It is sometimes useful to describe a unit in a manner that quickly gives an idea of the units skills, training, and equipment. While there is a vast amount of diversity in various fighting groups. These descriptions can be seen at first as a judgment on the unit but its not. It is merely shorthand for describing a units state.
A unit can be described using 3 terms that reflect their equipment, training and on the field. A modifier reflecting the units Morale can also be included if desired. These terms are as follows:
- 1 Basic Unit Designations
- 2 Discussions on the themes
- 3 Morale
Basic Unit Designations
Regular or Irregular Units.
This is determined by the units ability to follows orders, remain in place when heavily pressed, and if individual members remain with their units rather then seeking actions elsewhere on the field.
- Regular: Obeys orders. Hold against attack. Unit operates with coordination.
- Irregular:Poorly obey orders. May respond poorly to strong attacks.
A, B or C Grade- This distinction list lists the fighting ability of the unit expressed in the average level of fighting ability of the fighters. This is not a judgment of a unit worthiness since many units serve different roles on the field. It is an expression of the units regular level of practice and fighting skills.
- A:Elite, Extremely well trained with weapon usage. Experienced in Battle, reliable In battle, able to meet large units on equal or better terms. Well Equipped with arms and armor. Professional. Uniform look or identifiable aspects.
- B:Trained. Somewhat trained and familiar with arms and armor. Equipped with mixed quality of weapons and equipment. Able to meet forces on equal terms. Situationally Dependable. Amateur to semi-professional. Often wearing similiar or mass produced tabards and colors.
- C:Untrained. Poor weapon sills. Inadequate equipment. React poorly to situational morale. Unreliable. Units assembled by force or from people unfamiliar with each other.
Equipment Style:Infantry & Cavalry
Unit Equipment or Style-this style describes the equipment the unit uses and its mobility in it.
- Light Infantry:
- Medium Infantry:
- Heavy Infantry:
- Light Cavalry:
- Medium Cavalry:
- Heavy Cavalry:
Most units can move quickly when needed but a cavalry unit can run far and fast when needed with a small amount of members falling out of order.
With these a unit may be described as "Regular A Medium Infantry", or "Irregular C Light infantry", "Regular A Medium Cavalry", or other variations.
Discussions on the themes
Regular Vs Irregular
Regular or Irregular Units. This is determined by the units ability to follows orders, remains in place when heavily pressed, and if individual members remain with their units rather then seeking actions elsewhere on the field.
- Regular Unit is one that has the interior cohesion to remain together regardless of circumstances.
- They train as a unit for multiple purposes.
- They are able to transition from one role to another quickly and easily, upon command.
- They maintain contact with each other and their stragglers, moving as a group.
- They can take orders from commanders other then their own on the field.
- They have logistical support for on and off the field or while in transit.
- Irregular Unit has many of the opposite virtues of a regular unit but has some advantages compared to them as well.
- They tend to be more loose, leaving stragglers behind as fighters move at their own speeds.
- They may not follow orders reliably, either from their own commanders or from commanders outside their group. This may be expressed as an unwillingness to recognize the army chain of command. Some irregular units may have little or no command structure of their own.
- They may break into smaller disorganized groups that pursue different targets.
- The advantages they have is that being flexible, they can be broken into units and sent to handle flankers or wolf pack units.
- A Regular Unit may be focused on its objective and may miss a developing situation. Irregular units, by their nature, look around their area more often and may see a shift in battlefield situations quicker then a Regular Unit.
- A unit comprised of fighters unfamiliar with each other such as a group collected from unaligned fighters during the establishment of sides on the day of battle.
- Calling a unit Irregular may be seen as an insult but it is a judgment based on the units infrastructure. If a unit or a unit leader argues this designation it can often mean they do not see the problems that make the designation accurate. Also it needs to be stressed that this is only one part of their over all unit description and it is one that can be changed with training.
A,B or C Grades
The Grade of the unit denotes the degree to which the fighters make the effort to become better individual and group fighters.
SCA Heavy Armored Combat is two sports that use similar equipment and similar rules, but they are not the same game. The War Game and the Tourney Game require very different mindsets. Its the difference between Rugby and Tennis. Warfighters may train in two on one, three on one, or combined fighting efforts to defeat better foes. They may train in killing from behind. They will work with archery and artillery. In determining the Grade of a unit consider if the unit is comprised of skilled warriors or infrequent ones.
A Grade An "A" Grade unit is one comprised of individuals that train frequently, even weekly, to better their individual fighting skills. They attend and fight in tourneys, both in the lists and on the challenge fields. This means an A Grade unit may have a large number of Knights and Squires as well as other seasoned warriors. It may mean the unit has a large number of fighters that have years, if not decades of war-field experience. Long periods of war-field experience can be as effective as regular tourney experience as veteran fighters shepherd newer fighters on the field during actions.
An A Grade unit can take heavy stress on the field being sent to deal with royal units and reserves, To overwhelm larger less skilled units, and otherwise shock a tactical situation. Such a unit might be famous in the sense that they are well known, or filled with well known and even feared fighters. A Duke and his companion knights and squires, whatever their other distinctions, is an example of an A Grade unit.
B Grade A "B" Grade Unit is one with a mixture of skilled individual fighters, knights, squires and veterans, and a number of newer or less regular fighters. Many units have a number of fighters that practices very little during the year but attend a few practices before a war to “Shake out the Cobwebs.” In these cases the veteran fighters may feel they have learned everything they need to fulfill the war-field roles the unit is assigned and can usually be relied upon to be steady in battle and helpful to new fighters.
'B Grade will be the most common grade of troop on the field, displaying a mixture of training, equipment and experience and will fill most actions on the field. A B Grade unit can stand, fight or run away as the situation demands.
C Grade A "C" Grade Unit is comprised of a few skilled regular fighters, usually the unit leadership, and is filled out with fighters who may only practice a few times a year, if at all. The unit has little experience in field drills, little understanding of battlefield commands, and may have a stubborn desire to not listen to commands even if they understand their purpose. It will often have a large number of new fighters, or even fighters who have been put in armor and rushed to the field with as little as one practice.
These units may not follow orders and may spread out in a manner that interferes with better trained units. While they may be large, due to quickly armed fighters, they may be less effective in a press then a smaller unit. A C Grade unit is effective for holding positions where they are not stressed. Flag points, uncontested bridges, crossings and sally ports. Defending stationary features like artillery, or resurrection points. As such this means that they are effective to be seen by an enemy to be serving a role but may not be effective once battle comes to them.
Unit Equipment or Style:Infantry or Cavalry
The "Style" describes the equipment the unit uses and its mobility in it. The Styles are Light Infantry, Medium Infantry, Heavy Infantry & Light Cavalry, Medium Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry. While this discussion is on unit styles an individual fighter may also be described using one of these 6 styles.
Most SCA units will be styled as Infantry units due to mobility and equipment.
Light Infantry is a unit that fights purposefully in the very minimum of legal war-field armor but is not highly mobile. A historical example of Light infantry is unarmored peasant levy using a single weapon and shield or improvised farm implements. This is your basic unruly mob of villagers with pitchforks. Since the SCA has strict rules for armoring this Style is unlikely on an SCA battlefield. Units that arm in a Light fashion tend to do so for the sake of mobility, such as the Tuchux. Light Infantry units might be those that specialize in archery or artillery where their mobility is not necessarily as important as their ability to effectively manipulate bows and equipment. Some banner-bearers might be classified individually as light infantry while lightly armored knights would be classified as Light Cavalry.
Medium Infantry are units that meet the SCA armor guidelines and include other protective gear for personal defense. Body armor, leg armor, and other gear may be of heavier then legally required. Most SCA fighters will fall into this Style. It is a complete rig of armor that will include metal and leather as well as other materials and will effectively cover the fighter. This is Style may or may not represent a specific period and can be called SCA Period.
Heavy Infantry is a unit that has a specific goal of wearing either heavy armor or armor of a specific period. They may be trading authenticity for mobility. Roman Units, or units with a lot of similar heavy equipment fall in this style.
While describing an SCA unit as cavalry may seem silly on the surface it represents the tendency of the unit to run in combat. Most units can move quickly when needed but a cavalry unit can run far and fast when needed with a small number of members falling out of order. Running any distance shows that the unit has a better level of fitness and aggressiveness. A unit that prides itself on moving fast in to a fight or out of one, that stresses physical fitness especially endurance, or can cover a field quickly without difficult can be considered Cavalry.
Light Cavalry units arm in the lightest armor possible and trade protection for mobility. Elements of Tuchux can be seen as Light Cavalry. They purposefully wear as little equipment as legally required and run to every conflict they can. Speed is the key. While Light Infantry may be the fastest unit on the field, they can be less effective in a hard pressed or tight situations. Not effective for bridge battles or castle battles. Vulnerable to artillery and archery. Effective in open fields, broken fields, woods battles, or battles where speed in taking a position or flag point is needed.
Medium Cavalry units are those that are reasonably armed and can to move fast and far on command. This will be the most common style for SCA units that specialize in great mobility. These units are excellent units for flanking, filling gaps in a fight, supporting units that take heavy losses. A Medium Cavalry unit will have a lot of fast moving, probably younger fighters, but may suffer attrition as they get tired throughout the day.
Heavy Cavalry are those units with a mixture of heavy armor, speed, and almost certainly high unit morale and esprit de corp. A Heavy Infantry unit is probably one dedicated to representing a particular period. Norman Cavalry might be described as a unit in heavy chain-mail, shield and sword, willing to run to a target. Extremely few units will be of this style. The ones that are will have heavy attrition as the day wears on but almost certainly include a strong fitness program as part of their training.
Morale-the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time.
Morale in the sense of SCA war units is an expression of the character of a unit. Are they eager? Pessimistic? Do they come to the field together or in ones and twos? Do they leave the field together? Do they march together to the field, waving banners, singing songs? Are they proud of each others efforts and of their leaders? Do they complain that their foes outnumber them or didn't follow rules?
A unit may show elements of both good and bad morale and its the average of the various influences that gives a commander a sense of how to judge a unit as having bad or good morale.
A unit can be said to have Good Morale if it does some of the following:
- Is eager to get to the field.
- Fields regular numbers on successive days.
- Has equipment in good order.
- Makes a point of getting weapons checked promptly.
- Marches to the field together and shows esprit de corp in singing, war crys, and showing their war colors boldly.
- Leave the field together, or in small groups.
- Includes water bearers, and support personnel.
A unit can be said to have Bad Morale if it does the following:
- Comes to the field and leaves the field individually and without informing their unit leaders.
- Argues among themselves on the field.
- Gets angry and vocally abusive on the field.
- Complains about actions on the field:Enemy outnumbers them. Others ignoring rules. Blow acknowledgment.
- Loses fighters do to attrition. This may be differences in fitness, training.
- Does not field on successive days do to hungover fighters.