Monday, April 21, 2014

Anatomy of a Line: core, wings, and anchors

Discussion of line tactics often gets broken down into two distinct sections: linefighters and flankers. While this method of study can yield one a great deal, there is far more actually going on in a large line battle. Looking at the interaction of flankers and the line on a small, realm scale doesn't take into account the diverse nature of the lineup seen at major events. Today, I'll be focusing on three main components of the main line: core, wings, and anchors.

As we begin to scale up from the typical, midsized practice, we start to see that those on the line begin working differently. At the core of the line, we start to see more armor and tighter grouping, forming a strong center. Moving along the line, between the core and flankers, spacing increases in a section I refer to as the wings. Wings cover large areas, adjusting the space between them in response to the enemy's position.

Note the two anchors. Their job is to keep the line between them and the core in touch.  The furthest out anchor has the responsibility of extending the line to counter flankers.

I generally compare the spacing between wingmen to be like they are all bound to the person next to them with bungie cords. Should the end of the line need to extend, each wingman gets pulled somewhat farther from the center. This change in spacing, however, is not uniform. Spacing increases more as you look farther away from the core of the line.

Spacing between fighters sometimes becomes a danger to the line, creating an easy gap for enemy troops to move through. Spacing between two fighters shouldn't generally be more than twice the distance between lines. The idea here being that it will take an enemy about the same amount of time to reach the gap as either fighter would to close off the approach. Of course, relative speed of fighters will come into play to adjust this distance. Once this spacing is reached, the next fighter will have to start spacing out as well.

Once fighting reaches a certain scale, multiple cores might form, connected by wings. This usually happens when a few units are on the same team and have unaffiliated fighters filling the ranks between them. You may also see lines without wings, such as bridge battles or at Wolfpack Opener. Smaller practices will often only be a one wing skirmish line without a core.

Of course, in an ideal setting, each fighter has awareness of the entire line and reacts according. That never happens. Each section has a good idea of their own status, but can't devote ample time to checking on other sections. This job then becomes the responsibility of people I call anchors. At the end of each section, there is at least one anchor or group of anchors. They maintain spacing between sections and are responsible for monitoring the situation next to their section.

Anchors can be from either section, they work to maintain coherency for both. The reason they are specifically called out here, is that many gaps form near them. Often times, the gap forms because someone doesn't realize they need to be an anchor. All too often, a person or two has got overly involved in what their group/unit/section is doing, they lose track of the person next to them.

Take stock of your position once in a while. If you are on the edge of a unit, try to keep an eye out on their flank. If you and the edge of the adjacent section lose track of each other, you may be leaving a gap large enough for a few fighters to push through. One fighter finding their way behind your line can kill most of a section with relative ease.

On the flipside, you can spot likely gaps by observing how people in the anchor position look around. More seasoned fighters have their head on a swivel, looking for threats and gaps. Less experienced fighters tend to look at the direction they plan to go, following their section in. Next to these inexperienced anchors, a gap will often form next to him during the early part of the battle.

I'll talk more about gaps later, but for now, remember to keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel. If you don't know if you are the anchor, you probably should check your sides. I might just be charging past you.

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