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"Forward March"

An Age of Might and Steel Tactics and Theory Article by Steve Hazuka


Understanding the formations in the Age of Might and Steel (AoMaS) 15mm Fantasy system..


Units are always in a formation. They are either in a March Column, Line, or Attack Column. (See appendix A)

March Column: Stands are placed front to back in a column. Units in this formation on roads can move at their Road rate disregarding terrain effects

Line: This is the standard formation for most battles. Stands are placed side by side or in one or two lines, for support, as long as the second line is not longer than the first.

Attack Column: Stands are formed into squares or rectangles with the front of the unit being roughly equal to the depth. Therefore a unit with nine stands would have 3 stands to the front with the remaining arranged behind. This is the preferred formation for Heavy Foot and Heavy Cavalry units.

The strength of a fighting unit is based on the weight it can bring to the charge or how tight of a wall it can maintain in defense. The Roman formations or the Viking Shield Wall are examples of defensive styles whereas blocks of pikes or thundering masses of Heavy Cavalry demonstrate the power of the Attack Column.

Simplistically there are only three real formations in AoMaS; this is done as a matter of convenience more than anything else. It is accepted that troops are trained well enough during the Form command to organize into these three formations the only exception to this is if the unit fails their Activation roll. These three formations reflect the basic fighting formations in this style of combat. An optional formation that will be presented here will be the Mob formation.

The March Column is the easiest way for troops to maneuver on to the battlefield. This simulates the long strung out columns of forces either moving at their fastest speed and not really concentrating on the formation. Units traveling in this formation are prone to flanking since they do not present a front to do combat with. The exception to this is if the unit is given a Patrol command.

Patrol: Directs light units to move in March Column, at their discretion, towards a given target area. Units in Patrol status are prepared for ambush attacks and suffer no modifiers when attacked in this fashion.

Patrol is a great way to move Light Cavalry to the rear of an enemy formation. By using the Patrol command instead of the March command Light units do not suffer a flanking penalty if attacked. Also they reap the benefits of on and off road movement. Mounted Archers consider this their best tactic as they can pass a unit and launch a volley of arrows or if attacked in Hand to Hand from the side can count all of their stands in combat. Then upon reaching their desired area they can then change formation into a Line and attack as a tighter formation.

The Line formation is used to take up as much of the battlefield as possible. By stretching units out you claim the battle space preventing the enemy from moving to your flanks and rolling up your line. Throughout history we see the line formation holding back the charging hordes. Then by splitting your unit in approximately half making two lines you can create your own reinforcements, replacing the troops fallen in the first attack and still being able hold on to the advantageous ground. Caution must be used however as not to be too thin so if your unit is heavily damaged you create gaps in your line allowing a passage to the rear of your formations.

The Attack Column is the hammer of the battlefield. A unit advancing three stands wide by three stands deep of Heavy Infantry or Heavy Cavalry is the next best thing to cannon firing double canister. Slamming into defending Line formations will tear open gaps allowing you to separate units and create chaos. Dwarves are best suited in this role. Displaying their martial prowess for these formations they can use Medium Foot as Heavy Foot and receive the bonus for the Attack Column but still move at Medium Foot rate. Since Undead can not use any heavy troop type they are hampered from really surviving a slugfest that Heavy Foot in Attack Column can provide. Dwarven or Human heavy formations should take and hold the center and then advance until no other opposition remains. Although this formation can be slow and ponderous getting these troops into combat will probably be the death knell for your opponent. Battles have raged on with light and medium units as the heavy units arrived at their positions and began their assault, but no battle has ever finished until the heavies battled it out. Heavy Foot defending should start in their Attack Column formation like Spartans at Thermopylae then exploit any weakness in the attackers’ line or make them think twice before approaching.

The Mob: A call to battle is heard answered by the screams and blood curdling cries of the wild mob as they race into the lines of the unfortunate defenders now bracing themselves for the shock of impact. The frenzied attackers launch themselves over the shield walls into the ranks and the chaos of the attack disorganizes the defenders. It is a suicidal attack but the damage has been done.

Light Foot may use the Mob Formation organizing into an Attack Column but moving still at their Charge rate. This in conjunction with an Inspire spell or with an Orc Rage spell increases the strength of a Light Foot unit in a mad dash attack against heavier troops and prevent from being outflanked.


Webmaster's Notes

This article was originally published on Alternative Armies' content portal Barking Irons Online in 2011 and is reproduced here with permission.

You can buy The Age of Might and Steel rules direct from Alternative Armies on thier web site here.

Barking Irons Online was Alternative Armies' official content portal that I ran for them from 2011 until 2013, You can find (almost) all of the content it hosted on Orcs in the Webbe in the respective categories in the menus or browse through it all by clicking on the  maroon  "Barking Irons" tag below.