This page is designed to assist officers and soldiers alike when practicing drills. As this will impact roleplay heavily, we suggest you read it.
- Wedge (The Wedge): This formation was often used by the Romans to penetrate through enemy ranks and formations. Soldiers would form a forwards echelon/arrow head shape (like: ^ ) and in cohesion with other units, drive into the enemy ranks. This will reduce the space that the enemy has to fight in and thus, render longer swords and other long weapons (such as spears, pikes, slashing swords) ineffective in combat. This gives the Roman legionnary a distinct advantage, as their equipment is made for close quarters combat. The large rectangular like scutum (shield) serves a good protection from enemy weapons, as well as making it hard for the enemy to predict where the legionnary will attack (you can choose to do a low thrust or a higher one). The gladius (Roman short-sword) is designed for stabbing and slashing, excelling at close quarters.
- Skirmish Formation: Arguably one of the most important formations in the handbook of a Roman general, the formation consisted of soldiers spreading out to create more space between the ranks and files (columns), allowing for greater mobility and flexibility to adjust into any formation necessary. This is unlike the regular Roman battle formation where soldiers fight in dense packed squares/rectangles. This formation may also be used as a general formation when advancing towards an enemy as the spacing makes it harder for enemy missiles to hit their mark. However, care must be taken so that troops immediately assume another formation when attacked by cavalry or enemy infantry because this formation makes soldiers susceptible to charges, which isolates soldiers (meaning that they are now easier targets than if they had been in a tighter formation).
- Orbis (The Orb): One of the most notable formations used when a group of soldiers are cut off and surrounded by the main body of the legion. The formation When the order for "Orbis" is called, soldiers will form a defensive circle with all sides facing out, shields locked tightly. In the centre of the circle will be the higher ranking officers (For example, if is only a cohort present, the Centurion, standard-bearers -including the Cornicularius-, Optio, and Medicus Ordinarius go in the centre of the formation) and the Signiferii (standard-bearers).
- Testudo (Turtoise - Both Offensive and Defensive): One of the most famous formations known to the modern western world, Testudo involved soldiers forming up into a tight, dense square or rectangle, with the front rank locking shields in front of them and the ranks behind the first raising their shields to protect themselves and their comrades from projectiles (such as javelins, pila, arrows, or rocks from slings) coming from above. Contrary to popular belief, Testudo was not used in open field battles unless the legions were facing a missile-heavy (an army that has many archers, slingers, or javelinmen/peltasts) enemy army or were besieging a settlement. Care must be taken when using this formation in combat for the sides are still exposed and flanking manouevers are more effective on units in Testudo formation. Testudo must only be used where absoultely necessary, for it leaves the soldiers vulnerable to any flanking/surounding manouevers.
- Repel Cavalry: As the name suggests, this formation was used to repel enemy cavalry. To achieve the formation, the first rank will get down on one knee and lock shields, with only their pila (javelins - some pila were for stabbing as medium length spears) sticking out between the shields, to present an effective wall of spears to the enemy cavalry. Spears and javelins are extremely effective against cavalry and can easily repel enemy cavalry if used correctly in tight formation. Horses are also intelligent enough to sense that running into a wall of sharp spears is not a good idea and thus, will halt right before the formation. The second and third ranks (if there is a third or more), will use their pila to stab at the halted/immobile horses.
- Shift: Due to the unique structure of the legionnary cohort, men are able to "shift" positions, effectively providing a relief system for soldiers. When the order for shift sounds, the front row will move to the right, moving back through the space between the columns of men in the formation and to the back of the line. This way, a seemingly fresh line of soldiers can be presented to the enemy while the enemy soldiers wear themselves out on the Roman battlelines. Effective in close quarters combat.
The following are formations used to organize soldiers into battle ready formations. The following terms must be known in order to comprehend these formations:
Column/File: A single straight line consisting of soldiers lining up in single file, one behind the next.
Rank: Essentially, a straight, horizontal line consisting of soldiers in a single row.
- Single Rank: A straightforward, basic formation. Soldiers will get into a single horizontal row with soldiers in line according to rank (On the right shall be found the higher ranking soldiers and to the left, the lower ranking soldiers). The Signiferii (Standard bearers) do not stand in rank and instead, form another rank behind the first one.
- Double Rank: A straightforward, basic formation. Soldiers will get into two horizontal rows, one row behind the next. Signiferii are to make their own row.
- Triple Rank: The smallest formation in terms of how deep (how long) a formation must be to hold the line (2 is not the best, three men deep is recommended). In this, three rows are formed. The Signiferii will always have their own row.
- Single File: Also straightforward. Soldiers get into a single line, each soldier behind the next. The Centurion should always be at the front (if it is only a cohort performing this), followed by the Signiferii in order of rank and then the rest of the soldiers. (Double files, triple files and etc are the same, except there is more than one column. The Centurion should always be at the front, while the Signiferii may choose which column to be in.
- [Legion Formation] Marching formation All Cohorts are expected to form single file (or howevever many files the Praetor/Legatus Legionis wishes), with the Praetor, the Legatus Legionis, and the rest of the Duces Legionis on horseback (including the Aquilifer). In battle however, the Medicus Ordinarius will be at the rear, assisting in treating the wounded, while the Aquilifer will be on foot, with the Eagle at the frontlines.