Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

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Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DD1 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:16 am

Does anybody think that it is too difficult to charge infantry in column?

Column infantry vs cav +2, if the infantry are better quality, then they get further pluses.

I charged a vet inf battalion in line with a recruit cav regiment and found out that you don't have much chance of closing with infantry in column. If the infantry are in square, I can understand the +2.

I appreciate the cav will do damage if they make it in, but average cav vs average infantry are not likely to close.

Is this by design, or have we missed something in the rules?
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby Archdukek » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:50 am

It's by design. DB has already answered this point in an earlier thread and on the TFL Yahoo group.
It's a bit of a Wargaming myth that cavalry of any type could simply sweep away steady infantry not in square. The reality was often different. Cavalry impact was more often psychological rather than physical, if the defender's nerve failed as the cavalry came in then they were lost, but if they held firm steady infantry even in line could see off cavalry.
Columns were used as a defense against cavalry on various occasions, most notably by the Austrians with their division and battalion masse formations.

If you want your cavalry charge to succeed you need to soften up the target first by getting some casualties on to the column with your artillery and preferably catching them when their brigade is hesitant. Sending recruit cavalry against veteran infantry without such preparation should result in the cavalry getting a bloody nose and deservedly so.

John
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DD1 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:10 pm

I just read the other post on this.

I can see the rationale for giving a column the same benefit as a square, but who is going to bother going to square if already in a column? Yes I know that square is better in melee, but you would need to be unlucky for the charge to go in, so why bother?

To be honest, I'm not that concerned if I stay in line when charged by cav. I'm likely to do 2 hits with volley fire and (assuming equal quality attacker and defender) only end up on a -1 on the charge result table.

I'm sorry, cavalry don't frighten me. And perhaps it's a realistic portrayal, (who truly knows?) but you would have to accept that it's not conventional. One of our Grognards had concerns over this aspect of the rules, and I originally poo-pooed him. In retrospect, perhaps I was too hasty.
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DCRBrown » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:35 pm

DD1,

I can see the rationale for giving a column the same benefit as a square, but who is going to bother going to square if already in a column? Yes I know that square is better in melee, but you would need to be unlucky for the charge to go in, so why bother?

Well a square is very safe when vs. cavalry, a fresh column is reasonably safe; but if you fail, then trouble looms large for the column.

To be honest, I'm not that concerned if I stay in line when charged by cav. I'm likely to do 2 hits with volley fire and (assuming equal quality attacker and defender) only end up on a -1 on the charge result table.

I can only admire your sang froid for staying in line vs. cavalry. Yes, you can be lucky but it's a harsh lesson if the cavalry come out on top! Again it's the wargamer vs. the battalion commander situation. If you the wargamer lose you only pack away your nicely painted regiment. If the battalion commander loses to that cavalry he's either dead or a prisoner and either way his career is in ruins!

I'm sorry, cavalry don't frighten me. And perhaps it's a realistic portrayal, (who truly knows?) but you would have to accept that it's not conventional. ?

I agree that perhaps standard campaign cavalry should not frighten fresh infantry - but then heavy or Guard cavalry should, and when you're line has taken 4+ casualties perhaps then it is time to worry...

One of our Grognards had concerns over this aspect of the rules, and I originally poo-pooed him. In retrospect, perhaps I was too hasty.

Perhaps you could ask your Grognard to give three definitive examples of fresh columns ridden down by cavalry? It did happen but perhaps not as often in history as in wargames. If cavalry were that impressive against fresh infantry why did commanders keep cavalry in reserve, why didn't they simply send them in straight away? This is a deliberate rules slant that make GdA different from other rules, but hopefully, if I've got it right, not too different from history.

DB
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DD1 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:03 am

DB,

A wargame is a game. Like all games, it has rules. Those rules shape the way we play the game. It is very hard to say to yourself, "My infantry are being charged, my overall chances are better if I stay in column, but Lord/Count "XYZ" would have gone into square, so I shall do the same. That is getting close to role playing.

If you want to shape the way players respond to events, IMHO, you need to dictate that in the rules. I.E, you must attempt to go to square etc (obviously, with some exceptions).

If you give me the choice of how to respond, I'm going to take the option with the best odds.

Perhaps different groups of players play differently? I've only seen one player in our group, play as if he was in the period. The rest of us make decisions on the odds.

In your group, who goes to square when they are in column? A +2 on the charge result table gives a defending infantry column a roughly 75% chance of seeing off the charging cavalry (same quality infantry and cavalry), that's not even taking into consideration the effect of defensive fire, get 1 hit from defensive fire and that jumps to 84-85%.

If you attempt to go to square, you run the risk of becoming unformed or even retreating. Who'd do it? Also, squares have a chance of becoming unformed if they move near Cav, columns don't appear to be hampered with this.

Squares seem a bit, redundant.
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DCRBrown » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:58 am

DD1,

We use squares as the default position - perhaps we are simply not as brave as you! ;)

I just daren't risk it - the down side is too great a gamble for me- though with good, fresh infantry I just might....

Having said all that if you really feel that the +2 is too much, then why not try a simple variant in your games. I experimented with two earlier versions which may suit you:

a) Simply reduce the column modifier to +1, (we also tried 0 but felt this had not impact on committing cavalry against fresh columns at all) or

b) Fresh Column vs. Cavalry = +2. (So as soon as a unit dropped into the second or third casualty level this "bonus" was lost. It's a similar rule to the Fresh Firers vs. Column modifier, and was my preferred second option but dropped on the simplicity aspect.)

Try them out and see what you think.

DB
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby thomalley » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:57 pm

So let's say a column has a 75% chance to stop a charge. So 1 out of 4 goes in, but that 1 is almost certainly going to disperse the column. Which will cause the brigade to falter. Any other action that turn will place an additional -1 on the infantry. That brigade is now useless for 2 turns and has a 17% chance of routing off the field. All for the cost of 3 cav casualties in the 3 failed charges. I think I'll form square.
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby DD1 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:09 am

The cav have to win by 2 in the melee to force the infantry to disperse, so the chances of that are 27%. Extrapolate the chances of a cav regiment dispersing an infantry unit and that comes out at, what 6%?? That's not taking into account defensive fire which could make that even worse. Your chances of making the infantry retreat (beating by +1 in combat) are 38%, for an effective total of 9-10%

Calculate the odds of dispersing the infantry if you attempt to go to square. 43% chance of failing the discipline test (assume line quality). If unformed the cav go into combat 66% of the time (defender -2 on the 2D6), and the cav now throw 6 dice to 4 in the melee, beating the infantry by 2 hits, 38% of the time.

Whats that all equal, about 10.5%.

So attempt to go into square and you have a 10.5% chance of being dispersed, stay in column you have a 4% of being dispersed, and if you hit the cav with defensive fire, the chances go down.

So if my math is correct (feel free to check), you are being more risky attempting to go into square.

DB, if you change the modifier for infantry in column to +1, instead of +2, you increase the odds of the cavalry of dispersing the infantry to 9%, still less then the option of going into square.

The issue for me is there is no incentive to go into square (statistically more risky to attempt it).
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby SteveBurt » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:03 am

Your maths assumes the infantry only go into square when charged - that's risky.
The safe thing to do is to go into square the turn before; then's there's no risk of failure.
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Re: Cavalry charging infantry, too hard???

Postby Archdukek » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:33 pm

DD1,
Your criticism seems to be predicated on a view that all cavalry should find it easy to overturn and disperse infantry in column. Historically it wasn't easy, especially for light cavalry, unless they caught the infantry at a disadvantage. Close columns were developed and over the period increasingly used as a way to enable infantry to move, not just more quickly, but also more safely on the fluid Napoleonic battlefield when there was a greater risk of encountering cavalry than had previously been the case. A look at the Prussian regulations issued in 1812 for example shows this evolution with a greater reliance on closed columns rather than hollow square when defending against cavalry. (Nafziger, Imperial Bayonets).

As Steve says if you want the safest option in the presence of cavalry then you form square before the cavalry charge as infantry would have done historically, not leave it until the last minute. If the tactical situation requires an infantry unit to move when there is a risk of encountering cavalry you do so in closed column and rely on the relative solidity of that formation to resist any marauding light cavalry. Depending on the drill adopted it is also quicker to form square from column when faced with the real infantry killers, the heavy cavalry.

You might want to test your calculation when your column is faced with a charge from the heavies, bearing in mind too that a column has to half the effect of any defensive fire and that you need to cause 2 casualties in the charge, not 1, to have any effect on the Charge Procedure.

John

Edit: And remember cavalry should be using their mobility to outflank the infantry and attack it from the flank or rear where even columns are vulnerable but squares are not.
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