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Pocus
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Committing the Guard

Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:56 am

Hail gents,

A friendly and open discussion here. What would be for you the proper conditions then advantages and liabilities of committing the Guard (French or Russian only probably) in a battle? Most certainly a boost in morale, side-wide and a propensity of suffering most of the losses during the round they are committed, but if you have some opinions or ideas, you are welcome!

Cheers :)
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Lindi
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Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:35 am

hi,

For me if is true about French Guard to not fire and only use weapon for mele fight. Maybe give bonus of cohesion, but a malus to unit guard for the hit can do.

For when in fight enter, for me :

1. Never before all other not guard unit are in fight. (go in fight, retraite or not but all other unit need to are have fight in one round)
2. When the win are not sure or when the retraite are near for many unit or one corps (not corps with only 1 unite, a true corps)



I am not know all story about guard only base my think about the 4 small french movie about Napoléon.

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gotrek
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Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:33 pm

Hi,

Historically, close combat was very rare, so that wouldn't really be realistic.

I'd say:
1_ include it in the prebattle plans and then roll to see if guard engages after 2nd round. As you'd know on the morning of the battle if this is going to be "THE" battle or just a skirmish.

Also a multiplier in the unit's natural boost to morale given to the other units in the stack.
And a morale check for all enemy units engaged in that round of combat when the guard is engaged.

2_ The moral check could also happen if a corps containing guard units appears on the battlefield during the battle, as historical memoirs mention troops noticing the "bonnets à poil" on te horizon and breaking.

MarshalJean
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Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:09 pm

gotrek wrote:Hi,

Historically, close combat was very rare, so that wouldn't really be realistic.

I'd say:
1_ include it in the prebattle plans and then roll to see if guard engages after 2nd round. As you'd know on the morning of the battle if this is going to be "THE" battle or just a skirmish.

Also a multiplier in the unit's natural boost to morale given to the other units in the stack.
And a morale check for all enemy units engaged in that round of combat when the guard is engaged.

2_ The moral check could also happen if a corps containing guard units appears on the battlefield during the battle, as historical memoirs mention troops noticing the "bonnets à poil" on te horizon and breaking.



I also like this idea. The ability to decide beforehand whether or not the Guard can be committed during the battle would be excellent. Even differing battle plans giving the option to commit just the Guard Cavalry/Horse artillery, or Guard Infantry/Foot Artillery ,or the entire Imperial Guard, would be that much more realistic, while providing great flavor.

MarshalJean
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Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:11 pm

Or, alternatively/additionally, battle plans which might include committing the Young Guard, or the Middle Guard, or the Old Guard, each with different effects on how the battle might play out, would be good. I realize (of course) that this would apply only to playing the French Empire.

goodpoints
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:28 am

I don't know if having to plan to stake the guard would be appropriate, as when they were present they were always held in reserve. So if they're in the stack, I think much like Lindi says, their commitment should be an automatic thing when a certain amount of line units waver/rout. I don't know if the combat system really has locations for each unit in the "front" but if so the guard could increase the morale of local troops.

Also, I would suggest that the guard is involved in a defeat where it was committed, there should be a National Morale penalty.

I don't know much about the Russian Life Guards, but from my knowledge of battles they fought in, they were more numerous than the French and Russian commanders were not as hesitant to deploy them to the front. So like at Borodino, they don't seem to have quite the effect on army morale that the French Guard would.

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Pocus
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:54 am

We are not too sure about including the Commit the Guards option as a battle plan. Because the Guard could also be committed 'in second thought' and not pre planned. For example at Waterloo. Things went wrong, the Guard was committed. Too late... Sometime the Guard was committed for a final push, because of unexpected enemy resistance.
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Skalpafloi
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:40 am

I think the current system of committing the guards in NCP is working well - unlike the cavalry vs square mecanism. The most needed change is to increase guard elements size to bring them in line with their regular counterparts, even by merging the smallest ones, unless sending the mamelouks to their doom each time the guard enters the fray is considered WAD.

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Pocus
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:22 am

Definitively, the Grand Campaign will use its own database for units (elements to be precise) where size are much more normalized, don't worry. There might be bugs in the current code though, I'll need to inspect that, and also provide more feedback about when the guard is committed.

What's going on in the cavalry vs square mechanism?
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Skalpafloi
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:48 pm

From an ingame perpective, cavalry was infamous in NCP for suffering extreme losses in battles, even after tweaks intending to lower its chance to get targetted. The way discipline tests for cavalry and infantry squares work made it detrimental to launch charges against all but the weakest infantry formations, as if the square is formed (and it most likely will) cavalry elements get slaughtered by bonus damage on its few hitpoints.

The best way to use it was actually to not put it in harm's way in most circumstances, whether by massing it in army stacks to make sure horsies didn't take part in combat rounds and keep their ability to deal/prevent pursuit hits, or joining them with a lousy offensive corps/divisional commander to make sure a charge isn't triggered.

Actually, as much as we love this kind of historical flavour, implementing a tactical doctrine that accounts for all the subtleties in the cavalry use on napoleonic battlefields is perhaps too much of a hassle for a game played at a strategic level, where this kind of details get lost in the battle reports.

I don't say it should discourage you to find a proper model for cavalry/infantry/artillery conditional interactions, but it's a "finger in the gear" situation : once you want to model infantry squares, you also have to let cavalry abort their charges, then the horse batteries target the square at short range, and so on... All tactical decisions that might be best left modelled by leader traits/statistics or unit models, like in your other games.

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Pocus
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:49 pm

Very sound remarks, and that's the kind of constructive criticism that is really appreciated. Clear, detailed yet to the point, thanks. If you are still around when beta opens, please pay us a visit!

This new Napoleon game now has battle plans. Perhaps massive cavalry charge can be a special tactic...
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Le Ricain
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:32 pm

Pocus wrote:Very sound remarks, and that's the kind of constructive criticism that is really appreciated. Clear, detailed yet to the point, thanks. If you are still around when beta opens, please pay us a visit!

This new Napoleon game now has battle plans. Perhaps massive cavalry charge can be a special tactic...


Plenty of battles to select from for massed cavalry charges: Eylau (1807), Somosierra (1808), Borodino (1812), Dresden (1813) and two charges at Waterloo (1815).
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:39 pm

Will battle plans work in PBEM as well or still single player only?

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Franciscus
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:16 pm

IMHO:

Committing the guard should NEVER be a battle plan made before a battle start, at least for the French Guard. I believe, at least if we are talking of the Imperial Guard (infantry), there are no examples of battles in which there was a plan to commit the guard before the battle started. The Imperial infantry guard was a tactical (and moral reserve), used only either as a last resort or for the "coup-de-grace".

So, either it's an automatic "decision" or you subdivide battles in sub phases, increasing probably for no gameplay gain the complexity of the "tactical" aspect of the battles...

Not exactly so, evidently, for the arty and horse sections of the Guard.

Regards
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Skalpafloi
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:30 pm

Le Ricain wrote:Plenty of battles to select from for massed cavalry charges: Eylau (1807), Somosierra (1808), Borodino (1812), Dresden (1813) and two charges at Waterloo (1815).


Yeah, those massed charges are indeed stuff for legends... For won battles not so much :neener:

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Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:23 pm

Franciscus wrote:IMHO:

Committing the guard should NEVER be a battle plan made before a battle start, at least for the French Guard. I believe, at least if we are talking of the Imperial Guard (infantry), there are no examples of battles in which there was a plan to commit the guard before the battle started. The Imperial infantry guard was a tactical (and moral reserve), used only either as a last resort or for the "coup-de-grace".

So, either it's an automatic "decision" or you subdivide battles in sub phases, increasing probably for no gameplay gain the complexity of the "tactical" aspect of the battles...

Not exactly so, evidently, for the arty and horse sections of the Guard.

Regards


Generally, I would agree with this. The only exceptions would be a few of the battles of the 1814 L'Patrie en Danger campaign, where Napoleon had so few troops available that he was forced to use his Guard troops (esp. Young Guard) as regular infantry corps in several instances. By this I mean that he was forced to divide his corps in such a way that the Young Guard was dispatched towards the front as first-line troops.

But, on the whole, I would agree with your historical assessment. Thanks for this reminder.

pablius
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Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:11 am

How about this:

1. If your Guard units represente a percentage below certain number of your troops, let´s say 25% or lower, you are given the choice during the battle plan phase to decide whether to allow for the Guard to commit if needed, either for a final push or for a desperate defense, this to be determined by the general rules of the game regarding General´s abilities, terrain, weather, supply, etc. Some specific variables I guess will be needed to calculate the Guard`s intervention

2. If the Guard is committed it should result in a morale rise, but if the battle is not resolved soon, morale should start to fall as it becomes evident that not even the best can get the expected results

These rules should be an incentive to attach the Guard to large stacks with the best Generals, whom can employ them only if needed, because it may backfire

The Guard shouldn't be a silver bullet, it should be a tactical choice with pros and cons, and a degree of uncertainty

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gotrek
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Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:34 am

Since the guard would be there with Napoleon himself most of the time ( if not always) shouldn't there be a Napoleon specific battleplan during the battle?
Example: Waterloo starts, round round we spot prussians. battleplan change send young and mid guard to stop them i Napoleon in command, if another general no such option.

I really thin kit should all be a morale effect more than a fighting capacity, easing routing of enemy units and raising your own morale.

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James D Burns
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Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:45 am

I think units with the guard ability should be treated as special units in a fight. If alone of course they always fight as normal infantry and let their intrinsic high morale differentiate their fighting ability from normal infantry. But if they are stacked in a force with other units, then all units with the guard ability should be held out of normal combat routines and can only be committed to the line on rare occasions.

First if a force fails a morale check that would force it to lose the battle and retreat, instead let the guard unit roll and if they pass allow them to move into line and fight a special round of battle. In a case like this they cancel one failed retreat attempt and have a chance to go on to win the battle if they win their fight as normal troops.

Second if a fight goes into a third or higher round then the guard should roll for committal (modified by commander’s strategic rating) at the start of each round. If they pass their roll and commit, then they enter the line and any other elements that can fit into whatever frontage remains would all receive a special cohesion bonus for that round. You can base the amount received on how many guard elements are in the line so the more guard there are the more cohesion is received.

If this committal round fails to break the enemy army, then all units in the force that just committed its Guard must undergo an immediate morale check with negative modifiers. If failed then each individual unit that fails is treated as having fled the field and may no longer participate in the fight. There might be enough units left to fight and win in a subsequent round, but chances would be low unless you had a very large army.

Jim

Searry
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Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:03 pm

I think their commitment should be a very rare occurence. Rather, make them give Napoleon's army modifiers(how about tying all the guard elements to the emperor himself?). I don't play single player so I can't comment on the battle planner.

Jim Pfleck
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Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:55 pm

I like the outline of what James Burns suggests but I think it might go a little too far. The Russians were not nearly as conservative with their guard, nor were the Prussians (whose Guard was smaller than the Russians and what Napoleon eventually fielded). The Austrians did not have a guard but would create grenadier battalions (which Napoleon did before expanding his guard) which, in theory, would be of higher quality. The British Foot guard would also fight when it was in the combat zone.

I also think that the French Guard fought more than is often thought. They fought in Spain, without Napoleon. The Guard infantry fought at Marengo, Austerlitz, and Eylau Wagram (I think). I am not sure about Friedland and I do not think they fought at Jena. After the abandonment of Moscow, they fought the whole way back, and then fought heavily at Lutzen, sparingly at Bautzen, heavily at Dresden, Leipzig, Hanau, and in every 1814 engagement in which they were present. And, of course, Ligny and Waterloo.

As has been mentioned, the Guards of most armies, but especially the two largest guards (Russian and French) contained a variety of troops. The Russians tended to have heavy cavalry, Cossacks, Guard Infantry, and often grenadiers in the Guard Corps (by 1812 it was organized as a Corps, I think). The French had a variety of cavalry types (with horse batteries), a heavy artillery reserve and eventually the Old Guard infantry and the Young Guard Infantry. The Old Guard is exactly what we all think-experienced soldiers committed to Napoleon. The Young Guard was formed mostly of the "best" conscripts of the recent class. The young guard, once formed, fought a lot and should not be treated as Burns suggests.

I have been a playtester for JTS/HPS Austerlitz and France 1814 and the morale level of the Guard was discussed a lot, especially in 1814, where the young guard is rated highly when Napoleon himself is present and lower when he is not.

So, I think 2 approaches would be good---(1) is to treat Guard infantry for all armies as something the game engine will not commit in the first two rounds unless that side is clearly winning (allowing the army to fully commit to what is likely to be a victory). In this case, the French Young Guard, and the guards and grenadiers of other nations would not qualify in this way and could be committed as always. Guard Cavalry would either be treated as normal cavalry or not be allowed to commit in round one unless everything else is committed. The idea behind this approach is to allow the French (old) and Russian Guards to utilize their historic reserve function but also allow them to fight without jeopardizing the morale of the whole battle. If the are reserved until round 3, the pattern of the battle is likely already in place the superior qualities of these formations can be allowed a chance to impact he outcome of the battle.

Choice (2) would be to follow Burns' suggestion, but again only for the French Old Guard infantry and Russian Guard infantry.

Thanks

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Pocus
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Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:01 am

Very interesting discussions going on!
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pablius
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Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:40 am

Another way could be a staged battle plan phase, as in, an initial plan and then, depending on the number of rounds and other conditions, the chance to make successive battle plan decisions, including committing the Guard

Of course this would be a huge departure from the way current AGEOD games work, putting tactics more at the center of the action than ever, and if implemented should probably be optional

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Pocus
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Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:33 am

We prefer not to interrupt the turns flow though... Although the idea has merits.
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Narwhal
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Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:41 pm

Pocus wrote:We prefer not to interrupt the turns flow though... Although the idea has merits.


When the Guard is committed, lower the threshold after which other unit/division retreats from the battle [and maybe, if possible code-wise put some which retreated back into the battle].
In addition, give the Guard good "pursuit" stats so they hit bad when committed.

This would make committing the Guard decisive : either you win a battle you should have lost AND make it a "profitable" battles due to the pursuit... or you lose way more than you should have lost if it is not enough.

Of course, if "all is lost" by round 2, the Guard should not be committed.

I would avoid making it part of the battle plan indeed, if only for us multiplayers. No need to give "morale malus" when the Guard is not decisive. The fact that troops would be committed longer to a lost battle is bad enough.

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James D Burns
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Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:13 pm

Jim Pfleck wrote:I like the outline of what James Burns suggests but I think it might go a little too far.


I was trying to keep things as simple as possible. I should have mentioned that under my outlined rules the Young Guard would be standard elite infantry and only the rare Old Guard style units were the kind of units I was thinking of when I thought about the rule. With the rules I laid out I would think guard units in game would be very rare and valuable units, generally only kept in the largest army with the best leaders.

A complex new system will most likely not be implemented so I was trying to base things on the game systems we have available to us now. I guess if they are willing to write a lot of new code to come up with new complex routines then there would definitely be room for differentiating the different types of guard abilities you discuss. The first idea that comes to mind is treating Old Guard as support units that are always kept out of the main battle line until committed and regular guard units like the Young Guard or Austrian Grenadiers as elite infantry with some special unique guard related properties. There would need to be a workup done of all the potential guard units in game and then we could discuss what abilities each unit should have based on historical performance and nationality.

One thing I think has to be done no matter how they choose to do things, there simply must be a new combat reporting system that allows players to see all this guard related battle drama when it unfolds in game. One of the weakest parts of the engine right now is the lack of information given to players about how battles unfold. Only those of us with a long history of playing this engine understand the concepts of frontage rules and support units etc. We can use our understanding of the engine to work out a general idea of what happened, but new players are at a complete loss as to what is going on.

No doubt about it whatever new rules are coded in to represent the guard, you need to show the drama of the guard and what it does or does not pull off when committed to players in detail. A graphic representation of the battle lines that ticked through events as they occur would probably be best (thinking of the combat replays used in WitP here), but even just standard text dumps that players can go in and read line by line would be a welcome addition. Otherwise committal of the guard will be hidden to players just like everything else that occurs in combats is currently.

Jim

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Pocus
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Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:03 am

Yes, we know that this is a weak point in the engine.
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Nappy
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Sun May 29, 2016 9:37 pm

Has this been implemented? I've yet to be able to use this tactic, which is bothersome since I have invested heavily in the creation of "guard" units.

RebelYell
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Mon May 30, 2016 6:27 am

Nappy wrote:Has this been implemented? I've yet to be able to use this tactic, which is bothersome since I have invested heavily in the creation of "guard" units.


They should only commit if you might be loosing a battle so it is a good thing if you have managed to keep them out of battle.
Or did you have a battle that you lost and they did not move?

Nappy
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Mon May 30, 2016 2:42 pm

I thought it was a tactical choice, like when picking a flank attack or whatever...I did not realize it was automatic if losing.

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