Charges

[1871 FAQs]   [General Play]   [Charges]   [Combat Results]   [Command and Control]   [Disorganization]   [Firing]   [Melees]   [Morale]   [Moving]   [Visibility]

Q: The rules say that the defender has the choice of when to fire at the advancing enemy.  We assume that means the defender basically chooses to fire a long, medium or short range, depending on where he is hoping to stop the charge and where the charge started from. Correct?

A:  Correct.

Q: What is the sequence of events in this situation. Regiment ‘123’ charges Regiment ‘ABC’, but neither ‘ABC’ or ‘EFG’ move this turn.

charges1

A:  Ahh – a by-the-numbers solution is called for here.  In the Order Activation Phase, it’s revealed that 123 is going to charge, because he turns over a Charge chit.  In the Movement Phase, Regiment 123 checks its morale, fires at ABC at partial effect and – if it passed -- starts forward, drums beating, flags flying, etc.  Regiment EFG can shoot at 123 at any point after 123 has moved one inch [dumb thing for 123 to do, charging past a formed unit like that!]

Regt EFG shoots first because all shooting precedes the charge portion of the Fire Phase.  EFG shoots at full enfilade, but at partial effect, since it isn’t able to shoot at the end of 123’s movement (123 would be on top of ABC, which would preclude EFG’s firing).  If EFG’s volley stops 123 (and 123 is still standing), then the charge reverts to just some left-over business of the Fire Phase -- ABC and 123 exchange shots and call it a turn.

If 123 absorbed EFG’s volley without being stopped, then the charge sequence continues as normal: Regt 123 moves forward to the point that Regt ABC opts to open fire on it, as shown in the diagram.  ABC checks its morale, and shoots or flees.  Or, if it rolled the same number that 123 did, there would be a melee after ABC fired, no matter what the results of the fire were.

If Regt EFG moved as well this turn, it would get to shoot at the passing 123 regiment at the end of EFG’s move, but would still shoot at partial effect and full enfilade.  It would be easiest if EFG just shot at 123 when the latter reached the point that ABC opted to fire.

Q: If EFG shoots and routs ‘123’ during it approach march, does ‘ABC’ still need to take a ‘fear of being charged’ morale test??

A:  No, the charge would be aborted as a result of EFG’s first fire… precluding ABC’s morale check.

Q: When infantry after a successful charge move up to ½ their remaining charge move how is this calculated?  For instance it is up to ½ their remaining charge move at the point where they come under fire or is it ½ their remaining charge move after the point where they would have theoretically contacted the enemy unit if it had not routed?

A:  It’s calculated from the point that he carries the position, i.e., the latter circumstance.

Q: Another situation I’m unsure of. Regiments 456 and 123 in two line brigade formation declare a charge against ABC.  Can 456 actually declare a charge against ABC and if yes is it resolved at the same time as that of 123’s charge?

charges2

A:  It’s the brigade that’s charging; Regt 123 is the assault element; Regt 456 is in support. If the brigade order is activated, and the morale check passed, the whole brigade moves forward as one.  The morale check should really only apply to the lead unit; the other one is just tagging along (which is why it’s a good idea to charge with your best units, if you really want that charge to go).  It’s also a good idea to have a fair idea of what your chances for success are, before launching any charges, since you want the defender to fail his morale roll when charged; close-range fire fights are no fun.

Q: Do both units need to take pre-charge moral checks?

A:  Just the lead regiment

Q: What happens if ABC shoots 123 and causes it to rout?  Does 456 continue the charge?  If yes does ABC get to have a shot at it?  Does ABC have to take another morale test before doing so?

A:  Good question, since it’s not in the rules anywhere… but there is a rule about not being able to charge through a suppressed unit, whose logic I’ll apply here: If the lead element is routed, the charge is stopped, and the supporting line (and everyone else within an inch of its retreat route) would have to take a morale check.  So: if 123 regiment runs off but the 456 regiment stands fast, the latter may not continue to charge on the same turn.  But, the brigade charge order is still in effect for the brave remainder of the brigade.  Next turn, having a valid charge order in hand, 456 would go through the charge sequence of prep fire, morale check, go… just like those lily-livered lads in 123 did the previous turn.  If the 456 regiment failed their pre-charge morale check, incidentally, the charge chit would go away.

Q: What happens if multiple enemies declare a charge against a single regiment.  Are these attacks resolved simultaneous or in a particular order i.e. cavalry attacks before infantry, or whichever unit is estimated to make contact with the defending unit first?  Does the defending unit get a shot at all of the attacking units or only one?  How many ‘fear of being charged’ morale tests does it need to take?

15mm-001_275x286A:  Sometimes this does and did happen, but I’ve never found any instances of infantry and cavalry units charging the same unit at the same time.  So, this is prohibited.  If a cavalry unit wants to complete the destruction of an enemy unit broken by an infantry charge, it’ll have to do it on the following turn.  If two like units are simultaneously charging the same target, most logically the closest unit – or the one with the greatest chance of success – would go first.  For instance, a non-attached Jäger battalion and an infantry regiment both declare charges against some hapless French regiment.  The Jäger battalion is the closest, but is just a single battalion, so the obvious choice to go first is the infantry regiment.  Both the infantry and the Jägers prep fire, check morale, and advance – with the Jägers timing their attack to coincide with the arrival of the infantry.

If the attacker launches several waves of attacks, the defender can gets a shot against them all, in turn, unless it’s defending artillery, which can only fire once.  Each new charge involves its own set of morale checks, with cumulative casualties affecting the MMR.

Q: If an artillery battery is charged, how does it defend itself?  What are gunners armed with?  (I’m ignorant of the period, sorry)

A:  The usual: pistols, swords, ramrods, and carbines.  Not enough to bother a determined cavalry charge or infantry assault, though. Basically the gunners defend themselves by working their pieces; if they're successful, it's reflected in the results on the Artillery Hits Table.  If their gunnery is bad (unlucky die roll) then the unit removed from play.  The tiny amount of damage a few brave gunners could inflict with their small arms is so negligible that it's not even worth bothering with in a grand tactical game.

Q: Since cavalry can charge in successive lines, and infantry can shoot at each line during the course of an attack (page 26) Does this mean Infantry can fire more than once a turn?

A:  Yep. That's the only time infantry can fire twice in a turn.  Otherwise, I found, players would try to “game” a charge… they'd send a lone cavalry stand in the soak up the defensive fire, and follow it with a different cavalry unit (which wouldn't have to check morale if the sacrificial stand was obliterated) to charge home free on the infantry.

Q: How does a Cavalry multiple line attack work please?  Could you write an short example?

A:  Cavalry generally charged in several lines by choice; in the game that’s replicated (in a macro sense) by putting one cavalry stand behind another, to get the “superior depth” advantage in a melee.  Usually, the infantry/artillery blasts the first line, and when the cavalry checks its morale (to see if it'll charge home) its losses lower its morale enough that the survivors sheer off and run away.  This is a nice authentic outcome; cavalry charging steady infantry armed with breechloaders in this war was practically suicidal.  But -- if the first stand took two hits, and the survivors (the second stand) passed their morale check and pressed on, it would charge home without further ado.  No more morale checks by either side would be required… just go right to the melee.  The point blank volleys of the defending infantry against the remaining cavalry are factored into the melee calculations.

Chances are that the cavalry won’t survive to charge home, though… especially if just a single two-stand regiment is charging (since two-stand units loses two Morale Points for every Combat Points loss (see Morale Rating Modifier table).  The cavalry sheering off should be the expected outcome whether a cavalry regiment (two stands) is charging, or whole a brigade (four stands).  If the latter, the regiments could be aligned one behind the other, or abreast… the brigade would resemble a four stand square in either case.

Let’s say that two cavalry regiments are charging abreast, in two lines, against one lonely infantry stand.  The infantry fires – with 9 or even 12 fire points (depending on the type of infantry stand) – and obliterates 2 cavalry combat points.  The losses, to be fair, should come equally from each of the two regiments, since each has a stand in the front rank, and the infantry would of course shoot at the whole line of cavalry, not just the one stand to their immediate front.

So, minus two points, the cavalry brigade checks its morale.  It was an MR 8 unit, now it’s down two from losses, and two more (three more, in the 1859/64 and 1866 rules) from facing steady infantry: its now an MR 4 unit … It'll need to roll a 1-3 to close.  Should the brigade be aligned one regiment behind the other, the result should be the same.  A stand is eliminated in the lead regiment, and the rest of the brigade checks its morale as an MR 4 unit… and probably breaks off.  [Not specified in the 1870 rules (but fixed in the 1859/64 rules):  What happens when a morale results precludes cavalry unit from charging home? It falls back 8 inches].

Besides the new minus three to the cavalry’s Morale Rating mentioned above, another retro-fit to the earlier 1859/64 and 1870 rules involves the cavalry’s losing two points in a melee with steady infantry (introduced in the 1866 rules).  It’s still possible for cavalry to win against steady infantry – but it’s even harder.  Cavalry really, really didn’t do well charging steady infantry in this period – especially infantry armed with breechloaders!

This is why cavalry shouldn’t charge steady, intact infantry.  They should prey on the weak and disorganized: units that are in a rout status, or are attritted, suppressed, disorganized, with no command stand present, from the rear, etc, etc… anything to skew the odds in their favor.

Of course, there’s the historical counter-example of von Bredow’s charge, that was used by cavalry types for a half century to justify the continuance of shock action as a legitimate mission of their arm.  That, however, was an aberration, nearly impossible to duplicate!  (Just look at the Morale table) …it could be done, but only in certain very specific circumstances, and with a lot of luck.  I’ve introduced that luck (surprise) into the 1859/64 rules to allow the cavalry to be as effective as it was against muzzle-loaders… but against breechloaders, most cavalry leaders (even Bredow) were very, very chary about hazarding their commands against anything but very weak or wounded targets…

Q: Before charging, attacking infantry fires at Partial effect -- at what range?

A: For the charging infantry, wherever they are at the start of the turn.  For supporting infantry/artillery, wherever they are at the end of the Movement Phase.

Q: If the Attacker is not suppressed, or stopped by a morale check after losses, the surviving infantry overruns the battery…. and eliminates it?

A: Yep.  And the Attacker becomes disarrayed (not disorganized, since there was no melee).  [Note that in the final, 1866 version of the Grand Tactical Rules, this was dropped as more trouble than it was worth.  An attacker who chases off a defender without a melee stays in good order.]

Q: Urban fighting seems to involve some special problems -- could you elaborate on how to fight in towns?

A: Units in buildings are tough nuts to crack.  They can shoot better because they’re largely under cover, usually have a steady rest for their rifles, and often have their best shots doing the shooting while the remainder of the squad loads for them.  And, their morale is enhanced by the protection and concealment afforded by walls.  There are some disadvantages to defending towns, though.  Stands get the “in buildings” cover advantage when being fired on or meleed while within the area occupied by buildings, though; if only two stands of a three stand regiment can “fit” in the area the buildings occupy, the third stand is regarded as being in the open.

Visibility in towns is one inch, therefore, all combat in towns is necessarily at close range.  Firefights between stands that are occupying buildings give both sides the cover advantage; they’re harder to hit, and suffer ½ casualties when they are hit.  Both get the morale advantage of being in buildings, too… but not much harm will likely be done!

To clear a town of an enemy ensconced in the buildings, an attacker must repeatedly charge the enemy unit.  When a unit in a town charges an enemy who is occupying buildings, the attacker does not get the cover advantage when he comes under fire although he may be within the boundaries of the town; he’s out of the buildings and exposing himself.  Except during second impulse charges, the attacker must also be formed when attacking, of course.

Here's how an attack sequence goes against a defended town:

The attacker fires at partial effect when the attack starts from outside the town, or from within 1 inch if the attacker is in the town.  If the defender and the attacker both pass their pre-charge morale checks, the attack will go home unless the defender's fire stops or repulses the attack.  Historically, troops attacking defended towns were much less prone to stop short of their objectives when their enemies were behind walls; they wanted to get up to the cover those walls represented for them, too.

If the defender is bested in the house-to-house melee that follows a successful charge, the attacker may press on – albeit disorganized – as a second impulse attack.  Coming upon another target, the charge sequence is repeated, but without the attacker’s “prep fire” or morale check steps.  If the new defender doesn’t check the attack by fire, another melee will occur – but this time the attacker goes in disorganized.  As in any melee, the presence of a command stand with the troops could make the difference.

Based on further study (associated with the 1866 rules), the urban combat business was further refined: if there is no winner after the Phase I combat in town fights, Phase II is deferred until the next turn… and combat continues as a Phase II melee each turn until a winner is determined.  Since everyone is “under cover” during the Phase II combat, all losses during this phase are halved for each side; thus town fights are both lengthier and less costly than combats in the open field.  They can also be more easily fed in subsequent turns, too – if there are fresh units available.  Reserves join the Phase II combat as usual – by simply adding their Combat Points to the total of the on-going scrum – in the hopes of tipping the balance and producing a victor.  All this should be retro-fitted to all the Grand Tactical Rules games.

Q: What is meant by a rear attack, I cannot find a definition?

A:  Since a flank attack is mentioned as being outside the defender's frontal 90 degree arc (in the section describing cavalry charges), a rear attack is hereby defined as being within the defender's rear 90 degrees.  This also applies to infantry charges.

 

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