Knights of the Hart of Highfolk Tactical Ponderings

Again, looking at the 1983 World of Greyhawk Glossography’s encounters and specifically at the “Elves, Knights” description, I have long been presented with the idle problem of framing their presentation on a (tabletop) battlefield and/or in a D&D-esque tactical situation. My motive is in regard specifically to miniatures wargaming in the setting, but it would be useful knowledge regardless.

After some contemplation and a bit of brainstorming, I think I’ve got a perspective that might be worth sharing.

Encounter Strength

Let’s start with what the encounter description gives us in brief (referencing the contemporary AD&D stats of the source, skip this if AD&D is unfamiliar), a contingent totaling from 37-174 members as follows:

7-10 Knights
1 Commander: Elven* F/C 7/7 – AC 3; shield, lance, long sword and mace and mounted on barded medium warhorse.
1 Lieutenant: Elven* F/C 6/6 – AC 3; shield, lance, long sword and mace and mounted on barded medium warhorse.
5-8 (1d4+4) Knights: Elven* F/C, 5/5 – AC 3; shield, lance, long sword and mace and mounted on barded medium warhorse.

2-4 Magic-Users
1 Master: Elven* F/MU, 4-6/8-11 – AC 5; long sword, bow (8-11 magic +1 Arrows) and I assume to be mounted on unbarded medium warhorse (source doesn’t specify).
1-3 Assistants: Elven* F/MU, 3-5/4-7 – AC 5; long sword, bow (4-7 magic +1 Arrows) and I assume to be mounted on unbarded medium warhorse (source doesn’t specify).

Each Knight’s Entourage
1-4 Esquires: Elven* F/C, 3-4/3-4 – AC 4; shield, lance, long sword, mace and mounted on medium warhorses
3-12 (3d4) Serjeants: Elven* F2 – AC 5; bow (2 magic +1 Arrows), long sword, mace and mounted on light warhorses.

*According to the source the knights include both elves and half-elves though I am left to speculate on the ratio. I would further extrapolate that these are generally of high elven stock.

Battlefield Roles

This encounter consists of two basic roles, shock and skirmish. The first group consists of the lance armed knights and esquires while the second group are the bow armed (and shieldless) serjeants. The overall theme of the combined group emphasizes mobility since there are no heavy mounts and armor is somewhat lighter overall than contemporary human knight contingents. The team of magic-using elves can generally be categorized with the skirmish element.


The first formation I would consider would be the entire contingent assembled in line of battle per the following diagram.

Front Rank
The front rank here consists of knights and esquires starting with a knight on the extreme right and esquires under his charge immediately filling in to his left, then the next knight and his subordinate esquires, repeating on down the line.
Additional Ranks
The second, third and any following ranks are the serjeants which, falling in behind knights and squires, never extend farther to the left than the front rank.
The Lieutenant and Commander will each be positioned either in front or behind the battle line per the Commander’s discretion. If the formation is to maneuver in line, one of the two will be out front of the first rank in the center guiding it’s movement while the other will be to the rear and normally flanked by the master magic-user. Any assistant magic-users will be positioned either rear center as a reserve or to the flank corners of the rearmost rank (serjeants will adjust left to give a space for the assistant magic-user on rear right corner).

Here’s the skinny on this. A battle line is primarily a charging attack formation. The armored and lance thick front rank is meant to move toward the enemy and when within proximity, charge at a cantor or full gallop with lowered lances. Prior to closing and while still moving at a walk or trot, the rear ranks of bow-armed serjeants can fire overhead (if the range is long enough or if the target is on a different elevation and thus the front rank can be safely fired over) to disorder/disrupt the opposing line before closing distance.

A final note on the battle line is that it can be easily entered into from and exited out of to a column of march four files wide. To change from line, the leaders may move to the extreme right (which becomes the head of the formation) with the Magic-users immediately behind to the right and/or behind them (1st and 2nd ranks of the file). Of course, the stationing of these leaders is always variable.

To Be Continued…

Published by Jeffrey Boyd Garrison

I can haz an interwebz.

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