Formation Fighting Guide + Hastings Syndrome - Updated 13-02-10 / 1:10

L-J-F

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D o w n l o a d  P D F  V e r s i o n :  (not up to date) http://www.filefront.com/15564231/A-Guide-to-Formation-Fighting-by-LJFHutch-v-1.002.pdf/

* * * I'll revise this as we test it and I get suggestions, feel free to add them and try these formations out too * * *

Hastings Syndrome - Tested, it is real, trust me

This is where a formation of spearmen/swordsmen/anythingmen breaks and attempts to engage the enemy out of formation, usually to their disadvantage. Remember the battle of Hastings? Yeah, that. Usually in Mount and Blade though, the enemy doesn't even need to feint a rout for the formation to break though. This is the #1 cause of the death of the formation, well, not death so much as breakage.

An Introduction to Formations



OK, I don't see anywhere near enough formations in Warband, perhaps it's because people don't know you can do it? Or perhaps they've tried and failed? I hope I can address the most common reason why formations might fail, it's a real killer so pay attention :wink: One of the key reasons formations in Mount and Blade are so fun, it that it's the player taking the initiative and replicating a real-world tactic. The game isn't telling you to do it, it isn't forcing you to, you're doing the work and getting the rewards.

Weapons: Three immediate sets come to mind:
* Sword and Shield - general purpose infantry
* Spear and Shield - for cavalry
* Spear - general purpose everything anywhere

However, you can get all of these by selecting the following equipment:

Slot 1 - Spear/pike etc
Slot 2 - Sword/mace/1h axe
Slot 3 - Shield
Slot 4 - Thrown weapon of some kind

This lets the formation be much more versatile, you can open up a volley from afar or take on infantry or cavalry if you need to.

How To Do It - Partially tested, has not had a "trial by fire" however, but the base formation and movement works

OK, have a looksee at this little diagram, if you've ever tried a formation this will be all too familiar to you. The frames are as follows:

1. Typical formation vs non-formation beginning (weapons don't need to be as shown, obviously shield and spear vs shield and sword isn't such a great idea). What happens after this is the most crucial part of formation fighting, and is where 99% of the time it goes horribly wrong.
2. The usual outcome - the formation eagerly breaks and charges the enemy, resulting in a break-down of group cohesiveness and results in mob fighting. In the example the broken formation would likely still win, though only just, due to their numbers.
3. The way the situation should be dealt with - the formation should stick close by the formation leader and under no circumstances break (not even to dodge a swing guys, block it).



Remember, staying in formation will be incredibly hard to do if you just expect it to work, you must have a formation leader or you'll never know what's happening, however, if you DO have one, remember do ALWAYS follow him/her and staying in formation to either side, the more people that break formation the higher chance of the whole thing going down, and then you're just some random holding a spear and shield confronted with a few Swad Bastard Sworders. "Don't let this happen to YOU!" lol :grin:

Think about this, what would happen if your legs and arms all tried to "run" at the same time? Without working as a cohesive whole your body would fall to the ground in convulsions, the same is very true of formation fighting.


WHAT WAS THAT!?!

You heard, breaking when you get into combat, you know you're meant to fight IN the formation right? It's not just so it looks cool ... although it most certainly does :wink:


Why Use It In The First Place? - Untested

Why is the formation more effective than mob fighting? It is simple: because you have everyone in a line, when an enemy closes you can bring more weapons to bear on him than he can on you, anybody can work out that this is a good thing :smile: Because the enemy is not in a formation they will most certainly have more "free space" between them, this is wasted space and allows the formation to effectively outnumber them, even if the total numbers are in fact, equal: look at frame three above.

Fighting Individuals - Tested and highly effective

"So what do we do when we're fighting one guy? He's not gonna want to charge the three of us in a formation ..."

No, he's not, but you don't give him a friggin' choice now do you :smile: See following diagram, when he tries to flank, just rotate on the formation leader, advance slowly if you must, he'll come ...



The thing that will get the three of you killed easiest here (or put you in a position to be killed more easily) is that all three rush forward and the single enemy backpedals. This ends up with one guy chasing and the other two trailing behind, unable to do anything, the lone soldier can easily pick you off one at a time, stay in formation however ...

You don't even need to be in a strict formation to achieve victory here since you are only fighting a single soldier and so the idea of "free space" (wasted space) is not much of an issue: you're probably all gonna be able to attack at the same time whether you're close together or further apart, so long as you make sure that the middle guy doesn't just rush in and instead lets the flankers catch up, always making sure that all three engage at the same time.

Simple Formations

Those shown are:

I. Line formation with a left-hand leader - all should keep in line with the man on their left.
II. Line formation with center-leader - all should position themselves to either side of the leader.
III. Delta formation - all should position themselves behind the leader, and assume a sharp "arrow" formation.
IV. Half circle formation - From the leader, all should array themselves in such a way as to create the formation shown.
V. Circle/box (enclosed) formation - from a line formation: the two either side of the leader, with the exception of one (to the right as shown) rotate and fall back, aligning themselves with the extremities of the remaining (as shown, two) men, while the two at the far ends converge on the "exposed" section of formation and fill in the gap.



Shield and Sword and Spear Formation Combination - Untested

Ok, to get the most all-round (and admittedly cumbersome/difficult] formation you could put a row of sword/boards at the front, spaced slightly apart, this allows a second row of spearmen to thrust between them, not only giving you more killing power, but also range and the ability to fight a variety of opponents without needing to switch.

Probably quite hard to set up compared to it's effectiveness, probably only good for holding a single location like a doorway or gate, otherwise you'd risk the whole thing breaking up.



Being Flanked - Untested

Well, there really isn't much you can do if the enemy just breaks up and flanks you, it's the only downside of the formation, however, if you were to back up to a wall or put yourself in an alleyway/archway etc, you should be able to avoid this, or the best way have some cavalry who can provide flank support. If they do break up, having a few cavalry around will turn the tide of the battle, since the enemy will be at their weakest when scattered and fighting on two fronts (cavalry all around and a wall of spears on the other side.

* Pro tip [:grin:]: using "~" lets you look around (free look), this greatly increases your situational awareness and helps you identify threats without turning your character. Remember though, it should always be up to the formation leader to assign these threats to the group, not the individual, otherwise you'll be introduced to "Hastings Syndrome" in a very unpleasant manner.

Forming Speed - Untested

It didn't occur to me before, but the speed in which you can form and disband a formation (the latter seems to come naturally to every player ever born) is crucial, sometimes the situation will call for the leader to disband and take up a loose or "skirmish" formation, however, the soldiers need to be able to find him and return to the formation within a matter of a few seconds if the group is to be successful. For example, in the (almost certain) event of Hastings Syndrome.

The Men

    Formation Leader

I said it before, but I'll say it again, you NEED a leader. Follow him blindly and always stay in formation unless he gives the order to break, always return and be in a position TO return if he should give the order also. A formation is only effective if it's a formation. Simple I know, but you'd think it were rocket science :sad:

Note the following:

* Formation leader should be distinctive (either bright red hair or different uniform).
* Formation leader should watch out for his soldiers, making sure they can follow and slowing when they are left behind.
* Formation leader must be the element that ties the whole group together and makes them work as a single unit.
* Formation leader must put the group in front of himself, both the health of the group and the "valor", "don't be a hero" comes to mind here.

    Formation Soldiers

* Uniforms for the soldiers would be ideal, most can get effective starting armor and this would help them know who they are and who their leader is.
* Uniform equipment, this makes them able to adopt a solid and cohesive formation at a moment's notice, any man can replace the position of another.
* Soldiers must place the group in front of himself, both the health of the group and the "valor", "don't be a hero" comes to mind here also.
* Soldiers must keep formation even if their own lives are at risk, for the lives of all the others are at risk if he does break.

The following is a quick sketch illustrating uniforms and a formation leader who stands out from them (also note the screenshot in "An Introduction to Formations" where you can see this also):



Keep In Mind The Following:

Effectiveness of a formation depends on a number of things:

* Size of groups (a large formation vs large non-formation will certainly be more effective than small ones).
* Cohesiveness of formations - the ability to stick together, the most important and depends on every member to stay in control of themselves, harder than you might think.
* Right weapons for the job - using sword and board in a formation against cavalry is a deathtrap, as are a few other combinations.
* Mobility - depends on cohesiveness for the most part, a stationary formation is easy to flank and destroy, a mobile one is not.

Ok, yes I AM a formation nut, and yes these ARE completely untested in Warband, I've never got a formation to last up until a fight unless in controlled circumstances because everyone just breaks off. Feel free to try it though, if you can manage to keep everyone in formation throughout a fight it just might work :smile:

D o w n l o a d  P D F  V e r s i o n :  (not up to date) http://www.filefront.com/15564231/A-Guide-to-Formation-Fighting-by-LJFHutch-v-1.002.pdf/
 

inox_ionizer

Baron
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Well written and awesome figures. One thing though; what would you recommend if the formation is being flanked from two sides?
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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inox_ionizer said:
Well written and awesome figures. One thing though; what would you recommend if the formation is being flanked from two sides?
Thanks, someone read it lol :grin:

Either form a circle or get some cav backup, ideally though to stop any flanking you position yourself against a wall or in an archway, but this isn't always possible. Maybe have a major leader and a minor leader, that way the formation could split into two and fight, then regroup? It's a difficult situation I'll give it that, and ultimately the major problem facing widespread integration of formation battles in Warband. There's bound to be a solution though.

As I said before, the cavalry backup is ideal since the enemy is split and isolated from one another, making them very vulnerable to cavalry harassment.
 

Arcas Nebun

Sergeant Knight
M&BWB
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Interesting, mate. I appreciate someone took the time to write this but... (yes, there is a "but") Warband has a small problem. You see, fighting in formation requires people to keep the formation correct. To do that, one needs to move in the same time, thus with the same speed, as the others. I've tryied this once, at "Battle Formations Sunday" event. I thought that if players would keep the block up, they will move with the same speed. Indeed they did, provided they have the same equipment (don't forget that in this patch, these speeds are modified). Also, people don't use teamspeak/ventrilo/whatever. That is essential to formations. I proposed some time ago a key binding for the game. If that key is hold down, the character walks with a constant speed (speed is the same for all players and for most types of terrain, except when on steep hills and things like that). Without this, no formation is possible in Warband.

EDIT: aaaah... and the TS/Ventrilo laaag... when I said, "Company... advance" people heard it at different times so basically the formation broke from the first step.
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Arcas Nebun said:
Interesting, mate. I appreciate someone took the time to write this but... (yes, there is a "but") Warband has a small problem. You see, fighting in formation requires people to keep the formation correct. To do that, one needs to move in the same time, thus with the same speed, as the others. I've tryied this once, at "Battle Formations Sunday" event. I thought that if players would keep the block up, they will move with the same speed. Indeed they did, provided they have the same equipment (don't forget that in this patch, these speeds are modified). Also, people don't use teamspeak/ventrilo/whatever. That is essential to formations. I proposed some time ago a key binding for the game. If that key is hold down, the character walks with a constant speed (speed is the same for all players and for most types of terrain, except when on steep hills and things like that). Without this, no formation is possible in Warband.

EDIT: aaaah... and the TS/Ventrilo laaag... when I said, "Company... advance" people heard it at different times so basically the formation broke from the first step.
The use of a formation leader negates this for the most part, but the formation leader must look out for his soldiers and never moves at full speed: letting the others catch up. You'd want the leader to be wearing something distinctive so that everyone could follow easily, this could also make for some interesting Persian style tactics, "shoot the commander!!"

Also very true about ventrillo or TS, that would help a lot, though mostly it would let the formation react faster.
 

Moss

Count
WBWF&S
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I'd really like to see this kind of stuff happening in games.

Although I'd say you're better off in loose formation when fighting with polearms or against one or two enemies, it's just a matter of having the common sense to keep your spacing even, not break up and getting singled out. No quicker and safer way to take out the enemy than to do it from three different sides at once.
 

Thel

Sticky or die :!:
More people need to "know" about this kinda stuff.
It will make the Warband community a much more enjoyable place.
Nothing is more scary or exciting than organized players.
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Thel said:
Sticky or die :!:
More people need to "know" about this kinda stuff.
It will make the Warband community a much more enjoyable place.
Nothing is more scary or exciting than organized players.
Haha  yeah :grin: Just played before and I was faced with six Vaegir spearmen coming at me, they weren't in formation but were still scary ... if they had been in formation ... :O
 

Night Ninja

Baron
M&BWB
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L-J-F said:
inox_ionizer said:
Well written and awesome figures. One thing though; what would you recommend if the formation is being flanked from two sides?
Thanks, someone read it lol :grin:

Either form a circle or get some cav backup, ideally though to stop any flanking you position yourself against a wall or in an archway, but this isn't always possible. Maybe have a major leader and a minor leader, that way the formation could split into two and fight, then regroup? It's a difficult situation I'll give it that, and ultimately the major problem facing widespread integration of formation battles in Warband. There's bound to be a solution though.

As I said before, the cavalry backup is ideal since the enemy is split and isolated from one another, making them very vulnerable to cavalry harassment.
You can refuse a flank and defeat one of the flanking groups by weight of numbers.

I've noticed the 'Hastings syndrome' a lot too. Most formations only last until the enemy is within charge range. At that point all semblance of order is gone and everyone just charges the nearest bugger who's wearing clothing of a different colour.

The game doesn't reward combat of this sort enough (refer to melee FF; proposed by people who didn't like getting mobbed) for it to be entirely worthwhile for the average player. This sort of combat can only really with very organized groups (read: clans).
 

Orion

Still Not Worthy
Global Moderator
M&BWBWF&SNW
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I'd be worried about lack of control in a tight formation. Sword and board is nice if you've got a line of people who won't instinctively back away in a fight. Then again, they might not instinctively back away but they might think they can swing side to side. Either way, if you're on their side you get smacked, either by an enemy who penetrated your line or by your goofy teammate.

Also keep in mind that formations can crumble because archers and crossbowmen are the snipers of the battlefield. Volley fire can't be simulated in Warband, so massed archers don't work that way. Instead they pick their targets and they have superb potential for accuracy. Nothing screws your formation more than a couple archers shooting just over or just under your shields.

Not to mention all of the rambo-tastic players you'll find throwing themselves gung-ho at your formation. Lone archers will flank you and shoot you in the sides, and if you've got a handful of infantry coming at you from the front you can't wheel your formation to the side or afford breaking part off part of the formation.

Formations won't work in a normal pick-up game because of lack of communication and "gamey" play. Organized events would be the best place for you to do this, though I admire your effort.

Night Ninja said:
(refer to melee FF; proposed by people who didn't like getting mobbed)
Actually, it first showed up as a bug. Don't make needless stabs at it. Some players have come to embrace it as a fine addition to the game. And it's not anti-mob, it's anti-unskilled-mob. Go watch some nK guys gang up on an enemy - they rarely get in each others way, but the enemy always feels the pressure from more than one guy. A group of random pubbers will get in front of each other and walk into each others swings. It comes down to paying attention on a personal level, as you can avoid dealing and receiving melee friendly fire most of the time just by watching what your teammates are doing.
 

Gumpy

Master Knight
M&BWB
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The main point is to keep an eye on the formation and your surroundings using ~ (noone does this, everyone turns their character around), and move with them whenever they attack or a threat comes from another direction. When faced with a flank everyone turns around and tries to take out the threat first, and then everyone else doesn't know who to follow, and it breaks up, and yeah. Worst comes to worst find the biggest group of dudes and join them again rather than running off after some random sniper.

I had something to add to this thread actually, but it's all slipped my mind =D We did small spear-formations in one of the Aus servers thisafternoon, and common sense and keeping an eye on your teammates are the most essential parts. Warband isn't really made for this sort of thing, it's not exactly a sim, but it's cool to see how well it does (and doesn't) work.
 

Night Ninja

Baron
M&BWB
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Are those players the same ones who argued for its retention? :razz:

Gumpy said:
The main point is to keep an eye on the formation and your surroundings using ~
Finally, a sensible man!
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Well formations won't magically make you win, you need archers and cavalry to stop those harassers, but the thing is, using a formation with that support should be much more effective than simply running around gung-ho like most people do, if only because it makes you stay close together.

Haha, and ~ is certainly a good idea, I'll add that to the guide :smile: Without an understanding of your surroundings things can get ugly really fast, however, it should still be up to the formation leader to target these threats for the formation, otherwise you get a fairly big dose of "Hastings Syndrome".

Updated again, "~" and forming speed added.

Do you think it would be good to upload this as a PDF?
 

Thel

L-J-F said:
Haha, and ~ is certainly a good idea, I'll add that to the guide :smile: Without an understanding of your surroundings things can get ugly really fast, however, it should still be up to the formation leader to target these threats for the formation, otherwise you get a fairly big dose of "Hastings Syndrome".
Set the "view character outfit" (~) key to middle-mouse button/wheel...Works wonders. Very helpful. But may be considered cheating? I do not know.
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Thel said:
L-J-F said:
Haha, and ~ is certainly a good idea, I'll add that to the guide :smile: Without an understanding of your surroundings things can get ugly really fast, however, it should still be up to the formation leader to target these threats for the formation, otherwise you get a fairly big dose of "Hastings Syndrome".
Set the "view character outfit" (~) key to middle-mouse button/wheel...Works wonders. Very helpful. But may be considered cheating? I do not know.
Yeah, it should be like ArmA where you actually rotate your in-game head around, it only lets you look as far as your neck will allow. Would be funny if when you persisted your neck broke :grin:
 

Orion

Still Not Worthy
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Using tilde is nice and all (I personally use it all the time to take quick looks to my right and left), but you can't see what's in front of you and it moves the camera down. If I could only use my TIR5, I would never have to push that button again.

In any case, Hastings Syndrome should probably be renamed Rambo Syndrome. It's all about who's going to kill that bastard and get the point for himself. If the scoreboard didn't show anything other than who's on what team, this would lessen. Resistance & Liberation did a fine job of this, and squad-level tactics are used more frequently there, but you still get the "olol u nubz r 2 slo ima go kill all dese n00bcaekz rofl" players who insist on being the uber1337 supa-pro omgwtfh4xorz twitchfighters that can win games on their own, even though they usually occupy the bottom of the scoreboard.

These people might play along for a while on a whim, then they think you're going too slow or that their ideas aren't being listened to and the leader is a omfgretard l2play noobfag. Then people either side with them or against them, and you get divided further. Then those people bicker amongst themselves while the leader is trying to command them, and nobody listens to the commander because his competency has been called into question by a child and this is srs bsns.

Oh, and OT to NN: Of course they would argue for its retention, it's not gamebreaking. It's a server-side option which is the best thing that could be done with it. If you don't want it, go to a server without it. Simple! I don't know if you're U.S., EU, or Oceanic, but we've dedicated some of the U.S. and EU servers to non-melee FF full-time so you always have the choice.
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Orion said:
Using tilde is nice and all (I personally use it all the time to take quick looks to my right and left), but you can't see what's in front of you and it moves the camera down. If I could only use my TIR5, I would never have to push that button again.

In any case, Hastings Syndrome should probably be renamed Rambo Syndrome. It's all about who's going to kill that bastard and get the point for himself. If the scoreboard didn't show anything other than who's on what team, this would lessen. Resistance & Liberation did a fine job of this, and squad-level tactics are used more frequently there, but you still get the "olol u nubz r 2 slo ima go kill all dese n00bcaekz rofl" players who insist on being the uber1337 supa-pro omgwtfh4xorz twitchfighters that can win games on their own, even though they usually occupy the bottom of the scoreboard.

These people might play along for a while on a whim, then they think you're going too slow or that their ideas aren't being listened to and the leader is a omfgretard l2play noobfag. Then people either side with them or against them, and you get divided further. Then those people bicker amongst themselves while the leader is trying to command them, and nobody listens to the commander because his competency has been called into question by a child and this is srs bsns.

Oh, and OT to NN: Of course they would argue for its retention, it's not gamebreaking. It's a server-side option which is the best thing that could be done with it. If you don't want it, go to a server without it. Simple! I don't know if you're U.S., EU, or Oceanic, but we've dedicated some of the U.S. and EU servers to non-melee FF full-time so you always have the choice.
True, these people are a problem, but I think that formations are the solution to the problem itself :grin: I'd love to go up against such players with a drilled and disciplined group of players using formations. Also, when people see such things working so well, they'd be inclined to join it, or ... so you'd think anyhow.

Well hulk, I'm up for using it :smile:

Somebody mentioned a formation event? I'd have a ludicrous ping but I'd be up for that, when and where be it at?
 

Lord Rich

Grandmaster Knight
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Using formations and knowing how to fight properly as a group definately helps, I usually see it on a much smaller scale however. Rather than the large formations shown above the most common use is when attacking a single opponent, formations simply arent good at attacking multiple scattered enemies. When attacking a single enemy a poor group player will sidestep all over the place and block his allies line of sight, this is not only lethal when FF is on but will also remove the advantage of being able to surround the enemy or attack him simultaneously.

Good group players will organise so one is always on the left and one on the right when attacking, this is very effective and will kill even the best players. Knowing how to use your weapon effectively is important as well, players with longer weapons should stay just behind shorter ranged players and keep the enemy pinned. Ranged units can move much closer than they would be able to when fighting alone and can get accurate deadly shots in at point blank range, players using melee when another has ranged should be aware of where their ranged ally is and keep themselves out of their allies line of sight so they can keep shooting.

Its these sort of mini-engagements that work well in warband, there simply isnt any communication features built in (not even native VOIP...) that would allow effective group fighting. Thats why you only see it with clans because they use their own VOIP software.

Strategy on the other hand happens all the time, choosing where to deploy your forces and how to use them pretty much happens every game in game modes like battle and FnD, thats because the limitations in communication arent as much of an issue in deciding things beforehand.
 

L-J-F

Sergeant
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Lord Rich said:
Using formations and knowing how to fight properly as a group definately helps, I usually see it on a much smaller scale however. Rather than the large formations shown above the most common use is when attacking a single opponent, formations simply arent good at attacking multiple scattered enemies. When attacking a single enemy a poor group player will sidestep all over the place and block his allies line of sight, this is not only lethal when FF is on but will also remove the advantage of being able to surround the enemy or attack him simultaneously.

Good group players will organise so one is always on the left and one on the right when attacking, this is very effective and will kill even the best players. Knowing how to use your weapon effectively is important as well, players with longer weapons should stay just behind shorter ranged players and keep the enemy pinned. Ranged units can move much closer than they would be able to when fighting alone and can get accurate deadly shots in at point blank range, players using melee when another has ranged should be aware of where their ranged ally is and keep themselves out of their allies line of sight so they can keep shooting.

Its these sort of mini-engagements that work well in warband, there simply isnt any communication features built in (not even native VOIP...) that would allow effective group fighting. Thats why you only see it with clans because they use their own VOIP software.

Strategy on the other hand happens all the time, choosing where to deploy your forces and how to use them pretty much happens every game in game modes like battle and FnD, thats because the limitations in communication arent as much of an issue in deciding things beforehand.
That's a good point actually, probably should add fighting a single opponent in a loose formation to the fighting a lone opponent section. The common mistake people make is charging straight in, all this does is blocks their team-mates and puts themselves in danger. I usually wait for my own guys to catch up, making sure that the enemy has to fight the two of us at the same time.