With the current movement system it's impossible to create any sort of useful formation or make use of "position".
While these posts seem to address separate issues, they do not. They interlock. You simply cannot have flanking when movement is not restricted.
Of course you would always move the attacking units "in position" and get the extra bonus without any challenge or cost in achieving it.
Not doing so would be stupid so it would merely be a free bonus without any depth added to tactical combat.
- Movement restrictions and unit Zone Of Control (first post)
- Flanking units. Making use of position.
- Line Of Sight and hidden units.
- Size of battlefields and random terrain.
- Unit size should have a direct impact on combat speed.
1. Movement restrictions and unit Zone Of Control
A fast unit like a champion or buffed cavalry can zip straight through any number of heavy enemy troops to take out the vulnerable ranged units behind them.
That can be an archer or the enemy's sovereign. No matter.
Especially with sovereign death being a game ending condition that is not acceptable.
Formations are (among other things) used to protect the vulnerable units in an army. With the unrestricted movement that we have now that is not possible.
Many boardgames (and computerised versions like Battle Isle) use a zone of control to limit movement.
- A unit can step into a ZOC but then it's immediately stuck for the rest of the turn. It may attack when it has movement points left but that's it.
- If a unit does not attack after doing that, it's turn is over. No saving attacks for later in the turn. I'll explain below why that is necessary.
That allows for protective formations using a reasonable number of units.
In WoM we have 12 units to play with. It takes 5-8 units to protect a single vulnerable unit. That is nonsense!
In this example the red team is attacking the blue team.
The blue shaded squares are the Zone Of Control of the blue units.
The red Melee unit wants to attack the blue Bowmen.
The blue Melee units obviously would like to prevent that. They have armor and are designed for melee, the bowmen... not so.
The green path is what we currently have. Unrestricted movement.
The red path is with ZOC rules enforced.
Going along the green path it's virtually impossible to protect the bowmen at all. You'd pretty much have to completely surround them with units, which is just not fun.
Too many units to move in boring and repetitive ways. Far too much micromanagement. Bad gameplay.
The red path is more interesting.
In the first example with only one protector, the attacker has to take a litte detour, but likely just far enough to not quite reach the bowmen in one turn.
In the second example we're starting to see tactics and use of position and movement.
This is a basic skirmish line, designed to prevent surprise attacks and protect the main body of the army.
The melee units screen the vulnerable units behind them by forcing attackers to either
- enter their ZOC and get a club upside the head
- take a huge detour around the block to get to the bowmen. That will hurt, because it gives the bowmen time to pincushion the attackers.
- take 3 entire turns to get there because every time it "enters a ZOC", ending it's movement for the turn.
Lets say the attacker moves 3 squares along the red path. All the closest defender needs to do is move one step to the left to cut them off even further.
That is how you get "formations" to work without requiring insane numbers of units.
And it's somewhat realistic, too.
Example 2, green path. Would any unit run straight into such a death trap? Both flanks exposed and enemies ahead? Not. Bloody. Likely.
Alternative way of resolving ZOC:
A unit can enter a ZOC and nothing at all happens.
If the unit now tries to leave the square (includes entering another ZOC square), the controlling unit gets a free opportunity attack.
That could actually be a more solid system because it doesn't add a "dumb" restriction. (noone likes those)
A single guardian peasant couldn't stop a charging dragon in it's tracks. The dragon would romp right past him, ignoring the flailing peasant.
Explanation for "not saving attacks"
If a unit does not attack immediately after entering a hostile's ZOC, it's turn is over. This is to keep the flanking system balanced.
If saving attacks were allowed, two units would move into flanking positions.
The second unit would attack the now flanked defender while the first unit is waiting patiently.
Then the first attacker would attack, the defender again being flanked by the second unit.
This completely destroys the dynamic of the game. You don't have units rushing up to engage the enemy, then sitting down to have a tea break when they see the white in their eyes.
When the unit does not attack it merely feinted the attack. The defender is still flanked because it had to react to the imminent attack.
But it was a feint.
The attacker stops dead while the real attacker hits the now unprotected flank of the defender.
Of course, the first attacker (moving into position) has the option of attacking - just without getting the flanking bonus because the second attacker isn't there, yet.
Realism aside, In gameplay terms it means that you cannot exploit the "wait" feature to stack flanking bonuses.
The flanking bonus is free. The flanking unit does not need to attack and take damage - only move into the position.
Tactics demand tradeoffs. If something is free like the flanking bonus, the cost would be that the flanking unit passes up it's chance to attack.
You can still use the wait feature to organise your unit's maneuvers. Sometimes a unit has to get out of the way to let another unit pass through the formation.
That is perfectly fine and no restrictions should apply to the order in which you use up your unit's movement.
A system like that can then be expanded by specialty units like real skirmishers which are able to enter and leave a ZOC in the same turn.
They'd need severe armament and armor restrictions but could be very useful tactically by well... skirmishing.
Harrassing (attacking and retreating again) or trying to outflank units. (that's when we'd really get some tactics going)
Idea for seriously differenciating melee / cavalry / ranged units.
Idea for retaining the XP of experienced units and combining smaller troops into "modern" and larger ones - without the rat's tail of problems that most suggestions come with.