You decide that one day you want to be able to do more than just stab and hope that the enemy doesn't block your attack. Then you have come to the right place for some basic information on tactics commonly used in infantry combat.
Beware this guide will only cover infantry versus infantry fights and its contents will be best applicable to 1v1, 1v2 and 1v3 fights. This means that fighting within a larger unit in melee in events or groupfighting will not be seriously talked about here.
Other Mount & Blade: Warband Guides:
As known to most people who have played at least a single multiplayer match in Napoleonic Wars there is not just a single but multiple selections of infantry units some of which have specific differences than the others.
The most common and standard in terms of characteristics as a unit, that all nations have, is the normal line infantry equipped with a bayoneted musket and sometimes a decorative short sword as well. You should never ever for any reason concern yourself with fighting seriously with the short sword but instead the bayoneted musket will be your only weapon in any standard melee fight. Aside from that there isn't much to tell about these units.
For this type of unit again all nations posess one type of it. They can be equipped with a normal bayoneted musket, a cavalry musket or musketoon(austria) but since this guide with talk about standard melee fighting on the most part you should think of them equipped with a normal bayoneted musket whenever they are mentioned in this guide. Main difference with the standard line infantry is that they can run faster than them but that's about it when we think of the different abilities they have at melee fighting.
They have rifles and so a better aim but they have nothing serious to do with melee fighting so we are not going to talk about them.
Line Militia (Landwher, Opelchenie)
The prussian Line Militia(Landwher) is just standard line infantry while the russian line militia(Opelchenie) have line infantry stats but come equipped with a cavalry musket or a pike. Just like the light infantry this guide takes for granted that when you pick the russian line militia you also choose a pike and not a cavalry musket. A pike is just an infantry musket that does not fire which makes it exactly the same with an infantry musket at standard melee fighting.
The russian Partizani unit gets a random weapon so, while they are fun to play, they have nothing to do with standard melee fighting so we are not going to talk about them.
Sailor Class --> Marine Unit (France, Great Brittain)
The only thing you should pick from the sailor class in a standard melee fight are the Marines. The Marines are like standard line infantry with a little bit more health than the line infantry unit. Note though that the difference in their health is minimal so it won't help you much.
Standard Melee Fight: Definition
A standard melee fight is what you can experience in the Groupfighting or EU_Duel servers in battle and duel modes respectively. In a normal melee fight no shooting is permitted and everyone is allowed to pick only an infantry unit or the marine unit and comes to the battlefield equipped with an infantry musket or a pike. No other weapons are allowed to be used.
In a standard fight you may be facing one or multiple enemies without having some serious kind of communication with your teammates if it is a battle mode or you won't have teammates if it is a duel.
Of course in groupfighting it is very important how your team works together but this guide won't talk about cooperation with your team but will mostly go over the technics you may use in the fight yourself.
The very essential parts of a standard melee fight, save from moving around, are blocking and attacking. In a standard fight you have 2 options of attack, the normal and upper stab, and because of that only 2 defencive block should be used, the down and up blocks.
While this sounds extremely simple it is actually extremely complicated in more advanced fighting against experienced enemies. Timing gets extremely crucial for a good attack and so does blocking in order to get hit on your opponent and block his hits.
First of all the two stabs i already mentioned have some important differencies which mostly have to do with their 'cool-down' time, the speed of the release of the attack and the reach of the attack. The normal(down) stab has naturally a slightly longer reach and a shorter 'cool-down' time. The upper stab has a faster release if used correctly and even if the difference is quite small it is important. There is also a slight damage difference between the two attacks and mostly a well timed and correctly directed down stab will deal more damage if it hits than an upper stab. That is though not a rule and is highly dependable on how the attack is made, which will be talked about later.
As for the basics i am talking about in this section the main thing somebody has to realise is that while there 4 blocks you only use 2 in standard melee engagements. And because timing is of essence and every mistake can be deadly using the unessecery sideblocks by accident can leave you open to an attack especially at close combat. By constant melee training you can get used to avoiding sideblocking or use it intentionally. Other than that it should also be mentioned that a correct block won't mean that you won't get killed by an attack. Using effective positioning of his body the enemy can end up at your side or back and can avoid the block and kill you. Furthermore if an attack is made before you have readied or switched a block will land and hit you.
Pokes: A Saviour and A Liability
What is a poke really? Just like poking on teamspeak can save you by reminding you that you have an event in 2 minutes or annoying you when someone spams them for no reason, poking in melee can be a thing you wish for but curse it at the same time.
So Poking is literally an attack that lands but deals 0 or little damage. It mostly happens when two combatants are so close together than an attack cannot be executed properly because there isn't enough space for that. It might also happen if the direction an attack was made, was so terrible it just didn't land correctly and this can also happen at longer ranges.
During a poke the attack that lands just bounces off the target which causes the player that executed the attack to flinch for a split second and will render him open to an attack at that time. So a poke can save you if you missed a block but it may also nulify one of your attacks
A good point here is that pokes, while are more probable in the circumstances previously written, are still so much dependable on the positioning of the two or multiple melee fighters that it is entirely correct to admit that they are one of the most unpredictable things in standard melee fighting. This means that in no case should someone rely on a poke to save himself from an attack.
On the other hand if someone pokes you and you are lucky to already have a readied attack then you can get an opening for a decent hit. The flinching after a poke isn't substantial but it is there and can be exploited. If now you are the attacker that landed a poke on your opponent then fear not because most people won't have a readied attack to release and an instant attack won't reach you before you are able to block again.
To avoid a poke from occuring during one of your attacks the best advice is not to fight extremely close. You should keep a close distance but don't stick up on your enemy. If for some reason you ended up being all that close then try avoiding direct attacks by spinning and hitting or release an attack while at the same time moving in a direction that allows you to free up a little space for an attack to be properly executed.
The amount of damage dealt with any offencive move in a standard melee fight is very tough to calculate and i can personally only go over some of the reasons that affect it.
The most important factor is the place and angle of impact as a direct hit on the torso is definately more damaging than a frontal attack that hits someone in some kind of angle, bigger or smaller. Hits that generally are straight on at any body part will deal more damage. Then using common sense attacks that land on legs, feet, arms and hands will not be all that effective. In an attack you should strive for direct hits on the sides torso or the back. The angle mentioned above is important due to the pressure your attack will apply to an enemy body. Using the basic rule that P(pressure)=F of X(straight on power)/A(the surface) someone can understand that when the power is increased the damage-pressure dealt is greater. In a launched attack the A(surface) is already set and so is the total power F so what can be increased is how much of this power is straight on or on the X axis if you decide to name the straight forward as the X axis.
Distance is also of great importance. An attack has the most power when it hits at an average point before it ends just like the laws of physics dictate. When you hold an attack it has the most dynamic energy and that energy is slowly turned to kinetic upon release. What you desire is your hit to pack the most energy. If you are to close to an opponent then the stab won't have enough energy while if you just about reach the enemy the kinetic energy would have already been turned into thermal energy released to the enviroment which means you won't deal as much damage.
Then we have speed. The velocity of your character will contribute to the speed of the attack but this can be either beneficial or harmful. This is easy to understand using what we said before about distance. In simple words when at maximum speed and at a specific distance fitiing to that speed if you release your attack its damage will be multiplied. Be aware though of the fact that the multiplier is less if you are moving at the same speed as the enemy but towards different directions.
Also the amount of damage you cause will differ depending on how much of the time an attack lands. Most people think that an attack is just made and the damage is calculated upon the instant hit. That's false because hits aren't necesserily 'instant'. A spin is a good example. During a spin you hit the enemy across the body upon the landing of the attack for a longer time if it is done correctly resulting in higher damage. Conversly a direct hit that doesn't land for long due to the distance between the foes will be less dangerous.
There has been much controversy over this subject but it is nevertheless a sound and often used tactic is standarised melee that may or may not be effective.
In short spamming is called the use of a specific attack multiple times without switching between different attack directions or blocking sufficiently and without delaying after each attack before launching a new one. The thing is that with just 2 attack options spamming won't do much in its pure version against an experienced foe. It will be blocked relatively easy and leave you open to attacks most of the time.
However there are ways that even in a melee of 2 attack directions someone can spam effectively.
The first way i used a long time ago has to do with the mouse sensitivity exploit. By getting used to fighting on full mouse sensitivity you can literally spin around your foes in different directions each time and stick up to them so that they are rendered unable of landing hits on you. This way all you have to do is spam attacks without blocking untill you land a deadly hit on the confused enemy. There are several problems with this though. Namely you are rendered just as vanouerable as your opponent especially if the enemy is experienced and you sometimes won't be able to follow through with your rapid movement. Furthermore locking the enemy in such a close spam fight isn't always possible as there are ways for the enemy to keep you at bay.
Another way is by keeping your distance from the enemy. If you are good at counting the minimum distance to hit the enemy you will be able to hold the enmy back using some attacks and using opportunities where the enemy is open to hit and kill them quickly.
At any rate though spamming is not very effective in standard melee as countering even an experienced spammer can be relatively easy. If you block effectively you will be able to combat most average spam while staying focused on the enemy and keeping him at a relative distance-not to far, not too close-will dislodge experienced spammers too. Just don't be reckless thinking that spammers can't fight because some of them take spamming to a whole new level and are hard to counter.
Feinting and False Blocks
Two important parts in standarised melee are feints and false blocks.
Feints: A feint is a move that attempts to deceive the enemy about your direction of attack. That can be done in a simple manner by constant changing of attacks up and down untill you are able to find an opportunity at which the enemy hasn't readed a block against your attack yet. This is easy to see through though so it is far better to feint by hitting 'air'. Hitting air means that you launch an attack and cancel it midway. Some opponents are thrown off guard by that because they are thinking they blocked your attack and now it is their to strike but there you have a window to strike yourself with a real attack. Even then countering the feint is easy. Just listen closely and don't stop your block untill you hear the blocking sound. A more 'refined' way to do this is by repeatedly canceling attacks done on different directions very quickly while at the same time approaching an enemy. If you manage to confuse him he may make a worng block and you can easily land a hit. Beware though hitting air will put you on a slight delay for your next move so an experienced foe will be able to strike fast and kill you while you are feinting. Even worse it is easy to lose focus by feinting in such a manner and miss opportunities for a hit because you focus too much on feinting. In short feinting is good as long as it isn't done unproportionaly with normal attacks and blocks.
False Blocks: That is not a strategy but instead the last phase of a block just about when you stop blocking. Remember even if a character looks as if he is blocking but he isn't pressing the block anymore then he can be attacked. Unforunately save if you are spying your enemy in real life you won't be able to tell when a false block happens. After all a false block lasts only a tiny amount of time. There is a way though to at least kind of predict when a false block has happened and that is the observation of patterns of attack and blocks. Most players fight within a loose fighting pattern which differs from player to player but is used almost the same in any melee fight except if the circumstances of the fight are changed substantially from what they are used to. Of course that's very tough to do and unecessery. Just sometimes if you are lucky a hit while go through a block because the foe has ended said block but that hasn't been shown yet.
Spins and Sidestepping
One very commonly used fighting strategy is the spin and its 'half-brother' is sidestepping.
Spins: Just as the name implies a spin is an attack executed at an enemy while at the same time a sharp turn is also executed. Spins can be both straight up or from a change to the opposite moving direction. They can throw an enemy off guard meaning that you may have an attack chance before the enemy gets a chance to block. Straight up spins are spins that can be done while you are in front of an enemy. Just turn around so that you don't look at your foe and then turn sharply releasing an attack when you think that the attack will land at the exact time when you reface your opponent. For that it is much better not to start the spin while having not an attack already prepared and visible but choose your attack a split second after you commence your spin. This will surprise the enemy more than when he at least has a vague idea of the direction your hit will go even if he doesn't know that you will execute the attack with a spin. As for the opposite spin it is the same thing save for the fact that you already have your back on your enemy. Measure your distance with him by holding ~ while on the move and if you think the enemy is close enough just turn sharply while also striking in the same manner as a straight up spin. Note as well that most spins are done counter-clockwise so the most unpredictable ones are the clockwise ones. Clockwise is just tougher due to the side every character holding his bayoneted musket so it requires more experience. Also opposite spins are more unpredictable because you suddenly change yur movement. A spin after all tries to surprise by the sharp turn you make upon attacking. Lastly an even tougher spin is the spin with the midway change of attack directions. This means that while you have readied your attack already for your spin and you are midway to turn on your opponent you suddenly change to the other attack direction without though slowing down your turning speed. Furthermore you can also feint a spin by pretending to do one clockwise and midway turning suddenly counter-clockwise. Now imagine a feinted counterclockwise spin turned into a clockwise with a change of attack direction.
Sidestepping: As someone can imagine a good spin demands a certain amount of skill and experience but what if you want something slightly more simple? Well that's what sidestepping is for. Sidestepping is an attack done while you are moving up parallel and slightly in front of your enemy. It appears to be too simple to surprise someone but it is actually quite effective. What you do is that while fighting an enemy you suddenly turn away from him at an angle of about 90 degres from your former front. Then make sure he moves parallel to you and slightly behind and prepare an attack. Keep moving like this for a while and when the enemy is exactly opposite to you turn change the attack direction and hit. During the movement use ~ to spot your opponent but do not turn towards him. This attack can be obviously combined with other things like feints and spamming but this is mostly how it works. Also here the turn you do will still be mostly counter-clockwise but here turning clockwise won't surprise the enemy because sidestepping relies more heavily on surprise by limiting the reaction time of the enemy due to the shorter distance between you and not entirely by the sudden movent like in a spin.
Attack Holding and Extreme Up or Down Holds and Attacks
The meaning of holding an attack is that you ready an attack but don't launch it immediately.
Basically holding an attack will make it a little more powerful if you land it as a hit on an enemy. The obvious downside though is that it reveals your intentions for the direction of your attack making it easier for someone to respond to it. But this can also be used the other way around by holding an attack you force the enemy on blocking an impending attack especially if you are fighting very closely. If you don't hold for too long which makes your way of thinking apparent you may get a better oppurtunity to disengage the enemy and use a spin later or suddently change attack directions together with feints and attack a more confused enemy. An important note here is that people who hold are more likely to change attack directions than when they feint. Aperson who constantly feints by changing his attack direction will attack using the original direction he had in the beginning rather than change it. That is what i have observed at least. In short holding is an interesting moves because it allows you to devise and use several melee strategies will forcing your enemy on a specific stance.
Another good way to hold an attack or generally attack is by directing a down attack extremely upwards or an up attack extremely downwards. Especially the down attack directed up looks like an up attack and can confuse the enemy to use a wrong up block whereas a down block is needed. This move obviously requires some training because it can be difficult to handle correctly. That happens due to the fact that to get a down attack look like an up one or the opposite you need to turn your character to face the sky or the ground which sometimes means that your foe won't be in site. These attacks are best released by a sudden change of direction upon the launch of the attack.
Feint Blocking and Sideblock Exploit
While both of these aren't extremely helpful i figured they should also by mentioned.
Feint Blocking is blocking intentionally on the wrong direction of the attack that an enemy is about to release. That can be used especially on enemies who hold attacks a lot. It makes them think they have got their opening whereas you are tricking them into thinking so. It can help nulify an attack hold but you need to be careful otherwise you may not switch to the correct block soon enough. It also helps sometimes with people who change attack directions nonstop because they won't know whether their feints are working or they are not and you are just intentionally using the wrong block.
Same goes for the intentional sideblock. However the sideblock exploit has one more important use. It can be used as an indicator of skill lack towards an enemy because if things are taken 100% to the letter sideblocking is a mistake. Don't sideblock all the time but use a few sideblocks here and there during the duration of a fight and especially when you are out of the reach of an enemy and after you sideblock change to a normal block that counters the next attack the enemy is about to launch. What most players will think is that you are not trained enough and commit accidental sideblocks and so you are an easy target. This may make them fight recklessly and give you more openings or it can be used to draw enemies towards you and away from your teammates so that they can get to your foes' backs and kill them because they have taken bad positions while going after you.
At any rate be careful at tricking people with blocks because it can leave you open to attacks.
A improved way to block an enemy attack is chambering.
Chambering is something like a parry in mount and blade napoleonic wars. In short the enemy launches an attack and at the same time you launch an attack and so the two attacks collide and stop each other. Upon collision there is a moment that both combatants will flinch but the person that launched the attack last and caused the chamber will be like a split second ahead of the other in preparing the next attack. This can create a window of oppurtunity for an attack which cannot be stopped. Of course, as someone can already understand, chambering is highly dependable upon the timing of the second attack and even a slight delay will not lead to a chamber but will allow the attack to hit you. The best way to practise chambering is by trying it with members of your regiment regurarly. At best a veteran melee fighter can chamber a lot of attacks and doesn't need to block all the time which also offers him, as we said, openings for attacks that a block doesn't provide. Still my advice is that while chambering is good and all but you had better not rely on it for your defence but block normally instead.
Kicking and Flinching in General
Quite an advanced melee strategy is kicking because it demands a lot of experience to be done correctly and a mistake at its use will under most circustances leave you open to an attack.
Kicking which is by default tied to E in Napoleonic wars will launch a kick straight up ahead. During a kick though, or at least for the most part of it, the player who kicks is almost defenceless. He can't block an incoming attack if he wasn't holding a block already and can't move untill the kick has been fully executed. This means that if the enemy avoids the kick he can quickly attack you using the opposite block of the one you already have or by moving to your side and stabbing you there before you can move again. Given that kicking is quite a long move in terms of time span it needs to end, it will leave you at a pretty exposed position.
However if you manage to suceed at kicking your foe then you get a serious advantage. The kicked opponent will flinch for longer than all other actions that lead to flinching and during that time you can quickly land an attack on him. The most favourable occasion to use a kick is while S-keying and moving steadily backwards and the enemy blindly goes forward following your movement without turning to the one or the other side at all. In case you want to kick a moving enemy, something i definately don't recommend, you should kick ahead of his movement otherwise you will miss because a kick has a slow full release speed.
In general flinching isn't caused only by kicking but from other actions we have already mentioned. Pokes, Chambering and so on will cause a flinch with a tiny duration. Normal flinching with a duration of 1-3 secs can though only be caused by kicking and hits. About hits, a hit that doesn't kill a foe will make him flinch for the same duration of a kick or less depending on the damage dealt. The major difference in flinching from a hit compared to flinching from a kick is the clear duration of the time you are free to attack a completely defenceless enemy. With a kick that time is smaller because after a sucessful kick hit you still need to wait for the kick to fully end before commiting an attack. But a normal hit will lead to a flinch and you won't have to wait as much because the cool-down time of an attack is much shorter than that of a kick. That's why after a sucessful bayonet hit you should press on before the enemy can fully respond again.
Tactics for Multiple Enemies and Groupfighting
The main principle in a groupfight is that you should avoid being isolated from your team and confront multiple enemies on your own.
In Groupfighting you should rely heavily on your team even if that may limit the available tactics you may use personally. Always attempt to fight an enemy with the help of an ally and not on your own if possible. Also make sure you don't leave your team open to a sneak attack by giving up a fight. Try to first work together so you take the enemy out by overwhelming them and backstabbing them while they are already engaged from the front. This of course means that you may not be able to start doing crazy spins because you may hit your teammates but it is the most effective way to fight.
A common and standard strategy for groupfitting is having the entire team stay closely knit together and turning simulatenously in order to meet the enemy at the flank where he has the least numbers. Also a sneak attack player on larger groupfights is also useful to backstab and dislodge the enemy formation and organisation. Such movement though is difficult without proper communication using for example teamspeak. Still in groupfighting you should attempt to stay close to your allies and avoid wasting your live by rushing into large groups of enemies even though you can't communicate effectively with the rest of your team.
In case though you absolutely have to take on multiple enemies then remember than being in a 1v2 or 1v3 will it puts you at a disadvantage it also offers you plenty of new options. The most important of those is that you can dictate which enemy you want to attack because the members of the enemy team won't be able to communicate effectively. Due to this you can move around and by doing this you can cause your foes to split up and with a little bit of luck take them out one by one. Then if your enemies are close together and you can't get them apart then try using spins to kill them while at the same time constantly changing targets to confuse them so that they won't be able to respond in a united manner because they will be too concern with defending themselves. Also don't try to get between multiple enemies to split them or use a spin because that is extremely risky and will leave you open to multiple attacks. Another thing is to move and fight in such a way so that you cause the enemy teammembers to commit teamkills. This can especially be done if you spot an enemy who is going after kills and not the victory of his team which can lead him to attack carelessly in order to get the kill first, possibly teamkilling his teammates in the process.
Lastly remember that no matter how many tactics you can use in 1v1 these are mostly useless or at the very least restricted in groupfights due to the lack of available space to perform them. That's why communication and effective attacking and blocking are the most important tools in a groupfight.
Unidentified Melee Attack
The UMA, as i like to call it, was a melee trick(i guess) that i only saw once in my entire carier in M&B NW.
It goes like this: The player readies an attack and immediately releases it without holding it at all but cancels it midway by hitting 'air'. While though the attack would have been supposed to be cancelled and the blocking animation for the up or down block should have commenced at the very least partially it didn't happen! Instead the player looked as if he was able to continue his cancelled attack from the point he had cancelled it and continued on to hit the opponent.
One way it could be explained is that i was lagging at that point and things just seemed to happen like that but i am certain that i wasn't lagging and had decent fps.
Another thing i thought of is to recreate what had happened. I tried making attacks and cancelling them constantly. I found out that if an attack is cancelled using the up block to cancel and the click for the up block is clicked for only that split second you need to cancel the attack then the animation for the up block doesn't even commence but it looks as if you are still on the up attack stance without having even cancelled the attack in the first place while in reality you had! At the same time the next attack is released much more quickly than it would normally do, because it seems like you didn't ever leave the up attack stance. This way the attack after the cancelled one appears to be like a continuation of the cancelled one because it only takes like half the time of a normal up attack to reach the opponent and creates the elusion that it is a continuation of the cancelled attack or that the cancelled attack was never cancelled at all!
Of course this is most likely false and i am just seeing the things i want to see in the recreation of the event but i can't explain it in any logical way. Also the player who performed the trick in that groupfighting match actually did it a couple of times in different rounds too.
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