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Securing flanks


ne of the main issues of beginners seems to be the devastating effects of flank attacks. And if they were executed with the reckless use of the Orb of Majesty players seem to find this even more annoying.

Warmaster is a game of epic battles, many rules support this not only regarding to playing style, but also regarding looks and appearance. The common battle is supposed to have battle lines facing each other, backed up by reserves. Generals try to win by breaking through the battle line or by outflanking it. To force players to keep their own battle line and to try to outflank their opponents battle line, there are rules restricting the movement of "unaligned" units, rules for brigading, rules for support and the strong effects of flank charges and even the shooting rules are made to make the battle line/outflanking  a natural choice for players. So giving (big) advantages to flank charges is a deliberate choice to make the game flow (and also look) in a certain way. 

Orb of Majesty
Let's cover the Orb first. Remember the Orb is a one use only item, so in a battle above 1k the player has to think about it's use and use it correctly. On a game of 3k the player really has to save it for the right moment and he must recognize the right moment and if he does so, he should be rewarded. Nonetheless the charge could have gone through even without the Orb (with a more or less lucky command roll), so whether you play with or without the Orb you have to be prepared to counter the flank attacks and when you are prepared, you do not have to care (too much) about the Orb of Majesty.

So what to do about them ?
There are three main ways of taking the sting out of flank attacks. One is to create a sort of "no care" situation, so that the loss of whatever you will loose doesn't hurt. The second is to make the flank charge so costly (for your opponent) that he can't afford it (and if he still charges it's his fault) and the third is to rob him of the possibility to charge you in the flank. Often enough you will use a combination of all three.

Don't care:
The first tactic uses the deployment of your army as a weapon. You deploy in a way that only expendable units are in the frontline of your army. Also you keep them quite separate from each other, so when your opponent charges one of the units and kills it, he will not be able to advance into another unit. It will also prevent a single unit killing more than one unit in a go by charging the flank of two or more units lined up behind each other. The exaggerated result would be single units organized like checkerboard, but in real life it means having some expandable units located in front of your main battle line, so that when your opponent will charge them it will not really hurt you. This tactic will be rarely used "pure", because if you deploy your units separately you will have to make many more command tests increasing immensely the risk of getting your battle line into disorder.

Phyrric charge:
The second tactic has different facets all designed to make your opponent loose more points than he will gain. One way is to secure the flank with terrain, this can be a piece of impassable terrain, so he will have to charge the front of your troops, fighting their "strong side", or a piece of defended terrain occupied by missile and close combat infantry (because of the charge and "stand and shoot" rules, troops charging you in the flank can usually be shot at). The same can be achieved by using good defensive troops as flank protectors. A good defensive troops is one with high save and/or high number of attacks. Both will lead to crippling the attacker, so even when he manages to finish off your units, his units will not be able to do much more damage in the battle. Another way that can be well combined with the first tactic is to have "retributors" behind the units to be outflanked. Deploy some good attacking units in a way that they can charge preferably on initiative any "flank charger" in their own turn. This needs some thought and care, because you want to avoid the situation where the "flank chargers" could advance into your "retributors".

No charge possible:
The third tactic is to take away the possibility of the flank charge. The simplest way written, but not executed, is to keep the pressure high and outflank him first. The second one is to have your "important" flanks inaccessible by using units far in front of your main battle line. This can be like described for the first tactic and could be combined with "retributors" as described in the second tactic, all meant to stall and/or cripple his flanking/attacking force, but it could also take the form of a steady stream of cheap units poured in his way to be consumed by his army but stalling him and reducing his command roll by 1 (enemy within 20 cm). But you do not have to rely on close combat to cripple his flanking force, you can concentrate your shooters on the flank and use all means (like blocking your own loss) to be able to fire at the most threatening units (which sadly enough do not have to be the nearest). For preventing a flank charge, it is sometimes better to divide the fire on more units (where possible) instead of concentrating fire on a single unit, as splitting off a brigade or confusing units is as helpful as killing a unit. Also some spells come quite handy not only as fire support, but also to prevent units from charging or giving them an additional -1 for command tests.

Last words:
Last not least,  it does not hurt to make a flank charge as difficult as possible by having your opponent to travel as far as possible, before getting into your flank. This can be achieved by having the corner units curve back to your on table edge. But remember if your corner units are weak your opponent will not care and charge them head on and will still start to roll up your battle line.

Or have so many units that you can spread your battle line from one table side to the other :)


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