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Talore

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The War Compendium
« on: February 27, 2011, 01:36:10 AM »
-The War Compendium-
By Talore, and community

"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

-Both from Sun Tzu's The Art of War


Welcome to the battlefield.  Whether you be a common soldier, a lieutenant, or a general, you had better have decent CON, INT, and WIS to survive the theatre of war. In these pages you shall see the cumulative knowledge of myself and the community on the topic of war, specifically war in D&D.

Table of Contents:
1) Scale of War: What size of a game are we talking about? Are you crafting the army? Is it a normal party on black op missions? Are you part of a platoon, or leading it? Are you the general, making your own troops? Can you even participate in battle? What freedom of command do you have, and when must you bend it?
2) Party Roles and War: What makes an effective war hero? How do tanks, skillmonkeys, buffers, and gods affect the battlefield? What must one keep in mind when selecting feats, spells, items, and prestige classes?
3) Tactical Spells: How to turn your full-caster into the sculptor of war. A list of spells or types of spells or dominating the battlefield through movement, buffs, battlefield control, debuffs, damage, summons, etc.
4) Party Tactics: How to form up, move, defend, and become a multi-headed beast on the battlefield
5) Minion Tactics: Whether you can select followers or are stuck with conscripts, this page will aid you in turning low-level NPCs into fighting machines. Cover equipment, classes, formations, strategy, etc.
6) On Information: Divination, scouting, spying, and deception shall all be covered. They all carry degrees of risk, but the advantages may far outweigh the risks in such actions (especially if a mook is doing the dirty work!) as well as ways to proof your own side from such measures.
7) On Leadership: Leadership, and its variants, are a rules-supported, easy to use, and effective ways of gaining followers and soldiers. Here we shall delve into circumstances specific to leadership that don’t apply to the Minion Tactics section. We’ll also discuss in brief alternative ways of gaining (semi) permanent followers. Cash, crafting, binding, etc.
8) On Buildings: The Stronghold Builders Guidebook contains a wealth of usable information. See what advantages can be gained from construction of everything from mud-packed walls to flying siege platforms! Additionally, we shall eamine the ways to breach and defend structures.
9) On Ambushes: Rounds are a precious economy. From simply gaining a surprise round to preparing for hours in advance, ambushes can allow an inferior force obliterate a much stronger force. We’ll discuss how to set up ambushes, what is effective versus what is not, ways to avoid detection, and how to detect ambushes yourself.
10) On Alliances: Allies are fickle. They do not share the same goals and motivations as you, most of the time. I’ll basically rip off what Sun Tzu has to say about alliances, and how to avoid being screwed by turncoats or cowards.
11) ‘General’ Advice: If you’re the commander of an army, you’d best know how to pick your battles, manage a whole army (hint: delegation of roles), and win the war!
12) Behind the DM screen: Hey, it’s not only players what frequent the boards, and many are also DMs. Here shall be a compilation of advice from myself and the community on running the war campaign. It’s difficult, but it can be extremely rewarding.
13) Other Tips and Tricks: Random useful tidbits that don’t fit into the above categories. A lot of random support from the community will go here, if I predict things right.
14) Builds: Be they minions or characters, the board loves to stat out ready-to-go people, so this post shall be a repository for them.
15) Handy Links and Credits: Honour where honour is due, and links to utilities that myself or other community members find helpful in the discussion of war.

Please note that the next 15 posts shall be reserved. Please do not post untill I am finished reserving. But after that, please post as much useful information, builds, etc. that you can!
« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 10:11:10 PM by Talore »
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 01:38:16 AM »
Scale of War
"It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him." -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are many ways in which to run, and ultimately experience the war campaign. It is important to identify the method of gameplay, in order to prepare yourself with the tactics and knowledge needed to seize victory. This is a very basic part of one of Sun Tzu's main points: that you must know yourself if you plan on winning battles. Know yourself and your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles. If you don't even know your rank, how will you know yourself?
Therefore, I shall identify what I observe to be the main modes of operation for war campaigns. Namely, there are three levels of gameplay in the war campaign.

---------------------------

(1) The Soldier
When playing at the soldier level, your tactical decisions are relatively few. You are usually in control of only your own character. I entitle this gameplay style as the soldier, but it encompasses much more than being a rank-and-file pikesman. The staple of this style is the 'strike team,' a small group of elite forces (the party) which is sent on missions of great importance, often requiring great power, skill, and stamina. In this sense the war is very much a narrative background. The DM will usually describe the war and how you're affecting it, but you'll very rarely be on the front rank, mowing down 1st-level orc warriors.
In the soldier gameplay style, your focus is on you and your fellow party members. You may not even have to tailor yourself very much to fit in this environment. You don't have to worry too much on methods of attack, or basic military tactics. That will all be figured out by the NPCs that are giving you orders (the DM).
It is important to note that the players almost need to be railroaded by definition of this archetype. The DM and players should discuss beforehand the implications of this playstyle. The DM must be adamant in asuring that the PCs understand that they do not have free will in this game, lest they risk becoming fugatives, or being executed for insubordination.
This is the level I expect casual, ordinary war campaigns to run at.

(2) The Lieutenant
At this level, you have control over your own platoon of soldiers, or share that control with the other PCs. This is the level of gameplay that is often reached when Leadership is taken, and the PCs actually use their followers as soldiers. That gives you a rough idea of the numbers. Anywhere from 10 to 500 NPCs with you, of course there could be more. What is important to distinguish here from The General is the boundaries of power. You do not decide when and where war happens (unless you are the leader of a small warband.) You only decide how your retinue fights to achieve the objectives handed down to you. You may be given orders to ambush a supply train, you can decide where to place your archers and what spells to use, but you can't decide not to carry out your mission without a very good excuse, or you'll risk court martial.
At this scale, it is extremely handy to organize your troops into units. Units provide you with organization and allow for greater ease when diversifying roles. You may decide to have a pike unit, and an archer unit behind it. For these instances, the DM should roll a mass initiative for each unit, using the lowest init bonus. Note that these units can have diverse NPCs within them, and it's reccomended. For example, most units could do with a commander to boost their potential (see Heroes of Battle for Commander Auras, useful and free bonuses to lower-ranking soldiers). A spell-blasing unit could have specialists of different energy types, and almost every group could do well with a buffer or two.
Your concern at this scale is not only of yourself. You will want to invest mental (and sometimes monetary) resources towards your subordinates. Consider your warband when purchasing magic items, selecting spells, and so forth. Similarily, you'll want to adjust some of your tactics to accomadate for the larger amount of foes you may face. Chain spell is one of many champions here. You'll also want to familiarize yourself with battle tactics. They can turn a lopsided battle on its heels, for the side that makes great use of tactics. A great commander is not great merely for his personal prowess in battle, but how he can lead his troops to victory.
As far as you yourself go, you still have a vital role. Your mooks can take care of the opposing mooks, but you've got battlefield commanders, giant artillery, dragons, and pesky spellcasters to deal with! Take out the big targets, and similarily allow your forces to take the numerous targets. If one of you deal with your immediate jobs, then you're free to help the other one. There's nothing like multiple concentrated volleys at a BBEG's face, not to mention whole units readying actions to turn the evil sorcerer into a pincushion if he trys to screw the party over!
This is the level I excpect most 'tactical' war campaigns to run at.

(3) The General
You are MacArthur, Napoleon, Ceasar, Hitler, William of Normandy, and Theoden-King rolled into one (minus the Nazi, I hope XD). Your words crush nations, your will strikes awe or fear into the hearts of men. You're in command of an army of thousands, and chances are you know how to use them to deadly effect. Infact, you have to know what you're doing, or thousands will die.
Your focus is almost entirely on the army at this point. You're probably at high level, so Leadership numbers are in the thousands if optimized, and if you're the hired general of a nation (or plane!) it may be more than that. This level of gameplay becomes less about you and more about the people around you. As with The Lieutenant, there may be something of appropriate high level on the main battlefield for you to smite, but that's really up to the DM and players. History and war buffs might lose focus of their own characters in support of their army, and their PC may focus more on diplomacy, information, and the occasional earth-shattering spell. Top it off with quests to forge alliances, or a daring raid into the very heart of the opposing elite general's stronghold for epic justice.
This is the level of play I'd expect at high level, and with complete war buffs (and not-so-sane but incredibly skilled DMs)
------------------------
Level of Magic

I had a huge fucking section all typed out, then the server decides to fuck up when I post it, so now it's gone and we'll get a half-assed version. >_<

Low/No Magic




Moderate Magic (Default?)



High Magic



------------------------

Always keep in mind your play level when reading the rest of the guide, and when making and playing your character. A general will pick Diplomacy over Jump, but a lowly private doesn't invest in Bluff or Knowledge (History). A strike team member may pack Enervation and Divine Power, where a high Lieutenant may pick Solid Fog and Divination.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 07:19:13 PM by Talore »
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2011, 01:38:46 AM »
Party Roles and War

Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak. –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Everyone has a job in the war. Your abilities dictate your actions; not all will be sent to slay dragons, not all are capable of assassinating leaders, few may slay hundreds in the blink of an eye (despite popular belief). In knowing yourself, you must know what you are capable of, else you shall die an abrupt death. Here now shall I discuss roles in war.

-The Tank-

The tank is who I deem to be a melee warrior who lacks mobility (not the feat). The battlefield is vast, and if you do not have a mount, you shall be utterly ineffective when your foes are numerous. In a standard military campaign, you must commandeer a mount. Even if it shall surely die in a battle, the gold lost from another mount dying is insignificant to the lives that could be lost if there is nobody to defend the weaker members of the party. For that is your role, essentially. If you can deal massive damage to a massive foe, then go for it. But beware the consequences.

It is a virtue in this role that you have high AC, and are able to draw fire away from the weaker members of the party. If a cohort is a tank, consider again the Tower Shield, especially if the cohort larger than normal. Giving total cover to the casters whiere no cover is can mean the difference between a TPK and an easy victory.

-The Charger-
The Charger is who I deem to be a melee character that is mobile. Whether he actually uses the charge action frequently, uses spring attack-like strategy, or merely uses standard actions over full-round actions (like martial adepts) matters little. What matters is that your role is to out-maneuver your foes. Yes, even the lowly monk fits into this category; his movement speed is more valuable in the theatre of war. In a pitched situation where the party is being bombarded/sniped or there is a tough foe protected by the environment/mooks, it is your job to overcome those obstacles and lay down the hurt on the baddie.

Ensure to ask for buffs from the spellcasters, as your role carries the most risk. Collaborate with your controller ahead of time, to make sure that you can overcome his battlefield control, or that he place it in such a way that you are able to circumnavigate it.

-The Archer-

There is little effective difference between the Archer and the Blaster. You are one who deals damage at range. Yours is a fairly straightforward, but important role. Hit the toughest foe with everything you're got! What one must remember in this role is that if you are fighting a spellcaster, or you have special attacks at a range (for example, Ranged Disarm), do not under-use the Readied action! If the enemy spellcaster is competent, he wil seriously mess up the party. He will have a much more difficult time if you put an arrow through his hand while he's casting that spell. If you have area-of-effect ranged attacks, hold off on blasting the mooks unless your own defensive line is being seriously threatened by them.

-The Buffer-
Out of all the roles, yours probably changes the least. Get your buffs up, then switch to your secondary role. (All good buffers should be able to do more than just buff). Your immediate priority will probably be to increase the mobility or survivability of anyone who has to go toe-to-toe with the big enemies, then the general defense of the party. In spell selection, go over mass buffs, or easily chained buffs. Certain spells could turn your common soldiers into formidable warriors. Even a few chained greater magic weapons or heroisms could allow your mooks to trample the opposition, and theaten the higher level foes.

-The Debuffer/Blaster-

Hit the high level foes where it hurts. Period. If you use stuff like Cloudkill or chained Enervation/Ray of Enfeeblement than go for it, but your number 1 priority is weaking the bosses.

-The Controller-
You are god. The CO board has pretty much established this. Your spells make or break the battle. The thing is, when using BFC in war, things are a little different. If you're good at laying it down like a champ, chances are that you'll adapt easy enough, But, for the war-faring controller, certain spells become more or less viable. For example, the area-effect version of Grease becomes worse, simply because the battlefield is so much larger than the dungeon; it's easy to avoid. Take that in mind when adapting your strategies; choke points are far less numerous. Spells with a wide area-of-effect can become more devastating. Widen spell becomes a sexy choice, especially with metamagic reducers. Also, Wall spells can be champions if used correctly. That wall of soldiers that was about to charge you? Now they have to go around a wall of stone. Your tanks and melee mooks will love you if you can divide the enemy with these spells.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 07:18:08 PM by Talore »
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 01:39:12 AM »
Tactical Spells


Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate. -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

On Spells:
There are far more competent guides than mine on the use of battlfield control spells, so I will not cover the basic application of spells in the prototypical small skirmish environment. Instead, I will cover the alteration of usefulness of spells in the area of mass combat, and on the battlefield itself.

Mass Combat:

Battlefield:

« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 06:27:39 AM by Talore »
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 01:39:37 AM »
Party Tactics
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 01:40:09 AM »
Minion Tactics
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 01:40:34 AM »
On Information
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 01:41:15 AM »
On Leadership


Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Let's face it. Leadership is the easiest and most accesible way to gain loyal soldiers and other followers. This post shall be devoted to the leadership feat, its variants, and special info pertinent to leadership.

Linking to some Handbooks that will help in this regard:
http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=9157.0 - Thrallherd Handbook
http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=8817.0 - Handbook for Leadership and Army-Making

Leadership Feats:
There are many more feats that benefit leadership than the namesake feat. Here I'll list all of them that I know, plus sources or links.

Leadership
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#leadership
Bread and Butter to become a leader. This is obvious.

Epic Leadership

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/feats.htm#epicLeadership
Required for epic level play if you want to have an epic amount of followers. Compulsory for level 21+. Or cheezy dragonwrought kobolds with questionable rules interpretations.

Legendary Commander
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/feats.htm#legendaryCommander
Speaking of... this is just sexy. If you have epic leadership, do it.

Extra Followers (HoB)
Double followers, and +1 to leadership score? Yes please!

Improved Cohort (HoB)
Cohort's maximum level is raised to CL-1, and +1 to leadership score. Very decent, gets even better if you have multiple cohorts.

Inspirational Leadership (HoB)
Followers start battle heartened if they weren't scared beforehand, +5 to rally checks with your followers, and +1 leadership. Eh, it['s not that good if you're just leading your warband, as there won't be many circumstances where rallying will play a role. Not worth the feat slot, imo.

Practiced Cohort (HoB)
Your cohort doesn't count against teamwork benefit limits for member size, and is auto-trained to be a member; +1 leadership. Stay away from this unless you have a very large party already, and are relying on those teamwork benefits.

Assemble the Horde (DR346)
Double 1st level followers, and +1 to leadership score? Almost as awesome as Extra Followers. Do both.

Class Champion (DR346)
Get two more followers of the highest level of follower you can attain, but they must be the same class as you. I'm not sure if they have to be single-classed or not. Anyways, this feat does have potential, but it's up to you. Situationally good.

Close Cohort (DR346)
Inferior version of Improved Cohort that doesn't stack. Keep away from this.

Eye for Talent (DR346)
You can replace cohorts in weeks instead of months, +1 leadership score. I'd avoid this. Why? I'd take a more useful feat that will help my your followers not die in the first place.

Fanatical Devotion (DR346)
This, however, can be entertaining when combined with the former. You no longer take a penalty to your leadership score if your followers die. Assemble your horde, send them off, and if they die, just recruit new ones, all while sipping wine at home? XD

Dragon Cohort (Dcn)
Get a dragon cohort off the list in Draconomicon, it is treated as three levels lower for attaining it. Cool stuff, use whenever you deem a dragon would be an effective ally.

Dragon Steed (Dcn)
Get a dragonnel cohort. There are more powerful options than this.

Undead Leadership (LM)
+2 to leadership to attract undead followers/cohorts, -4 for living ones. Not too shabby for the necromancer character, or if you're undead yourself. You could always just grab what followers you wanted living, and ake them Necropolotians.

Natural Leader(DR346), Improved Leadership(DR317), Noble Born(DR333)
All these give +2 to your leadership score; Noble Born has some minor differences. I don't value these very high, as followers are capped until epic leadership, but at least Noble Born can be taken at level 1, when other leadership feats cant be (almost all require leadership as a prerequisite).


Apparently, Epic Level Handbook says that if your followers aren't commoners, warriors, or experts, that they get a level penalty. This sucks. Negotiate out of it.

« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 07:22:10 PM by Talore »
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2011, 01:41:45 AM »
On Buildings
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2011, 01:42:14 AM »
On Ambushes
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2011, 01:42:37 AM »
On Alliances
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 01:43:01 AM »
'General' Advice
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2011, 01:43:27 AM »
Behind the DM Screen
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Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2011, 01:43:59 AM »
Other Tips and Tricks
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 01:44:28 AM »
Builds
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 01:45:29 AM »
Handy Links and Credits

From WotC:

Heroes of Battle: The most comprehensive book they've written on war, and very useful for DMing a war game. It isn't devoid of goodies for players, however. The most used thing from this book is probably the War Weaver prestige class, but there's a ton of useful stuff in here.

Arms and Equipment Guide: 3.0 book, has some handy things including vehicles.

Stronghold Builder's Guidebook: 3.0, use for buildings and related stuff.

Stormwrack: For those who wish to implement naval elements to the war, including ship battles, etc.

Magic Item Compendium: Lot's of goodies here.

Spell Compendium: Likewise, lots of goodies

Races of Stone: There seems to be a lot of useful stuff here for terraforming in here, including the invaluable Shadowcraft Mage

Other:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu: This is required reading in war, buisiness, and philosophy. It was one of the things that got me interested in making the guide. Seriously, go read it now. It is online, if you don't want to shell out the cash for paper.


Feel free to start posting now. I can't possibly write enough of this myself, so please throw your ideas my way.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 02:27:22 AM by Talore »
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2011, 02:49:01 AM »
I present you my Mob/unit template, an improvement from the one found in the DMG2, for turning bunches of low level dudes in proper challenges.

Because otherwise, large-scale conflict really isn't suited for D&D. The DM would need to roll hundreds of dices per turn, and due to exponential power growth, groups of low level enemies are simply gonna be slaughtered in horrible ways. And enemies that aren't much lower level than you can easily focus fire the players.

Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2011, 09:39:08 AM »
I'll be sure to eventually edit it into the misc section. But as far as mass war, there are more options, including doing math that gives me headaches, or just ballparking how it would work out, then narrating it (these would be for NPC vs. NPC, of course.)

Added the section about the 3 scales of war campaign.
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 03:59:32 AM »
Party roles in war have been added. Please let me know if there is anything contrary to your (superior) experience.

Any suggestions for material that I should cover would be greatly appreciated, as well as any analysis you already have.
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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 07:25:29 AM »
Your party roles in 'war' cover party roles in 'mass combat'.

If you're serious about covering what each party member can contribute in a 'war', then you should probably expand that to cover what each character archetype can specifically offer in a 'war'.

I.e. Clerics can make it far easier for an army to travel, what with food-creation and whatnot.  Bards can take a feat or spell to make a ridiculously large number of people march at double speed for a day.  Skillmonkeys can scout out enemy positions, poison food...

If you're going to move through a forest with an army, you'd better have 1 woods-capable person(Survival and/or Kn: Nature) for every 10 soldiers or you're going to lose like half your dudes to the environment before you even see an enemy.

Teleport Circle makes 'marching' obsolete unless you're maneuvering for position.

Etc etc.  Most enemy armies lose heart when you open a Gate to an active volcano in the general's tent.