Arylon Family/Mentor Handbook
- 1 Overview
- 2 Units
- 3 The Chain of Command
- 4 Unit Settings
- 5 Basic Combat Tactics
As a mentor, I am responsible for teaching my students the following lessons:
- Recruitment and maintainance of units
- The chain of command - realm hierarchy, general and ruler
- Basic combat tactics
- Unit settings
In other words, I am here to teach you how to be a good soldier, and so this page is dedicated to my students for exactly that purpose. However, I will also try to answer any other questions you might have, such as how taxes work or what other classes will be avaliable to you, so please do not hesitate to ask (using the in-game messaging system, of course!).
Obviously, the first order of business for a soldier is to acquire a unit to fight battles with. You probably already have a small unit of 20 to 25 men with decent equipment and a little training. You probably received this unit from your family (extra guards from the family manor I suppose). Eventually, however, you are going to need to recruit more men. There are five different kinds of units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Infantry - Basic melee unit (can only attack units in the same column of the battlefield).
- Archers - Basic ranged unit (can attack units in adjacent columns, but very weak defense).
- Cavalry - Very effective against other melee units, but weak defense against ranged units.
- Mixed Infantry - A ranged unit that is significantly more effective in melee than archers.
- Special Forces - A melee unit that is very effective against all other unit types.
You cannot combine unit types. It's either all or nothing. Therefore, it is important to understand how to use each type effectively so that they don't get slaughtered at the outset of every battle. But before we get to combat tactics and military strategy, lets first worry about how to acquire a unit and, once acquired, how to keep them happy and ready for battle.
If tactics and strategy did not play a role in the outcome of a battle, than the only statistic you would ever have to worry about is Combat Strength (usually acronymed "CS"). But tactics and strategy do play a role. It may be helpful to think of combat strength like the term "par" in golf. Just like "par" is what you should score if you don't make any mistakes (such as hitting the ball into a pond), combat strength is an estimate of how well your unit is capable of performing in battle assuming you don't make any mistakes (such as ordering a unit of archers to charge a cavalry unit). Let us now take a look at how to recruit the best unit for the money, and later we will discuss how to use that unit to the best of its ability.
You can only recruit a unit in your realm's capital (unless you are a hero, but that's another lesson entirely). Below is the information you will be given when you are deciding what unit to recruit. (Note: ranged units, namely Archers and Mixed Infantry, will also have a "range", which equals the number of columns their arrows can "arch" on the battlefield. Battlefield columns are discussed later.)
- Troop Name - This is not an important factor. If you don't like the name, you can change it.
- Type - You can select any unit type you wish, so long as you don't already have a unit. If you already have a unit, you can only recruit men of the same type as the unit you already have.
- Train - The higher the better; however, training will improve over time with combat experience and training exercises. It is one of the most important attributes that factor into combat strength, but since you can improve it after recruitment, it is okay to recruit unit slightly less well-trained as you would prefer in order to save a few gold. (I tend to recruit men with training between 45% and 55%)
- Equipment - The first number represents the quality of the unit's weapons (their offensive statistic), the second number represents the quality of the unit's armour (their defensive statistic). These numbers will not change over time (but if you are adding more men to an already existing unit, the equipment value per man will be averaged). Along with training, this is a very important attribute. (I tend to recruit men with at least 50% in both, preferably more like 65%).
- Home - The region from which the unit was drafted. This is not important unless you are a region lord or are otherwise responsible for the administration of the realm.
- Mor. - Morale is an important factor (and reflects the morale of the units home region) but this will change over time, and is fairly easy to improve once recruited.
- Avail. - The number of men avaliable from this recruitment center. Since you can only recruit from one center at a time, and each time you recruit it costs one hour of your time, this factor is only important if you are short on hours and need more men than are avaliable (unless, again, you are a region lord, etc.).
- Cost - The cost in gold is per 10 men (though you don't need to hire 10 men at a time). Cost does not factor into combat strength, but higher cost generally corelates with higher combat strength. The other reason cost is important is because when you are done recruiting the men, you want to make sure you will still have enough money to pay their salaries (so don't spend your life savings on men who will abandon you after a week because you can't pay them!).
It is true that with more men in your unit, the higher your units combat strength will be, but what many troop leaders don't realize is that with each man you add to a unit, the combat strength per man decreases. For example, let's say unit A has 15 men in it, and unit B has 50 men in it, but both units have the same training, equipment, morale, etc. Unit A may have as much as 25 CS/man, but unit B might only have 10 CS/man. The reason is that no matter how good a troop leader you are, it is easier to keep 15 men in order than it is to keep 50 in order. So don't worry too much about always having the largest unit you can get. Sometimes there are more important things to worry about.
In the beginning, there will be one more factor you should take into consideration, and that is your own personal honour. Recruitment centers will not allow you to have more men than your honour deems you worthy of leading. The maximum number of men you are capable of leading is therefore determined by your honour. As you prove yourself in combat, your honour will increase, and with it so will the willingness of the recruitment centeres to give you more men. Eventually, your honour will reach a point that they would be willing to give you more men than you would ever want to lead, and so it won't be a problem. But in the beginning, you will only be able to lead about 30 men at a time. But don't fret. I rarely bother with more than 40, and it is not uncommon for me to lead a unit of 20 really good men.
Once you have a unit, you can check on their stats by either clicking on your name or your units name (both located at the bottom of the screen). As you look at the unit's stats (in the right hand column) you will notice several statistics that were not present at the recruitment screen (including Combat Strength, which we have already discussed above, and will be discuss in greater detail later).
- Type - The unit type (as discussed above).
- Strength - The number of men in the unit. Your combat strength will never decrease as a result of adding more men, but with each man you add, the CS/man will decrease (unless the men you add are significantly better than the men you already have).
- Training - The average percent of training that each man has (also discussed above).
- Weapons/Armour - The quality of the unit's equipment (also discussed above).
- Equipment Damage - As your men engage in activities, any activities, such as traveling or training but most especially in combat, the equipment that your men used gets damaged. As the equipment gets damaged, the effectiveness of your unit decreases. Whats worse, as the equipment damage increase, so does the probability that some of your men will be injured (even if they aren't in combat). Equipment can be repaired in regions with repair centers, and sometimes after a battle you can salvage decent equipment from the dead.
- Morale - Morale will decrease as your men engage in activities they do not like to do, such as traveling far away from home, doing manual labour (i.e. civil work), or watching their friends die in battle. If morale becomes too low, not only will your combat strength decrease, but your men can abandon you, or even mutiny. Morale can be raised by allowing your men a few hours of free time, or by entertaining them in a city.
- Cohesion - Cohesion is how well the men in your unit get along with each other. Cohesion will raise as your men do things together, such as train or get drunk, but most especially as a result of fighting alongside each other. Unfortunately, you want high cohesion before you fight a battle, so it is not recommended that you rely entirely on battles to raise cohesion. In addition to improving combat effectiveness, higher cohesion results in decreased probability that your men will retreat from battle. Everytime someone in your unit dies, there is a chance your men will retreat, but high cohesion reduces that chance.
- Total Combat Strength - This is the statistic that matters most (though as I have already said, it is not the only thing that matters). Roughly, what it tells you is: if your unit were to battle another unit one-on-one and both you and the other troop leader were to lead your respectives units as they should be led (which almost never happens) than the unit with the highest total combat strength would be the unit to win the battle. The unit would not emerge unscathed, of course, but it would emerge victorious. This is not strictly true, as you will see in the tactics section of this lesson, but it is true in general.
- Designation - Unit designation is discussed below in the "Unit Settings" section of this lesson. For purposes of maintainence, the relevant factor is the amoung of pay the unit expects, and for information about that, see directly below.
- Last paid - Your men expect to get paid on a regular basis. If more than 5 days go by without being paid, your men begin to suffer a morale drop. If you don't pay your men in over a week, even if their morale is high, they might abandon you anyway. Paying your men will, of course, also cause a small increase in morale, but not if they've already abandoned you. Moreover, if your men abandon you because you didn't pay them, you will personally suffer a loss of honour.
Strictly speaking, that's all there is to it. But any experienced troop leader will tell we've only just begun. I haven't even mentioned paraphenalia yet, an intregal part of every unit. For now, just try to keep your men paid and happy. You can only pay your men in gold (not bonds, which you can only cash in cities belonging to your own realm) so try to carry around at least 25 to 50 gold and that should take care of their pay for a couple weeks (but don't carry around more than 100 gold because the tax collectors will do you the favour of sharing the burden of carrying around so many heavy coins). As for morale, every unit is different, so you are going to have to pay attention and figure out what it is that they like and dislike.
The Chain of Command
Every realm has two heirarchies: a feudal heirarchy and a military heirarchy. The feudal heirarchy is led by the ruler of the realm, whereas the military heirarchy is led by the realm's general. Most nobles belong in some way to both heirarchies. Every noble (except free and non-aligned nobles) has sworn alliegience to a particular region, which in turn is aligned to a particular duchy, which in turn is aligned to the realm as a whole. In most realms, the chain of command follows this same path. Free and non-aligned nobles report directly to the ruler and general.
- General - The general (often otherwise refered to as the Paladin Primus, High Marshall, or some other such title) is the noble responsible for determining the military strategy of the realm. He (or she) is usually also the realm's tactician, responsible for coordinating the efforts of the troop leaders on the battlefield. Most of the orders given to troop leaders will come from the general. The general works very closely with the ruler so that the military strategy and diplomatic strategy are not only consistent, but hopefully complimentary. Disobeying the orders of the general will often result in harsh penalties from the realm's judge.
- Marshall - The next position in the military heirarchy is the marshall. Every realm has one marshall for each duchy in the realm. Standing orders are provided by the marshall and, in the absense of the general, it is usually a marshall that will be in charge of military affairs. If your realm has more than one duchy, and therefore more than one marshall, than you report to the marshall assigned to your duchy (however, in the absense of the general, you should treat whichever marshall stands in as if he or she were the general). Disobeying the orders of your marshall will also usually result in a penalty from the judge, unless of course the marshall's orders conflict with the generals orders. The general's orders will always take priority over a marshall's orders.
- Region Lords - Technically, the next in line in the military heirarchy are the region lords, but their role in the military heirarchy is minimal. It is usually the duke or duchess that will fill in for a marshall if the duchy's marshall is temporarilly absent; however, should the position of marshall become vacant, the position is rarely filled by the duke or duchess. It is usually filled by a region lord, and usually from one of the regions belonging to the duchy. Until that time, except in exceptional circumstances, region lords will not give orders related to the military affairs of the realm.
- Ruler - The ruler (often otherwise refered to as the Pontifex, Queen or some other such title) is the noble in charge of leading the entire realm, but many of these responsibilities are overseen in greater detail by others under his (or her) charge, such as the general (for military affairs), the banker (for taxes and trading), the judge (for legal matters) and the dukes and duchesses (for the adminisration of regions). Diplomacy, however, almost entirely depends on the ruler. Given the sovereignty of the position, many realms consider disobeying the orders of the ruler to be akin to treason; however, since most of the concerns of the ruler are non-military, the orders of the ruler do not often go to troop leaders but rather to region lords and other nobles in administrative roles.
- Duke (or Duchess) - The next in line in the feudal heirarchy are the dukes and duchesses of the realm. There is one duke (or duchess) for each duchy (a city and its neighboring regions). They are responsible for overseeing the general good and welfare of those regions and thus spend a great deal of their time coordinating their efforts with the various lords of the regions that belong to their duchy. Disobeying the orders of the duke or duchess of the duchy you are aligned with will carry serious consequences, but such orders will be very rare and, like marshalls, you only have to answer to the duke or duchess of your duchy, no other (though it is generally considered both unwise and impolite to ignore your superiors, even if they aren't directly in your chain of command).
- Region Lords - The next in line in the feudal heirarchy is, again, region lords. Orders to troop leaders from rulers and dukes will be rare because most of their orders will go directly to the region lords. Region lords are as much the backbone of regional administration as troop leaders are the backbone of military affairs. Region lords will sometimes appeal to troop leaders for assistance, but usually their concerns are limited to the abilities of bureaucrats and traders, not soldiers.
Unit settings are part of the paperwork page. Most of what is involved with combat tactics comes down to unit settings, and so generals will usually issue orders that include the unit settings they feel are ideal for whatever it is they are ordering you to do. These orders are not polite suggestions. When troop leaders do not work in concert, everyone dies. Even if your general is an idiot, it is better to have all the troop leaders work together than have everyone running around the battlefield like headless chickens. The 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 options for each setting are described below,
Conduct determines how your unit behaves once its on the battlefield (and to some degree whether or not there is a battle at all).
- Evasive - drastically increases the chance to evade combat with enemy units.
- Defensive - only engages enemy units if they engage you.
- Normal - initiates combat with any enemy units in the region (and sometimes neutral units).
- Aggressive - engages all enemy and neutral units (and sometimes even allies).
- Murderous - will attack anyone in the region, possibly even realm-mates and peasants.
Evasive is commonly used while trying to return home after having your unit "wiped out" in enemy territory. The remnants of your unit will still engage enemy troops unless you tell them not to. On the other end of the spectrum, murderous is almost never used. I have never once seen a general order his troop leaders to murderous, and with good reason.
When set to the other three options, whether or not there is combat is largely determined by diplomatic relations, and the effect of the units conduct is mostly limited to their conduct on the battlefield. On the South-East and South-West islands, diplomatic relations are easy to understand because everyone is at war with everyone else. But on other continents, diplomatics relations can be very complex. Even some of the oldest and wisest nobles are occasionally surprised at the causes and effects of diplomatic relations.
Anyway, units set to aggressive are more likely to advance (even into a wall of spears), whereas units set to defensive are more likely to hold their ground (even under a hail storm of arrows). Normal is normal.
Designation is easy to understand, but hard to explain. The simpliest way is to say that while unit "type" determines in what fashion the unit is trained to fight, unit "designation" determines under what circumstances the unit expects to use their training. Again, that's not strictly the case, but nothing ever is.
- Regular Army - Standard designation. If you don't know what to do, set your unit to regular army.
- Sentry - slightly higher combat strength than regular army, but slower travel times and 20% more expensive.
- Police - Diminished combat strength, but not as averse to civil or police work (the only designation avaliable to bureaucrats).
- Vanguard - Faster travel times than regular army, but slightly lower combat strength and 20% more expansive.
- Mercenary - Higher morale, but 50% more expensive than regular army (the only designation avaliable to traders).
Sentry is generally reserved for units you intend to "drop" as militia. When you drop militia, their unit settings remain what they were before you dropped them, but once you drop them, you can't take them back or make changes to their settings. You don't have to pay them either (except for their last paycheck) because the realm is now responsible for their maintainence.
Mercenaries are generally used for expeditious campaigns because they don't lose morale when away from home. Vanguard for similar circumstances because they travel fast. And, as a soldier, let's hope you never have to designate your men as police.
The battlefield is divided into 11 columns (numbered 1 thru 11 from left to right). The attacking army starts on the left, the defending army on the rght. If the region has fortifications, then the 5 columes on the right will be colored gray and represent the area of the battlefield behind the fortifications. Which column your unit will begin in will depend on your field position.
- Front - If you are attacking, you will start in column 5. If defending, column 7.
- Middle - If you are attacking, you will start in column 4. If defending, column 8.
- Back - If you are attacking, you will start in column 3. If defending, column 9.
- Rearguard - If you are attacking, you will start in column 2. If 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 seige engines. Ranged units will only "advance" from toward the enemy if there are no enemy units within their range.
The last of the unit settings, unit formations are probably the least understood despite its being one the most critical elements of combat tactics.
- Line - Normal defense and attack against both ranged and melee units.
- Box - Improved defense against melee units, but decreased defense against ranged units.
- Wedge - Improved attack against melee units, but decreased defense against melee units.
- Skirmish - Improved defense against ranged units, but decreased defense against melee units.
I said earlier in this lesson that if your unit faced off alone against a single enemy unit, the result would be determined largely by combat strength, but I also said that that wasn't strictly true. I was refering to Unit Formations. Field Position determines where your unit begins, Conduct determines when your unit advances, and Unit Type determines what your men use in to fight with (swords and shields or bows and arrows), but Unit Formations determines the actual tactics your men employ once they are face to face with the enemy. An 200 CS archer unit can wipe out a 300 CS cavalry unit if both units are set to box formation, because every arrow will strike a rider whereas the riders will have to hack their way through the archers one body at a time.
Learn the unit formations. I am not kidding. Nobody ever does, and it is probably the most important unit setting of all. It is true that the larger the opposing armies are, the more important the other settings become, but unit formations are always important, and they are rarely understood correctly. Everyone knows that archers should be behind the cavalry by the time the enemy infantry arrive, but very few people understand what the units should do once they met each other on the battlefield. Those few people are called generals.
Basic Combat Tactics
By now you should already have a good idea of what is going to be important to combat tactics. But remember, combat tactics and military strategy are not the same thing. It is one thing to win a battle; quite another to win a war. It is not my responsibility to teach you strategy, and it is not your responsibility to know it. The general, along with his military council, will determine that. It is your job to fight (and win) the battles they tell you to fight. For the most part, combat tactics will be dictated by the general as well, but you should be familiar with the basics because you may find yourself engaged in more battles than your general anticipated. So, here are the basics,