Thursday, May 29, 2014

Decisive Action: Weak Points

Last week I talked about gaps, but I forgot to mention weak points. Unlike a gap, a weak point is still defended, but offers a chance for a skilled/lucky fighter to push through. Also, they are good opportunities for support weapons to breakthrough with concentrated effort. Weak points allow a well organized group to cause high local attrition, and potentially a minor/major breakthrough.

Two new fighters post up just within sword reach of each other, leaving just enough space for a fighter to pass through. This isn't as spacing gap, because they are still within distance to cover the gap, but it is a weak point. The combination of good shield placement and good timing can allow a skilled fighter to push through unscathed. This is largely because newer fighters are less likely to cut off the advance and will stay in their positions as the shock trooper presses in.

Now, what if you were to put a spear user between those newer fighters? Problem solved, right? Well, sometimes. Outside of exceptional spear fighters, it only slows the advance down a little bit, and actually causes the shock trooper to have to act sooner, rather than standing in the spear's optimal range. It also will likely cause the new fighters to spread out a bit to give the spear some room. The shock trooper just has to get inside of the spear tip to turn this fight into the same type of fight as before.

Those of you that know me probably know this is one of my favorite weak points to exploit. It takes good timing and quite a few steps, but can sway the tide of a fight pretty quickly. It also has a high likelihood of getting you killed when you try it.  That being said, a solid push into the spear formation is going to give your team time to push up while they are occupied, and even against skilled opponents, there is still a good chance of doing some damage. 

That's me, rushing a spear, while trying to stab the adjacent knight with my down sword.  No one said it would be easy.
Photo by: Ellie Apland
Another weak point commonly seen is a section of the line that lacks shields.  Whether a number of fighters that have lost an arm, several florentine fighters, or some red users, they still are creating an opportunity for some attackers.  During the maneuver phase of a line battle (before anyone is in range to attack, except the stray arrow), spear and glaive users should position themselves to strike at this type of weak point.  The shieldless have much less defense against reach weapons and should be easier to cut down.  Arrows seem like an obvious choice to attack here as well, but the continuous pressure of a spear may be more suited to kill the weak point.

Then there is "the javelin guy".  Javelins are good for putting some threat out towards support weapons and killing high value targets, but they aren't going to help you much when you are being rushed.  Sometimes, a javelin user keeps their javelin aimed towards a polearm long enough that the enemy can get into range to rush them.  At this point, he either has to decide to throw/drop it and swap weapons, or try to survive by blocking with the javelin.  This becomes an especially good target if the fighter to one side or another is preoccupied or looking the other way.  I'm also not trying to say javelins are bad, but remind people that when you have one out, you are as much a support weapon as a lineman.  Try to keep yourself in a safe spot if you are going to hang onto it for a while.  Or don't, and I'll be more than happy to rush your way.

One last weak point for today, the range weak point.  What's this, a whole unit has short swords and no support weapons?  Well, I guess my team should pull out their long swords and polearms.  Any time you can simply outrange a group of enemies, it is going to help boost the attrition your side causes.  Much like the situation of shieldless enemies, bringing up polearms and other reach weapons gives your team a huge advantage.  By maintaining control of the range, your side can dictate the flow of battle and swing more aggressively, without being easily countered.

The whole goal of spotting a weak point is to figure out how to use it to cause as much damage as possible to the enemy.  You just need to out kill them locally in order to start gaining some advantage across the whole line.  A lot of the time, by applying concentrated pressure to a weak point, you will form a gap in their line, allowing you to crush their team.

When you notice a weak point in your own line, you need to either reinforce it, or fight defensively. During the maneuver phase, try to redress the ranks to spread shields to where they need to go and eliminate any other weak points you notice early. As far as smaller weak points go, they will be harder to notice until it is too late, but with any luck, a small bit of reserves will at least have a shot at preventing too much damage.  For the larger weak areas, playing it safe will buy some time for your own line to gain advantage elsewhere.  Because the enemies goal will be to kill you quickly, yours needs to be surviving.

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