Originally published at: http://blog.openwar.org/samurai-wars-tactics/
Although there’s a lot to be said about tactics, and while difficult to master in the heat of battle, the basic concepts are quite easy to grasp. From a simplified viewpoint, medieval battles are just more advanced versions of the rock-paper-scisssors game. Each unit can beat enemy units of a certain kind, but get beaten by others, and the objective is to engage the right combination units.
In Samurai Wars there’s a number of unit attributes that the simulation uses to calculate combat.
Cavalry move much faster than infantry. Light (missile) units move slightly faster than heavy (melee). This means that it is the faster unit that has the choice to decide if and when to engage in combat.
Missile units kill at a far distance. Melee units must be in contact with the enemy in order to kill. There’s however a big difference between Katana, Naginata, and Yari units due to the distance between the soldier and the blade of the weapon.
- Katana units hold the blade close and can easily attack in any direction. But as the Katana soldier must move in closer than the Yari, he's more exposed to the enemy kill zone.
- Yari units hold the blade at a distance, and properly applied can attack the enemy with lesser exposure. This relies on having a well organized spear wall to fend off the enemy. The disadvantage is vulnerability to flanking.
- Naginata is somewhere between the Katana and Yari.
Samurai units are more competent. Ashigaru are less competent and route more easily.
Some tactical rules of thumb:
- Use missile units to attack melee units (kill at a safe distance)
- Use infantry missile units to defend against cavalry missile units (infantry has better kill power)
- Attack the flanks or rear of a unit, especially true for Yari units.
Another important tactical concept is the concentration of force
. That is, if you for example have two units and the enemy has two, it's better to pick them off one by one than to attack them one-on-one. Two units should easily defeat just enemy one unit, and can then move on to the next one.
Finally there’s the concept of combined arms. This means combining units of different type to achieve something that’s better than just the sum of it parts, much like chess pieces protecting each other on the chess board. For example, engaging the enemy with a yari unit and locking him in combat while flanking with your cavalry. Or protecting your archers against cavalry with a naginata unit.
There’s much more to say about tactics but these are some starting points.