This might be a place you can find inspiration from History and use it to help you fight your own wars.
All the battles are about a weaker army taking on a stronger army through planning. This is a clear advantage in any campaign.
This guide summarizes the efforts of players to adapt battle strategies from the game to their own (thanks Steam Forum advice).
The results of the TWWH series will be updated with new units, spells, and this will no doubt result in a change.
- Unit depth & Momentum Often, a ‘deeper’ formation was used to concentrate power in order to disrupt an enemy line. Total War games are unable to simulate this momentum in large numbers. TWWH gives certain units the opportunity to disrupt enemy structures by using the’mass stat’. You can also use some spells.
- Giving ground In historic battles, lighter units were sometimes forced back (to give ground’) by heavier units without necessarily breaking. Total War games are different. A unit can either fight back or flee. Skirmishing units could be used to replace the need for this effect.
- Use brain Start by adapting to the game. You can use workarounds as a way to compensate for the game mechanics. Then adapt your formations according to the terrains on the map and enemy units encountered.
Come and sip from the cup of destruction
-Genghis Khan1182-1227 AD
This page contains information about Battle Formations
Hammer & Anvil
All the tiny maps can be enlarged just by clicking on them
1. Hammer & Anvil
(a.k.a. Pincer Movement and Double Envelopment
Type 1 – STRONG CENTRE & FLANKING GWINGS
- The infantry unit ‘fixes the enemy’s line in place while fast-moving flanking troops attack it from behind. Cavalry are the preferred flanking units.
- Typically heavy infantry (‘the Anvil”) is used in battleline, while shock cavalry (‘the Hammer) are used as flankers.
- It is a very popular weapon in history because it can be used to route enemy line-infantry.
- A favorite stock among players of all types of Total War
How it works
- If well-armoured units are used for the ‘Anvil, this allows ample time for the flanking maneuvers before the line fragments.
- Successful flanking forces enemy line-infantry to fight in their front and behind simultaneously – greatly reducing their fighting power and morale.
- You can cause a general rout with little loss to your army.
- Your cavalry can then be positioned to seize the routing army.
- Weakness against Multiple Line Formations
- If an enemy is surrounded and there is no escape route, they may choose to fight to their death with increased ferocity. You can cycle charges from the back, usually with shock cavalry.
- In order to be successful at the envelopment, you must win an initial cavalry/cavalry battle. This can encourage a player’s infantry to be weaker by having too many cavalry.
- Factions without cavalry (e.g. Dwarfs or Skaven may find other strategies attractive.
Type 2- CONCEALED LANKING DETACHMENTS
- This just starts a battle with flanking troops hidden in a better location for rapid deployment. Be careful not to lend your hand too soon.
The Battle of Walaja (633 AD). This is a good illustration of how a small, lightly armored Arab army defeated a larger, heavily armoured Sassanid unit.
- Two large units were hiding behind a hill overnight to protect their Arab light cavalry. Two large units of Arab light cavalry were hidden behind a hill overnight. However, smaller units of cavalry were still stationed at their wings to keep suspicions away.
- After the initial contact, the Arab armies made an orderly retreat to exhaust heavily armored Sassanids in heat.
- The armies disengaged and the fast light infantry charged the rear. (while also managing to evade much of the defensive engagement by the slower Sassanid heavier cavalry).
Type 3 – THE SOFT COUNCIL
The orthodoxy says to have a hard centre’ and use well-armed heavy infantry as a ‘hold the lines’ to allow flanking maneuvers to succeed. Hannibal didn’t have many of these troops to face a Roman legion at the Battle of Cannae (216 BC). He took advantage of the tendency of light infantry to “give ground” and used it to draw the enemy lines into a double envelope.
- Hannibal’s line consisted mostly of light infantry Gaulish Allies. His own heavily armored infantry was assigned to each end.
- He bent out this line in order to resemble a hollow wedge (see Wedge Formations below).
- The Roman infantry moved quickly to crush this fragile structure, but the light Infantry was unable to stop it.
- Hannibal’s heavily armed wings held place, and the Carthaginian line bow inward now.
- The Roman legionaries were soon flanked by Hannibal’s infantry on three different sides. This alone caused significant Roman losses and gave Hannibal’s superior cavalry forces enough time to defeat the inferior Roman cavalry.
- Hannibal’s cavalry then returned and again charged the Romans at the rear – closing any escape.
- Total War games lack a pushing mechanic so you can’t expect your lines to bow inwards the way Hannibal did. It may be possible to micro-manage a central retreat in advance of an enemy charge. Skirmishers to support the Soft Centre infantry could be another option. It is more user-friendly.
2. Oblique Order
(a.k.a. Refused Flank Arrange
- Pioneered in late Classical Greece by Thebes. Notably in Battles of Leuctra (371BC), Mantinea (362BC)
- Alexander used it at the Battle of the Hydaspes (326 BC), against war elephants of the Indian Kings Porus.
- TW players seldom use this feature.
- A large proportion of heavy infantry tends to be concentrated on one flank (historically up to 50 men deep). As the line advances further, infantry who are either less reliable or lighter in weight are placed on the diagonal’refused” right flank.
- They should be supported by all flanking units.
How it works
- Historically, the weight of the left’s numbers overwhelmed and destroyed the enemy line. It was best to have flanking units on the same side that are doubled up.
- The superior enemy units can reach the weaker “refused flank” first, but they are out of reach for the weaker one.
- The right flank arrives, and the enemy units turn to engage the main forces. They are now effectively flanked from front.
- A weaker line can be strengthened by the concentration its strongest elements at a single point.
- Until the enemy is in crisis, the army’s weakest troops are spared from involvement
- It is easy to counter it by an enemy simply mirroring your formation. The fact that Thebians continue to have success with this strategy may be due the military orthodoxy of their adversaries who failed adapt their battle structures. Fortunately, the AI is equally stubborn.
- TW games don’t have the added momentum of a 50man deep phalanx. This will create a large target area for enemy artillery without any special advantages. This formation might have some success if it has some massive infantry plus a melee hero and all your flanking troops.
Those Spartans have it in the neck
3. Wedge Formation
Type 1: The FORCED WEDGE
(a.k.a. Pig’s Head / Boars Snout / Swine Array
/ Flying Wedge
- Rome to crush Boudica’s British rebellion (60 AD).
- Germanic tribes during Roman expansion
- Early Viking invasion forces had no fast flanking units
- TWWH is underexploited, but there is some potential for TWWH when using monstrous insurgentry and certain spells
- This force-concentration is similar to that of the oblique. However it is directed towards the centre with both flanks “refused” rather than one.
How it works
- The ultimate target is always the enemy commander.
- To reach the target quickly, a direct route through the enemy’s centre is sought.
- Progressively widening the wedge will prevent it from becoming enclosed.
- General routs can occur if the enemy commander gets captured, killed, or captured. This is particularly true if the enemy army commander is in the field by their king. Saxon armies were often against Viking invaders.
- It doesn’t look too dangerous or messy, does it?
It’s because it is.
- If the wedge penetration doesn’t succeed quickly, the entire army becomes vulnerable
- Its central concentrations of infantry make it a
large target for artillery
BREAKING NEWS - Useful Skaven spell discovered! -
Veil of Shadows: Causes no damage, does not affect friendly troops, Huge stationary area of effect, can disrupt unit formation
Type 2 – THE FINESSED WOEDGE
Cavalry wedges can be difficult to penetrate enemy lines and may refuse spears altogether. Alexander the Great achieved this feat in many battles. He used a variety opportunites to break down enemy lines and enough to use his personal ‘Companion Cavalry’ wedge to penetrate them.
Battle of Chaeronea
- Phillip II, the commander of Macedonia, and his troops feigned retreat.
- They were pursued relentlessly by enemy infantry nearby, fracturing enemy battle-line
- This allowed Alexander’s cavalry wedge and flank-charged the pursuing infantry to penetrate the center, allowing them to attack the enemy commander.
Alexander also won other notable battles using different tactics:
– Battle of the Granicus (334 BC).
– Battle Of Issus (333 BC).
– Battle for Gaugamela (331 BC).
4. Multiple Lines
Type 1. Type 1.
- Widely used when numbers permit by melee-heavy army
- The Roman Legions of Manipular (from 315 BC to 107BC during their conquests of the Italian peninsular) are the most well-known. These infantry units had a triple line of melee infantry – Hastati, Principes & Triari
- Many armies faced with cavalry superiority often took multiple lines to resist flank attacks.
- It’s a great counter to the Hammer & Anvil Formation in TWWH
Description: The Roman version is below
- The spacing distances shown in this picture are far underestimated.
- The famous checkerboard design is only used during skirmishing. This pattern likely formed into three solid lines prior to any charge or melee engagement.
How it works
- Defense in Depth. Even if an enemy charge broke through the first line of defense, they had to cross two more lines before making any breakthrough
- Relieving Combatants. Soldiers from the supporting ranks could be substituted for injured or exhausted soldiers in the first line.
- Flanking Defence. The spears of the third line of Triari were perfect for engaging any flanking enemy Cavalry.
- In battles against mobile opponents, it can be very useful to have a strong forward defence and a strong rear flanking defense.
- Doubling or tripling the width of your line can make it more vulnerable for being flanked by an army that has a larger number of enemy infantry. But if you do see that happening, you’ll have plenty to change your formation.
Order of marching for the Republican Roman Legion
Type 2. COUNTER-FLANKERS
- The ‘Cohort Legions were formed following the Marian reforms in Rome, 107 BC.
- TWWH is a much better counter to Hammer & Anvil. Even the Ai enjoys it!
- A reserve force of light infantry, stationed some distance behind enemy lines, was also present
How it works
- Reserve units are placed further back to protect your front line from enemy flanking forces.
- These units include light cavalry, light melee units, and missile units.
- Their mere presence could delay flanking cavalry charge against your forward melee infantry.
- Can be used as a mid-battle role by withdrawn missile troops
- This diversion in man-power reduces your line.
- They are vulnerable to cavalry if they are your sole counter-flankers.
Post Marian-reform Legion with flexible Reserve Lines
TWWH has a Counter-flanking Sequence that is useful for example
5. Mixed Order
(a.k.a. Ordre Mixte)
- Rome against Macedon in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC).
- France during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1804).
- Napoleon’s European conquests by France (1804-1808).
- A favourite amongst Dwarf player-commanders in TWWH
- It is possible to alternate strong and weak melee troops throughout the battleline
- Combining range units and melee can be done in a similar fashion
How it works
- In principle, the Multiple Lines tactic is opposed to it: The creation of a broad battle-line by bringing forward reserves or other troops normally not suitable to front-line warfare.
- A wide battle line can reduce enemy flanking opportunities. This may even allow your infantry to outflank your enemy.
- If the line is carefully arranged, stronger troops will be able to help the weaker ones.
- Specialist units can be used to bring capabilities into the front line (e.g. Missile fire).
- At the expense of depth defence, it is possible to achieve battle-line width
- Leadership weakness can be caused by weaker/range unit placements in your line. Your line may be broken up by isolated routs.
Battle of Pydna (168 BC).
(Click to Enlarge)
- Rome increased its battle-line to withstand envelopment and included many units of light infantry
- Their light infantry, which was unexpectedly able out-flank their opponents once the battle-lines were starting to fragment from attrition, performed well against the Macedon Hoplite phalanxes.
EXAMPLE OF APPLICATIONS FOR TWWH2
1. Mixed Melee (Dawi Miners & Longbeards)
- Miners are cheap dealers in armour piercing damages.
- Longbeards, despite being expensive, are very resilient and provide morale boosting to nearby units.
2. Melee & Grenades (Dwarf Warriors & Miners – Blasting charges)
- The Miners (or Grenades’), can bomb a charging enemy with low risks of inflicting friendly flame.
- Dwarf Warriors are a defensive line that provides resilience to the allied side when melee is underway
- If a unit of grenade grenades is overwhelmed, pull them to the rear and flank the pursuing unit using Slayers
- Late game offers an improved version with Ironbreakers replacing blasting miners
3. Melee, Shot: Staggered formation (Empire Swordsmen & Free Company Militia
- Militiamen may fire on approaching enemy without becoming blocked.
- The staggered lines may enable them to avoid the impact of charge.
- They can continue firing on enemy line units from relative safety during the melee phase.
- You can pull a gunpowder team back and fire on the attacker with nearby Militiamen.
4. Melee & Shot: Chevron Formation (Empire Swordsmen, Handgunners & Captains)
- Allows ‘enlilade” firing upon the flanks enemy line units engaged into melee.
- Empire Captains (stars), are stationed to support the vulnerable points in the chevron.
- It is not as practical as a marching group, but the chevron patterns will shorten your lines.
6. Configurations with defensive capabilities
Type 1 – LARGE
- Anyone who has ever been determined to defend a natural chokepoint or some high ground
- Gothic rebels at Adrianople
- Battle of Crecy — England defends itself in a river Valley against France (it’s an iconic!
- TWWH players who choose to turtle in a “map corner” against overwhelming numbers are always very popular.
- The vast majority of an army can defend an advantageous terrain feature.
- Intensive use by infantry shield walls, and focused missile support
- Cavalry support may be desirable, but it is not always practical
How it works
- Sometimes, shield wall needs to be formed up to completely encircle high points.
- Sometimes, less troops are needed to defend chokepoints.
- Kill zones for overlapping fire are those areas where the enemy must congregate.
- A battle of Attrition is won when there are more casualties during the attack than in the defense
- High ground defense offers the defender an advantage in combat and penalizes attackers
- Natural choke points are able to funnel large enemy troops into a small front. This can make their large numbers a handicap, rather than an advantage.
- Protecting a hilltop against mobile enemies requires large numbers of shield wallers.
- In TWWH, your cavalrymen can’t dismount to help you lengthen the defensive line
- It might be difficult for Cavalry to sally through the compact defenses of their army’s choke-point. This reduces their chances of flanking enemy assaults.
Battle of Adrianople (324 AD).
- The Gothics made an effective ring-defense of their migration camp on the summit of the hill so that they couldn’t be flanked.
- Combating uphill was an initial disadvantage for heavy Roman infantry
- Gothic cavalry harassment caused frequent Roman retreats. Repeat assaults eventually exhausted them, triggering a general rout.
Battle of Crecy (1246 AD).
- Because enemy cavalry was slower and the terrain was narrower, the English chose a valley to defend.
- They established a line between river and settlement buildings in order to deter flank attack
- Their flanks were further strengthened by cavalry charges from bowmen who prepared their positions for them with sharpened stakes.
- The English bowmen (blue dots) were deployed to aerate the flanks and create central kill-zones by using cross-fire.
- French cavalry units defeated by missile fire repeatedly trampled their infantry in the valley. Until finally, all hell broke loose.
- The star icons represent heroes units
- Gunners are one of the weak points in defense of the line. If they’re in trouble, pull them back and flank attack a pursing unit. Because melee-based heroes are highly resistant to friendly firing, you can usually restart shooting at the enemy unit.
- If it’s safe to do, the covering archers can turn to fire on the kill zone.
- When you defend against larger armies, you can extend your line by using the configurations shown in this section of Mixed Order.
Type 2: SMALL
- Roman legions sometimes use them to defend their standards.
- In the early gunpowder days, field artillery was often protected by small detachments of gunpowder guns.
- Multiple units can combine to form 3 or more sides of a defensive square
How it works
- Melee defense for a valuable nonmelee unit
- Later versions included bayonets as well as gunfire.
- Useful for defending distant artillery sites in a cavalry infested environ
- Useful in the TWWH for protecting an isolated spell caster from attacks by the air
- Costly for the number of men needed. Tercio unit (below), may suffice.
- Too many of them will compromise the strength the forward battleline.
Roman legionaries defending a very important rag with a stick.
Type 2: TINY “Tercio” Detachments
- Spanish conquistadors conquered many cities during the Italian Wars (1494-1559).
- Similar units were adopted by many other European armies in the same period.
- Similar formations are very common in TWWH Battles within Settlements, when losses must be kept to an absolute minimum.
- Shot and Pike were merged to create autonomous units
How it works
- To defend musketeers, the long pikes could be brought to their knees while reloading.
- A detachment made up of gunners is possible without its usual vulnerability against cavalry and stronger melee troops
- Very small tercios made up of only one spear & one-gunner unit are well suited to TWWH urban war battles in the narrow streets surrounding besieged settlements
- TWWH polearms are not long enough to shelter missile troopers from behind during firing. This could make it necessary to micromanage the tercio structures.
- Spear units need to be brought forward when they are needed to defend gunners. This will temporally block their very low missile trajectory. However, crossbowmen and archers can still be fired over their polearm defenders at distant target targets if they are used.
The Spanish Tercio conglomeration shot and pike – much larger than recommended for urban war in TWWH
A modest proposal Two-unit Tericos:
EXAMPLE. Tiny Tercios used in urban warfare
Nearly all of the historical maps, images, and illustrations were sourced from Wikipedia. I also created most of the battle-maps myself using some fairly basic software. A few of them were posted in unattributed forums. If you come across something you feel is yours here, please let me be aware of what you would like to do with it.
Many thanks to all those who offered advice.
- @grognardgary Tercio formations
- @Central on the Defensive Formations as well as Mixed Order
- @Verchial – Battle of Cannae
- @Dalai Llama on Ratling spells which disrupt enemy lines
- @D–Black Catto for creative reasons not to attempt the Guide in the first place
I hope you enjoy the The History Lab – Battle Formations – Total War: WARHAMMER II guide. This is all for now! If you have something to add to this guide or forget to add some information, please let us know via comment! We check each comment manually!
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