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.

map6

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).

map6b

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. 

map6c

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.)

map6d

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.

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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.

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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.

map5e

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.

map5d

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

 

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.

map4

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.

map4b

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.

map4c

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.

map4e

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.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #3 – The Wheat fields.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #3 – The Wheat fields.

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 3 – The Wheat fields.

The goal is to kill the 10 swordsmen men in the opponents farm house.  The house is immune to cavalry and musket shot, but mortars and howitzers damage it normally.  (3 or 4 damage).  

map3

Movement is a bit weird at first.  You can move your full amount but you can only move 1 hex at a time.  The big tip that you have been waiting for is:  When you trample fresh un-trampled wheat – you are immune to any ‘zone-of-control’ from any enemies.  What this means is that you can walk right past a unit in an adjacent hex no problem.  This is makes cavalry especially dangerous in the wheat as they can move quite a bit and also walk straight up face-to-face with the enemy and point blank charge them.  Usually if cavalry moves face to face with a unit – the unit’s zone-of-control will prevent you from suddenly charging – but ‘not so’ within the golden wheat fields.

map3b

This battle also has a lot of potential for trickery as you never know if that unit moving through the wheat field is alone or not.

Tactically speaking, I am hardly qualified to give advice on this one.  I seem to get beaten on this one 3 out of 4 times even though I know all the nitty gritty details.  Just doesn’t make sense!

map3c

Most likely the reason I fail at this map so often is that I rush forward too quickly.

Next battle – Cannon Run.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #2 – The Bridge.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #2 – The Bridge.

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 2 – The Bridge.

This battle is a real meat grinder.  I usually have mild successes by sending 3-4 cavalry after the opponent mortar.  Usually after I make a big show of crossing the river with the brunt of my forces – usually a faint – and I just come back to my own side.  Sometimes this gets your opponent commander to commit too much to one side and leaves their howitzer a little too undefended.

map2b

I have also had success with putting a strong formation just across the river as an attention magnet.  That is a triangle of 3 pikes in formation.  When you do this they become immune to morale hits and attacks do not break the formation.  It makes for a great distraction because if they ignore it you can move your porcupine gradually towards the howitzer.  But DO NOT do this if you are within range of the howitzer.  The howitzer will do double damage (6) to units in formation. That said, a strong formation is a great way to get Cavalry to stop bothering you.

So other than those two obvious moves, and baring any mistakes by either commander – it’s just a gradual game of trying to take less damage per round than your opponent.  Hence the meat grinder.

This is a good map for ‘walking the commander’ along the front lines.  That is, gradually moving your commander along behind a row of units locked with the enemy (or in the water).  If you gradually walk your commander along this line you can have a +1 attack bonus as your men are inspired by his presence.  This can give half a dozen units a +1 if setup right or you have the space.  You do this by moving just one or two hexes with  the commander and then attacking with the inspired units.  Then you move your commander again to inspire the next two or three units.  Just one of the regular duties of your commander (or any leader unit).

map2

So I usually do a faint, then send almost too many to go kill the howitzer and try to hold off the enemy with just my commander the howitzer and a few good units.  The tactical options are a bit limited on this map.  But it’s often an exciting fight with both howitzers moving towards each other and lots of men between it gradually becomes more and more intense.

In a couple dozen battles on this map I have seen a howitzer get put on the bridge once or twice.  The rest of the time it’s a howitzer kill or fallback by one of the Commanders.

It seems like a good map to do some manoeuvring and then trap the opponent commander between forces.  Nobody ever does that though, including myself.

Next Battle – The wheat fields.

A Cold Week In Naarden – battle tips #1 – The Wall.

A Cold Week In Naarden - Tactical Details

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 1 – The Wall.

This first battle is a real head game.  You never know if your opponent intends to breach the wall or just make you think they will and bomb you with mortar as you gather defences around the weakened wall piece.

map1e

I’ve had a lot of success with surprise artillery killing by breaching the wall in the middle and charging in with cavalry.  A lot of commanders fail to protect from this surprise attack.  Once you get that precious mortar then it’s pretty much home free if you play defensively and position your cannons to take out the keep.  But I have seen some tough commanders come back from this.

Against more seasoned commanders who are wisely weary of weak walls and tend to not fall for the ‘rush forward to defend the area and get mortared’ ploy – I find it becomes more a battle of smoke.  If they setup a cannon to blast your keep you can defend by smoking the area with your two muskets.  Step forward, shoot, step back.  Don’t worry about low damage – its two overlapping smoke puffs which we want here.  While this is going on you bring your mortar closer.  This gives you the option to move back and let them come in to attack your keep. Your keep is tough and isn’t affected by mortar shot so you can gore pile the invaders and smoke protect your keep at the same time, followed by some melee locks to keep your keep safe. That or you can mortar outside the gate if the enemy is hesitant to come in.  This also protects your keep and hurts the enemy.

Another tactic vs the experienced is make a breech, and then drop a mortar shot just past that breech to blind the area.  If the mortar hits nothing (no death screams) then sneak in some cavalry, paying attention to wind direction.  If all goes well one of your hidden cavalry will be in a perfect position to charge the mortar or a cannon in the following round.  This is a risky move but a whole lot of fun to pull off.  If the units that lock your cavalry are pikes then you might avoid damage via the ‘attempted lock’ and break away quickly after that, either back through your opened wall space or deeper into enemy territory to stress out the remaining artillery – forcing your opponent to chase them and thus leave the wall defenceless.

If you lower a wall to 3 points left, then your opponent can blast through and come charging in.  Most common tactic is to weaken the wall at one point, prepare you cavalry close to the weakened wall and then charge in and surprise and kill some artillery.

I often like to weaken the wall in various points just to mess with the enemy commander.  And then focus on what they are doing – so if they are going for a cannon setup then prepare for a mortar smoke offence/defence bombardment.  If they seem more focused on defending their own keep then then I might lean towards a breach to come in behind them.  With multiple weak points in the wall, its harder for your opponent to guess where you might breech.

Only melee attacks from muskets and pikemen will harm the keep.  Cavalry and Musket fire is useless.  It’s usually a waist of time to attack the Keep early on with infantry as the defences will lock you up and kill you before you have done much damage.  I have only seen a keep taken by melee once and it was at the end of a brutal battle.   Some commanders actually don’t guard the gate and let you come in so they can easily decimate your forces.

This first battle works well for both new and experienced players.  New players can stand back and be defensive and the wall really helps give them time to get ready.  Seasoned players have a lot of fun with the vast array of possible ways to mess with the enemy or simply ignore the Keep and go for a win via kills or threaten the Commander.  There is always a counter to whatever your opponent does so this is a great first battle.

map1b

A balanced battle between two great commanders never gets old on this map.  Even if it often falls into the an intense cannon attack upon both keeps followed by lots of plotting to take out the precious artillery.  It’s hard always know what your opponent is up to due to the wall blocking line of sight, so this battle is often full of dramatic surprises.

map1

Just protect your Mortar at all costs.  It’s just too valuable in this battle.  One easy safeguard is to place a cavalry unit in front of your Mortar to prevent surprise charges from sudden wall breaches. Cavalry can not charge through cavalry.

map1c

Edit:  It’s probably wiser to not enter your first breach.  That almost never goes well for the invader, unless artillery can be killed instantly.  If you want your invading units to have a real chance then perhaps wait until you have a second or third breach.  The danger here though is that they come through to your side – instead.  So be ready for that as well.  Good luck!

Next battle – The Bridge.

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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