BGW Tactics & Tips


This page was last updated on 22 April 1997

Disclaimer: The information presented on this page is presented purely as a result of my own playtesting and experiences. Please don`t take it as gospel and if anyone out there has better ideas/suggestions send them in!

Index:

General Advice

1) RESERVES

In any of the scenarios I cannot emphasise enough the requirement to keep a decent sized reserve available. In attack or defence fresh unfatigued units can save or win the day. A reserve element should consist of ALL arms not just a weak Quality 2 rated infantry battalion! Keep them out of harms way until the critical moment as they will be of little use if the enemy are allowed to punish them with artillery fire or outflanking cavalry charges whilst they wait.for their moment of glory. Also, rotate fatigued units out of the line whenever and wherever possible as the adverse modifiers they attract can turn even the Imperial Guard into a substandard melee unit. Note that when skirmishers are re-called to their parent battalion they will immediately adopt the fatigue level of the latter, therefore it is not so important to rest skirmish units - rather re-call them every now and again. A unit rested for 3-4 game hours can often play a decisive role later in the day rather than suffer the ignominy of constant routs.

VERSION 1.1 UPDATE: When skirmishers are re-called to their parent battalion they do not adopt the fatigue level of the latter. Rather, they increase the fatigue level of the parent unit by one. This was a much-needed improvement..

2) OBSERVATION

The old saying of "Know thy enemy" is still as valid today as it ever was. You should also know his dispositions including strengths and weaknesses at any given point in the line. This can be accomplished quite easily with minimal loss by the adept use of small skirmish formations or detached cavalry squadrons. Go on...take a look over that next hill, you may lose 25 skirmishers but you may also find that your next attack will surely fail when they get charged by the 3000 heavy cavalry that are hidden behind the reverse slopes. Observation becomes critical at dusk and at night as you can`t see beyond 4 hexes. Keep those lookouts posted! I`ve heard a lot about PBEM players using replacement leaders (ie Colonel Anonymous) as recon units, good idea but hardly in the spirit of the game. Try to avoid the temptation to do this (and other little tricks) otherwise you`ll end up with no PBEM opponents.

3) SKIRMISHERS

Whether in attack or defence always keep a strong skirmish line in front of your main force. They can not only reduce casualties in your densely packed line battalions but can also hinder enemy cavalry movement (when in enough numbers) and force your enemy to use valuable artillery rounds to clear them away. Remember to keep skirmishers on the flanks as well as in front as an enemy flank attack/volley is even more devastating than a frontal one. Make good use of all your light infantry battalions, I often find that detaching all but 100 can give you a very strong skirmish line without stripping standard line battalions of their light companies. Finally, pull the skirmish formations back to their parent units every now and again to reduce their fatigue levels but bear in mind that every time you do this you will increase the fatigue level of the parent battalion by one.

4) COMMAND & CONTROL

Observe Divisional & Brigade Command radius at all times. Endeavour to keep your formations together and you will find that units quickly rally and reform. Keep all the leader units busy - have them racing up and down the field, rallying routed battalions one turn and then leading an assault the next.. The modifiers they bestow are well worth the time spent taken in good leader placement. Army and Corps Commanders are especially useful at rallying broken units due to their excellent leadership ratings. However, beware of using replacement commanders in critical situations as they are often nowhere near as good as the original leaders. Finally, don`t stack 2 leaders in the same hex, this is just a waste of good leadership.

5) TERRAIN

The field of battle is covered with defiles, hills, hedges, orchards, buildings and sunken roads - make use of them! It can be tempting to form a pretty line going straight across the map with your troops in nice neat formations, but you will soon find that units in the open will suffer tremendous casualties as opposed to ones behind cover. When in defence use every obstructed hex/hexside to your advantage. It hinders cavalry charges and massively reduces casualties from enemy volleys and melees. Remember: place line battalions in villages and skirmishers in buildings for maximum protection. Follow Wellington`s example of using the reverse slopes to protect your densely packed formations with only handfuls of skirmishers on the ridge tops for observation. On the attack, keep checking line of sight using the "visible hexes" command, you will often find safe areas where the enemy batteries can`t touch you while you manoeuvre your units into position. One last thing, avoid obstructed hexes like the plague when advancing as there is nothing worse than having to spend 2-3 more turns reforming disordered units when they are needed instantly.


Infantry

Infantry form the core of both armies and as such you can be tempted to throw away battalions in risky ventures as after all you`ve got 30 more where that one came from. Don`t do it! Stop and really analyse if the move/attack you are making is necessary. example: Why send a brigade to attack the enemy in an area that isn`t tactically important? A simple manoeuvre like refusing the main attacks flank may well do the job without you having to suffer casualties.

Be careful that you garrison strongpoints and critical areas of the line with good quality troops that don`t often break. Prime examples of poor formations are any of the Dutch-Belgian Brigades in the Anglo-Allied Army. They may look impressive with 4-5 battalions but if one of them routs and the others are close by the whole brigade will soon disappear. Use them as a second line of defence so that when they do make contact at least the enemy are already fatigued and perhaps even disordered.

Move infantry in column whenever possible, the line formation is just too fragile for extensive manoeuvering. Finally, only use the square formation when you find your units under direct threat from enemy cavalry. It requires careful timing to anticipate the best time to form square and the problem can be accentuated by units becoming disordered due to enemy threat zones. Again, keep those lookouts posted and you should avoid having to face this problem in the first place.


Cavalry

Cavalry come in all shapes and sizes. Some are just made for breaking squares and counter charging enemy cavalry, others are of little use except for harrasing, threatening and further routing already broken infantry units. Know the difference.

The greatest asset cavalry have is their ability to threaten the charge, this in itself can cause the enemy untold problems with manouevering, defences, assault lines etc. Before you do commit a cavalry regiment or brigade to a full-blown charge ensure that they won`t sacrifice themselves at the end of it. Consider every eventuality and once you have decided to go ahead and charge stop and think it all through once again! This way you won`t give the enemy the opportunity to decimate your splendid mounted regiments for the glory of perhaps taking out 1 artillery battery. Remember that the best charges are made from the enemy`s flanks where you can sweep along an entire line of his troops routing unit after unit - cavalry can attack up to 4 times in a single melee phase. Now thats a charge! Make use of detached squadrons for observation and wider coverage. Above all try to keep your enemy guessing as to your true intentions - use the threat...

Cavalry are also very handy for protecting your infantry`s flanks when on the move. This will hopefully negate the chance of an enemy cavalry charge decimating your units from the flank. Keep the cavalry out of obstructed terrain such as orchards, forests and building hexes - they are of little use here and will quickly succomb to enemy skirmishers as they mill about trying to move away and reform. Finally, avoid placing your cavalry regts in a position where they can be quickly surrounded by enemy skirmishers. This can happen ever so easily after a charge. It is really a game design fault more than anything else. Would 25 lightly armed men even consider placing themselves behind 500 Heavies - I don`t think so! Do it to them before they do it to you - perhaps detach a few squadrons of supporting cavalry to ride right through any troublesome skirmishers before the main attack goes in. This can be accomplished in the charge phase itself using the "overrun" tactic.

VERSION 1.1 UPDATE: Cavalry now receive a +2 modifier for taking units in the flank (as do infantry). This makes cavalry vs cavalry engagements much more prolific as you can now take an enemy regiment from the flank and have a damn good chance of driving them back!


Artillery

Properly handled artillery can prove absolutely devastating, poorly handled they provide easy pickings for enemy skirmishers and cavalry. Keep the cannon well back unless properly supported. They can be a source of much-needed victory points to your opponent and rest assured they will be annihilated unless positioned accurately and safely. Don`t squander valuable rounds on enemy skirmishers, keep your stocks high for when you really need them. The French Commander can afford to expend round after round on counter-battery fire, the allies can`t. Remember this. Also, take note of the fact that when artillery batteries are overrun if there is a friendly infantry unit in the adjacent hex the crew will temporarily abandon the guns to take refuge. This is a great feature which I`m sure Talonsoft are proud of, someone had their thinking hat on with this one. Finally, artillery strengths are doubled within 2 hexes of enemy units, if you can safely get your cannon this close then do it, its worth the effort.


Summary

One last thing that has only been touched on in the above: Combined Arms. No one unit type can accomplish much without the support of the others. In both defence and attack keep a well-balanced force in all local areas and you shouldn`t go far wrong. Swarms of skirmishers, then columns/lines of infantry with cavalry on the flanks and cannon tucked in behind - endeavour to use this formation every time. It works.

Rules that I keep pinned on the wall next to the monitor:

1) Having more than 250 skirmishers in any one hex negates their -1 modifier when they suffer a ranged attack They also will not get the -75% modifier in casualties.

2) Cavalry threat values are tripled within 2 hexes, doubled within 4

3) Disordered units attacks are reduced by 50%

4) Lancers strength is reduced by 25% when defending in a melee

5) Lancers & Heavies attacks are increased by 25%

6) Skirmishers gain a -2 modifier when defending in a building hex against ranged fire

7) The threat value exerted in any given hex can be accessed by right-clicking on the terrain info box

8) If a unit routs, all units in the same hex and those in adjacent hexes will be forced to make a morale check Update, version 1.1 now reduces the chances of "multi-hex" routing. Therefore don`t count on routing whole brigades anymore!

9) VP comparsion:

Remember to keep your enemy guessing as to your true intentions and placements, make use of terrain, rotate front line untis and keep those reserves. If you`ve made it this far then I thank you and hope this site has been of some use. Please contact me if you have any observations/suggestions at mst007@bigfoot.com. This is my first attempt at Web Publishing, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Mark Trowbridge



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This page updated on 08/10/02.