Date: January 17, 2001
Targeting is the art of making each of your shots as valuable as possible. A enemy who could absorb a lot of randomly placed damage can often be neutralized with a few properly placed shots. This is a guide to help you determine the best targets. Much of this information has been borrowed from Duke Kein McEwan's papers on armored melee fighting.
Targeting includes two parts. First, there is the selection of which enemy personnel to try to take out first. Second there is the selection of which body part to target on a particular individual. In either case these three overriding principals always apply:
Go for the safe shot -- You must stay alive to win.
Go for the easy shot -- A hit that only slows the enemy down is better than a miss that would have won the battle.
Take the free shot -- If your enemy is in a position that he cannot respond to your attacks, go after him vigorously (assuming you can do so legally and safely).
In melee it is common for the excitement to cause opponents to fail to notice when we hit them. Keep your temper under control and realize your opponent probably just did not notice. Don't start hitting hard; instead plan to hit an opponent 2 or 3 times in a row to make sure they are dead. If you really feel the fighter has a problem noticing your shots or that he is intentionally ignoring them, you should speak with him after the battle. If it is not actually important enough to you to go talk to that fighter, it is certainly not important enough to bring before the marshals and you have no business badmouthing him.
Simply stated, eliminate command and control first, effective troops second and general troops third. This lets your kills have the greatest impact on the enemy's ability to function. A more detailed list in order or the most important target first looks like this:
Effective gunners or archers
Effective mobile troops (such as flanker or cavalry)
Troops with special weaponry, such as long epees.
Ineffective gunners or archers
Defenders on the enemy's flanks
Ineffective mobile troops -- i.e. Those who are running a lot, but not fighting much.
Ineffective commanders -- especially if they are bad enough to confuse their own troops.
Legged fighters by themselves or in groups of legged fighters -- preferably with long weapons from outside their range.
Anyone standing next to his legged buddy waiting for someone to come fight them.
To address one special situation: I will point out that if an enemy cavalry unit is busy running and circling, much of their mission is to distract you. So long as they stay out of range, ignore them and crush their fellows. If they approach, try to delay them with a small skirmishing unit. Only react when they become a real threat. Once the main body is gone, their cavalry has little chance.
Always remember, an ok kill you actually get is better than a great kill you miss.
In an ideal world we would take head shots every time, but the reality of combat makes our actual choices different. Here are the choices:
HEAD, NECK or BODY
Finally, remember that in melee the most sure shot is always the guy who is ignoring you to concentrate on someone else. Aviod making that mistake yourself, but always be on the lookout for such easy pickings on the enemy side.