Cavalry Tactics

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BrettPT
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Cavalry Tactics

Post by BrettPT » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:42 pm

The interaction of cavalry in FoGN is one of the more challenging aspects of the game.

To give yourself the best chance of winning a fight you want to:
1. Be the assaulter (so ties will go your way)
2. Be heavier
3. Get 2 units into 1
4. Have supports.

The trick is to draw a single enemy unit out of the line by declaring a charge on one unit, making it countercharge away from its supprts and then throw in 2 more units as flank support for an extra 4dice. LC with their longer move can advance to 10mu of the heavier enemy, safe from an enemy charge, to set this up.

The counter for HC is pretty straightforward but it surprises me how little it is used.
If enemy LC approach to 10mu, in your turn advance 8mu up to close range. If you are charged then you will only countercharge 1mu and can't be drawn away from your flank support.

Also, always keep your rear support within 2mu of the units in front so they cannot be dragged away from rear support.

On the attack, be looking for careless opponents who have drifted to far (ie over 2mu) from their rear support and mug them.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by MikeHorah » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:45 am

I suppose (1) is partly a function of the "I Go You Go "mechanism although in "We Both Go" rules those declaring charges often get benefits that those who do not, or who only counter charge, or or who cannot do either , do not get.

Overall its seems to reinforce Wellington's comment that an individual British cavalry regiment was a match for any individual French one but that in cavalry clashes involving larger numbers and formations the French more usually prevailed through superior handling and firmer command control. So like infantry you need ideally to manage your cavalry as group formations not as isolated or individual regiments .

George Nafziger looks at cavalry(in "Imperial Bayonets" )from the perspective of the way Officers and NCOs are distributed along the line of a squadron and whether in front or behind in different armies. He suggests that impacts the degree of control of wheeling etc and keeping cohesion when going forward at pace. But that does not really help when looking at higher level formation command control.

"So that's all good" as they say on W1A.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by hazelbark » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:41 pm

Also add two the advantages of attacking:
(you don't break if your opponent breaks)
(You get first chance to rally) This one is also very critical and one of the best cases for veteran cavalry.

I find that baring a disaster in the first round of cavalry battles, it is the 2nd turn of fighting that is often critical. Meaning whomever can get an advantage from the 2nd wave of units charging in. Getting fresh units onto spent in particular.

The other piece I've noticed is people who clearly have a cavalry disadvantage don't use their artillery or infantry enough to counter the enemy's mounted. They sort of resign themselves to needing luck and don't conserve the cavalry enough.

One of the great pieces of FOGN is the combined arms of the period really shows through.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by SirGarnet » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:00 am

hazelbark wrote:One of the great pieces of FOGN is the combined arms of the period really shows through.
That is what I look for. It is gratifying to see the game echoing one of the important truths from the wars of the ancien regime's long-service professional armies - that victory in a cavalry fight of charges and counter-charges went to the commander who could conserve and throw in the last fresh squadrons from reserve. This was something to which Marlborough paid close attention.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by Carriage » Wed May 21, 2014 6:25 am

How do you guys use your cavalry when you're weaker in that arm than your opponent?

Delay using evades with LC in line?
Sit them behind the infantry ready to charge anything that passes through?
Fight anyway and hope you last long enough?
Something else?

BrettPT
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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by BrettPT » Wed May 21, 2014 7:41 am

Some tactics I use if inferior in cavalry are:

1. Avoid a cavalry duel at the start of the game (nothing gets you 30:10 'd faster than a lost cavalry wing in turn 3)

2. That said, keep an eye open for any local advantage. He may have 5 units to your 3 overall, but if one of his units is gets isolated maybe you can jump it with 2, or perhaps you can screen 2 of his regiments with infantry then attack the 3rd.

3. Generally, keep your mounted deployed behind your infantry. Their job is to take medium range dice off the enemy foot, and perhaps engage near the end of the battle, charging to finish off wavering enemy foot or engaging spent enemy mounted. Look at using the cavalry to move hard up against the rear of your infantry line to prevent enemy mounted passing through and so your infantry can (more) confidently advance to 2MU of enemy foot, knowing that they will be able to ignore the retire part of a "retire to 3MU" shooting result.

4. Cheap small units of infantry can hold the flanks for a time against a cavalry division - at least until the enemy bring up infantry or artillery support... I have had decent success with a division of 3 small units of 1814 French poor conscripts on a flank, occupying the attention of an enemy cavalry division.

5. Be aggressive with your foot and win the infantry battle. Presumably if your opponent has spent heavily on mounted, you are stronger on foot.

6. Use terrain to guard your flanks. If all else fails, turtle up in defence - but don't try to defend woods as mounted (especially lancers) absolutely slaughter foot in difficult terrain (unless you are using a local amendment to change this - we play that mounted cannot declare assaults against infantry in difficult). Better to defend behind terrain rather than in it. Make the enemy slow down while he crosses and suffer the dice deductions for being in terrain while you remain in the open.

7. Consider standing and shooting (rather than forming square) with reasonable quality infantry who have an artillery attachment and/or flank support. Always check if an assaulting enemy has kept a CP up his sleeve to charge home. If not, I usually stand and shoot (1 hit will then be enough to stop the charge).

8. Basically try to take his mounted out of the game by giving them only infantry targets. The 'Panzer Division' relies in large part on getting to fight an inferior enemy mounted arm.

I'm sure Kendall may be able to add something - he usually fields Prussians with minimal and rubbish cavalry and does quite well.

Cheers
Brett

BrettPT
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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by BrettPT » Wed May 21, 2014 7:47 am

Oohh, I've got a Jadgpanther now!

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by Blathergut » Wed May 21, 2014 9:33 am

sticks out tongue :P and does circles around you

:twisted:

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by MikeHorah » Wed May 21, 2014 12:45 pm

"Basically try to take his mounted out of the game by giving them only infantry targets."Brett PT"

This ought to work in this era for any set of rules - if not there is a problem unless the infantry are badly handled and/or if the cavalry are not well handled. Combined with careful use of limited cavalry in defence even better I think.

I recall a blissful day with Grand Manner on a 20 foot wide x 12 foot deep table - with the Big Battalions guys - where my C-in C had put me right on an otherwise open flank (one gentle hill I think) with 6 units (btns)of infantry, a horse battery and a couple of regts of chasseurs a cheval . Orders "hold". :D


Against me a great mass of Russian cavalry of all types ( no guns and a couple of militia Btns ). He would keep charging one squadron of my chasseurs at a time with several squadrons of heavies - I kept them well husbanded - while my guns tucked between two squares had a fine old time - too narrow for the enemy to pass but wide enough to hit anything directly ahead and the squares pooped off. The Umpire let me form my Btns into double squares ( regimental squares which I made rectangles ) so good shooting.

Eventually he had destroyed all my cavalry but every time he beat a squadron he would go back for four moves to recover and reform ( the GM method- return to own lines - "walk about" twice then rally).

He got nowhere and became a bit worn and frustrated then my C-in-C very kindly brought over two fresh regiments of lancers at just the right time so at the end I was able to start advancing at his exhausted cavalry . Not very glamorous or exciting maybe, but strangely very satisfying .

The moral of course is the combined arms attack every time. :lol:

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by SirGarnet » Mon May 26, 2014 6:51 am

Examples of tabletop tactics are especially useful - basic sound tactics are not as obvious as they are for infantry, and the opportunity to profit by being clever seems high.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by BrettPT » Mon May 26, 2014 11:33 pm

MikeK wrote:Examples of tabletop tactics are especially useful - basic sound tactics are not as obvious as they are for infantry, and the opportunity to profit by being clever seems high.
Yup. I like the intellectual challenge of cavalry combat. It's largely about trying to organise a situation where you charge first, and get more units into combat (or as supports) than he does.
You also have to think a turn ahead however and plan for what the likely situation will be after combat (ie where the winner is likely to pursue to, what opportunities there may be for follow on attacks, or threats from an enemy counterattack).

Angling your attack so that (if successful in retiring the enemy) you get to pursue into enemy artillery is particularly fun. The defeated enemy mounted unit will retire directly away from your unit so you can sometimes orchestrate, to a degree, the direction of the enemies retirement. If there are enemy artillery behind, not only will they be burst through (you cannot slide a base to avoid artillery or skirmishers) but the artillery will also not get to shoot when your pursuing cavalry run into them. This is the easiest way to kill enemy guns.

Cheers
Brett

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by MikeHorah » Tue May 27, 2014 8:24 am

MikeK wrote:Examples of tabletop tactics are especially useful - basic sound tactics are not as obvious as they are for infantry, and the opportunity to profit by being clever seems high.
Yes and I think spotting and taking the opportunity to be patient and cautious can be successful. That is harder with cavalry of course as they cannot hold ground and in a short game where time is a constraint that luxury may not be there. :(

But it is easy to be tempted send all the battle cavalry in at once instead of in succession and in a controlled way. You may beat the other side's cavalry if yours are superior in quality or numbers but you may become so depleted in the process as to be unable to take much advantage from it - or just get unlucky. That said if the effect is to neutralise both side's cavalry that can help if the infantry are your real battle winners.

I think it means you need to decide at the start what you are going to do with your cavalry - and why - and stick to it if you can. Just laying them down and hoping for the best or for an unlooked for opportunity is unlikely to succeed.

Conserving your cavalry as a "force in being" may be the best option to constrain the other side. Manoeuvre and the threat of the cavalry are as important as the actual use.

But on average I am pretty useless with cavalry :roll: Much better with infantry and mixed forces. :D

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by hazelbark » Tue May 27, 2014 8:57 pm

MikeHorah wrote:
Conserving your cavalry as a "force in being" may be the best option to constrain the other side. Manoeuvre and the threat of the cavalry are as important as the actual use.
Very much agree.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by pugsville » Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:39 am

here in Melbourne we just had an Austerlitz re-fight which basically came down to one huge cavalry battle. Both cavalry corps advanced, the French charged to drive the cossacks back through the Allied cavalry (many tests but the Allies past them all) After that the Allies maintained the initiative , and through losing the initial attack (French cuirassiers routing 2 units of Dragoons which rallied though did not take further part, the Allied recovery was pretty exceptional throughout) the French were not able to follow up in their turn, and over the next two turns the French cavalry was basically all routed, after 4 turns (of the cavalry combat) there was no french cavalry on the field other than way over with Davout. So even though the initial match ups were great and the Allies lost the initial impact , they retained control and worked over the massed French cavalry. Goes to show even massed cavalry v cavalry combats can be over pretty quickly. The Allies picked up a couple of batteries in the pursuit, but the posed no real immediate threat the solid French Infantry (once the Allied guns and infantry advanced it would be a different matter)

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by MDH » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:05 am

pugsville wrote:here in Melbourne we just had an Austerlitz re-fight which basically came down to one huge cavalry battle. Both cavalry corps advanced, the French charged to drive the cossacks back through the Allied cavalry (many tests but the Allies past them all) After that the Allies maintained the initiative , and through losing the initial attack (French cuirassiers routing 2 units of Dragoons which rallied though did not take further part, the Allied recovery was pretty exceptional throughout) the French were not able to follow up in their turn, and over the next two turns the French cavalry was basically all routed, after 4 turns (of the cavalry combat) there was no french cavalry on the field other than way over with Davout. So even though the initial match ups were great and the Allies lost the initial impact , they retained control and worked over the massed French cavalry. Goes to show even massed cavalry v cavalry combats can be over pretty quickly. The Allies picked up a couple of batteries in the pursuit, but the posed no real immediate threat the solid French Infantry (once the Allied guns and infantry advanced it would be a different matter)
Having fought Austerlitz twice now - 15mm multiplayer over two days - I think what the allies do with their cavalry mass is one of the key historical variables. It does depend on how you set it all up and at what stage in the battle, which determines where forces are at the kick off. We gave each side two LOCs and laid down a rule that forces could be cut off from an LOC if beyond a certain distance from a road and/or the one they used could not trace back to either LOC .

There was a long lateral road on the table across the French lines linking their two LOCs which were pretty far apart and thus gave the allies an incentive ( which we took) to try to cut it in the centre, (isolating their forces trying to link up with Davout ). So that was where the C-in-C directed the cavalry mass, operating with the infantry and guns and we came pretty close ( a matter of inches) to cutting off the French Corps in the centre of the table which was becoming pretty battered ) . Had the cavalry reserve been sent across to the right to confront the French cavalry mass this would probably not have been feasible. But it failed, our cavalry were pretty depleted and at the end French cavalry were driving unopposed towards one of our LOCs, one of our Corps on the right having been virtually destroyed already and our cavalry all but totally spent . We lost :oops: but a pretty good battle all the same. :lol:

I think it shows that in a really big game with plenty of space cavalry can be used beyond simply confronting the enemy cavalry and trying to smash through unsteady infantry and it is always worth having a small cavalry reserve well back to guard your LOC(s)!

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by Saxonian » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:17 pm

"Massed cavalry" hardly does the situation justice.
I think we counted 23 units of cavalry, in up to three waves - facing off on about 2 feet of frontage!!

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by richafricanus » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:06 pm

Saying it was one big cavalry fight doesn't do justice to the major mixed arms punch up that occurred on the southern end of the battlefield below the Pratzen heights. I'm hoping to get a write up out in a while with some pics when work calms down.

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by MDH » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:03 pm

richafricanus wrote:Saying it was one big cavalry fight doesn't do justice to the major mixed arms punch up that occurred on the southern end of the battlefield below the Pratzen heights. I'm hoping to get a write up out in a while with some pics when work calms down.
Indeed that was what we had but a bit more west or south south west of the heights - by not sending the cavalry reserve to the North west.

One Corps a side games don't give you the luxury of massed cavalry melees and the practice of handling them .

The problem I had was that my mixed forces, which were on the Allied deep left, opposing Davout were badly deployed ( but historically so) with the better Corps behind a weaker one and getting the good ones to the front line quickly proved beyond my FoGN) skills at that time - I would do much better now having had several dozen games it unreformed armies.

Who had the initiative?

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Re: Cavalry Tactics

Post by pugsville » Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:01 am

Just a dislaimer about my understanding v what actually happened
I must admit I have limited understanding of the Rest of the Battle, there was a limited communication rule in place and I just adopted what I dont know about I wont want to about, and why look at the battle you cant talk about or influence and just got down with my limited sector on the battle. Hopefully Richard will do an AAR which will explain what happened to me, I was there but rather narrowly focused.

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