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Thread: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

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    Default What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    The first game I ever played near this era was L'Emperor from Koei on the original Nintendo. It was through that game that I learned about Napoleon, and how he was apparently a badass artillery man from Corsica.

    Now, having studied war in college, I have a general idea of how artillery is used in the common era, primarily for disrupting masses of ground forces, though it's usually by lobbing shells with howitzers or mortars of various designs/types.

    However, in ETW, we have several direct-fire cannons. I'm curious about what they were useful for. I know ETW's implimentation of artillery may not be ideal, but I can't figure out the utility of direct-fire artillery. Cannons make sense in naval warfare, since you have big objects moving relatively slowly in horizontal directions and you can sink them by putting holes in them. But what use are 3 cannons vs. a unit of 120 line infantry?

    I know that with certain tech upgrades you can basically turn them into shotguns, but that's only useful at short range, and since most cannon are immobile, those short-range shotguns are basically defensive weapons that can only deny the enemy the ground immediately in front of the cannons.

    I understand how they could be useful in sieges of forts, like the catapults and such of earlier TW games, but I don't understand what role they play in open field battles.

    Perhaps a finer point would be helpful.

    1) What kinds of artillery did Napoleon use when he was still a simple artillery officer? Were they direct fire like cannons or lobbers like mortars and howitzers?

    2) How did Napoleon employ his artillery to such great affect that people remember him ability to wield them so well?

    3) Are there significant differences in the way CA has implemented artillery that prevents the game's version of artillery from being as useful as historical artillery?

    4) Besides the current mortar/howitzer spam/abuse I've heard about in MP games, are any of the in-game versions of artillery worth more to have in a stack than 120 line infantry, or a unit of heavy cavalry, etc.?

    5) If #4 = Yes, which types of artillery are useful, and how should they be used to get the most utility out of them?
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    1)... i have no idea really... but didnt he stop a mob with grape shot once??

    2)...he protected his cav didnt he?

    3)...yes range and scale... this is a video game that makes an attempt at being cool by making stuff explode.

    4)... mortars/rockets... but they are banned in most online game.. i take 1 art in 1v1 battles.. its worthless but i use the fire to reduce moral on a section of a line i want to break though or envelop.. in larger battles i bring 2.. one for the other teams arty to shoot at and one to do the same thing as my 1v1 battles..

    5) for the mp side of the game..in early era no arty is worth it.. unless you camp a corner or a hill and use grape shot at close range.. in late era go with 6lb horse art.. the percussion shells make them deadly.. they still have grape shot.. and they move faster then you ground troops although they do take time to set up and break down..

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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Canister is most certainly not an in-game contrivance, it is why infantry did not close with artillery batteries (if they were sane), cavalry did. The difference is that in real life there is line of sight, cavalry move fast enough that they can flank your positions and attack artillery unexpectedly through sheer mobility, too quickly for them to be able to load canister and turn them into catfood. The Charge of the Light Brigade was such utter folly because they charged in plain sight, over a long distance, right at a bunch of Russian guns that knew they were coming. Canister shot and a legend ensued.

    Remember that battles in the real world took many hours, the gunners tended to be more accurate than the useless jokers we get in the game, yet still reloaded just as quick, and entire infantry formations did not move across the battlefield ETW style (at a dead sprint). Cannons were a standard due to their flexibility of course, they could fire solid shot upon fortifications and distant formations and grapeshot was pure devastation up close. It is easy to deride the potentially small number of kills per shot with roundshot, but then you'd likely think differently when marching in line with the pulped mess of your mate dripping off the side of your face. Howitzers were prized for their ability to lob explosive shells, they were largely field weapons by this period, enormously useful for disrupting and breaking up formations with their wonderful pyrotechnics.

    Could all be wrong though.
    Last edited by Khorak; 04-21-2009 at 22:54.
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    I Still Play Shogun Member ratbarf's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    "I'm curious about what they were useful for."

    They are murder if you can kit a coloumn in the front or if you can sweep a line from the side. They were used in a role similar to half tank, half machine gun. (As far as tactics go.) And are great when trying to destroy morale as the results are much more gruesome than regular musket fire. (Not to mention a much greater range of effectiveness.) Seeing as cannister can litteraly shred a man from head to toe.

    1.) I believe he was the commander of a 12 pdr feild battery. He called his cannons mes jeunes filles, or my young daughters.

    2.) He was not so remembered for his artillery (aside from the fact that he adored it) than the fact that he was the most maneuverable general in the world for a long time. His greatest feats where marching his men into the right place at the right time.

    3.) Yes, they are buggy, and they don't know when to stop shooting so they don't hit there own men.
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Actually his use of artillery was directly related to his love of maneuver. He had a preference for lighter artillery in much larger numbers in his army, with a heck of a lot of canister, while other European armies used heavier artillery which would generally remain static for a battle. As such, his infantry frequently had an utterly vicious amount of supporting fire from his artillery, which had bad results for the shmoes being attacked.
    Love is a well aimed 24 pounder howitzer with percussion shells.

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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    I've found direct fire cannons entirely useless in the game unless they have grape shot, which makes them at least somewhat useful in certain circumstances. Even with 1 or 2 experience points they still only kill at most 5 men in every unit per 30(?) seconds, which isn't enough. I only use them until i get howitzers with explosive shot, which do the job that cannons SHOULD do, which is deny the enemy portions of the battlefield, batter the most crucial points of the enemy line or more simply trim down the enemy numbers.

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    I Still Play Shogun Member ratbarf's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    They were also used to try and condense the line of the opponent, shortening the line caused less musket fire to the front, and made better targets for you own men.
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    Member Member Elmar Bijlsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    3) Are there significant differences in the way CA has implemented artillery that prevents the game's version of artillery from being as useful as historical artillery?
    Despite all the complaints on the forums, roundshot firing artillery is actually implemented pretty well. It's the rest of the game that is a bit off, lethality wise.
    Remember, a historic casualty rate of 40% for a battalion was considered catastrophic/heroic. Most units could see prolonged and heavy fighting and would still only suffer 10-20% losses. Yet in ETW after mere minutes one side or both are lucky to have 10-20% troops left. Lethality too high, and a willingness to stand up to that extra high casualty rate. And then there is us, the player, who'll happily sacrifice unit after unit if he thinks it can give him the edge. Real commanders were typically a bit less careless of their subordinates lives.

    All this makes a unit type that is actually presented pretty well come off looking rather bad. And it'll be pretty hard to overpower the roundshot in a similar way as musketry because it's a heavy ball bouncing across the landscape. It doesn't need accuracy, nor can you tweak lethality. Hit by ball = dead. Pretty hard to tweak that one way or the other.

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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Round shot is a bit glitched, sometimes a direct hit in a unit will only take out 1 man, or even none.
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    Member Member Elmar Bijlsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    I have seen shot pass through a unit without killing anyone occasionally, but nothing on a scale leading me to suspect a glitch. Observe that there is quite a lot of space around a soldier where a ball might pass through harmlessly. More often then not a ball will plough a gap through a formation as one would expect. The occasions where they don't just stand out more.

    My gut feeling is that there is an overinflated expectation of lethality. Read more and watch less Mel Gibson movies and this should soon go away. ;)

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    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Question Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Doesn't France get an 18 pndr horse artillery, a much heavier type of cannon than the horse artillery of other nations?

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    Member Member anweRU's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Servius1234 View Post
    However, in ETW, we have several direct-fire cannons. I'm curious about what they were useful for. I know ETW's implimentation of artillery may not be ideal, but I can't figure out the utility of direct-fire artillery. Cannons make sense in naval warfare, since you have big objects moving relatively slowly in horizontal directions and you can sink them by putting holes in them. But what use are 3 cannons vs. a unit of 120 line infantry?
    Howitzers did not become the norm until WWI.

    The British still employed direct-fire artillery batteries at the beginning of WWI. They gave up on them shortly after their artillery were annihilated by German howitzers in the opening stages. However, cannons were used even in WWII and later. The WWII German infantry assault-guns were breech-loaded cannons, using explosive shells. The recoilless guns still in use today are a form of cannons. And of course tank cannons are a perfect example of direct fire artillery that is still used .

    Mortars were siege weapons. Small mortars fell out of favor sometime in the 18th-19th century, and did not come back to use until WWI and trench warfare.

    Howitzers were definitely used in Napoleonic times, and existed during the US Civil War as well. However, to the best of my knowledge, the majority of the artillery batteries used by the US & CS field armies were still Napoleonic-era cannons.
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    Member Member Didz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Servius1234 View Post
    However, in ETW, we have several direct-fire cannons. I'm curious about what they were useful for. I know ETW's implimentation of artillery may not be ideal, but I can't figure out the utility of direct-fire artillery. Cannons make sense in naval warfare, since you have big objects moving relatively slowly in horizontal directions and you can sink them by putting holes in them. But what use are 3 cannons vs. a unit of 120 line infantry?
    Historically, direct fire artillery (using roundshot) was in common use in battles from about the mid-17th Century until around the mid-19th Century. After which the introduction of breach-loading artillery and improvements in the technology of exploding shells rendered the use of roundshot obsolete except in naval and seige warfare.

    So, basically we are looking a period spanning the English Civil War to just after the American Civil War. The first breech-loading cannon made their debue on the battlefields of the American Civil War, although many batteries were still using Napoleonic cannon.

    Historical records show that whilst apparently ineffective in ETW, in fact the majority of battle casualties (certainly in the Napoleonic period) were actually caused by roundshot.

    The actual effect of a single roundshot could be highly variable, not only was the damage (if any) it caused affected by the relative trajectory from the gun to the target, it was also affected by the formation the target was in and the angle and consistence of the ground the unit was standing on and in most cases the angle and consistency of the ground in between the gun and the target.

    The most effective situation was actually a perfectly flat, firm area of land between the gun and the target as gunners could then pitch their shot short of the target confident that it would bounce true and low to pass right through it from front to back. A signle French roundshot fired like this is reported to have killed eleven men in an Austrian Battalion.

    If the ground was soft then the shot tended to bury themselves rather than bounce, whilst uneven or broken ground could cause the shot vere off course and miss. Of course something like a river or marsh could simple swallow roundshot completely if they landed in it, although Nelson is supposed to have developed a technique for getting roundshot to bounce over water (not really very plausible, but its a story that persists).

    Roundshot become progressively less effective when fired from higher ground, or lower ground as the angle of their trajectory then increases the angle of impact and in doing so increases the likelihood that they will either burry themselves, or bounce high, over the heads of the target.

    Accuracy tests conducted under controlled conditions report a successful hit on a company sized target of between 20%-35% at ranges of 800m-1000m.

    To answer your specific questions:

    1) What kinds of artillery did Napoleon use when he was still a simple artillery officer? Were they direct fire like cannons or lobbers like mortars and howitzers?

    Yes...in fact the infamous 'whiff of grapeshot' he fired in the Paris mob was probably fired from a small 4 pounder battalion gun, or a 6 pounder at most.

    The later Imperial French Army he formed once he was Emperor was based upon the Gribeaval system and had a standard battery composition of six guns of the same calibre, plus two howitzers. The guns would either have been 4 pdr (originally attached to infantry battalions as company guns, hence the most likely to be present in the streets of Paris), 8 pdr (standard Foot Artillery pieces) and 12 pdr (Napoleon 'belle filles' used for heavy bombardment of the enemy line). The howitzers gave each battery the ability to engage targets in indirect fire if necessary.

    2) How did Napoleon employ his artillery to such great affect that people remember him ability to wield them so well?

    Napoleon's guns were used in massed batteries. For example: Of the 286 guns Napoleons Army of the North had during the 1815 Campaign 122 were assigned to the Artillery of the Guard, an Artillery only formation commanded by a Lt.General (Baron Desvaux de St. Maurice). These guns (13 foot and 3 horse batteries) would be deployed specifically where Napoleon planned to attack and would be used to bombard that section of the enemy line. In effect it was focussed fire, and the guns would mostly be the heavier 12 pdrs. Protracted exposure to such carnage could and did lead to regiments breaking and running before the attack even began. The Dutch Bylandt's Division did during the opening bombardment at Waterloo and never returned to the field.

    3) Are there significant differences in the way CA has implemented artillery that prevents the game's version of artillery from being as useful as historical artillery?

    Yes...a) The 'fire at will' system is flawed and a s a result direct fire artillery is a liability to use in ETW. Personally, I use howitzers only in my games, and even that can be dodgy. b) the trajectory used by roundshot in the game is too high resulting in the shot spending too little time below head height and thus reducing its lethality. (This is also true of cannister fire which can actually pass over the heads of its targets, which is nonesense) c) the terrain system used in ETW exaggerates the vertical hieght of terrain features (by a factor of 3 as far as I can judge) which basically means there is more for a roundshot to hit, and the affect of things like slopes is greater because the angle is exaggerated too.

    4) Besides the current mortar/howitzer spam/abuse I've heard about in MP games, are any of the in-game versions of artillery worth more to have in a stack than 120 line infantry, or a unit of heavy cavalry, etc.?

    That depends a lot on your playing style and the nature of the opposition. For example, if my opponent AI or Human is sticking his troops in houses, then given me a battery of artillery over a unit of infantry any day.

    5) If #4 = Yes, which types of artillery are useful, and how should they be used to get the most utility out of them?

    Howitzers/mortars, with shell capability, are the only useful artillery in ETW. Direct fire artillery is as dangerous to itself and your men as it is to the enemy due to poor implementation of the 'Fire at will' command. Place howitzers behind your main battle line and protect them from flank and rear attack. The AI has an anti-artillery fetish, so expect it to try its best to get at your gunners. Use this the tempt the enemy into kill zones and massacre them as they try to get to your guns. Watch your gunners though...they all seem to think they are 'Leroy Jenkins' and given half a chance they will abandon their guns and make a suicide charge into the enemy with their rammers. IF they do grab them and make them move into a square or behind your infantry line until the attack abates and you can move them back to their guns.

    Right...hope that helps clarify things a bit for you.
    Last edited by Didz; 04-22-2009 at 15:09.
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    Member Member anweRU's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Didz View Post
    Of course something like a river or marsh could simple swallow roundshot completely if they landed in it, although Nelson is supposed to have developed a technique for getting roundshot to bounce over water (not really very plausible, but its a story that persists).
    The version I know of has to do with the US Navy, not the RN. The early USN is supposed to have used the idea to counter RN superiority in gunnery. I believe the aim was to use a low-trajectory shot, skip it once and hit the enemy ship at or below the water line.

    It is actually very plausible. The principle is the same as skipping stones on water. While water will swallow any slow moving object, high speed is a different matter.
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by anweRU View Post
    The version I know of has to do with the US Navy, not the RN. The early USN is supposed to have used the idea to counter RN superiority in gunnery. I believe the aim was to use a low-trajectory shot, skip it once and hit the enemy ship at or below the water line.
    Doesn't make much sense though, the superiority would have manifested as better rate of fire and accuracy....trying to bounce cannonballs off of water is a somewhat risky precision move that wouldn't so much help make up for poor gunnery as make it horrendously worse.
    Love is a well aimed 24 pounder howitzer with percussion shells.

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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by anweRU View Post
    It is actually very plausible. The principle is the same as skipping stones on water. While water will swallow any slow moving object, high speed is a different matter.
    Yeah!...the reason I doubt its plausibility is on two counts.

    1.) Having done the whole skipping stones over water thing as a child, and as a father teaching my own children, I know that two factors are vital if you are going to get impressive results. One the stone needs to be as flat as possible, two the water needs to be as flat as possible. It also helps no end to add lateral spin to the stone to reduce the kinetic force it exerts on the water surface. Now, cannon balls are round, and solid, and don't spin, and the sea is not usually flat. Therefore, logic would suggest that firing a large lump of metal low across the surface of the ocean might result in the ball passing directly through a few wavetops, which would create a splashing effect similar to a stone bouncing on a pond, but it wouldn't actually cause the cannonball to bounce. In fact the constant impact with intervening wave crests is more likely to cause it to lose momentum faster and thus shorten its range.

    2) The theory that any ships captain in a battle would deliberately risk a fully loaded broadside by firing it into the sea rather than at the enemy seems unlikely. The most common command I've actually heard associated with naval warfare of this period is 'Fire on the uproll'. This actually suggests that broadsides were deliberately timed to coincide with the point at which the ship had rolled away from the enemy and thus the elevation of the guns on its broadside was as high as possible. High elevation would actually increase the distance a shot travelled before it came into contact with the ocean, and thus reduce the loss of range caused by passing through the tops of waves and so increase its overall range. This actually makes a lot more logical sense. However, I can understand how an ordinary seamen on deck, or in the rigging looking at the series of splashes created by roundshot passing though the tops of wavecrests might think it was a clever use of the 'stone and pond' trick they played as a boy.

    The fact that the same story has embedded itself into the mythology of the US Navy merely reinforces my belief that this is a case of old tars spinning a good yarn for us land-lubbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Khorak View Post
    Doesn't make much sense though, the superiority would have manifested as better rate of fire and accuracy....trying to bounce cannonballs off of water is a somewhat risky precision move that wouldn't so much help make up for poor gunnery as make it horrendously worse.
    Also the logic is fataly flawed...as if you are bouncing shot across the water surface how does it then manage to strike the target below the water line
    Last edited by Didz; 04-22-2009 at 15:48.
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    Slixpoitation Member A Very Super Market's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    No, I have seen round shot plow into squares, horizontally across a unit in line, and smash into other artillery pieces with no discernible affect. I know my history well enough to realize that round shot isn't a high explosive shell.
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    Member Member anweRU's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Didz View Post
    Also the logic is fataly flawed...as if you are bouncing shot across the water surface how does it then manage to strike the target below the water line
    Note that for this to work (if it does), you have to have a very low trajectory shot fired from the lowest gun deck (not something you'd want to do rough seas).

    If the shot skips successfully, it is not going to bounce high into the air. The trajectory has to be very flat, probably less than 10 degrees. By the time the shot reaches the enemy ship, gravity and momentum would have done their job and it would hit right above or below the waterline.

    It is a nice little simulation project for an undergraduate physics course.

    Also would be a fun project for Myth Busters.
    Last edited by anweRU; 04-22-2009 at 16:01.
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    Member Member Didz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Just thought of another reason why artillery is less effective in ETW than it was historically.

    Ground Scale.

    The average artillery piece had a range of around 800m, which would take a man about 30 minutes to traverse at walking pace (assuming there were no obsticals). The rate that artillery fired was actually determined more by the situation than the capabilities of the crew. In seiges and protected bombardment the crew would pace themselves, possibly only firing once every couple of minutes and taking extra care of their aim, but at close range cannister could be shovelled into a gun and fired at the rate of five rounds per minute if necessary.

    Therefore, the target unit would expect to receive somewhere in the region of thirty rounds of artillery fire before it came within musket range of the battery and then a further two or three rounds of close range cannister as it made its final dash to the guns.

    Compare that to what actually happens in ETW.
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    So, in short, screw direct-fire artillery. While it was effective in real life, the way it's been implimented in ETW makes it pretty useless. If you want to employ any artillery, use mortars/howitzers. They are best at hitting stationary targets, like defending units, particularly those in buildings. Also, guard them well because the AI really hates them and will focus on killing them more than other units.

    Is that about right?
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    Member Member Didz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Servius1234 View Post
    So, in short, screw direct-fire artillery. While it was effective in real life, the way it's been implimented in ETW makes it pretty useless. If you want to employ any artillery, use mortars/howitzers. They are best at hitting stationary targets, like defending units, particularly those in buildings. Also, guard them well because the AI really hates them and will focus on killing them more than other units.

    Is that about right?
    Yep! got it in one.
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    Member Member TB666's Avatar
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    Default Sv: Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    I have no problem with direct-fire arty.
    Sure it's not very clever to have units in front of them but with concentrating fire on one target or group of targets if you are lucky and the results are quite gruesome.
    Not to mention canister shot which is awesome.
    I bring with me atleast 5 units of direct fire arty and find them to more effective then howitzers.
    Last edited by TB666; 04-22-2009 at 16:38.

  23. #23

    Default Re: What was artillery's use in ETW's time?

    I find direct-fire artillery to be very useful. I tend to concentrate my batteries into groups of 2 to 4, so they have tremendous stopping power. It's important to remember when perching them on hills to place the cannon a little beyond the ridge line - in the enemy's direction, or you will invariably fire over their heads when they charge you. Also, as they approach you be sure to "test" the limits of canister. Just click on canister and tyry to remembner where on the field the limit is. As the enemy approaches switch to canister a little before they reach this limit. With luck your first volley of canister will be fired right when they hit the line and you'll have time to load and fire a second one. The second one will often be devastating.

    Having more than one group of artillery is useful particularily if you space them so that they can support each other. Often the enemy will go after one only, in which case the unthreatened batteries can wreak havoc on the attacking enemy's flank.

    The use of shrapnel, percussive shells and exploding shells in ETW is utterly anachronistic. They simply weren't very effective at this time. Even fired from the cannons of the 18th centuries shells flew at more than 700 feet/second. If the of fuse of shrapnel or an exploding shell was as little as 1/10th second off it would explode 50 to 100 feet from it's target. They simply didn't have the precision to guarentee an accuracy within even 1/10 of a second. They also didn't have the metallurgic skills to make a safe percussive shell. Those didn't appear until the end of the 19th century.
    Last edited by Tully Bascombe; 04-22-2009 at 23:02.

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