Battlefield Roles and How to Beat them: Part 3 - Flankers

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.

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.

Battlefield Roles And How to Beat them: Part 2 - Supports

Welcome back to our tactics spotlight. Today we’re going to be looking at my personal favorite role - Support (aka Poles, greatweapons, Spears). Don’t let the name fool you; supports are often the deadliest players on the field who carry their team to victory.

Support

This roles is for players who want to use tactics and teamwork to rack up kills and lead their teams to victory. Supports tend to also gravitate to the center of a ditching field, taking advantage of the defensive wall provided by the shields of their team’s frontliners. In an open field fight, support weapons tend to use their range to bully opponent’s formations prior to direct contact and then once the lines are engaged they use their range to exploit openings in the opponent’s line or positioning. While Frontliners may be the force that opens up an enemy line, it is often the Supports who exploit those openings and secure kills for their side. In Dargarth, this role is typically played by Fighters, Paladins, Monks and Rangers who can bring Red polearms to bear against the enemy shields, but since most support kills come from long range stabs, Druids and Rogues with a spear can excel in this role as well.

Offensive magic spells can serve in a similar Support role, as the threat of instant destruction or entangling vines can stall and offensive push, and when delivered can create great advantages for their team, but given the long casting times for most spells and the difficulty and risk involved in battlefield casting, a caster will only be able to play this role for a limited time -- usually in the first engagement of a battle.

For equipment, Supports tend to use longer weapons such as Glaives, Spears, and long (5ft+) Greatswords. They tend to rely on their mobility to quickly retreat behind their frontliners during a counter push and thus may not be as heavily armored as their Frontline counterparts (though fighters, paladins and rangers may still bring quite a bit of armor into the role). On smaller fields such as the typical Dargarth battle, supports may use a secondary weapon, usually a blue or dagger for dealing with opponents who manage to close past their range. In larger scale battles, where 8ft-10ft polearms are more common, this practice is less common. Angus, with his light armor, long spear and dagger is a great example of a Support at Dargarth.

To counter a Support, you’ll want to isolate them from their team and negate their range.

A shield of any type is a fairly effective counter against most support fighters alone. Rush in, block their strike and try and bring them down as quickly as possible. Watch out for their secondary weapon (which will usually becoming in right after your first strike) and stay close until they have been neutralized. Attempting this maneuver together with other fighters dramatically decreases the risk; the Support will be forced to choose who to attack and which side to block leaving the other side unthreatened and open for an easy kill.

In limited front engagements like bridge battles and sieges, supports can act to counter each other; pinning an enemy’s spear down can be the sort of opening your frontliners need to push in and open the rest of the enemy line up. Grabbing a spear or glaive that’s prodded too far into your line can also be a very effective tactic.

Ranged attacks, especially arrows and javelins can devastate a Support. Even a pierced arm will dramatically decrease a Support’s effectiveness. Backliners such as archers should prioritize bringing down Supports as early as possible. Just as Frontliners tend to attract spellballs, Supports tend to attract arrows.

Flankers can also be very effective at neutralizing Supports, especially in open field fights where lines can shift rapidly. If they are able to break in and engage the support close (preferably as a team of two or more) they may be able to neuter the enemy team’s offense with little cost.

Battlefield Roles and How to Beat them: Part 1 - Frontliners

In Dargarth, as in most of life, personal skill and aptitude is only part of the equation. Knowledge and awareness are often as important in a battle as swordplay. Understanding a field battle as it’s unfolding allows you to apply your personal skills in a way that best supports your teammates, neutralizes the strengths of your enemies and leverages your own strengths to victory. So today, I’m going to break down the 4 core battlefield roles I see in most field fights, how to spot them, and how to stop them.

Many fighters may fight in different roles throughout the course of a given battle, especially in longer engagements like sieges as they cast spells, get wounded, expend ammo and change loadouts, but in each push, each fighter can only serve as one of these roles at a time.

Frontline
This role is for players who want to overwhelm their enemies through strong defense, and relentless direct force. Frontliners tend to group toward the middle of a ditching line, in the front of a bridge battle or siege and are usually the first group to make melee contact with an enemy force. While flankers may fleet from side to side and threaten enemies, when the frontline engages, it’s not a threat -- it’s a promise. In Dargarth, this role is usually played by classes with AR4 or AR 3 such as Fighters, Clerics, Paladins and Rangers, though Druids and Rogues can also serve in this role.

For equipment, frontliners tend to favor larger shields for their passive defense, and usually wear armor and wield a blue of some sort. Tower shield and flail is the quintessential load-out for this role, but on our field and in most of west coast foam fighting, a punch shield and a omni-bat is more common. Reaver, with his heavy mix of AR3 and AR4 who uses his physique to push into and overpower opponents with direct force is a great example of a frontliner in Dargarth.

To counter a frontliner you’ll need to use their armor against them, or bring them down with superior range.

In a limited line fight like a bridge battle, Support weapons excel at killing frontliners, breaking their shields with Red strikes, piercing their armor with spears, and using prods and harassment to keep their offensive onslaught at bay.

In open field fights, mobility is a major advantage most other roles have over frontliners. Kite them and make them work to kill you. If possible, leg them and move the fight away from them and use a numbers advantage to clean them up afterwards (make sure you watch out for first aid and cure light wounds though, as most frontline classes have access to some sort of healing abilities). Frontliners tend to be prime targets for offensive spells like Incinerate, Ice Storm, Entangle and Curse, as they often serve as fulcrums for their teams, and often aren’t as able to dodge incoming spellballs as more mobile roles.

Grappling a frontliner is a high-risk high-reward counter. Because of their large shields, aggression and quick shield-side footwork can keep you safe against a frontliner as you initiate a grapple and neutralize their offensive capacity, giving time for your teammates to rapidly shed their armor and make a kill. Grappling a frontliner is much less risky when you have a distinct numbers advantage. Something you might want to remember next time one comes barreling into your team in a bridge battle or siege fight.

Tactics Table - Springtime Study

Greetings Dargarth,

As the springtime blossoms and sunny weather returns to our grey skies it’s a fantastic time to start working on your fighting skills. No matter where you are in your journey as a fighter, regular practice, especially on the fundamentals of strikes, blocks, range and footwork is your strongest tool for improvement. If you want to get better this season, you owe it to yourself to make some practice time in your life, whether that’s working on footwork drills at the bus stop, working your pell after you get home from work, making an effort to make regular practice events, sparing your friends, or just stretching and working out regularly. And there’s more to foam fighting than just shot mechanics -- especially in mixed unit field fights. Toss in our armor and magic rules and we’ve got a game with quite a bit of strategic and tactical depth that can be pretty overwhelming for the uninitiated.

To encourage your practice and refine your game, I’m going to be putting out a series of posts about battlefield tactics, focusing on basics like battlefield roles, classes in Dargarth, and what to pay attention to before lay on or before a duel.


It is my hope that these articles can help people new to our game better understand how battles play out and what sort of role they would like to play as well as improve the level of our fighting more broadly.

I’ll be the first to admit: I am not the best foam fighter. I’m not the most skilled, or the fastest or the most practiced or even the most clever -- and so while I’m putting out the effort to write these posts, I hope that you’ll take these as a starting point for wider discussions.

Dame Kit