I’ve been in quite a few campaign battles. I’ve seen a lot of successes and fails with these missions. Here is a quick run-through of what works and what doesn’t with these 8 battles.
Battle 6 – Artillery Transport.
In this battle both sides have 2 howitzers worth 5 points each (if killed). If just one is delivered to the far right then it’s an instant win. In a couple dozen games I’ve played I’ve seen successful delivery of a howitzer maybe just 3 times. The rest of the time it’s just a howitzer kill fest.
Usually most Commanders (including myself) move one howitzer up and one to the right. Then Commanders tend to make a line of units to get bombed by howitzers (no choice because you have to protect your howitzers from cavalry).
Or Commanders will rush to the right to dominate that space. Sounds like a decent plan right? Well you need to keep enough units around your howitzers to properly protect from clever cavalry. Sometimes they sneak up and hide in a fresh puff of smoke by a howitzer seemingly shooting at nothing. Dirty bastards.
Other times this could be set up by freeing a locked cavalry with a lucky supportive howitzer hit.
Then suddenly boom – your howitzer is destroyed by a charging cavalry unit. Charges do damage equal to half of the man count in a cavalry unit. So that means a fresh 20 man cavalry unit will do 10 charge damage, which is also how many men are in a fresh artillery unit. Sometimes I go out of my way to reduce enemy cavalry man counts – just to remove the threat of instant artillery kills.
In the above map you can see that the Dutch Commander was thinking more about securing transport than actually protecting the 2 howitzers. To be fair, I believe this was his first play on this map and he didn’t have the benefit of reading this blog post first.
(I took these graphics from the full replay after we finished our campaign match. It was a spur of the moment decision after the game had already ended. Click on any map if you want to see a bigger and clearer image.)
Here I kill the last howitzer in a seemingly risky leader charge, but it was the last howitzer and so the battle was over after the charge.
So in summary, this map is a north/south battle and it’s a game of trying to not to cluster your units too tight together (making for nice howitzer targets) and not being too too spread out to let invaders in at your precious howitzers. It’s a common move to keep one howitzer punishing the enemy while one rushes for the destination. But the more I play this map, the more I think it’s probably best to just focus on killing your opponents howitzers, or just killing and reducing enemy man counts.
Personally I try to keep my cavalry healthy and try not to waste them on non-important unit charges. Let the howitzers do the killing. Hold the line and when everyone is weak and battered the cavalry can often come in and really ‘clean up’. If you want to keep your cavalry busy then just keep them hugging your howitzers. Cavalry make really nice charge blockers and it’s a good excuse to keep them off the front line – initially.
Cavalry are also good on the front line as blockers, but it’s a short lived help as they just get worn down and rarely have good opportunities in the early battles. Truth be told this battle often degenerates into chaos and all theories and best practices go out the door, quickly replaced by a desperate gory battle of survival.
The winner of this battle gets an SF Howitzer. This is the single most important unit in the final city battle – by far. You should take this battle very seriously for that alone. Most people who win this battle and keep the SF Howitzer alive into the last map, will ‘likely’ win the campaign. If you lose this battle you must try to take out the SF Howitzer in ‘The Big Siege’ battle. But that will be hard to do as any wise commander will fall back in that battle if the SF Howitzer is threatened. Without the SF Howitzer in the final battle you had better have a larger SF Unit count to help compensate.