Troop composition. It can make us, or it can break us. Like in chess, every piece has a defined function. And you should know their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses before making a move.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”Sun Tzu.
As a quick note, This article will cover everything there is to know about troops. However, due to the article length, this will imply, we will cover everything there is to know about heroes, on a separate, future article.
Frontier Justice counts with 4 troop categories, which are further divided into 2 different sub-types each.
We have the gunslingers, the cavalry, the marksman, and the gunners. The categories themselves do not provide any useful info in themselves, so we will have to take a detailed look at the information the game provides, to draw useful conclusions and implications
- Gunslingers subdivide into Outlaw Shotguns and Shootists.
- Cavalry subdivides into Cavalry Scouts and Cavalry Riflemen.
- Marksmen subdivide into Snipers and Sharpshooters.
- Gunners subdivide into Blasting Carts and Cannons.
Let’s take a look at the troop counter circle, provided by the game itself. This might not make much sense at first but hang with me. While useful as a starting point, you must know how the system works so you understand why the recommendation is what it is. Furthermore, it is the knowledge that allows us to make meaningful changes to make our formation succeed.
The information given to us by the circle is the following:
First of all, the defensive troops are the shootist.
Second, the circle tells us this: Cavalry Riflemen are strong against Sharpshooters, which are strong against Outlaw Shotguns, which are strong against Cavalry Scouts… The Scouts being strong against the rifleman, and the circle iterating again
While this circle may result useful for newer players, it comes off with some assumptions made right off the bat, and most importantly, it does not provide context on which situation one troop is strong against the other, or how should you really plan your marches effectively.
If you happen to know your enemy formation, you will be able to create one of your own to specifically counter his. But for that, we must first know our troops.
Let’s start with the Shootist. Please, take a careful look at the unit skills, and their description, at the right side of the picture. The stat number is not really that important, as stats are given to them based on their role. And if we disregard the skills, the numbers alone will not indicate us how to use this troop, or the other troops.
Okay, so what do the 3 skill description at the right side tell us?
First, that this troop counts with great defense and HP. This is simple and straightforward.
Second, that this unit has a chance to neutralize a portion of the received damage.
And third, but definitely not last, that this troop receives less damage from riflemen, marksmen, and gunners. Please take very careful note of the denomination. Marksmen include both sharpshooter and Snipers, and Gunners include both the Cannons and the Blasting cart, however, only the Cavalry Rifleman is mentioned here. Not the other Cavalry type. We will get to that soon enough.
We can interpret this information as the following: Basically, if we could recruit Rocky Balboa for our army, this would be it. This guy’s only purpose is to take damage and keep going.
One thing that is not explicitly told to us is how the in-game battle formation orders itself. I will detail how at the end of this article, after having given an overview to all troop types, but know this: As long as the front line, and this refers mostly to the Shootist, is present, the troops on the back of your line will NOT be damaged, except for special targetting.
Therefore, the Shootist takes an ESSENTIAL role in all of the formations, Other troops are NOT designed to take heavy damage, and they will fall pretty easily when targeted. Without Shootists, our damage-dealer troops will die before they can have an impact.
The second troop we will be reviewing today is the second Gunslinger type, the Outlaw Shotgun. Once again, be mindful of the troop skills, above all.
The Outlaw Shotgun is the Offensive Variant of the Gunslinger category.
He has a great Critical Rate.
He has a chance to attack all the troops with an attack range of 1. (This will also be explained at the end of the article since it has to do with how the formations work)
And finally, he has a bonus against Cavalry scouts.
Now we can move onto the cavalry. If you feel that some things are not still clear enough, once we discuss the formation system and discuss how each skill will act based on different circumstances, things should become more apparent.
The first thing we will point out is that both cavalry types have a skill that boosts marching speed. On paper, this is good; on the practice, is essentially a wasted skill.
The march moves at the speed of the slowest moving troop that it is contained within it, therefore, the higher march speed that cavalry possesses, is not applied at all, the only exception would be a march composed of 100% cavalry, however, that is not very viable at all, minus for maybe a player with extremely high stats attacking another with low ones.
Therefore, our cavalry has only 2 skills that come into play, versus other categories’ 3 skills. While this is a bit discouraging, cavalry still has its uses.
We will discuss the Cavalry Scout first. Same recommendations as before apply.
As we mentioned, the first skill is just march speed. And it is not ever used on a mixed march.
The Cavalry Scout second skill is “Charge”, he will target whoever is in first place on enemy formation, and the charge will deal significant damage. Now, the first place on enemy formation is always the shootist, under normal circumstances (I.e: Unless they simply are not present).
The third skill is bonus damage against the Shootist. So essentially, the Cavalry Scout its the hardest counter on the game, given that he has a total of 2 skills that target one troop. After Shootists are eliminated, the “Charge” skill will target whoever occupies to first place now.
Now as far as being the supposed counter to Cavalry riflemen, implied by the counter circle, there doesn’t seem to be any basis to support that claim.
I will be generous… if the Scout faces a march composed of only Shootists and Riflemen, he will, assuming relatively equal power levels, annihilate the Shootists and then the Riflemen. This is caused because, for the Riflemen, a grand total of 0 of their skills will come into play when facing Scouts.
However… When facing a mixed march, which is the most usual, the Scouts need to go through the Shootists, the Blasting Carts, The Outlaw Shotguns, AND the enemy’s Scouts before even having the chance of targeting the Riflemen.
It is not precisely what we would call a counter. In all circumstances, minus the one we have described above, this is simply rigorously false.
Now we move onto the Cavalry Rifleman. He is a very circumstantial troop. He seems to be the only solution to fix one of those particular circumstances. In all other cases, he will underperform. This is because of his skills.
Let’s get right into it. What makes the Rifleman so circumstantially good, and so mostly bad? — It’s simply his skills.
Same as the Scout, the first skill is basically null. We have 2 to work with.
The second skill, pre-emptive attack, when triggered, will target a random troop on the enemy formation, as long as this unit has an attack range greater than 1. This means, in simpler terms, he could target the enemy’s Rifleman, a Sharpshooter, a Sniper, or a Cannon.
Let’s dive deeper. Whenever you are able to, you should AVOID leaving anything to chance. This is the first problem with this skill.
If within the greater than 1 attack range category, you are facing big numbers of enemy sharpshooters, and ONLY sharpshooters, this is great. Because Sharpshooters must be taken down quickly. And this is the only case where you can target them directly. The problem lies when you face a mixed march composed again of mostly Sharpshooters, but with a few Snipers, Cannons, and Riflemen mixed in. You can no longer directly target the Sharpshooters. The snipers really aren’t a problem, unless you face a sniper specialist, nor are the riflemen, nor the cannons. It is the Sharpshooters, and now, the one good thing the rifleman can do, its taken away from him, simply because the march has mixed troops.
Not only that, but given the same triggering condition of this skill, if there are no troops present that posses an attack range greater than one. The trigger condition becomes invalid, and the skill becomes NULL. A rifleman’s ability to do something versus a march composed of Shootists, Outlaw Shotguns, and Scouts, its NULL. You can only use the regular attack, and that is simply a massacre against multiple damage skills targeting you.
Finally, the third skill is a bonus on resource plot skirmishes. This is marginally useful, and mostly another wasted skill.
Resource plot skirmishes are never major. Since the system automatically assigns the number of troops needed to complete the plot, and it will send the lower tier available, generally gunners due to having the highest carry load, you will simply barely find anything above 20k of low tier troops on a plot. If you happen to come across a full march, it is because whoever sent it there, conscientiously did so. Finally, you only wound troops on plot skirmishes. Even if you win, you are only temporally inconveniencing the enemy.
For all the reasons above, the Rifleman is a below-average troop. It is simply extremely circumstantial and has too many caveats associated with it to be good. You are much better off focusing on other damage dealers.
On most games, the shooters are the undisputed kings of damage. and this doesn’t seem to be the exception to the rule. without further adieu, I present to you: the Marksmen. First in order, is the Sharpshooter.
The first skill is simply attacking speed. I cannot comment much, as there is not much info available on that. Furthermore, based on the game’s own information, the troop who attacks first is the troop with the most range. Attack Speed is not even listed on troop stats.
The second skill, “combo”, more than makes up for the weird and possibly meaningless first skill. Data regarding exact damage % of all skills don’t seem to exist, however, I would be willing to take a guess, and say that double damage would be equal, or more, than whatever bonuses the other skills provide.
The third skill is bonus damage against Outlaw Shotguns. This is quite good indeed. The shotguns are one of the 3 most viable damage dealers. And having a direct counter to them its a massive advantage.
“It just works”.Todd Howard
There are more things that make the sharpshooters superior. One of them, it’s their location on the formation. They occupy the rear lines. In order to target them, the enemy needs to bypass your entire front and middle line. Or use Riflemen, which, as we discussed, falls onto a roll of luck against a proper, mixed march.
It should briefly be mentioned, that the Hero specialist for the Sharpshooters, allows them to deal a percentage of the damage to the second and third succeeding troops from the first line. So not only do they have a chance to attack twice, not only are they very hard to target, but they also can attack multiple troops, up to twice per turn.
Remember we will be discussing heroes in another article, but this is important, as its yet another massive advantage.
It is extremely hard to beat this. Besides being inconvenient. I would dare say, the best and most viable counter to Sharpshooters, is to beat them with stronger Sharpshooters of your own.
The Sniper is the second type of Marksman. It is a defensive troop, and like the Rifleman, it is circumstantial.
Sniper’s skills are very straightforward. The first one means he will be one of the troops with the highest attack range, and hence, one of the first to attack.
The second skill is a plain attack buff. Again, we do not possess details as to what the exact number of the buff is. I do not believe is as impactful as other buffs with conditions or triggers.
The third skill is what makes the Sniper circumstantial. It is another attack buff, in the case of a defensive battle.
Without the exact numbers, it is hard to determine whether the sniper would be better for defensive situations. We simply do not know if the attack buffs would beat, say, the Sharpshooters’ combo skill. Furthermore, the more conditions you need for something to work, the harder it is to be flexible with it. This would make the sniper a troop that is to be used only for defense, as you have better options for attack. And that is a disadvantage.
By now, we have reviewed the Gunslingers, the Cavalry, and the Marksmen. Our last stop is the Gunners.
One big drawback the Gunners have it is their moving speed. They are extremely slow. As we mentioned before, the problem with this is, your march speed will be set corresponding to the slower troops contained within the march. This means, including any amounts of gunners in your marches, will slow them down to their speed.
One of the positive sides to the Gunners is that they count with high carry capacity. They are good troops to gather with.
Gunners come in two types, the first one is the Blasting Cart:
Blasting cart’s first skill tells us this unit counts with an excellent carry load. This makes this unit exceptional for gathering. It’s a good habit to train enough t1 Carts to fill our marches and gather with those. Should our march be attacked, our t1 carts will be extremely cheap to heal. Should they die, it’s almost a no-loss, and, furthermore, attacks will discourage the enemy. There is nothing to gain from killing puny t1. As a last note, do dismiss the t1 Carts before the kill event, as you do not want those guys filling your hospitals. You can very easily re-train them after, to once again make up for your gathering force.
The second skill indicates us that this unit possesses increased HP and defense, or that the skill provides a boost to those; for practical effects, this is the same.
The third skill could be misrepresented, because of the unit description. The unit receives a defense buff when you are laying siege when you are being attacked, this is not the case.
The Blasting Cart is a defensive unit, like the shootist. He, however, is much slower, and also more situational. By now, you should know that the more situational a troop is, the harder it is to make good use of it.
Should you incorporate Blasting Carts at all? The answer to this is a long one, and yours truly will need to conduct further testing to give a definite answer. It’s not as simple because depending on your technology, unit talents, heroes, and the enemy composition, everything can change.
If I were to make a speed hit into an enemy castle, I would include a small amount of Blasting Carts. The more troops in our layer, the harder we make specific targeting. This amount of Blasting Carts is not meant at all, to substitute the Shootists, and I would utilize from a 5% to 10% for my besieging, accelerated march.
If the march is not going to be accelerated, you are better off NOT including any gunners, as they will add marching time, and you could end up facing nasty reinforcements. Furthermore, I would highly advise excluding any significant quantity of them on any, marches that are not a siege, since we will be wasting 1 skill, and we will end up with only 1 useful skill for those.
I encourage you to conduct your own testing and share your results with me and the community. Maybe, it’s more optimal to add the same amount we would of Blasting Carts, with more Shootists. Maybe, the inclusion of a small percentage, after all, does benefit our results.
At last. we have the Blasting Cart big cousin, the Cannon.
Much like the Blasting Cart, The Cannon also has a low marching speed, and the same considerations apply.
The first skill tells us that this troop counts with a great firing range. This means it has a big attack range. The biggest in the game; 10.
When a battle starts, its the unit with the biggest attack range that will attack first, therefore, whenever a cannon is present, we can be sure it’s them who will fire first.
The second skill tells us that this troop attack power is great, but is paired with low attack speed. This is fairly vague, and little conclusions can be made from it. For the simple fact that the combat takes place in turns, and every troop will attack once per turn, there is simply little I can deduct on this one. This remains unknown and yet to be clarified, for now.
Finally, the third skill refers again to buff on an offensive siege battle. we get increased attack if this is the case.
Should you use Cannons? Well, it is essentially the same case that for the Blasting Carts, just that on this time, we have offense instead of defense. I would probably add again a bit of cannons, say, again in the 5% to 10% of my march total, in the case of an accelerated siege march, mostly because including every tier and every layer is important; it makes targetting harder for our enemy, and can potentially waste their skills for a given combat turn.
Once again, I encourage you to do your own testing, and if you feel inclined, share it with me. Gunners are the hardest category to evaluate and successfully utilize. They tend to be generally ignored, their research and buffs replaced for buffs and research of other, more useable troops, their marching speed, and their circumstantial skills make it harder to adequately prescribe them to any given march, especially with the limited testing we so far have.
Understanding the troop formations and attack mechanics.
By now, you should be feeling a lot more confident about your own troops. We now know their Strengths, Weaknesses, and Restrictions. It’s time we now take time to learn how our troops order themselves in the battlefield, and how the battle takes place.
Firstly, we will note the combat is turn-based, each unit will take a turn, and then wait for the others to do the same. The turns will end once every unit has made its move. After that, a new turn will begin. The game explains: if both sides’ attack range is the same, then they will attack simultaneously, and damage will be calculated at the end of the round. I must assume by round they mean that particular instance of attack, as an attack being calculated at the end of the turn, makes no sense.
We also know that the troop with the highest attack range attacks first. The attack range for troops is as follows
Shootists: 1 | Outlaw Shotguns: 1.
Cavalry Scouts: 1 | Cavalry Riflemen: 4.
Sharpshooters : 5 | Snipers: 8.
Blasting Carts: 1 | Cannons: 10.
Therefore, On a battle with all troop types, the attack order would be Cannons, followed by Snipers, followed by Sharpshooters, followed by Cavalry Riflemen, Followed by all the rest.
Now, as far as how the troops order themselves in the battlefield, it goes as follows: all troops with an attack range of 1 kind of get grouped together. this is important to note given particular skills effects. They still retain a particular order, despite being grouped to the “attack range 1” group, and the order is as follows.
Shootist, Blasting Cart, Outlaw Shotgun, Cavalry Scout, Cavalry Riflemen, Sharpshooters, Snipers, and Cannons.
One of the most crucial details I can give you is the following: troops only attack the troop at the front of the formation. That troop must be eliminated before going forward. The only way to target anything else is by having a particular skill that offers differential targeting.
Specialization and putting it all together.
After having consumed all this information, the only thing we need to know is how to put it all together in an effective formation. We will discuss a basic, all-purpose formation since this article has gone for long enough already. But in the future we will dive into more specific formations we could create.
To do this, we will first we will define specialization, the concept of specialization refers to one type of troop we will devote all capacities to improve beyond the rest. Viable specializations will be Outlaw Shotguns, Cavalry Scouts, Cavalry Riflemen, and Sharpshooters.
You need to remember that the Outlaw Shoguns counter Cavalry Scouts, Sharpshooters counter Outlaw Shotguns, Scouts hit the Shootists and frontline troops hard, and the Cavalry Riflemen hit the rear lines, but have a lot of restrictions associated to that.
You will want to select a specialization, as you will be facing other people that will do the same. Slowly building everything up does not match well versus a player who has focused on one thing specifically.
To adequately specialize, we need good golden heroes that fit our specialization. This is depending on luck and time. Therefore, You can let your heroes dictate which path you choose first. Over time, you will have more available to your disposal, and even switching specializations will become possible.
It’s also possible to go with whichever you want, but with purple heroes, as we will get these fairly easy. This is viable too. You will just not be as powerful as the specialized guy with golden ones, but you will still pack a very serious punch.
If you would ask me to rate them, I would tell you that Sharpshooters is clearly the best one, second by both Cavalry Scouts and Outlaw Shotguns, and finally, the clear worst being the Cavalry Riflemen. Cavalry riflemen are simply are ineffective versus both Outlaw Shotguns and Cavalry Scouts, and your efficiency against Sharpshooters wildly varies depending on the composition you face.
And now we have chosen something viable that we will specialize in, it is time for the guidelines.
First of all, we will start with our defensive troops. We will use the Shootists. And we will use, No less than 30% of our total march capacity. Maybe we will go up to 40%. If we do not have Shootists, our troops will not be effective, as it is not their role to absorb the damage. And as we said, nothing without specific targeting goes through without eliminating the frontline.
We will exclude both Blasting Carts and Cannons, as they will make our march slower, and their effectiveness is questionable.
We will now include a small amount of every type of every troop minus the Gunners. This again is to complicate any specific targeting the enemy might have, as well as taking advantage of the turn system. Our small amount is simply going to go from small as 1, to as big as 500. Personally, I add 50 of every tier of all troops, to comply with this guideline.
We will not count this as a % because it is negligible. Simply, add these first, add the guidelines we are about to discuss, and let the final % of specialized troops take that small discount.
Now, we will take whichever troops that qualify as viable specialization, but that we did not specialize in, and we will add them from a 10 to 20 % of our total march composition.
As an example, let’s say I specialized in Cavalry Scouts, and my march capacity is 100k soldiers. This means I will add firstly from 30k to 40k of Shootists to my formation, After that, I will add 50 troops of all existing tiers minus the Gunner category. And after that, I will add a roughly equal mix of the ones I didn’t choose. For this example, it is Outlaw Shotguns, Cavalry rifleman, and Sharpshooters. That will come at about 3300 or 6600 in my 100k march of each to have them be roughly equal, it just depends whether I went with 10% or 20%
And finally, once I have all that, I will add my specialist troop, which can range all the way from 40% to 60 % of my formation. These guys will be responsible for doing the most damage to my enemy.
My final, general purpose march of 100k capacity looks like this now:
- 30k to 40k of Shootists.
- 3300k to 6600k of all other possible viable specializations.
- A total of ’50’ troops for all non-Gunner categories, starting from tier 1 and up to my highest available.
- Around 40k to 60k of my Cavalry Scouts: the troop I choose to specialize in.
This is not the best formations for all given cases, as context always plays a role, but I can tell you that it is a pretty effective one, especially for general purposes. It will give you the superior hand over pretty much anyone not familiarized with formations, and its combat effectiveness will still be adequate against everything that is both not a direct counter, nor a player who massively outpowers you.
Please, do try it. Let me know if this was of help, and give yourself a pat on the back if you are still with me because this one was a real odyssey to complete.
Next time the kill event comes around, make sure you pay a visit to your arch-nemesis. I am sure you will give something to think about.
And finally, as a closing note, soon we will have complimentary articles on heroes and kill event preparation, so make sure to come to visit and say hi.