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 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. 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 realm. 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 available safety and cover from arrow fire.
- 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.
Unit Designation can be changed during the day after you pay your unit. When you have only enough gold to pay them one more time, chose a Designation that will allow you to get the most out of them.
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).
This is a defensive designation and is helpful for alerting you to enemies in the region. You would chose this for two reasons:
- If you will be gone for several turns, this would give your men the best defense, plus warning of enemies nearby.
- If you are going to disband your troops and place them in a region of your Realm as local militia.
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% 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.
Vanguard units move faster than other army types, but are not allowed to dig in. They may be more susceptible to surprise attack. 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, even in enemy territory. But for all their additional efforts and speed, they require 20% more gold than regular troops.
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 while far from home; it's amazing how 50% more gold can affect one's morale. 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.
Military 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). 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 use this option if you have honour less than 15, as you won't have the option 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 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. Also, it is believed that setting archers to skirmish sometimes increases the damage they do.
New to the paperwork section (currently only on testing islands) is the setting of a "withdraw after suffering x% casualties" setting.
How It Works
Every combat turn, units check if they want to retreat. This depends on morale, cohesion, casualties and many other factors. Now it also depends on whether or not the casualty rating has been reached.
This does not mean the unit will retreat at this exact point! If the entire unit gets wiped out in a single round, then it is wiped out.
A 100-men unit with a 60% setting suffers 30 casualties in the first round, 25 in the second and 40 in the 3rd.
- It'll retreat in the third (60% casualties reached) with 30+25+40=95% casualties.
- Depending on morale, cohesion, etc. it's also possible that it retreats or panics in the 2nd round with 55% casualties, or (low morale/cohesion) even in the 1st with 30% casualties.
The only change is that prior to this change it might have fought on into a 4th round.
Even if you set the casualty rate very low (say, 25%), the example unit would've retreated in the 1st round with 30% casualties.
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, 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.