Part 1 - ARMY CHOICE
101. Your army should fit your personality and offer a tactical style that is comfortable for you â€“ medieval French and Scythians favor very different personalities. Appearance counts too â€“ if you donâ€™t like the look of the army you wonâ€™t be enthusiastic about painting it. Pick an army that suits your tastes, tactical temperament and command skills, or build two for variety.
102. What historical periods, characters, armies, or peoples have your admiration, interest or affection? Do particular troops appeal to you such as knights, elephants, chariots, horse archers, massed foot (so long as itâ€™s not Camels)? Some enduring wargame wisdom is to play an army you can love even when it loses. (â€œAncient Wargaming,â€ P. Barker)
103. A 400 point DBM/M army is usually close to enough bases for at least a Starter 600 point Field of Glory army. To give you an idea, in flipping through the first few Companion army list volumes, I see Starter armies ranging from 31 bases (Hephthalite Hunnic) to 87 (Jewish Revolt), including Commanders.
103a Due to use of the same or similar troops, some armies can easily â€œmorphâ€ into other armies using most or all of the same miniatures, but which will play in subtly â€“ or dramatically â€“ different ways. European medieval, Hellenistic, and Steppe armies are good examples.
104. The Companion army list books are organized thematically by region and period and the army lists and rules have been designed to play best when historical foes are set against each other within the same theme. The optional points system is intended to balance between cost effectiveness in games within the same theme book or era vs. open tournaments. Historical match-ups and thematic/period play are recommended, but many armies poorly regarded in other rules sets are often surprisingly playable in Field of Glory as the range of army performance is not as broad and there are few combats where the result approaches certainty.
105. A new player getting to a feeling of full competence with an army may take a few games for â€œsimplerâ€ armies (those with few troop types and straightforward doctrine) to dozens for â€œhardâ€ ones, but even with experience some armies will simply clash with a playerâ€™s tactical inclinations and temperament. One great thing about FoG is that lists that appear similar can in fact play quite differently, and the same army often has multiple strategies to choose from. Players can generally come up with a playable approach fairly quickly but for some armies it can take many battles to fine tune the army list and doctrine. You can see one player create a clunky disjointed army that falls apart tactically when things donâ€™t go perfectly while another develops a structure and doctrine that hangs together effectively. Good or bad army doctrine and fit with player style can make or break the army. Most players develop several favorite armies or army types.
106. Some armies have definite advantages or disadvantages against particular opponent types and some are favored for flexibility against a great range of opponents, but there are no â€œkiller armies.â€ In the 2009 Godendag theme tournament, five Nikephorian Byzantine armies finished from top to near the bottom of the final listings. Many successful players play diverse armies. In 2008, Knight Points of Advantage (POAs) and Complex Move Test (CMT) effects on the enemy, the presence of armoured foot and LH, and numerous light foot BGs were cited by some as evidence of the superiority of medieval armies, but others disagreed, seeing these as tactical advantages balanced by troop costs or countered by other factors and point to a wide variety in tournament standings. Indeed, some argued that classical armies with Armoured Spearmen and numerous Pikemen and lights have a numerical and tactical advantage against medieval knight-centered armies. Similar claims or complaints have been made regarding light horse, armies with missile cavalry, MF armies, â€œswarmâ€ tactics, fielding large numbers of BGs, etc. With the forthcoming release of chariot age armies, maybe wheels will be next.
107. In any event, there are definitely some armies that will fit your tastes, interests, tactical inclinations, and temperament better than others, and those will be the ones best for you.
108. There are different theories about which armies are best for beginners. Player JLopez recommends â€œtwo types of armies: highly mobile quality ones (Huns, Ilkhanid) or slow, undrilled, protected and average ones (Early German, Spartacus). The former will give you a reasonable chance to win, are fun to use and require less knowledge of the rules to use (fewer movement restrictions) and will give you a clue as to how to use, or not to use, other armies when you face them. The undrilled armies will be a pain to use and you will lead them to defeat after defeat until you have gained a good understanding of the rules and its mechanisms. However, the latter method has a more pronounced learning curve and the experience will serve you much better with other armies. I've often found that beginners who learn to play with mobile armies tend to pick up bad habits (poor deployment that you fix later, lack of a plan...) which they find hard to shake off later. Difficult armies often force you to make up for their deficiencies with good generalship.â€
109. Note that both types he recommends are relatively homogeneous â€“ several troop types that hang together well. The hardest armies to start with are those with troops that are too varied or disparate in tactical usage to work together manageably without a high level of skill. Armies with a primary troop type have a narrow set of capabilities that might be a poor match to some situations but are simpler to handle, as are large, strong, and high quality BGs â€“ but there are corresponding disavantages in flexibility and army size.
(See Part 3 below).
120. If you have a â€œhardâ€ rather than â€œsoftâ€ army, what is the strike force (your â€œhammerâ€)? Mounted or foot? Are your fighting troops strong in Impact, in Melee, or both types of close combat? Which BG will be the â€œschwerpunktâ€ (hard point) whose mission other BGs are to support (see Part 8 â€“ Battle Plans below). Support includes rear support but also covering their flanks directly with intercept coverage or by threatening potential flankers, shooting the target enemy, or screening, pinning or engaging adjoining enemy to keep them occupied or render them ineffective.
121. If you donâ€™t have a strike force that can strike the enemy at an advantage, how will you engage the enemy? Do not underestimate the power of shooting (and skirmishing) or using superior numbers or mobility to outwing and overwhelm the enemy â€“ both are usual alternatives of the â€œsoftâ€ army.
122. Level of mobility? Drilled/Undrilled? How much manoeuvre is needed for your army vs. its opponents?
123. Any Heavy Foot or other troops suitable to act as a pinning center, flank barrier, or â€œshieldâ€ for the army in open ground?
124. Terrain options and terrain troops: How does your army use or deal with terrain? Having some Medium Foot suitable for holding, clearing, or attacking through terrain is useful. Often your potential ability to use terrain is enough to affect the enemyâ€™s dispositions â€“ one reason to deploy MF late. However, always remember that the game is won by defeating the enemy, not simply holding ground. Missile troops can also occupy terrain effectively, with the added benefit that they can bring disruptive shooting to bear on enemy outside. Also remember that in FoG terrain is not as crippling to close formation and mounted troops as it is in many other rulesets: even the dice-halving effect of Severe Disorder can be offset by armour or weaponry POAs, numbers, positional advantages, or just being non-Skirmishers fighting Skirmishers.
125. Skirmish/anti-skirmish capability? Skirmishers are cheap and having even a small number of them can be quite useful. Itâ€™s a nuisance to face Skirmishers without any of your own. You want more or better LH to beat LH, and LH or LF to drive off LF (yes, you can use Cavalry, but this draws powerful troops off into a probably wasteful chase). Skirmishers can be punished or driven off by massed archers, or if you are Armoured or Heavily Armoured you may just ignore them and press on.
126. Missile troops that fit the army? Enough converged shooting can break BGs with shooting alone, or Fragment them to be broken by a charge. Foot shooters with close combat abilities such as Swordsmen, stakes (Portable Defences), or front-rank Spearmen are more versatile, but those advantages donâ€™t often come into play.
127. Counters and Trumps vs. specific enemy troops/threats of concern? When working on doctrine, you will be thinking about how to deal with different opponents and different battlefields.
128. What are its special features of interest? E.g., availability of rare or desirable troop types, or special rules such as the ability to dismount freely during set-up. Are there useful allied contingents the army can field?
129. Deficiencies: What are the potentially painful weaknesses of the army? How can you overcome them â€“ if certain enemy have a big advantage against you frontally, do you have an army that can flank them or break them up?
131. Versatility: How opponent-sensitive and terrain-sensitive is the army? How versatile is the army in terms of army list options? How versatile is your actual fielded list in terms of tactical options? Toolkit armies can be very versatile but can fall into confusion if their plan goes awry, while armies that lean to their strengths can be more reliably effective and easier to command, except they may have a nemesis. It is easy to be too clever and complex â€“ many times a storm of arrows or a wall of tough plodding legionaries or hoplites can do the job without fuss or confusion.
132. Are there clear, workable and attractive doctrinal options/battle plans?
133. Do these fit your temperament and skills? Are the challenges offered by the army the kind of challenges you enjoy? Some players are perfectly capable of handling armies that they just donâ€™t like to command.
134. What Commanders will you need for this army? Undrilled troops need more care. Are there required or desirable Ally Commanders, and will that fit with how you will use the army?
135. Pre-Battle Initiative is important. The usual goal is to win it and get to pick the terrain region, place terrain first, and deploy second, but, with some doctrines for some armies, reliably losing Pre-Battle Initiative in order to move first and gain manoeuvring room (or to pin your prey and deliver a decisive thrust to its heart) is preferable and may be the decisive consideration. An army with a Troop Commander as CinC and no more than 9 LH or Cavalry bases achieves a Pre-Battle Initiative of 0.
140. Combined arms forces use Heavy or Medium Foot as an assault, pinning, blocking or herding force or base of manoeuvre for their Skirmishers or mounted. Their mounted arm is usually but not always a striking force. Combined arms armies can range from a simple mix of troop types to complex â€œtoolkitâ€ armies for which it is important to optimize the performance of their diverse troop types by manoeuvring for favorable match-ups. They are less sensitive to variations in terrain and opponents, but lack the big high-impact hammer a more one dimensional army can deliver against its suitable opponents.
141. Pike armies include both a few armies like the Swiss Pike steamroller as well as combined arms Hellenistic or Medieval forces with a large force of Pikemen used as the main battle line in conjunction with a mounted striking arm and Light Foot and Light Horse.
142. Armies focusing on a main line of one or two battle troop types plus good supports can work well and are easier to play competently than â€œtoolkitâ€ armies with a variety, especially at lower army point levels when it is hard to fill the toolbox and there is more leeway for the other side to avoid troops or terrain. Having fewer and simpler tactical decisions is likely to mean fewer mistakes. Undrilled troops often work well in this type of army.
143. Infantry-focused armies rely on numerous Heavy or Medium Foot to do most of the fighting, with other troops enabling the battle line to fight, primarily by protecting their flanks. Wheeling the army as a whole in order to fight across the depth rather than width of the table is a common battle plan against foes with superior mounted in open terrain.
144. Lancer armies tend to focus on Knight or Cavalry Lancer charges but fill out the army with some supports, lights and other cheap troops. Other heavy Cavalry armies typically combine shooting and shock and may include a few LH BGs as well as supports such as infantry or Elephants.
145. Light armies are hard to play unless the style fits you â€“ if you donâ€™t like manoeuvre and finesse, play something else. Skirmishers are easy to manoeuvre and thus forgiving of minor mistakes. Skirmisher armies win slowly and can be frustrating to fight against, but also frustrating to use as patience and a learning curve are required to use them most effectively. The better light armies also have enough heavier striking troops (elephants, heavy horse, good heavy or medium foot) to screen-and-smash (Tip 837) â€“ they skirmish along the line trying to use shooting and manoeuvre to slow or pin the enemy, disrupt his cohesion and formations and create weaknesses, such as gaps and open flanks, that are then exploited with strong attacks by a well-led strike force seeking to smash a portion of the enemy army. The lights continue working to help delay effective response. Those light armies without such a strike force manoeuvre to concentrate shooting and take the enemy apart BG by BG. Skirmisher battles tend to run for many turns, so you want to play fast to have enough turns for your shooting to work without giving the enemy time and opportunity to push you off table (this takes work, since Skirmishers near the table edge can be very slippery).
146. â€œShootyâ€ (Missile) Cavalry/LH armies and LH-focused armies can seem fairly simple to operate but take more skill and experience than average to use well. An even split of BG numbers between Cav and LH is often recommended. LH are easier to handle, but Cav deliver more firepower and if equipped for it may be able to act in a dual role including close combat, with the preferred targets being BGs disrupted or fragmented by shooting or flank or rear charges. Shooty mounted, like Skirmishers, are viewed as drawish in timed games, with both sides needing ways to force a decision on an uncooperative opponent.
Light and shooty mounted armies are discussed in more detail in Part 10.
147. â€œElephant armyâ€ is sometimes used to refer to an army that has some Elephants, but should be reserved for those with numerous Elephants as a major striking arm, notably Classical Indian in the published lists. Elephants have been decribed as "glass cannons", a statement which the rules authors enthusiastically endorse as neatly encapsulating their design intentions. They can do a lot of damage and are hard to kill, but once an Elephant base is killed the BG autobreaks, routs, and is removed by the end of the turn (after up to two rout moves that can disrupt nearby friends). Therefore they need to be handled with care and protected from unnecessary shooting and melee attacks.
160. Quantity has a quality all its own but only if it can be brought to bear in good time where you can overlap or flank the enemy. Engineering this is the challenge. Attrition, through deeper formations or trading BG for BG, is easier to execute but risky.
Next, Part 2 - General Tips
Field of Glory Tactical Tips
Created originally by Mike K and posted on the Slitherine FoG Forum, and appearing here with his kind permission. This is a live WIKI version of the document and so you welcome to edit or add to the content on any of these pages.
If you are adding totally new items to the list of tips, or putting an opposing viewpoint forward for one of the existing tips please do so by adding a new section using letters to supplement the original numerical sequence. ie:
(original point)-407. Non-skirmisher horse are usually 4 bases for shooting Cavalry and good Lancers, while other Cavalry and Cataphracts are often preferred as 6s if affordable.
(new addition) -407.a Fielding large numbers of low-grade cavalry in 4's can allow you to greatly increase unit count, and improve your chances of initiating flank attacks in which their lesser quality/armour becomes irrelevant.
You can use colours if you wish but it's not obligatory. If you are clarifying or enhancing one of the existing tips, feel free to edit the existing point.
The "locked" Original FoG Tactical Tips is available through that link.
1. Army Choice
2. General Tips
3. Doctrine and Drill
4. BG Sizes
8. Battle Plans
9. Troop Types in FoG
10. Light Horse Stable
11. Tactical Miscellany
12. Visualizing Battles
13. Wisdom from the Experts