Thursday, June 03, 2004

Battle Tactics, Part One...

A few notes on micromanaging your troops in the heat of battle.

First off, it's extremely useful to assign control groups to your armies, allowing you to manipulate them at the quick touch of a button. I tend to use the numbers 1 to 5 for cities, production groups, and libraries. I use 6 to 0 for actual fighting groups. For the most part, I'll assign 0 to my largest combined army, 9 to an auxilary, and 8 to any navy I might have. If I am using just one large army, then I might assign 0 to it, 9 to the artillery in that army, and 8 to commandos.

However you end up assigning the control groups, having the main units of your army in control groups allows you to coordinate your attacks on the enemy. Consider an attack on a city. You'll need your infantry nearest the city, in order to capture it. You'll need your artillery to remain out of the line of fire, but able to pound the city down. Your scouts are needed to reveal spies, snipe critical units, and destroy buildings like towers and anti-aircraft placements. By assigning a control group to the entire attacking army, you can send the army forward as a group, each unit protecting the other. After you've moved your army to attack, you can select your artillery group, and assign it to siege the city. Since the group is already moving as part of the army, it'll stop at a safe distance, and begin setting up for seige. While the attack gets into high gear, you can select your group of scouts and have them move forward to snipe and sabotage (or more if you're in the highest ages). Consider assigning another control group to light cavalry, and you have a group you can quickly move to attack problem areas or units of high value (supply wagons, generals, revealed spies).

The best thing of all about assigning a control group to your main army, is that you can keep your army together in a coherent formation. As a battle carries on, your army will get spread out, losing its effectiveness. You will want to continously bring your army back into formation as you move forward (or retreat) in battle. An army in formation covers it's ass. You know of the saying, "Divide and conquer."? It is especially true in Rise of Nations.

There are two other ways to manage your army's effectiveness. The first is stances. There are several stances, but I will concentrate on two. All have their uses, but these two are used most by me. Aggressive stance will enable your army to attack anything that wanders nearby that is not friendly. All units will attack targets of opportunity, each unit seems to go first for units that are weak to it, and if you're not paying attention, your army will become dispersed chasing enemy units all over the place. The second stance I favour is stand ground. This is espcially useful in gunpowder age, where you'll have plenty of units with ranged fire. Units told to stand ground will stand and fight anything that gets close, but they will not leave formation. Melee units will remain in formation, taking fire, but will attack if a unit gets within their melee range. I switch to aggressive when on the attack, and use attack-move to keep my army moving forward. When I've just captured a city, I switch to stand ground to stabalize the area, and keep my troops massed to prevent the city from being retaken too easily.

In Part Two, I will continue with army formations.