From Ex illis wiki
Having the possibility to kill an enemy from a distance without having to go through the trouble of a melee is an idea that seduced more than one general over the centuries.
Unless aimed at an opponent determined to remain still, a shot will rarely end up killing the enemy on the spot. The role of a sustained shower of arrows is to weaken and demoralize an enemy before the clash of the melee in order to make the next step easier to take. Although it is usually linked to a defensive strategy, shooting may, in fact, be a formidable weapon when a general prepares its offence.
A shot’s resolution is done as follow:
- Selecting a zone and calculating the trajectory;
- Determining the place where the projectiles fall;
- Determining the impact’s result for each projectile.
Before going into the details of the game mechanisms, here are a few pieces of useful advice to keep in mind during your first games:
- A shot’s success is based on two main factors: the shooter’s accuracy and the number of enemies in the targeted zone.
- Accuracy is affected by the visibility a shooter has from his/her target and by his/her level of Fatigue.
- It is possible to shoot in a melee, but you risk hitting your own troops if your Accuracy is low.
- Stationary units and those in open fields are the easiest targets.
- Avoid shooting at units wearing shields: they are particularly well-equipped to face enemy shooters.
A general rarely takes the time to tell each one of his shooters which enemy to aim for. Instead, he indicates a zone on the battlefield where there are important enemies and he lets his soldiers adjust their shots toward a specific target. In Ex illis, shooting is performed as follow: you choose a specific type of shot as well as the zone you want to target. Then, your soldiers will execute your order as best they can. Here are a few examples of shots that can be perform by Level 1 Longbowmen:
|Aim||Swift Shot||Volley Fire|
|Long action +25%. Range 1-2. Shooting attack with a drastic Accuracy bonus.||Range 1-2. Each miniature shoots twice, but with a drastic Accuracy penalty. Very tiring.|| Range 1-2. A less accurate shot inflicting a morale penalty to every enemy unit in the target zone.|
Most shots can reach two zones, including diagonals. The exact trajectory calculation is done from the centre of the zone where the shooters are to the centre of the zone in which the targets are. This trajectory is particularly important when calculating visibility.
Unless stated otherwise, a shooter cannot shot in his own zone when he is stuck in close combat. He also cannot Move and shoot during the same turn which is an action only skirmishers can perform.
As mentioned above, it is possible to shoot in a melee, but you risk hitting your own troops. This kind of spectacular shot should be executed only by your best shooters (at least if you care for your troops). Moreover, it will cause a Morale penalty of 5 for each ally hit.
Roll to hit
The most complex shooting phase is determining the place where the projectile falls. This calculation is done by a Weighted Random Draw (WRD) between Accurate Shots and other possibilities. The second part is a physical representation of the zone, corresponding to the different places a projectile can fall in if it is shot blindly: the space occupied by each soldier, the Cover in the zone and the free space.
If the result of the WRD is an “Accurate Shot”, the shooter managed to hit his/her target. The projectile will inevitably hit an enemy in the zone. Having a great Accuracy is extremely important for a shooter since it allows him/her to easily hit moving targets as well as the ones stuck in close combat or hidden behind obstacles.
The number of “Accurate Shots” in the WRD takes into account three main factors: the Ranged Accuracy –representing the shooter’s talent–, the shooter’s level of Fatigue and Veil Fatigue and the visibility he has from his target.
Fatigue, which is accumulated as demanding physical activities are performed, greatly affects the shooter’s Accuracy. Like many other statistics in the game, Fatigue reduces Ranged Accuracy following a decreasing curve. When a unit reaches the first threshold (unit tired), it loses 10% of its Ranged Accuracy. At the second threshold (unit very tired), it loses 33% of its efficiency. This drop can go on until the unit loses more than 80% of its efficiency. Thus, units relying a lot on Ranged Accuracy (like Longbowmen) should learn to manage their Fatigue in order to remain efficient.
Due to stress and imminent danger of melees, Range Accuracy is divided by 2 when shooting in the unit's own zone.
The last factor affecting Ranged Accuracy is the visibility the shooter has of his target. To remain accurate, a shooter needs to have a clear view of his target. As mentioned above, every shot is calculated according to a trajectory starting at the centre of a zone where the shooter is and ending at the centre of the zone he aimed for. Accuracy is reduced if this trajectory crosses a zone occupied by miniatures (allied or enemy) or terrain features.
The exact calculation of visibility is quite simple:
Visibility = 1 - (Total Bulk/64)
The more miniatures and/or obstacles there are in the zones crossed, the less visibility the shooter has. However, if only one part of the projectile trajectory crosses an obstructed zone, the shooter’s visibility will be affected only by this portion.
Even if a shot does not get the roll “Accurate Shot”, it can still be dangerous. An Inaccurate Shot is just as lethal when it hits a target randomly. The more a zone is packed with enemies, the less talent the shooter needs in order to hit something.
To represent this fact, the game modelizes the zone for each shot. Each miniature, allied or enemy, takes up a space in it according to its Bulk. If Terrain Features provide Cover in the targeted zone, they are also taken into account.
The easiest space to calculate is that of the miniatures. Each miniature, allied or enemy, has a Bulk (see table above). For example, a Vilein has a Bulk of 2. Thus, a unit of 8 Vileins takes up 16 spaces in the zone. The only exception to the rule is units which moved during their last turn. Their Bulk is halved to represent the fact that they are harder to hit. Thus, moving targets are twice as hard to hit with an Inaccurate Shot compared to static ones.
Be careful: Charges do not benefit from a Bulk reduction bonus since their impulsion is stopped at the beginning of a close combat.
The free space calculation is simply a subtraction done from the space occupied by the miniatures in the zone. In general, there are 80 free spaces in a zone (roughly 5 units). If 20 spaces are occupied by miniatures, 60 will be considered “free spaces”. If an arrow falls into free space, it is discarded.
Cover is a notion peculiar to each zone. For example: an empty zone does not offer any cover while a zone containing fences adds 16 “covered spaces” (the equivalent of one unit). As for forest zones, they offer 48 “covered spaces” (the equivalent of 3 units). This covered space is added to the free space which makes it a particularly efficient defense against Inaccurate Shots.
= Number X Bulk
= Number X Bulk
= 80 – Allied Space – Enemy Space
= Zone type
If we combine this example with the Accuracy calculation illustrated above, we get the following chances to hit:
The targeted zone is an obstacle zone.
- Accurate Shot: 28 (23%)
- Enemy space: 28 (23%)
- Allied space: 10 (8%)
- Free space: 42 (33%)
- Cover: 16 (13%)
- Total: 124 (100%)
Therefore, about 46% of the projectiles will hit the enemy, 8% will land on allied troops and the rest will not hit anything.
Once the place where the projectile will land is known, its effect on the target must be calculated. Shots landing in free space or on cover do not cause any damage.
If the projectile falls on a miniature carrying a shield, the miniature will roll to try and Block the shot. The bigger the shield is, the more chances it has to be protected (see table). A blocked projectile does not inflict any damage. A fighter’s chances to block are halved when in a melee.
The Damage inflicted depends on the type of shot: physical (arrow) or magical (fire bolt). To calculate the damage caused by a physical shot, we execute the same process used for melee hits, but we replace the aggressor’s Strength with the statistic called Shot. We then modulate the Weapon Damage by comparing the Shot to the victim’s Toughness.
In the case of magical projectiles, the statistic “Magic” is compared to the victim’s Resistance to the element corresponding to the spell used. Moreover, Armour does not protect against magical damage. Thus, spells are an effective way of overcoming heavy-armoured warriors.
The choice of weapon has a major impact on the shooter’s role on the battlefield. To know the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon enables players to better choose their targets or to parry enemy strategies well.
These weapons, first used by Mongol warriors, spread on German battlefields then through the whole of Europe after the wars of the Rückeroberung.
This weapon’s main advantage is that it retains the power of a normal bow while significantly reducing its size. Thus, the bow is ideal for many skirmishers such as units of mounted archers or the ones specialized in combat in limited zones (forests, urban zones, etc.). Mercenary units and a few fleaudian warriors of Celtic origins also use it.
However, this bow loses efficiency in humid temperatures since the glue holding the layers together comes loose. Another important element: the production of composite bows is much longer and complex than that of the ordinary bow, which increases its price.
Popularised by English archers, long bows are among the few weapons which defined their era by their domination on the battlefield. Being as powerful and precise as the crossbow, the long bow stands out by its shooting rate which can sometimes reach six times that of the crossbow.
Although the use of the long bow in Europe comes initially from the Welsh, who used it for short-ranged shots during raids and ambushes, King Edward I of England’s military policies contributed to the training of elite corps selected directly in the English population.
This weapon’s main flaw is the great strength its handling requires. An archer must train for years before being efficient in combat situation, which make the availability of troops quite problematic.
This mechanical weapon enables its users to always shoot a powerful projectile without putting in a lot of effort. The result is that someone who does not have the required training or the necessary strength to use a long bow can get a comparable result in terms of strength and accuracy only after a few days of training. Thus, a lord never runs out of new crossbowmen for his armies. For this reason, the crossbow is an ideal weapon in the centuries when entire contingents of makeshift warriors must be raised from the population.
In Lombardia, where city-states wage incessant wars, the terrain is favourable to the use of these armies. In fact, some Genoese mercenaries make it their specialty.
Hand-thrown weapons such as javelin and throwing axes are among the most primitive ones, but they are still deadly efficient. The capacity of using them while running makes of them ideal weapons for skirmishers harassing enemy ranks before the clash of the melee. Although they do not have the same range as other fire weapons, they are heavy enough to cut through the thickest armour when thrown.
Aragonese almogavars are renowned javelin throwers, able to stop a heavy cavalry charge, while certain legions made up of demons show up for combat with throwing axes and use them as blow-inflicting weapons before running headlong into the melee.