|Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.|
|--The Art of War , by Sun Tzu||Chapter I, line 24|
A battle will occur when any army attacks another army. Since an army can exist of at most 6 units, this limits the size of the battle, but not as much as it might seem.
Adjacent Hex RuleEdit
|We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole, which means that we shall be many to the enemy's few.|
|--The Art of War , by Sun Tzu||Chapter IV, line 14|
This is because of what is known as the Adjacent Hex Rule. This rule means that all armies adjacent to the defending hex get pulled in the battle, provided that they are allied with one of the sides, but not with both. This allows battles to start with up to 42 units. You can thus enter combat with higher numbers than your enemies, or for example to attack your opponent from multiple sides, forcing him to spread his resources thin.
|You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.|
|----The Art of War , by Sun Tzu||Chapter IV, line 7|
With Siege Combat, this works slightly differently. While the Adjacent Hex Rule applies as to which armies are in combat, all defending armies will be placed inside the walls, and all attackers will be placed outside them, side by side. Therefore, it is impossible to attack a city from multiple sides.
Units on water tiles will participate in the battle, under the condition that they can also move on land. This will also apply to all embarked units.
The other way around, attacking ships in harbor will cause all the units in the city that can traverse water to aid the ships in defense; this will draw them out of the city walls, and can thus be used to weaken an enemy's garrison without having to face the walls straight away. Note that this will not draw units in the battle who can embark, only those who can inherently traverse water.
|We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.|
|--The Art of War , by Sun Tzu||Chapter XI, line 54|
Also, planning for battle, be it offensive or defensive, it is important to note on which terrain the battle will take place. First of all, all racial units have terrain preferences. They will receive a +300 boost to Morale when fighting on terrain they like, a -150 Morale penalty on terrain they dislike, and a -300 Morale penalty on terrain they hate. Morale is one of the less visible factors of combat - it has a large influence, but can be hard to see.
Aside from morale reasons, some types of units function better in certain terrains. For example, forests have (hexwise) large obstacles, but these give no ranged damage penalties to units standing next to them. This will give an advantage to archers, since they can all attack, while there are only a few routes a melee unit can take to contest their position, sometimes taking up to three turns of movement.
The terrain types vary slightly in combat. Any special sites, like gold mines or mana nodes, usually have relatively many obstacles between the area of the center hex and the location of the surrounding hexes, while open ground of the types Barrens, Fertile Plains and Wetlands are quite alike in their openness. Inside a city's domain, the Fertile Plains will have fences, which can force one to funnel their troops to small openings - however, these fences are easily destroyed.
Attacking Treasure SitesEdit
Aside from a few sites like the Gold Mine, Flowrock Quarry, Great Farm and Trading post, many sites also have a Combat Enchantment in addition to troops guarding it. These range from spells like Chant of Unlife, to Mass Curse, to Static Electricity. It is generally a good plan to see what sort of enchantment you'll be facing. This page gives an overview of the treasure sites, and will incorporate the enchantments shortly.
A significant part of combat is of course the melee. Nearly all units can strike in melee, the sole exceptions being some machines. For melee units, the disadvantage is to close in, but once they are there, it can be difficult for any force to disengage.
Any unit standing in the three hexes adjacent to the front side of a unit (Called the Threatened Area) is engaged. Units can perform retaliation strikes and attacks of opportunity only against targets standing in this area. Also, most ranged attacks and a significant number of abilities are disabled whenever a unit is engaged. For this reason, the direction your units are facing at the end of the combat round can be an important advantage. Units can be turned by attacking them, but they do not turn whenever making attacks of opportunity.
If a unit is on guard at the end of a player's combat turn, every adjacent hex is considered their threatened area.
Retaliation happens when a unit that has the melee strike ability and action points available gets attacked from within its threatened area by a melee strike. When being flanked a unit will turn to face its attacker, so it will retaliate on the second and third strikes if it can. There are certain abilities that affect how retaliation works. For more information on these see First Strike and Martial Arts.
Attacks of OpportunityEdit
Moving a unit from the threatened area to another hex on the tactical map provokes an attack of opportunity. Attacks of opportunity cannot be retaliated, have the flanking bonus, and cost the attacking unit 1 action point. Only units with Melee Strike are able to perform attacks of opportunity.
When choosing a path for a unit to move along, little red markers will appear in hexes that will provoke an attack of opportunity. One red marker is shown for each unit that will perform an attack if the unit moves through.
Also, if a unit is out of action points, it will be unable to perform an attack of opportunity.
Guard Mode is an easily underestimated tool. First and foremost, it will raise the and of a unit by 20%, 40% if the unit has Defender. This will allow even Tier I units to survive much more than they otherwise would. Often, an army that is composed mostly of ranged units, is better served by having their accompanying infantry on guard rather than attacking; they might not deal as much damage, but they will last much longer, both because of their higher stats, as well as not receiving retaliations. In a fight of equal combatants, this bonus can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Secondly, a unit on guard has a larger threatened area. All enemy units surrounding them are engaged, instead of only those in the front. This will allow a single infantry to "disable" multiple archers, simply by standing between them on guard mode. If he had attacked, the other archer could move backwards one hex without getting an attack of opportunity, and shoot for full damage, and than the attacked archer could repeat this.
Lastly, a unit in Guard mode cannot be flanked. It will always turn towards any attacker, will always have the benefit of shields, and will always retaliate. Even when the guarding unit has used up all his action points on retaliations and attacks of opportunity, he still cannot be flanked.
Ranged attack offer a way to damage your opponent without him being able to retaliate. However, there are multiple penalties to account for; attack from further away than half your range will cause most ranged attacks to suffer a Range Penalty, reducing the damage dealt by 50%. This will apply to all ranged attacks, unless noted in the ability that it does not. Hexes where this penalty applies are indicated by a dotted circle instead of the solid circle.
Also, there is a Line of Sight penalty whenever the archer cannot see his target due to obstacles in the way. This can reduce the damage by 50 to 75%, depending on the type of obstacle. Many obstacles give no Line of Sight penalty when straight behind it, the most common example being units on a city wall not being affected, while the units from the outside of the walls are. However, walls are the only obstacles that discriminate on which side the unit stands.
Also, in rare cases, a ranged attack can have "No Line of Sight". This means that the target cannot be hit by a ranged attack from this position. Moving the archer to the sides usually will enable a clear shot.
Straight Shot means that the shot will fly in a straight line. This usually means that the penalty from obstacles to ranged attack damage is heavier.
Arcing Shot means that the projectiles arc through the air. This usually slightly lessens ranged penalties, or can even completely eliminate them when firing across the smallest of obstacles.
Attacks that hit a unit from a direction outside of that unit's threatened area get a flanking bonus to the attack. Flanking causes the attack to do more damage: an additional 2 damage for each damage type. Unless a unit is unable to (stunned, paralyzed, etc.), it will turn to face a flanking attack, so an ability can only flank a unit once, regardless of the number times it will trigger. However, even when the flanked unit turns, the attacker will always get one more attack in than the defender can retaliate against.
Flanking with ranged attacks works when the ranged attack is at an angle of 120 Degrees or more away from a full-frontal attack.
Flanking will also completely bypass abilities like First Strike.
Status effects that completely disable a unit from any and all actions, like Stunned, Panicked, Frozen, Ensnared in Net or any other variant, are always flanked, even when struck multiple times from the same direction.
Attacks with multiple damage types profit extra from flanking, since every damage type will get the bonus individually. This means that a normal melee unit will get a 2 damage bonus, but a Watcher ( Melee Strike(11 3 3 ) will get a net + 6 damage bonus.
Almost every unit has access to one or more abilities in combat. These vary from Melee Strike, to ranged attacks, to supporting abilities that either enhance your own troops or weakening the enemies.
Each ability requires some number of action points to use. Some of the most common abilities such as the Melee Strike or Shoot Bow can be triggered up to three times, where the number of times is dependent upon the number of action points remaining. Others, like Throw Stones, can be used only once, but after any amount of movement.
Each round of combat, all units have three action points, which are used as the unit moves or attacks. The number of hexes that a unit can move per action point depends upon the movement points of the specific unit in conjunction with its movement. As indicated on the ground when selecting a unit, if the unit moves inside the green zone it still has 3 action points, the yellow zone indicates 2, and the orange (red) zone indicates 1 action point.
Although most abilities require only one action point to use, some such as Call Lightning and Hurl Boulder require 3 action points to use. This prevents units from moving too many hexes and then using the ability in the same turn.
The Action Points are awarded at the end of your own turn, and are expended whenever a unit retaliates or uses an Attack of Opportunity. This can cause a unit to be out of action points even before your turn starts.
There are also some abilities like Fire Mortar that begin on cooldown, so that they cannot be used in the first round of combat, but can be used normally from the second round on.
Regardless of whether the effects of the ability were resisted or not, the cooldown is still in effect. Thus, even if an ability like Convert fails, the unit can no longer use that ability for the rest of combat.
Obstacles are the places where units cannot move through. This includes everything from city wall, trees, rocks, and farm fences. They often give ranged penalties when in the way of the trajectory, and can provide cover for your units, or they can force melee troops into small channels of attack.
See Calculations for how damage is calculated
Strategies which are specific to classes, races, or units are listed with those classes, races or units. This section is here for general Strategies.
Flying and FloatingEdit
Floating units are able to cross all obstacles, however, they cannot move directly through units, and they will take Attacks of Opportunity.
Flying units are able to cross all obstacles with the exception of certain impassable walls, fly over units, and will only take Attacks of Opportunity on the location they leave. Advanced logistic (empire upgrade) provide a tremendous boost to flying units (not to floating units) in tactical combat against unit that doesn’t have attack of opportunity (e.g: machines, like most dreadnought units).
With Advanced logistic, flying units can flank and still be able to do 3x attacks against such unit, if the flying units also has charge, then it can flank and charge and still able to do 3x attacks. Without Advanced logistic, they can only do 2x attack if they flank/charge.
Floating units don't get this bonus.
As mentioned above, floating units can’t pass other units/obstacle, thus flying units will be able to use their AoE ability more efficiently/optimally than floating units, especially in a battle that has many units participating in it.
If a stack has mostly melee units or all units in the stack are melee.
Melee units in that stack with different movement point will result in the faster unit often get killed.
E.g: A stack composed of 1 flyer, 1 cavalry, 3 infantry, 1 pikemen will often result in the flyer getting killed, even if it’s a T3 flyer.
So make sure to put fast unit with other fast unit in the same stack to mitigate the loses.
Flanking with NumbersEdit
This is an insight about how to safely take down T4 with T1 unit without a specific setup.
When a guarding units lose all action points, in the next turn he won’t be able to attack at all and lose the guard/defense mode.
Early game against a guarding T4, three T1 units can attack the T4, one strike per T1 unit. If those T1 units can attack more than once, just allow that unit to wander a bit until he lose some movement points so that he can only attack the guarding T4 unit once. The purpose of this is to reduce the retaliation damage from said T4 to those T1 units, and to disable the guard/defense mode of said T4 at the next turn after all three T1 units attack it, allowing those T1 to deliver massive damage at next turn.
This can be used to isolate and disable that T4 without having the T1 killed.