$10.00
Recommend
143 
 Thumb up
 Hide
23 Posts

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Why attack? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: Pyuredeadbrilliant [+] [View All]
Dom Rougier
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
"The proverbial 'hail of lead' unleashed by the British staggered Maransin's troops, but the French were able to respond with a 'most overwhelming fire of artillery and small arms' of their own. This return fire felled both General Hoghton and his horse" - Guy Dempsey



(Not that the above painting depicts the French and British)



Command and Colors: Napoleonics represents the latest evolution of the excellent Command and Colors system, a system that manages to supply a wealth of historical flavour and depth, despite short playing times and relatively simple rules.

Indeed, Command and Colors: Ancients is in my mind actually one of the better simulations of ancient, linear warfare out there - partly as a consequence of the source material being so scarce. Even if this was not the case, it still represents an absolutely superb game.

Games of Ancients primarily represent lines of troops, jockeying for position and attempting to keep their lines intact, before advancing within range of sword and spear, and engaging in a vast, chaotic melee.

The Napoleonic period represents different challenges, and it is these that this post is designed to address. Most crucially, the development of gunpowder weapons increases the distance of engagement significantly, and renders a head-on attack doomed to failure.

If a Napoleonic army marches directly into the guns of their waiting opponents, the defenders will easily slaughter them as they march.

So why attack?


There are two main reasons why, in the correct situation, attacking is an excellent idea:

1 You gain the initiative, and can direct the battle to suit your strengths.

2 You gain card advantage, and ultimately play more commands (or more useful commands) in a given section than your opponent.

The "Why?" of attack is inextricably linked to the "How?" of attack, and so I intend to provide examples of two of the most common and effective offensive actions to better illustrate the above concepts.


The Attack


I find it helpful to think of the units in game in terms of separate ranges - Bayonet Range (one hex distant), Musket Range (two hexes) and Engagement Range (three hexes). Engagement Range is the range where Artillery start becoming truly effective, and it's also the home of the Rifles, who are perhaps the most powerful single unit in the game.

Engagement Range is an important concept, since outside this range you are free to manoeuvre at will, with only the occasional sniping attack from Artillery to concern you.

You should never move into Musket Range without at least two cards that will order in that section. You cannot afford to stand stationary under enemy musket fire.

Equally, if the enemy is in engagement range you must ensure that you have a card that will allow you to immediately respond to an advance.

Thus, hand management is of vital importance to a successful attack, and you should only ever attack where you are strong. Equally, this allows you to make feints, moving up troops into engagement range to threaten attacks and draw away their reserves. Infantry-on-Infantry combat is always going to be a bloody business, and will usually result in an exchange of banners, thus reserves on both sides are also extremely important.

This is where the initiative comes in. Since the defender is forced to respond to an attack, they are likely to be tied to only one or two cards plays. This means that they are not progressing with any other goals, and are playing in the section of the board where you are strongest, and have been building your hand to suit.

Assuming that you have built up a sensible hand, you need to develop the actual attack. As with Napoleonic warfare in history, the ideal is to attack the flanks, use terrain and units to aggressively block their lines of sight, and minimise the return fire.

A successful purely Infantry attack will typically result in an even exchange of banners. This means that the objective here is not necessarily to destroy the enemy, instead it is to force them out of position, and claim it for yourself. This will allow you to move up your reserves and exploit the weakness you've created.

Example one: (Infantry on Infantry)



In this situation, the French are attacking a strongly held British position, as is fairly typical in the scenarios of the basic game.



Before the attack, the French Light Infantry are moved up to engagement range, using their extra speed to outflank the British. This move would likely be part of something greater, perhaps a Recon or Recon in Force.



Now the French move into musket range. They fire on the British Line and are likely to cause at least one block of damage, and will roll a single banner in two thirds of cases.





The British counter-attack is with reduced dice, since the damaged unit has to retake his position, and the undamaged unit would have to move to get into musket range.



The fire will likely devastate one of the French units, and force them to retreat.



The French will likely end up in a situation similar to the above on their second turn. If left without reserves, the attackers will trade units with the defenders, and likely kill as many as they lose. If they have reserves available (and the attacker should always outnumber the defender, even if only locally - see Fredrick's Oblique Line, or Alexander's advance at Gaugamela) then the British are out of position, and the French can roll them up.

In an Infantry-only attack, losses will be taken. As is the case with all of the Command and Colors games, you need to manage this well - replacing spent units with fresh ones and protecting your men.

You'll notice that the attack requires three units. If I'm considering an infantry-only attack, I usually want at least two 3+ unit cards in my hand, Attacks, Assaults and various Special cards. You need the numbers here.

Example two: (Infantry and Cavalry on Infantry)

This is a far better situation for the attacker, and indeed I make as much use of my cavalry as possible each battle - they are one of the few ways that the attacker can have a tremendous advantage with equal numbers.



This is a typical situation - the Line Infantry are in engagement range, and the Light Cavalry could be anywhere where they can charge the British Line Infantry.



The French Line move into musket range, and the French Cavalry move adjacent to two enemy units. I wouldn't place the Cavalry there if there were three enemies, since the resulting musket fire would be devastating, but in a case where you can advance on an isolated group this is fine, as we'll see.



The Cavalry attack first, and charge the leftmost British Line. The British player then faces an extremely tough decision - do they form square, lose a precious command card and risk the advance of the Line, or do they remain in line and take the charge head on?

On average, and assuming that the Line never form square, French light cavalry will inflict two hits, and two thirds of the time roll a banner, which will mean that they can inflict another two hits and destroy the unit.

Clearly then, usually the infantry will form square, sooner or later. Not doing so is a huge gamble, although the payoff is potentially very good.

In this situation, the Cavalry will likely do a damage to the square, and the square might do the same in return, but it really doesn't matter - the cavalry are performing two functions:

1 Gaining card advantage. This is simple - the less cards they hold, the less options they have to respond. You may get lucky and take the only card which can respond, but even if you don't you are weakening the army overall.

2 Screening. From where the French are, the Line Infantry can fire into the square for limited damage, and then develop the attack by charging for devastating damage. The Cavalry are both blocking LOS from the other Line Infantry (even if they move - as it happens they are also out of range here), and also forcing them to attack in melee, if they attack at all.

Of course, if the cavalry are charged with bayonets, they will retire and reform for limited losses.

Due to the way squares work, if there is a cavalry unit adjacent at the start of their turn, they cannot leave square on that turn. The action is performed in the Order phase, and the Cavalry cannot be shifted until they are Battled.


Artillery

I haven't mentioned Artillery in either of the two examples above. Artillery are a support unit, and act as a valuable addition to any attack, but not the focus or a requirement of the attack themselves.

Artillery can be used aggressively, and moved up to engagement range where their two-dice start having a decent effect.

They should be used to make holes and disrupt defensive formations, weaken potential defenders and possibly aid in the final charge with a combined arms attack.





I hope that the above is valuable to someone - I'm still getting to know this fantastic game, but I know that I found it extremely hard to work out how to attack effectively when I first began. Since then, I feel that my understanding has improved significantly, and if that can help anyone else, so much the better.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ted Kostek
United States
Camano Island
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Brilliant article!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
mark motley
United States
Ohio
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Bravo! Thanks!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Arrrrr!
United States
California
flag msg tools
mb
Because you want to take control of territories for the glory of France and the Napoleonic Empire. Duh
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Karlsson
Sweden
Linköping
Östergötland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
In the last example, can't the other British infantry, not in square, fire on the adjacent cavalry, and devastate it?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris Van Beurden
Belgium
Leuven
Vlaams-Brabant
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
You cannot FIRE at adjacent units, you must MELEE attack. And Infantry attacking cavalry in melee allows the cavalry to retire & reform.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Lai
Australia
Churchlands
WA
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the article!

I'm a C&C: Ancients veteran but Napoleonics feels very different indeed - feel like I'm learning the ropes again.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Borg
United States
Orlando
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Very Nice Indeed!

Richard Borg
35 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I legally own hundreds of polyhedral assault dice!
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Dom,

This is a great article and I appreciate the effort that went into it.

However, I think there are stronger British counters for the opening example between the British and French infantry.

For example: once the British see a French assault developing on their left, I doubt all three units would remain idle. For two orders, the British could form a triskelion of mutually supporting units by backing the middle unit off the hills and sliding the leftmost (in the image) along the hill to become adjacent to the others.

When the French move up, their attack won't force a retreat from the position and the British will be able to return fire with three or four dice without giving up any terrain. If things go badly for the British, there is still opportunity to maneuver left-ward (on the map) and use the right-most hill hex as an LOS/LOF block until a new opportunity develops.

If the British come off the hill as they do in your example, they are in easy range for an assault by two French Line units, have given up advantages in terrain and support, and won't roll but one more die—maybe—in ranged combat. (I might do this, but most British players I know won't! laugh)
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dom Rougier
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
I completely agree - but then if the British are moving to re-organise outside of musket range, then they are inevitably weakening their position on another part of the field.

This is something I didn't really touch on, but this allows for feint attacks and true manoeuvre warfare - where the armies dance around each other, looking to gain a positional advantage. Since the defenders in most cases will already have a positional advantage, any response will likely harm their overall situation.

The point of the Infantry-Infantry example was to illustrate using a flank to attack, and with aggressive use of terrain and men to screen LOS, you can be in a situation where you locally have an advantage, despite their defensive position.

Clearly, if the British responded correctly to the French advance, by reorganising in depth, then they are drawing units away from another section of the line. Since the attackers (French here) will invariably outnumber the defenders, the French here should probably stay put, and another contingent of French should advance in a separate section.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Duke
United States
Georgetown
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent article and fantastic discussion!

Dom and Brady, there is still room in Mini Tournament #2 of CCN online where you can both demonstrate your tactical acumen!

Come on in, the water's fine!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I legally own hundreds of polyhedral assault dice!
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I played C&C:N for eight hours yesterday. Nate, Bill, and I played Garcia Hernandez thrice; River Coa twice, and Rolica I twice. I wasn't kidding when I said I would make the sort of move that I criticize the British over in the opening example! laugh
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris Van Beurden
Belgium
Leuven
Vlaams-Brabant
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
I played the Corunna scenario again (this time as the british) a few days ago, and my Guard Grenadiers ended up in a hex adjacent to the final French hexline (in fact, actually they didn't because they reached it after advancing into the hex vacated by the unit I slaughtered to get my sixth banner).

Just to say that even in a scenario where you are outnumbered, all-out attack might be the way to win, if you have the cards for it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
T. Wesley
United States
Annandale
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Possibly the greatest post in the history of C&C
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michel Sorbet
Poland
Lublin
flag msg tools
designer
"A son seul aspect n'est-on pas terrasse? Nul n'est assez hardi pour l'exciter" Job 40:28
mbmbmbmbmb
It is great to see such articles. This game is a real cracker and I believe this is just the beginning of the process of "knowing" it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Duke
United States
Georgetown
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Well the Mini Tournament #2 is starting. I continue to gather experiences from other players on Vassal who say plan for 3 hours for a game between good players.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Chaplin
United Kingdom
Nottingham
Ice-choked tower, Mondavia, Nanglangka.
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Have a gold coin for your excellent article, Dom. Huzzah!



4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
I aten't dead yet...
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Pyuredeadbrilliant

Jim...... mb
Est. 1949

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob
United States
flag msg tools
Haben Sie doch tatsachlich unser Periscope gesehen
badge
Our recent triumphs: Dived to evade enemy aircraft. Lost contact. Dived to evade destroyer. Depth charged. The British have stopped making mistakes.
mbmbmbmbmb

Sierra Hotel!!!

cool
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Harper
United States
National City
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Tango Foxtrot!

ninja

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Jolly
United Kingdom
Bourne
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great article! Thank you so much!!

Cheers,

Matt
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven Apergis
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
My regular gaming partner, Richard, and I have probably played C & C Napoleonic a few hundred times and the just Waterloo over fifty times.

We are aware of the "Why bother to attack crowd?"

Hand management is very important in this games. If one never applies any pressure to his opponent he turns the the game into a game of Rummy.

I remember when we were playing at the Game Parlour when one these no attack gentlemen showed up. "Yeah," he said, "there is no incentive to attack."

He then challenged us to prove his point and ended up playing Richard. Well for about fifteen minutes nothing happened. Eventually Richard drew a "four aces gin rummy" mother load:

La Grande Manoeuvre
Two First Strike Cards
and
Give Them Cold Steel

In two turns he annihilated his opponents army. To myself, I was laughing my head off as the vanquished one sat in his chair in stunned silence.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jag Är Gusen
Sweden
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
As a new C&C:N player I appreciate this article immensely, great job! The images in particular make it very clear and easy to understand. Would be happy to read more posts like this.

I've also had trouble to understand the incentive to attack, but am slowly starting to learn. Hopefully my redcoats will be more victorious in the future
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.