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Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion
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Empire: Total War Heaven » Forums » Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion » Lessons from the Second Anglo-Confederacy War
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Topic Subject:Lessons from the Second Anglo-Confederacy War
webstral
Mariner
posted 02-10-12 01:30 AM EDT (US)         
Iíve just had two very interesting and enlightening back-to-back battles playing Great Britain against the Maratha Confederacy in Bengal, India. The first fight taught me that Iím not yet ready to break out of Bengal and invade the rest of India, though Iím going to need to capture Hindustan in order to win the game. The second battle reminded me of the value of fortifications and ratified my decision to construct them when I had the time and the money.

A little context firstÖ The year is 1723. Iíve been in Bengal since about 1712. In the past, the MC has become so big and powerful on VH/VH that the idea of invading India in 1740 for the purpose of capturing Hindustan becomes untenable. Also, the last time I tried to play a short Great Britain game on VH/VH, the MC got so big so fast that by 1735 the MC had invaded Anatolia, at which point the game froze no matter how many times I reloaded it. This time around, Iím trying to contain the MC early in the game.

To this end, I changed my usual approach to limit my early game field armies to a single force that I sent to the Caribbean at the start of the game. I spent the rest of my money on Indiamen and fleets. The MC overran the Mughals at breakneck speed this game, capturing almost the entirety of India by 1709. At this point, my one field force had just captured Trinidad & Tobago. I loaded my guys up and sent them to Bengal. I arrived at the last region owned by the Mughals barely in advance of the MC. I captured Bengal, and the MC promptly declared war. After handing them a number of defeats at sea and a few close defeats on land, the MC made peace and resumed trade. I knew they would come for Bengal again, so I kept my force in Bengal at nearly full strength. In 1721, the MC declared war again.

In the opening round of the war, the MC moved a 20-regiment army to Cuttack. Another force with about 12 units appeared in northern Bengal. Another dozen units not yet consolidated appeared behind the first group in Hindustan. The first Anglo-Confederate War taught me that the MC infantry are tougher than mine and that I could not withstand a combined assault by all of the forces arrayed against me in the field. The enemyís big army was within striking distance of Calcutta. The second force was two turns away from attacking, while the unconsolidated units were three turns out. I put everything into a single roll of the dice and attacked the MC army outside Cuttack with everything I had in Calcutta.

I won the Battle of Cuttack, but only because the enemy did not hit me with everything he had all at once. I elected not to go after him on the battlefield, knowing that if I waited he would come to me. This he didóso quickly, in fact, that about five regiments of Bargir infantry were left behind the main group. I wiped out his cavalry with my field guns, which was enormously helpful. However, the inferiority of my infantry (mostly EICI) versus his Bargir infantry was really driven home. In face-to-face exchanges of fire, I would take down 2-4 of his guys, while a volley from his infantry would take out 10-12 of mine. Fortunately, the battle was fought in front of my field guns. I was able to fire canister laterally, such that the blast raked down the lines of enemy infantry and killed 20 at a blow. Even so, four of my infantry regiments routed. All the rest lost at least 50% of their strength. Melee combat, which I use to settle the fight, didnít work in this fight. The MC showed incredible staying power and superior hand-to-hand ability. This was a very unwelcome surprise. Worse, my cavalry (mostly EICC) proved virtually toothless. I put four regiments of cavalry into the flanks and rear of one fairly ordinary regiment of Bargir (1 chevron) while the Indians were engaged in hand-to-hand combat with one of my infantry regiments to the front. Nothing. The Bargir shrugged off my best cavalry charge and kept fighting. In the end, I won because the enemyís general drifted into range of my field guns and because my field guns were so very effective with canister. I killed about 950 of the enemy in the fight; my four batteries of guns accounted for about 350. My single battery of howitzers performed disappointingly firing explosive shells. I won, though. The exchange rate was the worst Iíve had in a major battle in I donít know how long: 1.5 to 1. I seldom get anything less favorable than 3 to 1. Bad omen.

Having won the battle, I razed every structure in the region and ran back to Calcutta. I combined damaged regiments and ended up with two full-strength EICI regiments and a lot of other damaged units, which I paid to bring back to full strength. I levied two fresh EICI regiments and one fresh EICC regiment that turn and waited for the enemy to hit me in Calcutta on his turn.

Interestingly, the enemy didnít come straight for Calcutta. I got the chance to intercept him on the way past. I presume he was headed for the Port of Calcutta, which would have caused me great harm if captured by the enemy. I elected to intercept, even though my army was in poor shape with more than half of its units still absorbing replacements. To my surprise, the fight occurred at my fortifications.

Okay, the fortifications didnít come with Calcutta. I built them around 1715. I never build fortifications. I donít like the attritional nature of fighting in fortifications. Though I often start a battle from a defensive position, I hold with the German belief that only aggressive maneuver can defeat the enemy decisively. However, I knew I would be at a numerical disadvantage in India for a long time to come. I anticipated that I might have to send a powerful army into Hindustan and defend my rear (Calcutta) with a smaller force. This smaller force would need the defensive combat power afforded by walls. This battle would prove that walls can be more useful than my previous experience has shown.

The walls completely neutralized the gunnery superiority of the enemyís Bargir infantry. In this battle, his infantry was taking down 2-3 of my guys per volley, while I was mowing down 10-12 of his. I smashed a couple of enemy regiments with musketry alone. When his infantry tried to scale the walls, I put a regiment of line infantry in front with bayonets fixed and put two more units on either side. This was incredibly effective. Several times, the enemy got some troops onto the walls, where they were met and dispatched. It was like I was fighting a different enemy. Iím sure other folks have had this experience, but this was new for me. I attack walled cities occasionally, but I very seldom defend them. This battle was a rout: 190 to 900. Wow. Who knew?

A few lessons have come out of these two encounters in the early 1720ís.
ēMy infantry cannot yet go toe-to-toe with the enemyís infantry on a one-to-one basis in the field.
ēMy EIC cavalry sucks. Like the unit description says, theyíre okay for running down routing enemy units. However, they lack shock effect.
ēHowitzers firing explosive shells are poor anti-personnel weapons. Iíd have been better off keeping the battery of demi-cannon I retired to make room for the battery of howitzers.

Taken together, these lessons mean that I am not ready for a strategic offensive against the MC. I need to research socket bayonet, fire by rank, wedge formation, and carcass shot. I need to be able to recruit lancer cavalry locally, and I need to bring native musket auxiliary and mounted tribal auxiliary from North America. Having completed military syllabus this turn, I started construction of a drill school at Calcutta. This will enable me to recruit cavalry with the desired shock value. Iíve brought in a single NMA already, but Iíll need more. MTA will be especially useful in India, as the MC still use some melee infantry units.

From a research standpoint, Iíve just reached the point at which I can develop the needed technologies. I have research facilities at Cambridge, Manchester, and Trois-Rivieres. I just captured New England from France, and I have started construction of a school at Hartford. The Iroquois have held New York for about 15 years; they have built a meeting house at Saratoga, which will be used for researching military technology as soon as I have captured the region. Two turns. Then we'll see how the Third Anglo-Confederate War turns out.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.
AuthorReplies:
Ecthelion
Mariner
(id: p90pro)
posted 02-11-12 04:20 PM EDT (US)     1 / 2       
That's so strange, every time I use EICI and EICC they have proved succesful against the MC. I almost feel guilty about recomending them to you in the other thread. I think what the difference between our experiences is that whenever I go into India I already have those technologies you lack.

Take the game's equalizing effects into account. The MC doesn't get FBR for any of it's infantry and compensates by making their single volley a little deadlier than your own.

Have faith in the howitzers! Having only one battery will not give a good account of their capabilities. I usually have two batteries at the least and fire both into the greatest mass of their infantry, sometimes choosing a specific unit somewhere in the middle or at the ground around them. They work, it may not seem like it sometimes, but multiple batteries firing at a single target with other enemies around it can be devestating. But if you feel better off getting rid of them and adding field guns or more infantry/cavalry then go for it. I'm not the one fighting the battles.

Describe your general to us. Using troops with lower morale than normal requires a general with morale improving traits (duh). That may be another key difference in our varying experiences: I go in with damn good generals that I recruit from my most experienced units. They'll typically have the Uncle to his Men trait, among others, right off the bat and that's an instant +1 for morale.

Sir, I have not yet begun to defile myself.
Swallow my pride? No thank you, Im too full of myself.
I bring you nothing but love and a shopping bag full of sexual depravity.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
Tied with Meteora (****er) for Best Sig Award.
webstral
Mariner
posted 02-11-12 05:56 PM EDT (US)     2 / 2       
My general is quite good: +8 Cmd when all of his bonuses are factored in. Iím a bit nervous about using someone new when he dies, which will be quite soon. However, I now have a regiment of EICI that has two chevrons, so I should be able to get a halfway decent general out of them.

Iíve had good experiences using a pair of howitzers firing carcass shot in the past. This is the first time Iíve tried using the explosive shells in an AP role. Once I have carcass shot, Iíll rotate a battery of 12lbers out of the lineup (Iíll send them to another formation, since all of the artillery fighting in India now has two or more chevrons.) and bring in another howitzer.

The Second Anglo-Confederate War is over now. I dealt the MC four straight defeats, of which two were decisive victories for me. The last two fights were pretty easy, really. The first was against a 10-unit army that rushed across the border from Hindustan. With two foot batteries of 12lbers, a battery of demi-cannon, and a howitzer, I had total fire superiority. I also set my guns along a low ridge with excellent fields of fire for round shot and canister. I knocked out his general and only cavalry unit with cannonade, then destroyed his two batteries of artillery with cavalry. The enemy still outperformed my infantry on a regiment-on-regiment basis, but I was able to concentrate fire from my field guns and multiple infantry units to overcome this deficit. The fourth battle was just a mopping up action against survivors from the second and third battles. By the time the fourth battle was over, I had captured and sold every MC ship at sea and blockaded all their ports. After that, the MC were willing to make peace and renew trade.

Looking ahead, Iíve already begun research on carcass shot and fire by rank. I now can recruit lancers in Calcutta. Ideally, Iíll have socket bayonet and wedge formation under my belt before the inevitable Third Anglo-Confederate War begins. That will take about a dozen more turns. Letís hope the MC makes nice that long. In the meantime, Iíll keep building my economy so I can put two armies into the field in India.

Edit: Itís now 1734, and Iíve fought my first battle of the game with howitzers using carcass shot. I must confess to a certain disappointment. In the past, Iíve had good results with a pair of howitzers firing carcass. During this past fight, though, they provided very little value. The two batteries produced 20 or so enemy casualties between them. At one point, I put both batteries on a single warrior society unit that was stationary and positioned at about half maximum range. I watched six rounds come in, detonate, and take out 3 enemy warriors altogether. To say that this is unacceptable would be insulting to unacceptable things. The howitzers are going to have to start carrying their weight if they want to avoid being disbanded.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.

[This message has been edited by webstral (edited 02-25-2012 @ 04:47 PM).]

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