Two new Musket Smoke maps coming in next update.

The map designs are being offered by a player – armin1962.  So they should be interesting as he has a LOT of experience with Musket Smoke.  His red pie count is 658 at the moment.  The maps are for mini matches and are size medium and large – mostly defensive style.

I won’t be able to get to this task until next weekend as I am still crunching for a new Job.  After things settle down a bit at the new job updates will start coming more frequently.  In the meantime the new maps can help keep things fresh.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #6 – Artillery Transport.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #6 – Artillery Transport.

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.


Initial setup.

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).


Watch out! The range of howitzers is pretty good.

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. 


Surprise! Smoke cleared away and boom.

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.)


Leader unit taking out the last howitzer – to win the battle.

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.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #5 – Winterkeep.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #5 – Winterkeep.

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 5 – Winter Keep.

This battle is epic.  You have all the special and advanced unit types in one big battle.  This battle is the most complete sense of Musket Smoke in terms of a major battle with everything.


Obviously both sides are going to plug the two holes and move the mortars and howitzers close to the centre trees.  It’s fun trying to decide what units you want to combine on the top and the bottom areas.


In general, you want to keep your cannons away from the mortars as the smoke will make your cannons mostly useless.  Or maybe you want to shut down your opponents cannons with howitzer smoke.  Usually though, your just going to mortar/howitzer what is behind the tree line.  And usually, you will move your units there to be burned alive..   I don’t know why..  but we all seem to do it.


A lot of us tend to gather a group of cavalry units and bust open one side and then come charging in.  This does a lot of damage but if cannons and muskets are waiting for you then your likely to lose all that cavalry very quick with both sides taking roughly the same amount of man loss.

The goal is to take out the keep but I have never seen this battle go that far.  All the games I played generally came down to who can keep their artillery alive the longest.  Keeping your man count up is also big on this map.  Usually this battle ends when one player gets demoralized and falls back after suffering too much loss.

Impatient rush tactics can be a fun blood crunch but they can also become predictable after a while, even with various different unit combinations facing each other.  In terms of entertainment value I believe this battle is best done slowly and patiently.  I have had rare games where a group of cavalry snuck in behind the enemy (hiding near trees) to cause havoc.  Those more patent games were more fun (and interesting) in my opinion but either way this map is always a blast to play.

Next battle:  Artillery Transport


$50 (make that $30) Musket Smoke tournament! Sign up on Pocket Tactics forums!

$50 Musket Smoke tournament in Pocket Tactics forums!

$15 prize for the tactical champ.  $10 bucks for second place, and $5 bucks for third place.

Go here to sign up or see more details!


This is “Cold Mountain” the second map in the tournament.


And ‘Open Field” is the first map.


The points are added together (0-20) and then the elimination rounds are all campaign matches.  With lowest points coupled with highest points.  (Like hockey playoffs).  Second and further campaign elimination rounds are coupled by who is finished and waiting.

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 12.02.09 PM

The tournament is now locked in.  No more entries will be accepted.

Take a look at the action here on Pocket Tactics.


An example campaign progress update graphic.


A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #4 – Cannon Run.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #4 – Cannon Run.

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 4 – Now called “Cannon Showdown”

NOTE:  Ignore the two waypoint marks on the top of the map.  They no longer exist.  This battle is now just a cannon elimination match, hence the name ‘Cannon Showdown’.

This battle is tricky for first timers.  You have these 3 siege cannons and you need to wipe out all 3 enemy cannons and keep at least one of yours alive.  Seems easy except that these are SIEGE CANNONS.  They have range 8 cannons that do an extra point of damage to the specified target (but 1 point less collateral).  What is tricky is that these babies can move 1 hex and then fire (even if they move into a ZOC). So an unlocked unit of 30 men could get shot 3 times and routed instantly.  That’s a lot of firepower.


This is where you need to be careful.

So the battle is misleading a bit.  It starts out overly quiet for 2-3 rounds as you get your cannons into an optimal position.  And then BAM!   Your in a big ass cannon fight.


All 3 can hit and kill this siege cannon.

This battle is actually a big showdown between these cannons.  Usually the first cannon that moves into the empty space above gets shot and killed.   This is a massive barrel gunfight here.

A manoeuvre tip is try not to crowd your cannons too close together.   When adjacent cannons fire the smoke will overlap and have a good chance of muzzling your firepower for 1-2 critical rounds.


Killing 2 siege cannons in one charge.  But with a leader?

This is a dangerous battle for your Commander and SF units.  It’s rare to not lose important units on this map.

Also be careful in the middle as if you shimmy up close to the enemy (with trees separating each other), make sure your opponent didn’t pick up a mortar from a previous battle.  That one often surprises people, me included.

These cannons also have auto grapeshot.  A defensive blast that triggers when a unit melee locks with the cannon.  A weak grapeshot blast combined with a melee attack that often destroys size one units.  A smart commander focuses upon weakening units near the cannon so that they can’t overcome the defensive blast.

Some description.

A big price to pay for killing 2 siege cannons.  Losing one of your leaders is ‘probably’ not worth it.

Moving a cannon into the tree-line can help sometimes.  You take 1 less damage from cannons and if someone locks you from outside the trees – you can still break away using that rare ‘edge breakaway rule’ that everyone always forgets about.  But moving into or out of the trees uses 2 move points and so you can’t shoot at that time so it’s debatable if this is a good tactic.  Perhaps best done when the enemy can’t shoot you or your firepower is not needed.  It’s one way to avoid cavalry charges.


A close save by the french leader cavalry unit.  Dutch cannon was just one move from the victory waypoint.

The last thing to remember about siege cannons is the range is affected my the 1 move they can do.  With the move 1 hex and fire it effectively makes them range 9 and range 3 grapeshot.  People often get hit by these guys when they think they are ‘just out of range’.  You always want to be that extra hex further away from them.

Next battle – Winter Keep.