10 tactical tips for Musket Smoke battles

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.

Musket Smoke tips and tricks

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Is Musket Smoke a serious wargame?

Is Musket Smoke a serious wargame?

Someone asked this on Pocket Tactics. So I responded with the following.

ok.. here I go.. Some details to help you decide.

It’s a hybrid abstract wargame, that is serious about tactical options, fun competition and conflict between players. It is serious about capturing the ‘feel’ of Napoleonic tactics and situations but not serious about the historical details of specific battles or special abilities of specific units. Both sides are usually the same as this is a competitive abstract tactical wargame at its heart.

That said, it tries to cover some of the basics. For example cavalry become disorganized after a charge. (can only move 1 hex in following round). It has form of Zone of Control, meaningful smoke and wind, infantry formations. But the scale is small and so if you want a line then you just align multiple units of 30 men. It tries to simulate cavalry’s ability to avoid melee from infantry if desired, but just vs one infantry unit.

It a serious perfect information game with the exception of some smoke, mortar hit locations, and line of sight in campaign mode that hides units. It has a chess like seriousness with position but also has flanking moves that do morale hits and thus reward good tactical play and make it much less of a battle of attrition – more of an exciting thinking mans game with better chances for comebacks.

Muskets that go in the water become wet (blue indicator) and can’t shoot any longer. Muskets auto reload but not if they were involved in melee the previous round. Water and light trees limit movement and can affect damage. Muskets move 2 instead of 3 to abstractly factor in reloading.

It has seriously good training in the form of videos, interactive tutorials, and a mini match mode that lets players undo and try different tactics, gradually learning to make seriously perfect moves. (No undo in the campaign)

It has serious custom UI for each unit type. Making ones decisions fun, informative, and more ‘tactile’ giving you more of that ‘boardgame feel’ and maximizing the use of a touch tablet.

However, a cannon unit is a single cannon with 10 swordsmen defenders, who can work a cannon. It can still be wiped out fairly easily but they don’t just drop and run when the enemy approaches. Instead they load grapeshot and fight – because that is more fun for most people. But it can still only move or shoot, not both.

In short ‘some’ grognards really do love it, and some grognards could do without a game that doesn’t use a special flavour of black powder rules, lookup tables and 4 different types of elite musket units for each side.

Some casual players feel overwhelmed by all the ‘open tactical options’ at first but then come to love the UI and just jump in and start killing things, quickly noticing that distance and unit cooperation is important.

This game is serious about finding a fun balance between abstract tactical and realism. It is serious about being a ‘new style of wargame’. That’s not just a slogan, its more about correcting expectations and seriously expecting something different.

I think I said serious too much.. erg. But anyways, now you have a better sense how how serious this game is. Whatever that means.. haha..

Gore piles, smoke and morale explained..

Gore piles, smoke and morale explained..

Gore Piles:

CREATED BY: a heavy cannon (artillery) hit that does 4 or more damage. Heavy cannon hits ALWAYS cause a morale hit AND a gore pile.  Note that siege cannons do 4 upon specified target (without a lock) and mortars do 4 damage to everything in a 7 hex area.  A normal cannon usually needs the target unit to be locked before this will happen.

UNITS AFFECTED BY BEING ON A GORE PILE: low confident units (units with no yellow stars)

– unit takes +1 damage from all attacks.
– all further cannon (artillery) shots cause a morale hit. (even weak shots)

– decide if it’s worth it to stay or break away. Usually you will break away.

CREATED BY: 2 layers of normal smoke.
DURRATION: 1-2 rounds
MOVEMENT 1 hex per round, you can see what direction it will move in the following round. But you can’t be certain if it will fade out or not.

The smoke view can be controlled with the smoke-puff button.  This toggles natural smoke view (showing all the little wisps) or just the thick smoke view (showing only hexes with overlapping smoke that blocks line of sight.)  Natural looks better, but thick view is more practical tactically.  Sometimes though you want to see where the wisp’s of thin smoke are so that you can add a musket shot over top of it to deliberately create thick smoke for defensive (or offensive) purposes.

– Cavalry LOVE smoke to sneak up on units in hard core mode where the smoke makes them invisible.
– A defensive cannon shield. Where should you move? Look at the smoke, look at the wind direction, look at the shooters (mostly cannons) and move to where the smoke will be next round (if it doesn’t fade away) This gives you a ‘chance’ at some cover.
– Don’t have your cannons too close together. They will smoke block their own shots quicker and you don’t want a cavalry unit to take them both out at once with a single charge.
– A bunch of slow moving muskets on an open field facing lots of cannons only have his one thing to help them. When the forward cannon defenders come out to lock or get close the muskets can form a temporary defensive wall that allows the rest of the army to close in safely for a round or two. Without ‘thick blocking smoke’ cannons on an open field would be too powerful and nobody would want to engage. Smoke adds the right amount of balance for a fun and realistic fight.

– Normal units can take 2 morale hits then they are gone (routed).
– Boosted units with extra confidence (yellow stars) can take extra morale hits. Each star is like an extra morale hit point.
– Each star also allows that unit an extra point of melee damage.

Morale Hits are what reduce your morale: 4 things cause morale hits.
1) Cavalry charges **
2) Rear flank melee attacks. (all 3 rear positions) **
3) Heavy cannon hits (4 or more points of damage)
4) Any Cannon hit (upon low confident units upon a gore pile)

** (the attacker must be same size or larger than target)

Morale-hits are rewards to players for good play. Force your enemy to lock and expose their rear sides. Charge them or blast them with cannons when the time is right.

But they are also a good way for the weaker player to make a comeback. With some good moves large amounts of men can be removed from the battle field.

Good defensive play can reduce how many morale hits you take, and good offensive play can increase how many morale hits you cause. In general you want to cause more than you get to win. A great leader tries to keep his men from fleeing while causing as much terror to the enemy as possible. Unit morale states are more important that casualty losses in these types of battles.

The great leader doesn’t just manoeuvre with unit sizes in mind. He watches the smoke and wind directions and is aware of uneasy and panicked units on both sides. Then he makes his moves with all things considered.

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