Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

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jbbpioneer
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Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by jbbpioneer » Thu Apr 11, 2024 1:09 pm

We are playing on Tabletop Simulator and were using the rectangular shaped obstacles (ditch, palisade, whatever) to cover the front of some defending close order troops. We expected that any attacker (ex skirmishers) would have to move through this obstacle as difficult terrain AND have to pay the penalty for fighting in difficult terrain if close order troops. However, the defending close order unit cannot have its combat edge in clear terrain and the attacking unit have its edge in difficult terrain. Thus the difficult terrain penalty would seem to apply to the defender as well as the attacker.... a clumsy conclusion for troops defending a barrier.

What is the rule "meister's" interpretation?
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Rod
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Re: Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by Rod » Sat Apr 13, 2024 9:29 pm

Generally speaking close order troops cannot really defend a fortified position effectively. The placeable obstacle rules are really intended to simulate obstacles placed by open order troops to be able to stand in open ground and still be able to face mounted or help break up close order troops.

For close order troops to fight in close order they in an open space to close up. The penalty for any close order troops attacking through the barrier assuming the fight takes place behind it would be the command penalty and the result of combat if they are still in it.
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David Kuijt
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Re: Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by David Kuijt » Mon Apr 15, 2024 3:13 am

As Rod says, Portable Obstacles aren't intended to represent true fortifications, but rather things like the ditches at Dara, the spikes at Agincourt, the flooded fields at Kephisos or the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Flanders, ceramic pots dug into the ground, caltrops, that sort of thing. If you have a real barrier like a 3' ditch and a 3' wall behind it, that isn't difficult terrain -- that's completely impassable for mounted and nearly so for foot. That becomes a scenario game where you need special rules to represent that situation, half-way to a siege assault, not a field battle.

There are still lots of tactical things you can do to mess up enemy troops crossing portable obstacles when you have close-order foot -- but fighting on the lip of the obstacle isn't it. Rod has a nice Hydaspes scenario created that has some very interesting tactical problems -- and it isn't as simple as lining up to defend the riverbank.
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wybesse
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Re: Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by wybesse » Wed Apr 24, 2024 3:03 am

But if the defender is a short distance *behind* the obstacle (less than the attacker's base depth), then isn't the attacker in difficult terrain and liable for any relevant negative combat result, while the defender is not?

E.g., my Henrician English Archers put out their stakes and stand less than a MU behind them. My archers are not in difficult terrain. The doltish French Knights run straight at my Archers and are still in the difficult terrain when they make contact. So the Knights aren't -1 in close combat (because for combat factors only the combat edge counts, per the Design Note on p.36), but they will die if they lose (76.5.a).
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Rod
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Re: Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by Rod » Wed Apr 24, 2024 10:31 am

That is correct, they can be right up next to it actually and the combat edge would be just out. Combat results for knights charging over the barricade would be for rough terrain.
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David Kuijt
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Re: Close order troops defending a placed obstacle

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Apr 26, 2024 1:52 am

wybesse wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2024 3:03 am
But if the defender is a short distance *behind* the obstacle (less than the attacker's base depth), then isn't the attacker in difficult terrain and liable for any relevant negative combat result, while the defender is not?

E.g., my Henrician English Archers put out their stakes and stand less than a MU behind them. My archers are not in difficult terrain. The doltish French Knights run straight at my Archers and are still in the difficult terrain when they make contact. So the Knights aren't -1 in close combat (because for combat factors only the combat edge counts, per the Design Note on p.36), but they will die if they lose (76.5.a).
All true -- but if you're fighting doltish French knights, why not put your front edge in the difficult terrain?
DK
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