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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Using a Numerical Advantage

More often than not I see people in games building a large army, till they are positive they outnumber their enemy, then marching it forward to crush the foe. Combat happens, they win, but they lose a lot of units, more than they expected to. Sure they won the battle, but the cost was high.

The trouble is the cost is often too high to actually do any real damage. Most large scale battles happen once a player leaves their base, and heads into the enemy base. The danger here is reinforcements – the enemy is on home turf and the travel time for his reinforcements is real short. The player on the other hand, well his reinforcements have to stream across the battlefield, and usually its a long walk!
In this article I will discuss a little strategy for handling battles when you have the numerical advantage.

Consider this first picture.

Blue has the clear advantage of a larger force. His unit count is 30, whilst his opponent, Orange, has only 16. A positive advantage to Blue of 14 units.

Picture 2 shows both sides meeting in battle. Notice how the Orange units move out to each flank to meet the attackers.

Blue still has 30 Units, Orange still has 16. But lets count the actual fighting units. In this example 10 Blues are in contact with 10 Oranges. That is an equal number of units fighting. So much for Blues advantage.

In Picture 3 we can see the fight continues. Blue's units have moved to cover both flanks of Orange.

Picture 3.5 shows the next step in the fight, as the last of Orange's units, move to protect the flank.

Now I am sure anyone reading this has seen this picture a hundred times. It looks like any battle.

But lets count the tiles that are actually fighting.

In Picture 2 we clearly saw that although the fight was 30 v 16, the actual fighting units were 10 v 10.

Picture 3 we can see Blue's numbers coming into play. The number engaged in combat is 12 Blue v 10 Orange. That's 2 in Blue's favour. Which is of course good, but the battle started with Blue 14 units stronger than Orange, so what’s going on?

Moving to Picture 3.5, we can see the last of Orange's spare units have moved to the flanks. Orange is close to being over run. A quick tally of fighting units shows Blue has 14 in combat, and Orange has 12.

14 v 12 is still only 2 in Blues favour. Nowhere near the +14 Blue began the fight with.

At this point it is worth noting we have assumed both sides, Blue and Orange, are equal strength fighting units. Blue's superior numbers have only counted in his favour by 2. What if the units belonging to Orange were better fighters? They only need to be superior in quality to Blue by a small amount and this has been a fair fight!

In essence 30 v 16 where both units are equal strength, the 30 strong side is always going to win. That’s never in doubt. What this article aims to do is help achieve a faster victory, with less damage taken, and in turn less loss by Blue. The key to doing this is to ensure Blue uses his numerical advantage.

Prior to the fight we need to assign combat groups (Hotkeys etc), were able, otherwise manually select groups of units.

Picture 4 shows an ideal set-up, with two groups 'Grey' and 'Yellow'.

The combat begins as normal, except both Grey and Yellow are given orders to advance past the enemy and not to engage, where as the main body is given normal 'attack' orders.

In Picture 5 we can see the fight has begun, and the same as before, Orange's units move to extend their flank. Grey and Yellow both move in the same fashion as last the last engagement, heading down the flank, except this time they are not going to attack the first time they reach the enemy.

Its also worth noting that the combat is still 10 v 10 fighting units, the same as before.

Picture 6 is similar to to Picture 3, but rather than stop and fight Yellow and Grey continue to move,

 until we reach Picture 7, at which point the surround is complete and the active combat units are Blue: 16, Orange: 12.

Instead of the +2 in Blues favour, its now +4. This Battle is over.
One question I am sometimes asked when I show this example is why doesn’t Blue move more units, after all he has a full 2nd rank stood there doing nothing. Well, its safe to assume as the fighting goes on both sides will suffer casualties. Blue has a fresh rank ready to plug any gaps, Orange at best has half a rank.

Thanks for reading! I hope this helps improve your game-play, and may you forever crush your enemies!

Any comments/suggestions are always greatly appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Classic bull horn tactic. Good description.