Unit Settings

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Unit settings are part of the orders page. Most of what is involved with combat tactics comes down to unit settings, and so marshals will usually issue orders that include the unit settings they feel are ideal for whatever it is they are ordering you to do. There are four "settings" each with 4 or 5 options (though you are rarely ordered a "designation" since it is assumed you are set to "regular army"). The Unit settings can also be viewed on the bottom right hand corner of the scren, e.g. [1 A B]. The number indicates the field position, the first letter is the unit conduct and the final letter is the unit formation.

Conduct

Conduct help determine whether or not there is a battle and how your unit behaves once on the battlefield. You have five options for settings your unit's conduct: evasive, defensive, normal, aggressive and murderous.

Contact

Whether there is contact and then a battle is determined by diplomatic relations and each unit's conduct. Even some of the oldest and wisest nobles are occasionally surprised at the causes and effects of diplomatic relations. Conduct affects the likelihood of battle as follows:

  • evasive: A unit set on evasive will try to avoid combat or being spotted, however the unit is likely to suffer morale penalties for skulking around, especially for long a long period of time. The larger the unit the greater the chance of getting spotted; it's not easy to hide copious numbers of men.
  • defensive or normal: Combat is largely determined by diplomatic relations, and the effect of the units conduct is mostly limited to their conduct on the battlefield.
  • aggressive: Aggressive units come to battle mean and hostile to all those who are not at peace or allied with your realm; often this will result in battles with neutral soldiers.
  • murderous: When set to murderous, your unit will engage troops from friendly and even allied realms as if they were enemies. It not a commonly used option and it may cause diplomatic problems, so make sure you know what you're doing before using it.

Battlefield Behaviour

Once on the battlefield, the unit's conduct will also determine their behaviour.

  • evasive: Evasive units will try to avoid combat and may be routed easily.
  • defensive: On the battlefield, defensive units will not be as likely to move forward unless the enemy units are far away and are more likely to hold their ground (even under a hail storm of arrows). As well units set on defensive behind fortifications or dug-in will usually not move forward, preferring the available safety and cover from arrow fire.
  • normal: On the battlefield, they will move forward at a normal pace to engage hostile units.
  • aggressive or murderous: On the battlefield your unit will strive to break through battle lines aggressively and are more likely to advance (even into a wall of spears).

Unit Designation

Unit Designation determines under what circumstances the unit expects to use their training. It can be changed during the day on which you pay your unit.

You can only change these settings once per day, and not on the same day you recruit a unit.

Regular Army

Your troops will start out set as Regular Army. You will use this setting most often. A Regular Army unit has balanced defensive and offensive abilities, which can also be enhanced by the Unit Settings (above).

Sentry

This is a defensive designation and is helpful for alerting you to enemies in the region. Your men find ways to make themselves more hardy in combat using their knowledge of the lay of the land, creating additional makeshift armour and other things. This increases their defending combat strength by 10% and also requires 20% more gold to pay them, and additional time is required to move from region to region. They also suffer a morale loss when outside of their realm due to uncertain knowledge of outside lands.

This unit designation is most applicable when you will remain in one region for some time, such as while on a tournament.

Vanguard

Vanguard units move faster than other army types, but are not allowed to dig in.

These units make excellent scouts or fast raiding parties, and Units of over 40 men may often arrive a turn earlier if they are set as Vanguard. Units designated as vanguards lighten their burdens by opting not to bring redundant or excessive equipment, seeking out lighter superior quality replacements. This gives them the advantage of moving quicker. But for all their additional efforts and speed, they require 20% more gold than regular troops.

Mercenary

Mercenaries are men hired to fight your war, with no loyalty to you or your realm beyond their pay. Their morale stays high while far from home, but 50% more expensive than regular army (this is the only designation available to traders).

When pursuing your Leader's agenda far from home, a Regular Army will get homesick before the week is out. Their Morale will suffer. When Morale is less than 50%, it can be a real problem. Combat Strength goes down, as does Cohesion. Morale can usually be salved with gold as a Regular Army will get a boost from regular payment. If, however, you discern that this will be a problem again, sooner than would be convenient, the Mercenary setting may be your choice. No morale concerns, so Combat Strength stays high, and your Unit is more effective in battle.

Police

Police can search for rebels, raising Loyalty and Morale in a region, as well as hunt for infiltrators committing crimes in that region (to prevent an Infiltrator's deeds, your troops must find him beforehand). This is the only option for Bureaucrats.

A troop leader with a Police Unit can perform Police Work in the region they are in and arrest locals suspected of supporting the independence movement. You can not perform police work if you have less than 15 honor. Be aware that Police Units do not perform well in combat; if they are involved in battles they will suffer morale penalties during battle that will most likely result in significant Morale loss after battles.

Formation

Formation is the type of line your men deploy into once they are face to face with the enemy.

  • Line: Deploy in a wide line, usually 2-3 ranks deep depending on their number. This is the default setting.
    • Normal melee attack
    • Normal ranged attack
    • Normal melee defense
    • Normal ranged defense
  • Box: Deploy in a tight, box-shaped formation with more ranks. Box formations suffer fewer casualties and less disorder from a cavalry charge, and will generally withstand more casualties before panic strikes. The tightness of the formation makes them more vulnerable to archer fire. Due to a narrower front, they are less effective in offense.
    • Low melee attack
    • Normal ranged attack
    • High melee defense
    • Low ranged defense
  • Wedge: Deploy in a V formation, with sharp end of the V pointed at the enemy. A wedge formation will allow the unit to break into enemy ranks easier, doing more damage than other formations do. However, the unit is also easier to break up and will likely suffer more casualties itself.
    • High melee attack
    • Normal ranged attack
    • Low melee defense
    • Low ranged defense
  • Skirmish: Deploy widely, in a loose formation with considerable distance between the men. This makes them less prone to casualties from archer fire and other ranged attacks. However, a skirmish formation is not well suited for close combat and a skirmish unit engaged in melee will take horrible casualties.
    • Low melee attack
    • Normal ranged attack
    • Low melee defense
    • High ranged defense

Field Position

The battlefield is divided into 11 columns, numbered 1 through 11 from left to right. The attacking army starts on the left, the defending army on the right. If the region has fortifications, then the 5 columns on the right are be colored gray and represent the area of the battlefield behind the fortifications. Units start a battle in column depending upon their field position setting.

  • Front - When attacking, start in column 5. When defending, column 7.
  • Middle - When attacking, start in column 4. When defending, column 8.
  • Back - When attacking, start in column 3. When defending, column 9.
  • Rearguard - When attacking, start in column 2. When defending, column 10.

Therefore, columns 1, 6 and 11 are always empty at the beginning of a battle, but they may become occupied as the battle progresses. If the defending units are dug in or are behind fortifications, it is not likely that they will advance from column 7 to column 6 until all the attacking melee units are disabled (i.e. wounded, retreated, etc.). If the region has fortifications, it is very difficult for the attacking units to advance from column 6 to column 7 without siege engines. Ranged units will only advance toward the enemy if there are no enemy units within their range.

Withdrawal

New to the paperwork section is the setting of a "withdraw after suffering x% casualties" setting. This is the value where your men will be ordered to retreat. They might still retreat on their own due to fear, panic, low morale and other factors. These factors are totally independent of the value you enter here. The only effect this value has is that if your unit suffers more than this amount of casualties, a retreat will be ordered.

Every combat turn, units check if they want to retreat. This depends on morale, cohesion, casualties and many other factors. The unit retreats in the round after the casualty rating has been exceeded. Since it doesn't retreat during the round, the unit could suffer far more casualties than it's casualty rating. For example, if the entire unit gets wiped out in a single round, it never retreats, because it never has the chance.

Example

A 100-men unit with a 60% setting suffers 30 casualties in the first round, 25 in the second and 40 in the 3rd.

  • The unit will not retreat due to its casualty rating until the third round (60% casualties reached) with 95% casualties (30 + 25 + 40).
  • Depending on morale, cohesion, and other factors, it is possible that the unit would retreat or panic in the 2nd round with 55% casualties, or even, with very low morale and cohesion, in the 1st round, with 30% casualties.
  • Prior to this change the unit might have fought on into a 4th round.

Hints and Tips

There are no strict guidelines when it comes to unit settings. The Marshal of your army may include the settings in his orders. There are, however, a few things which can be helpful, and some which should be avoided.

  • Order in the battlefield. There have been battles in which more than 200 units (therefore characters) met each other. Imagine what would happen if everyone was using different settings. To win a battle and minimize casualties everyone will have to agree on what settings will be used. The larger the battle, the greater the need. You don't want to have half of your infantry charge to the enemy, while the rest is watching the massacre from the back lines eating popcorn. And not all archers are as good as Legolas in close combat, so you might want to keep them shooting from the back.
  • Strategic Disorder. On the other hand, if you have someone organising the battle, like a Marshal or General, it might make sense to not have everyone have the same setting. All cavalry on the same row will only produce Overkill. Staggering the cavalry in two waves can have a much more dramatic impact.
  • Avoid setting archers to aggressive. If archers don't have enough infantry in front of them to protect them then they might panic and flee from the battle. They will also desert the battlefield if the suffer too many close combat hits. Therefore, it is preferable to have your archers deployed behind the infantry lines, set to either normal or defensive.
  • Walls? Defensive!. If you have the advantage of fortification, then you will want to set your unit to defensive. Walls reduce the hits inflicted by both archers and close combat units. And setting your unit too aggressively might cause them to leave the protection of the walls.
  • Unsure about what to do? Then set archers to defensive back, and infantry to aggressive rearguard. The archers will fire until threatened, and pull back. The infantry come into combat as late as possible, the enemy having been thinned by archer fire before closing to melee. This formation doesn't work so well against cavalry though.