Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 33: How to get in to the backfield   12 comments

Dusting off the old WWW title and taking it for a spin to write down some thoughts on getting in to the backfield of the enemy.

There are a few basic skills that are absolutely necessary for this to be successful.  But, like EB White, I’ll get to that thesis sentence at the end of the essay.  Instead, let’s talk about the functional tactics for accessing your opponent’s backfield.  To start with, there are two places you can use to get in your enemy’s backfield: The Flank and the Line

The Flank

The flank is, at least for me, the easier point of access.  Flanks tend to be softer, and by sheer herd mentality reinforcements of a line tend to go to the center first.  Whether the right flank or left flank is better is pretty a fairly minor consideration, as terrain and the relative strengths of the flank guard will be a far greater factor.

To access the flank there are two possible situations to encounter: a flank guard, or no flank guard.

If there is no flank guard, meaning nobody between you and the enemy backfield, then all the hard work is done and you walk in to the enemy backfield.  Caveat: if reinforcements are coming up, even if they aren’t in the line, they are a functional flank guard and must be dealt with.

If there is a flank guard, you have two options.  The first is, kill them.  This is the harder option as you end up actually having to do some work.  Far better is to have the opponent engage 100% with a teammate.

Engaging the flank guard happens a few ways: The first is that, as you come up to the line, they are already fully engaged.  This is the optimal situation, but may be one of the sticking points for most people accessing the backfield.  Unless some opponent does you the favor of shouting out “Wistric’s coming up on the flank!” you have to rely on non-verbal cues to know if you’ve been spotted.  These non-verbal cues include which way they’re facing, how actively they’re fighting with your teammates, and whether or not they glance in your direction.  The flank guard, here, though, extends beyond just the end-most fighter and includes the first two or three, as any of them may spot you, break off their engagement, and intercept you.  Then you have to kill them, and that takes work.

If they are not fully engaged, now comes the time to take some command of the situation, and order your team’s flank guard to press their flank guard, thus fully engaging them.  Once that happens, walk in to the backfield.  What happens if your flank guard dies before you get to the backfield?  You kill the enemy flank guard, back to doing work.  What happens if they die after you get in the backfield?  Really, that’s somebody else’s problem, you’re just heading for the backfield.

When walking into the backfield, though, you need to adopt a non-threatening air.  If you come too close to an engaged fighter, even if they are fully engaged, they may see you as reinforcement for their opponent and will turn their attention to you.  Then you have to kill them to get in the backfield.  So cast a wide path far from the engagement, don’t wave your swords around or otherwise draw attention to yourself.  You are on a leisurely stroll through the woods and there just happens to be some fighting a little ways off.  Your leisurely stroll can be as close to out of bounds as it needs to be (and this is why you don’t ask stupid questions during the briefing: If the marshals don’t say it’s out of bounds, it’s not out of bounds, and you can use it to get to the enemy’s backfield).  In taking this wide path, the enemy flank may see you.  That’s fine.  They will disorder themselves trying to stop you, and be exposed to your teammates’ attack.

The Line

If you are engaged in the line getting in to the backfield is harder, but not impossible.  The first thing you need is a hole.

There are two ways to get a hole.  The first, and more difficult way, is to kill the person in front of you.  Again, that requires work, which other people should do.  The second, less difficult way, is to let somebody else make the hole for you.  There are two people on the field who can make a hole for you: Your teammates, and Your enemy.  If your teammate makes a hole, you have to react quickly.  The enemy will be yelling “dead”, drawing attention to the sudden hole in the line, and the enemy will be acting to make sure it’s not exploited.  Block swords out of the way and break like hell for the backfield.  If the enemy makes the hole for you, either by clumping together or otherwise leaving a gap, they are less aware of it, and it can be exploited more easily.

At this point it becomes much like a flank.  First, make sure the fighters on either side of the gap are well engaged.  Second, walk into the backfield.  Depending on the size of the gap, this can be a leisurely stroll, or it may be a quick run blocking swords out of the way.

The Backfield

Once in the backfield,  check on the enemy reinforcements, and then you have two choices: work the part of the line you just broke through, or work a different part of the line.  If a unit is trying to press through the unit you just broke, then you want to work the immediate unit at hand.  If not, then go find the enemy commander, and anybody who’s making lots of noise and coordinating fighters, or just holding off more than one of your fighters by themselves.  Here again a more leisurely pace will draw less attention, and a path that is more like the path of reinforcements and less like the path of somebody who’s just broken into your backfield will raise fewer eyebrows (When working the entire line at Sapphire, I started the DFBs on the opposite flank from the one I broke through, just by walking from one end to the other).

While you are required to say “My lord, you are dead,” remember that you are not required to say it LOUDLY.  A mutter in your victim’s ear will not carry to the fighter next to them.

Sadly, you probably won’t survive.  You should take this opportunity to do as much damage as you can, to annihilate as many high-value targets as are available.  And that means spending lots of time in the backfield, during which some reinforcement may come up and get you.  Just make sure you trade your life dearly.

Those Fundamental Skills

The first is field awareness, always.   You have to see the soft point of a line or flank, the level of engagement of nearby enemy, the enemy reinforcements coming up to the line, the prime targets once you get in a backfield.

Next: foot speed.  While the optimal scenario involves a leisurely stroll far out around an occupied flank guard, then down the line until you’re behind the enemy commander, the reality of it is a whole lot of scurrying from target to target and moving faster than the call of “DEAD!” can register in the enemy’s ears.

Last, you must be able to kill one person directly.  Somebody will turn around as you’re about to DFB them.  You have to be able to put your point on their mask and move on.

This process can, and soon will, be turned in to a flowchart.  Flank or Line?   Guarded or not guarded?  Engaged or not engaged?

Any thoughts, before I try to teach the scholars of Atlantia how to follow the flow-chart?

Posted June 6, 2010 by wistric in Melee, Wistric's Weekly Warfare

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