Chapter 14: The Battle-Skirmishing

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Chapter 14: The Battle-Skirmishing

Post by ^Marcus Cornelius^ on Sun 08 Jun 2008, 14:16

14. The Battle: Skirmishing

14.1. General Concept and Target of Skirmishing


The first contact with enemy units usually takes the shape of a skirmish duel.

The final target of winning the skirmishing is double:
- Reducing enemy melee capability with some volleys using your surviving missile units;
- Driving your enemy to launch an attack with his melee troops.
These targets are good if achieved.

The first target is obvious in that its advantage is brought back.

The second target is less obvious but more important. Waiting for the enemy to attack, you can gain through this two situations:
- you can shoot with missiles you have left and javelins, darts, pila, (deadly because armor piercing), if you have any, at enemy units incoming and considerably reduce enemy melee capability;
- in rushing at your units enemy player will find difficult to match exactly your melee troops with his. It is difficult to give all the timely and correct right click to charge all your units. This means that probably defender (you) can have the opportunity to have some good melee units free to manoeuvre and flank.

14.2. How to Lead Missile Warfare

..14.2.1. How to Deploy Missile Units


If you want to win the skirmish duel, you have to know what type of deployment your archers must have to give best performance.
Follow these general rules if possible:
- put your units in line
- put your units in loose formation
- put your units in 2 to 4 lines maximum
- put your horse archers in Cantabrian Circle
- do not put a missile unit on another: 1 enemy volley will catch 2 of your units
- do not shoot with your unit at an angle: less efficiency.


..14.2.2. How to Obtain Missile Superiority

If you want to win the skirmish duel you must achieve missile superiority.
Missile superiority is achievable in these four ways or in a winning mix:
- by numbers
- by quality
- by location advantage
- by manoeuvre advantage.

Missile superiority by numbers
Obviously, you can gain superiority in missile warfare choosing more missile units than enemy does.
Consider that during unit selection you can scout enemy total men. Missile units are usually the most numerous in men. Armies with many men will probably have many archer units.

Consider this example....
Suppose we have:
Player A: 4 units of 40 archers against
Player B: 3 unit of 40 archers
Each archers unit causes 25% of enemy casualties of arrows thrown at each volley.

That is the result of the archer duel. Look at the final.

______________Player A_____________Player B
_________ Men Left__Casualties__Men Left__Casualties
Start_________160_______0_______ 120________0
1st Volley_____130______30________80_______40
2nd Volley____110______20_______ 47,5______32,5
3rd Volley_____98______12_________20_______28
4th Volley_____93_______5_________0________25
Final_________93_______67________0________120

This means that missile superiority by numbers applied can give you an advantage in kills far more superior than the difference between number of men at start.
This means that even a little difference in archer number at start can make a big difference at the end of missile duel.
This means that it is not of any convenience if your archers are fewer or equal to enemy’s, keep some as reserve.
Maybe it will be of some use if you overwhelm your enemy in numbers and you can obtain superiority even with a part of your shooters. If so you will have some fresh shooters to hurt enemy melee and cavalry troops.

If your strategy passes through winning the arrow duel first, then be aware to be able to exploit a missile superiority.

Missile superiority by quality, location advantage, manoeuvre advantage are not very different from number superiority.
Quality means that your 40 men acts as they are 60.
Location means that your 40 men on a hill kill like 60 on flat terrain.
Manouvre means that by manoeuvring you were able, for example, to apply your 120 archers to 80 enemy archers while the other 40 enemy archers were unemployed, thus balancing your missile number disadvantage.

Missile superiority by quality
In evaluating quality of missiles look especially at: 1st. Armour 2nd. Range 3rd. Missile Attack Factor.
Why did I put armour first? Because armour lets your units stand longer. This mean that even if you lose the duel, enemy archer units surviving will have less energy and less arrows. Even if the winner, your enemy will be less able to exploit his missile superiority.
Range is also a big advantage. You can shoot first and kill enemy shooters untouched, and if enemy do not react quickly your quality advantage will soon became a superiority, even if you have fewer archers.

Horse Archers are far better than foot archers if they can perform Cantabrain Circle. If not they are not worth the cost, at least for missile duel.
Is it better to have quality or number? Hard to answer this. Look always at overall cost. Make a few trials and tests.
Consider what faction you are facing: enemy player surely will bring its best missile units. Refer to.... (6 Ranged Units).

Missile superiority by location advantage
A hill, the edge of a slope, is a location to achieve missile superiority.
On a hill archers have longer range, more precision in shots. 1 archer on a hill is equal to 2 archers shooting at it from a plain.
How to counter location advantage?
By numbers, by quality, and on equal factors, by manoeuvring.

A hill is a often a narrow place. Maybe it is possible to concentarte all shooters on one side and try to shoot enemy archers enmass.
But against veterans, hill means losing missile duel.

The advantage of the first shot is another location advantage. Even if you are on a plain, if you can shoot first at enemy missiles coming closer to yours you can get a “bonus”. Enemy archers will start shooting as fewer men.

Missile superiority by manoeuvre advantage
Obtaining this superiority means that you succeed in applying main part of your archer shooting capability to a part of enemy shooters while the other enemy archers remain unemployed.
I saw this at least in 2 cases.

First case
Your enemy is still moving with his shooters while yours get in range to shoot them. At least some enemy units are caught unemployed and are hit without shooting back.
When you see your enemy moving in front of you with his shooters be ready to get in range to shoot before they stop and start to shoot at you. You will get in more volleys.
Always stay away from enemy range when moving.

Second case
This is very hard to achieve and needs very good control of your army.
You can shift your archers to one side. If your enemy does not react, nor rotate or move his archers to match yours quickly, probably during the first volleys all of your archers will shoot at some of the enemy archers while other archer units remain unemployed. Moreover, probably when remaining enemy missiles reach the others in a hurry and begin to shoot at yours, they will not be in line and overlapped with others: many kills for your shoooters.



14.3. How to Counter Missile Warfare

Are there ways to counter missile warfare other than just trying to win the shoot out phase? Yes.
The most used way to counter missiles is using cavalry to catch foot and horse archers.

Foot archers are slower than light and heavy cavalry. They can be reached and routed easily.
Horse archers can be reached by light cavalry.
Horse archers performing Cantabrian Circle are slower and easier to reach than those that are not.

During the skirmish phase there probably will be many attempts to break the arrow duel. Light and heavy cavalry attempting to kill archers, cavalry attempting to chase cavalry killing archers.

To catch archers keep in mind these principles:
- light cavalry are faster than heavy cavalry and can easily catch them.
- light cavalry are less armourerd than heavy and can easily be shot by missile waiting for their charge.
- heavy cavalry are slow and need wide space to reach archers.
- if you approach missile units catch them at an angle starting from wing.
- you will receive less shots (less enemy archers in range, all at an angle)
- they will have a slower reaction in withdrawing while skirmishing and you will catch them easier.

To counter cavalry trying to catch your archers, keep in mind these principles:
- put your archers in skirmish mode: they automatically withdraw if menaced, and give you more space to react to aggressive cavalry.
- keep your cavalry at hand to react quickly against incoming enemy cavalry.
- keep some spearmen at hand to lead them into an eventual cavalry melee, springing from attempting to kill your archers.

The “catch the archers” trap.
Many veterans apply this trick to kill some of your precious knights.
They simulate a charge on you archers with heavily armoured cavalry. When you come with your cavalry they are ready to shoot at you with well ranged archers.

14.4. The Role of Artillery
Artillery cannot help you to gain missile superiority.
Onagers are not precise while shooting and they are costly.
So do not fill your army with onagers trying to use them to hit archers and horse archers.
But they have a very useful characteristic: range.
If you have superiority in artillery you can hit your enemy from a distance. That gives you initiative. Your enemy will be forced to come nearer to you and try to 'take out' your artillery and will be in range of your other missile units.
Artillery has the choice to use fire or not. Fire has more powerful shot, but less precision.

How can you counter an enemy army when he has artillery?
Three approaches are mainly applied in MP games:
- taking more artillery and shooting at enemy onagers.
- an immediate rush (the one with artillery has less melee units so could be overwhelmed by well controlled rush).
- foot archers fireing on artillery.
- horse archers fireing on artillery.

Maybe the first is the best. The last works well if you have cantabrian circle at your disposal, but be aware of enemy light and heavy cavalry trying to catch your horse archers.
A rush is a risky but effective alternative.

14.5. Weather

Consider that when raining and snowing your bows and onagers will be less effective. Armies with many missile units are at a disadvantage in wet conditions.
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^Marcus Cornelius^
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