formations in BfW

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formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 2nd, 2017, 9:47 pm

While I know that the standard BfW map is small and designed for skirmishes and heroes, I kind of like the idea of using formations and combat lines in the game. I am talking the Wesnoth equivalent of squads or units, like a pike unit or a sword and shield unit.

I will try to post some examples, feel free to submit your own ideas, tested or untested, below!

Image

anti-undead squad: tested by Poison. One of the big advantages is that the healer in the middle ensures that all the infantry troops have a field to move over, thus no-one is ever encircled. unless the formation is breached, in which case a retreat probably was advisable anyways.

Image

Spearmen, circle formation: Same advantages as previous, but having no healer means that they will either need to be out of combat for longer between fights, or get reenforcements if they cant heal through levelling up. actually tested, very strong in the defensive, especially against horses.

Image

Rider offence: the idea is either to kill everything within range, or to charge in with the leader, and then push the other horsemen in front of him to ensure the leader can escape and come back with reinforcements. potentially very costly.

Now, these are all some fun ideas I have, but what do you veteran players and tactics-savy people think? can this work in BfW?

Ps: I got more of these screenshots, so of you like the idea, i can post the rest with a description as well.

--More Formations--

Image

The Weakest Line: Cheap, functional and extendable to infinity, however easy to break through at the weaker lv0 units, with skirmishers or large numbers of units. The zone of control makes it impossible to reach wounded or weak units in the second line.

Image

Rider-defense (untested): Sturdy, deadly and self-regenerating even when moving. The paladin in the middle can kill most any man who dares break through the outer circle. Should work with any level of cavalrymen.

Image

Spearmen, Block/square formation (untested): A square of spearmen, probably extremely vulnerable around the corners, but nigh to impenetrable. Feel free to adore 2. (and possibly 3.) line with leader and healers. to prevent flanking, use the 3. line to make the formation as wide as necessary, or support it with more defensive units.
Last edited by GrandSage on September 4th, 2017, 5:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby Sapient » September 2nd, 2017, 10:00 pm

It's very interesting. I would like to see a campaign that emphasizes formations. You can use custom abilities to confer advantages.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 2nd, 2017, 10:09 pm

Well, I have been poking around the map editor and the WML a bit, but if I do anything related to this, it will probably be a stand alone scenario. I believe that formations probably are best on open fields, as terrain modifiers might mess with them. I have a large empty PvE map for testing these sorts of things ;)
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby taptap » September 3rd, 2017, 9:16 am

You end with rather clear formations and battle lines in scenarios with high unit count organically. Your ball formations leave three attack options for each unit and are thus rather easy to break unless on very good terrain (e.g. dwarf lords on mountain when optimal healing outweighs damage limitation). A simple line would not only reduce it to two, but cover a much larger area as well and there is no catastrophic breakthrough even if one unit dies (the gap is covered by zone of control). Another standard formation is the zoc-line, i.e. a line with gaps that are covered by zone of control. Of course you likely know all of this. And most of all you can't really discuss formations as geometrical shapes in absence of the opposing forces.

The very recommendable campaign Return from the Abyss features in the second half a number of specialist units that convey an advantage scaling with number of these specialists adjacent to each other. The mechanism is simple, but suddenly very different formations become viable.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 3rd, 2017, 1:52 pm

you are quite correct in stating, that formations highly depend on the opponents forces. If he attacks with even a crude line, any circle formation would be smashed to bits. I will update the original post with some formations that resemble a line more. In other places however, a line might be useless (against an intelligent opponent that is). Assuming that neither side has an advantage in strength or numbers, most any line can easily be flanked, making especially the corners very vulnerable. So in an open field lines might not be so nice. as for zoc-lines, I have heard about them, and probably also used something like it, but i would think that the rider-offence formation could smash through one of those without problem.

all in all though, formations are never any use if the player doesn't know which one is the right one to use.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby Poison » September 3rd, 2017, 1:53 pm

GrandSage wrote:Is there anyone else who does this?


Well I certainly do and it has saved my ass more than once.


GrandSage wrote:anti-undead squad: works in theory.


It works in practice too. I use the two healers variation too. Not like this though, wider with ZoC as taptap mentioned.

Spoiler:


GrandSage wrote:Spearmen, circle formation: Same advantages as previous, but having no healer means that they will either need to be out of combat for longer between fights, or get reenforcements if they cant heal through levelling up. actually tested, very strong in the defensive, especially against horses.


They are just meatshields. Leadership kinda makes it better though. Why not put a healer there too, I use leader + healer together often.

Spoiler:




GrandSage wrote:Rider offence: the idea is either to kill everything within range, or to charge in with the leader, and then push the other horsemen in front of him to ensure the leader can escape and come back with reinforcements. potentially very costly.


I use lv2 or lv3 unit and two lv1 or three horsemen too. The horsemen are just looking to pick easy fights and if the battle doesn't go well they go into suicidal mode and try to deal as much damage as possible to enemy key units. I prefer cavalrymen with the advanced unit, they are more technical. Useful if you expect to find lone units somewhere. You need money to have luxuries like these too.

Spoiler:




GrandSage wrote:Now, these are all some fun ideas I have, but what do you veteran players and tactics-savy people think? can this work in BfW?


It does work already.

GrandSage wrote:Ps: I got more of these screenshots, so of you like the idea, i can post the rest with a description as well.


Well do so please, why not.

GrandSage wrote: I believe that formations probably are best on open fields, as terrain modifiers might mess with them.


Well defensive formations are best in the terrain that favours your unit the most, that's pretty self-explanatory really. Units with steadfast do pretty well in unfavourable terain, the best lv1 defenders are without a doubt the immortal dwarvish guardsmen, as you might have noticed in the LoW scenario I've posted, Also they were amazing in HttT in the last scenario; they just couldn't be beaten (I don't have a replay for this though unfortunately).
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 3rd, 2017, 10:11 pm

Wow, thank you Poison for your thoughts on this, even though I ran into technical difficulties watching your replays.

As for the terrain modifiers: What I meant was that terrain may make it more favourable to break formation, for example to create a line along the foothills or a river, or so that you can occupy / don't end up standing next too a village.

If you don't mind, I have a few questions for you:

when using both a leadership and a healer in a formation, isn't it a problem that not everyone can get both buffs?

and

What is it that makes you use formations versus acting on the terrain/situation? Are they actually prefferable in combat, or just easier to manoeuvre, since the whole formation is going the same way?

Im working on a little something wesnoth-related, so the other formations I had in mind will probably come up tomorrow.... or the day after ;)
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby Sapient » September 4th, 2017, 1:24 am

Here's a formation that uses L0 units to pad and extend a line of control. The weakest line:
Attachments
2017-09-04 09_19_08-The Battle for Wesnoth - 1.12.6.png
the weakest line
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby Poison » September 4th, 2017, 10:45 am

GrandSage wrote:when using both a leadership and a healer in a formation, isn't it a problem that not everyone can get both buffs?


Well yes, it is like every other aspect of this game, it is a game of decisions, it's like the time when you should decide whether your champion can withstand 3 opponents or it is vain to save your full of xp but nearly dead spearman, you get the optimal decision, it goes well for you, you just click buttons, it's probably will be up to no good :) Typically, if a unit is kinda tankish and can hold a second attack you'd be more inclined to use leaderhip, especially if there's a 2 level gap. to weaker units, you place the healer next to them. You can't have everything in BfW, I learned this lesson many times :(



GrandSage wrote:What is it that makes you use formations versus acting on the terrain/situation? Are they actually prefferable in combat, or just easier to manoeuvre, since the whole formation is going the same way?


Well, volume of enemies I guess? Or lack of favourable terrain? Generally I always prefer the favourable terrain
rather than to stand to a particular space but if necessary I do that too.

@ Sapient, wouldn't it be better to just move the spearmen a tile closer, this way if someone attacks the weaker unit it's all over.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby ElderofZion » September 4th, 2017, 11:14 am

Does a topic like this really belong to the strategies and tips board? I don't think so. I think this is a cute idea and a campaign with custom units that get bonuses from formations would be fairly interesting, maybe I would even try it. Anyway I think this should rather be placed in some other board like Ideas.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 4th, 2017, 12:41 pm

well, I had my doubts as well elder, But find me a board that fits this topic better and ill try and have it moved there. remember though that it is not about a formation-specific campaign, but the decision between using formations vs controling every unit by itself.

formations and such are actually more of a tactic, not a strategy, but there seems to be no board for such a thing.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 4th, 2017, 12:47 pm

thank you sapient, Ill have your formation included in the OP, as I think new players could benefit greatly from such a formation.

Thank you as well, Poison. From what I can gather from your response, your formations are actually a mix of units? I suppose they are put together ad hoc and not planned as such when recruited?
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby ElderofZion » September 4th, 2017, 4:17 pm

Well I suggested Ideas but it is not me to decide, I am not even sure if you can move your own topic, that is for mods to decide.

They are a tactics but this board is probably for these as well (depends what you consider as such). Or they can also be a strategy if you use a lot of them. To me contemplating an idea of formations here save with a mod that makes them viable doesn't make much sense. With current Wesnoth terrain defense mechanics and other mechanics like ZoC maintaining formations is just impractical. You get surrounded, your units are being used inefficiently, you ignore terrain defense and so on. Unless you didn't mean actually maintaining the formations but rather you meant something like squads that are effective against certain units, but that is a whole different talk.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 4th, 2017, 5:12 pm

I never intended these tactics to be used with mods. While I see your point, I feel that I should point out that "You get surrounded, your units are being used inefficiently, you ignore terrain defense and so on" are all faults by the player, not bound to happen due to formations. I also feel, and I am repeating myself, that formations are for open fields, E.g. when defending a village or a strongpoint. As I said before, If you arrange your units in formations, and then dont use those formations right, you are bound to fail, just like with any other tactic.

But lets take a look at what you said: "you get surrounded". This applies to real life formations as well. why are they still used then? because they are part of an army. formations dont fight on there own, but in battle groups. thus, having a spearformation can be very deadly, but yes, they get surrounded unless you protect there flanks with e.g. a rider-defence. alternatively, a spearline could also be broad enough not to get flanked, which would be the objective for the 3. line. in case of units trying to get around the formation, the 3. line would "fold out", widening the "surface" of the formation.

"your units are being used inefficiently" pretty much what this thread is about, determining if the use of formations is more or less efficient then navigating all units separately. Pros of formations might include ease of use, especially for new players. if you keep all your units in there respective formations, you are unlikely to have that one unit who is just begging to be killed at the end of your turn. Also, there is nothing that stops a player from breaking the initial formation as he/she sees fit, the riders-offence is even designed to dissolve at contact. The formations that I have featured so far mainly focus around protecting important (e.g. lv2 or higher) units, while giving this units bonuses (e.g. heal, leadership, illuminate etc.), which leads us to:

"you ignore terrain defense". again: open fields. lacking those, it is just a question of you choosing were to fight, and not letting your enemy choose. A spearmen, circle formation, shoulder to shoulder with other spearmen, circle formations along a river, for example, would seem very efficient. the only place the enemy could get on shore would be in the gaps, were they would be outnumbered 3 to 1, whilst all units still get the leadership bonus, and reinforcements for the front units are available in the same formation. again, if the terrain allows for a, in your opinion, better tactic, feel free to break formation.

But yeah, formations are not made to utilise the terrain to its fullest, rather to be efficient despite of the terrain. I would love for future versions of BfW to include an option to mark and move several units as a whole, but THAT is an idea and not a strategy.
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Re: formations in BfW

Postby GrandSage » September 4th, 2017, 5:30 pm

gee, with all that writing I forgot to mention that there are some new formations up, including sapients "the weakest line". feel free to submit more ideas everyone!
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