Arylon Family/Marshal Handbook

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The Marshal is in command of a part of the realm's army. Each Army is entitled to have a Marshal designated by the sponsor. Knights are dispatched by their liege to serve in whatever army pleases their lord at the time, to serve under the command of the marshal.

The Marshal has the option to take command of his army during battle. Depending on his leadership skills, this can be a good thing, or devastating in combat. The Marshal should be chosen carefully. As the Marshal of the army of your duchy, you regularly meet the command staff in the planning tent, where you can review and change your settings for the next battles. Note that these settings will only go into effect if you take command in the battle, which depends on your Leadership skill, forces present and a few other factors, including a bit of luck.

A Marshal has the ability to assess his army, by viewing their current status. This provides information such as how ready they are, their combat strength, their unit size, and where they are. Readiness is a rough estimate of how much more combat the unit can take before suffering serious consequences. It takes into account morale, Equipment Damage, cohesion and how many of the men are wounded.

A Marshal also has the ability to specify command staff settings. This allows him to specify line settings for all units on their side of a battle. This includes all nobles from your realm present at the battle, as well as nobles from allied realms. Offensive settings include "Infantry Charge", "Cavalry Charge", "Archer Opening", "Waves", "Soften and Charge", or leave it unspecified. Defensive settings include "Fortification Deploy", "Infantry Wall Deploy", or leave it unspecified. When the Marshal's Leadership increases more options become available, such as "Mixed Lines" and "Delay and Wound". There are still more for further skilled marshals...

Marshals can also issue a standing order. A standing order is simply a short text that all troop leaders in their army will see as the first message in their list whenever they read their messages. In other words: it saves the trouble of repeating the same order again and again.

Combat Strength(CS)

Combat Strength, or CS, is a numerical representation of the strength of your unit. The five direct factors that effect it are:

  • Training % (how experienced your men are)
  • Weapons/Armour % (how high quality your weapons and armour are)
  • Equipment damage
  • Morale (how happy your men are)
  • Cohesion (how well your men know each other)

If you have high weapons/armour values, high training, high morale, high cohesion and low damage, your unit is at optimum fighting strength. All of these values affect your 'Combat Strength'.


Training is good, clearly, so you want that to be as high as possible. It will increase with training and battle.

Weapons/Armour quality

Weapons/Armour quality depends on what your men were when you recruited. You can't increase or decrease this unless you add better/worse men (adding better men increasing, and worse men decreasing).


Equipment damage occurs every turn, except when you are in a city. Travel, training, battle, even simply being 'dug in' a region can cause equipment damage. Equipment damage reduces your CS, so you want this as low as possible. If your damage gets too high it can start injuring or even killing your men as they use badly damaged equipment or fight each other for the best equipment. Also, having your men fight over equipment will reduce cohesion. You can repair equipment in most cities and strongholds and some townsland regions. However, strongholds and townsland regions have only limited blacksmiths, and they will not be able to fully repair your equipment.


Morale varies both up and down. Typically, entertainment will have it rise, as will normal turn change. Being far from your realm will see it fall, and training will see it fall. Battle can either see it rise or fall, depending on what your unit is like. From there, it depends on the unit. Paying your men will only ever have it rise (if there is any effect at all). Clearly, more content men fight better than annoyed men, so keep it high. In order to keep your morale high when you are far away from your own realm, switch your men to mercenaries. They will cost 50% more in terms of wages, but their morale will not drop nearly as much as other units.


Cohesion is increased with training, battle and sometimes entertainment (if you find what kind of entertainment your men really like, but you can only use entertainment when morale is less than 100%), and at the turn change. It is decreased by adding new men, since these new men won't know the men in your unit very well, and your men fighting over equipment when it is highly damaged.

Typical values

Some standard and good CS/man values are as follows: Infantry/Archers/MI: Average/standard: 10, Good: 20 Cavalry/SF: Average/standard: 15-20, Good: 20-25

Effect in battle

Now, having a huge CS does not mean you have won the battle. You can have a unit of 1000 CS Infantry, but that infantry might be 200 men, with 20% cohesion. They are very weak individually and the unit will break and flee the battlefield very easily. Compare a unit of 50 men with 95% cohesion, these men trust each other more and will fight better alongside men they know and have trained with, so will fight better and be much harder to make flee from the battlefield. Not only that, they are individually a match for at least 4 men from the other unit.

Just use some common sense. If your enemy have units that reach 60 men or more but only have a CS of 500, they aren't that good or have some serious issues (low morale, high equipment damage, low experience, etc). If your enemy have 40-man units that are 800 CS, you better watch out, those are some very well prepared and coherent forces that will be hard to break. Those judgements have to be made yourself.

Tactical Maneuvers

Tactical moves can be many things. Good, Bad, Suicidal, Intelligent and Bold are the ones covered below.

  • Good tactical maneuvers would consist of the ones the enemy does not correctly predict, like when there are two regions they think you are going to attack one so they are heading there but send a small force to the other just in case and you attack the other destroying a small force of the enemy. That would be a good maneuver for these reasons:
1) You now control the field
2) You destroyed a small force of enemy soldiers.
3) Their army must now turn towards your army to get you off their land and without having as many soldiers as they could have.
  • Bad maneuvers would be those that you attack even though you should defend or avoid the battle. Like moving out from your walls and attacking there palisade with close to even forces.
  • Suicidal maneuvers are close to that of bad but the difference is the enemy know sits coming(predicts it) and has more men, better men, walls, and pretty much everything else in their advantage. There is next to no chance of victory for you and yet you attack or still try to defend when they outnumber you massively instead of retreating and waiting for reinforcements for a counter attack.
  • Intelligent maneuvers would be attack where the enemy does not expect it, attacking in a place where there army is far away from. Another intelligent maneuver would be getting 5k cs in open field out fo the way for a 20k cs enemy attacking, other words retreating since you know that you will just lose your 5k cs only kill 2k cs.
  • Bold maneuvers are those of even battles maybe less or more than the enemy by a little bit. You attack with 20k cs against a 21k cs in open field while the enemy does not think the attack is going to happen or you could be even more less than them and do that. It all matters as bold maneuvers can be considered many things.

All in all you should avoid bad and suicidal maneuvers and mix up bold and intelligent maneuvers and you can destroy the enemy or at least put up one heck of a fight.


~~Infiltrators can be a deciding factor in war, if used right infiltrators are a great weapon,but, if used wrong they can hurt.

~~To use infiltrators correctly you should hit people that the infiltrator can handle a region or two before the region where the battle will be taken place doing this enough can cause a battle to go in your favor. You should also use them to delay movement by mixing signs and so forth in a region where the enemy is attacking from, doing so can cause some troops staying back and can cause a mismatch in the battle. Using them as scribes to scout regions with some scouts without being detected, doing so can get you information from there regions from which the enemy does not think you have information to. You should also have your infiltrators to hit there economy by burning there food to cause them to have to send more food there. Stealing taxes is also another good way to use them if they have low taxes and so do you it will be very good as you will have more tax gold then them. Using infiltrators to kill off the fortifications after a battle which nearly destroyed them but didn't. Infiltrators can do a lot in a war for you, its nice to have some on your side.

~~Using them incorrectly would be to just attacking random targets which they can not handle, they will just get caught then exacuted and everone in the realm will want to advenge the death and it causes anger and anger is not a good thing, anger is something that kills some realms.

General Traits

~~General traits can be a good thing or a bad thing.


  • Foolish or ignorance:

Attacking regions with no gain or making suicidal maneuvers.

  • Anger: Anger will cause nothing but trouble for the realm, making the commands be to aggressive.
  • Greed: Greed will cause you to also be overly aggressive and it will make you do certain maneuvers that are not positive moves.
  • Negitive: Thinking you will lose the war and anything negitive will cause those around you to think the same. You will have no hope to the point were you do not even really try to come out victorious. There are wars of wich are lost because of this trait.


  • Positively: Keeps moral up and makes you believe you can win it is a big deciding factor and it has the opposite affects of the Negative trait.
  • Cleverness: Cleverness will help you make unpredictable moves which will lead to a victory.
  • Self-discipline: Self-discipline will keep you from getting angered and making ignorant moves.
  • Communication: A General must be able Communicate constantly to TLs.

Morale of TroopLeaders(TLs)

Morale of your troopleaders means more then most would think. If the morale of your TLs are low then they may not move when ordered, they may not bring up ideas to the council, they may not even recruit units that they could maintain, it would be common to see TLs running away or leaving your realm due to this, there is also the chance of them becoming an enemy spy revealing your plans to the enemy which is something we want to avoid, and they might ignore misdirection orders which can hurt.


Whenever you recruit a unit, there is a chance that you will also find a captain. When you recruit additional men for a unit without a captain, there is also a chance that you find one.

Captain Names

Captains are simply named soldiers. They add a little flavour to your unit and should be seen primarily as roleplaying tools.

Leadership Bonus

There is also a small number in brackets behind the captain's name in the unit display, e.g. Ferdinand (+2).

This is the leadership bonus this captain grants. Having a captain in your unit will raise your leadership skill in certain situations only by this many points. The captain will slowly improve his leadership bonus in combat.


Captains will gain experience in battle, and through experience can raise their leadership bonus. If you manage to keep the same captain around for a long time, his bonus might become quite useful.

Removing/Replacing Captains

As of now, a captain can not be removed, and he will only go away if you lose the entire unit (i.e. he will always be the last man to die). This might change without warning in the future. If you have lost the captain (impossible right now, but there will be ways added later) then you can recruit additional men and hope to find a suitable replacement. It is not possible to look for a captain only, or even to specifically look for a captain. Finding a captain is purely a matter of good fortune.


Battles are one of the most important features of the game. They are why troop leaders command units -- why they are called "troop leaders" in the first place! Through battle, realms live and die. Fortunes and reputations are made and lost.

When does a battle take place

A battle will take place when:

  • The armies of two enemy realms meet in the same region.
  • The armies of two neutral realms meet in the same region, and at least one unit is set to aggressive.
  • The armies of two allied realms or two realms who are in peace meet in the same region, and at least one unit is set to murderous.
  • The armies of any realm meet a rogue army.

In order to take part in a battle you will only have to travel to the region in which the battle will take place. You should also make sure that your unit's settings are set properly (you don't want to end up slaying, or get slaughtered by, your friends).

Rogues are hated by all. Rogue troop leaders represent a huge challenge to the very core values of BattleMaster society, just by virtue of holding armies, but swearing allegiance to no realm. Therefore, they are always attacked on sight. Monsters and undead, when they appear, are always rogue.

See this page for more details.

Preparing for a battle

There are several things that can be done on the eve of a battle, if one is anticipated. Line settings are usually given out, in whichever manner is chosen by that realm -- usually line settings are given as orders.

The realm that holds the field may dig in, constructing very basic fortifications around their camp as a mild deterrent and safety measure. So long as the unit remains behind their fortifications, they will be slightly safer than in the open field. Digging in takes a solid six hours of work, however.

Individual units may also decide that they do not wish to take part in the battle, and may either travel to a different region, or give orders to attempt to evade battle. Many commanders may consider this cowardice, however, and a troop leader who flees battle may face considerable repercussions.

How it works

All battles are calculated during the turn change. Battles take time -- especially long battles may take so long that you are left with too few hours to do anything time-consuming (such as digging in) the following turn.

The armies left standing when the battle is over control the field. The realm that controls the field often has many more options available to it than they would otherwise. Even if your realm won the battle, if your unit was driven from the field, it is considered defeated.

Only a troop leader whose unit held the field until the very end of the battle may:

(These actions are of course subject to other constraints, such as unit size or ownership of the region)


Fortifications give a defensive bonus to the defender side of a battle, and can be the deciding factor between victory and defeat. They can be overcome and damaged by enemy siege equipment. As well, they can be damaged by enemy troops occupying a region using the raze fortifications command, or repaired by region lords and large enough units.

There are several levels of fortifications, each with progressively stronger defenses and more expensive to construct:

  • Level 1: Palisades
  • Level 2: Mote and Bailey (Can only be built in townsland, city, and stronghold regions.)
  • Level 3: Keep (Level 3 and stronger fortifications are available in cities and stronghold regions only.)
  • Level 4: Stronghold
  • Level 5: Fortress
  • Level 6: Citadel (Can no longer be built in cities, possible to maintain already existing ones)

A fortification can be reduced in level through sufficient damage. It is possible to reduce one fortification level in a large battle.

Note: It used to be possible to build Level 1 and 2 fortifications in rural and badlands regions, also, so some of these regions may have existing fortifications that were built under old rules. Existing fortifications in these areas will remain, but new fortifications may no longer be built, and existing fortifications cannot be improved. If a rural or badlands region has existing fortifications, they are permanently lost if destroyed.


Overkill is a feature that reduces the hits done in close combat if one side is vastly outnumbered. The idea behind it is that 100 men can't beat a single victim up more effective than 10 men could. Due to simple physics and crowding, you can only deal so many hits on a small group of enemies. More importantly: The more attackers crowd around, the less effective they will be (stepping on each others toes, being in each others way).

All is not bright for the defenders, though. A unit that was "overkilled", so to speak, will suffer a permanent (well, for the remainder of the battle) increased chance to flee in panic. So even if they survive the close combat, for example, by more reinforcements from the own side joining the following round, they will be less effective.

How to Fight with Overkill

To be most effective, you need to take overkill into account when setting up a battle. Before the introduction of overkill, the most effective tactic was to hit the enemy with as much power as possible, in one large blob of units. That is no longer true. Remember that the more overkill you do, the higher the reduction of hits caused will be. So too much overkill is bad. Your target should be to just reach overkill. By doing so, you will inflict the panic penalty on the enemy units, while wasting only a few hits.

So one approach that will work well is to attack in waves. Instead of one large blob of units, have them set up in waves just large enough to reach overkill. That means your frontline needs to be the strongest, and the lines after it should be just strong enough to replace the casualties.


Cavalry also work differently now. Earlier, it was best to have them hit together with everyone else. But due to their charge bonus, cavalry forces reach overkill easier than anyone else. So now one method to employ would be to have the cavalry hit one turn earlier then the main force, hoping for overkill which will soften up the enemy and incur a panic penalty (or even cause them to flee outright). Then the main force joins the close combat, saving the cavalry (who don't have a charge bonus anymore) and again ensuring that overkill is reached.

Attacking Fortifications

When you attack a fortified city or stronghold, overkill is your friend. The higher your overkill factor, the lower your chances of being thrown back. So if you want to take the place, sacrificing a bunch of soldiers but getting across the walls is the way to go. Attack en masse and overwhelm the defenses. You will score only a few hits, but you will be inside and can take the castle without having to mess with the strong outer wall. Of course, if you have enough siege engines, and don't want to lose too many troops, then you might want to fight as outlined above instead.

Fighting Superior Enemies

All the above applies when you have the superior force. If you face an enemy who is stronger, you will want to use overkill to your advantage in a different way, essentially by forcing them to do all the things which you would try to avoid if you were in their place. Once again, staggering your forces, ideally having one small unit in each combat line, is the way to go. It will ensure maximum overkill and the largest number of wasted hits. Mixed Infantry or even Archers are very good overkill "victims", as they can shoot arrows at the enemy 2nd and 3rd rows while the close combat takes place in front of them, and then shoot at the charging units just before being forced into close combat themselves. That way, an MI or Archer unit should be able to cause twice the casualties it takes.

What you will want to do as the outnumbered party is to cause maximum damage to the enemy. That means lasting as long as possible. Each combat round means equipment and morale damage for your enemies.

When you win

Taking part in a battle will gain you Honour and Prestige. How much you will gain of either, depends on many factors, including:

  • The size of the battle
  • How long the battle lasted
  • How much honour and prestige you already have
  • Whether you successfully attacked or defended an important region
  • Your units performance during the battle

Depending on what kind of unit you command, you might also improve your personal skills. Commanding any unit in battlefield gives you experience in Leadership. Commanding an Infantry or Special Forces unit will improve your Swordfighting skill. Commanding a Cavalry unit will improve your Jousting skill. There is no Archery skill, so commanding an Archer unit will not gain you anything special. The chances of improving your skill depend on:

  • The size of the battle
  • The current level of your skill. The higher your skill, the harder it is to improve.

Your unit might also gain some training and/or cohesion. Again, the amount of each depends on:

  • The current training/cohesion value of your unit
  • How long the battle lasted
  • Your units performance during the battle

When you lose

During a battle both sides probably suffer casualties, to both the troops and troop leaders involved. Casualties include both the dead and wounded. Wounded troops stay with your unit until they either die or are nursed back to health. Wounded troop leaders and dead heroes have their own problems.

Additionally, armies will seek to capture enemy troop leaders in the thick of battle, to be taken back to prison and held for ransom. Even armies which are defeated can still take captives. This occasionally leads to the situation where a person is captured even when their side won an overwhelming victory!

Unit Settings

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. 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")


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.


Whether there is contact and then a battle is determined by diplomatic relations and each unit's conduct. On the South-East and South-West islands, diplomatic relations are easy to understand because everyone is at war with everyone else. On other continents, diplomatic relations can be very complex. 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 rout 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 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.

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).


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. 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.

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


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.


Mercenaries and men 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, 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 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. 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.


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.
  • 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.
  • Wedge: Deploy in a V formation, with center 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.
  • 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.

Field Position

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 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 seige engines. Ranged units will only advance toward the enemy if there are no enemy units within their range.


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.


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.


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.
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