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mrm5117

How can you tell the quantified advantage to elevation?

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It's a generally regarded maxim that it's a good idea to take the high ground when setting up a defensive position. I don't think anyone will disagree that in general, for battles of this era, better sight lines, better angles for artillery, and slower ascents of an attacker up a hill give the defense an advantage there. I'm sure someone can expand upon this and it might be fun to hear quotes from a military manual of the time.

In this game, we can see a quantifiable difference between holding certain areas of a map. When holding a line behind a river of stream, the attackers are slowed down massively by crossing the water and have zero cover while doing so and/or are forced to funnel through a bridge or ford removing their ability to have a broad firing line. You can hover your mouse over the screen and see the %cover and %speed the attacker must overcome. When hovering over a fortification, you can see the melee, cover, and projectile resistance bonuses. When hovering over a field or forest or town, you can similarly see the numerical defensive advantages.

However, there is no such way to see the numerical differences between two relative elevations. 1) Does the game actually provide some sort of defender advantage or attacker penalty to attacking up a hill? (has anyone tested this with identical units, weapons, and one side at the top of a hill and the other on the bottom?), 2) how can one see this quantified?, 3) does the game factor in that steeper slopes should have more of a defending advantage than more gradual ones and scale in between?, and 4) if there is no way currently to tell, could a patch be introduced so that when you hover over a hill's slope (or top of the hill?) you can tell its defensive advantages like you can for forests/streams/etc.?

 

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I'm probably wrong here but I believe there is no inherent advantage to being on elevated ground. That is to say, there are no bonuses.

What you do have is slower movement rates up hill and therefore, that is an advantage as the defender will have the ability to fire more often into the attacker as it takes the attacker longer to get to their position. If you choose to run or charge uphill, it will effect the condition of the unit. In my video of the Battle of Kettle Run you have 4 units marching up a flatish incline and one unit marching up a steeper hill. As time goes by you will see that the condition of the troops is pretty much the same, but the unit marching up the hill has fallen quite far behind the rest of the force. If the unit climbing up the hill was under artillery fire, they would take far more fire than the ones marching up the flatish incline before they got to their position.

Range limits on weapons are also not changed by elevation.

So overall, as a defender up hill, you get an advantage of slower movement up hill and greater effect on condition if the attacker tries to run or charge uphill, but that is about it, as far as I can tell.

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In the game code there are bonuses(or penalties) to accuracy, damage, and efficiency though they are minor unless the height distance and angle difference is large.  

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I would say the best explanation to the advantage comes during the 2nd Day of Gettysburg in the game when playing as the Union.  One Brigade alone can hold Big Round Top as the enemy can not charge up it due to the incline.  They take too much of a fatigue hit and stop before they reach your positions.  You will notice some bonuses in game as your troops attacking an enemy who is on higher elevations in a straight up fight (like a screening force) will take more casualties generally than the command on top of the hill.

In history the biggest advantage has always been moving uphill slows an enemy and the fatigue it causes more than anything.  An enemy slowing blunts the effects of a charge and as mentioned, gives the defenders more firing chances.  If one looks at the fighting at Little Round Top in real life we see Benning's Georgians unable to break through on their attacks as the men are exhausted by the time they reach the top.  

Contemporary teachings at West Point (1849-1865) claimed you needed a 3-1 numerical advantage for an assault to be guaranteed of success on even ground.  When attacking elevated ground you needed 5-1 or better.  Under this model even Pickett's charge (if it was at full strength) bringing 15,000 men to bear would not have succeeded against a weekend II Corps (estimates of 8,000 on July 3).  Its the same idea as to why commanders always looked to turn a hill's flank rather than assault it directly (even Grant tried to find flanks).  The best example in American history of how to handle a hill is at the battle of Cerro Gordo in 1847.  Winfield Scott took 8,500 men and routed a force of 12-20,000 by finding the flank (thanks Lieutenant P.G.T. Beaureguard, Captain R.E. Lee and Colonel William Harney) and turning it.

So traditional tactics said don't charge up a hill...go around.  Good motto to follow

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You only charge up a hill when you don't have a choice, be it by lack or space or lack of time : You need to take that position to break the ennemy's back and justify the whole battle and campaign, you try it, because endless flank turning isn't an option anymore lest the opportunity slip away. This is why although frontal assault was never the right option, it kept happening...

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main advantage being on elevated position is against artillery... bounces from solid shots will not be that effective, while shells will be impacted as well. plus, you can use the reverse slope tactics, and stay hidden, allow enemy to march up the hill just to get shot at from close range as they get over the hill... plus, enemy would have no info about your numbers up to the last second...

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