The results of all battles in which you participate will be reported to you in blow-by-blow detail. You will read of the fanfare of trumpets, the shriek of sword against shield, the dust and thunder of horses charging upon an open plain; and taste for yourself the fruits of victory and defeat. All set piece battles can be divided into four critical stages: flanking maneuvers, missile fire, the charge, and close combat. As the two opposing armies close on one another from a distance they will each attempt to envelop the flanks of the other, and if successful, will gain a significant advantage. The speed of your troop units on the flanks will have the greatest impact on your ability to outflank your opponent.

At the same time that flanking maneuvers take place, the armies will engage in missile fire. Both sides will fire solid blasts of arrows, spears, darts, and other missile weapons to wreak as much havoc as possible among the enemy's ranks. As the armies close upon one another, all troop units in the first battle line and all archers in the second will fire missiles. After the armies close, missile fire will only occur between the front battle lines.

The charge is that stage of battle where the armies close, leading to the close combat stage. Those troop units better suited to the charge--cavalry, chariots, mammoths, and heavy infantry, will do the most damage here. The best defense against charging troops are troops armed with pikes. No troop may expect to have an advantage when charging against this type of weapon!

The final stage of battle is that of close combat. During close combat, battle takes place only between the front battle lines. Troops on the front line will engage each other with both melee, and missile fire. As troops are destroyed or routed from the front lines, troops from the ranks behind will endeavor to fill the gaps left by the retreating (or dead) troops. While it is up to you to ensure a strong initial troop formation, a good army commander can do much to make sure the front line stays strong and any holes are filled quickly. Troop units that are destroyed or routed during battle are counted against the loss acceptance level each army has previously selected. Routed units are those troops whose morale has been broken and have scattered or fled the battlefield. After the battle, some routed troops counted against your loss acceptance may return--others may not.

Combat is reported in a series of rounds, each representing one hour, except in fort battles, where each round represents a week of siege. Battles rarely proceed past nightfall, but if no decisive victor is determined on the first day, battle may continue the next day, or even longer. If the battle is broken off with no clear victor, the defending kingdom maintains control of the contested province. Most battles continue until one side is victorious.

Victory results when one army attempts to withdraw after having exceeded its loss acceptance level. An army whose loss acceptance level has been exceeded will attempt to make an orderly withdrawal to the nearest friendly province.

Unfortunately the realities for retreating armies are not pleasant, and in many instances a withdrawal may turn into a general rout of the entire army.

On the turn in which a set piece battle occurs the possibility exists for both sides to bring additional forces to bear on the outcome of the battle. Either side may assign additional troops from the capital to an army involved in the battle. Additionally, the defending player may at his option move an active imperial army to the province in which the battle is to take place. In either case the additional forces may or may not arrive in time to aid in the battle. Those forces which do arrive on time will be assigned to the reserves or may alternately become engaged in conflicts on the fringes of the main set piece battle. Remember the great costs which may be associated with stationing vast numbers of troops within the same province.

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