Mount & Blade: Theory v. Practice

I’m the one with the beard and no roundel on top

A few weeks ago, I picked up Mount and Blade:Warband – Napoleonic Wars, developed by Ankara-based Taleworlds and designers of the original mod Mount & Musket. The expansion is a multiplayer mod based in the battlefields of 19th-century Europe. The the most common unit on the field carries inaccurate smoothbore muskets that take up to 15 seconds to load per shot. The game also includes cavalry, skirmishers with rifled flintlocks, and artillery.

The game features an assortment of modes, including Duel, which allows two players to challenge each other in one-on-one combat, Commander Battle, giving each player a formation of  bots to command on the battlefield, and Battle mode, which allows up to 250 players to fight with only one life for each player.

I was most fascinated by the teamwork and cooperation that Battle mode requires for success in the battlefield. Because it the musket is so inaccurate and takes long to load, “Going Rambo” is simply not an option in a battle. This is markedly different from most modern first-person shooter games, which expect competition and individual accomplishment from players.

The same week that I bought Napoleonic Wars, I joined the 1st Reddit Brigade (the equivalent of a clan in other games) due to the ease of joining. Under the Brigade, there were a few regiments. I chose the Grizzly 95th because their battles are accompanied with the music of Frank Sinatra or Louis Armstrong over Teamspeak, matching my love for music. My name in the regiment is Sharky.

This past Friday, I participated in a line battle as a cannon loader. I had practiced cannon with the regiment on Wednesday, so was familiar with the game’s mechanics with cannon. The steps are as follows

  1. Pick up a round from the box
  2. Load the round into the cannon
  3. Use the ramrod to push the round into the bore,
  4. Push the cannon into firing position (This can be done by either the gunner or loader)

I formulated a theory for loading .My theory was follow Step 1 and hold the round in my hands for Step 2, immediatly after the cannon fires. My theory was supposed to make loading much quicker. So how did it turn out?

I’m Sharky, The low, raspy voice with a green roundel.

If a player falls in battle, they drop whatever was in their hands for any other player to pick up. Keeping my ramrod out was important, since we are an opportunity target for the enemy. If the ramrod disappears, my team loses an important step in loading cannons.  In the first few battles, including the battle recorded above.  I neglected to die with a ramrod in my hand, instead holding the next shot, as my theory dictated. I eventually learned that I have to keep my ramrod equipped and wait until the cannon fires before Step 1. I may also do Step 1 and switch back to ramrod until Step 2 – let’s see how this theory works out.

I learned a great lesson from this game about theory running against the reality of the field(or the reality of the game, as it were); Practice often includes new factors, like being the main target for enemy cannon and cavalry. The new factors in turn require a new theory. I look forward to new lessons Napoleonic Wars might teach me.

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