In With Fire & Sword, the addition of firearms changes the dynamics of the battlefield from the prior games.
Firearms are effectively extremely powerful and extremely slow loading crossbows. They feature sufficient power to drop many targets in one hit. In addition, pistols and carbines (which are not appreciably weaker than muskets) can be loaded and fired by mounted troops.
In With Fire & Sword, there are 3 types of battles (excluding siege). The first type of battle is the skirmish battle where your adversary just sends troops head on against your army, usually with cavalry first. The second type of battle is the "line" battle where the opposing army is arranged in rows and will slowly approach your army before attacking. The last type of battle is the "wagon" battle where the enemy retreats to a formidable Wagon Fort.
Early troops are lightly armed and have mediocre armor e.g. Musket Militamen, Pikemen, Scythe Wielder. With proper tactics to face the enemy, less casualty, efficiency and shock can still be achieved. Later in-game troops are better equipped, well-armored and skilled, e.g. Dragoons, Hussars, Lifeguards etc.
Your ability to judge the enemy's movement and applying these tactics while facing them will devastate your enemy whether you win or not.
Fighting a "Head On" BattleEdit
This type of battle usually happens when your enemy outnumbers you significantly. The first thing that should be done is to bring up the troop order screen. Order any cavalry units to mount (this is because after a few seconds they dismount their horses). Observe the movement of your enemy in the troop order screen, if they are riding fast towards your position, quickly direct the Pikemen in the front lines and order them to arrange in 3 rows. At the same time, order the ranged infantry to stay behind the wall of Pikemen, ready to open fire. This will hold off the cavalry charge. Also while observing the enemy's movement, it is wise to move the cavalry in a moderate distant location in the map so that they can gain just enough momentum for a good cavalry charge. All of these steps must be done within 15 seconds to maximize efficiency.
When the cavalry charge has been held off, order any infantry unit (including Pikeman) to charge, at the same time move the musketeers to a high place on the map and order them to fire at will.
Later in-game you'll have acquired better troops such as German Infantry Musketmen, Musketeers, Winged Hussars and Reiters. In a head on battle with these troops, you can just deploy them. The simplest way of deploying is the all-out-charge; order every cavalry unit to attack, no arrangements whatsoever. The musketeers however, and any infantry unit, should always be arranged and deployed onto high round if possible. This way, your cavalry will take the pounding, keeping your infantry safe while attacking.
Fighting a "Line" BattleEdit
As always, the troop order screen will be important. Bring it up as soon as the battle starts. Order your whole party to "Hold Position", order any mounted units to mount and cavalry must always be up front in this battle. To determine if a battle is going to be a line, look at the minimap in the order screen, if the red dots (enemies) are charging forward, then they start to disperse on both sides, then it is a line battle.
- Cavalry Arrangement
If you have less than 75 cavalry units, assuming that they are already in front of your army, the best arrangement for them is the following commands: "Hold Position", "Form 1 Row", Click on "Form 5 Rows" for Very Tight Arrangement. Once, they're arranged, don't give the opposition a chance to fix their positions. Charge immediately.
If you have around 75 or more cavalry units, assuming that they are already in front of your army, the arrangement should be similar to the first one but this time form 3 rows instead of 1. Then charge.
- Musketeer and/or Infantry Unit Arrangement
All ranged units must be arranged in line and should be placed in high ground for a better view and shot of the battlefield. While all melee-based infantry units must always be in front of the ranged units and preferably on lower grounds, a couple of meters away from the ranged units to protect them from incoming cavalry attacks.
Fighting a "Wagon" Battle (Offense)Edit
In this type of battle, infantry units (both ranged and melee) should be the most used. Cavalry in this type of battle are ineffective because of the wagons encircling and covering your adversaries, making them invulnerable to cavalry attacks.
- Unit Arrangements
In this type of battle, musketeers/ranged units should be up front. Depending on how many of these units you have, arrange them in rows and deploy them half-way the distance to the enemy positions. Punch in the "Fire at Will" Command. Watch the enemy fall one-by-one, when they start to retreat. Order your melee-based infantry units to charge. When retreating enemy units manage to get out from the wagon fort, order the cavalry to chase after them.
- Bandits will never be smart enough to fight you in this type of battle (when defending) unless you mod the game.
- When the enemy is massively outnumbered by your party, sometimes they'd rather fight you in a head on battle.
Fighting a "Wagon" Battle (Defense) Edit
When defending a wagon fort, immediately put your footmen into the back. This will stop enemy cavalry from flooding through early on. If the situation is extremely desperate, and you have a horse, make everyone charge into the enemy while you try to run away. You'll lose your troops, but you and your heroes will get away scot-free. (Because when you flee and leave your heroes behind, they remain in your party)
Faction Specific TacticsEdit
The Cossack Hetmanete's tactics are based on the ability to move quickly on the battlefield using dragoons. Their armies are mostly built out of Djura, Watchmen and firearm infantry (marksmen). All footmen in their army are armed with firearms, including their shock infantry the Netyags, having a Pistol.
One strategy is to build your army from infantry marksmen: Serduks and Netyags. When the battle starts, take high ground and decimate the enemy from afar. You could also build your army from only Serduks, but no matter what build you choose, remember to build a vast network of recruitment from commanders.