Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 35: Moving Forward

First of all: No, this is not a “Future of the Blog” post.  Yeebus no.  Instead, this is about, well… Moving forward.  As an army.  Together, and whatnot, without dying terribly.

The Step Command

The standard approach to moving a line forward against resistance has been the step command.  At the command “Prepare” the line is supposed to begin throwing shots to occupy the opponents’ attention.  At the command “Step” the line takes a step forward, thereby gaining ground.  Rinse, repeat.

I have never had this work.  Ever.  The “Prepare” command either triggers no response, or an inverse response: the fighters start thinking about the next part and stop throwing shots.  Then, at Step either they step forward and die, or they hesitate, letting the person next to them step forward and die.

So much for the Step Command.  It has been removed from the Maneuvers and Command page.  It is no longer a Command to Know.

An Alternative

The current alternative in mind right now is a simple command of “Forward” or “Press”.  It achieves the goal that the Step command should, far more successfully than the Step command does.

There’s not the setup that guarantees the safety that “Step” SHOULD carry with it, but also not the warning to the enemy, or the antithetical action that is often the result of “Prepare” or “Ready”.   The command does have to be given with force and volume so that fighters will hear and obey.

Next… er… steps

I think I’ve got the ARA mostly agreed on this.  The real “what next?” response is some experimentation: find out how well “Forward” works as opposed to any other possible option; tweak it however works best; and then teach it (in so far as it needs teaching).  Chances are there will be returns to this topic.

4 comments to Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 35: Moving Forward

  • Ruairc

    I will be eager to see how this goes. The reason “prepare to step” doesn’t work, in my mind, is that your average fighter, upon hearing the order, does NOT think “preemptive aggression” but instead reasons “I will very shortly be throwing myself at a line of sharp pointy steel”, which makes them apprehensive, which gets them killed.

    Still, avoiding the opponents’ blades is an instinctual thing for most fencers. I’d be surprised if, upon hearing a single order, without any sort of warning or preparation, some arbitrary number of line fighters act as one with a quick step forward, maintaining coherency, rather than advancing disjointedly and being picked apart. It’s certainly possible if they specifically train at it, but if that’s the case, we shouldn’t be having problems with “prepare to step” etc.

    Might a compromise be better? Certainly my knowledge of melee is extraordinarily limited, but I’d think that an aggressive-sounding preparatory command that gets your fighters attacking, like “bind” or “kill the bastards”, followed by a quick “press”, could be the best of both worlds.

  • Staffan Arffuidsson


    I’ve actually applied the training that I received in the Coast Guard. Make the commands (besides “Hold!” of course) multisyllabic. For example when giving the command “Advance”, break it into “Ad Vance”. The first syllable should get the troops to pay attention and ready themselves to respond; the final syllable is when the action is taken. So they’d start forward with the syllable “Vance” of my previous example; with “Forward March!” They pay attention on the “For”, listen attentively during the “Ward”, and move on the “March!”.

    And it all comes down to training. Once you settle on a common phrase the group should train on responding appropriately to said command, allowing you to “crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their (men and) women.”

    In Service to the West,
    Staffan Arffuidsson
    I’m off to figure out how to incorporate “Schpadoinkle” into the command structure!

  • Gawin

    So now I’m trying to figure out how to perform a controlled experiment now that you’ve written this on the internets.

  • Dominyk

    For the record I never supported Celric’s expanding the teaching of this command beyond the Dragoons. It is a tactic with limited usefulness in a very specific situation. Inevitably, when we started teaching it widely it got expanded to places where it shouldn’t have been used.

    In general when I’m commanding a line and I need them to move up, it is usually more effective to be give a specific goal. Give the command “push up to that tree” or “push forward 10 feet”, instead of just a general “step” or “push”.

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