TIP 1: Order of attack is very important. You want to melee lock your targets before shooting them – when possible. If you shoot something (and then) lock the same unit after that – then you are doing it wrong. For example grape shot does 10 damage, or 20 damage vs a melee locked unit. A big difference.
TIP 2: Overly aggressive solo attacks are usually a bad idea. Musket Smoke dramatically rewards cooperation so it’s better to only attack when you outnumber the enemy with each sub battle on the map. It’s a tactical dance of moving units around and regrouping until one side has a clear advantage to attack. Units without support are quickly surrounded and destroyed. It’s a tense dance.
TIP 3: Be patient. Patient commanders usually eat impatient commanders for breakfast. A patient commander is not a turtle however. Patient commanders often surround and destroy turtles. The brilliance of Musket Smoke is that you can’t simply be overly aggressive or overly defensive. To win you need to steadily control more space and find the sweet spot in the middle that suits you best. The best commanders are within the 60/40 range for aggressiveness. Napoleon however, was very defensive unil just the right moment when suddenly he switched gears and became all offence.
TIP 4: Set traps. Try to draw the enemy in to a place where you will outnumber them. A good carrot is a cannon. Let that lone cavalry lock your cannon if you know you can easily destroy it in one round. But don’t do this if your cannon is within range of another cannon.
TIP 5: Divide and Conquer: Or let them think they are doing that to you. Look like you are ready for a battle on two fronts. But your fast units are facing their slow units. Then at the last moment you rush your fast units to support the other battle and kill them off before the slow units come. When they finally arrive you outnumber them once again. This is harder to do in Mini Matches because then you leave your base open.
TIP 6: If you feel overwhelmed by too many tactical decisions in front of you then ignore the details. Just keep your units lined up and facing the enemy. Box them in so they can’t get behind you. Or move back and form lines. But make sure cannons can only hit one unit and not multiple units down your line. If you think from that simple perspective you will do much better. Having a cannon (and one extra unit) behind a line just out of charge range is perfect. If the enemy charges through your line you lock em up and grape shot them to the afterworld. If you want to remove complexity on the battlefield then lock up other free units rather that do flanking shots. It’s less offensive but will simplify and slow down the battle quite a bit – allowing you more time to think and less to think about.
TIP 7: Formations usually make you weak. They are defence from melee only (and do a lot of extra damage to cavalry charges). Artillery loves to shoot formations and tactical players love to run past your formations to get at your artillery. Normally units will stop movement of enemy units within one hex (except artillery). Since positioning is huge in these battles it’s often a bad idea to give your opponent more maneuverability within your area. There are rare times when the right formation at the right time will tip the battle into your favour but these are very rare. If you are new to these sorts of battles it’s best to ignore formations until you feel the need for an advanced tactical option that you can tinker with.
TIP 8: Lock dangerous units first. If you have a choice, it’s better to attack the musket (or cavalry) before it attacks you. If the musket is smart it will let some other unit lock you up first, then attack. So prevent that by locking them up and making them do only 3 extra damage instead of 6 extra damage and possibly a rear melee attack as well. The Musket is really dangerous and so don’t let them run free. Lock them up before they destroy you. Groups of muskets are crazy dangerous and are best to avoid if you can’t lock them up. The same can be said of cavalry.
TIP 9: When outnumbered (say 2 vs 3) try to melee lock in such a manner that you prevent a flanking attack. So this could be your 2 units are together and lock the outer two enemies and the enemy in the middle has to melee your left or right FRONT flank. Or they have to travel travel around their own guys and can’t get to your backside while you hopefully bring in re-enforcements.
TIP 10: Don’t let weak units die. If they die then your opponent gets confidence and you have less units for the end game. Even a very weak unit can tip a battle if it interrupts a dangerous enemy unit at a critical time. Preventing the enemy unit from reaching an important target for example.
BONUS TIP: Make dangerous areas and push forward. The more offensive overlap that you can stuff into an area, the better. Have multiple lines of cannon fire coupled with lots of empty places where you can potentially lock and then shoot – if the enemy moves there. This will keep many opponents pinned back, which then lets you move forward and secure the area even better. Until you finally trap and kill your opponent. This is why it’s also important to stand your ground. If you get pushed back too easily you will be a sitting duck eventually. Push back, with your own overlapping lines of death. Don’t worry about unlocked cannon hits that don’t cause morale hits. Hold the line, angle your cannons better and position your cavalry offensively. Both sides should keep pressing forward with gritted teeth.
BONUS TIP 2: It’s not bad to attack first. Just do it wisely. Make a danger zone. Send in a sacrificial unit to draw the enemy into your kill-zone. When your opponent overly reacts and proceeds to obliterate your offering, you then unleash hell as they have just put many more units within harms way. Another sort of first attack that can work is a big line that prevents flanking. Attacking first also means you won’t have smoke issues blocking some of your important firepower. The best Musket Smoke commanders gradually push forward very carefully, moving larger groups towards smaller ones.
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