Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tactics Spotlight: Shock Trooper Offense

Shock trooper is a term I throw around pretty loosely. The truth is, shock troopers can fill whatever role their team needs, and usually play a large part in causing or stopping decisive action. Today's tactical spotlight looks at a few things that shock troops do on the offensive.  Remember, fortune favors the bold! 

Minor breakthroughs are a pretty common goal for them. With a bit of armor and a plan, they aggressively force their way through weak points and gaps. One of the more common targets is polearms, rushing in to disable the wielder and do as much damage to the formation as possible. If their team follows up the charge, it may even lead to a major breakthrough.

Other than just happening to be on the line, in the thick of fighting, shock troopers sometimes act as an advance force for their team, strafing the enemy line and picking off targets of opportunity during the maneuver phase. They accomplish this by using the space between the lines to maneuver, relying on vision gaps to let them get a few shots off before being noticed.

Should the enemy line have a sufficient weak point or gap, the strafing trooper can easily attack it and attempt to break through. Succeeding at this point buys them a chance to take out key targets and archers before their team even has to fight them. However, once the gap is exploited, it will often force them to redress the ranks. Therefore, it is difficult for such a maneuver to gain the team much of an advantage unless the trooper is extremely successful at killing their numbers or being a sufficient distraction.

Top: the armored up knight strafes the line, sacrificing armor to get kills and limbs.  He uses the vision gaps to pick his targets.
Bottom: While strafing the line, he notices a gap, sacrificing most of his remaining armor to push through and start killing the enemy backfield.

Shock troopers can also be found causing and exploiting gaps during the battle itself. Often, it requires two or more working together. One trooper engages the enemy next to a gap, pinning them in place and allowing the other trooper to slip past unopposed. This is also a common tactic seen on the flank when one side has more flankers than the other.

A group of shock troopers has great potential to wreak havoc on a line, especially if each if them is capable of holding their own behind enemy lines. In this instance, a common practice is to follow each other through a gap, using the first one as a distraction to cover the others on their way in. Once through, they split up and work to deal as much damage as possible.

The pair of knights notice the spacing gap in front of them.  The left knight pushes in on the enemy knight and keeps him preoccupied, allowing the right knight to push around, through the gap.  Notice the two fighters to the left of the action, they are going to have to fight defensively or be overrun.

Even in the event they can't group up, a pair of shock troopers can strafe the line on opposite directions, crossing paths midfield. This creates a situation where vision gaps get created as people turn to defend against one shock trooper only to be cut down by the other. This indirect teamwork still relies on each person's ability to attack and defend on the move.

Shock troop offense is usually a high risk, medium-high reward.  In order to gain the most benefit, the rest of the line has to work off of any gaps or weakness the shock troopers create.  They also need to keep in mind that they may be left on the defensive while the shock troops focus on killing the other enemy flank.  Communication and situational awareness will also help the team take advantage of a minor breakthrough, possibly even rolling through a gap in force.

I'll talk more about how to stop shock troopers and defensive tactics they use a little next week.  Until then, good luck and good hunting.

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