Battlefield Improvements

A discussion of how to improve overall fighting and tactics at Empire for all players in all nations.

All questions and advice welcome, but lets keep it friendly please :slight_smile:

Basic ground rules that I think would help:
-This is OC discussion, keep it OC
-What works for one nation won’t work for all nations, each nation has specific interesting briefs to work with, so keep that in mind
-I’d prefer if we kept specific examples from the Empire field out of the discussion, it’ll just lead to arguments and “No actually what happened was…” rather than useful advice.
-This isn’t the place to argue about what style of fighting (heroic vs. tappy for example) is best, it’s a place to discuss how to deploy and use large groups of players on the field.
-We should be aiming to find a way to make everyone who participates come away having had fun, so lets keep that in mind while coming up with improvements. To my mind “We will fight better but everyone will hate it and be bored” sucks. :smiley:

Ok, right, that said… I have a few questions for the more experienced amoungst us:

Question 1: What the Hell should Dawn do?
I mean, seriously. Standing in a line and taking orders is not Dawnish, the Dawn brief is about personal glory and running about like crazy people. How are we best deployed on the battlefield in a way that’s not just going to cause confusion and disaster? So far, we tend to form up into House-groups, which then tend to be deployed as a chunk of the inevitable line (I’ve broached the subject of maybe using Dawn differently, but so far have been rebuffed due to other generals feeling the Imperial forces aren’t really ready yet to start doing anything clever like mixing up nations etc). So, advice?

Question 2: How do we train people to be better at communicating orders down the lines?
The starting point is a group of people who haven’t really played together before, and not really fought together before - there is no pre-set line of communication or group of dedicated players who know and trust eachother. (I imagine this applies to several nations) so, how do we create the communication lines, and how do we make them effective?

It’s a difficult discussion to have. I’m in a similar conversation on Facebook (Highguard) at the moment and am taking the “this is an IC conversation” standpoint because I want to be able to criticise characters and to try to impress others into making me a general; I can’t do that OOC (well, I can but it would be a bit rubbish) and I get frustrated when others want to thrash it all out before the event, robbing me of an opportunity to shout IC.

However, I share Helly’s sentiment and I perceive that she is not trying to “thrash it all out before the event” so I’ll try to engage with the conversation whilst not giving away my best ideas. All battles should not be the same. Dawn, whilst capable undoubtedly of “holding a line”, should be able to fight differently because whacking each other with sticks is still roleplaying.

For me, an answer (not the only answer) is: “Just try it.” We’re early in the Empire campaign and we’re early in our military development. I would like to see the Field Commander stamp their personality on a battle - “This is my plan and this is what is going to happen (Virtues save you all …)”. So, if our Commander is a natural-born skirmisher, I’d be entertained to be presented with a plan along those lines, even if I’m in a heavy infantry shield wall unit.

Helly, how many people donDawn normally take to the field?

Last event it was around 35 by my quick counting.

Do we need someone with a trumpet to blow out signals like “advance”, “fall back”, “left wheel” etc?

Around 80-90 seems to be the norm.

Personally I think we need to drill the Dawnish to be line breakers due to our lots of calls mostly Mage based healing and heavy armour and large shields. These factors suggest an offensive deployment to me rather than a defensive-deployment.

OK, at times this topic could be quite difficult to keep OOC, but we can try :smiley:

Couple of things immediately spring to mind when thinking about battles where multiple nations are fighting side by side.

  1. A nation needs to be aware of what their best fighting style/posture actually is and communicate this to the other nations. This would help both the military council decide who fights together and the battlefield tactics. An example of this is that us Marchers keep hearing that our bill blocks are defensive formations - wrong, they are offensive. NB (to state the obvious) conversations about this need to happen in the field.

  2. Generals of the military council are not necessarily the best battlefield commanders. The skill sets differ and one person may not fit both. Find the best people for each role - will take time and involve trial and error, but that increases RP opportunities (and number of people involved in the military game) and so is a good thing ™.

  3. If possible find some time for training as a unit or even as a nation. Individual weapons training (which there is a fair amount of) is good, but in a massed fight cohesion is at least as important and that comes through working together. And look, it is another piece of in game RP :astonished:

We’re at about 35-40 maybe a bit higher?

Morgan - This is more a look at improving people’s OC skills at fighting as part of a structure than it is about specifically how to deploy for any given battle. Those discussions are absolutely for the field (hence me asking people not to use specific examples or drag this into IC conversation). This is more about working out how to generally improve low-level ability so we can do clever things IC, rather than spending the next 10 years arguing over lines of communication or other things that if we were all actually soldiers, we’d know how to do. I don’t think we can realistically IC discuss “Guys it turns out we’re mostly unfit LARPers who don’t know how battle is formd, so how do we solve that”. Here, we can :slight_smile:

I sort of see this similar to how I see OC discussion/advice for costume making. We’re sharing OC knowledge and experience, rather than IC politicking.

Sorry folks but it was well over sixty if you remember we went in three deep column and there were more than twenty rows so I suspect around 80+.

Accurately counting heads can be hard but that’s why we used a fixed formation.

Some things that all “soldiers” (everyone from Generals through to surgeons) might consider:
a) Keep your mouth shut unless you’ve got something to say; don’t shout commands unless you are in command. This also helps to highlight when a commander ain’t no good.
b) Be prepared to run in any direction. Not walk fast. Not jog. Run. It is necessary to keeping cohesion with your chums.
c) If you are skirmishing, keep your eyes about you so that you can dodge arrows and not get charged in the rear.
d) If you are in formation, keep your eyes to your own personal front - trust the other people behind you to watch in that direction (but still try to watch out for arrows).
e) Obey orders. Don’t interpret them.
f) Do not manhandle people even if you are allies. It is not useful.
g) When you disengage from a live enemy, do it briskly. Edging slowly away doesn’t work.
h) Don’t bunch up; the people on the front line need to be able to disengage without looking behind them to ensure they don’t step on you.

See I sort of disagree with Grayson and think that Marchers are natural line breakers ebcause two handed weapons are more suited to it with shatters and knockdowns being much better at breaking up a shield wall than another shield wall.

We did have a horn in dawn last event it did help probably but even then there is only so much it can do.

i) Don’t necessarily fight until you drop; it’s a lot easier to get you back into the fight if you’ve still got a hit remaining. This is especially true if you are on the tip of the rearguard in a fighting withdrawal.

( I have a feeling I will be adding these points in an annoyingly sporadic fashion. Apologies. )

ii) If you’re in battlefield command and cannot shout loudly, have an adjutant who can.
iii) If you’re a big formation, have runners, and have Sergeants to relay commands.
iv) Tell your troops the battle plan and the objective.
v) Make sure everyone knows who is in command

I’m thinking of making some distinct sashes for the Highguard battle line so we can mark out our chain of command so it’s obvious who we’re supposed to listen to and who is issuing false orders.

Highguard, The League and The Marchers all do variations around infantry blocks. The Imperial Orcs, Navarr and Brass Coast all seem to be doing well as skirmishers of varying ‘weights’ so no need to tread on toes there.

For me personally, I would love to see Dawn moving more into a heavy line breaking force as Grayson describes. Dawn would look good fighting in a looser formation, giving each hero space around them to be heroic. You should form up into tight formation when something heroic needs doing; such as storming a fort, breaking a line or attacking a big monster. Learning how to attack as a ‘horn of the unicorn’ or using a column charge will do Dawn wonders.

In terms of ‘OC better battling’

[ul]Try and maintain awareness around you, pass information on to people behind you.[/ul]
[ul]Learn to understand the difference between commands of ‘withdraw’, ‘fall back’ and ‘retreat’ - context is everything[/ul]
[ul]Two enemy troops moving around your force is not a flanking force, nor is it you ‘being surrounded’[/ul]
[ul]‘For Glory!’ is the ultimate cry for Dawn to go and do something, you don’t need much context, just a guy/gal pointing a sword and then charging off. Whatever the situation, follow them, don’t think about it[/ul]
[ul]You are heroes, act like it; 5 of you vs 8 enemy are good odds, charge and be a hero. If you drop, someone else can be a hero saving you[/ul]
[ul]Move with purpose, armour is heavy; start slow, gain momentum, look imposing, hit like a tide of iron[/ul]
[ul]If it looks like The Marchers are about to crush an enemy flank, charge in too; claim any glory that is going[/ul]
[ul]LRP battles more often than not come down to confidence, not hit points and magic; balls/chest out, head held high and go for it[/ul]
[ul]Learn when it isn’t appropriate to be overly heroic…[/ul]

There are probably more things to add.

Find Petty Captain Walter Savage of Cabot’s Company and talk battlefield with him and you won’t go far wrong.

I do not claim to be the one true soloution so this is only my opinion and should be taken as such. If you like it do something with it. If you dont like it find something that works for you.

What to do with dawn
Dawn are heavy infantry in the main with some magical backup and very little in the way of missile troops. Let me say this once and quite clearly for troops with the restrictions of larp weapons and the predominance of one handed sword and shield PLEASE DO NOT PUT THEM IN SHIELD WALLS.
I’ll explain as best I can. Put a group of sword and shield users shoulder to shoulder shields touching and what do you get? A large mass of troops with very limited offence options. You are pretty much limited to an up and down swing over the shield. Firstly it’s not ideal as it means you’re striking at the head and upper body of the enemy (with head shots “legal but discouraged” not optimal) Secondly you run the risk of tangling the person next to you with your weapon or inadvertently hitting them. Thirdly when all you can hit is head and upper body and your only standard hero call with one hand is cleave it does nothing on a head hit and upper body everyone in the orc horde has the option of medium armour that stops cleave.
Shield walls and thrust safe weapons are better just look at ODC for proof of that. But this is not how the Dawnish seem to be armed.
Let’s look at formations similar to a wall like close order (a line where each member is arms length away from their neighbour on their weapon arm side) or open order (a line where the members can just touch their neighbours outstretched arm on either side).
Now you need to have at least a second rank behind for both of these but they work better than the wall.
I can hear some people saying “Boba there’s bloody great holes in the line the enemy will just run through them” but you go through the gap you’re getting hit on the way through and then engaged by the second rank and trapped between the two lines.
The other obvious advantage is that you have room to swing your weapon and target other areas. Most monsters will have protection to a body cleave but very few will have arm and leg protection take out a leg and they don’t advance much more. Take out an arm and it stops them from fighting entirely with a 2 hander or if using a shield and reduces their ability to fight otherwise.
Also by having gaps it becomes easy to bring in your specialist troops if you need a shatter or a strikedown and allows your mages and skirmish troops the opportunity to make quick sorties and drop back behind the main line. If you’re fighting with other nations with missile troops they have the protection of the front rank but space to shoot through.
Organisation wise split your troops into pairs each one looks out for the other one. Then build on that with a four man brick an eight man squad etc etc. You can do it by houses or whatever just have House Stark support house Arren and they both support the group made up of House Avengers and House X-Men.
I would personally send the crazy glory obsessed tin cans after the big bads. Got an ogre problem? Send in the Dawnish. Plaugewolf? Dawnish. Dragon? They’re already there trying to get the head to mount over the fireplace. And if they wind up dead they don’t care because it was a glorious death

Battlefield communication
Communication I would recommend a senate motion to create an imperial signals corps who’s brief is to be a multi nation command group. They are to have an easily recognisable uniform (militia sash or similar) and tasked with creating a set of universally recognised communications protocols.
I would suggest adapting modern military hand signs that can communicate silently and combine this with signal whistles horns drums and flags. Until such time as somebody comes up with a ritual to link the minds of the generals (phys rep with covert radio) then we have to fall back on the methods our forebears used.
Runners are good but have to be OOC fit and know in advance who the people in charge on the field are.
We need to work with each other and work like we are an army not a bunch of disparate groups that hate each other.
For example the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines have a fierce rivalry but put them in the same theatre of war and they devastate because they might not like each other but they are part of a greater whole and work as such.

As someone who plays an archer a lot sashes or distinctive marks to highlight runners or command are not a great idea as they would just scream target to me. Good way to get rid of a general you don’t like I guess…

Boba’s advice about all bunching into a “shield wall” and losing your personal combat options is absolutely on-the-money. Speaking even as the polearm user who stands in the second rank; there’s nowhere to go except the barbarian’s head and that’s next to useless.

Definitely agree on the ‘no shield wall’ approach as a Highguard, especially as our shields are allot less good for it.