Columns through light woods

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Pickedon
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Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:17 pm

Columns through light woods

Post by Pickedon » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:21 pm

During an excellent game at the weekend the following came up and is annoying my "that ain't right" nerve.
I formed a blocking line of infantry squares behind an open wood. My brigade skirmishline formed in the wood expecting to hold back the enemy infantry skirmishers, quite a clever deployment I thought. However my opponent proceeded to drive his French infantry brigade through the wood in attack column using half speed to avoid taking the casualty for moving full speed. I deployed my skirmishers to face the threat my skirmish screen having been forced back by formed troops. I am now scrambling to find things in the rule book to my advantage for a column charging from a wood. Nothing was forthcoming.
Line of sight, he was more than 3" in the wood so I could not shoot him. But while he did not have a line of sight for the charge the 9" proximity rule (in 28mm scale) allowed him to charge.
His column charge is 9" plus 3" charge bonus and at half speed 6" was enough to get into contact. Half speed avoided the automatic casualty for moving full speed in rough terrain.
I could find nothing else to throw at him and with my personal morale broken my troops were tumbled from the table.
Is this right? Did I miss something obvious? As things stand charging columns slowly through woods is my new secret weapon. But historically it looks very iffy to me. This was an open wood like an orchard or olive grove but a 40m wide 9 rank deep body of men should be a difficult thing to shove through such terrain.
Thoughts?

Pickedon
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Pickedon » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:57 pm

Pressed SUBMIT to quickly.

I deployed my squares into line facing the wood my skirmishers having fallen back before the columns.

Archdukek
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Archdukek » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:00 pm

Then your defending unit and any supporting flank units could have fired on the column at the 3" point as he was advancing towards you using defensive fire prior to resolving the Charge Procedure. Since he is charging I wouldn't give him the benefit of any cover since your troops would wait until the head of the column appeared to fire.

By the way in GdA Close Order Infantry have no option but to move at half speed in Rough Terrain such as a wood, there is no move at full speed and take a casualty choice. That option only applies to crossing obstacles.
And orchards are usually classified as very open woods which counts as Good Terrain (see definition on page 61) so you could have shot him as he approached.

John

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Polish Lancer
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Polish Lancer » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:28 pm

Concur with John. Also as it would be good terrain, the columns would be coming on at full speed!

Pickedon
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Pickedon » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:51 am

We had defined the terrain as Rough pre game so not an issue
Yep - mixed 2 rules, one moving in Rough and the other crossing obstacles. But as the French were moving at half speed no issue there.
At the 3" mark he was out of the woods so no cover for closing fire we did.

We appear to have played it as written but it does not feel right. A column (actually multiple columns) charging out of a wood without any negative impact of loss of formation? My reading of history finds that implausible. Like moving out of a BUA i would historically expect the unit to form outside the obstruction then move off.
The upshot is "as written" you must cover Rough ground as if open ground when defending.

Archdukek
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Archdukek » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:42 am

It is always tricky to define terrain and determine what effect it has on the troops fighting in it. Historically some woods were impossible for formed troops to fight in, others might delay movement but didn't disrupt formations that severely with a wide spectrum in between. For GdA this is simplified to just 3 types namely very open with no penalty on movement, open woods which penalise movement but can be fought through by formed troops and dense woods which only Skirmishers can operate in. You need to decide in advance with your opponent what each wood on the table represents.

The speed restriction on movement, and therefore the reduction in charge range, is the penalty on Close Order infantry of Rough terrain and can be thought of as the unit negotiating the terrain carefully, adjusting formation and reforming as it goes in order to maintain unit cohesion. This has even more of an impact on units in line encouraging the use of columns to traverse such areas as would have happened historically. It is different from units deployed into a BUA who can be assumed to have dispersed around the area and need to be pulled back into a formation when they leave.

By definition Rough Terrain is passable to formed infantry albeit at a penalty so you need to plan your defences with that in mind. In the case of woods it will provide the enemy with a covered approach and slow them down unlike open ground, so is a different tactical challenge to defend.

John

Pickedon
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Pickedon » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:26 am

My understanding is that a unit would adopt march column (4 files wide) to move through area terrain such as a wood or orchard. Able to weave/thread a path through the trees. This would be covered by a skirmish screen to avoid bumping into unexpected enemies. An attack column say 60 bodies wide and 9 ranks deep is an awkward formation to push through the sieve of an orchard with trees spaced 4m apart. Even without undergrowth men must be constantly stepping out of line to get round the trees. Visibility is the other issue with line of sight within the trees constrained how do you coordinate the 2 flanks of the formation, stop them pulling apart. Once stationary I think it would be no great length of time to reform the column within the trees allowing for a degree of disorder caused by trees occupying needed space. But as soon as the column moves the formation must tear apart again.
I am looking through my history books trying to find an example of columns assaulting through woods and have not found one yet. Any ideas.

The rule is clear enough in the book and I am happy to play it. But it is the first element in these wonderful rules that has caused me to question a rules correctness.

DCRBrown
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by DCRBrown » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:50 am

P,

Rough Terrain in GdA applies to normal woods that have little to no undergrowth and are not densely packed with trees, e.g. the Forest of Soignes, Bossau Woods, Hougomont woods, etc.

These were relatively open woods permitting formations to pass through - yes more slowly but nonetheless still maintaining their formation. Remember both columns and lines can open their files to make life easier when advancing through such terrain, this was a standard maneuver. Open the files move through then close up again when needed accounts for the half speed. It is unlikely to disorder the battalion significantly. As examples, the British charged out of the Bossau Wood, (probably in line) while the French advanced and charged through it. The French two days later also charged through the Hougomont Woods.

However if the wood is dense or has significant undergrowth then yes that will cause real issues such as you describe and should be classed as Severe Terrain, i.e. close order formations aren't going to advance into such terrain.

If you still feel that columns should be penalized for potential disorder as they charge forward then considered a Discipline Test to charge out of Rough terrain. A pass is fine, but a fail means the charge proceeds but as unformed?

DB

Pickedon
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by Pickedon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:18 am

Thank you for that expansion on your thinking. I shall adopt your Discipline test idea as it would match my thinking on this. It makes attacking through such terrain possible but with a little extra risk of failure.

EQUITES
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Re: Columns through light woods

Post by EQUITES » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:00 pm

Hi Dave,
good suggestion.....pratically it's possible to use the Discipline Test like the old "Formation Test " of GdB....
Michele

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