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"The joys of playing inferior armies" Topic

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John the OFM10 Dec 2012 11:37 a.m. PST

We played an Empire game on Saturday, suitably dumbed down for our crowd.
WARNING: Nobody's head exploded, nor did any neck veins pop.

I had a Spanish brigade (division?), with some truly atrocious troops.
Like at Guilford Courthouse, I let them soak up the first onslaught of Froggies, and then withdrew them behind the Irish and Swiss. My DUB cavalry charged a French battery that was prolonging to get closer. My charge went nowhere, but it was fun actually pretending to be a dashing cavalry commander. THEN, a truly worthless skirmisher unit ACTUALLY SCREENED THE ARTILLERY! Wow!

Tactical hint: If your troops suck, just stand there. Don't shoot if you have a poor chance of hitting anything because "they" will blow your pretty hats off on the return fire. Let him shoot at you (he might miss) and then return fire (you might hit!). It really frustrates and annoys superior forces.

Best of all, when you have a truly wretched army, when you lose the game, it's not your fault!

Sergeant Paper10 Dec 2012 11:45 a.m. PST

This is why I played Soviets and Vietnamese and Palestinians* for years – if they win, they won! but if they lose, so what?

*My AK-47 Republic force is a 'mock-palestinian' organization, built using the Middle East supplement. While they do have armor (PT-76s and LVTP-5 amphibious transports) they are rubbish on the field, but they have always failed entertainingly…

ancientsgamer10 Dec 2012 11:56 a.m. PST

Nobody expect the Spanish Inquisition!

Being that Empire are touted as being uber detailed, where are the rules for the French getting excommunicated by the Spanish Inquisition?!

vtsaogames10 Dec 2012 12:00 p.m. PST

We've been fielding the Great War Ottoman Turks lately…

Caliban Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 12:47 p.m. PST

Great stuff, this. In ancients, I've always fancied getting enough troops together to do at least one of the so-called "minor" armies, you know, the ones who almost always seem to fight for other people but also gave the big powers a bit of a headache. I'm a sucker for Thracians, Galatians, Spanish, Numidians and so on. I'm finally in the process of acquiring Spanish and Numidians and yes, if they lose I'll shrug and say "so what?". If they win I shall GLOAT!!!

So there.

Anyway, all four of the above-named outlasted Carthage against the Romans, so they can't be all bad…

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 1:09 p.m. PST

Why do you think I have a Napoleonic period Neaplitian army and am working on Spanish.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 1:14 p.m. PST

I particularly enjoy playing Bashi-Bazouks and late Chinese Imperials.

Ken Portner10 Dec 2012 1:46 p.m. PST

I enjoy being an inferior general….

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 2:43 p.m. PST

Give me a regiment of the Natal Native Contingent backed up with a rocket battery and I will advance off the nearest board edge.

Bandit10 Dec 2012 2:53 p.m. PST

I am in large agreement with all of this. Long odds do not only refer to numbers. Audacity. A man is not proven great should he not pass a great challenge.


The Bandit

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 4:45 p.m. PST

I'd take a Spansih command over a French command any day of the week.

NY Irish10 Dec 2012 7:35 p.m. PST

I was going to make a comment about the Irish at home, but thought better of it.

doc mcb10 Dec 2012 9:06 p.m. PST
Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 10:55 p.m. PST

Now back to our show. I like playing the French in the FPW. If they lose well they are suppose to lose, but they fought bravely and with ้lan. But when they win, I never let the Germans forget it. I take tons of photographs post them everywhere and really rub it in. You are never suppose to win and when you lose, you lose with style. Which makes winning all the more sweeter.

Virginia Tory11 Dec 2012 5:38 a.m. PST

This is also part of the fun of playing the Rebels in AWI games, especially early war.

Your army is clumsy, amateurish and while some units may be able to shoot, they'll run if charged.

Managing all that, along with the egos of some of the generals can be fun.

Rallynow: Re: Franco Prussian War, have you tried Bruce Weigle's rules? The French may have leadership problems, but they have a pretty good army--the Prussians can be surprised if they get careless.

BlackWidowPilot Fezian11 Dec 2012 12:50 p.m. PST

I've been playing underdog forces for over 30 years now by choice, especially 1940 French Army. My personal trick is that I game mainly on the tactical level up to brigade-sized engagements; the Early War French can give their opponents a VERY hard time even without armored support, and God help my opponents if I'm given access to a detachment of S35 or Char B1bis to use as a sledge hammer, or worse still for the other guys, a sited and hidden FO connected to the divisional artillery park…evil grin

As the old American saying goes, it ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that counts!evil grin

Leland R. Erickson
Metal Express

spontoon11 Dec 2012 4:56 p.m. PST

Nothing syas " You're beaten!" than being beaten by an early Napoleonic Spanish army. Except perhaps by Neapolitans!

palaeoemrus11 Dec 2012 8:53 p.m. PST

I like to take "civilian" vehicles (including construction vehicles or even construction giant robots in the case of sci-fi) and bolt plates and guns to them to make them into technicals or improvised tactical vehicles. And it's not always in the context of insurgency, often it's just miners that are sick of dodging raiders or an impromptu poorly equipped militia waiting for their international aid checks to clear so they can purchase some real arms.

Weld-monster Junk armies are neat.

number411 Dec 2012 9:58 p.m. PST

My VA and NC militia regiments stood and took the best Cornwallis and Tarleton could throw at them when we refought Camden last year. Even Granny Gates was impressed enough to stay on the field and watch :)

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2012 1:37 p.m. PST

Virginia Troy,

We do a lot of the early ACW scenarios, very rarely are the Rebels the underdog. Usually it's the Union that has issues.I own 1870 just for the information in it. We are very happy with TDFG.

(I make fun of others)19 Dec 2012 2:29 p.m. PST

Nothing syas " You're beaten!" than being beaten by an early Napoleonic Spanish army. Except perhaps by Neapolitans!

Well actually, we once had a Neopolitan line infantry battalion stand up to an attack by the British Foot Guards, defeat them, and counterattack, sending the guards reeling.

No, of course we didn't.

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2013 7:37 p.m. PST

The thing is even lousy troops could hit things when fired at in mass. So with what Empire gives them is not correct.

The other thing is that lousy troops are far greater to decided that running away is something that should be done instead of just standing there and letting better class of troops shoot them.

They should be able to hit something but will run after jsut taking a few hits onto the unit.

Davout197230 Jan 2013 7:55 a.m. PST

In the club I belonged to, it seemed like the best players always played the British or French, while inferior players just slugged along and became cannon fodder for the rest. Then, we hit upon an idea.

After a battle, we graded the winners by what type of troops they played, versus the losers. Thus, if 1 player was spanking everyone with veteran troops, the next time he played conscript. Eventually the best players were playing with Dutch-Belgian or Spanish troops, while the inferior players were playing with French or British.

The fun was the challenge it represented to play poor troops well, and maybe still pull off an embarrassing move against your superior opponents. Made you think harder, play troops you normally wouldn't play, and gave you a better appreciation of all the nationalities. I mean who really volunteers to play 1814 French against Blucher or Schwartzenberg?

What fun it was for us all, and the novices hung around alot longer, finally convinced they had a fighting chance!

TamsinP31 Jan 2013 6:08 a.m. PST

With my abilities as a tabletop general and my usual abandonment by the dice gods, I'm pretty sure I could take an early/middle Imperial Roman or Alexandrian Macedonian army and they would be decidedly inferior. Rome would be just a small village in Italy, Macedon would be a collection of hovels somewhere in the Balkans, neither with an empire to speak of.

VonBlucher01 Feb 2013 6:29 a.m. PST

Inferior armies are more fun to play!! All you need is play to the strengths of your army, produce a good plan, and a proper offering to the dice gods.
Besides you weren't expected to win, which puts allot more pressure on your opponents. It's more fun watching them sweat it out, while you're enjoying the moment.

Inkpaduta01 Feb 2013 11:21 a.m. PST

My soft spot has always been the Italians in WWII.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2013 7:44 p.m. PST

Nothing syas " You're beaten!" than being beaten by an early Napoleonic Spanish army. Except perhaps by Neapolitans!

Over the years I've put on a number of battles in "The Other 1815 Campaign. The Neapolitans go up against the Austrians. The Neapolitans have done quite well.

Edwulf03 Feb 2013 10:23 p.m. PST

British and Austrians will always be my faves I'm afraid in Napoleonics.

Neapolitans come in 3rd though.

MadDrMark06 Feb 2013 4:00 a.m. PST

I agree with almost all that has been said here, and it provides an illustration of why I prefer not to play point-based tournament-styles games. In such games, the inferior troops are padded out with numbers to 'balance' them against their veteran or elite opponent. Sometimes this is the case historically (a Chinese human wave against US Marines at Chosin, for example) but more often than not, historical matchups teach us that life's not fair.

And that's OK.

Rather than balance a scenario with a historically implausible Neapolitan wave, it's good to remember the courage of the Spanish armies who stood against superior numbers of Napoleonic French, or the ragged Continental army (briefly) staring down the British in Brooklyn. Sometimes victory can mean lasting two turns longer than anyone else thought possible. I certainly remember those wargaming experiences far more affectionately than I remember chasing down every last unit of a defeated foe.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP06 Feb 2013 11:32 a.m. PST

Indeed, my mantra. The way you balance an uneven battle is not by using points, it's by playing historical scenarios or historically based scenarios then balance them by adjusting the victory conditions.

It may be a forgone conclusion that the Mexican Army is going to overrun the Alamo but the Texans may win the game by causing enough casualties. Lose the battle but win the game. Battles are rarely balanced.

Supercilius Maximus06 Feb 2013 11:37 p.m. PST

Back in the mid-80s, the club I belonged to ran a weekend Napoleonic competition where you had to bring along a new army, but for someone else to use (we drew lots). The fact that nobody had come up with this idea before brought out the gamesmanship in everyone, who almost to a man planned to handicap the best players by bringing along an awful army (each, of course, thinking none of the others would have the same thought). You have never seen so many Spanish and Neapolitan troops in your life. Unfortunately, all the dross on the table levelled itself out and it came down to the best players winning, as per usual. Being the naive idiot I was back then, I brought along a historically accurate 1815 Black Brunswick corps, which came second (in someone else's hands, obviously). I think a Bavarian army eventually won overall.

Generalstoner4914 Feb 2013 9:11 a.m. PST

Egyptians in the Sudan are prolly my favorite underdog but if Nappies it has to be Early Spanish. Awesome to see piled up on the field and even better when they pull off a victory.

wrgmr116 Feb 2013 7:47 p.m. PST

One of our group says it's fun to play Austrians because if you win it really is a victory.

Playing French, you are expected to win.

I say it's the same with Prussians.

Maxshadow23 Feb 2013 5:19 p.m. PST

Yes. I always enjoyed playing the Egyptians in the Sudan as well. Often wiped out but great fun.

John the OFM23 Feb 2013 5:28 p.m. PST

I am now painting Bashi Bazouks…

Runicus Fasticus09 Mar 2013 1:39 p.m. PST

one of my best memories of useing low qality troops was with egyptians vs. britsh.My poor troops in their field works stopped the highlanders cold ,forced several british line battalions to fail morale ,and blew up an ammo limber beside the british C-in-C ruining his day…one of my best games ever.

southtxsgamer09 Mar 2013 5:06 p.m. PST

My favorite scrub armies against the great was a WW2 German invasion of Poland scenario. I was one of the Polish commanders, and for once the dice gods were smiling in my general direction. My boys held their part of the line most of the game, throwing back three Kraut attacks. Of course, the other Polish commanders weren't as lucky…

Wolfprophet10 Mar 2013 7:25 p.m. PST

I switched from Tau to Imperial Guard for 40K.

So, naturally I have to say….

They shall be my finest Cannon Fodder, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I will mold them and in the furnace of war they will become cracked and broken. They will be of weak flesh and wimpy muscle. In cardboard armour I clad them and with the mightiest flashlights they will be armed. They will be touched by every sort of plague or disease to help further make them unhappy, all sickness will blight them. They will have almost no tactics, strategies, but lots of machines so that they can at least stand up to a foe in battle. They are my tar pit against the Terror. They are the bulk of Humanity. They are my Imperial Guard and they will know much fear!

cosmicbank20 Oct 2014 5:56 p.m. PST

Always liked 1941 Soviets myself

Lion in the Stars20 Oct 2014 7:05 p.m. PST

@Wolfprophet: *snerk*!!!! And so true…

A friend of mine happily plays any force that allows him to kill the English, so he has been enjoying my Northwest Frontier games playing the Pathans. Though I'm not sure I'd call the Pathans 'inferior'. Or the various Indian troops. Sikhs in particular are probably the finest troops regularly deployed to the Northwest Frontier. Gurkhas are better yet, but don't seem to have much time on the Northwest Frontier.

I really like the Italians in North Africa, though, and I'm pretty sure they're 'inferior' troops. The Fucilieri anyways.

JC Lira20 Oct 2014 9:55 p.m. PST

I think I'll get to drink the sweet nectar of this cup when I finish painting my Trojans.

freecloud20 Oct 2014 11:23 p.m. PST

Reichsarmee in the 7YW, allied with French – most rules give both of them a good kicking long before my opponents do – but oh the bragging rights when they win :)

Also my banana republic modern forces – long live President-For-Life Mokele Mbembe

mashrewba29 Oct 2014 3:25 a.m. PST

I'd say Bashi Bazouks are a whole galaxy beyond inferior!!!
I like 1866 Austrians and especially 1870 French Republicans -masses of Garde Mobile in huge units that really mean well but just can't get anywhere backed up by pockets of colonials, March battalions and even bits of Imperial guard. Not to mention composite cavalry units of all sorts of odds and sods, interesting and rather good artillery, sailors (my favourite units) and Foreign Legion.
I should mention the Franc Tireurs who did appear in the battle line on occasion and Garibaldis men.
Oh and three battalions of Papal Zouaves.
Plus they actually won a battle…

Rick Dangerous29 Oct 2014 3:57 a.m. PST

Whatever army I field usually ends up inferior.

Or slaughtered.


Beneath the Lead Mountain Fezian29 Oct 2014 3:36 p.m. PST

My favourite force is the Italians in North Africa before the arrival of the Germans. Dice gods blessed me at a convention where after five battles, against three different sets of generals the Italians marched into Cairo having swept the British Forces aside. My Italian armor make all other armour of ww2 look second rate. It was an hilarious weekend for me. Dice Gods have never again been so kind!

David Johansen29 Oct 2014 7:56 p.m. PST

I play Romanians in Flames of War and spam R35s :D

capncarp30 Oct 2014 6:53 a.m. PST

I'm with Rick Dangerous: I have an innate ability to transform gold (fine fighting units) into lead (shattered, demoralized husks of broken men). Despair ye mighty!

Agreeing with BlackWidowPilot:"As the old American saying goes, it ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that counts!evil grin"

October 25, just five days ago, was the 50th anniversary of the Battle off Samar, in which a small group of American DD's and DE's escorting Taffy-3, a group of Jeep carriers flying ground support sorties for the invasion force, charged a full-blown attacking Japanese fleet that included the biggest thing on the water--IJN Yamato! Now _that's_ what I call real bravery.

mashrewba12 Nov 2014 10:50 a.m. PST

Blimey -I bet the USN didn't expect to show up on a thread about inferior forces!!!

49mountain12 Nov 2014 2:33 p.m. PST

I've always liked the Austrians and Dutch – Belgians for Napoleonic wars. My Dutch – Belgians held off the Young Guard at a Waterloo game one time. And any native troops for Colonial games. I like the Boxers and Zulus. Ethiopians are good, too. I would take the NNC, but they have too many British around them. I like mideavel Scots armies, but I'm not sure just how underdog they were. I also agree with TamsinP. Any army I command is always the underdog.

49mountain12 Nov 2014 2:34 p.m. PST

Sorry. I forgot the topic of this board. Definitely Imperial Guard in 40K.

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