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Subject: Extremely Easy to cause Corps to Retreat? rss

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We just finished our first stumbling, error-prone game, so I fully realize that we don't understand the rules, how to play well, or the implications of the rules. This post is a question-do I understand the rules correctly?

We found that it was very easy to cause Corps to retreat, if two Corps are in adjacent locations in Reserve.

1) The active player attacks with a weak detachment (essentially, this is a soak-off attack).
2) The defender responds, wins that battle (because it was weak), but nevertheless has to place one detached unit into the intervening approach. That detached unit takes on step casualty (because of the previous attack), and so is, by definition, no more than 2 steps.
3) The active player then attacks the defending location again-this time, against the weakened unit in the approach. (this step may have to be done twice, depending on the terrain bonus of the approach). On the first or second attack, the attacker will win (the unit defending the approach can't be supported by anyone in the defending Corps, and the defender can't counterattack-counterattacking units must be selected from defending units-which only includes units in the approach). Thus, inevitably, eventually, the attacker will win an attack.
3) All defending units in the location must retreat (including the near full strength Corps in reserve). The retreating Corps loses infantry, and all artillery is eliminated.

Are we playing the rules right? If so, that has certain implications for good play, I think.
1) Corps should never be in adjacent locations in reserve. Note that since a Corps moves one space (from reserve to reserve) in a turn, and requires an additional turn to move from reserve into a blocking position, this virtually means that Corps should never be in adjacent locations (because whenever an active player moves a Corps into a location adjacent to the enemy-into the reserve position, the defending player has a turn to attack it before it gets into a blocking position).
2) We haven't figured out a good use for artillery yet. They defend at strength of 1, and they can't be stacked in a Corps near the front lines-they just end up getting retreated and eliminated automatically.

Are we reading the rules right?

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Nevermind-
I saw an early comment discussing multiple attacks across the same approach.

P.
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Mark Buetow
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Paraguay wrote:
Nevermind-
I saw an early comment discussing multiple attacks across the same approach.

P.


Yeah, I was going to say... It all sounds good unless you mean on the same turn. laugh
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Rachel Simmons
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You should also take note that the rule is that the defender has to advance AT LEAST one unit into the approach. He can advance more if he wants to (even the entire corps) and that it can be considerably more difficult to defeat a defender blocking an approach than a defender in reserve. You can also consider the implications if one or more of the defending units advanced to block the approach is artillery.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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From a broad tactical standpoint, a corps has to decide if it wants to commit to defense (i.e. move into the approach) or maintain mobility (by remaining in reserve) or some combination of these. If you overcommit to an approach defense, you can be outmaneuvered. If you hang too much back in reserve, you can be forced out by a sustained attack.

Awesome.
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Good Question. So rather than simply saying, 'ok, I found the answer now'..Can someone confirm the correct ruling on this page so other newbies such as myself can easily find the answer too.
Cheers
wiz
 
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wizardless wrote:
Good Question. So rather than simply saying, 'ok, I found the answer now'..Can someone confirm the correct ruling on this page so other newbies such as myself can easily find the answer too.
Cheers
wiz


The correct answer is: "You can't attack across the same approach more than once in the same turn, the one exception being an artillery bombardment as the first attack followed by a subsequent attack across that approach."

They were playing it wrongly.
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wizardless wrote:
Good Question. So rather than simply saying, 'ok, I found the answer now'..Can someone confirm the correct ruling on this page so other newbies such as myself can easily find the answer too.
Cheers
wiz


I'm not sure exactly what ruling you're referring to, but if you're looking to have someone show you where the rules can be found for multiple attacks into a single locale, look at the bottom of column 1 on page 7, beginning with the bold-face words "After an attack...". The rules on the subject end midway down column 2 on the same page and have a total length of 5 paragraphs. If you are unsure about what any of the rules mean, please feel free to ask.
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"You can also consider the implications if one or more of the defending units advanced to block the approach is artillery"

What are the implications? We haven't even figured out a good use for artillery yet! (in our game, they moved with Corps, then were eliminated when Corps were forced to retreat-in essence, completely worthless).

Artillery are strength 1, so if one artillery unit is defending a narrow approach, it is easily beaten by a 2 or 3 step attacking unit. If an artillery is one of two units defending a wide approach, it is still easily beaten if the attacker chooses to just attack on a narrow (ie. one of the two spaces) front.

And artillery can't be used to counterattack.
And artillery can't retreat-but are eliminated instead.

Are there some special rules that make a 1-step artillery unit better (on the defense) than a 1-step infantry/cav unit (which are the weakest units in the game)?

P.
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By the Way:
I'm still wondering about the ruling that defensive units in approaches must defend, and cannot be reinforced by units in reserve.

The consequence of this is that units in reserve are stronger/more powerful without a unit guarding an approach than with a unit guarding an approach. If I have a Corps in reserve, and am attacked from an adjacent location, I can react and defend with any units in the Corps. If I have a Corps in reserve, with an independent unit in a blocking position, and am attacked throught that independent unit, my Corps cannot reinforce with any Corps units, and if the independent unit retreats, the entire Corps retreats, suffers casualties, and abandons its artillery!

This seems counterintuitive (though I know nothing about Napoleonic Warfare). My mental image of the battlefield is that Corps are massed forces (not necessarily in column-the fact that they can react to an attack, and counterattack an unsuccessful defense, suggests to me that they are ready for battle), and units in blocking positions are either units in line, or even perhaps a skirmish line. It is odd in this situation that the battle line or skirmish line in front of the Corps actually makes it more vulnerable to panic/retreat.

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Terrain penalties only apply if units are defending in the approach. Tiebreakers also change significantly.
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Paraguay wrote:
"You can also consider the implications if one or more of the defending units advanced to block the approach is artillery"

...

Artillery are strength 1, so if one artillery unit is defending a narrow approach, it is easily beaten by a 2 or 3 step attacking unit.



Is it? If a 2-strength infantry attacks a 1-strength artillery blocking an approach, I say that the infantry unit loses, takes a 1-step loss, and nothing happens to the defender. You should attend carefully to these rules:

From the step 6, initial result:

"If the attack leading units are infantry
and the defending pieces are blocking
the defense approach subtract one."

From step 10, defender losses:

"If the attack leading units are cavalry
or infantry, subtract one point for each
defense leading artillery unit."

Against an attack by a 3-step infantry unit, an artillery unit would need help, but if you run a 3-step infantry unit attacking a 1-step artillery unit backed by a 2-step infantry unit available to counter-attack, the artillery-led defense will again win.
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"Terrain penalties only apply if units are defending in the approach. Tiebreakers also change significantly."

But neither of these are unique to artillery defenders. I was asking what the implications of defending specifically with artillery are.

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Paraguay wrote:
Are there some special rules that make a 1-step artillery unit better (on the defense) than a 1-step infantry/cav unit (which are the weakest units in the game)?


Yes. Have you read the combat rules?

Let's say you have an artillery in an approach, and a 2-step infantry attacks it. Your leading attack unit is infantry, so with a defender in the approach you subtract 1. That leaves you a basic attack value of 1 (2-1=1). The defense strength is also 1, so the initial result is zero. With the defender in the approach, the attacker loses.

In the final result, the attacker loses 1 step, because there was 1 leading unit defending. The defender takes no loss, because although there was 1 leading unit attacking, you subtract 1 from the loss for each defense leading artillery unit (see (10) Defender Losses at the end of page 6).

Artillery also have other advantages, such as being able to take the loss with a non-leading defender, assuming they are supported.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I was answering why it seems corps are better off defending from reserve. Often they aren't.
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Paraguay wrote:
I was asking what the implications of defending specifically with artillery are.


I was typing too slowly, but I enumerated two artillery advantages:

1) if the leading defender is artillery, 1 is subtracted when calculating defender loss.

2) if the leading defender is artillery, any loss taken can be given to a non-leading unit instead, so the artillery can maintain its advantage over multiple turns.

There are also advantages that artillery can use when attacking:

1) an artillery attack can be followed in the same turn by a second non-artillery attack across the same approach.

2) when attacking with artillery, the attacker never suffers loss.

3) if the defender retreats before combat, and the attack is declared to have been artillery, the attacker need not advance (this is sometimes useful to avoid counter-attacks).
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Paraguay wrote:
"You can also consider the implications if one or more of the defending units advanced to block the approach is artillery"

What are the implications? We haven't even figured out a good use for artillery yet! (in our game, they moved with Corps, then were eliminated when Corps were forced to retreat-in essence, completely worthless).


Well, if you respond by moving an artillery up to the approach, you've just gotten a free move for your arty and then when it's your turn you can fire on the corps on the other side of the approach and essentially get a guaranteed single hit. (I say essentially because they could retreat cavalry, etc.)

The best place for arty to be is on an approach, softening up the Defender. Let's say you have an arty and a three step infantry against a blocked approach with a two step infantry.

Your three step can't beat the two step in a straight attack. So FIRST you attack with arty. Now he's a one strength. Then, the same turn, you attack with the three-step and win. Remember, you CAN attack twice across the same approach if the first attack is arty.

Quote:

Artillery are strength 1, so if one artillery unit is defending a narrow approach, it is easily beaten by a 2 or 3 step attacking unit. If an artillery is one of two units defending a wide approach, it is still easily beaten if the attacker chooses to just attack on a narrow (ie. one of the two spaces) front.


Artillery will reduce the casualties of other types of units by one if they are defending along a wide approach.



Quote:

Are there some special rules that make a 1-step artillery unit better (on the defense) than a 1-step infantry/cav unit (which are the weakest units in the game)?



It's still a one step unit that's blocking the approach, which means it can defend against any 2 step infantry and win.
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bowen wrote:
Paraguay wrote:
"You can also consider the implications if one or more of the defending units advanced to block the approach is artillery"

...

Artillery are strength 1, so if one artillery unit is defending a narrow approach, it is easily beaten by a 2 or 3 step attacking unit.



Is it? If a 2-strength infantry attacks a 1-strength artillery blocking an approach, I say that the infantry unit loses, takes a 1-step loss, and nothing happens to the defender. You should attend carefully to these rules:

From the step 6, initial result:

"If the attack leading units are infantry
and the defending pieces are blocking
the defense approach subtract one."

From step 10, defender losses:

"If the attack leading units are cavalry
or infantry, subtract one point for each
defense leading artillery unit."

Against an attack by a 3-step infantry unit, an artillery unit would need help, but if you run a 3-step infantry unit attacking a 1-step artillery unit backed by a 2-step infantry unit available to counter-attack, the artillery-led defense will again win.


Not that Bowen's post needs reinforcement, but I was surprised when, in a game I was playing, (and so posted a question, to make sure I played it right) that one of my artillery units was able to shrug off an attack by a 2-strength infantry. It could have done so every turn of the game, if necessary.
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Sphere wrote:
Paraguay wrote:
I was asking what the implications of defending specifically with artillery are.


I was typing too slowly, but I enumerated two artillery advantages:

1) if the leading defender is artillery, 1 is subtracted when calculating defender loss.

2) if the leading defender is artillery, any loss taken can be given to a non-leading unit instead, so the artillery can maintain its advantage over multiple turns.

There are also advantages that artillery can use when attacking:

1) an artillery attack can be followed in the same turn by a second non-artillery attack across the same approach.

2) when attacking with artillery, the attacker never suffers loss.

3) if the defender retreats before combat, and the attack is declared to have been artillery, the attacker need not advance (this is sometimes useful to avoid counter-attacks).


And to further reinforce George, I posit that with further playings, you'll find that artillery will take a more and more active role. At least, that's been my experience.
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Paraguay wrote:
The consequence of this is that units in reserve are stronger/more powerful without a unit guarding an approach than with a unit guarding an approach. If I have a Corps in reserve, and am attacked from an adjacent location, I can react and defend with any units in the Corps. If I have a Corps in reserve, with an independent unit in a blocking position, and am attacked throught that independent unit, my Corps cannot reinforce with any Corps units, and if the independent unit retreats, the entire Corps retreats, suffers casualties, and abandons its artillery!


So, if there's an enemy corps across an approach from you, you should probably put more than one unit in the approach facing them. It might mess up your plans, but better that than a shattered corps.

Indeed, if you put, say, a second corps in that approach, suddenly your enemy can't ignore it. Set ups like that make for long, bloody fights (where artillery rocks, by the way).

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There are many good responses on this topic from a great many knowledgeable people on here (um, including the designer!) but I did want to add that it sounds like you probably were not protecting your artillery units as well as you should have.

In my opinion, the artillery units are usually the most useful pieces in the entire game so you've got to protect them. Playing as the French it is pretty easy to do - just place them in approaches with at least a 2-strength infantry defender during the initial game setup.

But as the Allies, you have to be more careful about moving them up and positioning them properly. One method of doing this is to first move up smaller corps (without artillery) to setup an initial defense along the French line. Then move up the artillery.

Another method would be to contain your artillery units in your strongest corps, and make sure you defend with your best units from that corps if you get attacked before you've fully positioned your artillery.

I am by no means an NT expert like many who have posted on here already, but my point is that if you lose an artillery unit so early in the game, then you must be doing something wrong (regardless of whether you're the French or the Allies). I'm not trying to sound rude - its just that they are very important assets that should be protected from unplanned loss.
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In fluid situations where both sides are in reserve, artillery is not much use. However, in situations where one side has set up a defensive line in approaches, artillery can become extremely powerful, especially when the artillery is on hills.

Many beginning players are both reluctant to move into approaches and reluctant to detach units. However, they can get into a lot of trouble very quickly this way. 8 or 9 corps cannot even come close to covering the entire front. Without detached units, a player's line will have large gaps which can be infiltrated by enemy cavalry, which can then surround one of his corps, and through a series of feints break it up and then hit it from one side with a real attack, forcing a retreat and wipe most or all of the corps. In first-game after-action reports, this is a pretty common occurrence.

One tactic to prevent this sort of thing is to use detached cavalry units to protect the flanks of corps and fill gaps between them. As long as the cavalry stays in reserve, it is usually not hard to avoid losses to it. The weakness of this is that it is much better at slowing an enemy than stopping an enemy.

Stopping an enemy for a longer period with a smaller force is best accomplished by blocking approaches. There are numerous rules in combat that make defense easier when you are blocking an approach. If you go through the combat procedure and look for them, you will see what I mean. The most important ones are the -1 infantry penalty, the terrain penalties, the ability to lead with 1-strength units (including artillery) and the defender-wins-all-ties rules. Many attacks that would succeed against a defender in reserve will fail against a defender blocking an approach, and even where a defense in reserve can win, it is often the case that a defense blocking an approach can win with fewer defense losses and/or more attacker losses.

Of course, blocking approaches is no panacea. While units blocking approaches can be quite robust when attacked frontally, their flanks require careful attention. Sometimes terrain can do this, but other times you will need to do it with other units. You also need to be aware of high-threat attacks using guards, heavy cavalry, or artillery (particularly artillery in combination with guards or heavy cavalry) that can suddenly breach a defense that could hold off lesser attackers for many hours.

Knowing when to detach and when to keep a corps together, and when to block an approach and when to stay in reserve, is a matter of judgment. From what I have seen, beginning players are much more likely to err in the direction of not detaching enough and not blocking approaches enough rather than doing either too often. An NT player who will not detach and not occupy approaches is like a Chess player who will only move to white squares; it is no way to win against an opponent who is not similarly restricting himself.
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As I said, it was our first game, and we were simply attempting to learn the rules (in particular, the combat system)-understanding how to play well was way beyond what we could do in that first game.

But the basic structure of our game was to have the Corps moving around, running into each other. Corps were mostly kept intact. Attacks tended to be corps attacks. Artillery was stacked in Corps. There were basically no detachments (except those caused by combat between Corps). Once a combat between Corps occurred, and one or both sides had to detach as a result, the ensuing turns were spent (by the side with the surviving Corps) repeatedly attacking those detachments to destroy them. Then, on to the next Corps on Corps attack to repeat the process.

In this situation, Corps on Corps battles ended up roughly even (plus or minus, depending on terrain, how many 3-step units each Corps had, etc). But Corps on Corps, with one Corps having a blocking force, ended up more dangerous for the Corps with the blocking force: that Corps can't reinforce the blocking force, and will be forced to retreat if the blocking force loses a battle. Thus, if artillery is in the Corps, it simply retreats at the first loss by the blocking force. If artillery is in the blocking force, well, its only a 1-step unit, so the other side sends in a 3-step unit, defeats the artillery, and causes the Corps behind it to retreat (thus taking losses, abandoning all of its artillery as well).

Because we were making a serious error (repeatedly attacking over one approach within a turn), I presume that changes the whole course of what would happen in a game. Furthermore, in the long term, it is not clear whether using (and suffering casualties with) a 3-step unit to overcome a 1-step artillery unit is going to be beneficial (even if it is beneficial in the immediate battle)-we simply didn't play either long enough, or have enough of a grasp of the game, to understand the implications.


Noone has really addressed one question I had earlier though: why is a Corps with a blocking force in the approach more fragile than a Corps without a blocking force in the approach?

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[q="Paraguay"


Noone has really addressed one question I had earlier though: why is a Corps with a blocking force in the approach more fragile than a Corps without a blocking force in the approach?

P.
[/q]

It's only more fragile (1) if you don't have a strong unit in that approach and (2) you leave the other approaches open to allow flanking.

Napoleonic warfare is very much a flanking exercise. A corps in reserve is not really set for battle. Approaches aren't so much a location as they are a state of readiness. In any case, never let your corps get surrounded in such a way that your enemy can peel off your units and then punch through an undefended approach.
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Paraguay wrote:

...

But the basic structure of our game was to have the Corps moving around, running into each other. Corps were mostly kept intact. Attacks tended to be corps attacks. Artillery was stacked in Corps. There were basically no detachments (except those caused by combat between Corps). Once a combat between Corps occurred, and one or both sides had to detach as a result, the ensuing turns were spent (by the side with the surviving Corps) repeatedly attacking those detachments to destroy them. Then, on to the next Corps on Corps attack to repeat the process.

...

Noone has really addressed one question I had earlier though: why is a Corps with a blocking force in the approach more fragile than a Corps without a blocking force in the approach?


The tactics you used were pretty common tactics for a first game. They're pretty bad tactics, but everybody has to start somewhere, and most people start there.

As to why a corps with a unit blocking an approach is more vulnerable, it is in part an abstraction, representing what forces are committed in a particular direction and which ones are not. The design presumption is that once forces are committed to an approach, the remaining forces no longer concern themselves with that approach as it has been covered. You see this sort of thing in a clumsier way in that when all units are in reserve, and you have an attack, you have to decide which units will be available to defend against an attack from that direction. Other units, no matter now numerous, can't help because you haven't committed them to help. Putting units into an approach is a physical act representing the same thing. The linkage of the two rules is why after the attack against units in reserve is over, you have to move one or more of the defending units to block the approach.
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