WR - War Commands & Melee Tactics Part I

Michael and Tiffany Geisendorff crator at mail.swbell.net
Mon Feb 22 12:32:33 PST 1999

Here is a list of commands that are currently being used in our
Kingdom/Region.  I hope this might clarify some of the
commands.  As always, any questions or comments are welcomed.  If you
want to email us personally, the address is
aaron-brita at usa.net.

Thank you,
Lady Brita MacGregor
Western Regional Warlord

Ansteorra and/or Western Regional War Commands
    (Most of this is from Duke Kein's Melee Tactics Essay,
    but things that I have added concerning regional commands
    will be marked with an *)

   Form up means to get into your positions quickly and efficiently. In
general, form up will be a row of shieldman, with basket
hilt spacing between them, then a row of polearms.

   Dress the line means get the shield wall in shape. If you are a line
shieldman, you should look right to see that you have the
proper spacing between you and the next fighter, then look left to make
sure your buddy is doing the same. If you are behind
the line, you should assist the line shieldmen in doing this in whatever
fashion seems appropriate (remember they are your
   You should dress the line after any maneuver, whether told to or not.

    When dressing the line, always look to the right shieldman for the
correct position.

   Advance means "Go." Walk forward in a normal fashion. It is important
to "dress your line" while advancing. Do not stop until
you are given the command "Stop". Walk over or around obstacles while
maintaining your speed. It is very important to
maintain your speed while approaching the enemy. Many units slow down
when they enter spear range. This is foolish. The
enemy spears have more time to do their work. You should quickly  get so
close that the enemy shieldmen are protecting you
from the enemy spearmen. If line shieldmen slow down on approaching the
enemy, it is usually very inconvenient for the friendly
spearmen because they have to step over the corpses of their line shield
companions to engage the enemy. If no order to stop is
given, after you engage the enemy, you should attempt to continue at the
same speed over your opponents.

   Advance to engage means advance (as above) until your shieldmen are
engaged with the enemy shield to shield, then stop and

   Advance by step means to take one step forward. The command should be
given as follows. "Advance by step!".....
everyone waits...... "Step!" ..... everyone steps. Further "Step"
commands can be given without the preparation command.

   Double time means "advance" as above except at a trot.

   Triple time means "advance" as above except at a jog.

   Same as triple time, but faster and meaner.

  Same as "advance by step" except backwards.

   The commander calling this command should be on the left flank of the
shield wall. All fighters in the unit should pivot 90
degrees left where they stand . They should then follow the person in
front of them closely. The commander should lead the unit
where he wants them to be then stop. When the unit stops all fighters
should pivot 90 degrees back right.

   Same as "Single file left", but to the right.

   The formation moves to the left without turning or breaking their

   Same as "Slide Left" but right. Do I need to tell you this?

   Advance at an angle to the left. Make it a 45 degree angle unless the
commander tells you otherwise.  He should try not to
make it too complicated as few soldiers bring protractors onto the field
with them.

   Same as "Angle Left" but right. I am going to assume that you know
this now.

   This command is used when the wall is about to be flanked. It must be
executed quickly and accurately. When this command
is given, the shieldman on the right flank pivots slowly to his left.
The shieldman on the left flank runs backward on a curve that is
the circumference of a circle that has a radius of the length of the
shield wall. Every other shieldman moves backward at an
appropriate speed to keep a line formation between the two flank
shields. Spears and poles move backwards behind that line.
Reserve shields move to the left flank and support. Continue this
movement until the commander says "Stop". I hope this
explanation is clear and no one has to get out a geometry textbook to
figure it out.

   Same as refuse the left, except from the right.

    When this command is given, the shieldman on the right flank pivots
forward slowly to his left. The shieldman on the left flank
runs forward on a curve that is the circumference of a circle that has a
radius of the length of the shield wall. Every other
shieldman moves forward at an appropriate speed to keep a line formation
between the two flank shields. Continue this
movement until the commander says "Stop".

    Same as wheel left, except from the right.

    Sir Aaron has created this command from one used in the Outlands.
It is used for specific situations and involves a row of
shields followed by a row of polearms.  When the command is given, the
shields advance about 3 steps and engage the enemy,
screaming and acting like they are going to push right through, but they
only advance to engage.  Then, throw about 2-3 blows,
cover and step back to where they were before advancing, but allowing
for the polearms to slide pass them.  Then, the
polearms throw a couple of shots and slide back behind the shieldman.
This usually makes the enemy cover-up and brace for
an attack, then when it gets quiet, they raise up to have polearms
popping them in the face.

   This command is used after your unit has engaged the enemy, when your
unit has scattered into individual fights or smaller
units. Upon hearing this command a fighter should disengage from
whatever engagement he may be in and form up with his
buddies in Plan Alpha* in front of whoever is calling the command.
He/she should also begin shouting "regroup". This command,
quickly followed, can win a battle for you. If your unit is a UNIT when
the bad guys are a scattered mob, you can take
advantage of their confusion and destroy them.

RETREAT (When in Plan Beta - explained later)
   This command addresses the problem of an enemy charge when your unit
is in Plan Beta. The command should be given as
"Retreat one two". One the word "retreat" the spears and poles in the
front line have to take two steps back and to the right. On
"two" the shields in the front line take one step back while the shields
in the back line take one step forward. This puts your unit
into Plan Alpha one step back from where their original line was. This
takes practice.

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