Ghost Dads Line Battle Etiquette Guide!

by seanbeansshako

Brooks Cracktackle AKA Ghost Dad posted:

Massive fucking wall of text incoming

What is this bullshit?
This is a guide to all the line battle crap you should be prepared to know how to do. We’ll be trying to organize some more practice sessions to help people learn stuff, and to help us get good at doing it.

But why should I give a shit?
Line battles are actually fairly organized events, and the punishment for not playing by the rules is that you don’t get to play anymore. The rules aren’t even very hard to adhere to, and the experience of participating in one of these events is actually pretty amazing. It might seem like a lame idea at first, but once that first cannonball whizzes past your head and pastes three guys standing next to you, the atmosphere really takes hold and it becomes something special.

Ok, but why should I read this?
The better we are at drills, the better we will perform in line battles. For example, if we get our movements tighter, we spend less time fixing our lines, so you spend more time shooting at nerds. Also, it looks pretty badass, and it’s not even that hard to get good at it. This is also useful stuff to know in case you ever need to take command, because you never know when the entire chain of command will be beheaded by a cannonball!

Stuff you should do right now goddammit:
-Rebind freelook to something easily accessible: I use Q, and rebound crouch to ctrl.
-Bind walk to something easily accessible. It will come in handy during some more complicated maneuvers.

Stuff to do when you are in formation:
-Take note of the names of the people on all sides of you. This will be help you keep track of where you should be in the line.
-If you are in a rear rank and there is a space in front of you, move forward to fill it.
-If there is a space to your right, move over to fill it. This is called “dressing.” If you are told to dress the line, fill space in the direction specified, and move yourself to help straighten out the line. If no direction was specified, assume you’re dressing to the right.
-Grow a mustache
-Standards and musicians stay to the rear of the formation, in no specific location.
-Speak up if you see cav that is literally about to charge us and nobody else has commented on it
-Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women

Stuff NOT to do when you are in formation:
-Face the wrong way
-Random shooting
-Pretty much anything you haven’t been explicitly told to do
-Scream like a motherfucker if you see cav about to charge us and nobody else has commented on it
-Wig out in the face of adversity like a weak-minded redditor

Most commands will come in two parts: a preparatory phrase to let you know what command will be coming, and an executive phrase which tells you to actually do the action. An example is when we are getting ready to stop moving: you will typically get the order ‘prepare to halt’ prior to being told to ‘halt.’

Forming up

Forming up is typically done by simply being told to form some number of lines in front of the commanding officer. Just find a spot in the line, and if we’re in multiple ranks, keep them all the same size.

You may also be given a more ad-hoc order to form up, such as ‘form two ranks on my left’ in which case you should locate the person giving the command and form ranks. This often happens when we need to rapidly reposition.

Stationary drill

This basically boils down to facings. If you are told to face a direction, immediately turn to face that direction. Typical directions you will be given are left, right, and about/right-about. ‘About face’ and ‘right-about face’ are interchangeable to anyone who doesn’t feel like hardcore sperging out. There is a concept of facing the ‘front’ of the unit, but it’s highly dependent on spatial awareness in a way that I don’t think it will work in vidyagame land. So don’t worry about that one.

Other things you can be told to do:
-Kneel, by rank: There are very specific situations in which we are allowed to crouch in a line battle, so don’t crouch unless you get an order to do it. An example of this order would be ‘front rank, kneel.’ The command to stand back up again is ‘spring up.’


Currently, we march at the standard running speed. This might change, but it’s unlikely to do so, so let’s call the standard run speed ‘ordinary.’ Thus, if you get told to march ‘at the ordinary,’ this just means you are going to run balls out. The only other marching speed we have is the ‘walk’ speed, which you can either use your zoom button for, or bind separately. We will call using this ‘stepping short.’ We can use this to rebuild our formations while still marching, since you can run to where you need to be in the formation and then start stepping short to hold that position relative to the rest of the unit. This will be useful for any time we start to get spread out.
The correct preparatory for marching is ‘company/section/platoon/squad will advance.’ ‘Prepare to march’ is ok too.
The phrase ‘at the ordinary, march’ is simply the period version of ‘forward, march.’ The command to stop marching is simply ‘halt.’

Marching by files, or in column

This is the common method of movement you see in line battles, mostly because it is easy to do. It has some severe disadvantages, but it works most of the time.

On the command to march, follow the guy in front of you. Do not pass him unless he really seriously fucks up or drops or something. If in multiple ranks, also avoid getting ahead of the guy next to you. This is typically really basic follow-the-leader type stuff. There is one really important thing to remember, though: when we’re in multiple ranks, we can easily get fucked up whenever we make a turn, since we all move at roughly the same speed. The outside person on a turn will fall behind a bit. To compensate for this, the person on the inside of the turn needs to slow down slightly during the turn, and make sure they let the person next to them catch up. When the unit makes a turn, DO NOT cut the corner. follow the PATH of the person in front of you, not the person himself. Cutting corners leads to the formation breaking down, which means we spend a lot of time unfucking it at the other end of our maneuver.

When you are given the order to halt, keep running until you reach your intended spot in the line. If you were marching in front, you must stop on the halt order and wait for the rest of the unit to catch up. Nobody should change their facing on the halt unless they were otherwise told to, you should remain facing the same direction you were marching.

Marching in line

This is the period correct method of movement in battle, but it doesn’t translate easily to vidyagame land due to a number of factors, perhaps the largest of which is lag. So, with some slight modifications, we do the best we can.

The commands to start and stop marching are unchanged from file marching. On the word ‘march,’ the rightmost file of the line will start running straight forward. As soon as you see the person to your right (or if you are in the rear rank, the person in front of you) start moving, that is your cue to start moving too. Do not pass the person on your right, do not pass your file partner if you are in the rear rank. When this is done properly, we move in a slightly diagonal line. Like in file marching, when you are told to halt, move yourself into the correct position in the line.

You may also be given an instruction to move a specific number of paces. In this case, simply watch your character’s animation to get a rough count of when you should stop, and dress yourself when you reach that point, or if you see most of the line stopping.

Center Wheels

This is an extremely powerful maneuver that allows us to turn our line to face another direction while avoiding much of the clusterfuck that ensues when we disperse and have to reform. The general idea is that the entire line rotates around a pivot point in the middle of the line, like a wheel about a hub.
The full command to commence wheeling is ‘company, on your center, right/left wheel, march.’ The direction given in the command is the direction the wheel will turn. We will also try and give a heads-up as to how far you will be turning, but if you didn’t get one, just start wheeling until you’re told to stop.

How it works: Since we’re pivoting on the center of the unit, half of the unit will actually be moving backwards to compensate for the other half moving forwards. Pay attention to where you stand in the unit so that you know which way you have to move before the wheel happens. Like when we turn while marching in file, people closer to the pivot point will need to slow down so that the people on the outside edges don’t get left behind. Dressing in a wheel is difficult: use third person view to see the people next to you, and try to stay in line with them. If gaps start forming in the line, move toward the pivot point to fill them. In essence, you are dressing on the center of the unit instead of one of the ends. When the halt command is given, quickly straighten the line out.

On a left center wheel, the left half of the line moves backwards, while the right half moves forwards. On a right center wheel, the right half of the line moves backwards, while the left half moves forwards. Remember to try as hard as you can to keep yourself in the right spot.

Other shit we could potentially do:
Left/Right/About wheels: like center wheels but the pivot point is the end of the line. This is less useful than center wheels in combat, though.
Shoulders-forward: like wheels, but on the march. These are of dubious value unless we get good at staying cohesive while marching in line.
Marching obliques: This is simply marching on a diagonal. Like shoulders-forward, of dubious value outside of line marching.

The Fun Bits


Generally, if the target we’re trying to murder isn’t completely obvious, the commanding officers will try their best to tell you where you should be shooting. If you get told to fire on an oblique, pick the juiciest target in that direction. Remember, muskets aren’t accurate by any stretch of the imagination, so try and get as many bodies into your reticle as you can to maximize your chances of a hit. And please for the love of god don’t shoot your buddies in the back of the head.

Volley fire: This is the basic way of shooting as a unit. We throw a whole shitload of lead at whatever is currently unfortunate enough to be in front of us. The command to take aim (level your musket) is ‘present!’ The command to fire is, surprisingly, ‘fire!’ If you were late to the fire command, or if you didn’t know who to shoot at, don’t just pop off randomly, you’ll fuck up your own reload timing and probably get caught moving around with an unloaded weapon. Just wait for the next volley. If you haven’t been told otherwise, assume we are doing volley fire, and that you should immediately begin reloading after firing, but hold your fire when you finish loading.

Independent fire: AKA fire-at-will, pick your targets and fire at your pleasure. Stop doing so immediately when you are told to ‘cease-fire,’ resist the temptation to sneak in one more shot since when you get stopped in the middle of shooting it’s usually because we need to get the hell out of Dodge and you probably want to be bombed up when we do.

Fire-by-file: A rolling fire, which effectively turns the unit into a gigantic machine gun made out of meat. It can be initiated from either the left or the right, but typically will start on the right. On the command ‘from the right/left, commence firing,’ the starting file will present and fire, and then begin reloading. When they finish their reload, they should wait a couple of seconds and then present and fire again. If you aren’t the starting file, you are watching to your left or right (depending on which side the fire started) for the person next to you to fire. When the person next to you fires (that is, the musket goes bang) present and fire. Don’t even start leveling your musket until the guy next to you fires. If you do, you fuck up the timing for the whole line. After you fire, reload and again wait for the guy next to you to fire. This whole sequence repeats until a ‘cease-fire’ is given, at which point you should immediately stop shooting.

Fire-by-rank: Any fire method can be given to a specific rank. For example, the front rank could be ordered to fire a volley, and then the rear rank could be ordered to volley separately. This allows a rolling fire similar to fire-by-file, but more dangerous at closer range. Different ranks can also be given different firing orders, although it is unlikely to occur outside of strange circumstances. This is most useful in 3 ranks.

An important note about multiple ranks:
When we have multiple ranks, we run into the issue of having dudes in front of dudes who are trying to shoot. This can quickly lead to disaster. To avoid said disaster, follow these simple steps:
When you are in the rearmost rank, on the command ‘present,’ take a half-step to your right. You should be aiming between the two guys in front of you, which is distinctly different to aiming at the back of the head of the dude in front of you.
When you are in the frontmost rank, and we are in THREE ranks, (and ONLY when we are in three ranks), on the command ‘present’ you will also crouch. Remain crouched until you are told to stand again.
Sometimes when we are in two ranks, the front rank will be instructed to kneel. This is not the same as above. In three ranks, there is literally no way for the front rank to avoid getting buddyfucked by the rear rank, so they have to crouch.


When you get told to charge, try to keep some sort of formation for as long as you can: it will give you a distinct advantage when you and 3 of your goon buddies run into 1 dirty frenchman who came running forward for glory. Other than that, just try as hard as you possibly can to not die, and try even harder than that to not kill friendlies. Keep fighting and killing until you are told otherwise. If you get told to disengage or stop chasing, do so as soon as possible.

I’m garbage at melee, but if someone wants to write up some sort of guide to get stuck here, be my guest.

Closing comments

Just use your goddamn head, when you get told to do something, do it to the best of your ability. Remember that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, so be prepared to participate in some improv.