The Staggered formation says that "Extra spacing helps units avoid cannon fire". It is available to ranged infantry units. Melee infantry have the cover stance instead.
Some hypothesis on the effects of staggered formation;
To look at these I'll use the following tests.
1a. falconet vs highlander
1b. cuirassier vs skirmisher
2. hussar vs strelet
3. skirmisher (volley formation) vs skirmisher (staggered formation)
Summary of Results:
1a. Stagger mode is effective against artillery area attacks. Reducing splash damage from the falconets by about 70% provided units stay in formation.
1b. Stagger mode is effective against melee area attacks. Reducing splash damage from cuirassier by 70%
2. Cavalry path finding is abysmal. Focus fire, micro management and how bad the path finding happens to be are much more important than the formation.
3. No appreciable difference as walking time counts towards reloading time. Who shoots first, focus fire / micro will play a much more important role.
A Point of Note.
- When you select the staggered formation the units do not move at all. They assume the new formation after you tell them to move. This is true for all formations. Making it possible with a few clicks to have units in a staggered formation and standing ground simultaneously.
I use the scenario editor and control the units myself and use triggers to have the AI attack move or just engage the units. When I describe the units taking damage I talk about it using the num pad as a frame of reference. The unit being attacked is 2, the unit to the right of unit 2 is number 1. The unit behind 2 is 5. All I do is pause the game and count the hit points the units have. I don't run a whole lot of tests. I'm trying to make general approximations as to how the various match ups fair against each other. Actual gameplay will always vary.
A Question About Game Mechanics
Area attacks have a cap listed. From what I've seen I'm guessing that cap is applied before bonus damage, but have not confirmed this.
Tests - boring stuff, read with caution
1a. falconet vs highlander
This will just be a one shot test to see how much less total damage the falconet is able to do when the highlanders are in staggered formation. I will use highlanders because they have plenty of hp making the overkill effect less of a factor.
A.The falconet fires directly into one of the highlanders in the front row out of three rows. Taking it from down to 100/400 hp. I'll use the num pad as a reference, call this unit 2. 1 is 354/400, 3 is 361/400, 4 is 371/400, 5 is 361/400, 6 is 380/400, 8 is 397/400. Making the damage total 476.
B.The falconet fires directly into one of the highlanders in the front row. Once again it is at 100/400 hp. And, using the same system as the first test, 1 is 380/400, 3 is 394/400, 5 is 384/400. Making the damage total 342.
It wasn't surprising that the unit the falconet targeted received the same amount of damage in both the standard volley and staggered formation. Total damage reduction is to about 72%. But what really is important to deciding how useful the formation is, is the splash damage. Which went from 176 to 42, or roughly a fourth as much splash damage. If the units actually stay in the staggered formation during the battle then it could be very useful. In other words, works as advertised.
I run the highlander vs falconet test again, this time having the falc fire into the middle rank of a moving group of highlanders. 1 is 380/400, 2 is 362/400, 3 is 374/400, 4 is 363/400, 5 is 100/400, 6 is 357/400, 7 is 377/400, 8 is 357/400, 9 is 372/400. Damage total of 558, with 258 being splash damage.
This time in staggered formation. 1 is 395/400, 2 is 383/400, 4 is 387/400, 5 is 100/400, 6 is 377/400, 8 is 385/400. Damage total of 370, with 70 being splash damage. A reduction of 73%.
Just for fun I have 3 cuirassier take on 20 skirmishers. The skirms get one shot off before they start getting attacked. In the end the cur just barely win. Running the test again the cuirassier have a stronger win. Then I set the skirms in staggered mode and they win with 10 left.
Back to some my precise testing, 1 cuir takes on my skirms. After one hit, 1 is 102/120, 3 is 102/120, 5 is 102/120, 6 is 110/120. After a second hit, 1 is 85/120, 3 is 84/120, 5 is 84/120, 6 is 101/120. The strikes did 64 and 62 damage respectively. Oddly, the skirm that appears to be getting attacked is taking no damage. It is also the only skirm to be using its melee attack.
When in volley formation 1 takes 10 dmg per strike, 2 takes 30 dmg per strike, 3 takes 1 dmg per strike, 5 takes 6 dmg per strike. For a total of 40 damage each strike.
It seems very odd that my lone skirm being attacked directly did not take any damage in my first test. I decided to go back and repeat the test. With each strike, 1 takes 10 dmg, 2 takes 30 dmg, 4 takes 9 dmg, 5 takes 18 dmg, 6 takes 10 dmg. For a total of 67 dmg. No significant change in the amount of damage output, simply more concentrated.
This test can probably have somewhat variable results depending on exactly how the cuirassier attacks. But it seems reasonable to say that staggered formation results in 35% less total damage and, strange attack quirks aside, 70% less splash damage. Once again, works as advertised.
2. hussar vs strelet
Normally if the units stay in formation only the unit being attacked with go into melee mode. Sometimes the one next to him will too. The problem comes when they break formation and start to bunch up in a solid line. Cavalry path finding is notoriously bad, meaning that some random unit in the middle of the infantry army may be the target. After messing around for a bit I'm starting to consider the possibility that staggered formation makes the line spread out more, resulting in fewer path finding problems and more units being forced into melee.
I start to run a few more tests where I control the strelets directly and have them stay in formation, I do no further micromanagement. Once two front strelet is taken out a hussar can step in a force 4 into melee. The two armies are roughly equally matched at 30 skirms to 6 hussars. But as I run this test several more times the strongest factor in determining the winner, is just how bad the path finding happens to be that time around. The hussar can win with 1-2 left if things go right. But 15 strelet could remains as well.
Next I force the strelets to stay in a staggered formation. Round 1; 12 strelets remain r2; 7 strelets, r3; 7 strelets. It's pitiful watching a hussar run from the front of the line, all the way around the strelets to attack one in the back.
After a few more tests I wonder how the 6 hussar ever took out 30 strelets. I may come back to this later. But for now I'll have to say that poor path finding and focus fire are more important that a few extra strelets that happen to end up in melee.3. skirmisher vs skirmisher
When using attack move over longer distances skirms that are in the volley formation will form a long column and then spread back out into their normal ranks right before they get where they're going, while skirms in the staggered formation travel in the formation. The staggered formation makes it a little quicker for the skirms to move into new firing positions. But walking time counts for reloading and the difference turns out to be trivial compared to focus fire, overkill and who shoots first.
Discuss it in his thread here
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