Chapter 15: The Battle-Melee (ii) - Hand to hand

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Chapter 15: The Battle-Melee (ii) - Hand to hand

Post by ^Marcus Cornelius^ on Sun 08 Jun 2008, 14:12

15. The Battle: Melee

..15.3. Hand to Hand

....15.3.1. How To Engage Hand to Hand


Hand to hand means that you launch your unit into melee, charging at the enemy.
Here are some simple rules to follow to obtain the best from your melee units.
When you engage melee:
- Start it from a safe position if you can
- Do not overlap your units
- Do not hesitate under fire
- Know there are combat modifiers
- Know your and enemy weaknesses and strengths
- Concentrate your strength on enemy weakness.

Engage starting from a safe position
Starting melee from a safe position can give you the boost to win it.
Safe position means fighting down hill: your combat factor is increased, enemy combat factor decreased.
Safe position means that you are not under fire and you can plan safely and precisely how to engage enemy. Woods can give you some cover from missiles before you charge.

Do not overlap
Do not charge 1 enemy unit with more than 1 of yours. For every enemy unit you attack overlapping your units, there will potentially be an enemy unit free to flank and exploit gaps in your line. Always try to match enemy units 1 to 1 with yours.
Overlapping could be effective when you are sure there are not enemy units ready to flank and when you are sure that the additional boost applied in a weakened point of enemy line can cause collapse in a very few seconds.
I saw many berserkers ovelapping and causing a collapse with 2 to 1. But it is an exception to the rule. If your line is holding well you can always try to flank with exceeding units, if you have time.

Do not hesitate under fire
If you are under effective fire do not wait too much and charge immediately.
Effective fire means that that fire is causing you some relevant casualties. At the end of the shootout some low quality exhausted archers cannot cause any harm to your heavy armoured units.
Infantry unts with javelins, darts, pila have an armour piercing capability so their fire is always effective, even if you are heavily armoured. Do not hesitate if you are matching cohorts, plumbatarii, and other melee units with missile capability.

Know there are combat modifiers
Know that there are some combat modifiers: by terrain, by unit type, by fatigue, by unit matching. Refer to 15.3.2.

Know your and enemy weaknesses and strengths
If you have enough time, take a look at the enemy units. Evaluate which of them is severely weakened, and which of them is of low quality.

Concentrate your strength on enemy weakness.
Evaluate, avoiding unbalancing in some part of your line, if you can concentrate good combat factor on weakened enemy units. A collapse in that point can cause fear all around with the closer enemy units and cause a chain rout. Even if a chain rout does not occur, if a gap in the enemy lines could be opened, you could exploit that gap, penetrating and flanking.

....15.3.2. Combat Modifiers

Consider that there are some combat modifiers that affect units during melee due to:
- RPS in general,
- terrain,
- Unit types,
- fatigue,
- special formations.
For the real modifying factor see stats for RTW/BI

RPS in General
As said before the RPS system is based on this main rule:
1. Spearmen have bonus in fighting cavalry (horse, elephants, camels, chariots).
2. Cavalry has bonus in charging melee infantry
3. Melee infantry has bonus in fighting spearmen.

Unit Types
Axes are armour piercing weapons. They increase their effectiveness if fighting heavy armoured units.
Horses fear camel and elephants. Their combat factors will be decreased if matching camels and elephants.

Terrain
Fighting downhill gives you advantage: your combat factors will be modified positively.
Fighting up hill gives you disadvantage: your combat factors will be modified negatively.
In woods cavalry will be less effective.
In woods spearmen will be less effective.

There are some units which are positively influenced by snowy terrain. Others will suffer snow.
In general, German faction units like snow.
There are some units which are positively influenced by desert terrain. Others will suffer desert.
Berbers like desert.
There are some units which are positively influenced by forrest terrain.
German faction units and Celts like forests.

Fatigue
Fatigue effects combat factor decreasing it.
There is a scale in fatigue:
1. Fresh
2. Hot
3. Tired
4. Very tired
5. Exhausted
The more the fatigue, the more factors are decreased.
Some units, heavily armoured, will fatigue quicker.

Heat can make your unit fatigue quickly.
The more your unit is armoured the more it will fatigue quickly.
Light units suffer heat less than heavy units.
Some factions have units that can stand heat well:
- Berbers at first;
- Sassanid at second (even if heavily armoured);
- Huns, Sarmatians, Roxolani, Slavs, Vandals at third.
Eastern and Western Empire, Saxons, Celts, Romano-British, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundi, Lombardi suffer heat.

Unit facing
Unit charged in flank cannot resist the enemy attack factors with all its defensive factors.
i.e it will have heavy losses in a few seconds and it will rout in a short time.
This effect is even broader if unit is charged in the back.

Special Fofrmations
Special formations effect combat. Refer to 9Mode, Special Formations and Upgrades.

....15.3.3. Morale

Morale is basic. Units with higher morale will fight longer. Unit with lower morale will fight shorter. i.e. a unit with high morale can suffer heavy casualties before routing.
Your main front line troops must have a good morale because your line is supposed to hold for some time.
Berserkers have such a high morale that they almost will not rout.

Some units and situations that can better your morale:
- If your unit is well covered in rear and flank
- If the general unit is near, or inside the unit,
- If your roman first cohorts is near,
- If a priest is near your unit and he is praying for your unit.

Decent morale is 6 (refer to stats).
Low morale is less than 6.
Good morale is between 7 and 9.
Outstanding morale is more than 10.

Heavy cavalry usually have 9 to 10 morale
Spearmen usually have 5 morale.
Melee infantry have 6 to 11 morale.

For details on morale refer to stats.

..15.4. Manoeuvre and Flanking

....15.4.1. Flanking and Manoeuvring to Win the Battle


After your first front line is engaged charging enemy front, it is time to resolve the battle. If you engaged the center with good morale and decent combat factor units, they will last long enough to let you manoeuvre your reserves and wings to try to win the battle.
If you engaged enemy center front line with low quality troops versus high quality troops … you are quickly dead.

The best of your skill is seen in manoeuvring and flanking:
- Best of your creativity in inventing tactics
- Best of your skill in moving quickly on battlefield to exploit gaps and any flank opportunities.

Manoeuvring is the art in moving your troops and to concentrate on enemy weakest point.
The weakest point could be a center one, the main line, or a lateral one, the wing.
Keep your eye ready, evaluate where you can win and where you can hold and decide where to concentrate and give your best effort.

It is almost impossible to give a complete overview of tactics used.
Anyway it seems there are two possible attitudes in resolving the manoeuvre and flanking phase:
- Wing orientated
- Reserve orientated.
That does not mean a wing orientated army has no reserves, nor a reserve orientated army has no wings.
In wing orientated army the role of wing is much more important and only a few units are left as reserves, only to stop and delay eventual enemy attacks on the other flank not covered by your wing.
In reserve orientated army the role of a few unit wing is only to support, passive, waiting to exploit gaps or opportunity to flank without taking initiative.

....15.4.2. Wings

Wing orientated attitude is aggressive.
In general, playing with active wings means what follows. See picture.





1. Prepare a good front line with good heavy infantry units. It must be good in morale and combat factor, it is not necessary for it to be outstanding.

2. Prepare a good force of cavalry (superior to enemy wing fronting you) and deploy it on one of your wings.
In doing this be aware that your wing can easily beat enemy wings fronting unit or any reserve that enemy can quickly mobilize against your incoming wing.
Support it with some anticavalry unit (spearmen) or some melee units, if it is necessary, in order to be sure to beat enemy fronting wing easily.

3. Start melee in the center with heavy infantry.
It is not necessary here to be sure to win the center fight. It is necessary to be sure that your units will fight long enough to be helped by your winning wing.
In the meantime, engage enemy wing units or reserves with your wing and quickly defeat them.

4. Do not waste your time in chasing enemy reserves or wings fleeing. Turn back to help your center. Hit enemy center with your cavalry in the back and rout them all.

5. If not sufficient cavalry forces left, regroup your units and then drive enemy routing units off the map.

....15.4.3. Reserves

Reserve orientated attitude is a defensive one.
In general, playing with reserves means what follows. See picture.





1. Prepare a good force of heavy infantry and deploy on center first line. They must be superior to enemy center in some (most) of these characteristics:
- Morale
- Combat factors
- Weapons (with some javelin, darts to throw for example).

2. Prepare good units both cavalry and infantry at the back of the first line as support. It is not necessary for these units to be outstanding. They have to hold enemy wing. Probably you will need good spears, some good infantry and some good cavalry, not outstanding. Depending on what are enemy forces on the wing.

3. Avoid contact of your reserves with enemy wings if you can. If you have your center line well balanced, probably you are winning in center, and you have only to wait for the enemy to collapse.

4. Use spearmen to defend the back of your center. If your center needs help, use some of your heavy infantry in reserve to charge the enemy center. Engage enemy wing with your reserves if necessary and hold it off.

5. When enemy units at center begin routing the battle is won. Sweep enemy wing and remaining units away after.

....15.4.4. Mix Reserves/Wings

Most of the time you will see players playing with a mix of the two previous attitudes. They will have some good wings and some good reserve units in the back as second line.
That is good but remember that fighting to win in Total War means having a well defined plan or attitude in mind.
You have to always concentrate your effort somewhere. Acting everywhere but with less energy will cause a collapse somewhere. And from that local collapse your defeat will start to be general.
Mix of reserves and wings means that your are acting flexibly. You have not decided yet if you are going to be aggressive and concentrate on wing, or defensive and try to give support to center. But you will have to make a decision before the general melee commences. Where do I have to concentrate my effort? That is the decision. Decide to concentrate your effort in the weakest enemy point, hold with the rest and a win will follow.

..15.5. Chasing and Regrouping

After the main line of enemy front has collapsed and units begin to flee, you can start chasing.
Units chased keep fleeing even if chased by worse quality units. Their morale is very low when chased and they cannot keep fighting if enemy is closer.

But chasing enemy units fleeing is not always a good decision.
Sometimes the fight is close. Some of the enemy units are fleeing and some of yours too. In one word...chaos. From chaos you could come out as winner or looser.
Better if you stop your units, regroup and give them a new formation and start to chase your enemy after you can clearly see that he is weaker than you.

Some clear rules can be pointed out.

1. Chase only if you can drive your enemy safely off the map

2. Do not chase if you are exhausted and the fight was nearly a draw.

3. Do not chase units that are clearly not useful:
- archers,
- horse archers,
- low quality units,
- almost destroyed heavy infantry and cavalry.
These units after fleeing the first time cannot withstand another melee.
That expecially when you have not yet won the main fight at center.
Chase those units only if you have clearly won the main battle.

4. Do not chase heavy cavalry or infantry on a wing, when you have the opportunity with a wheel to charge into the back of the rest of the enemy army and win the battle. But that is more an argument for manoeuvre rather than chasing. See 15.4 Manoeuvre and Flanking.

..15.6. The End

The battle is ended. You and your team are loser or winner. That is not important.
What is important is enjoying and learning.

Enjoying comes from passion and good behaviour. Always try to set up a good environment, because after a few battle, even if your skill is not at the top, if your behaviour is judged to be respectful and agreeable you will gain friends with whom to play other battles.
Stop to think, there are people, mates, playing Total War since 2000, that know each other as friends.
Refer to Appendix: Multiplayer’s Galateo to know how to set up an agreeable behaviour without misunderstandings.

You can learn a lot from a good battle. You can learn new tactics, you can learn new deployments and new effective unit selections and mix.
Many tools to help you learn:
- The replay
- The log file
- The option to select armies selected in the battle you fought before and to save them
- A quiet discussion with your mates, about errors and opportunities lost, the good calls and manouvres, during a battle.
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^Marcus Cornelius^
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