Author: Devin Xanatos
"Always leave a way out, unless you really want to find out how hard a man can fight when he's nothing to lose." (M. Cauthon, Fires of Heaven - Before the Arrow)
- Note: Any reference to missiles refers to projectile weapons. (arrows, javelins, catapults, etc.).
Offensive tactics carry war to the enemy, either directly by challenging their strength or indirectly by penetrating their weaknesses.
Hammer to Anvil
The hammer and anvil technique is employed after some degree of reduction. It involves employing a blocking force on one or more sides of the perimeter. This is performed while part of the encirclement forces the insurgents against the blocking force by offensive action. Either element can accomplish the actual destruction, but it is usually accomplished by the attacking element. This technique is most effective when the blocking force is located on, or to the rear of, a natural terrain obstacle. In this method, one or more units in the encirclement remain stationary while the others drive the insurgent unit against it. This technique can be employed during the reduction of encirclement or whenever the tactical situation permits. This technique is useful in destroying insurgents, because they prefer to fight only when conditions are favorable to them.
This tactic is one of the most basic for offensive units. Three soldiers (note that the tactic is not limited to three, it can be effective with less or more.) are sent out for this. One soldier becomes the point man while the other two follow a few yards behind him on either side. The job of the soldier on point is to flush out any enemy forces. Once the enemy has been spotted, the rear soldiers have the benefit of surprising the enemies by ambushing them and have them get caught between the point man and the two brining up the rear.
This tactic is very effective when the enemy forces don't see the rear soldiers of the Unit. When they only see the single point man, they may rush out thinking they have an easy kill, only to get killed themselves by the two rear soldiers. If the point man ends up under attack, he can also immediately pull back; this will more than likely draw the enemy defensive soldiers out into the open. Even if the defensive enemy soldiers don't come out, you at least now know where they are located. The three soldiers can then step out and ambush the enemy soldiers.
Cavalry armies will often outflank the heavy infantry and attack your javelin units from their rear. To avoid this, post the javelins inside the heavy infantry squares, not behind them. You are then prepared to use the Iron Cross Tactic. It consists of 4 squared legions arranged in a larger square with the two perpendicular javelin units inside of it, intersecting at the center of this larger square. This offers all around fields of fire for the javelins, which have all around protection by heavy legions.
As a large force, the charge of this heavy cavalry is a serious threat in any confrontation. The shock tactics that are used are dependent on the heavily armed knights with lance and sword on horse-back bearing down on an opponent at full speed. Such a charge can inflict heavy damage on an enemy; however it requires great control over ones army to keep them under control in the face of mounted archers who would ride in and out of distance leaving arrows and dead horses in their wake.
Arrange two Legion squares in front, with one echeloned back on each flank. (This is a convex formation, resembling a bow, with javelin troops in the center supplying the missiles). Place the firing javelins out front at first, but as the enemy approaches, withdraw them behind the protection of the Legion squares that now guard them on three sides. If the enemy tries to outflank the squares to get at the javelins, they will have a long way to go to stretch out over the convex array of squares. The few who manage to sidle around your flanks to attack the exposed rear of the javelins, can be outnumbered and fought off by the javelins alone without any help. If the enemy concentrates against the center instead of scattering around the flanks than the two center legions can hold them while the echeloned flanking legions can move forward, changing the formation from a convex to a concave one and enveloping the enemy flanks. All this will have the support of javelin fire deployed behind the squares.
Teering the Sheep
Use Light Cavalry to steer a defeated foe in the desired direction. Bite at the flanks and keep them running. Don't give them a chance to settle and fight.
Two archers aim and fire while a third person nocks a bow and watches. The third person is to do several things.
1) Stand guard, and be alert to what is going on around the group.
2) When an archer focuses on a target they often tune out what else is going on around them, the third person not only stays alert to flanking but can keep the group tied into the over all group tactics.
3) The third person can also direct fire.
Defensive strategy protects against enemy strategic offensives
Bait and Bombard
Use the mass of heavy troops to attract and pin the main enemy attack, while your javelin units hover around making hit and run fire attacks on the enemy engaged with the heavy legions.
Several forts of javelins are needed. They are lined up in several successive rows. As the enemy approaches, they withdraw the closest units behind the rear most units, and they are to do this repeatedly until the enemy, who is unable to catch the retreating relays of javelin troops, are showered constantly with javelins and are forced to retreat or are killed.
This tactic is best employed against slow-moving enemies. Faster opponents with cavalry units will be able to catch the javelins, resulting in a very nasty mess. A fair amount of open space is also needed to run the javelins around and in. Where space is more restricted, the option of running round in a square, periodically changing the alignment of the javelins can be helpful, but this requires more management.
End of the Rope
If the heavy infantry is withdrawn before enemy missile troops, the enemy may become frustrated and discontinue useless missile volleys against a retreating target. They will instead, try to rapidly close with your heavy troops for hand to hand combat. This is a terrible waste of missile troops which makes them easy meat for your heavy legions.
The tactic can be done with missile or cavalry troops as well. This works especially well with the bounding overwatch tactic. With all units, start the retreats at the enemy's maximum firing range, so the enemy has to keep moving, rather than firing in order to keep close enough range to even try firing. Before they do reach a close range, retreat again.
The saw is the opposite tactic to the wedge. This is a detached unit, immediately behind the front line, capable of fast sideways movement down the length of the line to block any holes which might appear to develop a thrust where there might be a sign of weakness.
This is a much more static tactic, suited to maps with less space, or against faster enemies. Line up two, or preferably three, forts of infantry in square formation and 'hide' two or three javelin legions behind them. While the infantry swap blows with the enemy, the javelins rain down a hail of missiles from the safety of the back row. This tactic can be improved further by having a wall of towers behind the javelins for extra missile support, and/or a fort of cavalry, to engage the enemy from the rear once they are already engaged in fighting your infantry.
Where possible, combine this strategy with Bounding Overwatch, using the javelins to lure the enemy to the waiting legions and towers. This has the added advantage of wiping out a few of the enemy first, and it can split very large invasions into more manageable segments if the luring process is started before all the enemy troops are positioned.
A further variant, to be used only against weaker or smaller invasions, involves the use of cavalry instead of infantry as the 'wall' for your javelins. This is particularly useful battles where weapons are not readily available.
Under The Shield
Have a first line of several archers nock two arrows each and shoot in an upward arc on to the offensive enemy. The enemy will then raise their shields to cover themselves from the rain of arrows. A second line of archers then fire straight into the now undefended enemy.
The wedge is commonly used by attacking legionaries, - legionaries form up in a triangle, the front 'tip' being one man and pointing toward the enemy, - this enables small groups to be thrust well into the enemy and, when these formations expand, the enemy troops are pushed into restricted positions, making hand-to-hand fighting difficult.
This method is also used during the reduction of encirclement. A unit is used to divide the enemy while the encircling elements remain in place. After the insurgent force has been divided into smaller elements, either reduction of encirclement or the hammer and anvil method is used.