Tutorial VII part II – Ground combat

Ground combat is fought between armies. Armies consist of companies who do the actual fighting. There is no limit to the number of empires, armies or companies that can participate in ground combat.

In ground combat each side set up a battle line and a second line:

Battle line – The battle line is the front line and consists of all melee forces in the army. The battle line will move and engage the enemy battle line in close combat and this is where the majority of all melee combat is executed.

Second line – The second line is behind the battle line. Here all archers, support and civilian companies set up their lines during a combat. Unless the battle line is overrun by the enemy the companies in the second line won’t be engaged in melee combat.

Image – Pre-combat report.

When the actual combat has started all companies in the battle line will attack enemy companies in melee combat while companies in the second line will fire arrows at the enemy ranks if they can.

A combat will continue until one side has been eliminated or all companies has been broken or routed in one of the battle lines. When this happen the side with broken morale will disengage and the battle will end. The retreating force can still have companies with normal morale in the second line. The minimum number of rounds in a combat is 3.

Types of attacks

The number of attacks a company can do in a combat round depends on their attack value.

Melee attacks – All companies in a battle line makes melee attacks against their selected target company. Companies in the second line only engage in melee combat if the battle line has been overrun and they must fight in melee combat to defend themselves.

Ranged attacks – Companies in the second line which isn’t engaged in melee combat will, if they have ranged capacity, fire arrows at the enemy ranks. To minimise the risk of firing arrows at their own side a company doing a ranged attack wants to divide their firepower on as many as three enemy companies. If this isn’t possible the effectiveness of the attack will decrease.

Image – Detailed report of the first combat round featuring both melee and ranged attacks.

Selecting a target company

The attacking side has the initiative in ground combat and the companies in the attacking battle line selects their target companies before the companies in the defending battle line selects their targets. This gives the attacking side an important tactical advantage.

Targeting data is not cleared between the rounds in melee combat and companies often fight against each other during the whole battle. An attacking company will only change its target in melee combat if their previous target is routed/eliminated or they have abilities that make them want to change their target.

First the companies of the attacking battle line select their targets. If they have the Tactics ability they will select a target company following a priority list (see below). Pike companies (ability Pike and Tactics), for example, will try to attack enemy cavalry. When all attacking companies have selected a target the companies of the defending side will select their targets.

Companies in the defending battle line are more limited in what companies they can attack. If a defending company is attacked by one or more companies from the attacking side it must select a target among those companies. Only defending companies that aren’t targeted by an enemy company may select their target freely in the same way as the attacking side. This can only happen if the defending side has more companies in the battle line than the attacking side.

A company can never be attacked by more than three enemy companies. A company will only attack an enemy company that already is attacked by another company if it can’t find another target which isn’t attacked at all or is attacked by fewer companies. Only if one side has more companies in their battle line than the other side will they get a local superiority by having more than one company attacking a target.

It is possible to overrun the enemy battle line. If all companies in the enemy battle line has been engaged by three companies each and there are still companies in the larger battle line that haven’t received a target these companies will overrun the enemy battle line and engage the enemy second line. For this to happen the larger battle line must have at least one more company than 3 times the number of companies of the enemy battle line.

Priority lists for abilities in combination with Tactics:

Cavalry: Archer companies, all non-Pike companies with ranged capacity, all non-pike footmen companies, civilian companies and lastly all other companies (incl. pike).

Flying: Archer companies, all non-Pike companies with ranged capacity, all non-pike footmen companies, civilian companies and lastly all other companies (incl. pike).

Pike: Military cavalry companies, military companies, civilian cavalry companies and lastly all remaining companies.

Skirmish: Archer companies, then other companies with ranged capacity and lastly all other companies.

Only Tactics: Recruits, Goblin warriors, Archer, military footmen companies, military cavalry/flying companies and lastly all remaining companies.

Warrior duels and Mage spells

When two companies with either a warrior or a mage faces each other in melee combat they will fight a duel. Duels are not fought to the death, only until one of the combatants are damaged enough to not participate more in the battle. The warrior or mage that loses the duel will not participate more in the battle. A mage, for example, will stop using his spells when he has lost a duel.

At the beginning of the battle each mage will select what spell to use throughout the melee combat. A mage can select between 4 spells; Berserk, Fireball, Fog and Shield.

Berserk – This spell instils an incredible rage in all soldiers in the company. During the whole battle, or until the mage loses a duel, soldiers in the company will get a bonus to their hit chance while attacking enemy companies.

Fireball – This is a strong and powerful spell. At the beginning of each combat round the mage will fling a large fireball against the enemy company which he faces. The ball of fire will, hopefully, explode in their ranks instantly killing a number of soldiers. A good hit might even break their morale.

Fog – This spell shrouds the whole company in a thick fog, hiding them from enemy companies while their own soldiers can see inside the fog. During the whole battle, or until the mage loses a duel, enemy soldiers will get a penalty to their hit chance when attacking the company. A mage will not select this spell if no enemy company is attacking his company.

Shield – This spell creates a magical aura around each soldier in the company. This aura repels enemy weapons and can save soldiers from damage. During the whole battle, or until the mage loses a duel, this protecting aura will give all soldiers who are damaged an extra armour check. A mage will not select this spell if no enemy company is attacking his company.

Calculating hit chances in combat

All companies have three basic combat values; ranged, offensive and defensive. When making a ranged attack the ranged value is used. In melee attacks the offensive value is used for the attacking side and the defensive value for the defending side. These basic combat values are the unmodified/standard values and is the percentage chance that a soldier in the company will hit and cause 1 damage point during an attack.

The basic combat values are rarely the ‘real’ combat values the company uses in an actual fight. There are a number of factors that increase or decrease how your company will perform in combat. Here we will try to describe most of them:

Abilities – There are a number of abilities that affect the combat values of a company. These abilities increases or decreases the combat values when the hit chance is calculated for an attack. Some of them are race specific, like Elephant, and some, like Marine, are available to all races.

Upon finishing the needed technologies an empire can train their companies to perform better in one of the 4 terrain groups. A company can only have one terrain group ability and it will give a 30% bonus to the hit chance in the selected terrain group. The downside to this special training is that it will also get a 20% decrease to hit chance when fighting in any of the other three terrain groups.

Experience – For each level of experience a company has gained it will get a bonus to its basic combat values.

Terrain – Terrain also has an impact on the results of ground combat. Often the defenders can make use of the terrain and layout of the land to improve their chances of winning a battle.

Seasons – The season also affects the combat efficiency of your armies. From an aggressor’s perspective summer is the best season for warfare; the attacker will gain a small tactical advantage. During spring and autumn the defender will gain a similar advantage. Offensive warfare during the winter is harder and the defender gains a larger tactical advantage than during spring and autumn.

Level – All races prefer either the Surface or the Netherworld level. Or, as in the case of Dwarves, they prefer both levels. When a race intrudes on a level that isn’t its preferred level it will see a decrease in its combat efficiency. This is a 20% decrease in all companies’ combat capacity.

Mages and their spells – As described in the ‘Warrior duels and Mage spell’ chapter above the spell Berserk and Fog affect the combat values of companies in the close combat phase.

Fortifications and siege weaponry – There are two types of fortifications: settlement walls and forts. They serve two purposes which both have a deep impact on ground combat. First, they cancel the Charge ability. Cavalry units must dismount and fight on foot when attacking settlements with walls or garrisoned forts. Secondly, they give a percentage bonus to the hit chance of the defending companies.

Settlement walls are constructed in towns and cities by the owner. These also give a morale bonus to the owner of the settlement. The bonus for the defending side depends on the number and quality of the defensive constructions. The hit chance bonus from settlement walls can’t be higher than 100%.

Forts are massive castles and citadels that can be built outside settlements to guard strategic locations and watch for intruders. A castle increases the defensive value of the defender with 50% and a citadel increases the value with 100%.

Amphibious assaults – When an army is disembarked into a coastal sector occupied by an enemy settlement or army it will start an amphibious assault. Amphibious assaults take place after all disembarkation orders have been completed. That allows multiple armies to assault the same sector from several fleets and/or empires.

Amphibious assaults are dangerous operations and the attacking companies are vulnerable when they storm from their ships toward the prepared defenders. All attacking companies (excl. marines) receive a 20% penalty to their hit chance when performing an amphibious assault.

Companies with the marine ability are specially trained to fight on ships and attack from ships. These companies receive a 20% bonus to their hit chance when performing an amphibious assault.

Damage and hit points

Image – Performance summary of all companies participating in the battle.

When the correct hit chance has been calculated for an attack it’s time to see how much damage a company does on its target company. For each soldier/strength point in the company one check is done to see if that soldier hit and causes one damage point. All hits made by soldiers in a company are totalled and this is the base damage of the company.

If a warrior is attached to the company he will also add a good amount of additional damage in both the ranged and close combat phases. As the warrior becomes more proficient at his combat skills the maximum amount of damage he can inflict will increase.

A particularly important aspect in calculating damage in ground combat is company abilities. There is a huge difference between, for example, a cavalry company with the Charge ability attacking an Archer company and the same company attacking a Pike company. The abilities of the attacking and defending company are used to modify the base damage

When the total damage has been decided an armour check is done for each damage point. The number of successful armour checks is then totalled.

The damage an attacking company does is the total damage minus the number of successful armour checks by the defending company.

What remains is to decide how many in the target company that is lost by the attack. All companies have a hit point value. This is the number of damage point one soldier takes before he dies. The damage divided by the hit point, rounded down to the nearest integer is the number of soldiers that dies in the target company.

If the targeted company loses all its remaining soldiers it’s eliminated. When a company eliminates another company there is a chance that a warrior or mage is generated in the company (if it doesn’t already have one).

Combat morale and its effect

All companies have a combat morale. This ranges from normal to broken and lastly routed. When a company has received certain percentage damage it needs to do a morale check each time it receives a casualty. The first time a company fails its morale check it will become broken and the second time it will become routed. When routed it can’t get any worse and no more morale checks will be done.

Krant are fearless and can never be routed. Krant companies can be broken but do not receive any of the penalties, i.e. they fight at full efficiency even when broken.

Generally a company needs to do morale checks when it has received 20% casualties. A company defending its own settlement need 40% casualties before it has to do morale checks. The risk of losing morale is equal to the percentage casualties in the company. If the company is defending its own settlement the risk of losing morale is halved. Morale also depends on company abilities, experience, settlement walls and any eventual warrior/mage or commander.

A broken company receive a -25% penalty on its hit chance and when attacked it lose 50% more soldiers. A routed company may not attack and when attacked it lose 100% more soldiers.

Continue to part III…

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