Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

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BrettPT
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Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by BrettPT » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:09 pm

Had a game last night where a skirmishing Prussian lancer unit advanced ito a wood to engage some skirmishing Grenz who were holding it.

Page 30 says that [when charged you] "Evade if infantry Skirmishers. They may choose to stand if assaulted by other Infantry Skirmishers and must evade if assaulted by others."

The Grenz therefore had no chance of holding the wood in their original skirmish formation (they could only evade any charge), so had to change into tactical the turn before the cavalry charged them.

It seemed a little strange to me that in order to have any chance of holding their ground in a wood, a skirmishing infantry unit needs to form up into tactical (when their combat dice will be halved because they are in difficult). It would have seemed more intuitive to allow the infantry an option to try to defend the wood while remaining in skirmish formation.

Is this worth looking at? The word "infantry" could be dropped from "They may choose to stand if assaulted by other Infantry Skirmishers ... " which would allow formed troops (but not skirmishing cavalry) to bundle skirmishers out of a wood. This would have the side effect of allowing infantry skirmishers in the open to stand if charged by cavalry skirmishers. Probably not a problem, the infantry skirmishers would get very likely get beaten if they tried to stand in the open.

Another option might be that skirmishers in difficult (or behind an obstacle, or in rough??) are allowed to stand if they wish to. This would allow skirmishers to try and defend woods against formed troops.

Any thoughts?

Brett

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by deadtorius » Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:28 pm

I had a similar situation myself once where I had a unit of skirmishing Grenzers on top of a difficult hill and the Froggies were threatening me with a unit of Cuirassier. Personally I am sure that if I could have stood that charge I would have won but as the rules are written I would have had to scoot if they charged me. Of course it would have been a very slow charge and I would have had plenty of shooting opportunities at them.

Which brings up another point I have been pondering.

While reading the Osprey book on the Eggmuhl campaign it appears that on several occasions the Austrians sent their line regiments into the Bavarian woods. In some cases they even forced out French troops who were sent in to root them out.The Austrians appear to have spent several hours in the woods engaged in heavy fighting. As the rules stand it seems that line troops going into woods would be on the losing end of any shooting with lights wouldn't you think?
Perhaps making the woods rough instead of difficult but still granting cover might be needed as a scenario specific rule??

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by terrys » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:55 pm

While reading the Osprey book on the Eggmuhl campaign it appears that on several occasions the Austrians sent their line regiments into the Bavarian woods. In some cases they even forced out French troops who were sent in to root them out.The Austrians appear to have spent several hours in the woods engaged in heavy fighting. As the rules stand it seems that line troops going into woods would be on the losing end of any shooting with lights wouldn't you think?
Perhaps making the woods rough instead of difficult but still granting cover might be needed as a scenario specific rule??

The definition of cover states: "Examples would be open woods, plantations and vinyards."
I would presume that the 'woods' in question would qualify as 'open woods'

Firing in a wodd where one side is skirmishers will always be hitting on a 6+. This would be with 4 dice from skirmishers and 3 (2 in difiicult) for non-skirmishers.
Neither side is likely to do much damge to the other.
What should happen is that the non-skirmisher unit will try to close to 2MU and charge - forcing the skirmishers to evade.
In general though, firing or fighting in a wood is not likely to be decisive for a number of moves.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by deadtorius » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:04 am

Does appear that the Austrians stayed in the woods for the better part of the battle, at one point forcing the French out of the woods, I assume they were skirmishers but the Austrians were full line regiments. Just seemed really odd to read that they would do that in reality.

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Re: Cavalry in Woods (post edited and updated)

Post by BrettPT » Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:31 pm

Hi All

We are finding in our group a growing realisation that the best unit to evict enemy from difficult is a light cavalry unit - a large landwehr lancer unit is perfect if you have one.

We never encountered the issue in playtesting as we assumed that cavalry wouldn't like woods and didn't put them there. However this is changing. In 3 recent games I have played in or watched players have chosen to send light cavalry into difficult to take on infantry defenders. I for one are re-looking at my list for an upcoming tournament with a view to including a large lancer unit - for the specific purpose of dominating any difficult terrain.

This is the result of a number of factors:

1. Skirmishers have to evade assaults. Infantry in difficult therefore must form up if they hope to contest the terrain (and therefore count 2 cohesion levels lower for shooting & combat).

2. Shooting is ineffective in difficult. The cavalry can safely approach to 2MU before they charge (and must do so in woods to get within visibility range). The infantry only get 2 dice needing 5+ (6+ in woods - cover) for shooting.

3. Assuming the cavalry approach to 2MU before charging, there is no defensive fire. The infantry will automatically drop a level for being charged within 2MU, and shoot as as a further 2 levels lower because of the terrain - ie 3 levels down and no shooting.

4. In combat, the cavalry will get 3 dice (4 if lancers) needing 4+ to hit (or 4 dice if a large unit, 6 if large lancers). The disordered infantry, 2 additional levels down because of terrain, get no dice. Unless they take 4 hits (6 if large) and break, the disordered (or now wavering) infantry will retire after combat.

5. The fresh cavalry will pursue. The infantry retirement move will be halved for the difficult terrain (there is no corresponding reduction for pursuit moves set out in the rules). The infantry will very likely be caught by the pursuing cavalry (in the rear if the infantry retire 2+ MU).

Taken together this means that if enemy occupy a wood, the optimum unit to send in is a cavalry formation who will chase away skirmishers or, in 1 or two turns, likely destroy formed infantry.

This feels very wrong to me. It may be just my ingrained wargames expectations that LI should be good in a wood and cavalry should be bad. I admit to not actually having researched historical situations of cav-inf interactions in difficult terrain. Is anyone aware of examples of this interaction and what the outcome was?

Tweaks to address this issue could include some of:

a) making skirmisher evades optional in terrain
b) making cavalry CMT to charge in difficult
c) making the automatic cohesion drop for being charged within 2MU by cavalry only apply in the open.
d) changing the LC modifier for difficult to dark blue (ie they fight 2 cohesion levels lower).
e) halving pursuit moves in difficult terrain.
f) lance bonus does not count in difficult.

Thoughts?
Cheers
Brett

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by terrys » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:12 am

This feels very wrong to me. It may be just my ingrained wargames expectations that LI should be good in a wood and cavalry should be bad. I admit to not actually having researched historical situations of cav-inf interactions in difficult terrain. Is anyone aware of examples of this interaction and what the outcome was?

Tweaks to address this issue could include some of:

a) making skirmisher evades optional in terrain
b) making cavalry CMT to charge in difficult
c) making the automatic cohesion drop for being charged within 2MU by cavalry only apply in the open.
d) changing the LC modifier for difficult to dark blue (ie they fight 2 cohesion levels lower).
e) halving pursuit moves in difficult terrain.
f) lance bonus does not count in difficult.

I certainly agree with (a), (c) and (e). Not sure about the others as yet.
If we introduce those 3 we'd also have to make infantry only fight as 1 combat level lower when in difficult.....Otherwise they'd always lose badly to skirmisher.....Although I think it would need to be a CT to stand with skirmisher in rough/difficult.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by bahdahbum » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:22 am

I remember reading that cossacks were quite effective in all kinds of terrain ( 1812-1814 n) and did not hesitate to go into forest, bad terrain but cossacks might be an exception .

I would say that open woods, orchards , some rough terrain would not be a real problem for SK units . Now heavily wooded areas and steep hils might be more difficult .

irregular cavalry might still act as usual, but regular cavalry in SK formation is another story ...

I would say that regular cavalry, even in SK formation have to take a CMT in order to charge in heavy woods, marsh or steep hills ..not irregular cavalry .

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by BrettPT » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:01 pm

a) making skirmisher evades optional in terrain
c) making the automatic cohesion drop for being charged within 2MU by cavalry only apply in the open.
e) halving pursuit moves in difficult terrain.

I certainly agree with (a), (c) and (e). Not sure about the others as yet.
If we introduce those 3 we'd also have to make infantry only fight as 1 combat level lower when in difficult.....Otherwise they'd always lose badly to skirmisher.....Although I think it would need to be a CT to stand with skirmisher in rough/difficult.
Hi Terry
Thanks for the reply.
I think that (a) (c) & (e); plus a CT for skirmishers to stand; plus infantry changing to light blue (ie 1 cohesion level lower) in difficult would cover the issue very nicely - in fact we have a small tournament coming up in February and I think I'll make it an 'umpire's rule' that we do this (Lasalle got bad press here when it became apparent that cavalry were really good in woods - don't want the same criticism for FoGN).

Regarding infantry v LI;
If infantry fought 1 cohesion level lower in difficult rather than 2, a small unit's chances of doing 2 hits in combat would rise from 25% to 50%. LI - fighting with 4 dice and needing a 5+ to hit - have a 41% chance of doing 2 hits (according to http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~bcd/SR/dicerollcalc.html ).
Given that the LI would always be the non-phasing player (skirmishers not being able to initiate a charge against formed opponents), the most likely result would be a push backwards for the skirmishers, possibly disordered.

Seems about right.

Cheers
Brett

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by vsolfronk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:19 pm

Also realize that in most European woods, the brush and the debris has been collected by local villagers for firewood so the groundfloor would be pretty clean. Probably there would be some disruption of formations but as long as the platoons and companies stay relatively together, orders can be given for simple commands.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:20 am

I just encountered Col. Bill Gray's Beresina article http://www.wargamer.com/article/3287/mi ... f-berezina and thought this passage might be relevant:

"Chichagov responding with the 9th and 18th Divisions. However, given his inexperience on land, he turned direct supervision of these two units over to his Chief of Staff, General Ivan V. Sabaneyev. He in turn, deployed his infantry into an open, dispersed formation, likely due to his own light infantry expertise and the forested nature of nearby terrain. Mortified local commanders tried in vain to find Sabaneyev and change the deployment as most realized,
“French soldiers had an advantage over ours since they acted without orders, were accustomed to acting alone and shot better.”
Call it divine providence or luck, but Napoleon undoubtedly smiled because here was the mistake he had for so long waited. Messengers scurried and then the command “Squadrons, by the left flank, march!” rang out through the forest. It was 12 noon, and to the horror of the soldiers of Holy Russia, the ground beneath them began to tremble.
The movement felt was the charge of General Doumerc’s 1,200 cuirassiers, with 1,100 Polish lancers right behind in support. Seeing the Russians unformed and knowing they would not be able to form square, Napoleon unleashed these “iron men” over the hills and through the woods, smashing into man and musket before they could react. Chaplits penned,
“This cavalry charge had a tremendous effect, especially since the soldiers, who were supposed to support me, were scattered all around the woods and, in the confusion, began firing in my rear so I found myself between fires. This only increased the commotion among our troops.”
He wasn’t joking. Against all expectations the charge actually trampled both the 9th and 18th Divisions, bagging 3,000 prisoners as a bonus. It also irrevocably shifted the battle in Napoleon’s favor, as for the rest of the day the Russians could mount no coherent attack on the west bank. During this period of combat, Napoleon’s Swiss regiments were particularly distinguished, resorting to howling-mad bayonet charges when their ammunition was expended."

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by BrettPT » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:44 am

Interesting quote Sarmaticus.

Good to see some evidence of mounted vs. foot in (or at least around) woods.
We had a chat at the club today and decided to adopt the above (a), (c) & (e), plus a CT for skirmishers to stand when in terrain, plus infantry only 1 level lower in difficult.

Using small units, skirmishers (if they stood) against cuirassiers in a wood would get 3 dice for defensive shooting, needing 6+ to hit. In combat the skirmishers get 3 dice needing 5+ to hit. The Cuirassiers would get 3 dice needing 3+ to hit. Most likely result is the skirmishers retire disorded, the cuirassiers would catch them in a pursuit if they rolled even or better than the infantry's retirement dice roll.

If the infantry were formed up rather than skirmishing, they would get 3 dice needing 4+ to hit, plus they would have had 3 dice needing 5+ for defensive shooting to try and avoid contact.

Odds still seem to favour the mounted, but it's not the forgone conclusion that it would be under the rules as written.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by BrettPT » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:22 am

Bumping this to the top for Terry.

Cavalry effectiveness in woods is an issue that I think needs some errata.
terrys wrote:This feels very wrong to me. It may be just my ingrained wargames expectations that LI should be good in a wood and cavalry should be bad. I admit to not actually having researched historical situations of cav-inf interactions in difficult terrain. Is anyone aware of examples of this interaction and what the outcome was?

Tweaks to address this issue could include some of:

a) making skirmisher evades optional in terrain
b) making cavalry CMT to charge in difficult
c) making the automatic cohesion drop for being charged within 2MU by cavalry only apply in the open.
d) changing the LC modifier for difficult to dark blue (ie they fight 2 cohesion levels lower).
e) halving pursuit moves in difficult terrain.
f) lance bonus does not count in difficult.

I certainly agree with (a), (c) and (e). Not sure about the others as yet.
If we introduce those 3 we'd also have to make infantry only fight as 1 combat level lower when in difficult.....Otherwise they'd always lose badly to skirmisher.....Although I think it would need to be a CT to stand with skirmisher in rough/difficult.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by bahdahbum » Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:27 pm

For your information at Quatre Bras, part of the 2nd nassauer light infantry regiment was deployed in a long SK line in order to make belief they were more numerous. Each time the french cavalry came to chase them, they just retreated in the woods ( bois de Bossu - a wood, not a forest ) . The french did not dare follow them and the SK line reformed as soon as the french cavalry wthdrew ..;

So cavalry in the woods is not that easy.

By the way for Terry ; yes I maintain, the 2nd Nassau regiment was used as a light infantry regiment and by the way, as for being poor, 800 of those guys were fighting at hougoumont , helping the few british guardsmen that were holding it :P . Something the british usually forget :roll:

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by deadtorius » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:23 pm

One oddity I still see with terrain is that unless steady you can be reduced to 0 dice for shooting and combat. Wavering troops in woods, who perhaps went there to hide in the first place can't fight. So sending in your cav is still going to clear them out with no possible bad results for the cavalry.
Making wavering the worst state you could ever be at till you break at least gives the desperate boys a chance, which is more than they currently have.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:28 pm

I don't think it's a matter of woods or forest: the Russian and Hanau examples were both in open growth parts of forests. In open woodland, that would be "Cover" in FOGN terms, cavalry should have the advantage. The problem is with those parts of forests and woods that are properly defined as "Difficult"; where only infantry skirmishers should be able to operate effectively.

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Rekila » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:13 pm

It seems that a certain consensus has been achieved by now, that some change must be done about the rules of fire and combat in terrain. I will suggest doing that via a change in the POAs when in terrain, or in some types of it. We think to play for now on that at least in difficult terrain nobody gets a POA. Equally skirmishes need some update. A possibility is to allow them when assaulted in terrain to do like artillery i.e take a test and if successful fire before evade if the assaults began more than2 MU away o to stay and fire If within 2MU. In any case I will encourage the authors to fix that question, as I don’t like homemade rules very much. :(

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by deadtorius » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:59 pm

Thanks Brett, the current cohesion state loss system never sat very well with me. I can't see any reason you should lose dice or be reduced to zero just because you are surrounded by trees. Perhaps treating being in terrain as other situation, ie. 4 dice might be a place to start, then make it harder to score hits withbpoa more like you said. Maybe treating it similar to buildings would be a good start as well

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by bahdahbum » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:14 am

In the Quatre Bras case, the nassauers were not " wavering" but retreated voluntarily in order to protect themselves from the cavalry . The woods would be more "difficult" than in russia due to undergrowth ! .

We played it as forming square for the test and the french cavalry was allowed to stop the charge in front of the woods . It gave very interesting results. The french where delayed but did sent 3 infantry units in the woods to clear them but lost time and allied reinforcements arrived in time .

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by pugsville » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:35 am

should cavalry get the lance bonus dice outside of the open?

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Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:49 am

It was lancers and cuirassiers who did the damage in open forest (FOGN Cover) at the Beresina. I like the look of Rekila's suggestions.

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