"We`ll begin our attack here....at Hougoumont"


(Rod Steiger aka Napoleon)

CHÂTEAUX, AND HOW TO TAKE THEM

By Matt Payton

The Basics

First, we must look at the basic objectives / methods that are used in attacking a Chateau.

First, why are you attacking this chateau? (Hint: The answer is not Victory Points)

Most likely the Chateau is either Papelotte, LHS, or the dreaded Hogomount, and most likely it is in the way of your main attack, and has been loaded down with skirmishers ready to pour enfilade fire down upon any troops that try to attack around it. Right? If that's not the case, ask yourself once again, WHY are you attacking this Chateau, attacking a chateau can be a lengthy, resource-draining endeavor, and unless you really need those troops out of there, DO NOT attack it. Especially for a mere 200 VP, Granted, you would have to lose 50 cannon or 5000 infantry to make it a wash, but you will add fatigue, waste time, waste resources, and tie up troops in the attack. THINK before you begin the attack.

Okay, let assume that the chateau must fall.

Question: What must be done to take it?

Answer: The garrison in the chateaux must either be 1) destroyed, 2) or routed out of it AND it must be impossible for your foe to re-garrison it.

How can you do that? There are two different ways to "destroy" them, w/t ranged fire or via melee. And since cavalry cannot enter a Chateaux, then it must be melee w/t infantry, even more bad news, when you do melee a chateau's garrison, the attacking troops have their strength values halved (for purposes of melee odds.)

Getting the troops to rout out of the chateau and, more importantly, getting them to rout out of the chateau and making sure it can't be re-garrisoned is very tricky. The problem with this method is twofold. 1. They will rout at the beginning of your foes movement phase, which means.. 2. Since they were able to rout out of the chateau, most likely, troops can get back into the chateau (but not always!)

On a side note, they will not rout out of the chateaux because of losses suffered during an (obviously) failed melee, it must be either ranged fire or adjacent troops that trigger the rout check.

What method you use depends on the type of troops, strength (size) of those troops, the ground around the Chateau, and the Chateau itself.

The Ground

The ground is the first place to start. This must be analyzed before any attack can begin on the Chateau.

You are trying to figure out two things when analyzing the ground around a Chateau.

1. What ground can we attack the chateau from? both from ranged fire and melee's

2. How easy is it to take and hold the ground we must attack from; with (this is important!) the garrison present in the chateau. Since we only have two options on getting the garrison out of there, the analysis of the ground is rather easy. Where can we fire at the chateau from? Think in term's of infantry lines and cannon. Marching lines up to the Chateau is always less desirable than cannon, so look for cannon spots first. The easy way, make the Chateaux the hot-spot, hit the 'ol LOS icon on the tool bar and make a note of any hex that has LOS to the chateau from 2-6 hexes away. (you can go up to 6 with class-A cannon). One hex is always a sure thing, and 3-6 all depend on the type of cannon (3-4 for B, 3-6 for A). All cannon are good from a range of two. Not quite a one-hex fire power, but much better than 3+.

Once you realize where you can/have decided to fire on the chateau from, the ground must be secured. This can be the tough part but believe me when I say this, any attack upon a chateau will fail if you do not secure the ground around it first. I will repeat that. Any attack upon a chateau will fail if you do not secure the ground around it first. Now, you do not have to secure it an hour in advance, it can be secured the very turn in which you take the chateau, but it STILL must be secured by infantry.

The Chateau

The next, and fairly obvious factor is the chateau itself. The main thing we are concerned with here is path of least resistance. They go in this order 1. Open 2. Hedge/Embankment/Elevation* 3. Low Wall 4. Gate 5. High Wall (cannot melee, ranged fire only!)

Gate/High wall are very undesirable unless it is your only option. If a Low wall or something else exists, I would spend more time taking the ground around the chateau, so the attack upon the chateaux can take place over the wall/hedge/open than trying to attack a chateau threw a gate or over a high wall.

*If you can place yourself higher than the chateaux, you can give the defenders -'s to their ranged fire; However, if you have to be lower than the chateau you get more -'s for ranged fire and melee's.

The Type of Troops

Finally, some good news, the only troops allowed in a chateau are infantry, and infantry comes in two forms. Skirmishers and Line Bn. (lord help us if the game allowed artillery!)

Skirmishers are the toughest, so we'll talk about those suckers later.

Line Bn.

Line. Bn. Have two big weaknesses in defending a chateaux. 1. Line Bn. do not reduce ranged fire, so cannon from 3-5 hexes can still inflict a good hurt! 2. Line Bn. Cannot form a square in a chateau, so they must be in column or line and therefore they have a flank. Which is a lot more important than you think.

Your best bet here is to just blast away with cannon and infantry lines, don't bother melee'n them at all .. most likely the numbers and odds will be too great anyway. They WILL eventually rout out of the chateau or be destroyed from your cannon's. All it takes is time, if it must be done quickly, bring more cannon. Only melee when/if the numbers get reasonable (like BELOW 100 left), and then send in one or two columns for the Coup de Gras. Of course, if they all die, melee with what you have in the area for that "defending hex overrun" and take that freebee!

Routing

While we are on the subect, this is probably a good time to diverge to the subject of troops routing out of a chateau. First, YES, it does happen. So:

"Show them a way to live, that way they will not be so willing to fight to the death" - Sun Tzu

If you want the defenders to rout, DO NOT surround the chateau, well, at least not completely. Your best beat is to secure the ground around the chateau so you can leave the exists/entrances open, and have no fear of reinforcements ariving. If you can`t do that, get ZOC's around the entire chateau, but still allow an exit to be open. Its a tricky manouver, but can be done. The problem here is a troop will rout at the beginning of your foe's movement phase, which means he will be able to re-man it if you keep an exit open. This (sometimes) can be prevented with creative ZOC's. Figure it out.

This is also why the flank of the columns and lines help out a bunch. If you are lucky enough to get a line enfilade, then not only will you get a +2 to your FRT roll, but you also get that ever-important +2 DRM to the rout check! If their in column, no big deal, no +2 FRT mod but cannon still get there 50% increase in fire factor (25% for infantry lines), and the +2 DRM for the rout check still applies. Even Qual-7 troops have a chance of routing with just the enfilade modifier, qual-5 or 4 forget it.. they are out of there.

Skirmishers

This is your nightmare. Skirmishers defending a Chateau. First, if there are more than 250 of 'em in it, blast away just like it was a Line Bn. Until their numbers are reduced to 250 or less (hopefully you can get 'em to like 275, and kill 50-100 to get them actually below the 250 skirmish mark, and not right at it). It is very helpful to have the chateau isolated by this point too, otherwise more troops will keep piling in and you'll never get anywhere. Remember, leave an exit open if you can! At this point, the skirmishers have a good chance to rout, if not completely destroyed, w/t ranged fire. Once one rout's, they all disorder making the rest easier to rout, then when a couple start running low on ammo, they rout even easier, etc.. etc..

Once the skirmishers hit the 250 skirmish mark, or if your foe was smart enough not to overload the chateau, life becomes miserable. And this really becomes a game of understanding the game mechanics, lucky rolls, and throwing columns of troops upon the chateau, hoping & praying that you don't lose too many troops, or fatigue too many troops in the attempt. [Editors Note: if you are playing with the optional isolation rule, once skirm's get below the 250 mark, and are isolated, their effective force is 125 or less, almost making it possible to melee with some decent odds, w/o sacrificing your entire army in the process.]

Also, after a couple of failed melee's (it will happen!) the troops inside the chateaux fatigue should be up around the 4+ mark and beginning to effect the rout chances. At this point you might want to really consider giving the troops a path out (of course w/o allowing more troops in), and letting the cannon try and get the lucky 25-man hit and get the defenders to flee. This is important, even if you can't get them all to run, at least you can reduce their numbers, making the melee's a little less painful.

Combo Best bet here. Treat 'em like you would any Chateau defended by battalions, try get 'em to rout and hope they take the skirm's with them. If they don't, make sure you have read the section on skirmishers real well.

The Strength

The actual numbers are not as important as the quality of the troops defending the chateau. Everyone knows what a pain those qual-7 Footguard/Coldstream skirmishers are. We've all tried to dig them out of Hogomount before. Its not that easy, is it? But yet, Those qual-4 skirmishers in and around Papelotte seem to go much easier. Weird.

Numbers are numbers, and all numbers can be defeated with more numbers, quality on the other hand. Quality can overcome numbers and situation, and lets face it they got a good situation here. Which means its just that much more difficult.

Examples of melee's

2-100 man skirmishers are in a chateaux, to melee it w/t 6:1 odds you must attack with 2400 infantry.

I.e. it can't be done.

Check out this table...

Garrison Strength Maximum Melee Odds Min. Troops for Max. Odds
250 4:1 2000 (2:1 = 1000)
225 4:1 1800 (2:1 = 900)
200 4:1 1600 (2:1 = 800)
175 4:1 1400 (2:1 = 700)
150 6:1 1800 (4:1 = 1200)
125 6:1 1500 (4:1 = 1000)
100 6:1 1200 (4:1 = 800)
75 6:1 900 (4:1 = 600)
50 6:1 600 (4:1 = 400)

Those are some horrible numbers. A brief summary on game mechanics.

Fire Factor Min. Roll Needed to kill 25 Men Max. Modifier
1-4 11 -1
5-8 10 -2
9-12 9 -3
13-16 8 -4
17-20 7 -5
21-25 6 -6

What that means, if your fire, upon ANY target has a greater negative modifier than the one given in the Max. Modifier column, you CANNOT do damage to that target, all you can do is increase the fatigue, and if the modifier is two greater "negatively" than that value, you can't even do that. Remember this. Ohh yeah, the qual-6+ (mod 1) to fire increases the Max. Modifier by one.

Here's something else. When skirmishers are below the skirmish line (250 troops or less in a hex), the MAXIMUM fire that 6-class D cannons can do (at range one) is 18. No higher, that's at range one, and range two its 12 (that's A,B, or D's) and at range 3 (for A's or B's) its 8.

One last thing....good luck people, you`ll need it..

(Editor`s note: Thanks Matt!)



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This page updated on 08/10/02.