Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

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BrettPT
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Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by BrettPT » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:37 pm

1. Problem
Currently under the rules, the best unit to contest difficult terrain is a unit of lancers. See the posts under the thread "Skirmishing Cavalry in Woods" for more discussion on this issue. Skirmishing infantry are also ineffective fighting in woods as shooting is bad (cover) and they have to evade if charged.

2. Simple Fix
(a) Skirmishing Infantry that are charged may optionally try to stand, rather than evade, unless they are in open terrain (when they must evade). The skirmishing infantry unit must pass a CT to stand. If the test is failed, the unit does not drop a cohesion level but instead evades as normal.

- page 30, first bullet point, change to "...They may choose to stand if assaulted by other Infantry Skirmishers , or are in terrain (when they must pass a CT to stand) and MUST evade if assulted by others in the open."
- page 30, top right hand column, change to "...Skirmish formation must evade if in the open, they cannot attempt to form square".
- page 69, Responding to Assault table, 6th line, change to "Light Cavalry Skirmishers choosing to counter-charge; or Infantry Skirmishers to stand (in rough/difficult)."

(b) An infantry unit charged by cavalry within 2MU only drops an automatic additional cohesion level if the infantry unit is in the open.

- page 69, "Note: Infantry in the open not in square..."

(c) Half pursuit moves in difficult terrain.

- page 66, new bullet point "Pursuit moves are halved in difficult terrain."

(d) Infantry in tactical formation in difficult terrain fight as a single cohesion level lower when fighting in terrain (not 2 levels lower). Infantry shooting, or fighting in extended line, count shooting or fighting 2 levels lower when in difficult terrain unless they in skirmish formation.
- page 58, first paragraph change to "Non-skirmish infantry in unfavourable terrain fight as 1 or 2 cohesion levels lower."
- page 36, table. put an asterisk in the dark blue (2 cohesion level lower) line and add:
" * Infantry in tactical fight (but not shoot) 1 cohesion level lower"

3. Improvement
We have used the above amendments for 6 months now (including in 2 tournaments) with success. Cavalry no longer rule bad terrain.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by pugsville » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:52 am

dont wan to miss with the rules to much but should lancers get the +2 dice only in the open?

BrettPT
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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by BrettPT » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:45 am

I think so, but as you say don't want to mess with the rules too much!

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:24 pm

Would it not be simpler to just ban cavalry from declaring an assault in difficult terrain?

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:08 am

hazelbark wrote:Would it not be simpler to just ban cavalry from declaring an assault in difficult terrain?
Except that there is credible testimony that Russian infantry in 1812 were at a disadvantage vs cuirassiers and lancers because they were in woods and unable to form properly. We should perhaps watch out for wargames-lore, Merry Men jumping from trees and extrapolations from Ancients.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:52 pm

Sarmaticus wrote:
hazelbark wrote:Would it not be simpler to just ban cavalry from declaring an assault in difficult terrain?
Except that there is credible testimony that Russian infantry in 1812 were at a disadvantage vs cuirassiers and lancers because they were in woods and unable to form properly. We should perhaps watch out for wargames-lore, Merry Men jumping from trees and extrapolations from Ancients.
I was looking forward to this. I remember Phil making points about WWII Russian cavalry moving through woods at high speed.

I would be interested in testimony that shows on more than a one off occasion a brigade of cavalry charging in thick-ish woods. I frankly am deeply suspicious because countless accounts render terrain far more hostile to troops than most wargame rules.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:40 am

hazelbark wrote: I would be interested in testimony that shows on more than a one off occasion a brigade of cavalry charging in thick-ish woods. I frankly am deeply suspicious because countless accounts render terrain far more hostile to troops than most wargame rules.
All was good to be skeptical but on the other hand do we have testimony of cavalry being at a disadvantage?

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by BrettPT » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:28 am

All was good to be sceptical but on the other hand do we have testimony of cavalry being at a disadvantage?
It's hard to find specific examples. Plenty of general statements like "the ground was unsuitable for cavalry" but not a lot more.

Dave Hollins wrote an article on the Battle of Wurzberg in 1796 where he notes " Championnet could similarly not advance having to confine his infantry in the woods and gullies to avoid the attentions of the Austrian cavalry" - perhaps an indication that this French commander felt his troops safe from cavalry in difficult terrain.

Then again, in the same battle, Jourdan had ordered a retreat and 3 battalions of French were cut up by Austrian Cuirassiers "around the edge of the Gramshatzer Forest, which could only be traversed by narrow paths" You would wonder why the Austrians formed square just outside of the wood if they could instead simply move into it and be safe. Maybe no narrow paths handy?, maybe they couldn't quite get there in time? or maybe the French Colonel felt that the wood offered no safety from the cavalry? Who knows.

On balance, I think that the lack of examples of cavalry fighting in difficult terrain is reasonable evidence that cavalry commanders of the time simply tried to avoid putting their squadrons into a fight in difficult terrain.

If this is accepted, it is reasonable for the rules to try and encourage historically accurate behaviour and to dis-incentivise players sending their mounted to fight in bad terrain. The problem at the moment is that the rules seem to do the contrary, with mounted currently being the best option of troop type to contest a wood or a difficult hill with.

Just doesn't feel right to me...

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:10 pm

My first guess would be that it's worth looking at what sort of woods we mean: a small wood, thick with undergrowth, passable only by paths, might be a place of refuge for infantry vs cavalry. On the other hand, a real forest tends to be fairly open and a man on horseback could move through it pretty easily.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by deadtorius » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:39 pm

For what it is worth local stables always take riders through woods. Now granted they are not carrying weapons or looking to hack up hapless pedestrians, but horses and riders do go for tours through the trees. Also keep in mind that if you have human settlement about those woods have been a source of fuel an building material for generations so could be fairly easy to get through. Hard for me to too certain as I live in southern Ontario in Canada and our forests are probably quite different from what yo see in Europe.
As for the skirmishers that I would like to see put into official use.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:52 am

BrettPT wrote:
All was good to be sceptical but on the other hand do we have testimony of cavalry being at a disadvantage?
It's hard to find specific examples. Plenty of general statements like "the ground was unsuitable for cavalry" but not a lot more.
Dave Hollins wrote an article on the Battle of Wurzberg in 1796 where he notes " Championnet could similarly not advance having to confine his infantry in the woods and gullies to avoid the attentions of the Austrian cavalry" - perhaps an indication that this French commander felt his troops safe from cavalry in difficult terrain.
Then again, in the same battle, Jourdan had ordered a retreat and 3 battalions of French were cut up by Austrian Cuirassiers "around the edge of the Gramshatzer Forest, which could only be traversed by narrow paths" You would wonder why the Austrians formed square just outside of the wood if they could instead simply move into it and be safe. Maybe no narrow paths handy?, maybe they couldn't quite get there in time? or maybe the French Colonel felt that the wood offered no safety from the cavalry? Who knows.

On balance, I think that the lack of examples of cavalry fighting in difficult terrain is reasonable evidence that cavalry commanders of the time simply tried to avoid putting their squadrons into a fight in difficult terrain.

If this is accepted, it is reasonable for the rules to try and encourage historically accurate behaviour and to dis-incentivise players sending their mounted to fight in bad terrain. The problem at the moment is that the rules seem to do the contrary, with mounted currently being the best option of troop type to contest a wood or a difficult hill with.

Just doesn't feel right to me...

Re Wurzberg, a broken terrain with gullies and woods might disadvantage cavalry more than forested flat or rolling country. The French might also find it difficult to form up out of such country with cavalry hovering about.
The narrow paths point is interesting: Napoleon made that point re Wellington's position at Waterloo but Clausewitz thought he'd exaggerated the disadvantages of having possibly to retire by narrow paths. My guess would be that commanders avoided taking up positions in forests because it robbed them of control and gave their men too much chance for skulking. That might be worse for a defender needing to shift reserves than for an attacker who at least knows where he's heading. In short, FWIW I think commanders tried to avoid defending forests with infantry or cavalry.
IMHO the problem lies in the classification of terrain. A broken country would hinder cavalry far more than flat or rolling forested ground. In the latter it would be dispersed horsemen vs dispersed foot and I'm not sure the pedestrian should enjoy any advantage.
So it's not so much about the trees as on what they're growing.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:26 pm

deadtorius wrote:For what it is worth local stables always take riders through woods. Now granted they are not carrying weapons or looking to hack up hapless pedestrians, but horses and riders do go for tours through the trees.
As you say a totally different situation to leading 5-12 people in succession on a walking trail, or even canter on a pathway through trees. This is utter tosh when compared to 600-1200 trooper in a LINE probably 2 deep trying to engage some foe.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:24 pm

hazelbark wrote:
deadtorius wrote:For what it is worth local stables always take riders through woods. Now granted they are not carrying weapons or looking to hack up hapless pedestrians, but horses and riders do go for tours through the trees.
As you say a totally different situation to leading 5-12 people in succession on a walking trail, or even canter on a pathway through trees. This is utter tosh when compared to 600-1200 trooper in a LINE probably 2 deep trying to engage some foe.
I don't think anyone envisages formed cavalry charging through woods in rank and file: the Russian account I cited notes that the infantry couldn't form up - so unformed infantry were fighting, presumably unformed cavalry (cuirassiers and lancers).

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:27 pm

The nub of the matter is surely, what type of wood is it? An open wood with good going or tangled or broken ground?

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:49 pm

Woods that wouldn't bother cavalry are going to be classed as Rough. The problem seems to be with Difficult woods that should disadvantage cavalry so I appear to have been talking out of the back of my head on this thread.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:42 pm

A further account of cavalry fighting infantry in woods is provided by Marbot:
"In the direction from which we were coming, a large forest, through
which the road runs, covers the approach to Hanau. The tall trees of
this forest allow movement without much difficulty. The town of
Hanau is built on the other side of the river Kinzig."
<snip>
"On the 30th of October at dawn the battle began, like a great
hunting party. Some grape-shot and some small-arms fire from our
infantry, together with a charge in open order by Sébastiani's
cavalry, scattered the first line of the enemy, somewhat unskillfully
placed at the extreme edge of the wood; but as one penetrated a
little further, our squadrons could not operate except in the few
clearings which they came across, only the Light Infantry followed in
the steps of the Bavarians, whom they pursued from tree to tree to
the end of the forest. At that point they had to stop, faced by an
enemy line of forty thousand men, whose front was covered by eighty
guns."

Points I note:
a) The nature of the wood is not uniform: It is open at the edges but denser further in.
b) The cavalry, in open order, make the charges in the open part and have an advantage there (as was asserted by the Russian officer in the other incident).
c) Artillery was also able to operate in the more open part of the wood.
d) Cavalry were only able to operate in clearings in the dense wood - though they must have been able to move through the dense wood to get to the clearings.
e) Fighting in the dense wood was left to the light infantry.

The more open part of the wood should be Rough Ground & Cover; the more dense, Difficult & Cover,

I'd recommend the rest of Marbot's account of Hanau to get a good idea of how cavalry operated in open woods. It can be found here: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2401/pg2401.txt

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:38 pm

Could excuse to pull Marbot off the shelf to read.

How many was he leading?

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by Sarmaticus » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:49 pm

hazelbark wrote:Could excuse to pull Marbot off the shelf to read.

How many was he leading?
He's always a good read :)
That day he was leading a brigade (10th) made up of the 24th Chasseurs a Cheval and his own 23rd. It was nominally under Wathier's command and should have included two sqdns of the 11th Hussars but Marbot doesn't mention them. The brigade was in Exelman's Division (4th Lt Cav) of Sebastiani's II Cavalry Corps.
As the Corps is supposed to have numbered about 3,000 sabres and had six brigades, maybe Marbot was leading 500: just about a small unit in FoG:N terms.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:04 am

I am reading Arnold's Crisis in the Snows. The Eylau campaign 1806-1807

Lots of great stuff on the Russian rear guard actions and how miserable any amount of woods was for artillery or mounted in anything larger than a squadron and those squadron are usually charging down a road.

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Re: Amendment - Cavalry & Skirmishers fighting in Difficult

Post by hazelbark » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:07 am

PS its a great book that covers action in a lot of detail with primary French, Russian, and Prussian sources. And of course the occasional observation by that Englishman Wilson.

Lots of examples that reinforce the FOGN theory of cavalry actions and make me want to play with weather rules.

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