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Subject: Courtrai, strategies, ZOC, opinions. . . rss

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William Jason Raynovich
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A friend and I played this a few times now. Well, we actually played Courtrai three times. Seemingly according to the battlebook, this should be easy for the Flemish and hard for the French. However, I won, well I guess I should say, my friend conceded. However, it seemed that I had pretty much run over him with the French.

My strategy, get the MMA with the gray band up to the front. Get into that little area, two hexes, which are not the ditches and breakthrough. Now, I understand that luck can play a roll in this game. We did play with RHB's suggestion of adding +1 per new activation roll.

The other thing we had a problem with was the movement of the armies. My friend, who understands the history of battle better than I, said that the armies just did not move the way he envisioned the armies would move. What did I do?

Well, I did a lot of swinging around the flank once I broke through. The battles became more melee and less line against line combat. I suggested he did not keep his line intact well enough. However, I understand where he is coming from. I find the lack of a ZOC for the Pikemen to be too tempting to start flanks. The Flemish only have one crossbow unit. And I believe the DM men on the Flemish side do not carry a ZOC either.

So, instead of a head to head fight, it becomes the dreaded, in Paths of Glory style, "Dance of Death." With NO ZOC, it just seems way too difficult to keep a larger force at bay. Is this part of the style of combat? However, again, the battles seem to become confused melee very quickly where the sides are constantly flanking each other and there is no line troops.

Well, I have ranted on long enough. Anyway, have comments and thoughts?

William
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Will Green
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Welcome to the inglorious and stark field realities once the Shield Wall has been flanked...essentially every man for himself.

This scenario pits a group of courageous, yet undertrained local peasants, against one of the 'cream of the proverbial crops" of the era.

Disciplined knights, once they "turn the corner" on the untrained and unskilled, are going to have a "field day." However, if the shield wall holds...watch the "cream" drain from the filigreed pitcher which holds it.
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William Jason Raynovich
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Ah, yes, but, why are the Flemish so favored to win though then?

William
 
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Will Green
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The advantages that they had on this day were: the shield wall, (very formidable, as long as it was not turned), the weather, it was raining, which made cavalry charges more challenging, the ditch that was in place in front of the the shield wall, (a horrible little quagmire once a knight on horseback rolled backwards into it after trying to take down a portion of the shield wall, and the ability of the Flemish to stab and maim the French with their spears, once the knights did fall back into the ditch...(which they did in droves), oh, right, and plus the imetuous nature of the French knights who thought all those below them were mere chattel.

The knights, hungry for a fight, (barbarically rode through their own men to "get at the Flemish"). They burst through their own lines, and ever eager for glory at the price of unit integrity stormed the ditches, and were summarily turned back at the shield wall. Once the knights fell down into the ditch, into the mud, into the muck, the softened sod with the weight of the horse, (and then the weight of horses, as more and more piled into the writhing mass), the knights, in their armor, could not get up out of the muck, and were dispatched with horrific glee by the erstwhile peasants...

Thus it is vital to retain the shield wall, and to keep the Flemish forces manning the ditch. Their is a small opening where the defense is weak, place the stronger Flemish units to bolster that area, and the battle may turn out, next time, where your opponent does not concede...

(I really like this scenario).
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William Jason Raynovich
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Hey Will,
I think we are having two or three different discussions here. I totally get you points. Here are mine:

1: The Battlebook says that the Flemish are favored to win pretty easily.

Quote from the book:
"Balance: If you play this battle with all the historical rules, you
will find it very hard to win as the French. We have weighted the
Flight levels towards a less disastrous day for the French."

I have easily won twice as the French. My friend believes the battle according to be weighted to the French. NOT the Flemish.

2: The way a battle develops seems to be problematic. There is too much flanking going on. With NO ZOC for non-missle foot soldiers, the units can flank too easily. My friend said that the Pike act like little GEV units from GEV/Orge. NOT the way the fighting in this time period took place.

Perhaps, we are playing wrong. Perhaps, there is a problem with the system. I will try to recreate a situation and see what you think.

William
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William Jason Raynovich
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Here is a NOT unreasonable situation:


Perhaps I am wrong, but this could totally occur.

Then, Let's say, William gets to activate.

Can William's Peasant Pikement do this?



It just seems problematic that they could be this organized in their movments. I would think they would be locked in battle. Would they not? Would the French Pikemen really "let" the Flemish flank them like this? It would seem to me that they are locked in combat. William would not be able to be so nuanced in tactics.

Then the potential result is:



Now at this point. The one unit is out of command. All it will take is a good activation roll by the Flemish to recreate the line John's Pikemen. Yes, it is possible for the French to also start to flank.

So, I guess, when the two battles are so. . . seemingly locked in battle, that they would not be able to shift so well.

Make any sense? Am I missing a rule that disallows this.

William
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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William,

I have the same problem with the MoI system, which is that relatively high movement allowances combined with a two-hex "front" per unit means that flanks are far too accessible.

I've toyed with the idea of allowing facing change in reaction to enemy movements. You could still outflank someone, but at least you have to commit three or more units to do it.
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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Hey Scott,
Thank you. So you see "nothing" wrong in my example. However, of course, in the course of play it is problematic.

William
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Nothing wrong from a rules standpoint, alas.
 
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Will Green
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Another possible way to alleviate this issue: Whenever units are within two-three hexes from an enemy unit, movement values for those units would be halved, (rounding up).

This seems like it would be more realistic in that units, and their ability to manuever on the field of battle become much reduced, yet the game, the rules, do not exhibit that accurately.
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William Jason Raynovich
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tyvek wrote:
Another possible way to alleviate this issue: Whenever units are within two-three hexes from an enemy unit, movement values for those units would be halved, (rounding up).

This seems like it would be more realistic in that units, and their ability to manuever on the field of battle become much reduced, yet the game, the rules, do not exhibit that accurately.


I wonder what Berg would say to this. Heck, I would be ok with if they are adjacent having movement halved.

Will, ready to try VASSAL?

William
 
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Will Green
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Hey William,

Let's aim for Thursday for VASSAL. I'll be able to download it tomorrow, and I'll have time to give it a go on Thursday...(it's Spring Break, and I teach...)

Cheers
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Peter Carr
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Historically the Flemish malitia we well trained and drilled and veterans of many conflicts. They we just as well armed and armoured as the French, the obvious difference being no heavy horse. They had a good reserve to replace casualties in the shield wall. They were also defending their homes and businesses; they are well motivated.

In the game the terrain disadvantages both sides as long as one unit from the combatants occupies a ditch hex, and , since the MMA advantage is nulled by the terrain it all comes down to numbers. The French have more units, but some cost more to loose which means if the French use MMA they could reach withdrawl sooner as the army withdrawl levels are the same. This is somewhat countered by increased VP's for Flemish casualties from MMA's.

The historical battle saw the French throw their pike men into the battle first, only to have them withdrawn so the MMA could have at the Flemish. The battle was actually going well for th French up until that point.

So, in the game, as you don't have to do what the French did AND you have unlimited time to surgically whittle the essentially static Flemish down I see no reason why the French can't easily win. The Flemish do not have the numbers or mobility to go on the offensive against a cavalry heavy army, and doing so would take away their advantage of the ditch and protected flanks.

The game system allows for both styles and conclusions, and I would say who wins is largely determined by what the French player decides to do. When the rule book says the Flemish are favoured to win if the game is played with all the historical rules its probably correct. If the Flemish try to go on the offensive too soon, exposed units should be mashed by the French massive cavalry reserve. If the flemish use their reserve to strengthen the flanks and leave some units out of shield wall to use their (Have a nice day's) it seems to me too hard for the French to overpower the pikes with cavalry.

That said, its not a scenario I've played yet, its on my 'to do' list next week - I shall write a battle report. I like to mull the battles over and do my research before I play - adds to my personal enjoyment and allows one to fiddle with the rules conflicts when they arise.

Cheers
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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Pete AU wrote:


The historical battle saw the French throw their pike men into the battle first, only to have them withdrawn so the MMA could have at the Flemish. The battle was actually going well for th French up until that point.

So, in the game, as you don't have to do what the French did AND you have unlimited time to surgically whittle the essentially static Flemish down I see no reason why the French can't easily win. The Flemish do not have the numbers or mobility to go on the offensive against a cavalry heavy army, and doing so would take away their advantage of the ditch and protected flanks.

The game system allows for both styles and conclusions, and I would say who wins is largely determined by what the French player decides to do. When the rule book says the Flemish are favoured to win if the game is played with all the historical rules its probably correct. If the Flemish try to go on the offensive too soon, exposed units should be mashed by the French massive cavalry reserve. If the flemish use their reserve to strengthen the flanks and leave some units out of shield wall to use their (Have a nice day's) it seems to me too hard for the French to overpower the pikes with cavalry.



Hey,
and my friend and I only have played with the historical rules and I believe the French are favored to win. It will be interesting to see what you think about the French potential for a win during your play of the scenario. My hunch is the battlebook is wrong.

Raynovich
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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Quick report:
I have played this scenario now with four different people. In the process of one with another.

The French have been VERY competitive each time, and won at least two of them. There were early concessions.

So, I am thinking the battlebook is wrong.

William
 
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Peter Carr
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I am currently replaying this one over. The simple fact that, if the Flemmish stay in shield wall across the entire front and choose not to break ranks it is possible to place all the defenders such that a -2 to -4 DRM on shock combat always occurs. This means a roll of 8 or 9 is always needed to disrupt the Flemmish. Its then a simple matter of pulling out the disrupted unit and inserting one of the reserve units (John of Renesse), since the Flemmish do nothing every turn the disrupted unit can be healed and put back into circulation.

I'd be interested to hear how your experience of the French counters this ability, or if your Flemmish opponents have tried this approach.

Cheers
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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Pete AU wrote:
I am currently replaying this one over. The simple fact that, if the Flemmish stay in shield wall across the entire front and choose not to break ranks it is possible to place all the defenders such that a -2 to -4 DRM on shock combat always occurs. This means a roll of 8 or 9 is always needed to disrupt the Flemmish. Its then a simple matter of pulling out the disrupted unit and inserting one of the reserve units (John of Renesse), since the Flemmish do nothing every turn the disrupted unit can be healed and put back into circulation.

I'd be interested to hear how your experience of the French counters this ability, or if your Flemmish opponents have tried this approach.

Cheers


They have tried this. But I can get a + to attack the Flemish shield wall by positioning my attacks correctly. It is NOT assured that they have to have minuses.

William

PS I think I asked you already and maybe you do not use VASSAL, but we can try it on VASSAL sometime.
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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UPDATE:
In two more tries of Courtrai, the French have won again easily. Has anyone won with the Flemish? Has anyone won with the Flemish easily?

Also, flanking seems to be a serious problem with the system. Playing Bannockburn, there was way too much ability to flank it seems.

Perhaps that is intended. If it is, I would love to hear how that is the case. If interested, I have an entire game, activation by activation saved in a logfile on VASSAL. I could post some pictures of the battle to show what is seemingly problematic.

 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I agree flanking is a serious issue with MOI in general. Reaction facing would be one helpful solution; paying to change facing might help as well (it would restrict maneuver a bit) -- I also think it's odd that cavalry gets a full move AND can charge two extra hexes.
 
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Jonas Jacobsson
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raynovich wrote:
If interested, I have an entire game, activation by activation saved in a logfile on VASSAL. I could post some pictures of the battle to show what is seemingly problematic.

Yes, please do.
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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Will do, but it will take awhile.
 
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William Jason Raynovich
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So, Jonas, this is a rundown picture of a number of the activations and a few comments. If it is worth it, I could do the second half, where things get even more quirky when melee begins.



Scots win initiative. I am by the way the Scots. Scots blue/English Red. I activate Moray. Moray's LB units run up fire and get reaction fire. This is my first complaint. It just seems wrong that LB units can run up FIVE movement points and then fire with NO penalty. The rolls did not go my way by the way.


I win activation again. Bruce gets activated. They advance. I fire with my LB unit. I set it up so that the MaA can charge. Mike Ward as the English decides to charge. He chooses to. The unit is hit twice during the fire charge and entering my reaction zone. So, he is retired.


Moray gets another activation. He advances further along. But also rallies units. Setting up for the next attack on the infantry. Notice those Men at Arms have done nothing. And I have been running up to them each activation.

611361

Ok, so English get an activation. I believe the rules are unclear in who the English get to activate. Well, more on that in the next activation for the English. But anyway, he retreats his LB units and leader. I get no reaction. Look how far they can run. AND they get neatly set up. Seems a little strange to me.


So, now the English get their first counter-attack. Reading up on consimworld, one can find that the rules for activation of English units is cleared up. As long as adjacency to active units, the units "Out of Command" is in command. I read the special rule different, but I digress. The English setup a nice line, but also the LB units on the English Right flank counter attack in that gamey way with no concern for the fact that the Pikemen would maybe attack them if they did as they did. Going around a Pike unit at shooting at it at close range.

More later, is this helpful Jonas?

William
 
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Jonas Jacobsson
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Yes. Will be interesting to see any expert answers.
 
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Ralph Shelton
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Flanking like you show above in the Courtrai scenio is rather easy to acheive in Men of Iron. The lack of ZOCs for foot units and no rules for reaction facing cause that. By running out of your line, you leave yourself open for the same thing to happen to you, however. I try not to leave my troops hanging in the wind too badly, otherwise I will lose many of them. If I have a lot more Flight Points to give than my opponent I break that general rule.

It's been a long time since I played Courtrai as the Flemish, so I would need to try it again.

As for the Longbowmen at Bannockburn, most games/miniatures rules allow movement and fire at no penalty. I would not move my Longbowmen into an adjacent hex to take the Reaction Fire. I would fire at Range 2 and concentrate on one enemy Longbowmen until they were eliminated/Retired.
 
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Craig Nicholls
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At a risk of necro-ing this thread - I have played MOI with the Blood and Roses rules which do away with ZOCs but make units "sticky" in that when you are adjacent to a unit you cannot then move into another hex adjacent to that unit. This would stop the tactic of moving units around the edges of a line to attack the flanks or rear.

I have also solo played Courtrai where I stopped half-way through because there was no way I could see how the French could get through the Flemish pikes where they had a -3 or more DRM due to the shield wall, ditches and defensive value of the Flemish pikes.
 
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