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Battlefield Aer: Fareach Valley


Overview

So, you have started down the path to rebellion and are looking for tips on how to run your army. Well, you've come to the right place! This article will help orient the new player, providing both an overview of many aspects of the game, plus specific tips on one of the two possible first battles. All the battles in this series are fought at medium difficulty playing as Calis. Every attempt is made, however, to make the articles as general as possible, so the information provided can be used by people playing as any of the four generals.

Your Army

First, I'd like to start with a comment on the composition of your army. My personal preference is to go for a "no-flier" army, in which no sky hunters or bombadiers are purchased and instead an emphasis is placed on aqcuiring archers and siege engines to combat enemy fliers. In this series, I will use the no-flier approach. Given this restriction, you will either want to build a well-balanced army from all the other available unit types, which is the path followed in these articles, or an all-cavalry army, which I leave to the reader to experiment with (hint: Calis with 50% light cav, 50% heavy cav). Starting with Calis, my purchases before the first battle consist of: two archers, one skirmisher and one siege engine. For the no-flier strategy, you need to start building up experienced archers early! The skirmisher is a very useful unit, both for softening up difficult targets and for scounting, especially in rough terrain. If playing as Marcas, you should purchase cavalry and a siege engine instead, as you will need to mobility and shock power of the cavalry to back up your infantry. After these purchases, my entire army consists of: 1 Heavy nfantry (HI), 2 Light Infantry (LI), 2 Archers (AR), 1 Skirmisher (SK), 2 Light Cavalry (LC), 3 Heavy Cavalry (HC), and 1 Siege Engine (SE). I give the shield to my heavy infantry, improving his survivability against powerful or entrenched enemy units.

The Map

Having purchased troops, we now advance to the troop placement phase. During this phase, we want to examine the map closely - we want to get a feel for the terrain, where can we move freely, where are the likely avenues of attack, where can we easily defend if need be, where are the objectives and how best to approach them, etc. In the case of Fareach Valley, we are faced primarily with plains, the only big terrain issue of note being the hills and mountains east of the town, slightly limiting our approach, but in this scenario it should not be a big deal. The town, Nisse, is one objective, with a magical circle of stones (the Standing Stones) being another. This objective lies in the middle of the plains and therefore needs no special tactical consideration in its capture. While there are other terrain features, they are far from the action and should not come into play.

The Strategy

With two objectives that are close together and lots of open plains, we will form two task forces, one for each objective. Although not particurlarly critical in this scenario to form separate task forces, exactly because the objectives are so close together, we will still do so just to get in the habit, as it will be critical in later battles. These task forces can be fairly balanced in power, as both us and the enemy can easily and quickly shift forces from one objective to another as circumstances dictate. Our overall strategy for this battle is nothing fancy, just roll straight forward into the objectives, shifting troops between task forces as necessary.

Troop Placement

Having examined the map, and considered out strategy, we now need to plan our troop disposition. We have already decided on two task forces, and now is the time to consider the specific compositions of those task forces. They should have roughly the same strength, but we will put the extra cavalry on the Standing Stones, as there is more room for maneuver against that objective. Using Calis and the army described above, I will split my forces like so: Task Force Nisse: 1HI, 1SE, 1AR, 2HC Task Force Standing Stones: 2LI, 1SK, 2LC, 1HC* (The HC in TF Standing Stones is the grade 2 cav that Calis starts with). On the map, my troops are positioned in the starting area as follows: LI LI HI LC AR HC* SK SE LC AR HC HC We place the siege engine in TF Nisse, due to its obvious value in attacking a town. The Heavy Infantry will provide the power necessary for rooting the enemy out of the town, while the archers will provide valuable support for the siege engine, should it be attacked unexpectedly, and the HC, should the enemy sortie from the town to attack. The cavalry will also protect the flanks of this task force, especially looking out for the vulnerable siege engine. TF Standing Stones is composed of the lighter, faster troops as they have farther to move (again, not a big issue on this map, but it will be on later maps), and the skirmisher troops (SK and LC) will provide the necessary softening up that will enable the light infantry to punch the rest of the way through the enemy defenses.

The First Few Turns

While it is generally impossible to provide detailed strategy for the entire course of a battle, it can be done for the first two or three turns. It is recommended you play the scenario once or twice before reading the following. For both task forces, it is recommended you move the archers first, as they are the slowest units you have and whenever practical, all other units should move at the same speed and in such a way as to be adjacent to the archers to gain the defensive bonus. In this case, TF Nisse should move the archers due east, and the heavy infantry and siege engine should move the hexes NE and SE of the archers, respectively. One cav should move to the hex N of the archers to protect the north flank of the task force, while the other cav should move to screen the siege engine: HC HI AR SE HC TF Standing Stones should advance the archer north along the road, with the LI and SK forming a semi-circle facing north around the archers. The east flank should be covered by TF Nisse, so move the cavalry to protect the west flank. This also puts them into a position to envelope or encircle the Standing Stones, should the opportunity present itself. My experience with this battle has shown that the enemy will spend its first turn advancing its troops towards yours, occupying the objectives and possibly making a weak attack by one unit against TF Nisse. With your archers in support, this attack should be easily beaten off with heavy losses to the enemy. The second turn will see you able to move your troops in to attack. You should be able to make direct attacks against the objectives, although you will certainly not want to ignore the enemy units that attacked you on the first turn, as doing so will enable them to get behind your lines and attack your vulnerable units (siege engines and archers) or occupy any objectives you may already control, either of which is a Bad Thing (tm).

The End

You should be able to complete this scenario with no difficulties, and certainly with none of your own units being completely destroyed. In fact, it should not take you more than three or four turns, unless you intentionally let units escape and rest up so you can beat up on them later, thereby incresaing the experience your troops can gain. There is also nothing interesting to be gained in this scenario. Playing as Calis, the Standing Stones yielded a group of volunteer peasants, which are almost more of a burden than a help. Still, it is my hope that you come away from this article with a sense of how to build your army, how to recon the map, and how to group and place your troops for battle. Other articles in the series will follow the same basic pattern as this one - discuss troop acquitision strategies, discuss the map, discuss strategic considerations, discuss tactical considerations, discuss troop disposition, and finally discuss specific strategy and tactics for the first couple turns. Please let me know what you think of this article specifically, and about this series in general! :)
eglamkowski@angelfire.com