Maneuvering formations of troops is a difficult job for a commander. There are several simple maneuvers which are commonly used in combat. When maneuvering, it is important for soldiers to keep in formation.
Manuevering in SCA battles
- Dress the Line
- The people on the shield wall should reposition so that the front is straight. This positioning helps maintain unit cohesion and allows teammates to guard each other's flanks.
- Slow Advance
- Walk slowly forward while maintaining a cleanly dressed formation. Usually the first command issued after the lay-on.
- On the Break
- When the unit commander starts screaming something like "GO GO GO" or "BREAK NOW", you should do what you were told to do 'on the break'. For example, "We'll advance slowly and on the break flank right."
- Flank Right/Left
- Run around the enemy line in the direction indicated. If correctly executed, the flank maneuver allows many people on your side to attack few people on the enemy side. See Numerical Superiority at Point of Contact
- Slide Right/Left
- The whole unit should step to the side until told to stop. Usually used before the fight.
- Oblique Right/Left
- Each person walks diagonally forward. This is a combination of Slow Advance and Slide Right/Left. The shield wall remains parallel to it's starting line-up.
- Echelon Right/Left
- The person farthest to the right/left starts advancing. The next person follows one step later. The next 1 step later still. The resulting shield wall is on a diagonal but the direction of movement is forward.
- Wheel Right/Left
- A difficult manuever consisting of turning the entire formation in the direction indicated. Those fighters on the outside of the turn will have to move very quickly, while those on the inside may have to slow down to maintain formation.
See Flank Right/Left and Refuse the Right/Left.
- Refuse the Right/Left
- The indicated side should fall back in an orderly fashion. They are refusing to be flanked.
- Reform "Unit Name"
- Calls all members of your named unit to find their teammates and reassemble.
- A command to take two fast steps forward and then stop. A pulse is often used just as a formation reaches striking distance from an enemy formation, closing the final few feet very suddenly. Having your troops shout a battle cry when they pulse is also tremendously effective.
Typical Commands for a short battle:
- "On the break, flank right"
- "Dress the Line"
- "Slow advance"
- "Ready . . Go!"
- whack Whack Whack
- "Reform Drunkards!"
See The Book of Four Things for an analysis of differences between historical and SCA field combat, and the four tactics that work.