Welcome back for part 3 of our 4 part series on typical battlefield roles in Dargarth and foam fighting more generally. Today we’re looking at one of the hardest working, fastest moving roles on the field - flankers.
This role is for players who aren't afraid to face multiple enemies alone and persevere through a combination of individual skill, high mobility and tactical awareness. While the frontline wades into battle and Supports bring direct offense to bear against their enemies, flankers wait on the edges of the main fray ready to pounce on vulnerable backline or other unsuspecting fighters. Flankers tend to position themselves on the edges of a line and quickly move to apply pressure on the enemy's side. Harassment and distraction are a flanker’s primary goals -- the more enemies that engage with a flanker, the fewer are able to support against the push from the Frontliners and Supports in midfield, creating a localized numbers advantage for the flanker’s team and hopefully resulting in a victory for their side. The ultimate goal of a flanker is not to attack the close wing of the enemy line (who will see and respond to the advance) but to dart in around the enemy’s back and strike the unsuspecting backliners or engaged supports before completing their rotation back behind their own team’s lines.
For equipment, flankers tend to choose options that don't sacrifice their mobility, while using their relative position away from the main fight to keep them from being overwhelmed by superior numbers. Flankers tend to favor blue swords, javelins and smaller round punch shields to provide protection without greatly reducing their shot selection, though short greatswords and Florentine styles can also be very effective choices for their offensive power. In Dargarth this role is usually played by lightly armored Rangers, Rogues, Monks and Mages though truly any class can excel in the role. Mowgli, who hangs out on the wings of fights and uses rapid advances and personal skill to sweep in on his enemies’ from the sides is a great example of a flanker in Dargarth.
To counter a flanker, you need to mitigate their offensive pressure with as few resources as possible.
Remember that the primary goal of a flanker isn’t to sweep in and rack up kills (though many are quite capable of doing this if ignored) but rather to use their offensive pressure to coral and divide the enemy team, freeing up their team’s main force to push through the enemy frontline, after which the flankers will use their high mobility to sweep in and destroy the enemy’s backline and supports. The easiest and most effective counter to this tactic is communication. Stay in formation with your team and use positioning to keep the flanker from being able to isolate or pivot small groups away from your main line. Communicate to your line regarding the flanker and their position, and especially to your vulnerable Supports and Backline who should be moving in closer to the front line and away from the threatened flank.
Since most flankers are lightly or unarmored and rely of their mobility to keep themselves safe and project threat, a pierced leg will usually dramatically reduce their effectiveness. A well placed arrow shot can do wonders against a flanker, but backliners should be very mobile and behind a screening line of other fighters when attempting this, or else they will be very vulnerable as they reload and the flanker charges. There is a temptation to use javelins to deal with a flanker, but in most cases this is a mistake, as a javelin can dramatically increase the range of a flanker’s potential threat and now requires semi-active shield work from your wings to negate.
In some cases, when a flanker has pushed hard and fast beyond the ability of their line to provide auxiliary support, the best response is to bring immediate and overwhelming force against them to neutralize their threat. Pouched spells, massed support weapons, or a quick counter push from your own flankers with wing support can all be highly effective counters, though more skilled flankers will usually switch tactics and fight defensively to stall and occupy your team to allow their team to take advantage of their distraction. The call to directly engage a flanker, should come from your backline or supports, who should have more perspective of the battle, and can tell if the frontline has engaged the enemy team not from your forward fighters (usually flankers or lighter armored frontliners) who are often preoccupied with staying in formation and announcing the presence of the incoming flanker.
A simple, if risky counter to flankers is to match their location and number with flankers of your own. This tactic relies exclusively on the individual dueling skill of your flanks and while it requires the least amount of coordination it is also very risky, as a death of your teams screening flankers quickly becomes an open invitation for the victorious flank to route your backline and play miremba on the backs of your teammates. As a flanker, if you are called to meet another flank, stay mobile and recognize that your primary job is to slow the enemy’s advance and buy time for your frontline to do their jobs. Don’t take big risks, focus on staying alive and stay vocal.