Human Wave: When to use it?

Rod Zombie

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When is it a good time to use the Human Wave? The mechanic seems fun and conjures up mental images of scenes from classic movies like Enemy at the Gates.

But fun mental imagry doesn't win battles! When are tactically sound times (or tactically sound conditions) for using a Human Wave?

As always, thanks for your input!
 

swellington

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Some good times are :

Night time
Rain/fog/misty weather
if you have overwhelming numbers
Used in combination with hidden units, to further suprise the enemy.
through or into a smoke screen
when playing japanese units the good conditions with differ greatly than other nations such as Chinese or Russian.
And many many more situations.

Bad times are:

into heavy fortifications
against lots of SW's with high repeat #'s
Against american 7-5-8 marines ( sometimes no other choice)
through lots of open ground
and many many more.
 

Tork

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I've found it very difficult to use a HW with Russians. Usually I've got better things to do with my multiply stacked and leader'd Russ. Unless the scenario is designed for it, it ain't gonna happen.

However, it is a rare PTO game where the Japanese on the attack don't pull at least one Banzai! So from that point of view, here is my experience. Don't just launch a banzai on a good order enemy position across clear terrain. KIA results don't respect your high morale... Japanese units usually have knee mortars, so have some WP or smoke to provide cover. Kunai is excellent to banzai across. Japanese leaders are great for banzai'ing. They can charge on their own and draw much more fire than you would think. Also, wounded Japanese leaders can get the MMC they are with to banzai, but then due to the 3MF allotment, the Japanese leader gets left behind, only to get somebody else to charge next turn! DC heroes do a sort of banzai charge, and they draw fire like crazy...

Japanese tanks are great for support before a banzai, as they stink firepower-wise, and their tin-can armor means they are likely to burn given the slightest provocation. Move them right onto the defender and stay in motion, as no ambush is possible without an advance into CC.

So if you want to do this sort of thing, get out the Japanese counters and have fun.
 

Blackcloud6

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A HW or Banzai can be very effective and can devastate your opponent. BUT, you have to have it as part of your plan from the outset so you get people in position and time it just right to work well or you can end up with a lot of dead bodies for nothing in return.

Russian conscripts with commissars are great for HW's and if you have an OB with lots of them, then that should trigger that in your brain.

The Japanese can have more "opportunity" Banzais as they are easier to set up to do. One man banzais with DC's are real cool called Tank Hunter Heros!
 

Sparafucil3

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The Japanese can have more "opportunity" Banzais as they are easier to set up to do. One man banzais with DC's are real cool called Tank Hunter Heros!
Even more cool, is to declare the Banzai and then spawn the DC hero from the Banzia unit. If that DC hero is heading for a kill stack or a key MG in position to lay a firelane, and makes it, your Banzai has a much better chance of surviving. Also, once you see the RFP, it is a little easier to dance around it while still moving forward. Good fun. -- jim
 

janusz.maxe

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(I'll ignore banzai, since that is a completely different tactical option.)
In most cases, HW is your chance, as an ASL-player, to make the same tactical mistakes that the untrained, incompetent and/or conservative officers of the Soviet union used (mostly early in the war).

For one thing, you have stand stacked for one player turn (meaning one enemy Prepfire). That is usually a very bad idea, unless the enemy has little FP or you have very good TEM.
Then you have to attack moving in stacks. This is a very bad idea. This nearly doubles the effective FP of the defending units. Note that Firelanes are extra effective vs HW. The boost in ML and no-PIN doesn't make up for this.
The extra MFs are often lost when you pay the highest cost of any unit in the HW. A single hedge can eat up 2 and sometimes 3 MF from those 8.

In most cases, running one unit at a time, avoiding resid and taking advantage of enemies cowering (and thus marked with final fire) are much more effective. Often, the potential threat from a stack with a leader hanging back and moving last, can make the enemy hold his fire and let the first units run freely.

There are a few situations where HW can be beneficial:
Through a huge graveyard, since that is perfect attack terrain.
When the enemy has very little FP (broken, smoked in, out of position) and you want to close with him ASAP.
When time is of the essence, you have a great superiority in numbers and can trade bodies for ground.
When you have to get through one enemy occupied hex to advance into another. This one is very subtle, but CAN be useful. I'll explain. It's the last turn, and the enemy have protected the Victory building with units all around, so you can't get into melee and make him non-GO. HW straight into his protective circle, hope something survives, focus all advancing FP on breaking the enemy in that hex (still no melee so only enemy is affected), he routs away (thus no longer locking you unit in CC), then advance into the VC building. Imporbable, but possible.
Janusz
 

applecatcher4

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You can use it just to increase your MFs. A good example is Red Don from Few Returned. The Russians can see the italians from their starting positions but mostly go out of LOS when they run down the banks of the Don. The extra MF get them close to the enemy without facing much fire.
 

ecz

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You can use it just to increase your MFs. A good example is Red Don from Few Returned. The Russians can see the italians from their starting positions but mostly go out of LOS when they run down the banks of the Don. The extra MF get them close to the enemy without facing much fire.
This described above is a unique situation.
99% of times a HW is a bad idea as Janusz said.

Banzai charges are different and much more effective.
 

jrv

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Originally Posted by applecatcher4
You can use it just to increase your MFs. A good example is Red Don from Few Returned. The Russians can see the italians from their starting positions but mostly go out of LOS when they run down the banks of the Don. The extra MF get them close to the enemy without facing much fire.

This described above is a unique situation.
99% of times a HW is a bad idea as Janusz said.

Banzai charges are different and much more effective.
I just played "About His Shadowy Sides" [FrF19], and although my opponent didn't do one, I felt that a HW would be a very useful tactic, mostly for the extra MF. I have also seen a late-war Russian HW against a speed-bump halfie that I thought was an inspired move, again mostly for gaining MF. So I disagree that it is 99% a bad idea; the right number is probably 83-84%. What's more important is that, except for first turn opportunities, setting one up is not easy because you want to avoid stacking.

JR
 

Rod Zombie

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Thanks for the great tips! I thunk and thunk about it while playing last night, and just couldn't justify using it, even though I had shut down the enemy MG firelane potential with VBMf there was not a lot of other firepower, it still seemed awfully risky. Fun, but risky.
 

Jazz

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I have also seen a late-war Russian HW against a speed-bump halfie that I thought was an inspired move, again mostly for gaining MF.
Huh, I never thought of that, but it is inspired. As some have mentioned, difficult to choreograph in the middle of a scenario due to the healthy habit of not stacking. On the other hand, setting up and being confronted with the speed bump unit thrown out front, a very useful tactic.
 

DaveStory

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When is it a good time to use the Human Wave?
Guards Counterattack.

But seriously, you get a +1 ML, don't pin, and extra movement. If you need to cross the street or an open field anyway, it can be a viable option if coordinated properly. Although I don't use it often, in the right situations the tactic has been worthwhile more times than not.
 

Bret Hildebran

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Guards Counterattack.

But seriously, you get a +1 ML, don't pin, and extra movement. If you need to cross the street or an open field anyway, it can be a viable option if coordinated properly. Although I don't use it often, in the right situations the tactic has been worthwhile more times than not.
Hmmmm...More times than not? I think that's overstating things - by a lot actually. I'm usually quite happy when my opponent launches a Human Wave at me - I can guarantee my opponent has been in a worse situation after the Wave than he was before a lot more than 50% of the time. I'd guess maybe 25% of the waves I've seen have resulted in a better game position after than before & that may be high. An ill-timed Wave is a great way to lose a scenario.

'Course career, I've launched a grand total of 1 human wave (the opening move of Marders Not Martyrs) so my reflex answer would be "Almost Never". There are times it can be useful though, but I hate giving up the control on roughly 6 squads, particularly when stacking is essentially forced to some extent, despite the increased morale, no pinning & bonus MF.

Banzai are of course a horse of a different color...
 

Bret Hildebran

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My favorite Wave trick, employed by "Wild Bill" of course, was in High Tide to Heligenbeil - likely on T1, where he had some guys upstairs in a 3 hex building starting to Wave from the stairwell hex including the leader. They run to the front of the building where there's no stairs and now can only wave and cheer on the rest of the Human Wave at ground level actually rushing the enemy, as the guys in the upper level of the building cannot continue the charge sans stairs, but cannot retreat to the stairs either. Quite a crafty way to not risk the leader and expose far fewer than 6 squads in the mad dash to the enemy. I think he also had a PM armored assault covering the rest of the wave too, just to cap it off as one of the truly great "Buzz Lightyear ASL Moments" on record...
 

Jazz

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My favorite Wave trick, employed by "Wild Bill" of course, was in High Tide to Heligenbeil - likely on T1, where he had some guys upstairs in a 3 hex building starting to Wave from the stairwell hex including the leader. They run to the front of the building where there's no stairs and now can only wave and cheer on the rest of the Human Wave at ground level actually rushing the enemy, as the guys in the upper level of the building cannot continue the charge sans stairs, but cannot retreat to the stairs either. Quite a crafty way to not risk the leader and expose far fewer than 6 squads in the mad dash to the enemy. I think he also had a PM armored assault covering the rest of the wave too, just to cap it off as one of the truly great "Buzz Lightyear ASL Moments" on record...
If Wild Bill don't watch it, he's gonna get weeds growing in the imagination of his, fertile as it is..... Kinda scary actually.
 

kcole4001

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Interesting points, the HS speed bump solution especially, I usually forget about the wave.
After the first couple of tries 'just to see what would happen' back when I started playing ASL after SL, it seemed a bit too limited in it's usefulness.

Like many things, it's the subtle situation changes that make all the difference.
 

DaveStory

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I can guarantee my opponent has been in a worse situation after the Wave than he was before a lot more than 50% of the time. I'd guess maybe 25% of the waves I've seen have resulted in a better game position after than before & that may be high. An ill-timed Wave is a great way to lose a scenario.
Since this tactic is practical so rarely, I can easily believe that there are more bad experiences with it than good ones. I think what throws people off is the amount of space dedicated to HWs in the rulebook compared to the amount of time they are actually useful in play.

However, I am not averse to having people brush them off as inconsequential - all the better when an opponent's guard is down.
 

Ole Boe

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Since this tactic is practical so rarely, I can easily believe that there are more bad experiences with it than good ones. I think what throws people off is the amount of space dedicated to HWs in the rulebook compared to the amount of time they are actually useful in play.
The amount of space was originally much less, with the rules saying something like: "move in that general direction and work out the details yourself".

Not a good rule, but not a big problem since it was hardly used.


It was with the arrival of the Japanese and their Banzai charges that the necessity of an actual, decent rule became obvious. I hardly play a PTO scenario without at least one Banzai charge, at least not if the Japanese is the attacker. Since Banzai charges may play a key role in most PTO scenarions, the amount of space devoted to the rule is easier to understand. If isn't exactly well-placed within the Russian nationality characteristics though.
 

Cpl Uhl

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In most cases, HW is your chance, as an ASL-player, to make the same tactical mistakes that the untrained, incompetent and/or conservative officers of the Soviet union used (mostly early in the war).
I did just that in a playing of Hill 621 against Xavier Vitry. I was trying so hard not to forget to use a human wave that I launched it way too soon (T2) and got massacred - OBA, tanks, MGs.

31 KIA for X. End of scenario, smiles all around.
 
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