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Terrain

PART 6 – TERRAIN


600. The Field of Glory terrain system is a like a pre-battle skirmish, a series of actions and responses offering opportunities for incremental advantages or making mistakes. It doesn’t take much to learn how to use the system to limit terrain that you want to avoid, but it can take work to fine tune your terrain doctrines to maximize your pre-battle edge. Terrain doctrine should be developed alongside army composition, order of march, deployment doctrine, and tactical doctrine, since they all fit together. Just as historically, the general who knows the kind of battlefield he wants is more likely to get it, and knowing how you would likely deploy in any terrain set-up is going to help in making the right spot decisions during terrain placement.

601. Obviously, your doctrine includes an appreciation of favorable and unfavorable terrain against different foes that guides you in your choices and placement during set-up. Before starting set-up, you should assess the respective forces and decide what your terrain priorities are. Ideally you've worked through your doctrine and drill so you'll have several terrain-based deployment and battle plans available which guide terrain placement and you can modify and put in operation during and after deployment. Know what the battlespace you want looks like. Central terrain is usually much more important in a battle than flank terrain. You have the chance to place or move most terrain pieces, an opportunity to improve them to your advantage or make easy terrain-related mistakes. Let me put in a plug for practicing competitive terrain drills – in friendly games, place terrain and then roll a die – on an even roll, rather than continuing and playing instead discuss what happened and then restart the whole terrain sequence.

602. Terrain can be an obstacle, a shelter, a bulwark, an avenue, a trap – or an irrelevant distraction. Bad going in the middle of the field can divide an army’s communications with its flanks, allowing the other side to use it to create dilemmas for the divided force. It can obstruct and delay the enemy’s response to action on the other flank, or provide a secure flank for an army to mass on only one side of the terrain. It can provide a Cover POA against shooting (if Forest, Plantation, Village, Vineyards, or Enclosed Fields), may block shooting line of sight entirely, or provide shelter for missile troops to harass the enemy. Note that non-LF in Rough Enclosed Fields and Difficult Vineyards benefit from Cover but their shooting visibility remains unrestricted, making these excellent havens for MF archers facing other shooters. (See page 132 and the FAQ regarding visibility rules.) Terrain can be the anchor of offense or defense on one side or the other if strongly held or impenetrable to the enemy. It can serve as flypaper for unsuitable troops if you can lure or force them into it where their movement will be bogged down, or expose other troops to flank attacks if they incautiously advance past it. You can often benefit from terrain without committing a BG to guard it or screen it, and you don’t necessarily need terrain troops to benefit from the presence of terrain.

603. Don’t seize or contest a terrain feature without a purpose. Would it delay the enemy? Divert his attention? Hinder his advance? Force him to detach forces against it? Put pressure on the flanks of his nearby formations? If you plan to use terrain as a base from which to threaten an enemy, make sure you have committed enough BG’s to protect your own flanks as you emerge from it.

604. The terrain process usually involves one side seeking open ground and the other more terrain features, though the exact goals depend on the two armies fighting and the doctrines they have chosen. Light Horse and other mounted armies usually want to maximize open ground, though Uneven ground favors LH and bad terrain in the right place can be used to manoeuvre around against a slower opponent, so Steppe armies can do surprisingly well around terrain. Heavy Foot armies tend to favor a patch of open ground with protective flanking terrain, the preferred type depending on the opposition, while MF armies benefit from central terrain against opponents unable to deal with it well.

Good open ground regions are Steppes, followed by Agricultural, Desert and Developed. Some terrain strategies for the player with Pre-Battle Initiative who seeks open space actually involve selecting bad terrain pieces of very small size, including hills with other terrain on them, to foreclose the other player’s options. The opponent is unlikely to remove the piece, so you may end up with more terrain pieces than otherwise, yet have more control over where it goes. Using that control wisely involves knowing the types of landscapes favored by your doctrine.

Troops in Terrain

605. Disorder or even Severe Disorder is not necessarily crippling for heavy troops against lights in terrain since they start with a 2:1 advantage in dice count and may also have the advantage of armour and other POAs. Troops that are already Disrupted or Fragmented are already effectively Disordered or Severely Disordered so suffer no further ill effects from terrain with those effects. Advancing through terrain in a series of columns can mean Disordered BGs lose no dice losses in combat at all, as only 2 bases from each will fight.

606. It is a useful habit to write a note on the bottom of 3 ambush markers and place them in every game, or at least practice thinking about where they would go. Ambushes rarely actually surprise the other player past the first turn, but often that is long enough for an advantage by affecting his deployment decisions or delaying his initial movement. If your Camp is in or near terrain, consider an ambush marker near it. Ambush markers are perhaps best used to start troops farther forward than usual for more immediate action, to conceal the absence of troops on a flank march or deployed elsewhere, to conceal the absence of terrain troops defending a piece of terrain, to obscure the exact location or nature of particular BGs – particularly ones dangerous or vulnerable to the enemy – or as a simple bluff.

607. Careful ambush marker placement is important since slight variations in location and angle of placement can greatly affect how you can deploy the ambushers, particularly deployment in adjoining open areas or with enemy nearby. How the marker is placed also affects how convincing it is. Don’t delay revealing the ambush too long and be placed in an awkward position by allowing enemy too near who can restrict your base placement or cause you to lose undeployable bases. Don’t overlook Commander placement in your ambush plans = if you have 4 Commanders visible on the table, it is obvious you don’t have a flank march.

620. Don’t overlook selection of Impassable terrain features (LF and MF can’t go there either!), and specify whether they block LOS in whole or in part – Impassable lakes or quarries are depressions that don’t block line of sight while Impassable hills or other elevations do. You can use hills as defensive positions or to allow overhead shooting (see Rules p82), or bad terrain on top of hills to make them more defensible or obstruct manoeuvre. A Coast can narrow the table a little and prevent flank marches, but a River has the advantage of preventing further terrain placement on that side edge and making it more difficult for enemy lights to exploit the 6 MU edge zone to get around the flank of heavier troops. A River or Coast each cost 2 selections. Roads only cost 1 selection and block placement of other terrain across the Road, so can be useful to the first player. The first player (the player with Pre-Battle Initiative) can pick a Village (which can be on an available hill) and place it early in the sequence. (See terrain table on p 131)

621. Remember that Difficult terrain slows down even terrain troops, but is far worse for others. Worst affected are HF Pikemen and Spearmen who lose their ranks POAs. If fielding mounted against Heavy Foot, Difficult can be preferable to Rough since it is almost impassable to HF and your troops outside can use your manoeuvre advantage should the HF commit to enter or go around one side or the other of the feature. Shooty Cavalry, however, can use slowing Uneven or Rough terrain to catch HF under prolonged archery.

622. Chariots and Knights have a worse time in Rough than other horse – they are Severely Disordered and also lose their open ground Impact POAs.

623. Uneven ground has no effect on Light Horse or Elephants and does not provide a safe haven for Skirmishers against any form of enemy mounted whose more numerous dice and POAs outweigh the effect of Disorder. It is particularly bad for charging Knights, and can be used to advantage to wrongfoot or delay Heavy Foot.

624. A thin terrain feature such as a Gully is an excellent barrier to protect missile troops desiring a beaten zone of shooting across it, as well as allowing ambush by any troops (except Heavy Artillery). Since troops outside need to approach within 1 MU to see inside, those lying in wait in a Gully will normally be able to charge first. A U-shaped hill crest makes a handy ambush spot.

625. Massed archers in the middle of Rough or Uneven terrain have ample time to shoot up any Heavy Foot crawling towards them at 2 MU per turn.

626. Beware that bases entirely in a Forest or Village can only see and shoot (or be shot at) within 2 MU (4MU for (Rough) Plantations). This can help or hurt.

627. Use march columns for greater speed on Roads or going through slowing terrain, but note that Undrilled are slower to expand out and move on once through it.

628. If you are the second player and want to clog the table against a player who wants it open, remember that up to 6 pieces will already have been placed. You may get more terrain down by selecting small or medium Normal sized (i.e., maximum 12 MU) oblong pieces that are likely to fit more easily rather than maximum-sized circular ones that cover the most ground but are more easily blocked.

Terrain & Army Choice


637. Steppes Terrain: The favorite of Steppe armies and some others – the subject of ceaseless complaints by armies preferring more terrain in hopes of catching and crushing evasive opponents.

638. Steppes Strategies for LH:

With Initiative in Steppes, there are three good terrain strategies made possible by the limited number of terrain pieces allowed:.

  • The simplest is to take 2 Large (i.e., 16 MU) Open Areas in addition to your compulsories to block additional terrain as much as possible.
  • A second approach is to take two Normal Open Areas with the same goal, and to take a minimum size Gully and Brushy Gentle Hill to use up those terrain pieces – the other player is then limited to one Brush and some Uneven ground (which is like open ground for LH and Elephants).
  • The third approach takes this further by taking the Gully, Brushy Gentle Hill, and the other two Brush, all minimum size, leaving the opponent only with Broken Ground (but more latitude to place them). If your army is all Skirmishers the Broken Ground won’t affect you at all.

Steppes Without Initiative:
If the first player chooses option 2 or 3 you have little choice of bad terrain features. But note that you can make use of Open Areas yourself. You will deploy them before any optional terrain is placed so can use them to try to force some of your opponent’s bad terrain pieces into more central locations more useful to you.

640. Agricultural Terrain: This offers a pro-open army 2 Open Areas as selections and the compulsory features are Uneven Open Fields, so is acceptable for Steppe armies. This is the standard choice for pro-open armies if Steppes are unavailable.

641. Agricultural Strategies: If you want open ground and have LH that don’t mind the Open Fields, just take Large compulsory and Normal optional Open Fields, and Large and Normal optional Open Areas. The other player will be forced to place an Open Field and has 4 other options to fit in remaining spaces. With Initiative you can also take a River on one flank to keep that edge clear (though it narrows the overall battlefield) and a Road on the other that can do the same if it stays in place. If you lack Initiative, any remaining Road, Gentle Hills, Open Areas or Open Fields can be used to meet your required 2 selections and keep things open.

643. Developed Terrain: Note the first player must take a compulsory Village, and the other player must take an Enclosed Field. With Open Areas and Open Fields, the pro-open player has some favorable selections, but this is worse than Agricultural for pro-open players.

644. Developed Strategies: TBD Please add your suggested strategies to this document !

646. Woodlands Terrain: TBD Please add your suggested strategies to this document !

647. Woodlands Strategies: TBD Please add your suggested strategies to this document !

649. Hilly Terrain: Hilly has 21 terrain pieces, making it harder to force choices on the opponent.

650. Hilly Strategies: TBD Please add your suggested strategies to this document !

652. Mountain Terrain: The best choice for pro-terrain players because Open, Uneven, and Gentle Hill choices are totally unavailable and the compulsories are Steep Hills. Other than placing a Road, the other player is going to have to place 3 pieces of Rough or Difficult terrain. An army considering Mountains as a region choice should focus on terrain doctrine to define the particular types, shapes and locations it desires and those it wishes to avoid. Some pro-terrain armies may prefer Rough to Difficult, others the reverse.

653. With Initiative in Mountains: Mountains would intuitively appear to be a choice for simply cluttering the table with difficult terrain, but with only 15 terrain pieces available there is a more subtle opportunity for enhancing the number of pieces of Difficult terrain. The first player can take 3 Normal Steep Hills (including the compulsory one) which can be covered by patches of Rough terrain, using up the Plantation and two Brush, and can in addition choose two more pieces from what is left depending on doctrine. What is left consists of a Road, a (Rough) Gully, and a number of Difficult or Impassable pieces. If the other side has the advantage in open ground, he is likely to pick 2 Impassables as they have an equal impact on both sides, so you may consider pre-empting these choices by taking the Impassables yourself.

655. Tropical Terrain: Tropical has 14 terrain pieces available, the fewest after Steppes. With compulsory Forests, no Open Areas or Uneven available, and only 2 Rough pieces, the terrain is a stark contrast of open battlefield and islands of Difficult or Impassable terrain. This is favorable to troops that suffer disproportionately from Uneven or Rough terrain (Knights, Chariots and Lancers in particular, but also HF trying to manoeuvre against LH or Cavalry). It is unfavorable for archers who like Uneven and Rough and are impaired by the range and rear rank shooting limitations in some Difficult terrain.

656. Tropical Strategies: Controlling where the Rough goes is one strategy for the first player –one of the two Brush can be combined with a Gentle Hill, leaving only a Road and various Difficult and Impassable terrain pieces.

658. Desert Terrain: The mix of available terrain is comparable to Developed with a lot less Rough.

659. Desert Strategies: Pick an Oasis or bring water? TBD Please add your suggested strategies to this document !

690. Please add in links to FAQs/Forum posts re making/buying FoG-legal terrain. Links can be input using this syntax (visible in edit mode).

NEXT - Part 7. Organization

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.

Full Index:
1. Army Choice
2. General Tips
3. Doctrine and Drill
4. BG Sizes
5. Commanders
6. Terrain
7. Organization
8. Battle Plans
9. Troop Types in FoG
10. Light Horse Stable
11. Tactical Miscellany
12. Visualizing Battles
13. Wisdom from the Experts



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