Sunday, July 2, 2017

ANATOMY OF A CHARGE

     As most of you know by now, I like complex games. I used to love Squad Leader, but I think I love Clash of Arms' La Bataille de la Moscowa even more.
     To those who might be uncertain as to the level of detail presented by this game, I thought it would be illuminating to take a close-up look at a typical cavalry charge.  This is from my recent playing of the Shevardino scenario.

The Charge, choosing a target and reaction.
      In the picture above, two Russian cavalry units are launching a charge, depicted by the yellow arrows. For this example, we'll concentrate on the one on the right.
     The unit (the New Russian Dragoons, a 600-man regiment, led by Colonel George Arsenyvich Emanuel) begins the turn behind a hill, out of the line of sight of the French infantry in and around the village of Doronino.
     The dragoons race out from behind the hill, and come into view of the infantry outside the village. The Russian skirmisher unit in front of Doronino screens the view of the French inside the village, so they cannot react just yet.
     When the cavalry reaches the hex with the hand-drawn blue square, the French infantry battalion outside the town forms square. This is not guaranteed, you have to roll for it, and the chances are better the further away the cavalry is when you make the attempt. So the French form square as soon as the charging horse comes into view.
     The green circle (this is starting to resemble a Play Station controller, isn't it?) is where the Russian must declare a target. Ignoring the square, the cavalry goes for the infantry in the village. This battalion is in line formation. It decides not to attempt a square. It would have to wait until the cav was adjacent and the chances of becoming disordered in the attempted formation change is too great (about 50-50). Instead, the infantry will attempt to meet the charge with muskets blazing. Perhaps its full firepower will see it through.
     The charge goes in! The infantry has excellent morale and its "Roll to Stand" attempt succeeds. A further die roll gives the defender a 1L column shift during the coming melee.
     Now it fires at double firepower. It has 3 increments of strength, with a 3 fire multiplier for type (it is a French Ligne unit), doubled to a fire strength of 18. The cav defense strength is 6 (because it is all in a single hex, giving it the defense of a column due to density), for a 3:1 shot. A disappointing roll of 23 (on a 2d6, a tens die and a ones die) modified to 26 (again for density) results in a single hit.
     Each hit confers a -6 modifier on the hitee, so the charge goes in at a slight disadvantage, a -6 drm, largely mitigated by Colonel Emanuel's +3 melee modifier.
     The ensuing melee's unmodified odds are 36:7. The dragoons usually have a "39" melee factor, but the loss of 1 (of 12) increments during the just-completed Defensive Fire makes this 36 instead.
     Then you apply the Melee modifiers:
     *Heavy cavalry gets a x2 multiplier for charging infantry from at least 3 hexes away.
     *The Russian player decides to "preserve" readiness by attacking with a single squadron only (the unit will become "tired" after melee instead of "exhausted"). This confers a mod of x 1/3.
     The final odds are (36x2)/3 = 24:7, or 3:1. A 1L shift makes this 2:1.
     So the attack is conducted on the 2:1 column with a -3drm.
     A great attack roll of 56, modified to 53, results in a DD3. This means the infantry unit Disorders and must retreat 3 hexes. The cavalry advances to occupy the defender's hex. The defender takes 1 hit due to its retreat.
     Now, we check for Pursuit.

The Pursuit
     Pursuit can lead to lots of trouble, especially in congested areas. Therefore, the Russian player decides to attempt a Recall (which, if successful, will negate the Pursuit). The Russian has a 1-5 chance (on a 1d6). He rolls a 6! The cavalry will pursue 3 hexes (equal to the length of retreat).
     The red lines above show where the pursuing cavalry is fired at along the way. Running this gauntlet of fire is exactly why the Russian attempted to Recall. As it exits hexes adjacent to the enemy, it takes fire -- twice from the square and once from an infantry unit in column formation. No effect. When it moves adjacent to the artillery, the art, originally facing upper-left, turns to face the threat and fires as the cavalry leaves the hex. This results in a hit (a 14:8 shot, with a 2R for canister, for a total of 2.5:1). The cavalry passes its morale check and continues its pursuit. The pursued infantry unit loses 1 SP per hex of pursuit and so is eliminated (red X). [Oops. The artillery shot should have been conducted on the 4:1 column, due to target density. A crappy roll of 13 would not have changed the outcome, however.]
     Now, having survived the gauntlet and finished its pursuit, the New Russian Dragoons get 5 MPs they can use to "regroup."

Time to regroup
     Having cut a swath of destruction through Doronino, the dragoons race around the rear of the French position heading back to the Russian lines. The unit is marked "Tired" and the cavalry charge is complete. I have to admit, I'm a little tired now myself.
     Anyway, that's how cavalry charges work. Personally, I love it. To me, this is what wargaming is all about. I can "see" the action every step of the way, from the cavalry racing into view around the hill, bursting forth through a screen of skirmishers, soldiers frantically forming square, muskets blazing and the gauntlet of fire through the village. What's not to love? It really gives the ol' imagination a work-out. And for us old guys, that's a wonderful thing!
    
     

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