Tactics and Strategy
Good tactics and proper execution of a plan are what make a team more powerful than any individual fighter. Often times a less skilled team that implements a strategy beats a team of better fighters not working together. By definition tactics are, “a plan, procedure, or expedient for promoting a desired end or result,” or in other words, a plan that gives you an advantage.
Developing good tactics is one of the later talents to develop in a fighter. This in part is because it takes time to experiment with what works. Even if a plan is preformed perfectly, do not get frustrated if things to not work. Remember that while you are trying to give your team an advantage by coming up with a good strategy, the other team is doing the same.
It is important to note that there is no perfect strategy and that everything has a counter. This section will provide an outline of general practices and theory for different tactical situations.
One of the most important things to learn is how to follow orders. Listening to the plan and fully understanding your role, as well as understanding the jobs of the rest of your team, will vastly increase your effectiveness. Once the battle has started it is important to listen and follow the orders of your commander, as this is what will separate a good team from a great team.
Fighting With Superior Numbers
Any two competent people who work well together will often be able to beat a single person of greater skill. Any three competent people who work well together can often beat any single person, regardless of skill. When outnumbering your opponent it is advantageous to move together and attack together. It is very difficult to defend against two opponents attacking at the same time. Induce this situation whenever possible.
When fighting with someone, against a single opponent of superior skill, it is advisable to stick together. This allows teammates to support each other and it keeps them from getting picked off while the others are too far away to lend aid.
When fighting with someone, against a single opponent of equal or less skill, it is advisable to spread apart. This gives the advantage of attacking from multiple locations and splits the attention of an adversary. A number of opportunities to attack without retaliation become available and limits the opponent’s options.
Fighting Against Superior Numbers
When outnumbered the key to survival is mobility. Keep maneuvering to positions that limit the number of opponents within striking distance. This forces opponents to react and constantly reposition. Use these opportunities to attack while they are unprepared and unorganized.
Basics of Line Theory
A line formation is when the majority of fighters are arranged shoulder to shoulder in a straight manner. The advantage to this is that it is easy for fighters to work together in both attack and defense. Another advantage of a line formation is that it is easy for fighters to move together while getting them all to the action at the same time. Lines can be:
· Tight – With fighters standing shoulder to shoulder
· Wide – With fighters about three feet spacing apart
· Open Order – With fighters six or more feet apart
o An open order line is also called a “skirmish line” or sometimes a “picket line”, when it is the first of two or more lines a team is using.
When in a line it is important to listen for directions. If called to move forward or back, ensure that you stay in alignment with the person to your left or right. When moving at any speed, try to be no more than half a pace in front or behind the rest of the line. If you are ahead you should slow slightly and if you are behind you should speed up to gain ground. If you are on the end of a line make sure you go a speed that the rest of the line will be able to match. When a charge is called move together quickly, pass through the other team, and regroup and address the line after crossing.
As previously mentioned, the strength of fighting in a line comes from the ability of fighters to easily work together in attack and defense. This can manifest itself in a number of ways and the more someone works with their teammates, the more effective they will be in a line.
When lines square off, normally individuals line up directly in front of an opponent and fighters have a tendency to focus in on the person in front of them. This makes them vulnerable to attacks coming from different locations. Remember to exploit this weakness by attacking the person to the left or right of the adversary you are squared off against.
Defending the person to your left or right can be very difficult, but when performed successfully it makes for a very hard line to break. Keep an eye out for the adversary in front of you to attack someone next to you and be ready to defend them. Similarly, if possible try to block shots from the person in front of them as well, as it gives your ally an opening for attacking.
If a hole in the opposing line develops, react quickly and push through splitting the opposing line. Be careful of this as you do not want to disrupt your own line or charge in and get yourself killed. Ensure that your line’s structure will be maintained in your absence and that opposing reserves are not waiting to ambush you. If executed successfully breaking an opposing line can win a battle.
When a hole in your line is created, there are a few things that need to be done quickly and simultaneously. To start, maneuver yourself in your line so you are able to fill the hole and hold off multiple people as needed. If the hole is large, this maneuver may be required by multiple people in your line. Try to shift the line to distribute the extra opposing fighters as much as possible. At the same time it is important to be communicating with the commander and giving them updates on the situation. Similarly, it is important to listen for orders so that you can react quickly and together as a team. With quick thinking and good communication the problem can be alleviated and defeat averted.
If assigned to the end of the line, your role is particularly important as you set the tone for how the rest of the line will act. It is important that as the situation changes, you vocalize it to both the commander and your side of the line. If you need to move it is especially important that your end of the line moves with you. If possible try to press and wrap the other team’s line. This gives your team an advantage as it limits their mobility while increasing your team’s mobility.
When fighting two or more people, it is especially important to be defensive while holding a line. This does not mean to not make attacks but more to limit the amount of risk. When fighting outnumbered, especially in a line, it is important to survive in order to give your team time to react and recover.
When the situation described above is reversed and you find yourself outnumbering an opponent, it is important to quickly press to hold this advantage. Use as many advantages described in the previous section without breaking formation. This kind of momentum builds off of itself and can be very difficult to stop.
Basics of Flanking Maneuvers
Flanking is when an individual or small group uses mobility to maneuver to the side or rear of the opposing team’s formation. One of the most important qualities of a flanker is mobility and speed. In general it is a good idea to keep moving all the time, unless the plan dictates otherwise. Constant movement makes the flanker harder to trap and more difficult to counter. When flanking, it is important to remember that you are separated from your main team and that they cannot come quickly to your direct aid. There are two kinds of flanking maneuvers: close and wide.
A close flanking maneuver involves wrapping the end of the opposing line. To perform a close flank one would move around the end of your own line and travel far enough out to be just outside striking range of the opposing formation’s end. The size of your flanking group and the length of your opponent’s line will help determine how far to travel behind them. Once behind, take as many advisories by surprise as possible. Once your element of surprise has passed, it can be useful to be vocal about your position in order to distract the opponents who cannot see you.
A wide flanking maneuver involves a longer path around the opposing force. The usual goal is to attack from behind the center of the opposite team. To perform a wide flank, one would move around the opposing force far enough out of engagement that it would be difficult for them to maneuver to block your path. Once around the other team, move to your desired location and cause as much damage and distraction as possible. A good target is usually the center of the line, as this helps to maximize disruption.
When a flanking maneuver is countered with an anti flanking force there are three options for how to react: press, maneuver around, or withdraw. Maneuvering around does not usually work with close flanking, as it usually takes too long and yields the same results as withdrawing. The determination of which action to take is dependent on the goal of the flanking force. Pressing results in added confusion behind enemy lines. Maneuvering is most useful when trying to target key individuals or locations. Withdrawing is useful to occupy the counter flanking group and gives your team an opportunity to press, without opposition from those in the counter flanking group.
If a counter flanker is successfully able to hold your flanking maneuver, it can be useful to withdraw and entice them out of the fight. Withdrawing also has the advantage that the opposition needs to send more people or someone of higher skill. When you take opposing forces out of the fight you are making up for not being in the fight yourself. Once well away from their team, the counter flanker is more vulnerable if your team is able to offer support. Similarly if you are faster than the counter flanker you can attempt to go around them and attack your target.
Basics of a Reserve
A reserve is someone who is not assigned to any particular location and they are able to support where they are needed. When assigned in the reserve it is important to pay attention to the battle as it unfolds. Be ready to act as you are called to help support the line, press an opening, or counter flank. When ordered to support the line, fill in the gaps and weaknesses created by injury. When ordered to press an opening, move quickly and apply constant pressure so you can keep the advantage. When counter flanking, do not get drawn out away from your team. Stay as close to your team as you can while blocking a flanker. The distance you have to travel will be less than the flanker’s if you are able to stay close to your team. This lets you can block a flanker that is faster than you. Regardless of where you are, but especially as a reserve, keep track of where the opposition is and give warnings to the rest of your team so they will not be surprised.
Basic Charging Theory
Charging is the act of advancing quickly and together as a group and attacking. When done correctly, a group charging can be a powerful thing. Charging is a good way to get many attacking few, it causes chaos is the opposing team, and can nullify the opposing team’s plan.
It is most useful to take advantage of an opponent’s lack of preparation. When ordered to charge, the most important thing is to move quickly forward and attack the directed target. Keep attacking and moving as the charge continues. Charging usually develops from a line formation and the same concepts of a moving line apply to charging. See above in the Basics of Line Theory section for more detain on how to move together as a group. Generally it is important to attack through your opponent and keep moving as a group in order to keep your momentum. Moving through the opposing team gives the advantage of being able to regroup while the opposing team is still disorganized.
Concentration of force against the opposition is vital. Do not over disperse a team by sending off too many scouts and flanking parties. This does not mean that a team needs to keep gathered up in a lump. It means that all parts of the team need to be able to support the other parts and be supported by them.
Offensive action is required to win a battle. Passive defense only delays inevitable defeat. Offensive action does not mean charging in all the time. It means taking and keeping the initiative. Therefore, maneuvering the other team into a frontal attack against a defended position, before launching the battle winning counter attack, is offensive action.
Reserves should be part of every battle plan. Reserves give teams depth. Reserves allow teams to adjust for the unexpected and to take advantage of sudden opportunities.
Setting up the Battle
Before the battle starts it is important to explain the plan to all members of your team. After everyone understands what they are doing and where they are going, how you position them matters. There are advantages and disadvantages to lining up in the manner you plan to fight the battle. The main advantage is that your own forces will not get confused and will not need to take action to get into place. The disadvantage is that your opponent can see this and it lets them plan accordingly. Depending on the nature of the plan, this might be insignificant. An example of that is, if you plan to retreat to a choke point and defend, since your opponent will need to approach your team, they will see your formation in advance regardless of your initial deployment. On the other hand, in an open field line it is easy to translate who will be flanking and where, if no action is taken to conceal such things.
Importance of Command and Control
Command and control is what develops the power of teams. Only with effective command and control can plans of any complexity higher than a simple charge be carried out. Good command and control, combined with speed, are what makes teams unbeatable. Command and control is the use of orders during a fight to direct the plan as it unfolds and keep people organized. Often this is a skill that takes practice and development. This allows you to keep a group together and to better coordinate attacks. It is good practice when calling orders to keep repeating them. In addition be aware that there is a delay when your orders are given and when they are followed. Know that by calling commands you make yourself a target.
Intermediate Line Theory
Of the three kinds of lines, the wide line is the most common and generally useful line formation. A tight formation is useful because it allows for better support. The trade off is that with a tight formation it is easier for fewer to hold against a tight line. An example of this is that six people shoulder to shoulder could be held by four in a wider formation without too much trouble. That gives the wider formation two extra people to be doing other things. If a line gets too wide though, it is easy to single out people and have two- or three-on-ones with no extra support.
There are three kinds of lines. Lines can be floating, single anchored, or double anchored.
· A floating line is anchored between two people and as they move, the line moves with them. It is important that the fighters at both ends are able to follow orders and direct others, because they are key points. A floating line is best for moving. If moving enough, the other team’s flanking becomes less effective. A floating line does not need to be straight, rather that there is the solid front.
· A single anchored line would pin on some sort of obstacle or terrain feature. The other end of the line should be a strong individual who can take the responsibility of knowing when to swing the line and can keep the line from getting wrapped. This has the advantage that it is difficult to flank on the pinned side, the line is able to rotate and press as needed, and the line has a common point that people can use to help stay together and keep in formation.
· A double anchored line is pinned to two points of terrain. Usually this has the advantage that it makes flanking difficult and it is easy to keep the line in formation; however it takes away mobility and has fewer options than the other types of lines. In the event that flanking does happen, it can be very hard to counter.
How you arrange the power in a line makes a big difference. With any team there will be varying skills, so it is important to consider how you plan to spread that out. If one side of the line is very heavy, meaning stacked with most of the skillful people, it leaves the light side venerable. This can be an acceptable risk, but if the heavy side gets held, the light side may not survive. The balanced approach is to space your skilled people with unskilled people between them as best you can. Observe how the opposing team sets up their formation and act accordingly, but be aware that the other team should be doing the same thing.
When moving the line, how well a team can stay together will make or break the strategy. It is important that the line moves as a single unit at a speed that is reasonable for everyone.
Another thing to be careful of is flanking. It is important to have people assigned to handle such situations so that the entire line does not fall into chaos. A good counter to heavy flanking is having the entire line push forward together and turnaround. This allows for all of your team to be attack part of their team while they are still positioning.
Fortification and Defense
A well fortified location can be a very difficult to defeat. The key is to pick a place that makes it easy for many to attack few. The disadvantage is that because you are stuck in a set location, the other team gets their pick at how to assault you. In the event that your defenses get breached, it is important to have assigned people to handle the situation, so that more breaches do not occur. Once a side has been turned, it is important to act quickly because your previous advantage from the location will turn to a disadvantage if you get trapped.
Fighting a defended location is one of the most difficult circumstances. The nature of the location determines how one should approach attacking it. In a location that is not easily accessible except from two directions, such as a path, it is advisable to keep most of your team together and send a small group of skilled fighters around. When determining how many and how strong, take into consideration that the group remaining will need to fight and hold against the entire opposing team. In a situation where the defended location has a number of narrow openings, it is advised to try to keep each of the main entrances held and send small groups around to try to break the perimeter. Once inside, the group should try to disrupt one of the entrances so more can enter. At that point all the entrances should press to keep the defenders from sending support.
Intermediate Flanking Maneuvers
Flanking can have a few different goals. The safest place to attack someone is from behind, which makes flanking a powerful tool. Flanking maneuvers can disrupt the other team’s plans, preventing them from taking advantage of opportunities. Flanking also allows for the targeting of key individuals, who would otherwise be impossible to pressure. When assigning flankers, ensure that they are clear on the purpose of the flanking maneuver. It is important when assigning flankers to ensure that you do not detract from the power of the remaining team.
When creating a plan consider both close and wide flanking. Close flanking involves wrapping the end of the line in hopes of turning it. This is useful because it can expose the back and sides of the end of the opposing line to your line and end a fight. Another advantage of close flanking is that the flanking group is still close enough to your team for support, should the circumstances change. Wide flanking is useful for weakening the center of the line. A wide flanking maneuver takes extra time and it is important to plan the rest of your strategy accordingly. The wide flank can press on the center of the line causing the most confusion, or they can press on the opposite side of the line, and it is likely that the opposition will be less prepared for an attack from that direction. Something to consider with a wide flanking group, is that they have no support from the rest of the team so it is important that they are mobile and skilled enough to handle such a task.
Use of Reserves
Reserves are a useful tactic and have a number of functions. A reserve is someone who is not assigned to any particular location and is able to support where they are needed. This dynamic flexibility allows for them to capitalize on opportunity. The reserve should serve as the anti flank, command and control, and line support as needed. They should observe what is going on around them since they are not directly fighting anyone. When creating a reserve force, be sure to assign someone as a commander who will dictate where people will be sent. Without someone to control the reserve oftentimes opportunities can be missed. Reserves are most common with defended locations, but they have a place in all formations.
Intermediate Charging Theory
A charge can be executed from any formation, but it works best from either a single or multi lined formation. In either case, the advantage is that it enables more of your team to be engaging at the same time. The worst possible way to charge is in a single file column, as this enables the opposing team to essentially fight you one at a time.
A single lined charge is when everyone charging is in a single floating line. This gives the advantage that the entire team is able to move together and helps mitigate the chances of your fighters being wrapped during the charge. In addition, it is much more difficult for the opposing team to maneuver around as the line is so much wider. The disadvantage of a single line charge is that it will inevitably have weak places. A single line charge will have difficulty getting through the strong points of the oppositions formation. In addition, once a hole is created it is more difficult to close. A hole will enable the opposing team to slip through and be less hindered by your maneuver.
A multi lined charge is when a team creates multiple less rigid floating lines. Having multiple lines allows people more freedom to adjust and maneuver at different speeds. The added thickness allows for a higher concentration of attacking at a given point, as well as enabling the group to better fill in holes and react to weaknesses. The disadvantage of a multi lined charge is that it decreases a group’s width. This gives the opposing team an easier time to maneuver around your charge and increases the chance that they will envelope the charge.
In either case, it is important to give your team notice so that they will be ready to move when the time is right. Moving into a charge start the team moving together as a group at a walk and slowly increase speed until the opposing team is approximately 10 yards away. If the command to charge is given too far away it increases the chances that your team will get strung out and not move together. If attacking from a defensive position the moving start is not required, but the distance a team can stay together while charging remains the same. Plan your attack carefully and try to give your team as much notice as possible where they will be focusing.
When setting up a charge it is important how the formation is constructed. Like with any line formations it is important to have strong ends as this helps keep the group together and sets the tempo. Properly spacing the rest of the strong fighters is important in order to perform a successful charge as this will help keep the group moving together and help reduce the likelihood of a hole from forming.
When executing a charge, if the opposing team has flankers in place it can be useful to keep an anti flanking reserve. When picking who to place in the reserve, consider that the anti flankers will need to be fast and mobile in order to execute their function and make it back to the rest of the team after the charge is performed. In this particular case, the anti flankers often become flankers after the charge has been performed.
High speed is the key to victory. Speed in this context does not mean just running around quickly. Speed means the pace at which the team operates. Speed of decision, deployment and execution are essential components of good tactics. An advantage in speed, as defined above, is what usually allows otherwise weaker teams to beat stronger teams.
Always aim to deliver a blow that cannot be returned. The best attack is from behind. The next best is from the side. The worst is a frontal attack. This is a key concept of warfare.
Leading Your Team
Once the battle starts, the job of a leader is not finished. Move with purpose and direction as this will win a fight. It is important to give directions in midst of the battle and that these instructions reflect the changing circumstances of the fight. As your plan is executed, the opponents will be adjusting for the events that take place and the faster your team is able to react, the more likely you will retain an advantage.
Advanced Charging Theory
Charging has the advantage that it is executable without the need for much notice. This aspect is part of what makes charging such a useful tool. An impromptu charge can be executed to take advantage of a number of situations. If the opposing team splits their numbers, charging one of the smaller groups gives a window where your team will have superior numbers. If there is heavy flanking pressure, a charge can be used to regroup and reduce the chances of being surrounded. Charging is a useful tool for rallying a team and keeping momentum. If the opposing team formation cracks, charging is a good way to keep pressure up and secure the advantage.
Reacting to a Charge
The most important aspect of countering a charge is seeing it as early as possible. The earlier a charge is detected the more time there is to react and counter. One of the things that make countering a charge so difficult is that the composition of the opposing forces makes a significant difference in what action to take. Important things to consider are the average mobility, the average and concentration of skill, and the number of people for each side, as well as the terrain.
One of the easiest ways to dissipate a charge is to simply out maneuver the opposing team. This usually takes place with your team going in multiple different directions, but that does not always have to be the case. In general moving normal, meaning perpendicular, to the opposing team’s direction works best as it is difficult for the entire group to change directions and keep in formation. In any event, the important thing is that you increase the time that the opposing team must maintain formation. As mentioned above, a charge has limited range due to the group not being able to stay as a unified front. This distance varies depending on the experience of the charging body. If more distance can be added it increases the likely hood that the charging team will get strung out. This negates the effectiveness of the charge and turns the advantage in your favor.
The main advantage of having your team separate in multiple different directions is that it no longer gives a mass for the charge to be targeted at. Like a number of defenses, simply not being there is an excellent way of defending.
The opposite approach can also be effective, especially if your forces have a higher concentration of skill. Rather than spread out close the formation and compact together. This gives the advantage that fewer of the opposing team will be able to attack. Be prepared to react quickly after accepting the charge as in an open field this will likely result in being surrounded before too much time has passed. Be ready issue your own charge as to regroup. This option also works well in a choke point as it helps contain and removes the momentum of the opposing team.
Sending flankers can be another way to disrupt a charge. As the flankers deploy the charging team will need to send people to deal with them. The flankers should flank close as too much separation will greatly increase the distance they must cover. If flankers are too far away then they can simply be ignored until the charge is already finished. As members of the charging force peel off to contain flankers, it lessens the strength of the charge.
Although more complicated, when successfully executed, a tactical feint can yield amazing results. A tactical feint is when you intentionally telegraph one plan, and follow up with another. An example of this would be falling back to a known choke point, only to charge out when the first of the opposition arrives. In this example the opposing side is expecting to have to assault a fortified position and when your team charges out, they are likely to be unprepared and out of formation. Use terrain to help conceal your actual plans. It is important to take your opponent into consideration when considering a tactical feint. Like all feints, successful execution requires your opponent to see the feint and react to in as if it were happening. If your opponent does not react to counter the feint, it is important to see this and possibly then to follow through with the feinted plan as the actual plan.
The above information should serve as a guide. A good tactician learns through experience when to violate the fundamental concepts. Like most things, the more you practice the better you will get.