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Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion
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Topic Subject: Lessons from the Third Anglo-Confederate War
posted 03-05-12 04:26 PM EDT (US)   
Itís 1738, and the Maratha Confederacy declared war on me (Great Britain) for the third time in 1736. At considerable cost, I was more-or-less ready for this one. Iíve won the first couple of rounds on land, and I have firm control over the Indian Ocean. Weíll see if this will be enough to offset the potentially crushing Confederate advantage in numbers on land.

Iíll set the stage. At the start of the war, I controlled Bengal and Ceylon. I took Bengal in the neighborhood of 25 years ago, wiping out the Mughal Empire in the process. I fought the First Anglo-Confederate War almost immediately thereafter. I dealt the Confederacy a few defeats on land, largely due to superior troop handling and the canister firepower of my field guns. I offered peace and trade on the heels of several British victories, and the MC leadership accepted.

The United Provinces lost her last European territory around 1721, releasing Ceylon into the control of rebels. I took a chance that peace with the Confederacy would last a few turns more, and I loaded my field army in Bengal onto transports to capture Ceylon. This went without a hitch, and I sent my field army (First British) back to Bengal.

In the mid-1720ís, the Maratha Confederacy declared war again. I have discussed this war at greater length in my thread ďLessons from the Second Anglo-Confederate WarĒ.

Going into the 3rd Anglo-Confederate War, I had completed research into some key technologies, including fire by rank, socket bayonet, diamond formation, and (I thought) carcass shot. If North America is everything north and east of Lower Louisiana (plus Lower Louisiana), then by the start of the war I owned North America, save Rupertís Land (since captured), Northwest Territories, Montagnais, Lower Louisiana (since captured) and Upper Louisiana. My economy is very strong now, though Iím a bit more dependent on commodities than I would like. If I were only at war with the Confederacy, Iíd be able to recruit new units limited only by the capacity of my two regions in India.

The Maratha Confederacy is in a good position, though. The Confederacy owns all of India, save Bengal, Ceylon, and Mysore. The Confederacy owns Afghanistan, and has trade and an alliance with the Ottoman Empire. The Confederacy also has trade and alliances with France and Spain (with whom I am at war very actively), plus trade with Russia and a couple of other bit players. The Confederacy has a huge economy and the momentum from an early lead in the technology race. Metalled roads throughout the subcontinent will allow the Confederacy to concentrate armies quicklyósomething I cannot allow.

To begin with, I seized control of the Indian Ocean. What a pain this was. The Confederacy pulled one battle group after another out of its hat. I fought groups with 8-10 sloops and brigs three out of four turns after the start of the war. I had intended to blockade the entire west coast of India from the start, but this only became feasible after I had fought and captured between 24 and 27 sloops and brigs in three separate engagements. Lots of hard work, but nothing new. The surprise came during my recce (reconnaissance) of the coast. I noticed a drydock in Neroon Kot. Iíd never seen the MC develop one before. I was anxious that the enemy might start putting ships of the line to sea. I sent a sloop to get eyes on the naval yard in question. Sure enough, my sloop arrived in time to see a new Confederate sixth rate appear.

On the surface, this probably seems like a small thing. I deal with sixth rates in Europe and the Americas all the time. However, in all the games Iíve played against the MC, I have yet to see the Confederacy construct anything heavier than a brigóeven on VH/VH. Fortunately, my sloop arrived at the eleventh hour. I defeated the Confederate frigate and her escorting sloop, then raided the naval yard to prevent any more heavies from being built. Now Iím going to have to keep raiding the yard until I can capture the region and put the yard out of action permanently.

Capturing the yard is going to be a challenge. On land, Iíve won two large engagements. The first fight was a good victory, though I learned some important lessons. The next fight was a very good victory. However, now the MC is using its vast resources to pour troops into Bengal. Groups of 8-12 are streaming from the interior of India (I have several rakes in place to provide intelligence). Iím a single defeat away from losing Bengal. Iím concerned that I may not be able to keep up with the flood of enemy units.

One of the lessons I learned from the first battle, which was fought on more-or-less equal terms between full armies outside Calcutta, is that mortars firing round shot are very effective weapons. The enemy brought a single mortar battery to the fight. When he was firing carcass shot, he wasnít getting results. When he switched to round shot, my infantry suffered. Another lesson I learned is that my infantry really does have the edge with fire by rank. Though I try to avoid head-to-head contests between regiments of infantry, sometimes one regiment has to hold so that my combat power can be concentrated on achieving a rapid victory on another part of the line. Everywhere, my infantry got hurt; but his was cut to ribbons. The marginal superiority of my line infantry enables me to stand fast in one place so several units can crush the enemy someplace else. I like this.

The intense aggressiveness of the Indian troops makes using canister difficult. The Indians will march right up to my field guns and fire on the gunners. Since I canít control exactly when the field guns fire, and since the gunners show all the timing and discrimination of a drunken fraternity brother, I find it very difficult to prevent Confederate line infantry from mowing down my field gunners if they can get within range. I have to put my own line infantry in front, which often precludes the use of canister on good terms.

My howitzers continue to be a crushing disappointment. In the past two battles, my two batteries of 12lb howitzers have inflicted a whopping total of four KIA on the enemy. Iíve tried firing round shot, carcass, and explosive shells. Nothing seems to work. Accordingly, I have recruited two fresh batteries of 12lb foot for the army that will take the fight to Hindustan. The howitzers can stay with the force that will defend Calcutta; at least they will have the ability to fire over the walls.

The enemy also has developed 24lb field guns. In the second land battle of the war so far, the Confederacy brought up two batteries of 24lb foot. Fortunately, the enemy committed them prematurely; I sallied and attacked the army when it had 11 units. Still, the enemyís heavy artillery inflicted about 35 of the 100 KIA I suffered. This is going to be a problem going forward. Iím unhappy about the fact that the enemy has artillery that greatly outranges mine (mortars) and delivers heavier fires (24lbers).

On the plus side, Iíve begun to get the logistical situation under control. As long as Iím fighting close to Calcutta, I can keep First British Army up to full strength every turn. At the end of a battle, I consolidate my understrength units. Iíve been levying four fresh units at Calcutta every turnóat least two of which are East India Company Infantry. I rotate out whichever units are still understrength and send them to the rear to absorb replacements. Fresh units go in to accompany the battle-tested ones. With every battle, the overall experience base of my army improves. If I can keep this up until I can field a full-strength Fifth British Army to defend Calcutta, then I can send First British Army forward to take Hindustan and thus meet the victory conditions in India. Thereís a lot more fighting in store, though.

As a supplementary measure, Iím seriously considering levying additional troops in Ceylon and shipping them to Bengal. This last turn, I finished off the Confederate Navy and raided every port on the coast of India with my sloops. Thus I own the waters around India. I can move troops freely to Bengalóor wherever else I choose. The drawback to levying additional troops in Ceylon is that Iíll have to pay for them while they are in transit. Iím already paying for specialty troops, like Rangers and mounted tribal auxiliary, that I am shipping from the Americas to India. Iím also paying to maintain regiments of horse that I am shipping to the Americas because neither mounted tribal auxiliary nor colonial dragoons have the shock effect I require from my main cavalry. Iím wary of paying for yet more forces that will spend time in transit. Nah, I should just do it. Itís only two turns from Ceylon to Bengal.

One more lesson that repeats itself from one Total War game to the next: the best army is the one with the fewest types of units. When I played Shogun: Total War I used three kinds of units: yari samurai, samurai archers, and yari cavalry. While the specialty units were fun to use, they complicated the logistical chain, which in turn compromised my ability to stay in the fight. Since the only infantry I used were the yari samurai, at the end of every fight I could consolidate my remaining units easily. By levying only one kind of infantry, I could keep a constant and simple flow of replacements moving forward. In Rome: Total War, I fielded armies in which a given need was met by a single type of unit to the greatest degree possible. I rarely mixed slingers with archers or even Cretan archers with Roman archers so that I could a) consolidate units as needed and b) deliver fires uniformly in front of my army. I seldom used triarii because they complicated the logistical chain. If I hired mercenary hoplites, I moved them all into a single legion as soon as possible.

In Empire: Total War, Iím finding the same pattern holds true. The ability to replenish forces in the field changes this dynamic somewhat. However, the value of consolidating units to retain experience still exists. Also, the ability to rapidly consolidate and push forward preserves momentum. I am very wary of bringing understrength units to a battle, though obviously it has to be done from time to time. The fewer types of units one has, the fewer understrength units have to enter battle after consolidation.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.
posted 03-26-12 11:03 PM EDT (US)     1 / 2  
It was an interesting comment you made about never having seen the MC build up a drydock. For me it's the opposite: I rarely have a game that they don't build one; and I always play on normal setting for the campaign (I would think that would make them less likely to build one). Another rarity is having a game that they don't declare war on me. The France campaign I'm currently playing is the first time in a year or so that I've gotten to 1760 without the MC attacking me. Although, perhaps my having totally ignored the Indian TOE has something to do with that. Right now they are allied with me and they're the only country that is Very Happy with me.

Life was much easier before I developed a sense of ethics.
posted 03-28-12 01:12 AM EDT (US)     2 / 2  
Right now they are allied with me and they're the only country that is Very Happy with me.
It's (somewhat) easy to keep diplomacy on a high level. The biggest part to me seems to be not aggressively expanding your lands towards their borders or taking their victory territories. Obviously there are other factors involved, but appearing to have a stable border and not encroaching on their turf seems to work in your favor.

In Ottoman campaigns I maintain good relations with Austria and Russia by fighting the Barbary States, MC, and Mughals. Taking out the BS is a great way to have better relations with European countries as everybody but yourself is at war with them. "Enemy of my enemy" deal going on there. Likewise, going for the MC and Mughals is a good way to maintain steady relations with western countries as you are expanding in the opposite direction they want to go.

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.
Empire: Total War Heaven » Forums » Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion » Lessons from the Third Anglo-Confederate War
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