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There are three basic parameters that define how your unit will act in a battle: Behaviour, designation and deployment. You can change any of the above from the "Paperwork" menu.
You have five options for settings your unit's behaviour:
- murderous: When set to murderous, your unit will have the same behaviour as 'aggressive' concerning its movement in the battlefield, but it 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.
- aggressive: Your men come mean and hostile to all those who are not at peace or allied with your realm, oftern this will result in battles with nuetral soldiers. (Unconfirmed) On the battlefield your unit will strive to break through battle lines aggressively.
- normal: The unit will function as normal, obeying the diplomacy set for the land. On the battlefield, they will move forward at a normal pace to engage hostile units.
- defensive: Sames as normal when determining whether to attack or not. On the battlefield defensive units will not be as likely to move forward unless the enemy units are far away. As well units set on defensive behind fortifications or dug-in will not move forward, preferring the safety and cover from arrow fire.
- evasive: A unit set on evasive will try to avoid combat or from being spotted, however the unit is likely to suffer moraly for skulking around especially when done for a long duration. The larger the unit the greater the chance of getting spotted, it's not easy to hide copius amounts of men.
These settings can be changed within a day of paying the unit.
- sentry: This is a defensive designation. 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. While this increases their overall combat strength it also requires 20% 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.
- regular: Self explanatory.
- vanguard: These units make excellent scouts or fast raiding parties, men designated as vanguards lighten their burdens by opting to not bring redundant or excessive equipment, thus they seek out lighter superior quality replacements. This gives them the advantage of moving quicker, even in enemy territory. But for all their additional efforts and speed, it costs 20% more gold than regular troops.
- mercenary: Oh yes the mercenaries, hired men to fight your war, with no loyalty to you or your realm beyond their pay. Their morale stays high well far away, it is amazing how 50% more gold than regular forces can affect one's morale.
- police: Military police. 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. However, police units do not perform well in combat; they are not equipped for it, and it makes them very unhappy. Don't set this if you have honour less than 9(FIXME what is real limit FIXME), as you won't be able to do police work anyway.
- Line: Your men will deploy in a wide line, usually 2-3 ranks deep depending on their number. This is the default setting.
- Box: A tighter formation with more ranks. Box formations can take a cavalry charge with less casualties and disorder, and will generally withstand more casualties before panic strikes. They are, however, slightly less effective in offense in return.
- Wedge: 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.
- Skirmish: Deploying your men widely, in a loose formation with considerable distance between them makes them less prone to 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. Also, it is believed that skirmish settings might sometimes increase the damage done by archers set to skirmish.
There are no strict guidelines when it comes to unit settings. The General of your realm or your battlegroup leader will usually include the settings in his orders. There are though a few things which can be helpful, and some that are to be avoided.
- Order in the battlefield. There have been battles in which more than 200 units (therefore characters) met eachother. Immagine 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 urge. 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.
- 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 it preferable to have your archers set 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.
- 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, thinning the enemy down before fighting. This formation doesnt work so well against cavalry though.