Skirmishes - Dos and Don'ts

Skirimishes can be a little bit harder at Empire than battles and with less margin for error. So what advice would you give to people on their first time out or people looking to raise their game a bit?

And what questions do new people have about surviving skirmishes at Empire?

  1. do NOT agree to a skirmish after dark - the skirmish crew will have been sitting out in the dark until their eyes acclimate, while you will still be half-blind for a few minutes.
  2. do NOT join a skirmish which is missing members - if they say 30 people can go through the gate, it’s balanced for 30 and your squad of 10 will not be okay.
  3. NEVER send groups of the same archetype through at the same time - if you send your mages and skirmishers first, you will discover that you were only allowed half as many people as you thought and the gate will stop the tanks (plate-wearing warriors) and healers at the back from joining you.
  4. respect the weapon and armour requirements, even if the commander needs something you do not have - you do not want to be the fool in light armour when the heralds of Siakha arrive.

Keep your eyes peeled. Don’t over focus on what’s in front of you as it is extremely easy to get ambushed.

Know what the mission is. Don’t assume the mission is to kill things. And don’t assume that the person who looks to be leading it knows what the objective is. Ask and then make sure the information is disseminated to EVERYONE

Know when to cut and run. If you over commit yourselves then you stand a good chance of being cut off and killed. A hero’s death is all well and good, but not if it gets other people killed, achieves nothing, and most importantly, if noone is left alive to sing about it.

Sing about your successes! Tell your friends. Speak of what went down, heap praise on those who deserve it. Skirmishes can be tense as hell. Celebrate when they go well.


Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you know what the objective is?
  2. Do you know who is in charge, and are you confident in their leadership?
  3. Do you know what sort of opposition you are likely to encounter?
  4. Are you prepared for short but intense periods of running/fighting/both?
  5. Do you know the people around you, and vice versa?
  6. Are you carrying spare potions/weapons/mana crystals etc?
  7. Have you been to the loo first?

If all of them are YES!, then you’re good to go :slight_smile:

Otherwise, be prepared for problems.

And to forestall one question that new folk may ask: no, the refs and monster crew will NOT adjust the difficulty of a skirmish (or battle, for that matter), depending on the players and characters on it. It’s possible to be overpowered for a skirmish, and it’s all to easy to be underpowered for one.


Over the last 6 years or so (I feel old) I have had the pleasure of taking part in and leading somewhere into the 100’s of skirmishes. Both as battlefield runner, scout, and later commander through the Iron Raptors and Navarr – skirmishes are probably the best part of the game. This is involved everything from retrieving dead empresses bones, stealth scouting, securing carts of white granite, targeted kills, to retrieving artefacts or some highly questionable diplomacy. Great fun!!

My top tips would be:

Teamwork and co-ordination are they cornerstone of victory . If you have a good team who know what the objective is, are properly prepared, and understand to support each other – it wins 9 out of 10 skirmishes. So if you fancy joining – find out who is leading a given skirmish and ask what the objective is, and talk with the other members of the team. What does everyone bring to the fight? Can you heal? Fight?

Don’t rush the gate . This is a real pet annoyance of mine both IC and OC. Whilst everyone wants to get on a skirmish, rushing the gate last minute to get on – never works out well. At best you annoy the hell out of a the fighters (not IC wise), at worst you are the reason that the ritual team/ healing team are not there. Death is near certainty. So if you want to join a skirmish – find out who is leading it ahead of time!

Know what your objective is. Similar to the above you would be surprised at the number of times people have joined a last minute put together skirmish (or rushed the gate) without having any idea what they are doing on it. This leads to hilarious results of either characters joining hard fights without weapons/armour, or more commonly a five/ten minute period in the skirmish whilst the team discuss what the hell is the objective. If your opposing skirmish are waiting for you… it doesn’t end well. That said if you are properly aware, prepared and know what the timings are you can literally run a thirty minute in skirmish in nine minutes.

Pair up. Find someone who can cover your back, and you them. It counts for a lot if you are caught out, and really helps a skirmish commander to know in a moment how many people are still alive/injured etc.

Dress for the occasion. Simple put if it is a scouting stealth mission, you probably don’t want to wear your super loud jangling scale armour. Or insist on playing a fiddle whilst you go through the gate for a night skirmish… Dress for the skirmish, ideally asking around where it is going and what you might be fighting. So you are fighting Vallorn? You might want to pack some blade venoms, and grab some anti-venom. Fighting heavy infantry with shields? Consider polearms or archers (light permitting).

Violence isnt always the answer. Sometimes you are there to talk, do that awesome magic… or it’s ambiguous. Charging in without regard for what is going on normally isn’t the best idea.

EJECT! If its gone to hell/heresy, there is no shame in withdrawing at speed. Just check that the majority of your party are doing the same thing – or enjoy the RP of being branded a coward.


I don’t fight myself, but from sitting on the sidelines I can definitely agree with this. If it’s a peculiar one, then try to find out (or encourage others to find out) as much about what to expect before going through. A few seasons back, there was an IC rush to get a skirmish done, and nobody did the proper research into the dodgy thing they had been told would be there. It didn’t end well…

1 Like

Get a mage to interpret the sentinel gate.
Find out where the portal opens to, what is the limit through the portal and when does it close.

Does the information above tally with where your mission brief says you are going?

Once youre through identify a rally point to return to if things go wrong

Have a hard limit of how long before you will stay on the other side before going back to the portal. Leave enough time to get there under less than ideal conditions.

Equipment to task personnel to task
Heavilly armed fighters wont be best on a stealth mission. Do you need specific kit to for example combat a fear aura.

If mmorpg have taught us anything a group of people who normally work together will fare better than random people

1 Like

Echoing a lot of what people have already said above; I play Marisa Alfero Di Sarvos, hospital clerk, and if an exasperated looking Leaguer with a clipboard has ever pounced on you before a skirmish and asked a lot of questions that’s me!

Generally (caveat: I don’t yet have actual data, but Im going to try and compile some over the next year) I’ve found that the skirmishes with the highest success rate are those where:

  • The number of people assembled matches the conjuction limit; if you take 10 people on a 30-person mission, You Will Probably Die

  • Almost every person I ask can tell me where they’re going, what the objective is, how long the conjunction is, which enemy they’re facing (if relevant) and what threats they’ve prepared for

  • Almost every person I ask can tell me who is in charge (so they know whose orders to listen to) and point to a healer

  • Known threats have been prepared for both on the team (bringing people with useful skills, taking herbs, arranging Annointings etc) and in Anvil (generally, forewarning the Hospital as to what you expect)

Shameless plug: come talk to me. I know things - sometimes they’re even useful things - and have the mage skills to find other things out if you need me to :slight_smile:

1 Like

Do we not get people together before hand and do a skirmish mission brief?

My advice as a member of the Battle Team:

  • Enjoy them regardless of the outcome
  • Prepare as best you can
  • Understand what the opportunity is about and why it might be necessary to go, or not…
  • Accept that it might not be a prosperous trip
  • Accept that you might die

It is also important to understand what we are not running. A few people have commented on this above. These missions are rarely just kill orcs, there is much more to attempt - rescues, rituals, distractions, scouting and so on. Getting stuck focusing on the wrong thing can lose you the mission. Most skirmishes are previewed in the Winds of Fortune before an event - so read up if you can and choose things you want to get involved in.

We aim to create exciting and challenging experiences in skirmishes. Sometimes they are tough or will require planning to attempt without risk, but that is part of the game we are wanting to deliver. Importantly, the Skirmish Team is there to make these experiences fun and engaging for you, and they will ensure that you can roleplay just as much in the heat of a fight as you can in the Senate, Synod or Military Council.

We don’t have “kill counts” or aim to “murder everyone”, but we do want to make skirmishes something more than “you enter the dungeon and there are 4 half-asleep goblins and a treasure chest” adventures. They are not always “hard” but need teamwork, determination and thought to get results. It is also worth mentioning that you, the Heroes, are often unlikely to benefit from a success. The military missions are focused on securing strategic advantages or preventing calamities that might befall an army, Imperial citizens or entire regions of the Empire.


I’m new to Empire but surely there should be some form of propper planning these things from the players pov. We should have a skirmish general? Or do we already? Do we have a core of skirmish players much like each nation has EMUs?

Our intention is that as much of the skirmish game is as open as possible. Some skirmishes will be of obvious interest to certain nations, and not others. But we are keen that we don’t want to create another Military Council structure to aim them at and have players work through that function. Having players working in a nation to help plan them is great; but again, I don’t think we need dedicated contacts with Imperial positions for this.

I think each nation will have lots of players eager to help, but finding them and working out who can do what is part of the fun of the game.

1 Like

Sometimes there is a brief, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes the leader knows what they’re doing, sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes you return as glorious heroes, sometimes… You get the idea.

Like everything in empire it is possible to “do it badly”. As a sand box game you have the opportunity to succeed, but also the opportunity to fail spectacularly. Its the main reason several people have mentioned knowing who’s leading the skirmish. :wink:


It can vary between nations. In Wintermark we have had assigned people who will track skirmishes and help to coordinate the efforts. This is very much something that is down to the players to sort out as it can create game for people. Major skirmishes will generally be advertised before the event, so if you are interested then it would be worth asking around within your nation once you hit the field. If no-one knows anything, and you are able to obtain the information, then that is an awesome way to become Useful, Important and Popular. :slight_smile:

The successful ones do.

You are talking about several hundred players, of which the objectives and type of skirmish possibility may only be of interest to 20 of them. There could be a skirmish going out every 30 mins for most of the afternoon and evening, with one of interest to Urizeni stargazers, the next one needing prosperity priests, and the next needing sneaky sorts etc.

Some nations have people who have chosen to organise the ones that affect their nation, but the ones that may be of interest to mixed nation groups may not have an obvious organiser unless someone decides to do it.

If you want to be that person please do so, you will be saving imperial lives!

There is generally a Wind of Fortune before the event with details of what skirmishes are likely to be available, at what time.

There’s a fair few on Friday evening.

This can mean that you and your friends rock up at the gate to do that skirmish you thought looks fun, to find yourself in an argument with those other guys from nation X who feel that it is relevant to their interests, and those guys from nation Y who feel that they should go because it’s their national skirmish, and the guys from nation Z who’ve been bumped off the last two skirmishes and are waiting for their turn dammit, and the guys from nation Q who are a unified and organised group who feel that THEY should do this skirmish because they have the best chance of success, what’s it about again?

And if a compromise is found whereby the first 5 people from each of the above groups goes, then you have 5 mini-groups of 5 on a skirmish that may need a united bunch of 25 to succeed… and success chance plummets…

Sorting this out is a matter for field discussion, alas. Which can lead to desperately trying to find out which groups are planning on going on which skirmishes, and organising who actually goes, and who’s “in reserve”…

It’s be a hell of a role to play, for someone with a fast feet and a notebook…


How about a huge blackboard with the skirmishes down one side and across the top the numbers of players needed. Goal. Specialists required aka priests and magicians healers etc…almost like a Ye olde betting board

Then someone becomes the skirmish “handler” someone to balance the groups for the good of collective.

It’s so worth pointing out that in addition to the pre-advertised skirmishes in the Winds of Fortune, there might be other skirmishes which are only known to a limited number of players - perhaps due to an ongoing plot. For various reasons these players may wish to be fairly circumspect about who knows about the opportunity! So Do understand that there might be skirmishes people don’t want to tell you all about up front.

I also think it’s important to distinguish between “conjunction of the Sentinel Gate” and “skirmish”. There are numerous encounters accessed through the Gate, not all of which are in the fields/woods (some are in Encounter Tents). Knowing where you’re going and why usually gives a good clue as to what sort of encounter will be on the other side. Even an encounter in the woods needn’t be anything to do with fighting (I ran at least 3 such encounters last year!). So Do find out Where and Why you’re going.

Don’t forget the War Scout - an NPC who will mostly be camped at the Sentinel Gate. They can often provide context for the more well-known skirmishes, so Do ask them if they have any information. If anything’s ever unclear, Do trace the information back to its source - it’s very easy for important context or objectives to slip away as the message is passed on repeatedly - I’ve definitely seen that happen.

Do bring a magician with you - they can easily divine how long is left on the conjunction. Don’t run out of time! Not only is this potentially risky, but it can throw the skirmish schedule out of whack.

Finally, Do remember that it’s not all about winning or losing - it’s about having fun. Skirmishes are an experience like any other - enjoy them, and remember that they have been written, run and monstered by people who are there to give you fun and have fun themselves. Roleplay the heck out of skirmishes.


And there’s your tripping point - who decides what’s good? :wink:

Empire is a political PvP game. Competing priorities is a huge part of what drives things, intentionally. As tehancocks says above, skirmishes aren’t just about numbers. People will have all sorts of good, in-character reasons for wanting to go on them, whether it be to help out their nation, bolster their reputation, counter a threat to their home, avenge their fallen kin. No one has the authority** to say, ‘No, you’re not going, they’re going because I believe they have a better chance of succeeding.’

** Worth noting, this applies to battles, too. No one, not even the generals or the field marshals, has the legal authority to command obedience from Imperial citizens taking the battlefield. There can be all sorts of messy consequences for disobeying/ignoring such orders (damage to reputation, people trying to pick a fight/assassinate you because they blame you for the subsequent massacre, getting hauled up in front of an inquisition for lack of loyalty, just as some examples), but none of them come directly from the act of disobeyance.