Stack

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TBFGK 42.jpg

Proposed Canon

A stack is set of units from allied sides that is formed to create a combat advantage.

Bonuses

Each unit in a stack can receive bonuses from other units in the stack, such as, but not limited to leadership, spell and artifact bonuses. As units are added to a stack they add to a stack bonus which maxes out at 8 units and starts to diminish after that. WoT-11.2F20.2F2014_post_1 Mounts and riders both count as units for stack bonuses but with them the bonus starts diminishing only after 8 of either of them, so that a stack of 4 mounted dwagons has full stack bonus, as also does a stack of 8 mounted dwagons.WoT-11.2F20.2F2014_post_2 A stack bonus should not be confused with hex bonuses that apply to all units within a hex. The advantage may be for attack or defense, although it is known that you can stack for stealth purposes as well. LIAB Text 50

The maximum stack bonus can be no greater than +6, as shown on LIAB Prologue 12: Ansom grants +10 to the units in his stack, Wanda grants +8 to Decrypted units in the same stack, and the lowest base combat rating in the entire column is 6, totaling 24. The lowest attack in the stack after bonuses is a 30, leaving at most 6 points to come from being in an 8-unit stack.

Size

Stacks have a maximum size that depends on how powerful the units in the stack are: weak, low classed units can form larger stacks than strong, high classed units.

Warlords often lead a maximum bonus stack (8 units or 4-8 mounts + 4-8 riders) to maximize their own bonuses when they are fighting in a small battle or when they try to cut through enemy lines to croak the enemy leadership. In larger battles warlords often gather as large a stack as possible to give their leadership bonus to as many units as they can and stay out of the actual fighting themselves.WoT-11.2F20.2F2014_post_2

Other

An unled stack must attack if an enemy comes within range. A led stack can choose whether or not to attack by the command of the leadership unit in the stack.

Stacks can Screen for threats to protect a valuable unit in their stack.

Speculation

Hexes seem to have a maximum number of units or stacks that can exist within them. Columns seem to form because there are too many units to fit within a single Hex.

The three-hex Column that retook Warchalking for Gobwin Knob contained twelve stacks LIAB Prologue 12, so the limit may be four or five allied stacks per hex.

It could also be that it was simply more efficient for the stacks to be separated, as their move stat was so different that, rather than slow down the fastest units to have them all arrive at the same time.

For a long time it was unknown why everyone didn't just form massive superstacks to maximize bonuses; even if the stack bonus maxes at eight units, it seems that stack-wide bonuses, such as Leadership, should be spread to as many units as possible (this strategy is touched upon in TBFGK 113). It is now known, per Word of the Titans, that stack bonuses degrade after a stack surpases the size of 8, down to 0 for a sufficently sized stack. Furthermore the Stack bonus is constant for an encounter, so that losing a unit in a stack does not lead to a lose in stack bonus during the encounter it is slain.

Oversized stacks can, and have been, utilized at times, as in TBFGK 113 where significantly oversized stacks of bats were led. In these cases the warlord chose to sacrifice the stack bonus entirely to provide his warlord bonus to every unit in his stack. For example, presume a warlord is leading a stack who provides a leadership bonus equal to the max stack bonus. If this warlord were to choose to lead an oversized stack of 16 units the stack would gain roughly the same bonus as would an 8 stack lead by the same warlord, since the original 8 stack would lose their stack bonus, but the 8 additional units in the stack now gain a leadership bonus equal to the lost stack bonus, resulting in the same total bonus spread across the stack. If the warlord lead a stack of more then 16 units his units would gain a larger net bonus then a standard 8 stack. Warlords with higher leadership scores, or other bonus such as an artifact bonus, would benefit more from oversized stacks as their larger bonus would quickly outpace the lose stack bonus.

This could explain why Stanley, who possess a large natural leadership bonus, a significant artificial bonus, and possible a second ruler bonus, has twice led what appeared to be a single oversized stack of dwagons against foes in combat, instead of multiple smaller dragon stacks, as his unusually large bonus is best used to boost a oversized stack.

Oversized stacks appear to be utilized rarely in the comic, despite the potential to yield larger net bonuses to a stack with high leadership. Other then the mentioned TBFGK 113, which has been confirmed to be employing oversized stacks, the only other instances of oversized stacks appear to be dwagons lead by Stanley, though it is not possible to confirm whether the dwagons were an oversized stack or multiple stacks flying together.

Rob has provided two reasons for the limited use of oversized stacks. First, that stacks have a maximum size, limiting the number of units that gain benefit from leadership bonuses in an oversized stack, with the bats used by Transylvito having a unique ability to fit more units in stacks allowing for them to be particularly effective for oversized stacks.

Second, If a warlord chooses to lead an oversized stack he loses the stack bonus he would have gained, which makes his personal stats lower, even if his stack has a larger net bonus. This makes the warlord vulnerable, and more likely to be croaked in combat. In the short term this means that it will be easier for enemies to target him to remove his leadership bonus from his stack. Furthermore, leveling warlords is highly valued, with sides unlikely to wish to risk their prized warlords croaking in combat for a short term bonus. The value of protecting the high value unit so it can be used in later engagements is worth more than increased bonuses in the current fight.

Other theorized reasons for limited use of oversized stacks include:

Sides preferring to have enough warlords to lead every stack without an excess of unled units that could be added to a max stack, so that they can gain full benefit of both leadership and stack bonus.
Oversized stacks being excessively vulnerable to attempts to focused attacks on the Leader, since an oversized stack that loses it's leader possesses no remaining bonus, leaving a significant number of units excessively vulnerable, while traditional stacks maintain their full stack bonus after a leader is killed, allowing some combat effectiveness after the leader is lost.
Perhaps most warlords lack sufficent bonuses to make oversized stacks viable. As a leadership bonus decreases, the number of units in a stack required to compensate for the lost stack bonus grows. Since stacks have a max size limit, lower leadership warlords may never reach a point where they provide sufficient bonus to compensate for lost stack bonus. While most warlords we know the stats of have higher leadership, they are generally exceptionally high level units and not representative of the average warlord's bonus.
Perhaps the reason that Chief Warlords of a side, units that generally provide sufficient bonuses to make oversized stacks viable, rarely do so, is because they are providing important hex and side wide bonuses as well. This provides far more benefit in a major battle than a single oversized stack could. Thus, they stick to regular stacks to ensure they gain the stack bonus to their defense to help them survive anticipated attacks by enemies trying to remove their Chief Warlord bonus.


Perhaps some enemy attacks or spells can affect an entire (single) stack (e.g. the Van de Graaf attack).

Assuming Stanley took a max-stack to flee Gobwin Knob here Erf-b1-p077Same-site.PNG, the size for a max stack appears to be no less than 25 units:

  • 24 x (Group B) dwagons (assuming they all lived, minus the three killed by Ansom) +
  • 1 x Stanley's Red dwagon +
  • An unknown number of reserve dwagons.
  • While some Dwagons had riders these riders do not count towards the max stack size since they were mounted and the number of mounts is greater then the number of non-mounts.

An unled stack must attack if an enemy comes within range. A led stack can choose whether or not to attack by the command of the leadership unit in the stack.

32 is a likely maximum size for a stack, as it is a multiple of 8, the number at which stack bonuses stop increasing.