We had an odd situation crop up in our last game. Austrian player was advancing a 3 battalion brigade in a column of lines against 2 Prussian battalions with artillery. What with heavy fire on themthe whole brigade was roughed up and the lead battalion was brought up to 4 hits and had to retreat through the 2nd unit, giving it a hit (bringing it to 2) and with no room to stop there had to pass through the 3rd unit which already had 3 hits. Also note the lack of maneuver room to avoid the supports. After assigning the pass through hit, unit 3 now has 4 hits and has to retreat through the already moved 1st unit giving it ANOTHER hit taking it to 5 and done for.
Austrian player was somewhat miffed at this but took the reading of the rule with good graces. I on the other hand (being the Prussian) felt a little guilty at this, seemingly cheesy way to eliminate his unit... after all they were grenadiers and all.
So, did I read the rule correctly or do I owe him an apology before the next game?
If the 3rd unit gets passed through by 2 retreating units then it has to take 2 hits. Note the top of p.30 - interpenetrated units forced to retreat follow the unit that interpenetrated them. So if I have it right the 3rd unit in your example doesn't have to pass through unit 1 - it can follow it, with unit 1 extending its retreat as required. Therefore it should end up with 4 hits rather than 5.
I think the Austrian player needs to learn a tactical lesson - don't bunch up your units! Nothing cheesy about attacking units which are not properly spaced getting kicked into touch.
Ahhh… I like that, feels much better. In this case I don't think it would have made a huge difference since there may not have been 15cm behind unit 3 before the table edge… or the artillery was gearing up for bounce through fun! However, I will offer apologies as appropriate. I hope he learned his tactical lesson, although his explanation involved dithering Austrian commanders and lack of sleep coming off of nights at work. I'm really glad we play for fun not glory!
I would have thought that the third battalion would be terrified by seeing some of their comrades-in-arms fleeing from the enemy. This would tend to make them break and flee BEFORE they got interpenetrated. Being further back, they would be able to run further than the first battalion as well. Thus no interpenetration.
You can certainly try playing it that way if you wish. The way the rules function is that it is the interpenetration that actually causes the hits (which may in fact just represent disruption or disorder), and the casualties then trigger a retreat or rout reaction. Thus the interpenetrated unit follows the unit already falling back.
Can I check how the above is influenced by the reaction to firing Rule amendment. As I read it, it means any time a unit retreats and is next door to another unit that has 3 hits, the first unit is likely to end up done for as the second unit'a retreat will put an extra hit on the first unit taking it to 5. The only way I can see to avoid this is if the second unit retreats at a diagonal to ensure it keeps more than 5 cm away from the first unit. However moving retreating units away from each other at the diagonal to achieve this feels 'gamey'.
Also this effect of the rule amendment doesn't feel right in light of the old 'pushing back' rule that stopped the first retreating unit from being done for In the equivalent situation (i.e under the original rules both units would have survived and be on 4 hits).
As I read it, it means any time a unit retreats and is next door to another unit that has 3 hits, the first unit is likely to end up done for as the second unit'a retreat will put an extra hit on the first unit taking it to 5.
No, this was not the intention of the rule. The rule attempts to represent the demoralising effect that the retirement of an adjacent unit in bad morale might have. There was no intention that the effect would then be reflected back onto the first unit during the same turn. As you say, this causes problems in rule terms, and also makes no particular sense in terms of the real situation (IMHO).
Thanks for confirming. Can you advise how the new rule should be interpreted then. Should I interpret the rule as only applying where the unit retreating is doing so as a result of going to 4 hits during the firing or melee phase itself? This would solve the problem I referred to but also mean that you wouldn't get 'cascades' of units in a line potentially putting his on each other But once again what is the intention? Alternatively I could interpret the rule as not applying to 'rebound' hits back on the first unit where their retreat forces another unit to also retreat. I think all my questions can be answered by confirming what should happen in the following scenario where there are 3 units in line almost touching at start of a reaction phase:
Unit A. Unit B. Unit C. (4 hits). (3 hits). (3 hits)
Unit A has to retreat, therefore B takes a hit and has to retreat also, which then causes a hit on C. Therefore, C retreats as well. All 3 units end up retreating at least 1 move but not more than 2 moves, and all units end up with 4 hits.