By Tim Stone on March 2nd, 2009 at 2:21 am.
My thoughts on Empire: Total War are still a bit jumbled. While I unjumble them (in readiness for a Wot I Think) I thought I’d share a short battle narrative with you. The following heavily illustrated After Action Report is a True and Accurate Account of the Bloody Battle of Bangalore,1714, the latest scrap from my current grand campaign. The glorious Maratha Confederacy (that’s me) has been distracted from its subjugation of the northern Mughals by an unprovoked attack by the cowardly Mysorians. A couple of territories were lost before I was able to assemble a scratch expeditionary force in Hyderabad and march out to meet the new foe. Just outside Bangalore my general-less rabble faced their first test…
On paper things don’t look too promising. Not only does the Mysorian force outnumber mine by around 500, it’s led by a man whose name would score 3784 in Scrabble. The only faintly encouraging thing about the line-up is Bandyopadhyay’s lack of cavalry. Apart from a few mounted archers, his army is completely devoid of hoofed components
The venue turns out to be short on woodland and hillocks and long on farmland and gentle slopes. Good cannon and cavalry country. I’m defending a hamlet located on rising ground on the western edge of the map. At its centre is a garrisonable pavilion. Using tactics honed in the foothills of the Himalayas, I deploy my musketmen in jagged lines, hoping the hovels in the village will help fragment any assault and funnel attackers into discrete killzones. My one cannon battery is positioned on the right flank atop a useful knoll. My one specialist melee unit – a squad of Hindu swordsmen – watches over them. Tucked away behind trees and buildings on the left flank is my secret weapon, three precious clusters of lancers.
Holy Brahmin Bull! There’s fouzands of ‘em! As the Mysorian hordes materialise in the hazy distance and begin advancing on our position, I can almost hear the gasps of disbelief and muttered prayers of my men. For the moment there is nothing they can do but watch, wait, and fill the gaps gouged in formations by the enemy’s cannonballs.
With the enemy line perhaps 500 metres from mine, my lancers move out. Trotting then galloping they charge down the left flank, and swing round behind the Mysorian line and run parallel to it. Concerned formations swivel to engage them. A few give chase. Chaos reigns. The attack is losing its shape. Splendid.
As the lancers continue to harry, never quite engaging, some undistracted sections of the Mysorian army reach the outskirts of the village and start exchanging musket volleys with the defenders. The battle proper has begun. Bodies crumple into the dry grass, smoke swirls and drifts. Thinned by vicious swarms of canister shot, the first enemy formation breaks and runs. Keep it up lads!
At the other end of the battlefield my weary cavalry, almost by accident, find themselves, a short distance from the Mysorian artillery positions. Lance tips are dipped and spurs are applied. The hapless gunners stand little chance.
Recovering somewhat from its earlier disarray, Bandyopadhyay’s forces have arrived in strength on my left. In an effort to reduce the growing pressure on the pavilion defences I rush three reserve units into a flanking position. The manoeuvre pays off. Several enemy formations are caught in vicious crossfire and fall back.
After silencing the guns, the lancers have trotted back up the left side looking for a chance to charge the knot of mounted archers that includes Bandyopadhyay himself. No opportunity presents itself so they make another spoiling ride across the front. Lines forming up for a second attack are once again thrown into confusion. An isolated band of bowmen on the right flank are swept into oblivion.
Two of my hastily committed reserve units are peasant militia – horny-handed farmhands with home-made matchlocks. The ferocity of the fighting around the pavilion is too much for one of them. My first rout of the battle. Hopefully the panic won’t spread.
Over on the right, for the first time, my canister-spitting cannons are seriously threatened. Two lines of enemy musketmen are a short dash away. I spot the danger in the nick of time and unleash my hitherto unused Hindu swordsmen. The turbaned maniacs charge down the slope, raised blades glinting in the sun. After a minute or two of stabbing and slashing they crumble the first line, and, as they seem to be enjoying themselves so much, I order them to charge the second.
Wherever you look now there are white Mysorian flags fluttering. Bandyopadhyay seems to be mustering what’s left of his force for a final assault on the pavilion. His own archers arc arrows onto the flat roof of the building. Bargirs fire back at them from behind sawtooth crenelations. Musketmen edge forward and are driven back by a hailstorm of lead. Perhaps sensing the last chance of victory has slipped away, the Mysorian leader charges his own horsey formation into the corpse-strewn pavilion yard. A musketball knocks him permanently from the saddle.