Question about Commanded shot

Byzantine Productions Pike and Shot is a deep strategy game set during the bloody conflict of the Thirty Years War.

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Athos1660
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Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:15 pm

This is just a question that surely has an historical and/or gameplay answer.

A Commanded shot is a small unit of musketeers temporarily attached to other units (usually horse) to provide firepower.

I come across historical reports of the battle of Rocroi saying French 'commanded shots' were "displayed between cavalry units". Two contemporary maps show the order of the battles of Rocroi (1643) and Les Avins (1635) where those commanded shots were put in the intervals of the only first row of cavalry (that is in checkerboard formation, like the infantry) at least at the start of the battle, in both wings :

Rocroi :

Image

Battle of Les Avins

Image

Military historian John A. Lynn also wrote : "To bolster his cavalry, (French) Henri (IV) also interspersed companies of musketeers betwen his squadrons, a practice that continued throughout the Thirty years' War'.

The Swedish Army is said to have done it too.

This is an order of battle hard to achieve in game, because of :
- the limited number of Commanded shots in the French Army (and to a less extent in the Swedish one) in the Vanilla Skirmish mode during 1635-1648 : 1 up to a medium force size, 2 for a large one and 3 for a very large one.
- and the limited width of the deployment zone that prevents checkerboard formations for both cavalry and infantry. For example :

Image

About the 'limited' number of Commanded Shot :

1) With a Small force sized Army, I guess one can easily have 4/5 cavalry units. So one can achieve a 'Formation 1' on one wing (see above) and let 1/2 cavalry unit(s) in the other wing (that could/should also have their Commanded shot).

2) With a medium force size Army, one can have say about 7-9 Cavalry units and could attempt a 'Formation 2' on one wing and let 2-4 on the other one (again they could/should have their Command shot) but, in fact, one can actually get only one Commanded shot unit (not 2).

3) With a large force size Army, one can get 12 cavalry units and theoretically make one Formation 2 on one wing and one Formation 3 on the other have but one gets only 2 Commanded shots (not 5).

Image
Formation 1, 2, 3 (blue : commanded shots ; Red : Cavalry)

I guess the limited number of Commanded shots is a matter of balance between armies and cost of units and also reflects what real battles actually were. Looking forward to learning as much in terms of gameplay (a gameplay I really like!) as in terms of History 🙂

Cheers!

PS : sorry as I focused on the Swedish and French. I don't know the other armies well enough to know if they used that same order

Athos1660
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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:43 pm

The French use of combined Cavalry and Commanded shot at the battle of Rocroi (as I understand it) :

Image

It did not work well on the French left wing (as, among other reasons, it seems that the horses were exhausted because of a too fast gait) but on the right wing, it quickly overwhelmed the Cavalry of the Spanish left wing, thans to flanking :

Image

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:26 am

I generally don't find them worth the points anyway. Their defensive Impact and ZoC is nice, but they get killed in melee, and their firepower is so negligible as to be easily ignored for several turns.

Athos1660
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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:42 am

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:26 am
I generally don't find them worth the points anyway. Their defensive Impact and ZoC is nice, but they get killed in melee, and their firepower is so negligible as to be easily ignored for several turns.
Indeed, all goes well for the Commanded shot, as long as it is protected by a Cavalry unit.

btw I like this idea of a fragile unit at the heart of the battlefield.

I have the feeling that this small company of 150 men can give one this tiny advantage one sometimes needs :
  • when two equally powerful enemy cavalries meet, the small extra firepower of the Commanded force before the charge may make the difference during the charge and the melee.
  • when the enemy cavalry charge your protected commanded shot, your cavalry can charge. And the enemy has to fight against two units (even tough the Commanded shot will resist only for 1-2 turns)
  • a Commanded shot will defeat an enemy artillery
  • their firepower can be doubled with two Commanded shots. The advantage of this order is that if one of your cavalry unit flee, both your Commanded shots remain protected :
Image

The problem occurs when the Cavalry that protects the Commanded shot is attacked by an overwhelming enemy force and loses.

If I ain't mistaken, IRL commanded shots were mainly used during the initial phase before the charge of the cavalry at a trot to protect it and then as a rallying point.

However, I play only against the AI. In MP, things may be different :-)

Athos1660
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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:22 am

I played the French Huguenots (1589-1599) last evening :
  • lots of Commanded Arquebusiers (the equivalent of Commanded shot for the period) : 2 (very small force size), 3 (small), 4 (medium), 6 (large), 9 (very large)
  • lots of Skirmish Arquebusiers too (equivalent to the Detached musketeers of the following period)
I played in Skirmish mode with 3 Commanded Arquebusiers in a Small force size Army.Thanks to them, I first was able to weaken the enemy cavalry units before the charge, then fired at those who retreated and later to ambush in the nearby woods an enemy Light horse that had suddenly arrived as reinforcement (while preserving my 3 Commanded Arquebusiers).

Lots of fun :-)

Athos1660
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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:54 pm

It could also be interesting to use one unit of Commanded shot (or Detached Musketeers) as Forlorn Hope/Enfants perdus to capture an enemy artillery if the feature "defeating an artillery with an infantry makes it switch side" could be indeed modded.

It is already nice to see them being protected behind an enemy fortification :-)

_________________________

Some books mentioning French squadrons of cavalry interspersed with companies of musketeers (sometimes called 'pelotons' de mousquetaires or 'manches' de mousquetaires) in the first half of the 17th century :

- E. A. Bardin, Dictionnaire de l’armée de terre, vol. 2, p. 1100
- Jean Colin, L’infanterie au 18e siècle : la tactique, 1907, p. 19
- Éd. de la Barre Duparq, Histoire de l’art de la guerre, IIe partie, depuis l’usage de la poudre, 1864, p. 168
- Henri de Bessé, Relation des campagnes de Rocroi et de Fribourg, en l'année 1643 et 1644 (1673)
- Colonel Hardy de Périni, Batailles françaises, tome 4, p. 18
- John A. Lynn, Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610-1715, p. 497
- John A. Lynn, Tactical evolution in the French Army, p. 183
- General L. Susane, Histoire de la cavalerie, vol. 1, p. 75-76
- Stéphane Thion, French Armies of the Thirty Years War, 2013

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by awesum4 » Sun Dec 29, 2019 2:17 am

Athos,
you should try a few multiplayer games, they are fun. But because its a human on the other side the enemy is less predictable. When you only play the computer you soon learn how it thinks and can adjust your disposition and tactics accordingly.

I use dragoons in preference to commanded shot, they are better at shooting up flank units and then getting out of the way, whereas commanded shot stand and die (magnificently). Both are good for taking the enemy artillery if they are left unguarded, but dragoons are faster and capture them earlier.

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:13 am

awesum4 wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 2:17 am
Athos,
you should try a few multiplayer games, they are fun. But because its a human on the other side the enemy is less predictable. When you only play the computer you soon learn how it thinks and can adjust your disposition and tactics accordingly.

I use dragoons in preference to commanded shot, they are better at shooting up flank units and then getting out of the way, whereas commanded shot stand and die (magnificently). Both are good for taking the enemy artillery if they are left unguarded, but dragoons are faster and capture them earlier.
Thx for your advice :-)

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:13 pm

Tell me if I'm wrong about Commanded shot and protection :-)

The manual says that Commanded shots are protected when they "are not attacking, and (...) have unbroken friendly non-light mounted troops in an adjacent tiles (not including the 3 tiles to the commanded shot's rear", meaning the friendly mounted troop shouldn't be in the red zone :

Image

Note : the direction of the friendly mounted troop is not taken into consideration for protection.

Moreover, the protected shot will remain protected during the impact and the following melee phases in cases A and B (accordingly to the rule), but not in cases C and D :

Image

D : the Commanded shot will be protected during the impact phase, but then it'll turn towards its opponent and its friendly mounted troop will find itself at the rear of the commanded shot. Thus during the following melee phases, the commanded shot won't be protected anymore.

C : in case of rear/flank attack, protection never applies. The Commanded shot is not even protected during the impact. But being a light foot, it can try to evade.

Did I miss anything ?

Note : I had the friendly cavalry turning its back on the enemy cavalry just to show the commanded shot remains protected whatever the direction of the friendly cavalry. Obviously, during a real fight, in this case the friendly cavalry would certainly be attacked and defeated by the enemy cavalry and thus would leave the Commanded shot unprotected. But this is not the matter of this post.

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Cronos09 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:51 pm

Athos1660, you answered your question yourself.
D - after impact the Commanded shot turns its front 45 degrees and its friendly mounted unit finds itself at the rear of the Commanded shot. And thus the light infantry unit loses support, because the angle plays the key role in this (CombatTools.BSF): if (GetAngleFromTile(i, j, me) < 120) // Mounted don't Protect if in the 3 squares to the Commanded Shot's "rear"

Code: Select all

// Returns 1 if unit is commanded shot protected (vs cavalry) by own mounted, otherwise 0. Protection is lost if the unit attacks. Does not take account of other causes of Protection.
// Try simple version initially - just has to have unbroken friendly mounted non-light troops in one of the 5 tiles adjacent to the comm shots flanks or front.
// Don't worry about the facing of the mounted.
FUNCTION IsProtectedCommShot(me, attacking)
{
	int ret;
	int facing;
	int x;
	int y;
	int i;
	int j;
	int id;

	ret = 0;

	if (IsUnitSquadType(me, "Commanded_Shot") == 1)
		{
			if (attacking == 0)
				{
					x = GetUnitX(me);
					y = GetUnitY(me);

					for (i=x-1; i<=x+1; i++)
					{
						for (j=y-1; j<=y+1; j++)
						{
							if ((i != x) || (j != y))
								{
									if (GetAngleFromTile(i, j, me) < 120) // Mounted don't Protect if in the 3 squares to the Commanded Shot's "rear"
										{
											id = GetUnitOnTile(i, j);

											if (IsUnitValid(id) == 1)
												{
													if (GetUnitSide(me) == GetUnitSide(id))
														{
															if ((GetAttrib(id, "MoraleState") < 3) && (IsMounted(id) == 1) && (IsLightTroops(id) == 0))
																{
																	ret = 1;
																	i = x+1;
																	j = y+1;
																}
														}
												}
										}
								}
						}
					}
				}
		}

	return ret;
}
C - the protection function of Commanded shots is not counted in FUNCTION IsFlankRearAttack(me, enemy) (CombatTools.BSF):

Code: Select all

// Determines whether attack by me on enemy would be a Flank/Rear attack. Returns 0 if not flank attack, 1 if flank attack, 2 if rear attack.
// Note that this function does not take into account whether me is actually close enough to charge enemy, if only checks the relative positions.
// Also note that it only counts a rear threat if the enemy is almost directly behind.
FUNCTION IsFlankRearAttack(me, enemy)
{
	int ret;
	int startX;
	int startY;

	ret = 0;

	startX = GetAttrib(me,"StartingPosX");
	startY = GetAttrib(me,"StartingPosY");

	// Early Tercios, Battle Wagons and Troops in Crown formation immune to effects of flank and rear attacks
	if ((GetAttrib(enemy, "EarlyTercio") == 1) || (IsUnitSquadType(enemy, "Battle_Wagons") == 1) || (GetAttrib(enemy, "InCrown") == 1))
		{
			ret = 0;
		}
	else
		{
			if (GetAngleFrom(me, enemy) >= 85) // Charger behind flank
				{
					if (GetAngleFromTile(startX, startY, enemy) >= 85) // Charger started turn behind flank
						{
							// Keils and tercios immune to ill effects of flank attack
							if ((PercentKeil(enemy) == 0) && (GetAttrib(enemy, "LaterTercio") == 0))
								{
									ret = 1;
								}
						}
				}

			if (GetAngleFrom(me, enemy) > 138) // Charger behind rear
			// Unit directly diagonally behind flank (135 degrees approx) should NOT count as behind rear
				{
					if (GetAngleFromTile(startX, startY, enemy) > 138) // Charger started turn behind rear.
						{
							ret = 2;
						}
				}

			if (ret > 0)
				{
					// defensible obstacles and built-up-areas/buildings prevent flank/rear attack on foot. (No need to exclude Battle Wagons as they can't be flank/rear attacked anyway).
					if (IsFoot(enemy) == 1)
						{
							if ((IsTileEdgeDefendibleObstacle(GetUnitX(enemy), GetUnitY(enemy), GetUnitX(me), GetUnitY(me)) >= 0) || (GetTerrainCoverValue(GetUnitX(enemy), GetUnitY(enemy), 6) == 1))
								{
									ret = 0;
								}
						}
				}
		}

	return ret;
}

Athos1660
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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:23 am

@Cronos09 : Thx for this confirmation by the code :-)
Cronos09 wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:51 pm
D - after impact the Commanded shot turns its front 45 degrees and its friendly mounted unit finds itself at the rear of the Commanded shot. And thus the light infantry unit loses support, because the angle plays the key role in this (CombatTools.BSF): if (GetAngleFromTile(i, j, me) < 120) // Mounted don't Protect if in the 3 squares to the Commanded Shot's "rear"
This situation is avoided and the Commanded shot remains protected during the following melee phases if the Commanded shot is one square behind its friendly mounted troop. That way, when it turns towards its enemy, its friendly cavalry ends up on the same line as it and stil protects it :

Image

Any other case(s) ?

If not, the next question would be : in what way(s) can a commanded shot also protect its friendly cavalry ? :-)

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by TheGrayMouser » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:02 pm

In the TT game commanded shot protected adjacent horse by reducing any PoA disadvantage when the protected horse were in combat with enemy horse. So a 2 poa disadvantage became only 1, and if 1 then they became equal poa wise. Comparable or superior protected horse received no benefit. I believe the intent was that generally, commanded shot was used when your Cavalry was inferior to the enemies., although historically it seems it became a vogue thing to do.

I’m sure it could be modded , probably be easiest to just give any horse/determined horse or cavaliers a modest poa bonus ( 25?) when protected by commanded shot. Remember though the Ai doesn’t really make use of commanded shot and mounted in the way to ensure current benefits let alone modded ones, at least in skirmish mode. In scenarios you can group said units so they act more in union.

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Re: Question about Commanded shot

Post by Athos1660 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:46 am

Interesting!

I like it as it is in the Vanilla game.

But, as you made a modding suggestion about commanded shot, here is mine :

1) with Generals added to P&S,

2) If, in real life :
  • Officers (and the bravest, most skilled, veteran, etc. cavalrymen) did charge on the first/front line of their cavalry squadron,
  • Commanded shots followed such advices as d’Aurignac's (in Un tacticien du XVIIe s., p. 336) : "(...) if possible, choose to shoot at the officiers on the front line of each squadron"
3) and as Commanded shots are about 'shots', ie musketeers firing,

what about :
  • if the enemy cavalry unit that was shot at (at short range) by a protected commanded shot was not led by a general, a cohesion test would be taken by this one and only unit ?
  • if there was a General in the enemy cavalry that was shot at (at short range) by a protected commanded shot, there would be an high(er) probability that this General would be either killed or wounded. And as FoG2 manual states : "If a general is killed or wounded, all friendly units within 1 square if the general was a sub-general, or 2 squares if the general was a C-in-C or ally-general must take a Cohesion Test" ? (If probability is unmoddable, then 'cohesion test for all the cavalry units around!')
Note : when commanded shots fire, unprotected and/or at long range, their shooting would be like the current Vanilla one (ie. like any LF).

À la prochaine...

P.S. related to OP :
+ more and smaller commanded shot units (50 men)

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