Attacking Ideas With Large Armies

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Ftoomsh, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. Ftoomsh

    Ftoomsh Well-Known Member

    No matter whether you play vanilla or one of the mods, these attacking ideas will work for you. These ideas are for those games where the players develop large armies due to long peace times or being equally matched with their opponents. These ideas are for armies doing battle in the open field, trying to win a large battle before attacking the enemy base.

    Large armies tend to be arrayed in lines. This is even more the case when a mod implements ranked fire (no firing through friendly troops) and only the first two or three ranks can fire. Long lines enable more fire power frontage to be brought to bear on the enemy. However, lines that are too long and thin also have weaknesses. They are vulnerable to being split by a concentrated attack at some point and flank attacks also do a lot of damage to long, thin lines. There is a golden mean somewhere and you will learn from experience when an army's frontage is too narrow and its ranks too deep or when an army frontage is too long and its ranks too thin.

    Let us assume you are in a game where you have assembled a bigger army than the opponent. After this, we will get to the issue of how to attack when armies are of equal sizes and quality. If you have assembled a bigger army, you could distribute your extra troops evenly along the whole army line. This however is not a very good idea for attacking. A defending enemy on stand ground and maybe with some terrain advantage can hold off and defeat an army with just some extra troops along its whole line. It is better to concentrate your extra troops in one place. If you do that on one wing it is called Oblique Order.

    Here is an animation of an Oblique Order attack from Wikipedia.

    You will notice that all formations are the same size along the line except where the extra troops are massed for the oblique order attack. The animation shows how and why the oblique order attack works. The equal formations will fight on a sort of equal footing except that the defenders may in fact possess some advantages. The massed troops at one end of the oblique order attack will smash the enemy and then turn that flank and roll up the rest of the enemy troops along that line.

    But what do you do if you have equal armies and thus no extra mass of troops to use? What you do is deplete the other formation blocks and use these reserves to make your attacking mass at one end of the line. Assume the blocks to be depleted are each of 2 formations. You take one formation from each block and move it to the wing where you are massing. But the blocks so depleted are now weak being just half the strength of the enemy formation blocks they face. This is not going to work on its own.

    What you do is shorten the depleted line and angle it back like half of an arrow-head. This then becomes what is called an En Echelon attack. I don't have another animation to show how this works. Assume these blocks of asterisks below are troops. Without showing the enemy, setting up the En Echelon attacking army will look something like this. I have had to put spacers in to illustrate.

    Figure 1 - What your army looks like in a line formation with little depth.


    Figure 2 - What your army looks like in En Echelon formation. The enemy are up the page (to the north in compass terms).


    The angle of the half-arrowhead is a like a flank semi-refused (semi-turned to face attempts to flank it). It is hard to flank this half arrowhead, say with cavalry, as it is a long gallop to it and the attackers have a good field of fire 45 degrees out to the right. The whole point of the attack is that the main mass on the left flank (in this illustration) engages the enemy directly ahead of it before the right flank attacking troops become engaged. This gives the main mass time to smash the enemy line at that end and then turn to roll up the enemy line. The flank troops of the attack arrive (in a perfectly timed attack) when the enemy troops in front of them are already being disrupted by the turned line. The remaining extended wing of the enemy army is both flanked and able to be defeated in detail. It's in a horrible position.

    Figure 1. also serves as an illustration of what the enemy army will look like if they stay in a conventional line. It's pretty easy to imagine what the Figure 2 army will do to the Figure 1 army. You don't even have to imagine. You can test it in the in-game editor!

    Of course, the opponent can observe you re-positioning and if he is smart he will know what you are up to and counter your moves. However, there are many ways to disguise what you are doing and distract your opponent while you re-position.

    Updated: Further information -

    The maneuvers from an extended line position to an En Echelon position can look like a general retreat to the unsophisticated observer. Reading from the left of the extended line formation, formation 1 stays where it is. Formations 2, 3 and 4 retreat at an angle to form up behind formation 1. Formations 5, 6 and 7 retreat at an angle to line out in the angled half-arrowhead line. This is 6 out of 7 formations moving and retreating at an angle. It looks very much like a general retreat to the uninitiated. They may relax and look elsewhere rather than expect an attack. When you opponents get wiser you must look for other ways to disguise your intentions or make the opponent look elsewhere.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
  2. Rhayn

    Rhayn Member

    Would be nice to see if real tactics can actually be used since the game has quite poor combat mechanics. I'll lead some experiments when I have time or you can hit me up and we can set up things if you still play.

    Your name doesn't sound new to me, where you a member of the Old Cossacks?
  3. Loner

    Loner Well-Known Member

    Good to see you back Rhayn.:)
  4. Daddio

    Daddio Moderator Staff Member

    Yes Ftoomish was OC.
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