse guns would move to support an advance and they can in the KS mod. However, you will have to order them forward yourself. Don't expect the AI division commander to do so. Either TC the battery commander or switch his stance to No Orders and give him a destination and formation. He will move in that direction. He may stop short if he feels he has a good location. He and the guns will also balk if ordered to get too close to the enemy and will fall back to a safer position. Artillerists were the smartest people in the army and were not prone to commit suicide regardless of their superior's wishes.

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:46 pm

Uncle Billy wrote:Artillerists were the smartest people in the army and were not prone to commit suicide regardless of their superior's wishes.
That's very true, but it lost them their pensions and Waterloo Medals when the Duke stepped in and blocked their applications for ignoring his orders to keep their guns in place during the French cavalry attacks.  

As Mercer said most of them withdrew their guns out of reach of the French cavalry and never returned leaving the PBI horribly exposed to French skirmishers and supporting artillery between each attack.  He claims he was one of the few battery commanders that remained in position, but not so much because the Duke had ordered it, as the realisation that the children forming the square of Brunswickers to his rear, were fixated on his battery's firepower, and he was convinced that if he tried to withdraw, or even ordered his gunners to run towards the square for shelter then those young boys would almost certainly panic and bolt for the rear.  As it was he claims that they were totally petrified with fear, and their NCO's and officers were having to thump them to get them to close the gaps every time a French roundshot ploughed through them.

Doesn't help me though, and so far I have to say that like the Duke I have found my artillery to be pretty damned useless at providing any worthwhile support to my infantry.Sad
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Uncle Billy on Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:13 pm

Doesn't help me though, and so far I have to say that like the Duke I have found my artillery to be pretty damned useless at providing any worthwhile support to my infantry
If the guns are sited properly, they will do enormous damage to the enemy. Just make sure they have a clear field of fire in front of them and they are not placed on a steep slope. It's usually best not to try and micro-manage them.

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:25 pm

I've tried not to, but watching them doing the 'okie-cokie' dance of stupidity whilst my PBI are dying tends to try my patience.
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Uncle Billy on Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:21 pm

It takes time to site a battery properly, especially in the KS mod. In the meantime, don't wade into the enemy. European warfare was all about command and control. Give your division(s) the Hold stance initially until everything is arranged properly. Then once the guns are deployed and have bombarded the enemy for a while, you can send in the infantry.

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mark87 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:09 pm

So the gun bug is still active? If I set my artillery on a hill they won't hit shit but if I but them in a ravine they will wrack up 1000 casualties??
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:43 pm

Hi Mark, I don't know that its a bug. I find that elevated ground gets me the best score. Down below a target and shooting up at it at anything more than a very shallow angle is one of the worst situations you can put a battery in. Unless you're Spanish or Austrian militia 3pdrs vs a French guard battery or something like that, you're almost guaranteed to win a counter battery duel if your guns are higher than those opposing you.

I TC my battery commanders to get them to where I need them, then un-TC and give them all-out attack stance and face them in the right direction and that is usually enough. Sometimes they won't shoot and then I TC the CO and force-shift him a little way (usually around the curve of a hill or up/down slope or something). Un-TC again and reissue attack stance and he usually gets going. Once my guns are trickling up a reasonably steady score I find its best to leave them alone.

Once an enemy gets near or among a battery's guns and they shift away to escape your battery is probably screwed. Almost no amount of rest will get their nerves settled again.

On bad days I will remove the battery from the battle line and park it up to rest for a while in the rear, preferably in defilade, then bring it out to play later when the CO's temper tantrum has cooled down.

I agree though, sometimes guns are fickle and I don't know why, but on other days they are murderous. Several times players in our group have racked up 2500 point scores from a battery.

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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: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:20 pm

In practice neither situation would be ideal, bearing in mind that most shot relied on the ricochet effect to maximise travel and therefore potential damage the ideal situation ought to be flat level ground, as one would find on an artillery range.  that would allow the gun to fire at the optimal zero degree's elevation, with a first graze 360-450 yards from the muzzle, and subsequent grazes at around 800 and 900 yards.  The shot being lethal for the entire distance of travel, unless it struck something that caused it to rise about head height.

The problem with firing from a height is that either one must lower the barrel, with all the complications that entails for loading, and that the shot is then going to hit the foot of the slope at a greater trajectory than optimum, either causing it to burying itself, or to be deflected at a higher angle than ideal, creating non-lethal periods in its travel when it is being wasted.

The problem with firing from lower ground, or having lower ground between the gun and the target (as at Waterloo) is that either muzzle has to be raised or the ground drops away under the shots passage creating a non-lethal zone immediately in front of the gun, and the shot having travelled the first 360-450 yards is now far too high and non-lethal until it loses momentum and drops to the earth.  This in turn it does at a far greater angle than ideal, and with far less kinetic energy than normal and so it will rarely manage to travel much farther.  The second graze rarely being much farther than 100 yards.  During which it remains lethal, but overall may only have been lethal for less than 300 yards of its flight, instead of 900 yards.

The closest French batteries during the opening bombardment at Waterloo for example were firing at a range of 800 metres from high ground across a valley into a forward slope after heavy rain had made the ground soft. Even at maximum elevation their shot would have dropped for the first graze at about 800 metres meaning that most would have struck the forward slope of the Allied ridge just below the crest and either buried themselves or bounced over it probably above head height.  This seems to be confirmed by eyewitness who relate that shot were hitting men in one rank and bouncing over those in the second, suggesting a very high angle of impact.  Likewise the cavalry further back were able to significantly reduce their casualties simply by dismounting, suggesting that French shot were simply bouncing far too high to be lethal down the reverse slope, whilst others were just rolling along the ground after the first graze and readily avoided.

So, neither situation is ideal as far as I can tell.  What one needs is a nice flat, firm, area about 1,000 yards wide and some stupid people prepared to stand anywhere between the gun muzzle and the far side preferably one behind the other in multiple ranks. Razz
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Changing the subject slightly, one thing that puzzled me during last night's game was how little effect the RHA battery positioned near my Rifle Square seemed to be having on the enemy cavalry.  I was actually forced to wonder if they were firing at them at all, although I would have thought they were the most dangerous and closest target, especially when they tried to close with the guns.  But as far as I could see they were suffering very few casualties until they came within rifle range, whereupon my guys were running a sweepstake on who swatted the most before they withdrew.
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Mark87 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:20 pm

That was one of the most frustrating things about this game. I have literally spent 45 minutes of gametime trying to get a battery to fire.

Oh well, I won't take artillery then. Cavalry command for sure
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:39 pm

I don't understand why it should be a problem.  Whats so complicated about unlimbering a gun and throwing big balls of metal at the nearest enemy.  But I've seen batteries literaly doing the 'Okeyee Cokee' dance around the same patch of grass its stupid.

However, in the instance above the battery was deployed and it looked like the guns were firing, they just didn't seem to be hitting anything.  Or nothing that was any sort of threat anyway.


Last edited by Didz on Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:42 pm

However, in the instance above the battery was deployed and it looked like the guns were firing, they just didn't seem to be hitting anything. Or nothing that was any sort of threat anyway.
It may have been that the cavalry was below the firing line of the guns and couldn't be hit. It may also have been that the artillery was caught up in counter battery fire. Life's just not fair for the infantry sometimes. Sad Fortunately they are cheap and easily replaced. Very Happy

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Re: How to command your troops? - Help and advice for a new commander,

Post  Didz on Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:46 pm

Wellington of course refused to allow his guns to engage in counter-battery fire as it was 'a waste of shot and powder, Sir!'.  Which is true in the historical context as guns were quite small targets with large open spaces left between them, not like the neat little cluster-frag batteries that we use in wargames. Where the guns stand wheel to wheel in a neat line.

And do those cavalry in screen shot look below the crest of the hill to you?

At one point they were literally leaning on the batteries gun muzzles.
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