A Treatise on BattleGround Waterloo
What Every French Commander Should Know
A guide to understanding and exploiting the weaknesses of the Anglo-Allies and using the strengths of the French to gain victory
Understanding the Battleground game system
Command and Control
Understanding how an officer affects the performance of his troops is one of the most important things that a player can know. Officers in the Battleground games are in effect nothing more than die roll modifiers. They serve as links in the chain that help reorganize and rally the troops. When this chain is broken either by incorrect positioning of the officers, or losses of officers in combat, the ability of your troops to rally and reorganize is seriously compromised.
Every officer in the Battleground series has two ratings next to his picture. These will fluctuate as the game goes on, since they are affected by random chance based on a die roll which occurs within the game system. There is nothing that a player can do, except live with it.
The top letter is the one which we must concern ourselves with. If it turns color from white to yellow, it means that that officer has failed in his duties to control his troops. That means that at the beginning of the next turn, a far smaller number of his units will become reorganized. If the senior commander, generally Napoleon, has failed, then the whole army will have fewer units that will become reorganized or rallied. Basically, the higher the officer in the chain of command, the more junior commanders and their bodies of troops are likely to be affected. Unless absolutely necessary, troops whose commanders have failed, should avoid meleeing or charging, as their chance of reorganizing next turn is very slim.
Army commanders have an unlimited command radius. Moving them around is of no help to you unless he is threatened by the enemy. Keep him safe, as his loss will mean that an officer of inferior capacity will take his place. His loss will also provide as much as 96 points to the enemy.
Corps commanders also have an unlimited command range. Protect them, as you would your army commander.
French division commanders have a command range of 6 hexes. This means, that for a division commander to be able to help his brigade commanders reorganize their troops, they must be within 6 hexes of him.
French Brigade commanders have a range of 3 hexes. That means that for a Battalion to receive help in reorganizing or rallying, it must be within 3 hexes of it's troops. If when you click on a brigade commander, the top letter has a white circle with a diagonal line through it, that means he is too far away from his division commander to help reorganize the units of his brigade
Rules to live by regarding leaders:
Never expose your leaders if unnecessary. Keep them in hollows or hidden from the enemy. Do not involve them in melees if you can avoid it. Never stack more than one in a hex if within range of enemy guns...this increases the likelihood of losing them to ranged fire. Always stack them with units that can't be overrun close to their troops, but at least two hexlines from troops who can be
charged and meleed by enemy cavalry. Keep your Corps and Army commanders far from the enemy. If your leaders ratings have turned yellow, avoid charging and meleeing that turn unless absolutely necessary. In the case of cavalry brigade commanders, it is best to leave them with their meleeing troops as their modifier will be helpful in a melee. A player should, however keep his division commanders behind the meleeing brigades stacked with a smaller squadron.
The 3X3 Rule: This is the most effective practice for ensuring the reorganizing and rallying of French troops. Keep your Battalions or cavalry squadrons within 3 hexes of their brigade commanders. Keep your brigade commanders within 3 hexes of your division commander. If your battalions or squadrons rout, do not send your brigade or division commander chasing after them unless the whole division has fled. In such a case, move them so that as many units from that division as possible can be covered be the 3X3 Principle.
Understanding how to use firepower of your cannon and infantry to it's greatest possible effect will help you to bring greater casualties to the enemy, and increase your potential for victory
Enfilade fire, in the Battleground system is defined as firing at an enemy unit that is in line formation (infantry and artillery) whose line of fire will not be able to hit your weapon that is firing. The bonus given by using enfilade fire is a +2 to the die roll. All though this +2 modifier will not guarantee enemy casualties, your chances of causing the enemy casualties is much greater.
Terrain effects on ranged fire:
Understanding how terrain degrades your firepower will enable you to choose your targets carefully to gain the greatest casualties, and avoid wasting precious artillery ammunition. Skirmishers, hedgerows, orchards, forests, and rough hex sides (even downhill) add a -1 to fire die roll. Usually in the case of skirmishers and French units in column this will mean no damage will be caused to the enemy. Firing uphill also adds a -1 to your die roll for every level of elevation you are firing uphill.
Now, remember that all negative fire modifiers are cumulative. For instance firing uphill adds -1, through a company of skirmishers adds -1, and through a hedgerow adds -1. This means that you will receive a -3 to your die roll, and will therefore most likely not cause the enemy any casualties. The maximum negative effect I have ever seen is a -7. This is the modifier usually seen firing at troops in chateau. Firing at chateau can be regarded as a total waste of firepower and ammunition
High Quality Units:
Units of quality 6 or higher receive a +1 die roll modifier when they fire at enemy units. Take note that positive fire modifiers are cumulative but will never be higher than +2. A high quality unit, firing at an enemy unit in enfilade over open, flat terrain will only receive a +2.
Firing before the melee phase:
Troops who fire before meleeing are less likely to win the melee than troops who haven't fired.
Rules to live by regarding Ranged Fire:
Choose your targets carefully.
If you can get a shot at a worthwhile target without a negative modifier, take it. Avoid firing artillery through terrain which will give it a negative modifier. If no such target is available, save your ammo unless the enemy is very close (4 hexes or less away). Do not waste your artillery ammunition on skirmishers, officers, or supply wagons. Do not fire at an unlimbered artillery battery unless it cannot hit you. Avoid placing the flanks of your units in line (infantry and artillery) toward enemy cannon or infantry.
Zones of Control
Effectively utilizing ZOC's will help the wargamer in reducing the strength of the enemy in large numbers, while preventing the enemy from doing the same to you. ZOC's are defined as the two hexes immediately in front of a formed unit. Infantry in square has a ZOC that covers all hexes adjacent to that unit.
Entrapping your enemy:By placing your attacking units so that any hex behind the troops of your opponent is covered by your ZOC's will cause that unit to be removed at the conclusion of a successful melee. You need not place a company of skirmishers in every hex behind that unit. This practice may take some time to learn, as often you may have to count movement points. It pays off big, as your enemy will find it hard to replace those he loses.
Avoiding entrapment:The best way to avoid having your troops cut off by ZOC's is to keep your troops in solid lines, with no spaces in between. If necessary, one can place a company of skirmishers in the empty spaces in the line, and on the flanks. Another helpful tactic is to leave a company of skirmishers
who will not take part in the melee in the hex your meleeing troops have just evacuated. This will keep his troops from retreating toward your leaders, and denying hexes into which your opponent can march.
Avoid setting a trap for yourself: Often will come an instance when one of the melees conducted by your assault line will fail. At this point you have to examine whether other troops who successfully melee may find themselves exposed to the ZOC trap. To prepare for this eventuality, a player should conduct the melee he least expects to succeed first. If this melee fails, and will expose other portions of the assault line to possible ZOC entrapment, he should not melee in that sector anymore during that turn. This may mean that a tempting target is lost, and that your Bn's may suffer 2 more rounds of ranged fire, but it is far better than losing a large number of troops in one instance.
Using ZOC's to prevent the cavalry charge and countercharge:
Whenever preparing for the charge, it is helpful to use the ZOC's of your units to prohibit the enemy from countercharging your cavalry. To do this, you must pay attention to the facing of your units and those of the enemy cavalry. If you can place a ZOC into a hex that your enemy must use
to countercharge or charge, then that empty hex, covered by a friendly ZOC is as effective as a bn' in square.
Rules to live by regarding Zones of Control:
Whenever possible, attempt to place your ZOC's into hexes through which the enemy may retreat. Avoid ending your movement and melee phases where your troops can be trapped by enemy ZOC's. Whenever possible, use your ZOC's to impede the enemy's cavalry charges and countercharges.
Stacking and the combat
Doing a little arithmetic before you move your troops into meleeing position will greatly enhance your chances of winning the melee.
Trying to attain 4-to-1 odds for each melee:
By looking at the units you intend to melee during your offensive phases, you can make a very educated guess at their strength. Then you can look at your units and try to attain the best odds and maximum stacking in the hexes from which you are attacking. If you can
attain 4-to-1 odds, you are almost certainly guaranteed a successful melee in which you will suffer the fewest casualties.
Attacking one enemy hex from two friendly occupied hexes:
Chances are that some of the troops you intend to use in a melee will be disordered by enemy fire. This means that their strength will be halved when determining the odds for the melee. To ensure that I have the maximum available strength, I have used the 2 into 1 tactic. Simply stated the player intending to melee advances his battle line adjacent to the enemy so that there is maximum stacking in each hex. After the advancing player has completed his firing and charging phases, he studies his units and discovers which ones have either been severely depleted or disordered
by enemy fire. These disordered and depleted units are then held back from attacking, unless they are absolutely needed to get high enough odds. The meleeing player then adds the the units from the two hexes which aren't disordered, and melees. To use this tactic successfully, and avoid ZOC
entrapment, it must be done on at least a 2 hex frontage. That means that your outer hexes will not melee, unless they are able to attack much smaller forces, as they will be the hexes from which the additional troops can melee from. Again, the player must ensure he uses Melee Discipline.
Attacking the enemy from the flank:
Attacking a formation of enemy troops from a flank is the best way to cause large amounts of casualties, while suffering few yourself. This is the only time that you can reasonably expect 1-to-1 odds or lower to succeed. Again, use the maximum stacking possible to attain 4-to-1 odds.
Attacks doomed to failure:
Attacking an enemy formation from the front with fewer troops than he has will doom you to failure. If you have fewer troops than he does in a melee you are guaranteed to fail unless you strike his flank
Attacking in maximum strength to assure better defense against enemy cavalry:
The best odds that an opponent can hope to attain with cavalry against a force of 2,000 disordered infantry is 3-to-2. That is not enough to guarantee a successful melee. If you are unsure about the presence of enemy cavalry in the area, attack with the most troops you can.
Rules to live by regarding stacking and the combat odds:
Try to attain 4-to-1odds for every melee:
Use the 2 into 1 tactic whenever attacking into an area where the enemy has cannon or troops in line that can fire upon the troops you plan to melee with.
NEVER attack a superior enemy stack unless you can hit them in the flank.
Always attack with the largest forces available when the presence of enemy cavalry is uncertain or known to be within moving and charging distance.
This completes the section of this treatise that can be applied to all Battleground games.
Knowing and exploiting the weaknesses of the Anglo-Allied Army, and using the strengths of the French army to achieve victory
The Anglo-Allied Army was the worst collection of troops that the Duke of Wellington would ever lead into battle. It was a polyglot collection of troops ranging from the excellent British Household
cavalry to the poorly trained Dutch/Belgian militia and the Hanoverian Landwehr. It also suffered from a very poor command structure.
The French army on the other hand was a well trained and well led force, with an excellent
Weaknesses of the Anglo-Allied command structure
The British and Allied Brigades are very large. That makes it difficult for the English player to effectively rally and reorganize his troops. Due to Bn' size and the area to be covered, it is almost
impossible for the English to maintain the 2X4 Rule. (Allied division commanders have a range of 4, and their brigade commanders have a range of 2.) The divisions are also too large, and are very difficult for the division commander to control.
The Anglo-Allied army is also hampered by the fact that the divisions had a mixture of high-quality and low-quality troops. What this does for the French player is that as the poorer quality troops rout, they will take the higher quality troops with them. There is also the problem that the reserve
divisions and some of the foreign detachments are tied to no Corps commander. This is a break in the command chain that will cause these troops to take longer to reorganize and rally.
Exploiting the weakness of the Allied infantry:
The best way to handle the Allied infantry is to let it concentrate as you move around either side. Concentration is it's greatest enemy. Due to the fact that many units are of very low quality, their tendency to rout will cause the best of the remainder to flee with them in most cases. If a French player is successful at working his way around the Allied flank, and forming a large pocket of Allied troops, the whole mass, infantry and cavalry will become a fleeing mob, incapable of resistance.
The Anglo-Allied Cavalry
The biggest problem with the mounted arm is that there is only 2 divisions, and no Corps commanders. This is the first break in the chain of command. Although the English cavalry is large
enough to be a few corps, it is in fact only one division. In regards to command and control, the Dutch/Belgian cavalry division is a force much easier to wield, and quicker to reorganize and rally.
The English cavalry reserve and Uxbridge:
Uxbridge and all English Division commanders have a command range of 4 hexes. All English Brigade commanders have a command range of two hexes. So, even if the terrain were totally open and flat, it is not physically possible for Uxbridge to help his brigades reorganize and rally in one turn. To exploit this disadvantage, it is recommended that a French commander break his cavalry into no more than 3 groups. The attacking wing (Never attack along the whole Allied Front!)
should contain 1 heavy cavalry Corps, 1 Guard cavalry division, and the cavalry divisions of 2 infantry corps - over half of all your available cavalry! The center protection cavalry may consist of 1 cavalry division backed up by a lot of artillery to it's rear. Few Allied opponents are willing to throw a mass of cavalry through poor terrain when there is a large mass of artillery behind your horse. The holding wing, which will also become the wing used to delay the Prussians, may consist of one heavy cavalry corps, and one Guard cavalry division. The large mass of your cavalry should
always move together in a way that allows the following units to charge and melee any units which attack the front units.
The Dutch/Belgian Cavalry Division:
This division is even too large for it's commander to effectively control. They are high quality units, just like the British cavalry reserve, but once disordered take a very long time to become
The Prussian Army was as well organized as any other, but had a large quantity of poor troops. It has an excellent command structure, and it's leaders have greater command range than
either the French or the other Allies.
The Prussian threat:
Many players are wary of attacking from the right flank of the Allies due to the eminent arrival of the Prussian army. A French player must remember this: The Prussian reinforcements only have a 15% chance of on-time arrival. This means that a small force of French can hold them at
bay for a long time, while the remainder destroy the Anglo-Allies. A force capable of doing this would be the 6th infantry division due to it's excellent ratio of light to line troops, 2 divisions of cavalry, and 8 batteries. Blucher may be many turns late, and without him, the Prussian troops will be slow to reorganize and rally
General Concepts for Success at Waterloo
Work around the enemy flank with a great mass of French cavalry supported by infantry, and followed up by cannon which your opponent can't reach. If your opponent tries to prolong his line in front of you, build up your strength and smash the line, forcing it back, and continue working around until your cavalry wing has reached the north end of the map.
Stay concentrated, but do not intermix your cavalry with infantry. When either routes through the other, they will both become disorganized.
Once you have completed your flanking movement, unlimber your artillery and concentrate
on the poorest units. Although it is nice to destroy the better British units with cannon fire, causing the poorer units to rout and disorder the higher quality units will serve you better.
Do not wait to use the Imperial Guard. When you aren't using them, the Allies will greatly outnumber you.
Stay concentrated, and let your opponent know you are attacking one flank. His force will look impressive, until the cascading effect of many routing units becomes noticed.
Hide your troops from enemy cannon fire. Take the time to use the LOS button on the tool bar to see which hexes he can hit before you move troops into them.
Bear in mind that it is impossible to cover every situation in this paper. Above are just some general guides that may help win battles for the French.
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