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The following posts are tactical and other tips and observations I collected which may be useful for players, particularly new ones. This was originally posted in mid-2008 and revised most recently in March 2009. These are consolidated from notes and observations from playing and reading these forums as well as direct comments from players. I’ve tried to describe consensus, but group any opposing views together. It’s not polished prose – if you can say something pithy and precise better than what is below, send it over and I’ll add it with attribution.
This is broken up into multiple posts separate posts to reserve space, readability, and to limit the damage from wall-of-text posts where someone uses “quote” without trimming.
I plan to update and revise the list over time and add date references for changes. Please private message me with corrections / attributions / additions / disagreements or post them here. Tip numbers are helpful.
Field of Glory Tactical Tips Collection
1. Army Choice
2. General Tips
3. Doctrine and Drill
4. BG Sizes
8. Battle Plans
9. Troop Type Notes
10. Light & Shooty Horse Stable
11. Tactical Miscellany
12. Visualizing Battles
13. Wisdom from the Experts
Are tactical tips really needed? Sit down with someone showing you how to play and it can seem fairly simple at first. A good gamer with tactical sense and some rules coaching can perform surprisingly well in his first games – but for reasons discussed below the FoG game system does not make it easy to play reactively, winging it and trying to fix mistakes on the fly. If you let your opponent get ahead of you tactically, it can be hard or impossible to catch up. Since you often need to live with your mistakes, not making serious mistakes becomes a priority. Having a good doctrine for your army, including standard drills, deployment and battle plans, is pre-battle preparation that is well rewarded, and the ability to foresee your opponent’s decisions and the possible course of the battle multiple turns ahead is the key skill in tactical generalship. In addition, there are many lessons of experience that are more enjoyably learned by reading them than seeing them.
The Prime Directive for New Players:
“Keep a copy of the sequence of play (p168) in front of you at all times.”
You can dip into the sections below in any order.
101. Your army should fit your personality and offer a tactical style that is comfortable for you – medieval French and Scythians favor very different personalities. Appearance counts too – if you don’t like the look of the army you won’t be enthusiastic about painting it. Pick an army that suits your tastes, tactical temperament and command skills, or build two for variety.
102. What historical periods, characters, armies, or peoples have your admiration, interest or affection? Do particular troops appeal to you such as knights, elephants, chariots, horse archers, massed foot (so long as it’s not Camels)? Some enduring wargame wisdom is to play an army you can love even when it loses. (“Ancient Wargaming,” P. Barker)
103. A 400 point DBM/M army is usually close to enough bases for at least a Starter 600 point Field of Glory army. To give you an idea, in flipping through the first few Companion army list volumes, I see Starter armies ranging from 31 bases (Hephthalite Hunnic) to 87 (Jewish Revolt), including Commanders.
103a Due to use of the same or similar troops, some armies can easily “morph” into other armies using most or all of the same miniatures, but which will play in subtly – or dramatically – different ways. European medieval, Hellenistic, and Steppe armies are good examples.
104. The Companion army list books are organized thematically by region and period and the army lists and rules have been designed to play best when historical foes are set against each other within the same theme. The optional points system is intended to balance between cost effectiveness in games within the same theme book or era vs. open tournaments. Historical match-ups and thematic/period play are recommended, but many armies poorly regarded in other rules sets are often surprisingly playable in Field of Glory as the range of army performance is not as broad and there are few combats where the result approaches certainty.
105. A new player getting to a feeling of full competence with an army may take a few games for “simpler” armies (those with few troop types and straightforward doctrine) to dozens for “hard” ones, but even with experience some armies will simply clash with a player’s tactical inclinations and temperament. One great thing about FoG is that lists that appear similar can in fact play quite differently, and the same army often has multiple strategies to choose from. Players can generally come up with a playable approach fairly quickly but for some armies it can take many battles to fine tune the army list and doctrine. You can see one player create a clunky disjointed army that falls apart tactically when things don’t go perfectly while another develops a structure and doctrine that hangs together effectively. Good or bad army doctrine and fit with player style can make or break the army. Most players develop several favorite armies or army types.
106. Some armies have definite advantages or disadvantages against particular opponent types and some are favored for flexibility against a great range of opponents, but there are no “killer armies.” In the 2009 Godendag theme tournament, five Nikephorian Byzantine armies finished from top to near the bottom of the final listings. Many successful players play diverse armies. In 2008, Knight Points of Advantage (POAs) and Complex Move Test (CMT) effects on the enemy, the presence of armoured foot and LH, and numerous light foot BGs were cited by some as evidence of the superiority of medieval armies, but others disagreed, seeing these as tactical advantages balanced by troop costs or countered by other factors and point to a wide variety in tournament standings. Indeed, some argued that classical armies with Armoured Spearmen and numerous Pikemen and lights have a numerical and tactical advantage against medieval knight-centered armies. Similar claims or complaints have been made regarding light horse, armies with missile cavalry, MF armies, “swarm” tactics, fielding large numbers of BGs, etc. With the forthcoming release of chariot age armies, maybe wheels will be next.
107. In any event, there are definitely some armies that will fit your tastes, interests, tactical inclinations, and temperament better than others, and those will be the ones best for you.
108. There are different theories about which armies are best for beginners. Player JLopez recommends “two types of armies: highly mobile quality ones (Huns, Ilkhanid) or slow, undrilled, protected and average ones (Early German, Spartacus). The former will give you a reasonable chance to win, are fun to use and require less knowledge of the rules to use (fewer movement restrictions) and will give you a clue as to how to use, or not to use, other armies when you face them. The undrilled armies will be a pain to use and you will lead them to defeat after defeat until you have gained a good understanding of the rules and its mechanisms. However, the latter method has a more pronounced learning curve and the experience will serve you much better with other armies. I've often found that beginners who learn to play with mobile armies tend to pick up bad habits (poor deployment that you fix later, lack of a plan...) which they find hard to shake off later. Difficult armies often force you to make up for their deficiencies with good generalship.”
109. Note that both types he recommends are relatively homogeneous – several troop types that hang together well. The hardest armies to start with are those with troops that are too varied or disparate in tactical usage to work together manageably without a high level of skill. Armies with a primary troop type have a narrow set of capabilities that might be a poor match to some situations but are simpler to handle, as are large, strong, and high quality BGs – but there are corresponding disavantages in flexibility and army size.
(See Part 3 below).
=== ARMY EVALUATION ===
120. If you have a “hard” rather than “soft” army, what is the strike force (your “hammer”)? Mounted or foot? Are your fighting troops strong in Impact, in Melee, or both types of close combat? Which BG will be the “schwerpunkt” (hard point) whose mission other BGs are to support (see Part 8 – Battle Plans below). Support includes rear support but also covering their flanks directly with intercept coverage or by threatening potential flankers, shooting the target enemy, or screening, pinning or engaging adjoining enemy to keep them occupied or render them ineffective.
121. If you don’t have a strike force that can strike the enemy at an advantage, how will you engage the enemy? Do not underestimate the power of shooting (and skirmishing) or using superior numbers or mobility to outwing and overwhelm the enemy – both are usual alternatives of the “soft” army.
122. Level of mobility? Drilled/Undrilled? How much manoeuvre is needed for your army vs. its opponents?
123. Any Heavy Foot or other troops suitable to act as a pinning center, flank barrier, or “shield” for the army in open ground?
124. Terrain options and terrain troops: How does your army use or deal with terrain? Having some Medium Foot suitable for holding, clearing, or attacking through terrain is useful. Often your potential ability to use terrain is enough to affect the enemy’s dispositions – one reason to deploy MF late. However, always remember that the game is won by defeating the enemy, not simply holding ground. Missile troops can also occupy terrain effectively, with the added benefit that they can bring disruptive shooting to bear on enemy outside. Also remember that in FoG terrain is not as crippling to close formation and mounted troops as it is in many other rulesets: even the dice-halving effect of Severe Disorder can be offset by armour or weaponry POAs, numbers, positional advantages, or just being non-Skirmishers fighting Skirmishers.
125. Skirmish/anti-skirmish capability? Skirmishers are cheap and having even a small number of them can be quite useful. It’s a nuisance to face Skirmishers without any of your own. You want more or better LH to beat LH, and LH or LF to drive off LF (yes, you can use Cavalry, but this draws powerful troops off into a probably wasteful chase). Skirmishers can be punished or driven off by massed archers, or if you are Armoured or Heavily Armoured you may just ignore them and press on.
126. Missile troops that fit the army? Enough converged shooting can break BGs with shooting alone, or Fragment them to be broken by a charge. Foot shooters with close combat abilities such as Swordsmen, stakes (Portable Defences), or front-rank Spearmen are more versatile, but those advantages don’t often come into play.
127. Counters and Trumps vs. specific enemy troops/threats of concern? When working on doctrine, you will be thinking about how to deal with different opponents and different battlefields.
128. What are its special features of interest? E.g., availability of rare or desirable troop types, or special rules such as the ability to dismount freely during set-up. Are there useful allied contingents the army can field?
129. Deficiencies: What are the potentially painful weaknesses of the army? How can you overcome them – if certain enemy have a big advantage against you frontally, do you have an army that can flank them or break them up?
131. Versatility: How opponent-sensitive and terrain-sensitive is the army? How versatile is the army in terms of army list options? How versatile is your actual fielded list in terms of tactical options? Toolkit armies can be very versatile but can fall into confusion if their plan goes awry, while armies that lean to their strengths can be more reliably effective and easier to command, except they may have a nemesis. It is easy to be too clever and complex – many times a storm of arrows or a wall of tough plodding legionaries or hoplites can do the job without fuss or confusion.
132. Are there clear, workable and attractive doctrinal options/battle plans?
133. Do these fit your temperament and skills? Are the challenges offered by the army the kind of challenges you enjoy? Some players are perfectly capable of handling armies that they just don’t like to command.
134. What Commanders will you need for this army? Undrilled troops need more care. Are there required or desirable Ally Commanders, and will that fit with how you will use the army?
135. Pre-Battle Initiative is important. The usual goal is to win it and get to pick the terrain region, place terrain first, and deploy second, but, with some doctrines for some armies, reliably losing Pre-Battle Initiative in order to move first and gain manoeuvring room (or to pin your prey and deliver a decisive thrust to its heart) is preferable and may be the decisive consideration. An army with a Troop Commander as CinC and no more than 9 LH or Cavalry bases achieves a Pre-Battle Initiative of 0.
=== ARMY TYPES ===
140. Combined arms forces use Heavy or Medium Foot as an assault, pinning, blocking or herding force or base of manoeuvre for their Skirmishers or mounted. Their mounted arm is usually but not always a striking force. Combined arms armies can range from a simple mix of troop types to complex “toolkit” armies for which it is important to optimize the performance of their diverse troop types by manoeuvring for favorable match-ups. They are less sensitive to variations in terrain and opponents, but lack the big high-impact hammer a more one dimensional army can deliver against its suitable opponents.
141. Pike armies include both a few armies like the Swiss Pike steamroller as well as combined arms Hellenistic or Medieval forces with a large force of Pikemen used as the main battle line in conjunction with a mounted striking arm and Light Foot and Light Horse.
142. Armies focusing on a main line of one or two battle troop types plus good supports can work well and are easier to play competently than “toolkit” armies with a variety, especially at lower army point levels when it is hard to fill the toolbox and there is more leeway for the other side to avoid troops or terrain. Having fewer and simpler tactical decisions is likely to mean fewer mistakes. Undrilled troops often work well in this type of army.
143. Infantry-focused armies rely on numerous Heavy or Medium Foot to do most of the fighting, with other troops enabling the battle line to fight, primarily by protecting their flanks. Wheeling the army as a whole in order to fight across the depth rather than width of the table is a common battle plan against foes with superior mounted in open terrain.
144. Lancer armies tend to focus on Knight or Cavalry Lancer charges but fill out the army with some supports, lights and other cheap troops. Other heavy Cavalry armies typically combine shooting and shock and may include a few LH BGs as well as supports such as infantry or Elephants.
145. Light armies are hard to play unless the style fits you – if you don’t like manoeuvre and finesse, play something else. Skirmishers are easy to manoeuvre and thus forgiving of minor mistakes. Skirmisher armies win slowly and can be frustrating to fight against, but also frustrating to use as patience and a learning curve are required to use them most effectively. The better light armies also have enough heavier striking troops (elephants, heavy horse, good heavy or medium foot) to screen-and-smash (Tip 837) – they skirmish along the line trying to use shooting and manoeuvre to slow or pin the enemy, disrupt his cohesion and formations and create weaknesses, such as gaps and open flanks, that are then exploited with strong attacks by a well-led strike force seeking to smash a portion of the enemy army. The lights continue working to help delay effective response. Those light armies without such a strike force manoeuvre to concentrate shooting and take the enemy apart BG by BG. Skirmisher battles tend to run for many turns, so you want to play fast to have enough turns for your shooting to work without giving the enemy time and opportunity to push you off table (this takes work, since Skirmishers near the table edge can be very slippery).
146. “Shooty” (Missile) Cavalry/LH armies and LH-focused armies can seem fairly simple to operate but take more skill and experience than average to use well. An even split of BG numbers between Cav and LH is often recommended. LH are easier to handle, but Cav deliver more firepower and if equipped for it may be able to act in a dual role including close combat, with the preferred targets being BGs disrupted or fragmented by shooting or flank or rear charges. Shooty mounted, like Skirmishers, are viewed as drawish in timed games, with both sides needing ways to force a decision on an uncooperative opponent.
Light and shooty mounted armies are discussed in more detail in Part 10.
147. “Elephant army” is sometimes used to refer to an army that has some Elephants, but should be reserved for those with numerous Elephants as a major striking arm, notably Classical Indian in the published lists. Elephants have been described as "glass cannons", a statement which the rules authors enthusiastically endorse as neatly encapsulating their design intentions. They can do a lot of damage and are hard to kill, but once an Elephant base is killed the BG autobreaks, routs, and is removed by the end of the turn (after up to two rout moves that can disrupt nearby friends). Therefore they need to be handled with care and protected from unnecessary shooting and melee attacks.
160. Quantity has a quality all its own but only if it can be brought to bear in good time where you can overlap or flank the enemy. Engineering this is the challenge. Attrition, through deeper formations or trading BG for BG, is easier to execute but risky.
200. Killing bases is good, but the sure path to victory is avoiding Cohesion Tests (CTs) while forcing them on the enemy. Avoid unnecessary fair fights since they are a gamble as likely to hurt as help you.
201. Shooting is about disruption first, killing second. The magic number is 1 hit per 3 bases to force a Cohesion Test (CT), which in most cases means 2 or 3 hits are needed. Converge 3+ shooting BGs on a target to start causing serious damage (see below). Converged mass MF archery can be devastating over just a couple of turns, so when faced with it try to defuse massed enemy shooting by charging dangerous shooters or splitting enemy shooting among multiple friendly BGs.
202. Converging shooting on a single target is the secret of destructive shooting. With the +2 modifier for Death Rolls from shooting, 3 or more hits are needed to have a chance of taking off an enemy base. Assuming a target that takes a Cohesion Test on 2 hits and is shot at with even POAs (i.e., 4-6 hits):
* 2 dice have a 25% chance of getting 2 hits and forcing a Cohesion Test.
* 3 dice provide a 50% CT chance, which includes 12% chance of a Death Roll.
* 4 dice yield a 69% CT chance, which includes 31% chance of a Death Roll.
* 5 dice offer an 84% CT chance, including 50% chance of a Death Roll with up to 50% odds of a loss.
* 6-10 dice – suffice to say it gets nasty.
Even if the target has rear support and an IC giving a +3 to CT rolls, support won’t affect the unit being chewed up with Death Rolls.
203. Create dilemmas for the enemy by using the indirect approach to your goal, such as threatening two objectives or avenues of action to make the enemy either defend against just one and let you gain the other OR weaken himself by dividing his strength to cover both, allowing you to defeat him in detail. (See the writings of Basil Liddell Hart.)
204. You have the tactical initiative (as distinguished from Pre-Battle Initiative) when he’s worried about what you can do to him and reacting to you rather than thinking about what he can do to you and forcing you to react to him. When you have the initiative and plan several turns ahead for his reactions, you can know where he will be going before he does. Much of good generalship historically and in FoG is thinking and planning well ahead both before and during the battle in order to bring troops into engagement with the enemy on favorable terms. In FoG, Movement rates are fixed and movement potential is predictable, so the general can anticipate whether a BG can reach the crest of a hill, a Camp, or charge position in time, and how far the enemy can go to stop it – and can plan turns ahead. While attempts at complex manoeuvres as well as the results of combat are subject to the dice of fate, on the whole you can plan your battle in a way that feels like being an army commander in a set-piece battle. Planning and careful timing is important in setting up multi-BG combats, particularly when relying on a flank/rear attack.
205. If the strength of the enemy lies in a solid, continuous battle front, pin down parts, stretch it, and tie up or distract its flank supports to create weaknesses that develop soft spots, gaps and flanks for you to attack.
206. Pinning means keeping an enemy occupied, preferably in a position where he can’t safely move, where he creates a problem for himself by moving away, or is committed to your desired course of action. Good pinning forces are those that the enemy can’t ignore but can’t easily get to or can’t quickly destroy.
207. Use a manoeuvrability edge (speed, drill, Second Moves) to try to stretch out, divert, or otherwise wrongfoot the enemy and create gaps or other weaknesses that you can then exploit quickly while the clumsier enemy force struggles to respond.
208. Try to dislocate the enemy by forcing weak joints or hinges in the enemy battle front, such as by converged shooting or threats at angles roughly 90 degrees or more apart. Joints or hinges foster gaps, such as angles or where flank joins center, Skirmishers join heavies, mounted join foot, close combat troops join missile troops, or terrain creates a disconnect. Any BG inadequate to hold the line is actually a latent gap. Force the enemy to open gaps when you can even if you don’t have an immediate way to exploit them – weaknesses tend to grow and multiply in battle, complicating the enemy’s situation. See Part 12 - “Visualizing Battle” section below.
209. Complicating a tactical situation encourages mistakes, which create opportunities. Complicating is often an advantage when already losing or for a more skillful or manoeuvrable player seeking to force mistakes, and simplifying is an advantage when already winning or with less flexibility.
210. The arrival of reserves can turn the tide or reinforce success, but in FoG they will rarely if ever help prevent a friendly BG’s losing combat from getting worse, although t. Getting them where needed requires speed and visualizing the battle several turns ahead. Drilled fast fighting troops or heavy hitting mounted are best for general reserves, but even Undrilled foot can form a local reserve if a commander is near to lead it forward if needed. Reinforcing failure is usually a mistake – a victorious enemy after breaking their opponents will spend a number of turns pursuing routers and getting themselves turned around and back into the battle anyway, so your forces may be best committed elsewhere. If you yourself are victorious, sending Skirmishers to pursue broken enemy and ensure they don’t rally is more effective than committing fighting troops to pursuit. Keep your Skirmisher or other mobile reserves moving, if only as a bluff and distraction to create uncertainty in the enemy before you decide where to commit them.
211. Troops can’t safely move laterally in the face of the enemy, and only Skirmishers can back up safely. Have a second line if you intend to fill gaps. Second lines are useful for rear support, local reserves to fill or intercept through gaps created by losses or manoeuvre, catching pursuers at a disadvantage, and moving to block flank threats.
220. Lights shoot, flank, encircle, threaten, harass, and distract. Sometimes they can gain Attrition Points or a tactical edge (usually on the flanks) through the initial skirmish battle, but skirmish units are brittle and Skirmisher-Skirmisher are often a lottery on even odds. Only desperation justifies their assault on steady fighting troops without a flank or rear charge ++ POA (and after Impact they often pay a price in Melee). The Attrition Point system makes it prudent to fight hard with your quality troops, not the weak ones – don’t lose the battle by taking undue losses among the supports in preliminary skirmishing. Conversely, try to pick off any easy kills you are offered unless a lure for a trap.
221. Cavalry and LH working together make it dangerous for enemy LH playing the evade game.
222. Cavalry in one rank is less vulnerable to shooting (although presenting a wider target), but its biggest advantage is the ability of non-shock Cavalry to evade. Get in one rank early with Undrilled Cavalry to avoid a fatal failed CMT when trying to expand within shooting range of the enemy.
223. Shooters are good against small BGs since only 1-2 hits can force a test, often at a -1 modifier. Firearms and Artillery are good at helping force Cohesion Tests and add modifiers, especially on large BGs that are otherwise resistant.
224. Drilled is better than Undrilled for manoeuvre, but things equalize when it comes to straight-up charging and combat. Drilled troops that can turn and move are better once more after a breakthrough. Cavalry or Light Chariots can also turn and move even if Undrilled, but if Drilled can also expand and move, meaning they can expand out into 1-deep skirmish formation and move thereafter.
- - “Difficult Forward Moves”: These are described on page 41 but often confusing. To deal with these, all you need to do is get your copy of the Quick Reference Sheet at the back of the book, find the Simple and Complex Moves Table, and write “Difficult Move” in the “Complex” box under Other Undrilled that is on the first “Advances” line. Those moves being Complex is all there is to it.
225. Fighting troops with the advantage in Impact should charge on a broad front for maximum shock effect with every edge they can muster to win that first fight. Melee-focused chargers facing Impact-focused troops may prefer to pre-empt them with a charge on a narrow front and then expand the line in Melee.
226. How to one-shot a BG on Impact: Disrupt it first (e.g., flank/rear charge, shooting or other CT failures), then hit it with enough hits to score 2 more than it inflicts and hope they roll low. Use a broad front to stack up the hits. A lost close combat with 6 hits taken is a guaranteed base lost.
227. A march column one-wide in range behind the join between front-line BGs can count all its bases in Rear Support (see 705) for both BGs if in range, can act as a second line reserve, and can be routed past without being burst-through. An echelon-back BG covering a flank can be positioned to provide both Rear Support and interception coverage for the flank of the BG in front (a close flank guard role). Second line formations should be smaller than front-line ones and more manoeuvrable since they need to be able to react quickly and fit gaps (this also saves army points and increases BG count).
228. Know your Interception charge rules and how to position to protect nearby units. Your trained eye should intuitively spot all potential enemy threats and friendly flank guard positioning. A close flank guard can provide intercept coverage from a position that often also offers rear support. Far flank guards are posted farther out and force an attacker to expose its flank or rear if it turns to flank your line.
229. Stating the sometimes elusive obvious, the direction of a charge is the direction from which the charger would contact the evading BG as indicated by the direction of the measuring stick laid down by the charging player if interceptions are possible or otherwise after the decision to evade. The charger may wheel at any time during the charge move, so the target may not know the exact route of the charge even if the direction is known. Due to this uncertainty, evaders should keep a prepared line of retreat available directly to their rear as an alternative to evading directly away from whichever charge direction chargers may take. Watch for the risk of burst-through evades.
230. Force enemy to burst through their own troops. The disruption is great for your follow-up, and the entertainment/embarrassment value is a bonus.
231. Set up the enemy in difficult positions where they are liable to charge without orders and you can profitably intercept, preferably with a flank charge.
232. Stay aware at all times of where BGs may need to conform to enemy in combat or take other forced actions in the coming few turns. This may quite dramatically change their facing and position favorably or unfavorably, taking their flanks away from supporting friends. Players can create traps by thinking ahead in this area.
240. With zero modifiers, your odds of passing a cohesion test are 58%. A -1 brings it down to 42%, -2 to 28%. Rerolls and those Commander and Rear Support modifiers matter.
250. Winning: It’s harder to learn from success than failure. Nothing’s sadder than a lost victory. Reinforce success.
Plan how you can engage and defeat enough BGs to win the battle. “I have found that a lot of players moving from DBM to FoG have a subconscious programming to only really aim to kill 1/3 of the enemy army and they possibly overcommit to doing that and then are not in a position to get the last few APs for the win. I have a feeling that in my early games I did exactly the same. As I have played more and more I am generally finding that I have enough committed and have engaged enough of the enemy to get a decisive result.” Hammy
251. Losing: If you are losing and time is against you, then cut your losses, push hard where you do have an advantage (or even where it’s a toss-up) and withdraw elsewhere, and either complicate or simplify, depending on the tactical situation. Be gracious in defeat. After the battle, note what you did right, what you did wrong, what you should have done instead, and why you didn’t. Update your doctrine if needed.
260. When in doubt, attack. When in doubt, evade. When in doubt, bolster. When in doubt, rely on doctrine. When in doubt, simplify.
261. Have more than one string for your bow. A shield is of little use without a sword. [Add more aphorisms here.]
301. Know your troops, know your army, know how it loses, and know how it wins. Plan how you’ll make it work, write it down, and practice it. Drill involves practice, doctrine involves the rest.
302. Doctrine guides your army composition, order of march, terrain selection, deployment, battle plan, formations, manoeuvres and other tactics. It is the result of your experience and of thinking through your potential battles in advance and helps you shape battles the way you want them. It is a reference point that keeps you on track, avoids known mistakes, and that you can fall back on when in doubt or suffering from fatigue rather than always having to improvise under time pressure. Doctrine provides clear purposes and roles for every BG so you always have a clear idea of what it should be doing to improve its position and contribute to the battle.
303. Doctrine can be written or unwritten, simple or complex, molded mainly by the nature of the army and opposition but also by player taste. On the simplest level, it can be a single “canned” order of march, default deployment and battle plan, on a more complex level it provides if-then alternatives based on terrain, opposition, and how the enemy deploys. With experience, a doctrine develops and becomes fully internalized by habit, but a written doctrine early on can give a new player a jump-start on learning from analysis and experience and can help pass the benefit of analysis and experience from player to player.
304. A good doctrine should be clear and easy to implement, making use of terrain and each BG, with clear organizational structure and roles within the capacity of the troops. It speeds planning and set-up at the beginning of the battle, which can disconcert the opponent or mislead him into overconfidence based on your inattention, either of which is useful. Bear in mind that any tactical task requires one or more BGs, so you must be selective in prioritizing which are worth the commitment. More BGs allows more tactical flexibility, but the BGs then are on average weaker so may be unsuitable for some tasks. Sometimes a BG can perform several missions at once, such as a mounted BG providing rear support and flank protection to friendly troops, and an indirect threat to the enemy’s open flank that requires him to commit a BG to watch it.
305. Some people find painting a good time to think about doctrine. There was a player who chatted with his troops about their role in the army’s battle plans and doctrine as he painted them. He said his armies fought better (or maybe it was just that he did).
306. Just for illustration, here’s a simple starting point for one type of default Medieval French offensive doctrine: Our goal is to deliver a lance charge en haye (in one rank) on an open battlefield against several non-Spearmen/non-Pikemen BGs and break through the enemy, then exploit. Knights in line abreast charge a picked target area, Cavalry in echelon back to protect Knights’ flanks by tying up any flank threats, Archers try to guard Cavalry’s flanks, and Mob “guards” the camp.
311. BG Swarm Doctrine is an intriguing approach that attracted recent notice due to its success in the hands of an expert player. Indeed, pulling it off requires skill and with complex tactics can go horribly wrong even for the best players. Swarming is based on the idea of fielding a large number of small but reasonably capable and manoeuvrable BGs (e.g., 4-base Drilled Armoured LtSpear/Swordsmen, supported by Light Horse to help the MF catch enemy skirmishers) and then using greater articulation due to number of BGs and tactical skill in manoeuvre to find or force exploitable gaps and flank opportunities against the enemy by placing enemy BGs, ideally subject to uncontrolled charges, in situations where they are double-teamed by enemy from two directions. If executed perfectly, the enemy BG is going to suffer a flank charge or flank interception no matter what they do, as their friends are tied up by other swarming BGs. The swarm BGs are favored by gaps and irregularities in the line of engagement.
This does not require perfect sequencing to work, and even if the attempt to achieve a perfect swarm fails there are still advantages to having more numerous and agile BGs even if forced to a relatively frontal fight. With more BGs, swapping BG for BG is a good deal. However, small BGs are more fragile and MF are fast but suffer POA and CT disadvantages fighting in the open.
One counter to this approach is to tighten up your line of battle using terrain or turning the battle 90 degrees, a plan best reflected in deployment if you can recognize the problem at that point. Then advance in a solid line and shoot or hack the swarm down. Armies that have been suggested against the Dominate swarm include HYW English, Shooty Cavalry armies, or armies with enough BGs to equal its articulation.
See Part 8 - “Battle Plan” below for more specifics on battle planning to fit into doctrine.
===== BATTLE DRILL =====
320. Drill is dry-run practice in battle manoeuvres in accordance with your doctrine so that troop handling in battle is easy. Some rules have manoeuvre so flexible that drill is not very important – it is important in FoG, more so for some armies. An hour of table drill deploying and moving the BGs of a new army will pay ample rewards. You want to have down cold how different BGs move, turn, contract and expand alone and along with others they are brigaded with. You don’t ever want to confront an unexpected Complex Manoeuvre Test. You want practice in deploying and manoeuvring battlelines, echelons with refused flanks, rear supports, reserves, and both close and far flank guards, in performing an army wheel, formation of a front to the flank, and tactical withdrawals.
321. Work with alternative orders of march and deployment doctrine so the troops don’t get in each other’s way. Write in the army list the deployment concept for each deployment group and the alternative roles of each BG (I create a text box below the list in the Excel file). Focus on ensuring front-line troops will have an appropriate spot, pre-planning gaps to allow later troops to deploy, avoiding slow troops blocking faster ones, and keeping options open for the first deployment rounds.
322. Special attention should be given to handling Skirmishers and missile Cavalry effectively. Set up an opposing force and practice manoeuvre and evasion with obstacles including terrain and troops until you master each situation.
323. Multiple line or deep packed battle line formations can be important when deploying around terrain or to allow flexibility in rearranging your front line or shaking out troops to right or left. I urge drilling with such formations so you can quickly improvise formations that can be readily unpacked in battle without obstructing each other.
324. If you have more than one troop type in a BG, the initial formation is important since opportunities to rearrange bases in a BG are limited. The only ways are (A) reforming if you are not in a legal formation or (B) formation changes, including Orb, Turns, Contractions & Expansions. Contractions can occur in normal movement and also in dropping a file in a charge, evasion, rout, or feeding bases into melee. Switching front and rear ranks doesn’t work in a 90 or 180 turn since the old and new front ranks are the same if possible. Expanding out the rear ranks to a flank and later contracting the original front rank to the rear works, but that takes 2 turns (assuming you have room and no failed CMTs).
325. Most players learn set up from doing it once before each game and figuring out mistakes after the game – this can be slow and painful compared with drilling to avoid mistakes. It’s helpful to drill with a cooperative live opponent – rather than fighting a battle right off, do the setup and deployment routines repeatedly and you will greatly accelerate your comfort level with battle preparation until it flows easily. It makes more of an impression if the process is for real, so roll a die at the point the battle would begin to randomly decide whether to fight the battle or restart the setup process. By talking through the decisions you put yourselves in each others shoes and educate each other.
340. Solo play is also useful in working out doctrine and drill, although if there are two sides it is hard to outguess oneself so one way is Charles Grant’s old method of defining several plans per side and rolling dice to choose between them. In DBM the PIP system injected a lot of opportunistic improvisation, which made solo easier than in FoG, where more pure pre-planning of moves is possible.
401. 800 point armies normally have from 9 to 15 BGs though some can get to around 20. Choice of BG size within the allowable ranges should depend on points available and the role of the BG in your battle plan. More BGs means more organizational flexibility and more tactical articulation for the army, particularly useful for drilled troops who are able to take full advantage of it. Having more BGs allows more complex manoeuvring and lets clever players do clever things. It can reduce the relative overall impact of bad luck or a mistake – but also affords more opportunities to make mistakes. Having more but smaller BGs means the army can absorb more attrition points without breaking, so having a number of small cheap “filler” BGs that avoid being broken in combat can allow heavier losses among the stronger engaged BGs. Mobs or LF are the cheapest filler BGs; 4-LH BGs cost more but with their mobility are more likely to contribute to the battle without risking survival. BGs assigned by doctrine to the second line also tend to be smaller than others. Mixing BG sizes of the same troop type or similar can provide tactical flexibility. The disadvantage of smaller BGs is that fewer shooting hits can trigger a 1-hit-per-3 bases Cohesion Test and if 4-strong will suffer the -1 modifier for 25% loss after losing just one base and unless autobreak after 2 unless Superior. Having numerous manoeuvrable BGs may also help in tournaments since at best they are likely to have unpinned BGs free and able to work flanks and at worst they are likely to be able delay defeat and mitigate points lost when time expires.
402. Big BGs are less mobile when changing direction, but they shrug off Cohesion Tests from shooting more easily (helpful when of low quality), last longer when taking damage, and have more bases that can enjoy reroll benefits from having a Commander in the front rank. Armoured, Superior and Elite fighting troops can be safe and effective in smaller BGs than average, while Poor and Undrilled troops tend to run larger. Note that BGs of 6 bases can easily deploy from column or 2-wide and wheel more quickly than 8s, while both 6s and 8s take 25% loss at 2 bases, and 6s test at 2 shooting hits while 8s test at 3 shooting hits.
403. Only the first 3 ranks count for “1 per” loss rates in Cohesion Tests (only the first rank for Elephants and Battle Wagons). Most troops fight in 2 ranks; some such as Knights, Chariots or Elephants just 1. Thickening to 3 ranks or more can be useful to anticipate losses in a hard frontal fight between lines of battle. Thinning 2-rank troops to 1 rank should be reserved for situations where frontage is more important than resisting power, where troop quality still gives them the advantage against more numerous opponents even in one rank, or where a sacrificial BG is used to tie up and absorb damage from multiple opponents to allow freedom of action elsewhere.
404. Since each BG is 2 Attrition Points, large or small, it can make sense to make large sacrificial, “arrow fodder” or forlorn hope BGs that may be doomed but at the price of 2 attrition points can tie up several enemy BGs in Melee or with their restricted areas for a few turns while you act aggressively elsewhere.
405. For Drilled fighting foot, 4 bases is common for quality foot, 6s or 8s for Average, although some strategies take as many small BGs as possible. For Undrilled foot, 6 is small (but fairly common for MF terrain fighting troops), 8 is typical, 10 large, and 12 unwieldy (due to frontage and not much better in terms of loss percentage effects than 10s). The exception is Pikemen, which are normally in 8s or 12s to fight 4 ranks deep, although having 10 and deploying in two 5-deep files gives added durability as lost bases don’t automatically mean lost POAs.
406. Mixed BGs: This is usually fighting foot in the front rank and a rank of missile foot behind, although some HF/MF can have LF in a 3rd rank, with total BG size being 6 or 9. Mixed HF/LF BGs of 6 bases add resilience to the 4-base core and don’t narrow into column when they turn. Rear ranks fight with front-rank POA but note that Light Foot still lose 1 die per 2 fighting in the second rank of a mixed formation, so once 2 of them fill in to the second rank a die is lost. (See Tip 938 on mixed BGs)
407. Knights fight only one rank deep – rear ranks serving only to replace casualties – so Superior Knights are usually in 4s, often fighting with 1 in the second rank, although spearhead BGs may be 6 (likely deployed with 2 in a second rank). Some call Average Knights in 4s “dogmeat,” others find 4s very useful if the Knights are drilled and thus able to manoeuvre – Undrilled Knights manoeuvre slowly and are best suited to fairly direct assaults. (For more see Tip 911)
408. For shooting cavalry BG's of 4 are preferable in almost all circumstances. Cavalry 2x2 counts 3 bases shooting while 3x2 counts only one more, is still in its original 2x2 formation in a 90 degree turn, and is one expansion away from single-rank formation – allowing evasion and preventing negative POAs for being shot at. For other non-Skirmisher horse, 4s are common if armoured or high quality due to their greater resilience, or if Drilled due to greater manoeuvrability. Small BGs also increase base count. Cavalry with Average or Poor quality may be in 6s to have more resistance to shooting and lost bases or in more brittle 4s to increase the number of tactical units. Cataphracts are slow but Heavily Armoured Cavalry, a strike force in period often recommended in 6s to make better use of Commanders to lead manoeuvre if Undrilled and reroll more dice by leading in the front rank. (For more see Tip 912 on Cataphracts, Tip 913 on Cavalry Lancers, and Tip 914-916 on other Cavalry)
410. 6-LH BGs are less nimble and harder to bring to bear than 4s, and having more smaller LH BGs can be very useful in outmanoeuvring the enemy and are still able to concentrate firepower and split enemy shooting. That said, 6 LH have an edge against 4 opposing LH without needing a POA, throw 3 shooting dice rather than 2, suffer the 50% shooting hits CT modifier on 3 hits rather than 2, and won’t take 25% losses with a single base lost – all advantages if you expect to engage enemy LH in combat or face an enemy with strong shooting of their own.
411. Light Foot with Javelin and Light Spear or Slings with 4 bases may find getting close enough to contribute to shooting too risky but are cost effective for BG count (especially if Poor) and for screening and delaying enemy. LF shooters in 6s are generally favored as cheaper and more manoeuvrable than 8s while still usefully throwing 3 shooting dice; 8s often end up splitting their shooting across two targets anyway – smaller BGs are easier to point at the desired target. However, leaving the Javelinmen with Light Spear in 8s will make them more effective against other LF and can make even lone LH BGs wary of close combat. (The same size argument for size applies to using Javelin/Light Spear LH in 6s to chase off smaller LH BGs.) However, having an equal or greater number of BGs than the opposition can take priority over size where there is room to manoeuvre.
415. The likelihood that a Fortified Camp will hold out for a few turns makes it easier to ignore LH behind your lines who are seeking those 2 Attrition Points, or gives time to get reinforcements there. Note also that the Camp need not be on the baseline and can be in terrain. A Fortified Camp on or near the baseline can be used as the pivot point for an army wheel strategy intended to turn the battle 90 degrees in order to shorten the battle front. A least one BG will be close enough to the Camp to chase off intruding Skirmishers if needed.
420. Don’t buy more bases or upgrades than you need for a BG to fill its role. Missile troops can skimp on armour, as can dedicated flank chargers; Undrilled troops are for fighting, not clever manoeuvre; and superfluous quality or capabilities wastes a lot of points (Poor Skirmishers are recommended as good value for BG count and in roles where they won’t get hurt).
421. BGs with only 2 bases cannot afford to lose a base and auto-break so should be shielded from shooting and supported on both flanks in close combat to prevent overlaps. This is particularly the case if they are horse or foot, since they lack the Death Roll bonus of Elephants, Battle Wagons and Artillery.
For more size recommendations by troop type, see Part 9 - TROOP TYPE NOTES and Part 10 below.
501. Good use of Commanders can decide a battle. They are a key part of reinforcing success and in turning the tide where things look bad. Commanders do 4 things:
(1) Bolster the BG they are with in the Joint Action Phase to try to recover lost cohesion. I view this as the most important because recovering cohesion is something only Commanders can do.
(2) Raise troop morale within their range by adding to Cohesion Test rolls (if a BG is in close combat they need to be with it to affect it). You saw above how important a +1 or more on the dice can be.
(3) Help restrain shock troops and improve manoeuvre by a Complex Move Test bonus and by personally leading Undrilled troops to let them perform “difficult moves” near the enemy without needing a CMT.
(4) Fight in the front rank of a BG to improve its quality for close combat rerolls. The problem is that they have no effect on any other BGs when in the front rank, they get out of the front rank only after the BG is out of combat, and they can be killed in action. The bigger the BG, the more bases get the reroll benefit.
502. The relative importance of these roles depends on the army and circumstances. For example, Pikemen and Spearmen depend on being Steady for their best combat POAs, so bolstering them from Disrupted to Steady is an important priority. BGs in close combat can only be affected by Commanders with them, so Commanders offer a broader radius of morale benefit for Skirmishers and missile troops than those engaged in close combat. Good quality and well-equipped troops, and those unlikely to engage in close combat or be shot at, need Commanders less.
503. Keep Commanders moving when they can improve your position, such as moving to Undrilled troops who might face a difficult move next turn so that they don’t need to take a CMT for it, or joining troops facing imminent combat to help sustain them in a Cohesion Test if they lose, but staying out of the front rank in order to still exert influence over other BGs.
===== CHOOSING COMMANDERS =====
510. Number of Commanders: Fancy manoeuvring, the need to redeploy troops, or heavy incoming shooting each increase the need for Commanders. The consensus is that 800 points requires 4 commanders but many armies are fine with 3 at 600 points. Taking 2 is unusual and risky, but might work for an army with few BGs and no movement or morale problems. Apart from fighting in the front rank, as a rule of thumb Skirmisher, Superior, and Drilled troops need commanders less, while lower quality and Undrilled troops need them more. Commanders, and particularly an IC, are also more important when facing heavy shooting that is not mitigated by armour.
511. Troop Commander (TC): Cheapest, they are the workhorse front-line leaders bolstering troops and for front-rank combat while someone else is looking after CMT/CT bonuses. Their weakness is their limited 4 MU radius, so they can often only cover 3 BGs in a battle line and do a poor job of covering dispersed BGs such as lights. Have plans for each TC – plan ahead the use of powerful TC/Big BG close combat formations.
512. Field Commander (FC): 8 MU radius and +1 flank march arrival bonus make them good sub-Commanders for flank marches, brigades of several BGs working in concert, and as part of doctrine and tactics for some armies. They also provide +1 Pre-Battle Initiative if the CinC. In some circumstances a FC can do the work of two TCs for CT and CMT purposes, but for exercising a broad influence an IC is more effective and if you have an IC then TCs can be dedicated to bolstering and front-rank combat purposes. Note that a TC C-in-C can have FC sub-Commanders (e.g., for a flank march). In practice, FCs are not very popular in 800 point lists.
513. Inspired Commander (IC): The +2 Pre-Battle Initiative bonus can be valuable in giving you the advantage in deployment (although the other player gets first move). A radius of 12 MU is enough to cover most of a compact army and additional +1 bonus to CTs and CMTs makes a big difference. ICs are good at covering a long battle line, a dispersed wing, Undrilled troop CMTs, and supporting the morale of troops facing heavy shooting, as well as keeping shock troops under control and coordinated. Their bonus makes them very good at bolstering BGs or rallying routers. Because of their value, they are generally kept out of the front rank.
The impact of an IC is reduced by ally contingents and once lines of battle are in close combat, similarly for Drilled or armoured troops (tougher against both shooting and close combat), Skirmishers, or shooters without CMT issues or who don’t need to worry about enemy shooting back.
514. Commanders and FLANK MARCHES: (also see Tip 750) Flank marching has proved to be uncommon in singles games, although it has obvious advantages in a more crowded doubles battlefield. It can be useful to turn an opponent’s flank in suitable terrain or to bring an extremely large army to bear. Using a FC increases the chance of arrival per turn from 6/36 to 10/36 and will be better to handle moderately dispersed flank marchers.
520. ALLY COMMANDERS AND CONTINGENTS: The one compelling reason for an Ally Commander is that his contingent is the only way to provide complementary troops important to the army’s doctrine and battle plans. Ally commanders are also used for wings or flank marchers – why not save 10 points for troops that are going to operate independently anyway? But otherwise saving 10 points may not be worth the problems of having 2 separate chains of command, and once an allied commander dies, his contingent can never recover failing morale.
Examples of common use of allies: German or Gallic tribal sublists forcing a choice between infantry as all HF or all MF – the army can be one tribe, the ally contingent another, providing the versatility of having both HF and MF. Other examples are a foot army seeking mounted, a mounted army seeking terrain troops, a terrain army seeking heavy line of battle troops, an army seeking a Skirmisher contingent for the wings or flank marching, or an army seeking a specific counter-troop such as having Spearmen available against Knights or Lancers. (e.g., Late Republican Romans with Allied Jewish HF or MF Spearmen).
Close combat troops of allied contingents should stick close together to facilitate Commander support. Skirmishers can afford to detach across the battlefield if tactically necessary since they can manage risk and more readily be extricated and rendezvous for bolstering if required. Note that the size of an ally contingent is only limited by points and the ally list, but that an ally contingent of more than 3 BGs is not allowed to flank march. For melee allies, I tend to favor 2 BGs, with one smaller than the other that can provide rear support and an alternative for the Ally Commander if the first is irrecoverable.
Unless there is only one ally BG, putting the Ally Commander in the front rank is risky since if he dies his BGs are unbolsterable, and multiple ally BGs losing cohesion tests triggered on death of their nearby Commander gets ugly.
530. COMMANDERS IN THE FRONT RANK: Commanders fighting in the front rank improve close combat rerolls by one quality level BUT have NO influence beyond the BG they are with. The bigger the BG, the more bases get a reroll bonus – this and the CT bonus disproportionately help Poor fighting troops which tend to have large BGs (although some prefer to throw in the Commander only after Impact when leading Spearmens charged by Impact Foot or Lancers). Note that Commanders suffer a Death Roll when their BG takes 2 close combat hits: their risk of death is 1/36 if they did not lose, 1/12 if they lost. In addition, a Commander with a routing BG, whether he was in the front rank or not, always has a 1/6th death risk from pursuers who maintain contact. Another negative is that Commanders in the front rank are stuck there until the BG is no longer in combat or pursuing. Note that when mounted break-off in the Joint Action Phase this allows the Commander out of the front rank and he can also then do his JA Phase move if desired.
It is worthwhile to risk a TC in a losing fight to delay or prevent disaster, to expedite a winning fight when necessary for timing, or in an important even fight to tip the balance. Often an army is built with the intention of one or more TCs leading particular BGs in front rank combat. Ally Commanders with a single BG, such as my Ottoman’s Serbian ally, always lead from the front.
600. The Field of Glory terrain system is a like a pre-battle skirmish, a series of actions and responses offering opportunities for incremental advantages or making mistakes. It doesn’t take much to learn how to use the system to limit terrain that you want to avoid, but it can take work to fine tune your terrain doctrines to maximize your pre-battle edge. Terrain doctrine should be developed alongside army composition, order of march, deployment doctrine, and tactical doctrine, since they all fit together. Just as historically, the general who knows the kind of battlefield he wants is more likely to get it, and knowing how you would likely deploy in any terrain set-up is going to help in making the right spot decisions during terrain placement.
601. Obviously, your doctrine includes an appreciation of favorable and unfavorable terrain against different foes that guides you in your choices and placement during set-up. Before starting set-up, you should assess the respective forces and decide what your terrain priorities are. Ideally you've worked through your doctrine and drill so you'll have several terrain-based deployment and battle plans available which guide terrain placement and you can modify and put in operation during and after deployment. Know what the battlespace you want looks like. Central terrain is usually much more important in a battle than flank terrain. You have the chance to place or move most terrain pieces, an opportunity to improve them to your advantage or make easy terrain-related mistakes. Let me put in a plug for practicing competitive terrain drills – in friendly games, place terrain and then roll a die – on an even roll, rather than continuing and playing instead discuss what happened and then restart the whole terrain sequence.
602. Terrain can be an obstacle, a shelter, a bulwark, an avenue, a trap – or an irrelevant distraction. Bad going in the middle of the field can divide an army’s communications with its flanks, allowing the other side to use it to create dilemmas for the divided force. It can obstruct and delay the enemy’s response to action on the other flank, or provide a secure flank for an army to mass on only one side of the terrain. It can provide a Cover POA against shooting (if Forest, Plantation, Village, Vineyards, or Enclosed Fields), may block shooting line of sight entirely, or provide shelter for missile troops to harass the enemy. Note that non-LF in Rough Enclosed Fields and Difficult Vineyards benefit from Cover but their shooting visibility remains unrestricted, making these excellent havens for MF archers facing other shooters. (See page 132 and the FAQ regarding visibility rules.) Terrain can be the anchor of offense or defense on one side or the other if strongly held or impenetrable to the enemy. It can serve as flypaper for unsuitable troops if you can lure or force them into it where their movement will be bogged down, or expose other troops to flank attacks if they incautiously advance past it. You can often benefit from terrain without committing a BG to guard it or screen it, and you don’t necessarily need terrain troops to benefit from the presence of terrain.
603. Don’t seize or contest a terrain feature without a purpose. Would it delay the enemy? Divert his attention? Hinder his advance? Force him to detach forces against it? Put pressure on the flanks of his nearby formations? If you plan to use terrain as a base from which to threaten an enemy, make sure you have committed enough BG’s to protect your own flanks as you emerge from it.
604. The terrain process usually involves one side seeking open ground and the other more terrain features, though the exact goals depend on the two armies fighting and the doctrines they have chosen. Light Horse and other mounted armies usually want to maximize open ground, though Uneven ground favors LH and bad terrain in the right place can be used to manoeuvre around against a slower opponent, so Steppe armies can do surprisingly well around terrain. Heavy Foot armies tend to favor a patch of open ground with protective flanking terrain, the preferred type depending on the opposition, while MF armies benefit from central terrain against opponents unable to deal with it well.
Good open ground regions are Steppes, followed by Agricultural, Desert and Developed. Some terrain strategies for the player with Pre-Battle Initiative who seeks open space actually involve selecting bad terrain pieces of very small size, including hills with other terrain on them, to foreclose the other player’s options. The opponent is unlikely to remove the piece, so you may end up with more terrain pieces than otherwise, yet have more control over where it goes. Using that control wisely involves knowing the types of landscapes favored by your doctrine.
605. Disorder or even Severe Disorder is not necessarily crippling for heavy troops against lights in terrain since they start with a 2:1 advantage in dice count and may also have the advantage of armour and other POAs. Troops that are already Disrupted or Fragmented are already effectively Disordered or Severely Disordered so suffer no further ill effects from terrain with those effects. Advancing through terrain in a series of columns can mean Disordered BGs lose no dice losses in combat at all, as only 2 bases from each will fight.
606. It is a useful habit to write a note on the bottom of 3 ambush markers and place them in every game, or at least practice thinking about where they would go. Ambushes rarely actually surprise the other player past the first turn, but often that is long enough for an advantage by affecting his deployment decisions or delaying his initial movement. If your Camp is in or near terrain, consider an ambush marker near it. Ambush markers are perhaps best used to start troops farther forward than usual for more immediate action, to conceal the absence of troops on a flank march or deployed elsewhere, to conceal the absence of terrain troops defending a piece of terrain, to obscure the exact location or nature of particular BGs – particularly ones dangerous or vulnerable to the enemy – or as a simple bluff.
607. Careful ambush marker placement is important since slight variations in location and angle of placement can greatly affect how you can deploy the ambushers, particularly deployment in adjoining open areas or with enemy nearby. How the marker is placed also affects how convincing it is. Don’t delay revealing the ambush too long and be placed in an awkward position by allowing enemy too near who can restrict your base placement or cause you to lose undeployable bases. Don’t overlook Commander placement in your ambush plans = if you have 4 Commanders visible on the table, it is obvious you don’t have a flank march.
620. Don’t overlook selection of Impassable terrain features (LF and MF can’t go there either!), and specify whether they block LOS in whole or in part – Impassable lakes or quarries are depressions that don’t block line of sight while Impassable hills or other elevations do. You can use hills as defensive positions or to allow overhead shooting (see Rules p82), or bad terrain on top of hills to make them more defensible or obstruct manoeuvre. A Coast can narrow the table a little and prevent flank marches, but a River has the advantage of preventing further terrain placement on that side edge and making it more difficult for enemy lights to exploit the 6 MU edge zone to get around the flank of heavier troops. A River or Coast each cost 2 selections. Roads only cost 1 selection and block placement of other terrain across the Road, so can be useful to the first player. The first player (the player with Pre-Battle Initiative) can pick a Village (which can be on an available hill) and place it early in the sequence. (See terrain table on p 131)
621. Remember that Difficult terrain slows down even terrain troops, but is far worse for others. Worst affected are HF Pikemen and Spearmen who lose their ranks POAs. If fielding mounted against Heavy Foot, Difficult can be preferable to Rough since it is almost impassable to HF and your troops outside can use your manoeuvre advantage should the HF commit to enter or go around one side or the other of the feature. Shooty Cavalry, however, can use slowing Uneven or Rough terrain to catch HF under prolonged archery.
622. Chariots and Knights have a worse time in Rough than other horse – they are Severely Disordered and also lose their open ground Impact POAs.
623. Uneven ground has no effect on Light Horse or Elephants and does not provide a safe haven for Skirmishers against any form of enemy mounted whose more numerous dice and POAs outweigh the effect of Disorder. It is particularly bad for charging Knights, and can be used to advantage to wrongfoot or delay Heavy Foot.
624. A thin terrain feature such as a Gully is an excellent barrier to protect missile troops desiring a beaten zone of shooting across it, as well as allowing ambush by any troops (except Heavy Artillery). Since troops outside need to approach within 1 MU to see inside, those lying in wait in a Gully will normally be able to charge first. A U-shaped hill crest makes a handy ambush spot.
625. Massed archers in the middle of Rough or Uneven terrain have ample time to shoot up any Heavy Foot crawling towards them at 2 MU per turn.
626. Beware that bases entirely in a Forest or Village can only see and shoot (or be shot at) within 2 MU (4MU for (Rough) Plantations). This can help or hurt.
627. Use march columns for greater speed on Roads or going through slowing terrain, but note that Undrilled are slower to expand out and move on once through it.
628. If you are the second player and want to clog the table against a player who wants it open, remember that up to 6 pieces will already have been placed. You may get more terrain down by selecting small or medium Normal sized (i.e., maximum 12 MU) oblong pieces that are likely to fit more easily rather than maximum-sized circular ones that cover the most ground but are more easily blocked. ↵
Specific Terrain Strategies
637. Steppes Terrain: The favorite of Steppe armies and some others – the subject of ceaseless complaints by armies preferring more terrain in hopes of catching and crushing evasive opponents.
638. Steppes Strategies for LH:
With Initiative in Steppes, there are three good terrain strategies made possible by the limited number of terrain pieces allowed:.
* The simplest is to take 2 Large (i.e., 16 MU) Open Areas in addition to your compulsories to block additional terrain as much as possible.
* A second approach is to take two Normal Open Areas with the same goal, and to take a minimum size Gully and Brushy Gentle Hill to use up those terrain pieces – the other player is then limited to one Brush and some Uneven ground (which is like open ground for LH and Elephants).
* The third approach takes this further by taking the Gully, Brushy Gentle Hill, and the other two Brush, all minimum size, leaving the opponent only with Broken Ground (but more latitude to place them). If your army is all Skirmishers the Broken Ground won’t affect you at all.
Steppes Without Initiative:
If the first player chooses option 2 or 3 you have little choice of bad terrain features. But note that you can make use of Open Areas yourself. You will deploy them before any optional terrain is placed so can use them to try to force some of your opponent’s bad terrain pieces into more central locations more useful to you.
640. Agricultural Terrain: This offers a pro-open army 2 Open Areas as selections and the compulsory features are Uneven Open Fields, so is acceptable for Steppe armies. This is the standard choice for pro-open armies if Steppes are unavailable.
641. Agricultural Strategies: If you want open ground and have LH that don’t mind the Open Fields, just take Large compulsory and Normal optional Open Fields, and Large and Normal optional Open Areas. The other player will be forced to place an Open Field and has 4 other options to fit in remaining spaces. With Initiative you can also take a River on one flank to keep that edge clear (though it narrows the overall battlefield) and a Road on the other that can do the same if it stays in place. If you lack Initiative, any remaining Road, Gentle Hills, Open Areas or Open Fields can be used to meet your required 2 selections and keep things open.
643. Developed Terrain: Note the first player must take a compulsory Village, and the other player must take an Enclosed Field. With Open Areas and Open Fields, the pro-open player has some favorable selections, but this is worse than Agricultural for pro-open players.
644. Developed Strategies: TBD [Please send in strategies!]
646. Woodlands Terrain: TBD [Please send in strategies!]
647. Woodlands Strategies: TBD [Please send in strategies!]
649. Hilly Terrain: Hilly has 21 terrain pieces, making it harder to force choices on the opponent.
650. Hilly Strategies: TBD [Please send in strategies!]
652. Mountain Terrain: The best choice for pro-terrain players because Open, Uneven, and Gentle Hill choices are totally unavailable and the compulsories are Steep Hills. Other than placing a Road, the other player is going to have to place 3 pieces of Rough or Difficult terrain. An army considering Mountains as a region choice should focus on terrain doctrine to define the particular types, shapes and locations it desires and those it wishes to avoid. Some pro-terrain armies may prefer Rough to Difficult, others the reverse.
653. With Initiative in Mountains: Mountains would intuitively appear to be a choice for simply cluttering the table with difficult terrain, but with only 15 terrain pieces available there is a more subtle opportunity for enhancing the number of pieces of Difficult terrain. The first player can take 3 Normal Steep Hills (including the compulsory one) which can be covered by patches of Rough terrain, using up the Plantation and two Brush, and can in addition choose two more pieces from what is left depending on doctrine. What is left consists of a Road, a (Rough) Gully, and a number of Difficult or Impassable pieces. If the other side has the advantage in open ground, he is likely to pick 2 Impassables as they have an equal impact on both sides, so you may consider pre-empting these choices by taking the Impassables yourself.
655. Tropical Terrain: Tropical has 14 terrain pieces available, the fewest after Steppes. With compulsory Forests, no Open Areas or Uneven available, and only 2 Rough pieces, the terrain is a stark contrast of open battlefield and islands of Difficult or Impassable terrain. This is favorable to troops that suffer disproportionately from Uneven or Rough terrain (Knights, Chariots and Lancers in particular, but also HF trying to manoeuvre against LH or Cavalry). It is unfavorable for archers who like Uneven and Rough and are impaired by the range and rear rank shooting limitations in some Difficult terrain.
656. Tropical Strategies: Controlling where the Rough goes is one strategy for the first player –one of the two Brush can be combined with a Gentle Hill, leaving only a Road and various Difficult and Impassable terrain pieces.
658. Desert Terrain: The mix of available terrain is comparable to Developed with a lot less Rough.
659. Desert Strategies: Pick an Oasis or bring water? TBD [Please send in strategies!]
690. Any suggested links to FAQs/posts re making/buying FoG-legal terrain?
===== BRIGADING =====
701. Field of Glory may look like a unit-based game at first, but author Simon Hall and other veterans attest that to make an army work you need to think in terms of groups of BGs serving coordinated tactical purposes. Experience suggests that people who treat BGs as independently operating units and overfocus on one-on-one opportunistic match-ups rapidly start losing to those who think in grand tactical terms and coordinate BGs in positional or mission-driven brigaded groups – brigades with roles that can be expressed in tactical terms such as pinning center, offensive wing, defensive wing, reserves, enveloping force, etc.
702. This said, lone BGs are good as a reserve, for capturing Camps, dealing with terrain, chasing routers, and other tasks where they are effective alone. But a brigade of two or more BGs working together still has many more alternatives for manoeuvre, shooting and charges and can multiply the possible threats against opposing BGs. I particularly urge using LH in pairs or trios in combat roles rather than singly, although LF can sometimes serve as a partner for LH.
703. Skirmishers in front of shock troops can protect them from cohesion loss from enemy shooting and insulate them from enemy Skirmishers seeking to provoke an uncontrolled charge. LF are easy to handle as they can interpenetrate freely. LH ahead of the battle front require care since a gap is needed to evade or withdraw behind heavies without bursting through, so drill your LH with your heavies before using them between the lines. The gaps can easily be filled if the heavies are in deeper than normal formation so they can expand to fill the gap in the Manoeuvre Phase (or in Melee).
704. Don’t be afraid to have Commanders lead Skirmishers forward on the first turn deep into the 18 MU zone between the deployment areas in order to limit the enemy’s ability to Second Move (slowing him is often but not always desirable) and to counter enemy lights on the same mission. In the following Joint Action Phase Commanders can fall back towards the battle line being led forward by another Commander.
705. A march column behind the join between BGs, or a perfectly positioned 2-wide formation, provides rear support and rout lanes and can be close enough to the battle line to plug gaps or block/attack pursuers, though with Undrilled it can take personal leadership of a Commander to get them to act quickly enough. Angling the BG in the right direction can improve rear support capability – 2x2 can provide 3 bases of support to one BG and 4 bases worth to its adjoining BG while 2x3 can provide 5 & 5. In addition to good positioning, support columns should have plans for deployment to either flank or to the front if needed. They may need to act as a grand tactical reserve.
706. Rear support and flank cover BGs should be brigaded for doctrinal and tactical planning purposes with the front-line BGs they are supporting unless they have another specific task, though they need not be in the same deployment quarter. Rear support costs you troops that are withheld from the front line, and whether this is cost effective depends on BG cost and tactical considerations. Triarii are effective for Republican Romans. Mobs are effective for supporting multiple Poor BGs, and indeed when combined with an IC can render even Poor troops almost invulnerable to shooting Cohesion Test failures. Putting worse fighting troops in front has some advantages – they get rear support from the higher quality troops behind, and the rear supports are more likely to take out pursuers rather than be swept away in a rout.
707. Battle lines only affect movement (including taking a joint Complex Move Test). They can’t mix horse and foot, except that Light Foot can be in a battle line with mounted and Elephants can be in a battle line with foot (take these as hints).
708. Weak troops can handicap their strong neighbor BGs in close combat against a common opponent since the enemy might suffer more hits than it inflicts against the strong BG but offset that loss with an equal net hit advantage against the weaker BG.
709. Don’t deploy wider than you intend to fight without a sound reason and confidence that you will be able to change to your battle formation as needed. Deploying narrower is not usually a problem. Deepening front-line formations by an extra rank or partial rank preserves combat power by providing replacements for the fighting ranks in the event of base losses and the narrower frontage makes it harder for the enemy to inflict 1 hit per 3 bases on it from shooting when the BG has friends on each flank. Troops can always expand once in combat, so troops with weak impact factors may want to consider attacking in deeper formations and expanding out once in contact. Large warband BGs facing Romans are frequently stiffened in this way, with 8 bases deploying 3-wide, 10 4-wide, and 12 4- or 5-wide. Spearmen rely on their 2-rank POA so often do this as well. Deploying in one rank is sometimes necessary to avoid gaps, herd Skirmishers, or for other reasons, but is vulnerable in close combat and facilitates concentration of enemy shooting.
710. Temporary or permanent gaps in the line can be tactically useful to allow non-LF friendlies to charge out or evade back or to allow deep formations the option to deploy. The risk is overlaps (the narrower the BGs in the battle front, the more likely a single overlap can tip the balance) or the gap being penetrated – having second-line BGs to counterattack or fill the gaps is prudent.
711. Position to avoid burst-through by evaders and routers – remember the troops running back can only shift one base width to avoid friends to the rear. Formations are worthy of a lot of drill to get the positioning right.
===== ORDER OF MARCH =====
720. There are some principles of order of march. Sometimes you can mislead the opponent into misreading your battle plan and seriously misdeploying before your later deployments surprise him, but this is not common and usually involves suitable terrain. Practical deployment areas and formations are usually fairly obvious, and it’s often hard to avoid the obvious match-ups in the center of your position (where else would the Pike blocks go?) so the main objective in order of march is usually to allow you to weight a flank more heavily, position a reserve, make a play for certain terrain, or delay placement of certain troops sensitive to match-ups (archers and other Medium Foot commonly fit in this last category).
721. Having a deployment doctrine and pre-battle plan can help avoid weakening your overall position by excessive focus on initial likely match-ups.
722. Troops which will usually have only one real option for deployment can go first, but it is more common to put the most manoeuvrable troops down first since their position can most easily be corrected later. Fast troops that can easily redeploy can be put down early in the order of march (such as mounted reserves or Skirmishers that don’t need to wait to deploy based on placement of the infantry they need to screen). Ideally this placement can serve as a feint or offer several threats to complicate your opponent’s planning.
723. Standard skirmisher screens don’t give much of your plan away so can go down early, though you may want to defer light BGs whose exact positioning will be critical. Unless you want to save one or two BGs for later to take advantage of an opportunity on a flank, LH can generally go down early, and LF likewise in terrain and facing infantry. However, since “LH/LF first” deployment is common, holding back LH BGs until your last deployment can surprise your opponent and outmatch his lights on one wing.
724. Reserves are ideally good quality mobile fighting troops not placed too far from the center of gravity of the army, in which case putting them down first does not disclose much, or they can be used to misdirect enemy attention by being placed on a flank in the first quarter and then moved inward once the battle commences.
725. Low-quality troops tasked as Camp guards or for skulking in the rear also generally go down early so as not to waste the opportunities provided for fighting troops in later deployment quarters.
726. When you only have one BG of an important troop type, it may be prudent to deploy it late in order to make best use of it. Strong and homogeneous heavy foot battle lines can go down early, in the first or second quarters, followed by their supports, but possibly leaving some heavy foot BGs for the third or even fourth quarters, which can be useful to adjust their center of mass or provide the option of a detachment to counter a particular threat after seeing more enemy deployments. Deploying a 2-wide BG (such as Elephants) behind 2 BGs in an already-deployed battle line can surprise an enemy, as the front rank units can almost always use their “free” 1-base-width sidestep in their first turn to create room for the additional BG to fit into the line.
727. Author RB Scott’s prescription for Medium Foot is to generally deploy them last because they are match-up sensitive and not highly mobile. This is especially true for MF archers. If intended to take an offensive role, it is useful to adjust targeting by deploying them late. Exceptions to this could include those doctrinally tasked to guard the Camp, back up a main line, or control or contest terrain regardless of other troop dispositions.
728. Low-mobility troops like Artillery or Battle Wagons should either go down at the start as part of a defensive position or with the intention of affecting enemy deployment plans, maybe inducing overreaction, or deploy late once you can determine where they will be most useful in the fight.
729. As part of your pre-battle drills, write down orders of march and throw down terrain and practice putting troops down in alternative orders of march to gauge what would work best to accomplish your deployment goals without prematurely tipping your hand. Even better, repeat this drill with a live opponent and his army.
730. A few summary examples of order of march: Parthians put down Camp guards (if any) and a spread of LH across the front first, then LH and any LF to respond to enemy deployments, then Cataphracts (and any combat infantry) last where ideally they are positioned to make multiple threats, therefore inflicting a dilemma on the enemy with the intention of using a pin-and-punch battle plan (See Tip 836). Numidians are also a pin-and-punch light army and would usually defer placement of match-up sensitive strike troops (such as Elephants).
731. Republican Romans might put down some lights and a reserve cavalry BG first, then several legionary BGs, then more legionaries on one side or the other of the first (depending on what the enemy is doing), then the flank support troops to weight the army to one side or another, and finally any Medium Foot.
732. A Hellenistic army is usually built around delivering the Pike phalanx to its targets while also striking with an offensive wing. The uncertainty is usually not where the Pikemen go but the roles and weightings of the flanking “brigades,” so the first deployment might be lights and the second Pikemen, or vice versa. Then flanking Spearmen and mounted would be deployed thereafter – which wing is the offensive wing might not be clear until the last quarters.
733. All this said, order of march and the relative abilities of the two sides to react to enemy deployment should not overrule or impair sound formations or battle planning. Troops in Field of Glory are generally manoeuvrable enough to get themselves into the fight, and match-ups are not as sharply rock/scissors/paper as in some other rules – any troop type is capable of at least doing some damage to any other.
===== FLANK MARCHING =====
750. The obvious use of a flank march is to place a friendly force past an enemy flank where it is not practical to envelop it by manoeuvring on the field. If he has an exposed Camp or low quality filler troops in the back, a flank march can make him pay for it, or of course you can take his wing or center in the rear if the flank march arrives before the fight is decided. If you are lucky, your opponent will over-react or under-react to a flank march, by a hasty attack or hesitating to engage. Flank marches are not for all armies – they are wise only for a minority of armies in some circumstances. They also work much better with suitable troops (Skirmishers or mounted, especially Superiors who get straggling rerolls) and a Field Commander, the least common type of commander normally used. Large and Skirmisher-heavy armies should always consider flank marching in doctrine and planning as a way to bring troops to bear on a wider frontage and avoid being bottled up by opponents. Flank marches are a waste against opponents you can outwing and outflank on the table.
751. Note that flank marchers (and ambushers) are in effect bumped to the back of the order of march, with all the on-table troops moving up in the order of march. This gives the enemy more ability to respond to their deployment, but he can’t exclude the possibility of a flank march or real ambush until the end of deployment or you fail to roll for flank marches at the start of your first turn.
752. An obvious flank march (vs. one masked by ambush markers) encourages your opponent to attack you quickly to take advantage of his temporary numerical superiority, which may suit you if you prefer to start with a defensive battle and have suitable terrain and troops. For this reason, however, a sizable double-flank march is hazardous because the balance of available forces is even more unfavorable for you on the table. Alternatively, your opponent may be unnerved or cautious and reposition forces to defend against or trap a flank arrival, giving you time to skirmish while advancing your line of battle to engage other troops or exert converging pressure when the flank march arrives. Ideally, you want the rear of the enemy’s main line of battle to be convenient to your flank marchers once they arrive.
753. The corollary of the above is that you should consider threatened enemy flank marches as part of your doctrine. Will they make you expedite your attack? Wait and see? Continue your plan while hedging your moves against it? Ignore it?
754. If you expect the enemy to flank march on one side, one response is to send a single small BG of Cavalry Lancers or Knights marching on that flank, which may be better than posting them on-table to guard against one. If there is no opposing flank march, you are likely to arrive on the enemy side edge as a potentially serious threat to the flank or rear of the army. If the enemy flank march is all Skirmishers, you drive them back and either play with them or ignore them and drive to take their battle line in flank or rear. If they force you back, they are delayed a turn and arrive with backs to the side edge where you may be able to catch them. If the marches are both forced back, both sides hasten forward to combat.
755. Ally Commands (see Tip 514) work well for flank marches since such contingents are not in the line of command of the rest of the army and therefore operate independently anyway.
801. Doctrine gives you order of march, terrain selections for different regions (which may be customized by type of opponent), default deployment concepts and one or more overall default plans that you can evolve and customize through the setup process.
802. To score enough Attrition Points to win you need to engage and defeat at least half the enemy forces (preferably the weaker half, and including their Camp if convenient) and try to avoid overly exposing your troops to destruction by the rest of the enemy army. Unless you are playing to scenario victory conditions, securing terrain and positional advantages means nothing unless translated into killing enemy BGs. Quite often a battle is decided and victory conceded before an army breaks because the result is in little doubt. Sometimes army break point is reached at an unrealistically premature point when the tactical decision is still in the balance, but I think this problem is less frequent than in rules that allow cherry-picking of particular bases.
803. Try to figure out what kind of battlespace the opposing player and his army favor and how he would seek to exploit it. Do you know his temperament, aggressiveness, and favorite tactics or styles of play? Where one side has favorable match-ups or positioning all along the line the other side may play for drawish delay unless presented a more promising opportunity to engage which may draw him into combat. This is not a trap, but bait to draw the opponent to commit troops to action.
804. Assess favorable and unfavorable types of ground given the army match-up and determine in accordance with your terrain doctrine what features you will need, would like to use, or wish to avoid. What value or threat do different terrain features present? A terrain feature can be something worth seizing and holding for positional advantage, such as terrain in the midst of the battle or securing one or the other side’s flank against being turned. It is more often just an obstacle to go around or slow an advance through it on the way to action.
805. Slower speed and reduced dice tend to make terrain battles more lethargic – players are often optimistic about how long clearing terrain will take. Effective exploitation of terrain will often need the forceful commitment of 2-3 BGs early enough for the effort to mature in time to influence the overall battle, so you need to plan to synchronize the result of the terrain battle with other nearby engagements.
806. Timing and pacing are important. If the center engages prematurely, a victory on the flanks can take too long to intervene decisively in the center. Combat can be so out of synch in different sectors that opposing commanders or even reserves can salvage one area and then the next rather than being pressed by the dilemma of simultaneous crises. In planning the battle, estimate the progress of battle at intervals of several turns. A typical battle can be decided in a half dozen to a dozen turns – rarely much more than that. Unless someone is seeking to actively avoid contact, advancing and skirmishing before major close combat can take about 3 to 6 turns. The decisive combat can be over in a turn or two of concurrent slaughter, or can be spread over half a dozen turns as the focus of battle shifts. Once there is a breach in the line, it should be exploitable in the next two turns after the pursuers rally and turn to engage other enemy. Sometimes two sides can be locked in battle for half a dozen rounds of combat, the advantage even passing back and forth and disrupted troops recovering morale, but this is rare and usually involves evenly matched tough troops and Commanders on both sides.
810. GEOMETRY OF BATTLE: The geometric portrayals of battles in battle maps suggest useful images for thinking about the tabletop as well. Battles tend to have fairly simple overall geometry affected by terrain and set by the main battle lines.
811. Width is important. A useful old military term that fell out of use since opposing armies stopped facing each other in parallel lines of battle is “outwinging” the enemy, meaning having a line of battle that extends farther on a wing than the enemy’s. I distinguish “outflanking” as meaning at or moving into a position actually on the enemy’s flank, while enveloping is sweeping behind the flank to take the enemy line in the rear. Outwinging can develop into a flank attack with time, suitable terrain, and limited enemy interference. It certainly tends to retard an enemy advance that would increase the potential threat to their flank.
812. Depth is important in terms of managing the distance between the opposing forces so they clash at the most opportune time, providing manoeuvring room behind your lines, allowing you to evade or manoeuvre away from the enemy or shift troops, and in terms of the depth of the battle front, providing rear support and reserves to plug ruptures in a committed line of battle. Skirmisher armies don’t need depth of battle front, but they need manoeuvring room and can find multiple lines useful as well.
813. You don’t need to cover the table side-to-side and at 800AP most armies can’t – many will only be able to fill at best 1/3 of the table width with fighting troops. Screening/pinning Skirmishers and flanking strike troops may deploy wide as part of a specific battle plan, but the general rule is not to spread your fighting troops hazardously wide – it just makes it easier for an enemy who is concentrated to focus on breaking several BGs before you can concentrate to match them. Unless you can tactically anchor a flank, a hanging flank is no more exposed with 24 MUs than 12 MUs of open ground beyond it, and overstretching your frontage leaves you with both a weak front and a weak flank.
814. Smaller armies tend to get outwinged and should not engage all along the front since they run out of frontage before the enemy runs out of troops. Try to be outwinged on only one flank and secure the other. Consider BGs in echelon back on the flanks, or terrain. These armies can still face a race to break through the middle before being swamped on the flanks.
815. At 800 points most armies don’t stretch fully across the table, so seeking to outflank the enemy is commonly considered. It is an important option for mounted armies who don’t wish a frontal showdown with the enemy and have troops fast enough to successfully win on a wing and envelop or start rolling up the enemy troops before the friendly center wavers.
816. The mobility of mounted and the manoeuvrability of drilled troops are advantages wasted in a head-on fight. “Dirty geometry” creates more chances to exploit speed and manoeuvrability than parallel lines of battle. Conversely, an unmanoeuvrable army should try to force a head-on fight with clean, largely parallel geometry and little manoeuvring room on the flanks or in the enemy rear area.
817. Always try to hit an enemy BG from two directions at the same time. Even if it sustains the initial attack it is at a negative POA against both opponents for fighting in two directions. Waiting an extra turn for the second BG to charge means one Impact and two Melee phases during which the attack could go wrong.
818. Dividing your army or breaking the cohesiveness of your battle front gives opportunities to a more nimble foe, but if you are sufficiently mobile you can have discontinuous lines of battle that can’t be exploited because they can’t physically be hit and gaps exploited – the targets move or evade away first.
819. Detaching forces against the opposing camp has value only if you can pillage it in time to affect the battle or divert stronger enemy forces that are close enough to attempt to save it. Low-grade LH are suitable for either purpose.
820. Look at each defile on the table – any defile, meaning any passage between areas of obstructive terrain, whether narrow or fairly wide, offers positional possibilities for slowing or blocking an advance, or bringing to bear converging shooting or close combat attacks.
830. BATTLE PLANS – GENERAL STRATEGIES: Avoid drifting into a fight by starting with a strategy, which is likely to fall among the following categories:
831. Frontal attack: Two lines of battle basically go at it frontally, unless one is outwinged and then outflanked; in fair and open ground this is decided by might and the right (die rolls). Undrilled, unmanoeuvrable armies minimize their weaknesses and bring their fighting ability most easily to bear in a frontal fight. The fight doesn’t need to be quick to be successful, and indeed can swing back and forth, with successful opportunities to bolster BGs very important. Once a BG gives way, ripple effects through Cohesion Tests and overlaps can turn sharply against the loser. A frontal attack strategy can be frustrated by an opponent performing a screen-and-smash (see Tip 837) on one wing, often combined with attempts to flank attack or envelop that wing, while denying the rest of the army a target. Few singles size armies can cover the table from side to side in adequate strength – even infantry walls that can physically create a barrier across the table will have some mediocre troops or need to thin the line and can get holes punched in them by shooting and focused attacks. Without favorable terrain, the prudent approach to achieve a frontal fight is to wheel the geometry of the battle lines approaching 90 degrees to narrow the maximum frontage from 72 MUs down to 48 MUs. This takes time, needs a strong hinge, and requires planning to keep enemy lights from slipping past.
832. Penetration: An attack focused on the enemy’s center with the objective of smashing through by main force. Sometimes penetration can be the only viable strategy, such as where the enemy’s flanks rest securely on terrain held by the enemy that can’t be effectively contested. It requires a hard target that can’t or won’t avoid being hit, not a soft one that can evade away. To succeed the attack must be on a broad enough front to not be crippled by enemy overlaps, and adjoining portions of the enemy’s line must be kept from converged shooting against or flank attacks on the penetrating force. These adjoining areas are best pinned, flank guards used to protect the attack, and light troops used to keep the enemy wings from freely manoeuvring to respond. Against an active enemy it is a race. As in some historical battles, the decision may come down to whether a breakthrough can be achieved before the enemy wins on the flanks and can turn to deliver a flank charge on the penetrating force. Using second line troops to form a front to one or both flanks can buy time, but the hinge of the new front on that side remains extremely vulnerable.
833. Wing attack: A wing attack has some of the same aspects of concentration on a part of the front as a penetration, but is much safer since usually only the inner flank is in danger. Wing attacks include a frontal advance with an echelon forward towards the target wing, a flank sweep (aka a left hook or right hook) by a force that outweighs its opponents at the end of the line and can clear them and roll up the enemy line, and also an army wheel if the enemy does not respond by retiring.
834. Envelopments: Some envelopment can develop in the course of battle on a wing, but a full-scale envelopment even on one flank is hard to achieve against a wary opponent and the tempo of battle, which usually involves a central resolution before the enveloping troops can deliver an attack behind the enemy line. A flank march is the easiest way to try it. A double envelopment is only feasible for an army that can pin or screen the whole enemy front for an extended period while having a couple BGs on each flank either flank marching or working around the flanks. The center is the anvil on which the enemy line of battle is pinned to be hammered from flank or rear by the flank envelopment force. The art is keeping the enemy pinned in place long enough for envelopment. He may well draw forces from the center, or try a penetration instead.
835. Army Wheel: This is often tried by a walking wall of infantry seeking to turn the fight into a frontal battle on a narrower overall frontage. You need enough width and solidity to try this, and terrain in the way can obstruct or invalidate this plan, particularly if it can be held by enemy you can’t dislodge. Where opposed, the wheeling army can easily lose order, get stretched out, leave room at the pivot point or swinging end, and open gaps in the center of the line. Uncontrolled charges, pursuits, evades and losses all contribute to this.
836. Pin and Punch: This involves pinning the enemy along most or all of his front with weak forces while overwhelming one point in his line with a powerful strike force that counts on a quick breakthrough that will be exploited by turning or wheeling to rolling up other enemy BGs that are frontally committed. Pinning may not require initiating close combat – putting the enemy in your restricted area or simply in charge range may prevent the opposing BG from changing position.
837. Screen and Smash: Similar to Pin and Punch except that you are not engaged in enough strength to pin the enemy – they are merely screened and slowed down (typically by skirmishing Cavalry or lights) to buy time for a smashing attack on part of the enemy’s forces, such as by Knights, Cataphracts, Elephants or Cavalry Lancers or possibly heavy infantry. Alternatively, sometimes they need not be screened at all as even with Second Moves they will be too slow to interfere with your attack in time. Once you smash some BGs, the overall situation may be fluid. You can’t roll up the enemy line since those troops were not pinned in place – they have probably already either passed forward to your side of the table, turned to move directly toward your breakthrough force, or formed a new front. Both sides regroup and evolve new battle plans to gain the tactical initiative.
838. Defensive/Offensive: This is getting into a defensive position early on, receiving an attack, and then counterattacking when the enemy is failing or at least fully committed. If you can’t rely on your opponent’s temperament or scenario requirements to prompt an attack, how can you provoke one? Infliction of cohesion and base losses by shooting can prompt an assault, but you need to get shooters in range to do this. Flank marches or ambushers can lead the enemy to try to engage and defeat you before those troops come into play. If not, the army should time an advance to be able to coordinate with the flank marchers or ambushers.
839. Shoot and Scoot (aka Fire and Manoeuvre): This can take or develop into the shape of one of the other strategies above, particularly screen and smash, but is more opportunistic. The key concept is using the firepower and mobility of an army of lights (and sometimes missile cavalry) to tactically isolate, disrupt, fragment, and break successive BGs of the enemy with concentrated shooting while avoiding exposure to losses themselves. Favorable terrain is important; ample manoeuvring room is critical.
840. Troop Roles: Your doctrine should clarify the roles of the troops you have and what you want the battle to look like against the kind of opponent you have. Some troops are suitable to fight in the battle front, while others may need protection from terrain or special positioning. Potential roles include fast assault, slow assault, blocking, pinning, delaying, harassment, or firepower.
841. Some troops are best on Impact, while others have Melee advantages that make them likely to break the opponent over time. Others can help prepare an assault, such as by shooting up the enemy or luring him into uncontrolled charges. It is worth drilling combined arms attacks that coordinate different troop types. Sacrificial attacks such as Scythed Chariots or sacrificial units used to force enemy pursuit out of position also have a place.
842. With armies built to use a finessed toolkit approach, getting appropriate matchups is important, but newer players should be wary of letting this be the dominant tactical consideration in deployment or manoeuvring lest their manoeuvres become overcomplicated and tactically unsound. Sometimes you just need to fight what’s in front of you.
843. Heavy Foot is quite slow unless enemy is kept off so it can do Second Moves – this can involve brigading mounted with it to chase off Skirmishers.
844. If your mounted are stronger, a good plan is to mass them in a wing attack to break a weaker opposing mounted wing and then flank their center which is meanwhile being pinned. If your mounted are weaker, try to anchor or refuse a flank and mass them as flank cover of the foot on the open wing or as a central reserve that can manoeuvre as needed.
845. If the enemy has a Skirmisher or mounted edge overall or on a flank, decide whether it helps the battle overall more to keep your lights as a force in being or be willing to risk them to trade for the enemy’s, or tie the enemy’s down or divert them away. Sometimes you can’t afford to lose the flank cover, sometimes pairing off BGs with the enemy to keep them in play or pursuit provides you with some needed security. Sometimes trading BGs makes sense, sometimes you can’t afford to lose them. If you have the advantage in lights, you want to disperse or destroy theirs so yours can help disrupt enemy heavies with shooting. Remember than LF can't charge anything in the open other than other Skirmishers, and LH are fairly weak in close combat against formed troops, so conceding a flank to a totally LF/LH force may cause your army far fewer problems than tying up or losing several of your own Skirmisher or other BGs in a losing fight.
846. The purpose of delaying troops is to buy you time and space. This is accomplished by preventing Second Moves, inflicting cohesion loss when possible, forcing the enemy to deploy, wheel, uncontrolled charge or otherwise divert himself from the direct route to his goal. Assuming enemy normal movement rates, you can calculate how many turns you have before they can present a danger to their objectives. Delayers are normally Skirmishers, although skirmishing cavalry can also be used. Foresee evasions carefully and try to avoid evasion paths that could leave the enemy with room to Second Move, but above all don’t lose BGs delaying unless it provides a critical advantage in time and space (such as leading enemy BGs away from their goal to a corner, or bogging them down in difficult terrain).
847. Don’t leave your best troops out of the action. They are too expensive to stand idle. A battle plan (plus appropriate army selection/design and terrain choice) that forces the enemy to fight your best 4-5 large units can pay dividends, and give you best value from committing your Commanders as well.
848. Risking or sacrificing a BG early in the game is a valid tactic to force strong enemy BGs to uncontrolled charge or pursue rashly into a position where they can be flanked (rendering their POA advantages irrelevant). A cheap BG is useful in this role, however using a fast moving, large and good quality unit (such as 6 Superior LH or Cv) maximizes your opportunity to draw out two enemy BGs, outdistance pursuers, and rally them back to useful shape later even if they lose a base in combat. If the objective is for them to rout immediately to be rallied later (thus avoiding casualties from multiple rounds of combat), they can expose a flank or rear and elect not to reroll low dice (re-rolls are voluntary except 6s for Poor troops) in order to maximize the chance of a quick and clean rout on Impact.
860. Using the concepts in Part 12, an attack should have focused, even if multiple, objectives in mind, and at each point in time in the battle there should be a BG that the commander identifies as the “schwerpunkt” (offensive hard point) you are relying on for success and which your other efforts support directly or indirectly (such as by cleverly diverting enemy attention and forces). This may not involve a concentration of force, but does involve a concentration of effort and concentration of pressure the enemy must buckle under or counter. Concentration of threats and pressure does not necessarily require physical proximity.
861. If you are more mobile (e.g., faster, or Drilled vs. Undrilled) and clever, you can draw the enemy’s attention and forces away from a target point and then reconcentrate pressure there faster than the slower enemy can respond.
862. Beware of detached forces that dilute your power more than they weaken your opponent.
863. As stressed earlier, develop a good sense of time, space and troop movement distances and keep objectives and their timetables in mind through the battle. Estimate how many turns it will take troops to get where they need to be. Continually visualize where the battle front, combats, threats, decision points and particularly the schwerpunkt will be or can be the next turn, in two turns, and in 5 turns.
864. Don’t get too micro-tactical and lose sight of the battle as it is now and will be over the next turns.
865. Feeding troops into fair even fights is gambling on attrition rather than tactical skill – the tactical goal is to commit troops with an advantage, reinforcing and exploiting success rather than wasting time and forces to salvage failure. Remember that having a POA advantage in Melee is usually better than having one at Impact, particularly against quality opponents.
866. Pursue judiciously. Rally from pursuit when the troops are presently needed for the local battle, otherwise it is often wise to pursue aggressively with the goal of getting farther behind the enemy line of battle to have more freedom of action, or to ensure even Superior or Elite troops are too battered for a Commander to rally. Pursuing even when outdistanced in order to stay within 6MU of enemy prevents enemy routers from being rallied.
901. POOR TROOPS: Poor troops are cheap, suitable for padding the number of BGs. In this role their main tactical goal is to avoid destruction. However, they can also delay, guard terrain or the camp, and fight and soak up losses if not subjected to excessive pressure. They can provide rear support only to other Poor troops, but can be used to plug a gap or face to form a front to the flank if in a second line and be sacrificed to draw off enemy in pursuit. Always take opportunities to give your Poor troops rear support from other Poor troops – it’s a cheap way of giving them a +1 on every cohesion test, which when combined with an IC's +2 can make Poor troops seemingly invulnerable to shooting cohesion tests and reasonably durable against enemies in close combat.
Their weakness in combat is that 6s get rerolled – a Commander in the front rank of a large Poor BG can fix that, and a cheap small Poor BG behind can provide it with rear support and flank protection that can make it much more durable, but the general rule with Poor troops is to try to hold them out of close combat unless they have an advantage, as needing 5’s & 6’s to hit and re-rolling those 6’s is a very bad combination; although an alternative approach sometimes used is to advance large Poor BGs as bait to tie up a greater number of quality enemy BGs in combat and pursuit. Well armoured Poor troops, or Poor Spearmen, can be an attractive cheaper option to block suitable opponents. Armoured troops of any quality largely shrug off unconcentrated archery, and Spearmen of any quality are capable of seeing off most mounted charges. A large block of Poor Spearmen or Pikemen can serve tactically as a mobile terrain feature that limits the manoeuvre of enemy mounted and provides protection for LF shooters deployed to their front, but it needs a flank guard on the open flank. Poor close combat troops in large BGs can be deployed in extra depth for less frontal exposure and greater resilience. Being cheap, you can afford a large number of Poor troops which can occupy frontage and boost the staying power of the army by increasing BG count and army break point (Poor LF Javelinmen are a great deal at 2 points per base). Quantity has a quality all its own, but to turn that quality to advantage takes more skill and preparation than using more reliable troops.
902. SUPERIOR & ELITE TROOPS: Elite troops are rare, and what is said here about Superiors applies to them. A common opinion is that Elite troops are rarely worth the extra points if Superior is an option, argues the enemy will screen and avoid them anyway, and advances the maxim that if your plan needs Elites, you probably have the wrong plan. Both Elites and Superiors are deadlier in combat, less susceptible to morale failures, and easier to bolster or rally than Average, therefore requiring less personal attention from Commanders and able to keep heavy pressure on their targets in close combat or when shooting and bounce back well in adversity. With rerolls and especially with a Commander, they are very resistant to Cohesion Tests, but they die as easily as any other troops on Death Rolls so don’t expose them needlessly to storms of arrows. 4 bases is a useful size BG for Superior and Elite troops as they don’t autobreak until they lose 3 bases, at which point they would be removed in any event. 6 base BGs autobreak when down to 2 bases.
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TABLE 902: QUALITY LETHALITY TABLE Expected Hits per die rolled based on quality and hit roll needed Needed Elite+Cmdr Elite Superior Average Poor 3+ 0.889 0.889 0.778 0.667 0.611 4+ 0.750 0.667 0.583 0.500 0.417 5+ 0.500 0.444 0.389 0.333 0.222 6+ 0.250 0.222 0.194 0.167 0.028
910. SHOCK LANCERS: This includes Knights, Cataphracts and Cavalry with a Lancer POA. Lancers in the open give an Impact POA against most troops other than stationary Steady Pikemen or Spearmen, and force a -1 CT Modifier if the enemy are defeated in Impact regardless of terrain. This applies more broadly than the alternative -1 CT Modifier for MF losing close combat to HF or mounted in the open, but the latter applies in Melee if in the open.
911. KNIGHTS: Only one rank counts in combat, rolling 2 dice per base, so they normally charge one-deep with maybe a base or two in back to fill in for losses (especially if facing shooting on the way in) or to expand in Melee. Some people use 4s, some use 6s. Although 6s are good for staying power and maximizing the benefit of attached generals, higher quality Knights seem to most often be in 4s as this is cheaper in points per BG, easier to manoeuvre, and resilient enough. Except against steady non-charging Spearmen or Pikemen, Knight Lancers in the open have the advantage against Cavalry and MF and are neutral or advantaged against HF at impact, and are almost always at a +POA in melee due to their Heavy Armour, so are suitable for charging into most things not hiding behind fortifications. The counters to Knights are terrain or good infantry – they should beware Spearmen, Pikemen and heavy archery, especially from penetrative Crossbows or Longbows.
Proper Knights are Superior (even haughty), Undrilled, impetuous fellows liable to charge without orders and not favoring complex manoeuvres – a sledgehammer. Drilled Knights are much more manoeuvrable and controllable, but even more expensive. If fielding a single Superior Knight BG, I might favor Drilled, but in a large Knight force I would take both Undrilled and Drilled as there is a place for the sledgehammer as well as the rapier and no need to pay extra points for Drilled Knights that will perform the function of Undrilled ones.
Knights are almost always a strike force assisted by support troops, but they can also work effectively by assisting their supports. They can work well with friendly shooters by threatening interception if their target charges. They can work with Cavalry or Light Horse to chase off or run down enemy Cavalry or Light Horse, who can catch opponents who don’t keep their distance.
When Knights face one-deep evading Cavalry, you need to start the charge within 1 MU of the Cavalry to have decent odds of catching them in an evade. If adjoining LH charge with the Knights, it is very likely the Cavalry will be caught by the LH in Impact, potentially tying them up long enough for Knights that charge short of contact to join in with a charge next turn into the Melee or attack the pursuing Cavalry if the LH break. Cavalry can’t face you frontally, but will be happy to manoeuvre to flank charge you, so Knights need flank protection against them. LH flank and rear charges against Knights can usually be defeated easily unless already engaged from the front.
912. CATAPHRACTS: Think of these not as Knights but as unpleasantly slow but heavily armoured Cavalry Lancers – the toughest Cavalry of the pre-1041 era, but outmatched by Heavily Armoured Knights once they make their appearance. Since they fight 2-deep, 6 bases is recommended for Cataphract BGs, fighting either 3- or 4-wide at Impact (depending on the POAs), although they are often seen in cheaper 4s as well. Cataphracts are likely to be at a +POA in melee against most non-anachronistic opponents due to Heavy Armour, so fielding a BG of 6 as Average rather than Superior Cataphracts saves points and remains effective, particularly if led by a TC as is common.
913. CAVALRY LANCERS: These are a very common troop type that fills the mobile shock force role in the later ancient period and in some later armies that Knights do in western armies in the Medieval period, although as Cavalry they fight with 1 die per base (in 2 ranks) while Knights fight with 2 dice per base (in 1 rank). Cavalry Lancers should avoid head-on fights with Knights. The Knight Lancer POA trumps that of the Cavalry Lancers and the Knights are Heavily Armoured, giving the Knights a POA edge in both Impact and Melee. Lancers Impact as hard as Knights against anything else, but in Melee they fight as Cavalry – as Swordsmen and often Armoured. Lancers are not a bludgeon like Knights – Hammy says, “Lancer Cavalry are a rapier, they need to be inserted at the right point and the right time.”
As shock troops, even more than Knights they should be careful around undesirable opponents and avoid tarrying under archery. Even if approaching archers unscreened, they should only take one round of shooting at extreme range and one at normal range (when the archers step forward). There is a good change of Disruption, but as shock troops Cavalry Lancers can still charge without a CMT when Disrupted.
The "typical" Cavalry unit is 4 bases, but 6-base BGs are a good option for Lancers in order to increase resilience. Additional bases allow them to outnumber enemy "4's" and being able to quickly expand to single rank is not a big issue since they can’t evade anyway, although lightly armoured Cavalry may at time want to deploy in a single rank to face shooting.
Undrilled Cavalry have their own column on the CMT chart and manoeuvre far better than other Undrilled non-Skirmishers. The only differences from Drilled troops on the CMT are that they can’t Expand and Advance, and Expansions are Complex – a notable issue for Shooty Cavalry but not Lancers. Drilled is better than Undrilled, but more important upgrades are Armoured, and Superior. Mixing Drilled and Undrilled Cavalry is not a bad idea and can save a few points when topping off an army list.
This relatively good manoeuvrability makes lightly armoured (and even Poor) Lancers potentially cost-effective (e.g., Average Unprotected at 8 points) in conjunction with other troops where they can be used for flank charges or for their high Impact against vulnerable opponents.
Cavalry Lancers should take full advantage of manoeuvrability in their doctrine and battle plans (see Tip 830 and following). Various Cavalry Lancer armies come with a variety of other troop types to help deliver the Lancers to their targets by covering their flanks and screening, pinning, or engaging other points on the enemy line of battle. LF is always useful as a screen against shooters, to delay enemy responses, or just for Attrition Points. Unless speed of the attack is not an issue, troops fast enough to keep pace with the Lancers are going to make better flank and rear support, although HF is a good choice to fix adjoining portions of the enemy line or as a base of manoeuvre for armies of light Lancers commonly seen in the Middle East.
The prospect of facing Knights makes armies with numerous Cavalry Lancer less popular in open competitions, although RBS expects them to be capable in the Legions Triumphant and Decline and Fall themes (where they are most common).
914. “SHOOTY CAVALRY”: This is Cavalry that relies heavily or primarily on shooting, often used in conjunction with shooting LH. Its close combat power can range from strong to weak, depending on quality and equipment. Ghilman are a tough and common type of Shooty Cavalry – Superior Armoured Bow Swordsmen. Swordsmen capability is common and desirable but not necessary for shoot and scoot tactics. If Unprotected, they should be kept in one rank if in any danger of being shot at. One-deep is also useful to shoot up or chase down light troops or play shoot-and-evade game against heavier cavalry and non-missile infantry. They are usually in 4s to change formation and manoeuvre easily. These troops are simulated nicely in Field of Glory, and it takes talent and experience to handle Shooty Cavalry most effectively, so take extra time in battle drill and combat practice.
One problem with shoot-and-scoot armies is that wearing down the enemy takes time, which makes decisive results harder to achieve within tournament time limits and can frustrate opponents attempting to close to contact. Except when shooting is massed, its main effect is forcing opportunities for the enemy to fail Cohesion Tests and eventually wearing down enemy morale even if no bases are lost. This is a process of attrition, and very effectively mitigated by enemy Commander and rear support CT bonuses (especially from an IC). Doctrine relies on loosening and stretching the enemy line to create gaps and angles and provoking enemy uncontrolled charges and overextended advances, making it possible to converge shooting and set up flank charges. It is tempting to add close combat troops for offensive power to force the pace and as a threat and deterrent, but they need to be used prudently and avoid becoming exploitable targets for the enemy to mass against due to their inability to evade attacks, although they can be useful as planned bait. For more, see Part 10.
915. MOUNTED CROSSBOWS: In their favor, Crossbows have good armour penetration (e,g., against Elephants, Cataphracts or Heavily Armoured Knights) but they have POA penalties against lightly armoured Foot that are good targets for Bows. Mounted Crossbow LH are most useful against in-period opponents including Knights and Light Foot, and are often the only LH Medieval armies can have – where they have armour, they can also be effective attacking opposing LH.
Crossbow Cavalry usually have decent armour and Swordsmen capability, making them circumstantially useful, but unfortunately they are not strong in close combat against Knights, their favored shooting targets, so should play shoot and evade if approaching frontally. Mounted Crossbow Cavalry are also good for sweeping away LH; 4-base BGs facilitate their Shooty Cavalry role.
916. OTHER CAVALRY: This covers other Cavalry in a close combat role, which can include Shooty Cavalry that is doctrinally or situationally relied upon to act in a shock role – if so, having Swordsmen and Armoured is desirable for Melee. They normally fight 2-deep and 6s is the best size for close combat. 4 is brittle against losses but OK with good armour and quality and is suitable for dedicated reserves or flankers. Average Cavalry is safer fighting frontally in 6s since the -25% loss penalty hits them harder as they lack rerolls. Note that Unprotected or Protected Cavalry in normal combat formation of 2 ranks give most enemy shooters a favorable POA.
Light Spears are not a full substitute for Lances for Cavalry in Impact, but they have some advantages. The POA is not limited to open ground, is not a shock POA like Lancers that leads to uncontrolled charges, and does not prevent evasion if in one rank (so they can act as “heavy skirmishers”). However, when used by mounted it is only a tiebreaker, so, if the opponent has one Impact POA, the only way for them to even up in order to count Light Spear POA is if uphill, in fortifications, or the enemy is MF/LF. Therefore the fact that Light Spear is not neutralized by Steady Spearmen/Pikemen rarely helps against HF.
917. HEAVY AND LIGHT CHARIOTS: Heavy Chariots are the closest thing to Knights in the ancient world and are handled similarly except they also often shoot with Bow, giving them the chance to disrupt enemy with shooting before charging. Light Chariots with Bows can be used like Shooty Cavalry; in close combat Light Chariots are like Cavalry but with twice the dice (this is based on period performance). Heavy Chariots get a POA in Melee, Light Chariots have to rely on their Impact POA to win the first clash and just getting lots of Superior dice in Melee as the only POA they can use is Uphill. Since Chariots fight in one rank, both Heavy and Light Chariots are usually in manoeuvrable 4s. Since they have no armour rating, armour doesn’t affect incoming shooting or melee one way or the other, although they suffer Swordsmen and other Melee POAs used against them. Note that Drilled Light Chariots in march column can turn very handily 90 degrees to form battle formation in a line as a Simple move and can add an advance as a Complex Move, or vice versa, and can expand and advance as a Complex Move. For Undrilled Light Chariots, expansion is Complex and advancing after is not possible.
Light Chariots are effective at most Cavalry roles with the advantage of fighting with maximum effect on a broad frontage, meaning they can hold more space on a flank and can outmatch a single Cavalry BG in number of dice rolled in melee. They can manoeuvre and attack on the flanks, but lack the punch of Heavy Chariots.
For LIGHT HORSE see Part 10 below.
930. HEAVY FOOT: Heavy Foot are the troops best suited for fighting in line of battle in open ground. They don’t suffer the POA disadvantages that MF face against some opponents in the open and HF are more resilient in CTs for losing a close combat than MF, but slower than MF and suffer more serious disordering effects in terrain. The infantry of an “ideal” army would include a mix of HF for open ground front-line combat and MF for shooting and use in terrain. Heavy Foot armies such as warband armies are most effective with a combination of HF able to fight in the open and MF to act in terrain, on the flanks, and maybe in reserve, and warband armies often need to take ally contingents to field both HF and MF.
931. MEDIUM FOOT: Medium Foot gives a POA to opposing horsemen on Impact and their morale is more brittle than Heavy Foot when losing to mounted or Heavy Foot in the open, but they have a distinct advantage in controlling bad terrain because they are not Disordered by Uneven or Rough ground, move and fight effectively in Difficult and suffer the MF -1 CT modifier for losing to HF or mounted only in open terrain. Their greater speed makes them useful “foot cavalry” for working flanks (which is often where they find terrain), pressing mounted troops, and deep exploitation. Among the most prized Medium Foot are Almughavars (Average Protected Undrilled Offensive Spearmen) or Dailami (Superior Armoured Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen), which can dominate terrain but also be effective in the open. Close combat Medium Foot can be fielded in 6s but without good quality 8s are recommended for cohesion test purposes, staying power, and greater punch in BG-on-BG matchups. 4s can be handy for double-teaming enemy BGs with flank threats or charges. The balance of MF terrain forces between two armies frequently influences their terrain choices, goals and tactics. Whether to have at least a few terrain troops is an important consideration in army recruitment.
932. PIKEMEN: Pikemen are taken in 8s or 12s and fight best 4-deep to get 2 POAs, but sometimes they can expand out to as thin as 2-deep to cover frontage when herding Skirmishers. The merits of 3 x 8s vs 2 x 12s are much debated: 8s get you 3 BGs instead of 2 for more flexibility, are manoeuvrable square formations, and their 2-base narrow frontage limits the number of incoming hits by splitting incoming fire among more BGs. 12s are more resistant to shooting cohesion loss and damage, and are said to be less vulnerable to overlaps and being flanked and pounded when they pursue. 8s seem most common, although some players field a mix of 8s and 12s. There is sometimes the option of taking 10 bases, which are effectively 8s plus the ability to replace lost bases to preserve POAs. At 2 bases wide, the BG still counts as only 6 bases for calculating Cohesion Test effects.
Pikemen are typically brigaded in line abreast in order to roll over the enemy. They should press to engage in most cases, and their weakness is that they need flank cover; otherwise, a line of pike blocks will be slowly eaten away from the exposed flank. . Echelons work nicely with Pikemen. They are shock troops, so a combination of uncontrolled charges, pursuits and responding to flank threats can easily leave brigaded Pikemen somewhat scattered and vulnerable to counterattacks by enemy who may be able to engineer 2 overlaps on an over-eager unit which has charged out of line.
The combat dynamic against Impact Foot such as armoured legionaries is equality at Impact, with Pikemen gaining the advantage in Melee unless they are Disrupted, in which case the advantage passes to the Impact Foot as they can use Swordsmen to even POAs. Loss of a base costs the Pikemen the 4th rank POA, after which rot sets in. Steadiness in good order is required to deny Swordsmen and Lancer POAs, and the rank bonuses are lost entirely at Fragmented, so bolstering Pikemen should be a Commander priority against Swordsmen. Pikemen against Armoured Spearmen have the advantage at Impact and equality in Melee, but the Spearmen will often fight in deep formation with some bases in a third rank to gain the advantage of being able to replace the fighting ranks and preserve their 2-rank POA while if the Pikemen lose their 4th rank POA they are a POA down. Pikemen (aside from Swiss) are also rarely Superior, so can be brittle in combat-caused CTs. In practice, Pike armies often beat legionary and hoplite-type opponents not with the Pikemen but with their other troops on the flanks while the infantry fight goes on.
When advancing, use Light Foot as a screen. Opponents will hesitate to charge them for fear of ending up on the Pikes. Withdraw the Skirmishers ahead of time for a coordinated final charge – against missile troops, you may want to leave them in place and get close enough to uncontrolled charge through them (although against an enemy battle line that means possible piecemeal attacks against overlaps in Melee).
933. SPEARMEN: Spearmen are noted for being good against mounted troops, but have general utility. You can always find something useful for Spearmen to do. Offensive Spearmen are good all-around infantry that are competent against both foot and horse. As MF (such as the highly regarded Almughavars), they are useful for dominating bad terrain and also serviceable in open ground.
Defensive Spearmen are cheaper and are fairly common, especially in later eras, and are a good choice for covering a broad frontage on the table and serving as a “shield” wall of infantry and base of manoeuvre for the army. Their disadvantage is that they lose their Impact POA for 2 ranks when charging anything except Defensive Spearmen. Their key advantage is that they neutralize Lancer (and Chariot) Impact and Swordsmen Melee POAs, important in the periods of time in which they are prevalent. Mixing Offensive and Defensive Spearmen can prove tricky as Offensive Spearmen are shock troops easily tempted to break out for formation in charge, and charging Defensive Spearmen have a POA only against other Defensive Spearmen.
Protected Spearmen are a lot less capable than armoured ones since the difference often matters both in Melee and when shot at, but they are still a good barrier against Knights and Lancers, and they do require good infantry or converged firepower to crush them.
Usually taken in 6s or 8s, Spearmen POAs depend on fighting 2-deep. They start falling apart when they lose the second rank, become disordered, or lose cohesion. As with Pikemen, bolstering them to Steady is necessary for their best POAs, so they deserve special Commander attention. The importance of steadiness also favors using them in 8s to be more resistant to cohesion loss from shooting and allow them to deploy deep (3-wide with 2 bases in a third rank) to replace close combat losses and preserve their POAs. This is more cost effective frontage than deploying 6s in 3 ranks.
934. IMPACT FOOT: This is a fairly common infantry type including troops such as most Roman legionaries and “warband” types. Intended to overwhelm foot opponents by a fierce charge and/or a burst of projectiles before contact, they charge hard against Foot with a ++ POA but are not as versatile against tough opponents as Offensive Spearmen and are not the equal of Spearmen against Knights, or Elephants for that matter. Impact Foot are not regarded with the affection Offensive Spearmen get, but are more resilient as they don’t lose POAs as the BG deteriorates or in terrain. The key issue with Impact Foot is what POAs they have to offer AFTER Impact, in the Melee. For this having equal or better armour is of vital importance. Swordsmen is standard, or Skilled Swordsmen to trump foot Swordsmen (how legionaries prevail over warbands) – but the Skilled Swordsman POA is expensive as it only helps against other foot Swordsmen and Heavy Weapons.
935. LIGHT SPEAR FOOT: Light Spear is a very common Impact weapon type representing a wide variety of troops from earliest times on that were armed with light spears or javelins, thrust or thrown, or with other equipment with similar tactical effect. This POA is a weak sister to Impact Foot, lacking the doubled (++) POA against foot, and is therefore used for Roman Auxilia and some legionaries of the later Empire – but being free is arguably the best value POA out there, applying against all enemies in all terrain and not inducing uncontrolled charges. Light Spear is also a common POA for Mobs or other Poor or Average close combat troops. The real tactical value of a Light Spear BG will depend on whether it also has decent quality, armour and capabilities. Armoured Light Spear MF have the advantages of speed, terrain capability, and not charging without orders.
936. SWORDSMEN: Swordsmen is a widespread and important POA that gives staying power in Melee. Its main weakness is that Undisrupted and non-Disordered Spearmen and Pikemen are very effective against Swordsmen/Skilled Swordsmen because they neutralize the Swordsmen POA. Swordsmen is usually paired with an Impact POA of some kind for close combat troops, and sometimes with a missile POA for shooters, who don’t use it if they are able to stay in a shooting role but may find it useful for purposes such as contesting terrain to obtain shooting positions or if forced to fight hand-to-hand, although they suffer in Melee from having little or no armour. Only a few troops out there have Swordsmen or Skilled Swordsmen as their only POA – they remain useful for overlaps or flank/rear charges.
937. USING MISSILE FOOT: Longbows are the best missile foot weapon. Crossbows have nearly the same penetrating power but their low rate of fire is reflected in negative POAs against many foot targets, making them most useful against Medieval or mounted opponents – Bows are better against the generally Protected/Unprotected troops of earlier eras. Because second shooting ranks shoot 1 die per 2 bases, MF archers are most efficient in 4s (3 dice) or 8s (6 dice) rather than 6s (rounding down to 4 dice), but 6s are more manoeuvrable. BGs of 4 drilled MF shooters are handy for rear support and manoeuvring to add firepower where needed – it’s fairly easy to create a gap they can shoot through. Having a range of 4 MU or more is important – troops with Handguns or Javelins have to get dangerously close to the enemy to shoot.
Missile troops are generally more effective against mounted than foot, but can be swept away in close combat by good troops in clear terrain. They do have the advantage of shooting the enemy first: using Bowmen as an example, the Bowmen can theoretically shoot at least two times at long range and two times at effective range at well-handled advancing HF in the two turns they must advance before being in range to charge – note that troops with 4 MU range can get in 3 turns of shooting if they step to just inside range when the HF stop just outside. Against Cavalry, 4MU shooters must step forward into effective range to enjoy one round of full dice before being charged. Fragment the attackers and you win, Disrupt them and you make the charge uncertain for the Cavalry. Enemy Skirmisher screens reduce you to 2 rounds of shooting at the assault troops, none if the enemy is content to wait for the shock troops to burst through the Skirmishers in an uncontrolled charge.
In Impact, missile foot stationary and being charged get the benefit of rear rank support shooting (1 roll per base, 1 per 2 for LF), so their BG rolls up to 50% more dice than its attackers, but typically this is at a negative POA needing 5-6 for hits against the 4-6 or 3-6 rolls of the attackers. For all-missile foot BGs, winning the Impact is critical because once it gets to Melee they get pounded to pieces by opponents who may have both better armour and other POAs. Most missile foot are cheaper and cost-effective because they are unprepared for close combat, but some missile foot with good armour and Swordsmen POA can match their likely opponents in bad terrain. It is wasted points to choose POAs that will see little use.
In addition to looking for opportunities to converge shooting, missile foot seek ways to shoot repeatedly without being contacted by close combat troops. Drilled archers are worth it for manoeuvrability and afre often able to turn and slip out of the way. A few armies have mixed BGs with shooters able to shoot at full effect from the second rank, and Longbowmen may have stakes to fend off mounted, but otherwise trying to achieve this goal in wide open ground relies on the tactical situational – e.g., recessing them between advanced “bastions” of heavier troops or with an advantage of terrain can allow them to shoot longer, and flank or interception threats can pin down target enemy BGs under archery for a time.
Missile foot are strongest behind fixed defenses or taking advantage of favorable terrain. Shooting from hills over friendly troops is good when you can manage it against an obliging target, and a Rough hill in the midst of the battle is an excellent perch for shooters, especially if they are Swordsmen. Any Uneven or Rough terrain that allows them to shoot freely helps missile foot by slowing and disordering the enemy. Shooters with close combat POAs are fairly versatile bad terrain troops at need, although they should beware of tough MF shock troops like Almughavars, Dailami, or good Roman Auxilia.
Upgrading shooting troops to Superior where possible is a cost effective upgrade, as the Superior re-roll ability helps in shooting, close combat, and in manoeuvring to either target or avoid enemy, and the added cost is only 1 point if Unprotected or 2 points if Protected.
938. MIXED FOOT: BGs with close combat troops in the front rank and missile foot in the second or third rank appears in various armies from the age of chariots through medieval times, and the purpose of this formation is primarily to defeat or block attacking mounted. They are more effective overall compared with massed archers against mounted, especially Lancers, and they can make a reasonable showing against foot through the ability of the second rank to disrupt the enemy with shooting on approach and in Impact. Although the second rank in Melee fights using the same POA as the same rank, it does not provide rank bonuses so Spearmen and Pikemen POAs are unavailable. Other types such as Heavy Weapon and Light Spear/Swordsmen that don’t rely on rank bonuses for their POAs are happier in mixed BGs.
Mixed BGs only shoot 1 die per base frontage and can be outshot by two deep shooters delivering 50% more dice per frontage, but the exchange can be evened up by armour-based POAs.
The main purpose of third-rank LF is to save points and provide slightly increased resistance to a mounted charge. A BG of 6 including 2 LF is for must purposes other than the one shooting die effectively a BG of 5 bases. Expensive legionaries can cost-effectively save points with LF due to the cost ratio, while much cheaper undrilled foot will find little appeal in LF that cost not much less than the foot.
939. MOBS: The first reason to take a Mob BG is as Attrition Point filler when you have an extra 16 army points or so. Their combat potential is low and they are not hard to break, but they can serve some useful roles such as Camp guards, terrain troops, diversions, or for facing off Skirmishers. They can also provide cheap flank guard and rear support for Poor troops, such as a block of 12 Poor Pike. Mobs with Light Spears are even more useful, and some armies (Spartacus, Early Crusader) offer Mobs of Average quality which are more broadly useful as rear support.
940. LIGHT FOOT ROLES: LF types were common in most ancient armies for reasons applicable in FoG as well. Light Foot is cheap, particularly the lower grade ones (as cheap as 2 points/base), useful as filler BGs and suitable for early deployment in the order of march. They can stake out space on the first move, they can prevent the enemy from second moving, they can screen heavier mounted or foot against shooting and charge provocations, they can chase off enemy LF, they can swiftly penetrate, hold, ambush from, or harass from terrain, they can distract and divert enemy attention, they can disrupt the enemy with harassing fire, they can assault Fragmented enemy with double their normal dice, they can block or pursue enemy routers to keep them from rallying, they can themselves rout without unsettling heavy troops, and in some armies they can provide back-rank shooting support against mounted in infantry BGs. They were and are used to counter Elephants and Scythed Chariots with shooting. They can move in battle lines with horse and can interpenetrate and be interpenetrated by more troop types than any other troop type. What they can't do is fight effectively hand-to-hand against well-ordered heavier troops or concentrate battle-winning massed shooting as easily as Shooty Cavalry or MF archers. LF have many potential roles, but in practice opposing LF BGs tend to pair off and effectively cancel each other out for the battle, so they are unable to generate enemy shooting Cohesion Tests to support friendly combatants.
941. LF COSTS AND CHOICE: The average LF costs 4 points, Poor 2 points, and Superior 5. Bows or Crossbows have extended range and cost an extra point – other weapons such as Slings, Firearms, Javelins and Light Spears are free. For some tactical roles, BG size, POAs and quality don’t matter, although if they are intended to fight other LF or shoot effectively they become are important. Having a mix of LF types is often the optimal recruitment approach.
With only 2 MU range, it is risky to get close enough to use Javelins against anything but slower foot, but their Light Spear POA allows them to drive back other LF with charge threats. Firearms also have a short range, but their shooting has a valuable -1 CT effect that makes small BGs of handgunners useful in support of other shooters. Taking into account cost and POAs, my preference is Crossbows to face armies with Knights, Bows to face other horse and foot (or Slings to save points or if in 4s), and Javelins or Firearms (or Crossbows) to face Elephants. 6-base BGs are reasonably manoeuvrable and work well for shooting non-missile targets. 8s get one more die than 6s at effective range and the same number at extreme range but also require 3 hits before they need to take a shooting CT.
942. LF BG SIZE: 4 LF can shoot 2 dice at normal range, but 6 LF are needed for 2 dice at extreme range and the extra die with a 6 greatly increases the odds of shooting being effective, so Bows and Crossbows should always ideally be in 6 or 8-base BGs while short-range shooters can afford to drop down to fragile 4s and still be able to shoot 2 dice. 4s are ideal for LF taken as cheap filler or a screen to delay movement rather than an active combat role, but are fragile as with a single loss they are down to 1 shooting die and will autobreak on a second base loss unless Superior. Superiors in 4s are a reasonable choice, but all 4s used for shooting should be paired with another missile BG in order to have a decent chance of forcing CTs and doing damage. Large 8-base BGs can have a hard time targeting all their shooting on one target, and a BG of 8 LF fighting alone against two BGs of 4 LF is at risk of being engaged from flank or rear by one of them, causing a cohesion loss that allows the two smaller BGs to prevail.
943. LIGHT FOOT vs. MOUNTED: Enemy mounted are dangerous. Even Poor LH filler BGs can chase down and kill LF in Uneven and Rough as well as Open terrain, although LF like Protected Light Spear Velites become a tougher proposition in Rough. While LH can catch you fairly quickly, Cavalry can’t catch you 1-on-1 before the table edge if you run without worrying about shooting them. If you have two LF BGs against one mounted BG and some room, you may be able to double-team it from two angles and wear it down with shooting, particularly if it is not Armoured.
Against mounted in the open, look for friendly troops who can intercept a charge or whom you can evade behind, or have bad ground as a refuge behind you. Beware that mounted may still beat you even in Rough terrain, but you are safer than in the open. Screening your foot from shock horsemen is an opportunity to provoke them into an uncontrolled charge that you evade so that they may run into or close to your foot. Also, since LH in combat can’t evade and won’t break off against foot that is Disrupted there are times when you willingly entangle them with your LF to enable heavier troops to charge into the Melee and smash the LH.
944. OTHER LIGHT FOOT TACTICS: In addition to the techniques above, against Light Foot you may be closing and charging repeatedly to force them back if you have the tactical advantage, or retiring while the enemy does the same to you. Against slower troops, getting in range to shoot and/or range to provoke an uncontrolled charge is usually the objective. As usual, you are looking for 1 hit per 3 bases to provoke Cohesion Tests. You can’t charge heavier troops in the open, so they can basically ignore you or charge you to make you evade away, but you can keep harassing them with shooting. If you do charge near heavy troops, watch for potential interceptions that will kill you.
===== EXOTIC TROOPS =====
950. ELEPHANTS: At 50 points per BG, Elephants are the most powerful and most popular of the exotic troop types, but brittle. They outmatch or equal most troops because they have broad Impact and Melee POAs while also cancelling armour and other common enemy POAs. They get a +1 on Death Rolls, but on the death of a single Elephant base they autobreak and rout twice before vanishing at the end of the Joint Action Phase, so be careful what troops are behind them. The thing to remember is that a bad Death Roll can break them at any time.
Elephants are in danger if left alone in the face of the enemy – you want to protect them from shooting and avoid overlaps by having friendlies on each flank or even recessing the Elephants slightly if their neighbors can take an enemy charge without needing flank support. However you do it, don’t let the Elephants become isolated and vulnerable.
Even a single winning Elephant BG in the right place can impose a -1 CT on two losing opposing enemy BGs, so they should move as part of a foot battle line flanked by a strong offensive foot BG on at least one side to try to win in Impact by at least a 2-hit margin and therefore maximize the chance of double cohesion loss. In Hellenistic armies, they can usefully be posted on the flank of a Pike block (not in the middle – they create a structural weakness), provided that their flank is guarded by good troops and LF screen against shooting.
Paired Elephant BGs are effective and the keys to an Elephant army, each pair brigaded with supporting troops on their flanks – having two or three brigades ensures the enemy won’t escape their effect. When present in small numbers, Elephants tend to deploy late to optimize their match-ups, either filling in a pre-arranged position of possibly deploying at the join behind 2 BGs who can sidestep to make room for the Elephants to join the line. In larger numbers, some can deploy early, but save at least a few for the later quarters. Elephants are a small, Average BG, so a Commander to help with CMTs and rear support for CTs are both important, but be careful to align rear support troops so the Elephants can rout past rather than over them.
Elephants can also attack in conjunction with strong mounted BGs, though not as a battle line move. Disorder should not be a problem for adjoining friendly mounted BGs since only 2 bases of each BG will be in Disorder range of the Elephants, and a die is lost only when 3 bases are Disordered. In either case, Elephants are Undrilled, so you probably want a Commander accompanying the battle line to minimize this problem. Remember that only front-rank Elephant bases count for hits taken per base (each counts as 2 bases) so avoid allowing Elephants to be shot in column since 1 hit forces a test. If faced with Elephants, know that everything that can shoot except Bows and Slings gets a POA against them, and that Elephants lose their usual close combat POAs when they fight LF. Javelin/Light Spear LF are the most useful against Elephants if they can get in range without interference from other enemy.
951. ARTILLERY: Artillery is situationally useful. It is rarely considered cost-effective for field battles. Artillery has decent range but low (or no if Heavy Artillery) mobility and takes a negative shooting POA against lighter targets. However, Artillery just shooting at a BG forces a CT if the BG takes 2 hits from shooting from any source, regardless of the number of bases in the BG. In addition, any troops shot at by Artillery take a -1 CT modifier. Together these can be quite effective at disrupting large BGs. An Artillery BG is unlikely to score 2 hits itself, so its shooting should be combined with archery to take maximum advantage of each opportunity.
Since Heavy Artillery is immovable anyway, taking Field Fortifications allows Artillery and other troops defending them to be placed 5 MU farther forward in the center and better withstand enemy attacks. Field Fortifications, particularly if defended by Artillery, create a zone which the enemy usually avoids. Alternatively, you can place the Artillery without defences where it can create a corridor the enemy will seek to avoid. The ability to channel enemy attack is useful for a defensive or defensive/offensive battle, but Artillery plays little role if the battle is fought nearer the enemy’s baseline. Intervening terrain can be useful to make Artillery harder to attack, and it can be deployed in Uneven or Rough terrain without Disorder. It can’t ambush or go in Difficult, but Difficult or Impassable terrain can secure a flank and help set up a shooting zone at an angle across an enemy line of advance. Since they can’t move elsewhere or pivot once placed, I suggest drilling practice deployments involving Artillery, with or without Field Fortifications, several times before trying them in battle.
952. BATTLE WAGONS: These slow but hardy moveable forts are available to only a few armies listed below. Only Hussites use them as a primary troop type. They cost from 11 points per base for Poor cheap Indian Bow carts to 26 points for high-end Hussite Light Artillery wagons. In summary, BWGs are slow, reasonably hardy, and cumbersome to manoeuvre. They are effective against Knights, good against mounted, but beatable by good foot. They are most vulnerable to foot that can gain a POA advantage against them in close combat, such as Pikes or Impact Foot, but even inferior opponents can overwhelm them with number of hits if they can converge sufficient shooting or close combat on multiple sides – they enjoy a +1 to Death Rolls, but one failed Death Roll is all it takes to autobreak a 2-wagon BG. Encircling and engaging BWGs on multiple sides is easier because they don’t exert Restricted Areas. When taken in small numbers, they can be used to block a defile, anchor a defensive position, act as a stationary or moving flank guard, or serve as a moving and shooting fortification. In large numbers, their default battle plan is to disrupt and stop enemy assaults by shooting and provide opportunities for the non-WWg fighting troops to engage.
BWG tactics and the many special cases in the rules applicable to BWG demand careful thought on doctrine and battle plans and proficient drill alone and with supporting troops, especially because BWGs are not interpenetrable other than by LF, are Undrilled and need a CMT to move, and are slow and cumbersome to manage when they do move. Unfamiliar special rules and exceptions also present a challenge to the player opposing BWGs for the first time, echoing how unconventional Hussite wagon forts confounded their knightly adversaries. Well-played Hussites should be a competitive army, although arguably drawish in timed games since they move slowly and their opponents may be forced to spend a lot of time referring to and pondering applicable rules.
BWGs in 2s rather than 4s are recommended. They are much more manoeuvrable in battlefield situations and take the most efficient advantage of the +1 Death Roll bonus – whether from shooting or close combat, two 2-base BGs can expect fewer bases lost per hit than a single 4-base BG. For CMTs and cohesion tests, having an IC is almost mandatory for commanding the wagon fortress. Other than if passively defending around the Camp, consider a Fortified Camp since the supporting troops are likely to be busy coordinating with the BWGs to exploit any opportunities they create.
BWGs & Shooting: BWGs themselves can have Light Artillery or Crossbow shooting POAs, each shooting up to 6 MUs from either long side with one die per base width (i.e., 2 dice). Light Artillery is less useful at doing damage than Crossbow, but the target of Artillery suffers negative CT modifiers. BWGs are tough against enemy shooting. Anything other than Artillery takes a –1 Shooting POA against them, making it hard to score the 4 hits needed to force a shooting Death Roll. BWGs deliver shooting in one direction most efficiently in a column, but this exposes a lot of frontage and makes it easier for enemy to converge counter-shooting. Note that because BWG shoot to the side it can be hard to make minor changes in the direction of shooting in order to converge damage.
BWGs and Close Combat: In both Impact and Melee, a BWG is treated as if two 40mm-square bases, each rolling 2 combat dice. Charges against a BWG never count as flank/rear charges (so inflict no cohesion loss) and BWG is never “fighting enemy in 2 directions.” All sides are effectively frontal in Melee, so each base splits dice among the sides on which it is fighting an enemy front edge. The result is similar to the usual situation of a front ranker fighting frontally while the rear base turns and fights the flank attacker. All BWGs enjoy a POA against non-Elephant mounted and cancel both Lancer Impact POAs and Better Armour Melee POAs. Together with the common Heavy Weapon POA, this gives them a +1 POA against almost everything relevant in both Impact and Melee. All this makes them particularly suited to deal with Knights, their intended historical opponents, particularly given 2 rounds of shooting before the Knights charge in and more shooting if they break off. In fair open battle they can expect to be even or advantaged against anything with a single POA, but foot with a ++ POA such as Impact Foot or Pikes present a serious threat.
BWGs and Movement: It’s easy for BWG manoeuvres to fall into confusion since BWG are slow and awkward, requiring a CMT just to move, and they move in one direction and shoot in another. Their effective positioning and movement requires extraordinary care, including pre-battle drill and contingency battle planning. Their normal formations are march column line abreast (side-by-side). Line abreast is fairly manoeuvrable, as the formation can turn 90 degrees in its own footprint. Columns however move only by wheeling (which kinks the column) or a 180 turn to change direction. BWG columns are too deep to make a 90 turn, though they can expand out into line abreast (or if 4 bases, to 2x2) and later turn 90. Columns allow a BG to deliver full shooting power to one side, and by kinking the column at a sharp angle can take up a corner formation facing in 2 directions. This is good for taking a corner position covering a flank or creating a breakwater against enemy mounted and has the advantage that it can’t be overlapped by enemy at the kink, just at the ends, although in some circumstances attackers may manage to get an extra file in edge contact at the kink.
Armies with Battle Wagons in Books I – VIIII (in addition to Hussites (VI: p64) with up to an unaffordable 48 BWGs).
II: p61 Medieval German 0-8 Avg Crossbow HW BWGs in 2-4s
III: p16 Early Achaemenid Moveable Towers 0-4 Avg Bow BWGs in 2s.
III: p34 Classical Indian Bullock or Camel Carts, 0-6 Poor Bow BWGs in 2-4
VI: p33 Later Lithuanian 1435 Hussite Wagons, 0-6 Avg Crossbow HW in 2-4
VI: p37 Later Polish 0-4 Avg Crossbow HW in 2-4
VI: p68 Later Hungarian 0-6 Avg Crossbow HW in 2-4
For more on the wonderful world of war wagons, consult the extensive FoG official FAQ at http://www.fieldofglory.com/onthefieldofglory/faq.html.
953. SCYTHED CHARIOTS: These are entertaining, don’t count towards Attrition Points, and have a decent chance of doing damage to even Elite troops if they can get into contact, but they disappear quickly if things don’t go all their own way. Take them in 2s, aim them towards expensive troops and try to protect them until they get there. They get a POA except against Skirmishers, steady stationary Pikemen/Spearmen, Elephants, Lancers, and Battle Wagons, so Skirmishers are usually sent to defuse their attack with shooting. Their purpose is to get attention and unsettle the enemy – and cause damage if lucky. There are those who take the Pontic army just to get this toy, but most people think they are each a waste of 15 points.
954. CAMELS are fun, rare, exotic, ill-tempered, able to travel with ease in Soft Sand and Disorder horses, but poorly regarded by the FoG lists. They are currently offered a combat role in only the 8 lists below and all those Camel models for other armies may best be employed sprinkled among the horsemen for color or in Camp dioramas.
In a fight between 6 Camels and 6 horse the Camels enjoy a 6-4 advantage in dice due to the Disorder the create, which is enough to statistically offset being down one POA to start, or if starting on even POAs it is equivalent to becoming up one POA. (This advantage is reduced with only 4 bases per side since only a quarter rather than a third of the horsemen’s dice are lost.)
Field of Glory Camelogue – Books I –VIII
Rise of Rome:
I: p43 - Later Seleucid Arab Camelry: 0-4 Unprot Poor Und Bow Swordsmen.
I: p44 - Later Ptolemaic Arab Camelry: 0-4 Unprot Poor Und Bow Swordsmen
I: p59 - Hatran Allies (Camelphracts!): 0-4 HArm Sup Und Lancers Swordsmen (e.g., Parthians)
I: p60 - Early Arab Allies: 0-8 Unprot Poor Und Bow Swordsmen (e.g., Palmyrans, various Romans)
III: p15 - Early Achaemenid Arab Camelry: 0-4 Unprot Poor Und Bow
III: p16 - Early Achaemenid Improvised Camelry (Cyrus in Lydia): 4-6 Prot Poor Und Bow Swordsmen
III: p49 - Early Successor Arab Camelry: 0-4 Unprot Poor Und Bow Swordsmen
Decline and Fall:
VII: p27 - Christian Nubian and Beja Camel Riders: 0-24 Prot Avg/Poor Und LtSp
VII: p35 - Arab Conquest Camel Scouts:- 0-4 Unprot Sup/Avg Und Bow
VII: p35 - Arab Conquest Disguised Camels in 636: 0-4 Prot Poor Und
Note: Bedouin Dynasties in Syria and Iraq do not field Camelry. One potential Camel list is Tuaregs, listed as an ally for Early North African Dynasties VII: p55.
UNDERSTANDING COMMON TROOP TYPE INTERACTIONS
960. This section is to provide hyperlinks to explanations of common troop type interactions. Additions are welcome.
[Discussion and hyperlinks to examples to be added]
1000. This Part focuses on Light Horse generally as well as using armies entirely or primarily of Light Horse and their bow-armed Cavalry (“Shooty Cavalry”) cousins. This type of army is commonly referred to as a “Steppe army,” but actual Steppe armies have considerable variety as they can also include armies with LH and large numbers of other complementary troops such as Cavalry Lancers, Knights, Elephants or even infantry. This Part focuses on common aspects of doctrine, battle plans and tactics for Light Horse and armies based around Light Horse and/or Shooty Cavalry.
Life Cycle of a Light Horse Army:
1001. Light Horse are easy to manoeuvre and if they get in trouble they can usually slip out of it, making them user-friendly for new players once they learn the basics. They are also fun to play with (if not against!) as swirling Light Horse wheel, turn and dart around a plodding foe who becomes frustrated by his inability to get to grips because you move or evade out of reach while peppering him ceaselessly with arrows. Skirmishing is entertaining, but the problem is that it doesn’t put out a lot of shooting per army list point spent and winning is by slowly shooting down the enemy’s cohesion, a plan too often impeded by enemy armour, rear support and the Cohesion Test bonuses of Inspired Commanders.
If “pure” LH seems too slow and one-dimensional you may find yourself deciding to pick up the pace with something that has enough punch to dare a charge against unfragmented enemy. So you may recruit some Shooty Cavalry that can play the skirmish game but also effectively charge when opportunities arise. You might also raise some LF for cheap shooting, BG count, and to do something about the difficult terrain many opponents insist on putting down. You might even pick up a BG of cheap MF for the same reasons, plus it can provide rear support and maybe flank charge something.
So the Cavalry is working OK but doesn’t have enough punch for you and can still be beaten by opposing Cavalry – maybe something more is needed? You try a BG of Cavalry Lancers, Knights or Elephants that can put some fear into the enemy and draw his attention. It can work nicely in conjunction with the LH and Cavalry, but a lone non-Skirmish BG presents an obvious target and you find it liable to be caught by the enemy. So you decide you need another heavy BG to create a more solid strike force or add punch to two separate brigades. Then you add another. Suddenly you realize you are only a short step away from having a true combined arms army with many spears to feed, a horse mortgage and armour payments, with only a few BGs of frisky LH left to remind you of your carefree skirmishing days.
1002. This is the typical direction of evolution but not a harmful one since it’s a good learning path. LH shooters in force are a threat because their ability to dance around heavy and undrilled troops allows them to concentrate shooting on vulnerable BGs with relative impunity. The LH suffer a -1 POA shooting against Heavily Armoured troops or Armoured Foot, but even those can be damaged with enough dice being thrown. What LH can’t do is dare a fight in close combat except against enemy who are Skirmishers or have lost cohesion. This lack is what motivates the recruitment of troops with close combat power, and tactical experience enables the added BGs to be used effectively as they are recruited.
Cavalry are a good complement to LH. They are manoeuvrable, although less so and need different tactics from LH. Nik Gaukroger, winner of the 2008 Field of Glory World Championship with Seljuk Turks, recommends approximately equal numbers of shooting Cavalry and shooting LH, pointing out that LH is easier to use, but Cavalry more effective when used skillfully. Adding Cavalry BGs to LH step by step as your skills improve is an effective way to perfect Shooty Cavalry tactics.
1003. This can expand to other troop types – the more versatile Skirmisher armies have enough heavier striking troops (heavy horse, Elephants, or good medium or heavy foot) so you can use screen-and-smash tactics (see Tip 837), skirmishing along the line and trying to use shooting and manoeuvre to develop gaps and vulnerabilities in the enemy line or envelop it in standard Skirmisher fashion. Well-led strike troops are then committed at the right time while your opponent is out of position and your lights help keep him from responding effectively. There is a set of 5 interesting Numidian photo battle reports in the AAR forum that provide examples of the use of a light/heavy army: the first report.
There are many armies which offer Shooty Cavalry and Light Horse along with heavy horse, Elephants, or medium foot, allowing a variety of combined arms tactics. They are popular, but not the easiest for new players.
Light Horse Battle Groups:
1011. 6-base groups are much better than 4s at generating a Cohesion Test on a single target by themselves (see Tip 202), but they are less nimble than 4s at shoot-and-scoot manoeuvre on a field crowded with LH and have a harder time avoiding having their shooting split among enemy BGs. 4-base LH are more easily manoeuvred at an angle to target specific enemy BGs even in the middle of an enemy battle line. They are also able to evade back more flexibly through other troops provided they have at least a one-base width gap in their evade path. With enough room and good tactics, more numerous LH BGs should be able to defeat fewer but larger similar BGs by ganging up on one target from several directions. For scouting or screening to delay enemy, a small BG serves as well as a large one. However, 6s are more loss-resistant than 4s and good for riding down opposing Skirmishers, preferably with a Light Spear or Swordsmen POA in their favor.
1012. Superior always has advantages, but because much of the utility of Light Horse lies in pinning, screening and harassing, and because they are all highly manoeuvrable, fielding Poor and Average Light Horse is relatively safe and effective so long as they are not pushed beyond their limitations. A cheap BG of 4 Poor LH also adds BG count and can participate safely in combat to a degree that Poor LF fielded for BG count can’t risk. Javelins are fine for Poor LH –the added 2 point cost of Bows is partly wasted. The rare Light Horse able to have Bow, Light Spear, and Swordsmen capabilities all together are pricey but very effective Skirmisher killers, and in my view are well worth toughening to Superior.
1013. Bow/Swordsmen LH are solid against other Skirmishers, but simple Bow is cheaper and more streamlined for skirmishing purposes. Bow-armed LH don’t really benefit from armour – it is more useful to Javelin/Light Spear LH who are more likely to find themselves in close combat.
Handling LH as a Combat Arm:
1020. This section is a general discussion of LH as a combat arm in an army of multiple troop types. On the single BG level, LH primarily shoot, usually only charging when at an advantage such as against LF or worse or less numerous LH, charging enemy in the flank or rear who are already engaged to the front (forcing them to fight in 2 directions in Melee), or charging fragmented targets. Fragmented targets are particularly attractive since when charging they take a Cohesion Test and may rout, while if they receive the charge their dice are halved while Skirmishers fighting against them are no longer halved. Some charges require a Complex Move Test.
1021. On the army level, the LH arm is useful to approach enemy to prevent Second Moves, countering or defeating enemy Skirmishers, pressing through gaps and around the flanks, and seeking to use shooting and manoeuvre to distract, disorganize and disrupt the enemy in support of the fighting troops. If you have LH superiority, their likely roles in the battle plan after the typical first turn advance will be to crush enemy LH and LF or drive them either to the baseline or to shelter behind their own heavy troops, then screening, harassing and shooting up non-missile mounted (or even missile Cavalry if the odds are good) while avoiding shooty foot. Although some Shooty Cavalry can face or beat MF foot archers in an exchange of arrows, LH can’t stand up to them in a sustained shooting exchange unless they can bring superior numbers to bear or manoeuvre so the archers (typically Undrilled) can’t wheel or turn to bring all their shooting to bear, and attempts to turn to face the LH will disorganize the archer line. If not armoured, most Cavalry are better off either staying clear of massed foot archers or charging in.
1022. Disposing of enemy Skirmishers is important both for Attrition Points and freedom from their interference. It may be worthwhile to concentrate your LH on one wing for this purpose even at the cost of allowing temporary freedom of action for enemy lights on the other wing. LH with Light Spear or Swordsmen POAs are useful for this task, though superior numbers also work well. A BG of friendly Cavalry or LF brigaded with LH can provide useful support if the enemy Skirmishers don’t simply take flight. Cornering an enemy LH BG is best done with two BGs or with the benefit of blocking terrain or a board edge, although sometimes you can lure LH to attack LF or weaker LH and flank it in combat, or, as a backup in case you lose that fight quickly, position another light BG where in the event of a rout the enemy LH is forced to pursuit-charge into it, unable to evade later chargers.
1023. LH alone can have a tough time tactically pinning down heavier troops since their restricted area is ignored, their flank or rear charge does not cause cohesion loss, and LH have half the dice of their opponents in close combat. With a decent number of shooting dice they can, however, do considerable damage if given free rein to roam and shoot into the flank or rear for a number of turns, and they can also serve to block enemy evades, break offs and routs and prevent rallying of routers. LH can put the opponent on the horns of a dilemma – hunt down or chase off the LH, ignore them and proceed with the battle plan, or divide efforts between engaging frontally and fending off the LH? You can exploit any of these choices by the enemy.
1024. Often flank or rear charges by LH won’t slow the progress of enemy foot at all. If the foot are undisrupted after Melee, the LH break off in Joint Action and the foot in their own turn simply reform and continue on their way with a normal move. If, however, the enemy is also engaged to the front, then flank or rear charging with LH gives the entire enemy BG a -1 POA for “fighting enemy in 2 or more directions” that can tip the frontal Melee in your favor.
1025. Being outnumbered or outclassed in LH is a serious disadvantage in that it limits what your LH can achieve. If your quality is worse, your BGs can be hunted down on a one-to-one basis. If you are better but less numerous, you can achieve an advantage if you can bring up supports such as shooters or MF, but the first key decision is whether to try to keep your lights in existence for later in the battle or to risk losses in a decisive Skirmisher fight. LF are vulnerable to LH and can be effectively supported by heavier troops able to intercept LH or intervene in Melee against entangled enemy LH.
The best counter to LH is numerous Shooty Cavalry which can drive them off the field, but LH have 1026. enough of a movement and manoeuvre edge to often slip out of reach, while Shooty Cavalry have to mind their flanks and avoid exposure to converged archery. They also need to watch their distance and angles with respect to dangerous close combat opponents in a way that LH don’t. Cavalry don’t back up easily like Skirmishers – it’s a full move to do a 180 degree turn, and after turning they are subject to being charged in the rear by any enemy in range in a charge direction that can evade them someplace uncomfortable, or if unable to evade they are in trouble in close combat.
Even if skirmishing in one rank, Cavalry have a high risk of being caught if the enemy move up close to them before charging. The only way to prevent this intimate encounter (other than friends intervening) is to turn around to retire before the enemy come into charge range. Cavalry are also vulnerable to enemy Skirmishers slipping behind them, shooting at the Cavalry and blocking evades.
1028. Commanders: LH are light work for Commanders. They need Commanders mainly for Second Moves and Cohesion Tests, usually caused by being shot or bolster attempts. Unlike most troop types, LH can easily move to meet the Commander for bolstering, meaning less Commander dead time transiting from BG to BG and the ability to cycle LH in and out of the front line. Shooty Cavalry has much more need of command influence, for close combat and as they can rely heavily on manoeuvre and need help with CMTs. ICs are ideal to steady troops against shooting over a broad area and for bolstering, but shooty mounted armies are often so dispersed they can’t take full advantage. ICs are also important to gain maximum Pre-Battle Initiative if that is desired, but a hindrance if the army is seeking to lose the PBI roll and gain first move.
1029. Terrain: LH and Shooty Cavalry armies usually prefer Steppes terrain, but can do well in other regions. Indeed, many players prefer to lose the Pre-Battle Initiative roll and accept enemy choice of region because their doctrine is based on getting the first move. Uneven ground favors LH since they are unaffected while many enemy troop types are hindered. Roads and Rivers on the side edges can be used to help keep the board edges clear. Otherwise, Open Areas are generally desirable for Shooty Horse, although pieces of bad terrain can be used tactically to disrupt or slow an enemy advance and create combat opportunities, or to pre-empt an opponent’s terrain choice. This use of terrain is particularly useful against an attempted sweep by Undrilled opponents. See Part 6 for more on Terrain and some detailed strategies.
1030. Pure LH armies generate pressure through shooting, plus some charges against Skirmishers and Fragmented troops. They can exert strong pressure only when concentrating shooting, which can be done only against a few enemy BGs at one time. LH armies are not quick battle-winners – without heavier troops to force breaches or directly block certain enemy, the soft pressure of shooting takes a long time to wear down an opposing army. LH army players will often feel the lack of a “hammer” and many opponents view LH armies as an easy opponent to deal with, although frustrating or tiresome.
1031. Skirmishers don’t suffer threatened flank penalties on the edge of the field, but do need to be wary of being trapped against the side edge or evading off the rear edge (unless the alternative to evading off and losing 1 Attrition Point is to break and lose 2). That said, LH are slippery devils and can often find a way to turn and move out of very tough situations. Charging them often just gives them a free evade move taking them farther towards safety, but, if you don’t charge them, they just move to a good shooting angle and pepper you with arrows.
1032. LH army battles tend to take a lot of turns and this can allow time to move around a flank or bring in a flank march, but against a time limit can lead to a draw. An active opponent will usually push you hard rather than allow time for your plan to develop. The faster the enemy heavy troops, the more pressure they put on you and the easier it is to make mistakes. Drilled MF move as far as mounted can shoot and can easily turn and move, so can pull some nasty surprises if you don’t pay attention. Even Mobs can be large enough to take up frontage, soak up arrows, and push you back.
This kind of army needs to fit the player’s style - impatience with slow results can lead to fatal rashness.
Shooty Horse Tactics
1041. A couple of shooting dice is not a dangerous thing, while massed shooting causes repeated cohesion and base losses. A 4-Cavalry BG can shoot with 3 or 4 dice, giving a good chance of forcing a Cohesion Test (see Tip 202). 4-LH BGs shoot so few dice that it is critical to brigade them together with other BGs – brigades of 3 LH BGs or 2 LH BGs and an extra BG of LF or missile or other Cavalry are ideal. Cavalry Lancers provide extra punch, while a BG of LH Lancers is a nice complement to missile LH.
1042. Your battle plan is usually to stake out as much ground as possible to block enemy Second Moves, at least in some sectors, and leave ample manoeuvre room behind your lines. Getting first move is very helpful so losing the PBI roll is preferred by some players, although the more willing your Cavalry are to face the enemy in close combat the less critical the manoeuvre room to the rear. Sometimes you are lucky and the enemy deploys with a hanging flank you can readily outwing and envelop, or a good flank march opportunity presents itself, but often the terrain and enemy dispositions limit you to a frontal approach of disrupting, loosening and disjointing the enemy line of battle with shooting, threats, and uncontrolled enemy charges in order to expose gaps, flanks and other weak spots you then exploit with concentrated shooting or timely charges.
1044. Enemy foot BGs in battle line abreast limit the number of elements you can bring to bear on a single BG in the middle of the line. You can fairly easily angle Skirmisher BGs and use Cavalry in 2 ranks to concentrate shooting, but even so it is hard to generate a lot more than 1.5 dice per enemy base frontage except where there is an isolated BG, or a gap, corner or end in a line of battle. The tactical goal is to use manoeuvre and threats to create such corners and other opportunities. Turn the enemy flank or work his BGs out of solid line into a looser arrangement that allows you to converge shooting on particular BGs and force Death Rolls as well as CTs. The temptation for your opponent is often to adjust the position of troops in his line to split your shooting or protect vulnerable targets, or advance parts of the line of battle voluntarily in order to drive back your shooty horse. This can create other opportunities, so try to force the issue. Destroy or flee his Skirmishers, draw his mounted and aggressive foot away from his other troops, pick off isolated detachments, and provoke charges where possible. Work around his flank and hunt his BG count filler such as Mobs and LF. He is likely to hunt yours as well and consider grabbing your immobile Camp, so think doctrinally how you can use these as bait for your foe to overextend himself.
1046. One of the advantages of shooty mounted armies is that you don’t need to occupy a continuous front, allowing you to deploy wide with large gaps in some places where a single BG can slow or pin several enemy BGs and elsewhere mass several BGs for an attack. Spreading out this way may induce the enemy to spread out as well in deployment or during the battle, foregoing solid formations and rear support, and you can exploit this dispersion and any gaps. As the more nimble side, you can gain tempo by making successive threats that force the enemy to commit to responses, causing him to fall further behind you in tempo and be out of position when you launch your decisive attacks. Although shooty mounted armies look freewheeling, these tactical plans favor thinking well ahead.
1047. LH can sometimes pop through gaps and shoot the enemy from the rear – even if this does not seem like a big advantage for your LH, their presence behind the lines gives you options that create additional pressure on the enemy and complicates his decision-making – increasing his chances of making mistakes.
1051. The most direct way for your adversary to stop you from shooting up his line is to advance or charge to drive you off, where possible forcing evades at angles that disorganize your formation or evade you into other troops as well as costing you at least one round of shooting. If he manages this poorly, or you force him to hang back in one sector while he advances in the next, his advance loosens his line and can offer you corners, gaps, or flanks.
1052. Some players with suitable troops who face shooty mounted will simply try to create a cluster of bad terrain where they can hole up and wait for the clock to tick down while eating a sandwich and snatching a few Attrition Points if you get aggressive. Look for weaknesses and BGs you can pick off and do what you can, or if it’s a losing proposition offer a draw and use the spare time more profitably.
1053. If the enemy has a fairly small army with suitable troops and the temperament for it, pivoting from the center and turning the axis of battle 90 degrees to narrow the cross-table potential frontage and sweep your horse off the table is potentially dangerous. Some troops are solid enough to advance one-rank deep when facing only LH – it is risky against Cavalry. A sweep takes a long time, can easily end in a draw in a timed game, and can often be disrupted or stalled. Have terrain placement and battle doctrine ready for an enemy sweep. Areas of opportunity are the pivot point of his advance, the need for him to manoeuvre and extend his line to clear your flank corner as he wheels past it, and any terrain features. The enemy will be looking for opportunities to catch you out against Difficult or Impassable terrain or other BGs, or force burst throughs or unsafe evades, but competent LH play should avoid these risks. A fighting retreat with Cavalry is a more difficult situation requiring more advance tactical contingency planning for evades, restricted areas, and interceptions, but they can also mass to punch a hole in his line and exploit.
1054. A flank march is useful against a sweep if you guess right and it comes in behind the enemy. Even LH behind him is handy to shoot up part of his stretched line, or take his Camp. Heavy mounted can pose the lethal threat of hitting his line in the rear if it can reach it in time - even Poor Cavalry is a ++POA cohesion buster against an enemy flank or rear.
1055. Larger armies don’t even need to turn the battle to squeeze you against terrain or the rear edge – even HF plodding 3 MU/turn take only 12 turns to get across the table. Some armies have enough solid affordable foot to do this easily, but most run the risk of unduly thinning or loosening their line unless they can take advantage of terrain to narrow the frontage they must clear. In addition to continuing to try to disorganize the enemy, counters to sweeps include trying to punch a hole you can push troops through or stalling them on a wing or in the center so they can’t advance elsewhere without losing the benefits of a continuous line. Terrain can sometimes help corner shooty horse but often hinders the sweep by slowing down or breaking up the advance and providing favorable shooting or charge opportunities. I don’t have a link showing a full sweep, but for an interesting fight with Spartans pushing the LH part of a Graeco-Bactrian army off the table see Spartans vs Graeco-Bactrians report.
1056. Sweeping is a lot more difficult against good Shooty Cavalry that has enough strength to stand up to the sweeping force. Shooty Cavalry is less nimble than LH but a lot tougher. It can concentrate more shooting, inflict dangerous flank and rear charges, and successfully charge disrupted or even steady troops. This makes it easier to stall the enemy on terrain and/or punch an exploitable hole in a sweeping force.
1060. General Shooty Cavalry tactics include the above approaches also used by LH to draw the enemy out and create shooting and flanking opportunities, but it is also a viable strategy to engage enough to pin along the line, work for an opportunity, then concentrate to forcefully exploit it. Ghilman-quality Shooty Cavalry can effectively frontally shoot, disrupt or fragment, and then charge the enemy. Many players use LH and a few skirmishing Cavalry to pin in some areas and mass 2-deep Ghilman for maximum effect in others. Being Superior Armoured troops, they don’t fear close combat against foot since they have good chances of breaking off without serious damage if the foot remains undisrupted after Melee.
1062. The best way for your opponent to neutralize the effects of your shooting other than wearing armour to the fight is to provide rear support and Commander influence to boost CT rolls – odds of disruption are much reduced and bolstering is much easier. If your targets are also Armoured or Superior, the fight is even more discouraging. Faced with this, consider either converging shooting to focus on scoring high hit numbers and force base losses or shift to more vulnerable targets.
Working with Other Troops
1070. Common supporting troop types for LH and Shooty Cavalry in Steppe-type armies include Cavalry Lancers, Knights, Elephants, and a variety of foot. Shooty Light Horse or Cavalry can combine well with Lancers to catch enemy Cavalry by making it unsafe to evade or pinning a target in place under archery by using charge or interception threats. LF are often cheap and useful, even if primarily for BG count.
1071. Heavy and Medium Foot are also seen. You should know what you are doing before taking a contingent of slow foot that presents the enemy with an obvious target – if you have enough for a substantial battle line then you have more of a combined arms than a light or Shooty Horse army.
1072. For a light army it is important to have the supporting assault troops safely behind the lines so they can present a flexible general threat and when ready move up without interference to engage the chosen target area. They can manoeuvre and threaten, but be circumspect about pre-mature commitment as that forecloses their pressure elsewhere along the line.
1075. Suggested Counter-Armies: Suggestions of armies to counter LH armies or Shooty Cavalry armies (your mileage may vary):
Shooty Cavalry + Knight such as Hungarians or Lithuanians.
Shooty Cavalry + Cataphract such as Sassanids.
Shooty Cavalry + MF Bow such as Ottomans or Yuan (Mongol) Chinese.
Shooty foot, such as English Longbowmen, Indians, Christian Nubians (Superior Bow), or
Early Achaemenid Persians.
Massed Armoured Cavalry Lancers.
Those Hellenistic Pike armies able to expand frontage to turn the battle.
Armoured HF such as Late Republican Romans, Greeks etc. that can expand frontage.
Armies with many cheap massed MF foot + supports, such as Dominate Roman, British, Dacians, Thracians, warbands, etc. using large shooting-resistant BGs and ICs.
Walls of Spears.
1101. Think of troops in terms of whether they are committed or have flexibility. Troops are committed when their options have narrowed so they cannot reasonably change their course of action. Troops are pinned when they cannot move laterally or to the rear without grave risk (usually from exposing themselves to a flank or rear charge), and they may also be pinned where they could move off but doing so would expose friends to grave danger. Note that Skirmishers can turn about and move off, so they are hard to pin.
1110. Missile Troops: When unable to stand safely in the battle front, a column of missile troops can be used in a rear support role. BGs of 4 MF shooters are useful in this role, and if Drilled can often manoeuvre to take shots at the enemy through gaps.
1120: Flanks: Flank and rear charges by any non-Skirmisher troop type are more powerful than any advantages of morale, armour or weaponry in a frontal combat. LH flank charges on formed troops are worthwhile only if they can make a big impact, usually in terms of giving an already engaged enemy a -1 POA for “fighting enemy in 2 directions” – this can allow your forces engaging them to the front to quickly achieve a decisive advantage. Overlapping an enemy is not as potent as a flank charge but is considerably easier to achieve and has a more immediate effect than flank manoeuvres because manoeuvring to attack a flank can cost you two rounds of missed Melee. Even if uncontested, flank charges usually take forethought one to three turns ahead of time, and can in turn expose you to interception if the enemy is able to prepare. It's not the easiest thing to manage except perhaps on the end of the enemy line. Even charging into the flank of pursuers demands positioning in anticipation of the situation.
1121. Consider a flank secure if no one can hit you there for 4 turns, or you could effectively prevent the attack without detrimental effects.
1122. Turning and rolling up a flank takes time; if you can manage it, swing into the rear instead. You want speed and either Undrilled Cavalry, Drilled MF or best of all Drilled Cavalry for short-range envelopments to strike the enemy in rear charges and inflict negative CT modifiers. LH can get there far more easily but are not as rapidly decisive, and can find themselves beaten off even when fighting against an engaged enemy’s flank or rear.
1123. Narrow outflanking moves can be blocked, intercepted, or flanked in turn by flank guards, but at least that pressures the enemy to respond. Calculate the timing on wider outflanking moves to make sure you will be able to get back into action in time or at least exert forcing pressure on the enemy. Even fair fights between Superior troops can be over in 2 or 3 combat rounds.
1124. Decide ahead of time whether or not to provide flank cover to counter overlaps or only against flank charges. Position flank guards or distant flank coverage carefully to be sure you can intercept but avoid unwanted engagement.
1130: Assaults: Calculate potential enemy charges and intercepts (Skirmishers take note!) and rounds of shooting you will take in an assault. Don’t forget the enemy shooters can step forward to put you in better range. While much of manoeuvring can be calculated to a certainty, victory and defeat in combat are subject to the fortunes of war. However, you can manoeuvre to prepare to mitigate the consequences of a bad result.
1131. Look for ways to disrupt the enemy before the charge. Shooting is one way, forcing LH to evade through and disrupt them is another example. Disrupting Spearmen and Pikemen first is golden for Lancers or Swordsmen.
1132. Try to position screening Skirmishers so they will have room to evade behind instead of on top of the attacking heavy troops. Withdraw them on a timely basis for use to the flanks, unless you have shock troops and want to keep them screened against shooting while trying for an uncontrolled charge.
1133. Whether you win or lose in an Impact is not affected by whether you have friendlies on either flank, but whether the enemy unit you are fighting wins or loses IS affected by the results against friends fighting alongside you. Having a weak BG charge alongside a strong one makes sure you are not overlapped in Melee, but can hand the enemy enough net hits to offset your favorable net hits and the enemy avoids losing the Impact. Once a friendly BG in contact is losing, it will likely continue to lose and test even if another BG joins in overlap, although if the friendly BG is losing by only 1 hit then if both rolls from the new BG hit then the enemy loses as well and tests. If possible, it can be better to instead position for a flank charge next turn into the flank of the enemy either as it stands or after it pursues.
1134. If you are weak in Impact but good in Melee, consider charging on a somewhat narrower frontage to minimize the total hits you might take, and then expand a file before the Melee Phase. If you have an advantage in Impact, or just armour or other disadvantage in Melee, try to spread out and roll maximum Impact Phase dice unless you would crowd another BG or it would result in an undesirable rout or pursuit path for your BG.
1135. Pairing missile troops with close combat troops near them able to use their ability to Intercept to deter charges by the enemy being shot at is an effective technique and can be the basis for brigading troops.
1136. Pairing LH and heavier mounted to charge together makes it hard for opposing Cavalry or LH to use evade tactics as they may be caught and entangled by LH and then caught by the heavier horse whether the LH hang on or rout.
1137. Consider creative use of gaps, such as Skirmisher filler between BGs that can evade or move away to then be replaced by expansion (during manoeuvre or in Melee) of adjoining heavy BGs, or opening 2-wide gaps to allow other BGs to advance or retire through.
1138. Break Off: In the joint action mounted must break off from steady foot unless they fit an exception. Break off is good against close combat foot if you are better in Impact, but disadvantageous if your advantage is in Melee, breaking off in your own turn gives the enemy a chance to shoot in their turn, or if you take a cohesion loss because you can’t break off or you are placed in a bad tactical position after your break off move. Where mounted and foot are fighting each other, both sides should look at what will happen on break offs and see how they could turn it to advantage. For Ghilman types, breaking off when unsuccessful at disruption allows an opportunity to bolster and resume shooting until ready to close again.
If moving a BG to block an enemy break off, note that if you block them at 1 MU or less the mounted still take the cohesion loss but don’t move back at all, so melee continues next bound or they are subject to pursuit if they rout while in contact. If your mounted routs due to incomplete break off, note that you can move commanders to get in range of nearby friendly BGs before they do their test for routing friends.
1140. Defense: Try to force the enemy into a position where to engage you he needs to accept overlaps, converging shooting, unfavorable terrain, or other disadvantages.
1141. Weaken a strong attack by pinning, turning or slowing the BGs on its wings with flank threats or other distractions.
1149. Orbs: I have used Orb a couple of times, but most players have not. It’s an almost immobile purely defensive formation used by Pikemen or Spearmen to make a stand when threatened with double overlaps or from several directions. It can divert, obstruct and delay the enemy, though it is easy to bypass since it has no restricted area and cannot charge until it passes a CMT and leaves Orb formation.
Orbs have disadvantages. They are almost immobile. To form them requires a CMT and the presence of unbroken enemy troops within 6 MU. If 3 or 4 bases wide it must contract to 2 wide as part of the Orb move and that is precluded in an enemy restricted area (which is often when you would most want Orb). Since it is by definition 2 wide that means only 3 ranks (i.e. 6 bases) count for hits per base. So 2 shooting hits force a CT.
Orbs of 5-8 bases are the most efficient on a per-side basis – they fight in a single file 2-deep and can’t be overlapped. So it’s a 2 base vs. 2 base fight in most cases. Unfortunately, Orbs don’t get ranks-based POAs but can cancel enemy POAs normally if steady. Orbs of 4 bases or fewer fight 1 base per side, with no second rank, Orbs of 9 or more bases fight with 3 bases per side, 2 front rank and one second rank base. This means the attacker will likely have 4 melee dice vs. 3.
1150. Clearing Skirmishers: Cavalry can drive back and eventually catch or drive LF of LH off the board, though LH is harder. Using stronger LH, or LH and LF in combination, is more efficient. Clearing Skirmishers with forced evades in the Impact Phase can clear the way for you to Second Move the battle line.
1160. Linked Melees; Independent Melees: Combats more than 3 MU apart are independent since even routs or commander deaths don’t have a direct impact on each other. Linked Melees include melees in cohesion test range of each other, which can result in a chain reaction of Cohesion Tests, and multi-BG close combats where a BG is engaging more than one enemy BG.
1161. Multi-BG Melees are common when battle lines meet. One important effect is that front-rank Commanders remain in the front-rank until ALL melees are ended or everyone on one side of the Melee has done a break off. Another is that a BG fighting two enemy BGs won’t pursue if just one routs. It will get overlaps on its other opponent, but the routing BG won’t be hit in pursuit and the gap won’t be exploited.
1162. When a BG in a battle line fails, the overlaps on its neighbors can be devastating. The only way to reverse morale disintegration is with bolstering, which can recover a wavering line and help swing the fight the other way. Committing a Commander to the front rank can be crippling if other BGs go unbolstered.
1170. Shooting Arc: Note that in effective range targets directly ahead are the priority but otherwise it’s the closest. Shooting arc is at maximum width only at extreme range.
Words of Wisdom
"You will find the equality of the points system will come through the more you play. Certainly in the early days some troops look good value - but as you get used to the tactical subtleties the others come back into being good value for money.
As with any rules, the simple bulldozers are best value for money at the beginning. See how you feel after 10 games and 50 games. After about 150 games I am finding the points system quite keenly balanced and my views have changed a fair bit as I have played it out fully." - Simon Hall (Note added 20080616)
Rules author Simon Hall wrote “I don't see any imbalance of any significance as yet - rather a lot of balance. One of the issues is that over 10 or 20 games you can get local patterns, over 200 games with lots of armies you see much less of it.” On the same topic, Richard Bodley-Scott says ”most armies have a reasonable chance within their own time frame. In anachronistic battles, however, some armies will cope better than others. Notably, armies based on spearmen and pikemen should have no great difficulty vs knights, but impact foot or light spear armed foot will have more difficulty. Lancers and Cataphracts are excellent value within their own time frame, but disadvantaged from a cost-effectiveness point of view vs knight armies. Bow or light spear cavalry are better able to cope with anachronistic encounters because of their ability to evade (knights) when in single line.”
“If you take full advantage of the abilities of your troops you will get good value from them. If you for example deploy superior drilled armoured cavalry in a single rank facing javelin light horse and they spend the whole game facing off against them in single rank then you are not tanking full advantage and may as well have used an average undrilled unprotected BG to do the job.” Hammy
Also look at “FOG Collected Design Notes and Explanations”
General Note: To avoid confusion, changed references to “battle line” to “line of battle” or “battle front” when the overall line of battle is meant, rather than the technical FoG term.
How about this as an example:
This is true of any wargame. Perhaps this is more so in FoG than in certain other games, but it really sounds like re-writing The Art of War.301. Know your troops, know your army, know how it loses, and know how it wins. Plan how you’ll make it work, write it down, and practice it.
- Sr. Colonel - Wirbelwind
- Posts: 1771
- Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2005 12:09 am
- Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
This is an awesome idea! I mean, even just viewed purely as a mnemonic device, it's a good plan.Mikek wrote: 305. Some people find painting a good time to think about doctrine. There was a player who chatted with his troops about their role in the army’s battle plans and doctrine as he painted them. He said his armies fought better (or maybe it was just that he did).
And the idea of briefing your troops...
"Ave, Decurion Publius Agricola, ave atque vale. Your role is..."
Thanks for all your hard work.
It would be nice to have an index of the wisdom on specific army lists but the discussions are relatively threaded already and searchable, and an index is too big a project. However, within about 6 months I hope to see some short review/tactical "articles" on the art of war of particular army lists, done by people who have played an army thoroughly enough to have a refined army and doctrine for it and the spare time to want to write rather than fight (Caesar was one of the rare captains who found time to write history, but he was his own publicist). AARs already are making a valuable contribution to newer players.