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Melees are intense, complex and chaotic moments. Attacks come from all sides while warriors quickly fall one after the other. In these ruthless scuffles, only the fighters’ agility, their armour’s sturdiness, their weapons’ lethality, and their mastery of certain techniques can make a difference between victory and defeat.


An attack is carried out in three steps: Target assignment, roll to hit and result calculation. This page will help you get a better understanding of the mechanisms behind Ex illis’ melee system. Furthermore, it explains how and when a unit can counter-attack, and what happens if it needs to disengage from the melee.

Tips and tricks

Here are a few useful advice to keep in mind while playing your first melees in Ex illis:

Troop combination: One of the keys to success in Ex illis is to combine your troops to prevent your opponent from dealing a decisive blow. By combining in one zone offensive and defensive units or elite units with others used as cannon fodders, you are making sure that you will never show a weakness that your opponent could use to your disadvantage. For example, even though Vileins are not great in combat, do not underestimate their importance in a melee. The fact that they can be used as a target by your opponent instead of risking your expensive troops is a real blessing. fameless

Troop concentration: The more troops you have in a zone, the harder these units will be to defeat in close combat. However, they will offer easy targets to enemy shots. Choose in which zone you want to be the strongest during melees by placing several units talented in close combat in that specific zone and prevent your opponent from doing the same by positioning your shooters properly.

The right attack at the right moment: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your various combat techniques. Using a huge attack with a two-handed weapon is a waste of strength when a standard attack is enough to kill the enemy. All warriors have their strengths and weaknesses which you can leverage by using the diverse techniques at your disposal. fameless

Watch your Fatigue: It is not possible to rest and earn back Fatigue Points once you have started a close combat fight. As your warriors’ Fatigue increases, they will be less precise, slower and more sensitive to morale changes. It is sometimes better to remain careful and choose less tiring actions in order to win a lasting fight.

Aggressive or defensive: Ask yourself if it is in your best interest to end the melee quickly or if it might be better for you to make it last. The presence of reinforcements close by, the flank angles and the warriors’ level of Fatigue will help you to determine if a defensive attitude might not be better suited.

Target assignment

Melees are confused and chaotic moments and, therefore, warriors often attack who they can and not who they want. When the order of attacking is given, the first resolution phase consists in assigning a target for each dealt hit. This target assignment creates a kind of mini-duel between both protagonists and it is these two warriors’ respective abilities that will be taken into account to determine the result.

The miniatures on the board are represented in duels in the Rule Keeper software

Units Basic AGG
Arbalestiers 2
Billmen 3
Franc Chevalers 7
Hobelars 3
Longbowmen 2
Mangonel 1
Serjants 4
Mendicum 2
Soffrances 20
Vileins 3
Ympes 1
Evocati 6
Nephilim 6
Emissarius 50
Heroes Basic AGG
William Wallace 6
Decurion/Centurion 6
Dismounted Baneret/Baron 4
Knight Baneret/Baron 7
Lucifer 8
Marrenne/Maistresse 2


see also - Stat: Agressiveness

One of the most important notions in Ex illis melees is Aggressiveness. Some units will be happy to rush headlong in a fight while others prefer to stay within a distance from it to participate as little as possible to the melee. Most of combat techniques in the game follow the Aggressiveness model to determine the target of their attack. The more aggressive a unit is, the more chances it has to be targeted in close combat.

The exact calculation determining the target choice according to Aggressiveness is done using a Weighted Random Draw (WRD) of all targets available in the zone when the warrior attacks.



  • Aggressiveness is shown on the game screen through the distance between the unit and the enemy: the closer the unit is from the enemy, the higher its Aggressiveness will be. You can also click on the Help function and select the zone to see the Aggressiveness distribution at all times.
  • Use the Aggressiveness to your advantage. Combining very aggressive units with less aggressive ones enables you to anticipate where most of the enemy hits will be dealt. You will then be able to specialize some of your units, turning them into bodyguards while others will have the leisure of causing damage without being bothered.

Other target selecting modes

Certain specialized techniques enable you to choose targets without going through the Aggressiveness system. For example, the Baneret has a special technique with which he can directly attack a Hero without taking the enemies' Aggressiveness into account. This way of selecting a target may be particularly deadly since it enables you to put constant pressure on an enemy of your choosing!

Unit BU
Arbalestiers 2
Billmen 2
Francs Chevalers 4
Hobelars 4
Longbowmen 2
Mangonel 6
Serjants 2
Soffrances 6
Vileins 2
Ympes 1
Hero BU
William Wallace 2
Decurion/Centurion 3
Dismounted Baneret/Baron 2
Knight Baneret/Baron 4
Marrenne/Maistress 2

Maximum number of attacks per miniature

Each miniature has a characteristic named Bulk which corresponds to the space it physically occupies. In a melee, this value limits the number of attacks a miniature can receive during a round of fights. Thus, if seven Vileins attack a Decurion, only three of these Vileins will have the space required to deal a hit to an opponent.

Once a miniature reaches its attack quota for a round, it becomes unavailable in the choice of target. If no other target is available during this round, the attacker will not be able to choose anyone as a target and thus loses his attack. A failure symbol illustrates this state in the Fate Screen.

Tip: A talented warrior such as the Decurion can survive longer than it seems thanks to the maximum number of attacks per miniature and to his exceptional combat abilities. Moreover, if he uses defensive techniques, he might become even more dangerous than if he simply attacks the enemy foolishly.

Roll to hit

Once the target assignment is done, we determine if the attack hits an enemy. To determine the chances of succeeding, we do a WRD between the aggressor’s Melee Accuracy statistic (which gives the Attack value) and the defender’s Block, Evade and Deflect statistics.

If the value Attack is drawn, the defender will receive a full damage.
The value Block is available if the miniature has a shield or something with the same function (such as the Soffrance’s arm). If Block is drawn, the damage dealt is considerably reduced.
The value Evade is mainly available for miniatures on foot wearing little or no Armour. If the warrior manages to Evade, he does not suffer any damage.
The value Deflect represents the warrior’s capability of using his weapon to fend off the hit. Only warriors using weapons such as swords are able to Deflect a hit. A warrior deflecting a hit does not suffer any damage.
A duel between a Billman and a Franc Chevaler

Tip: Every warrior has its own defence strategies. Choose combat techniques to counter your opponents’ defences. For example:

  • An Ympe evades a lot while the Decurion prefers deflecting. A cavalry charge cannot be deflected, but it is easy to evade. Send your Franc Chevalers against the latter while avoiding getting stuck by the first.
  • The Hobelars can only block? Do not hesitate to choose powerful attacks with low precision against them: the enemy will inevitably take the hit so you might as well use a heavy attack!

FtP or VP Efficiency Message
0 100%
2 97%
4 90% Unit Tired / Veiled
6 80% Unit Tired / Veiled
8 66% Unit Very Tired / Very Veiled
10 52% Unit Very Tired / Very Veiled
12 38% Unit Exhausted / Saturated
14 30% Unit Exhausted / Saturated
16 24% Unit Exhausted / Saturated
21+ 20% Unit Exhausted / Saturated

Fatigue vs. roll to hit

see also - Fatigue and Veil

Fatigue affects both warriors’ performance (the attacker and the defender) during the roll to hit.

A great difference in Fatigue between both warriors will decisively modify the probabilities of hitting. A much more tired opponent will be more vulnerable to audacious hits. On the other hand, if you are the one who is tired after a long-lasting fight and you face a rested enemy, think about staying more conservative, defensive even, in your choices.

Fatigue affects the chances to hit just as much as the chances to defend oneself. Thus, as long as both protagonists’ Fatigue is on the same level, chances to hit will be stable.

Tip: Fatigue has an important impact on the warriors’ performances. Tiring the enemy’s elite troops can be a commendable mission for a cannon fodder unit.


Units RET
Arbalestiers 30%
Billmen 0%
Franc Chevalers 50%
Hobelars 30%
Longbowmen 40%
Mangonel 30%
Serjants (Sword) 50%
Serjants (Spear) 30%
Mendicum 30%
Soffrances 30%
Vileins 30%
Ympes 30%
Evocati 50%
Nephilim 50%
Emissarius 0%
Heroes RET
William Wallace 50%
Decurion/Centurion 50%
Dismounted Baneret/Baron 50%
Knight Baneret/Baron 50%
Lucifer 100%
Marrenne/Maistresse 60%

Victim are entitled to Retaliate when they manage to defend themselves against an attack (Evade, Deflect or Block). The Chance to Retaliate is a fixed value for each unit. For example, a Franc Chevaler has 50% chances to Retaliate if he blocked or deflected the hit. A retaliated action will be shown by a red sword in the Fate Screen. During the attack animation, a red exclamation mark will show the same Retaliation.

Retaliations are free attacks. They do not cost any Action Points (they are instantaneous), Fatigue Points, and the opponent cannot retaliate against them. However, it is important to note that, unless stated otherwise, a warrior is entitled to a single retaliation per round. Thus, even if the warrior is chosen as a target by three different miniatures, he will be able to retaliate only once.

Tip: Since retaliating does not cost any Action Points, adopting a defensive attitude might turn out to be an excellent long-term strategy if your troops have good aptitudes in this field. Defence does not cost any Fatigue and, after a few rounds, the difference between both protagonists’ statistics will allow you to bring home the laurels of victory.


Sometimes, the most sensible option is simply to Retreat. There can be a few reasons for executing a tactical retreat: you may wish to make room in the melee for a more appropriate unit, or maybe your unit finds itself facing a predator that is particularly dangerous and the fight is lost before it even began. A unit can never retreat towards a zone where there are enemies. You must therefore disengage properly before joining another melee.

Tip: When you disengage, make sure your aggressors does not have a chance to Charge you again when their Turn comes! To do so, you can :

  • Leave an ally in the zone to ensure the melee lasts;
  • Flee towards a unit that will be able to protect you;
  • Ensure, by looking at the Turn Bar, that an ally will be able to keep the enemy busy by charging in time.

Cut down

When a unit disengages from a melee (retreating or fleeing), it risks being cut down by the enemy. Just like retaliations, cut down attacks are considered as free attacks, i.e. they cost no Action Point and no Fatigue Point, and your opponent cannot retaliate to them. Furthermore, you cannot defend yourself (Block, Deflect, Evade) against a cut down attack. These are attacks granted to your opponent and which can end up being disastrous depending on the nature of the enemy troops you are facing.

Thankfully, each allied unit in the zone will prevent an enemy unit from cutting you down. It can therefore be wise to send reinforcements in the fight, if only to allow other units to safely leave in order to rest or heal.

A unit retreating without any protection gets cut down
A unit protected by an ally can retreat safely

If a unit can cut down another, each warrior in the unit must take a Speed test to be entitled to his/her attack:

  • If the runaway’s Speed is greater than that of the pursuer’s, the pursuer has 33% chances to execute a free attack;
  • If both Speeds are the same, the pursuer has 66% chances to execute a free attack;
  • If the pursuer is the fastest, he will execute an attack for sure.


  • Be careful when you leave behind an ally fighting in a melee. Your sudden retreat can change the balance of power in the melee, swinging your allies’ Morale and cause them to flee. Before you disengage, make sure that the units left behind have a good enough morale to bear the enemy pressure.
  • Certain specialized troops such as light cavalry or units which can teleport cannot be cut down. Use this advantage to disengage as often as you like, thus maximising your impact with flank and rear attacks.


The weapon wielded by a unit influences its role on the battlefield. Learn to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of each one of them and use the right tool against the right enemy to make sure you have the advantage in the melee. Here is a short summary of the strengths and weaknesses of certain weapons in Ex illis.


The sword is nobility’s emblematic weapon. It is a balanced weapon allowing the person wielding it to easily parry the enemy’s hits, to retaliate frequently and hit with precision. Although they deal a respectable amount of damage, swords have little Armour Piercing and are particularly weak against coats of mails and heavy armours. Thus, swords reach their maximum efficiency against opponents wearing light armour or, even better, no armour at all.

A talented swordsman has excellent chances of surviving in a dense melee, particularly if he is also protected by a shield. Unfortunately, the production cost of these weapons is quite high and they are therefore normally used by a more well-off class of warriors.


These weapons can pierce through Armours and have a high Weapon Damage potential, but they do not have the same defence and precision attributes than the sword. You must use the axe as an all-purpose offensive weapon. A unit using axes and executing a flank attack on an enemy can cause a real carnage! Axes were very popular a few hundred years ago, but they have lost much interest ever since. Scandinavians and a few fleaudians still produce remarkable axemen.


The mace is a highly specialized weapon: it is perfect to smash to pieces enemy units wearing heavy armours, but less efficient against other kinds of units. Wielding a heavy and impractical weapon, the macemen tire rapidly during a battle since their weapons are poorly balanced and they add an extra weight that is quite significant.


Made of only a shaft and a spearhead, the spear is cheap to produce and therefore much used everywhere. Even if it is often associated with peasant troops having little training, other warriors, notably in the Antiquity, have proven that mastering the spear can be brought to a high level of martial art. When the spear is combined to a large shield, spearmen are great at receiving enemy charges and are often the spine of an army’s defence.


After being quite unpopular over about a thousand years, pikes are slowly returning to the battlefield, used by the Scots, the Flemish and especially by the Swiss who produce exceptional pikemen. It is quite foolish to charge a phalanx of pikemen! Moreover, with the appropriate training and discipline, pikemen can be destructive when they are used offensively. However, pikes are very linear weapons. Thus, those who use them are particularly vulnerable to flank or rear attacks.


This versatile weapon takes from both spears and battleaxes. It can be used to receive enemy charges or to cause a lot of damage when it is brandished from the top downwards. However, the polearm is a heavy weapon and, therefore, the warriors using it should not expect good results in long-lasting battles, particularly when they are not supported by allied units who can compensate for their weaknesses. Like other weapons requiring both hands, the polearm prevents those using it to carry a shield which makes them more vulnerable to enemy shooting. The English billmen and a few Italien mercenaries acquired a considerable experience with polearms.

Two-handed swords

Mostly used in Scotland and Germany, this weapon reinforces the sword’s power by offering the possibility to pierce armours while retaining most of the sword’s defence and precision. Due to its high cost and the particular abilities required to create such a weapon, the two-handed sword is quite rare. Angels, both pontifical and fallen, made of this weapon the symbol of their strength and dexterity.


Like smaller axes, battleaxes are powerful offensive weapons which lost the favour of warriors over a few centuries. However, the arrival on battlefields of supernatural enemies such as ogres or manticores gave it a new lease of life. Capable of causing extreme damage, these deadly but slow and impractical weapons are ideal to kill monsters. However, they are much less interesting against the rank and files since a much more malleable weapon would do the trick better and faster. The Byzantine emperor’s famous Varangian guard is made up of warriors feared for their abilities in wielding battleaxes.


The maul is a weapon so specialized that it is extremely rare on battlefields. However, there is one thing it does better than any other weapon: it smashes the thickest Armour with such strength and weight that what is left after the hit must be scraped off the ground! However, it is extremely tiring to use and easy to Evade. Better make sure that your target is not moving before launching your attack!

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