A bridge battle attempts to simulate a engagement taking place in narrow quarters (such as on a bridge).
In most cases, an actual bridge is not available, in which case artificial borders are defined. Hay bales, tape, or string are common options when marking edges. Fighters are split into two teams, one for each end of the bridge. The goal generally one of the following:
- Eliminate the opposing team.
- Take complete control of the bridge.
- Hold a greater percentage of the bridge than the other team after a set amount of time.
Generally, each team is composed of both shieldmen, and polearms and/or spears. Shields are arrayed in front of the polearms as defense, with backups waiting behind. As the forces engage, the polearms do the bulk of the killing with the shields defending. A number of pulses may occur in an attempt to force the opposing team back and break their line.
As with any other battle format, a few variations exist.
- Resurrection: A resurrection bridge battle results in a constant flow of fighters onto the bridge and may not have a clear outcome at the end.
- End points: Depending on the scenario, the area allowed to be occupied at each entrance of the bridge may change. Sometimes the oppposing team may be allowed to spill off the bridge and engage in open field battle, or they might be restricted to the area immediately in front of the entrance, or any number of other possibilities.
- Multiple Bridges: When there is a greater number of fighters, it may be beneficial to set up multiple bridges. Fighters can enter any bridge. This also presents an additional strategic element, as commanders must determine where best to send reinforcements.
Bridge battles are usually the subject of two particular complaints. Firstly, since the area of engagement is relatively small, the bulk of the fighters on each side are doing nothing for extended periods of time. Secondly, the shieldmen are primarily engaged in passive defense, which can be a bit dull.