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Thread: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

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    Senior Member Senior Member econ21's Avatar
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    Default Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    After getting some good tips on siege assaults in ETW, I thought I would inquire about field battles in NTW. What tactics do people use to win battles?

    I've not spent that much time with the game, but noticed a tendency for my battles to be rather attritional. Two opposing lines of infantry firing at each other and even if you win, you come out of it depleted. In ETW, you can rely on numbers, higher quality units or superior techs (fire by rank) to win such stand up fights. But in ETW, the battleground seems more level. So what do people do to get an edge?

    How effective are the following?

    1) Focus fire - in naval battles, I use Alt-X on a target (typically the admiral's flagship), so all of my units focus on that one. That way you can wreck one unit, rather than merely scarring many. I've noticed the AI doing this sometimes in ETW land battles - often 3 vs 3 regiments, the AI will fire all its regiments on one of yours. (I know killing the enemy general would be a big deal, but would try to avoid such uncivilised tactics. )

    2) Concentration of force - an extension of (1), trying to get local numerical superiority to overwhelm one part of the line (typically a flank) and refuse the other. Worked for Napoleon at Austerlitz. If you do this, at what point do you stop firing and enter melee? I tend to wait for the enemy's morale to start to fall from steady - I am not sure if I should melee earlier.

    3) Cavalry flank charges - an extension of (2) and probably the killer tactic of most earlier TW games but cavalry is more fragile in ETW/NTW. How are they in NTW?

    4) Offensive use of artillery - in ETW, the early foot artillery (12 lbers) seems insipid at range (except vs cavalry), but lethal when switching to cannister. This tends to make it a defensive weapon. Have people had success with using artillery offensively? Is there a point repeating the Napoleonic grand battery to soften up the enemy line before attacking? How is horse artillery? A historical Napoleonic tactic was to use the threat of cavalry to force the enemy infantry into square and then use horse artillery (or your infantry) to devastate the squares. Does this work in game?

    5) Exploiting terrain - how useful do people find terrain? Occupying buildings can seem to give a big edge and starting off behind entrenchments gives a modest advantage. I look for a hill for artillery in a defensive battle. But beyond that I tend just to look for a nice flat part of the battlefield on which to fight. Terrain seems more of an obstacle than anything else, preventing neat deployment of your lines. I don't find terrain advantages as important as in some other TW games (where hills added to range and uphill fighting penalities were more significant for melee-based warfare). Am I missing something? Does any one try a reverse slope defense such as Wellington relied on vs the French? (because artillery at range does not seem so powerful, I've not tried it).

    6) Fire control - an important Napoleonic tactic was waiting until you see the whites of their eyes before firing, i.e. muskets were lethal close up, so you aimed to get the enemy to fire prematurely and then unleash your fire at closer range. Do people try this or just leave infantry on fire at will? It seems that getting artillery to hold fire just prior to the enemy entering grapeshot range is important: otherwise it can seem like an age for them to finish reloading before they unleash hell on the enemy.

    Thanks for any comments and tips!

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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    Generally in NTW I use artillery to thin out the line of the enemy. When they get closer in use grapeshot. When they get in musket range fire off a couple of salvos then charge. The Russians and British are really good for this.

    Then the usual hammer and anvil using my troops to hold and cavalry and grenadiers as flankers. The old trick of hiding flankers in the woods is always a win-win.

    You still lose men but nowhere near as you would with a slugfest.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    I use three artillery and maybe two or three howitzers when they become available, around 6 line infantry, usually 4 skirmishers and 4 cavalry. I use only a double line and not a deeper formation. If I have slots left I will usually use more skirmishers.

    I put 3 infantry either side of my guns and the longer ranged infantry on each flank. I place the cavalry to the rear of the flankers. They are best for chasing routed units, of course though I may risk an attack on flanking enemy artillery. When you kill their guns they will come to you, rather than sit and be pounded. Then you can watch them get hacked to pieces by your guns and infantry.


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    Senior Member Senior Member econ21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    Thanks, I am ending up using similar tactics to what you both suggest. Grapeshot seems a battle winner and, unlike ETW, the AI foolishly tends not to rush your guns, preferring to shoot it out, so you can rely on it more. At range, cannon does seems insipid - especially as the AI is very quick to move it's cavalry (the one thing cannonballs can hurt at range) if targeted. (I know you can target the ground in front but I think this is something of an exploit and prefer to let the AI have its moment of smartness). Incidentally, there seems to be some weird invulnerability of artillery: even close up, you can pummel them with grapeshot, infantry volleys etc and they don't seem to take the expected damage.

    I find my casualties vary alot from battle to battle - sometimes very light, sometimes very high. I suspect the difference is largely determined by whether I stick to my prepared position and allow the enemy to come to my grapeshot, or whether I go for a more fluid battle plan, which tends to lead to more of an attritional meeting engagement between infantry. Friendly fire seems a real issue in the game and my generals seem frighteningly vulnerable (dying to spies, to chasing routers, to AI artillery snipers etc.).

    I am not managing to pull off many of the tactics I mooted in the first post - I may need to practice more, or maybe the game just does not model them that well.

    For now, unlike most other TW titles, I think I am enjoying the campaign level more than the battle one. NTW seems rather like RTR or EB in penalising early rushing - it's quite easy to bite off more than you can chew, occupying a capitol without having the strength to keep it from rebelling. The AI does a good job of pumping out full stacks, even on normal. And you can get Civ-like AI feeding frenzies, whereby lots of minor powers declare war on you (at least as France) if you get over-extended. I wish the British navy AI was a bit better though - Nelson should be terrorising my trade nodes in the Med, rather than swanning around in the Channel.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    The strongest elements of NTW are in online play. Graphic is on quit a bit, or was, and may be up to a battle or two, maybe even a campaign.

    The naval and trade AI is still a little weak.

    I had the most fun playing the Spanish Campaign, so if you don’t have it, it is very good IMO. Much, much stronger than the warpath campaign in ETW. This one is actually fun. LOL

    There is also a free units, British 10 Hussars that you should get. I forget the link but I am sure you can find it here in the forum some where.

    The bounce was used back then so don’t think of it as an exploit.

    The AI will rush your guns, and your whole line as soon as you take out their guns. It just takes a bit of fancy foot work by your cavalry.

    The individual battles in the game can also present a challenge. Don’t think I ever got all gold with them.

    Enjoy playing and post anytime.


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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    I know you can target the ground in front but I think this is something of an exploit and prefer to let the AI have its moment of smartness
    I never target troops but fire just in front of them, even with grapeshot. It seems to kill more that way. Also if you do target troops, they invariably advance on your position. This is ok if the two armies are evenly matched but if, like me, you like to try your luck from time to time, it can be disastrous.
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    Thumbs down Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    I find that a good tactic to use in your campaign is to have a line of infantry (7 companies) with 4 or 5 light infront. On the sides I have 2 cannon pieces each with 2 light dragoons behind them. I use 6-lbers but try not to use them, i only use them because they are veterans. Try to use this as a defensive tactic by letting the enemy come to you. I found in my battle of Paris that France would not come to me, so only if nessessary move your skirmish line forward (if you have a mix of light and skirmish, noly move your skirmish). Try not to use your cavalry for your main attack, and try not to use heavy cavalry. Hev cav are far too slow to flank and if they charge, the enemy volleys them before they get close, try only to use lancers/light dragoons, and only then to take out lone arty or skirmishers (BUT WATCH OUT FOR SPIKES!)

    Hope this helps. :)

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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    You bet, and welcome aboard!


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    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    Artillery are actually quite useful in NTW, so use plenty of it - especially if you have the Grand Battery of the Convention for France, that 4 gun battery shreds everything.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    Good artillery is a must. I often used to skip shots beyond max range into vulnerable units.

    Good cavalry taking out the enemy artillery is also a sure way to speed up the battle. When their artillery is gone they usually move to attack and get eaten up by yours.

    Artillery takes quite a bit of micro management though, and good supporting infantry on the flanks of it with maybe cavalry behind it if the enemy assaults it.

    I hardly ever leave it out on the flanks but put it more in the middle of the line where it is better protected.


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  11. #11

    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by econ21 View Post
    1) Focus fire - in naval battles, I use Alt-X on a target (typically the admiral's flagship), so all of my units focus on that one. That way you can wreck one unit, rather than merely scarring many. I've noticed the AI doing this sometimes in ETW land battles - often 3 vs 3 regiments, the AI will fire all its regiments on one of yours. (I know killing the enemy general would be a big deal, but would try to avoid such uncivilised tactics. )

    2) Concentration of force - an extension of (1), trying to get local numerical superiority to overwhelm one part of the line (typically a flank) and refuse the other. Worked for Napoleon at Austerlitz. If you do this, at what point do you stop firing and enter melee? I tend to wait for the enemy's morale to start to fall from steady - I am not sure if I should melee earlier.
    As per: Defeat in detail.

    Well done!

    5) Exploiting terrain - how useful do people find terrain? Occupying buildings can seem to give a big edge and starting off behind entrenchments gives a modest advantage. I look for a hill for artillery in a defensive battle. But beyond that I tend just to look for a nice flat part of the battlefield on which to fight. Terrain seems more of an obstacle than anything else, preventing neat deployment of your lines. I don't find terrain advantages as important as in some other TW games (where hills added to range and uphill fighting penalities were more significant for melee-based warfare). Am I missing something? Does any one try a reverse slope defense such as Wellington relied on vs the French? (because artillery at range does not seem so powerful, I've not tried it).
    Actually, in NTW artillery has increased range if you stand on top of a hill.

    P.S.: What about using terrain to shield yourself from enemy shells? I use these feature very often: it protects my general while he is within units' range; it allows me to flank the enemy without suffering losses, etc.

    Moreover, I used terrain to lure the enemy into a pocket (with my infantry shooting from above the hilltops -- what a carnage!).

    6) Fire control - an important Napoleonic tactic was waiting until you see the whites of their eyes before firing, i.e. muskets were lethal close up, so you aimed to get the enemy to fire prematurely and then unleash your fire at closer range. Do people try this or just leave infantry on fire at will? It seems that getting artillery to hold fire just prior to the enemy entering grapeshot range is important: otherwise it can seem like an age for them to finish reloading before they unleash hell on the enemy.
    I'd love if you had a reference for this one as a Napoleonic tactic.

    Fact is you cannot use this tactic against Bedouins, because if they have an elite melee unit, they will pretty much run from the start.
    I usually let everybody fire at will unless I have hidden them somewhere.
    I mean, it really depends; sometimes, if I have a really good unit, I allow myself a couple of steps more and then I unleash the strength of their powder.

    I think what you describe has more advantages in real life than in the game. Actually, fusiliers in the game are pretty quick; I remember that an average unit should be able to shoot three round in one minute -- true. However, when enemy is charging, it is fundamental that you shoot only when you are sure to score a hit. No way you can reload, because the charging dudes (e.g. cavalry) will get to you anyway, so it is better to fire one good round rather than a bad one and then get caught by the charge while you reload.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    I use three artillery and maybe two or three howitzers when they become available, around 6 line infantry, usually 4 skirmishers and 4 cavalry. I use only a double line and not a deeper formation. If I have slots left I will usually use more skirmishers.

    I put 3 infantry either side of my guns and the longer ranged infantry on each flank. I place the cavalry to the rear of the flankers. They are best for chasing routed units, of course though I may risk an attack on flanking enemy artillery. When you kill their guns they will come to you, rather than sit and be pounded. Then you can watch them get hacked to pieces by your guns and infantry.
    You seem very organized.
    Instead, I usually fight with what's available on the field.

    I love to keep my armies separate. A bit of cavalry never hurts, but I usually dare too much when I am riding horses, so I prefer to have one army of just cavalry-men and fast horse-artillery; my second army is just infantry and artillery. Lots of artillery.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The former army (pic related) is the one I used to fill in the gaps created by rebellion and issues occurring anywhere in my territory.
    The latter army is the one that makes a move and consolidates position, makes a move and consolidates position, etc. It's my besieging army, and I love having Napoleon directing it.

    So, in a sense, I use cavalry as a flanker, but I do so at map level, whereas my artillery and infantry is the head of my force of invasion.

    A suggestion: Have you ever tried to create an army just for one purpose?

    Here's my case: I had to subdue the Bedouins, so I decided Desaix would be my general of the Upper Nile. He would gather an army of specialized men able to survive the heat of the desert without a loss. So, this young gentleman had to be flexible and familiar with the natives -- he was going to be my Duncan Idaho! Or my Lawrence of Arabia, if you like...

    So, Desaix raised this army of White Musketeers -- i.e. my 1st Foreign Legion. But the resistance was too hard (in the Libyan desert) so he had to find shelter on my holding by the river. Consequently, I sent him west, just with these Legionnaires. He managed to get hold of a main town on the shores of the Red Sea.

    By that time, the Press in Paris had gone crazy about this young gentleman who was the hero of the dunes. Once in the town, he left there his 1st Legion and recruited a second one of Camel raiders. With this, he went West and won a couple of fights against the Bedouin lords.

    However, by the time he reached the main Bedouin encampment, he realized there were simply too many. They swarmed all over the place, so he and his men had to repair behind some fences... here's what happened:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The end: Basically, he got wiped away and died heroically... but like one of those imperial heroes: young educated men, who sought fortune by leading a mob of peasants in some forlorn corner of a raising empire. This is the stuff of legends, however such legends are best enjoyed when sipping a coup of tea at the Masonic lodge of Paris -- surely enough, Desaix himself would not have described himself as a hero, but just as one of those who tried to tame the desert.

    Epilogue: Desaix was Napoleon's favourite. In the meantime, Napoleon got wounded near Tyre and had to go back to Alexandria. Once there, he requisitioned the army that was ready to sail from Cyprus and went south, enduring a long and deadly march in the desert lands. He got to the place where Desaix had died, but this time he was strong of 30 artillery pieces and some of his best infantry men. He wiped out the Bedouins and subdued them.

    Comment: In reality, Desaix died in Northern Italy in 1801.

    I wrote this story because OP was inquiring about historical tactics. Well, I think I had my fair share with Desaix, because this guy (and my stubbornness: I wanted to use local levies as much as possible) really had an in-game life very similar to that of many French officers (i.e. forced to fight with little men against the Bedouins, masters of the desert).
    Last edited by Jacob_Sterlov; 07-03-2015 at 03:37. Reason: Another image added

  12. #12

    Default Re: Relearning Napoleonic tactics - any battle tips?

    I think the best thing you can do is exploit the terrain. Look for high ground or possible chokepoints. Never use your cav and guard units to early, they are gamechangers and should be used in the late game.

    Protect your artillery with cav or infantry. Try to elimenate their best infantry first.

    And most important of all...FLANK. Dont mindlessly charge with your cav. Just wait for the right moment. The patient ones always win.

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