This section is designed as a further analysis of Allied tactics - it expands on the "Tactics & Tips" section and concentrates a little more on the game engine rather than Napoleonic tactics in general.
Known as Wellington`s most "infamous" Army, this hotch-potch command of variable quality troops can be difficult to manage if you do not play to its strengths. Firstly, and most importantly you *must* fight a predominantly defensive battle if playing the Allies in the Waterloo scenarios. By this I mean make good use of terrain (reverse slopes, hedges, buildings etc) and try to anchor your flanks on easily defended locations. If necessary shorten your lines somewhat in order to provide more depth to your defence. Pay particular attention to leader placement so you can crack the C&C game in relation to Brigade/Divisional defence lines. By this I mean if you keep your Divisional Commander in the centre of his Division and your Brigade Commanders likewise to their Brigades you can effectively spread your battalions out a lot wider and still maintain command control. This is so important! You benefit from a lot of positive modifiers when your units are "in command", take advantage of this. If you are facing an experienced French commander you will have to be really on the ball to pull this battle "out of the bag". Thats where the next section comes in:
Your Army has some very weak links eg a lot of Quality 2 rated infantry battalions. It can be difficult to use these troops effectively - do you push them forward with the other troops? keep them as a weak reserve? probe at the French flanks?
I have found that ideally these troops should be pulled back to a second line of defence so that by the time they see any action the enemy that they face are already fatigued, disordered, suffering command and control problems etc etc. Even then only use them sparingly as i have repeatedly found that a Dutch-Belgian Brigade for example will repeatedly break and run if only one or two of its battalions suffer morale checks and fail. Try to keep the light battalions and quality 3 units at the front as they are less susceptible to routing, the quality 2 units should be kept in the rear defending villages, forests and other areas where they benefit from good modifiers. At the beginning of most of the Waterloo battles the Dutch-Belgians that begin on the French left flank are very useful for breaking up or distracting attacks on Hougoumont - break those 2 light battalions down and get those skirmishers in!
Onto the "middle qualtity" troops - the 3, 4 and 5 rated units. These guys are the heart of your Army so take good care of them. Watch your spacing between defence lines - if you have a second infantry line (reserve) within 200-300 yards of your first they will suffer disorganisation if and when units from the frontline break and rout through them. This is also a valid point re cavalry reserves, keep them well back as they are no good to you if a routed 25 man skirmisher unit passes through your massed mounted ranks and disorders the whole lot! I`ve had this happen to me and its a complete pain in the arse - your vengeful smile disappears once you see your masterful counter-stroke is completely buggered!
Update: The problem mentioned above has now been solved. In patch V1.07 cavalry can now occupy the same hex as (250 or less) skirmishers with only the skirmishers suffering disorder. Well done Talonsoft..
Okay...onto the higher quality infantry. The Guard Brigades and the light battalions. The British Guard are your best infantry but they are poorly used if you throw them into defending Hougoumont. Keep them behind the reverse slopes - out of sight. Guard battalions in line are particularly good at routing French regular infantry who come marching over the ridges. They are also good at counter-attacking (melees) as they often gain positive modifiers against French regulars due to their higher quality. The light battalions should always be broken down into their constituent parts, 6-7 skirmisher companies can cover 600-700 yards of terrain if you have a hole in your frontline (okay its a last resort but they will hold the enemy up until you rally your broken battalions). They can also be used to harass enemy artillery and cavalry, especially the longer-ranged riflemen units who can stand out of range of French skirmishers and blast away with impunity. Skirmishers are also particularly adept at rushing forward and outflanking the enemy. Its no great loss if 25 skirmishers get taken out in return for taking out a Grade A French cannon! The next bit of advice is a natural progression from the preceding sentence: Watch Your Flanks! A defensive line should always have skirmishers or a cavalry squadron on its flanks - simply to avoid the enemy wheeling a unit around your line to get that important +2 modifier himself! Even try refusing your flanks - place a unit at a 45 degree angle to your frontline at each end and this helps to alleviate any potential problems.
A final point - keep those supply wagons within 500 yds. If you don`t you`ll soon find that units will run low on ammo - therefore giving adverse modifiers with regard to morale as well as obviously not being able to fire. Keep the wagons protected as each time you lose one you also lose artillery ammunition. Damn.
I`ve placed these two unit types together as thats exactly how they should be used - together! In the previous general tactics section I touched upon the combined arms aspects of Napoleonic warfare, this is expanded upon here.
The Allied cavalry and artillery are quite numerous although not as much as the French. Typical huh? A good strategy for cavalry use is to keep them out of the way of the French grand batteries - in fact, keep them out of sight of all the French forces if possible. In defiles, behind ridges etc. The threat of the charge is the most important Allied ruse here...you have to decide whether to actually go ahead and charge an advancing enemy force, hopefully taking them by surprise or keep your cavalry in view but well back therefore threatening the charge and forcing the enemy comander to keep forming square. This is where the artillery comes in. Cannon devastate squares. Point made? Everyone has different playing styles - we all understand that, so you will have to constantly analyse your enemy`s moves and decide which way to use your offensive forces. Hide and then charge like hell? or make a show of force to slow your opponent down?
Another important point re cavalry is their ability to be broken down into squadrons. Just one squadron of cavalry is enough to ride right through a long line of French skirmishers if you can charge from their flank....and you`ll still have the rest of the regt in reserve. See the new Cavalry tactics page for more info. One thing to consider: if you do charge into an advancing enemy force its highly likely that your mounted regts will be massacred in the following turns as they try to reform and return to their lines. Hopefully this is something that will be remedied in future releases as its not at all realistic.
Expanding more on artillery - watch your ammunition. If you consistently fire 8-9 rounds per phase you will run out halfway through the battle and bang goes your combined arms defence!! Its very hard to discipline yourself with artillery shots - but as a rule of thumb try not to fire unless the range is within 500-600 yds or slightly further if you are using higher quality cannon. If you consistently shoot at extreme range you are effectively wasting ammunition even if you do kill 25 infantry in the process. Position an infantry battalion adjacent to all threatened batteries as they will "save" your gunners if the battery is charged by enemy cavalry. Also pay attention to the different quality ratings of the various batteries and position your guns accordingly. Try not to fire many shots with the annoying strength 2 battery that begins the battle north of Papelotte - I may not be right but I think its a waste of good ammunuition for all the damage it does! Remember if your batteries are in danger of being charged or assaulted then limber them up in the defensive fire phase as it gives any survivors a chance to escape.
To summarise all of the above; try to keep your head when playing the Allies as I admit it can be very daunting when a particularly aggressive French commander comes at you with all he`s got! Above all watch your flanks and keep the thin red line constant - no gaps! Don`t worry too much about fatigued troops as you don`t have enough men to constantly rotate battalions in and out of the line - just don`t let the buggers break through otherwise you`ll lose a lot of men in a hurry. Remember that the Prussians will eventually arrive on the left flank and that the French commander will then have to start shuffling men all around the battlefield. I haven`t seen a French player yet who has kept a full Corps in reserve to stave off the Prussians....and that is exactly what they need to do. Throwing in the Young Guard will only delay the inevitable. If as the Allied player you can "mix it" with the majority of the Grande Armee and survive you are halfway there!
"Now Maitland! Now`s your time!"