Basics of Command

The purpose of the Basics of Command lesson is to learn how to lead a group as a Commander in preparing to graduate from the Order of the Rose Training Program.

For Teachers

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Basics of Command

There are Four Parts of an Army. They fill distinct roles in a battle, but are not all in every battle. By knowing the different roles, you can assign your units to play those roles that may help achieve their full potential and claim victory for your team. The roles are as follows:

  • Commander
  • Linesmen
  • Cavalry Unit
  • Harrier


A commander is the head of your army. They are responsible for leading and directing the entire team’s effort in winning the scenario. As a commander, you need to know what is going on at all times and be prepared to give clear orders to your teammates. A commander should be tactical and open minded. Able to change and make decisions quickly. They are also the key to good team morale and should always be supportive and positive with those they are leading.


The Linesmen will make up the bulk of your army. They are the front line soldiers who must work together against another line of fencers. They should have excellent communication and be team players. They will be directed by the Commander.

Cavalry Unit

A Cavalry Unit is a small team of fencers, usually between 3-5, who are designed to be a roaming unit. They have no one specific place on the battlefield, but will always be in motion under the direction of the Commander. They are useful to reinforce a weakening line or can add a temporary advantage by adding their numbers to another part of your army. They are also used to accomplish specific objectives in a scenario or taking out key opponents.


A Harrier is typically an individual unit in your army. They are tasked with threatening, distracting, and create havoc for the opposing team. They get behind enemy lines and draw opposing fencers away from your main force. They should be tactical and capable of surviving on their own.

How to Plan a Tactic

There really is no one formula on how to plan a tactic. Your ability to plan a successful tactic will mostly come from trial & error and experience. There are things though that you should consider in the planning process.

What is the overall objective?

Scenarios are goal oriented. Whether it’s just to kill the other team or make it to a specific point, consider what you’re trying to do. This will help narrow your options and keep you focused on the task at hand. Do not confuse secondary objects with primary objectives.

Who is on your team?

Be familiar with your teammates and try to assess what everyone is good at. Knowing who does well offensively or defensively can help you place them in your plan somewhere where they will feel important and helpful. As well, know who may need some help or a buddy and plan accordingly.

You are a team.

It’s going to be a team effort and no one person can achieve victory. Make sure your plan involves everyone in a useful and important way, so that you can all work together to come out victorious. No one should feel like they are just a number or a pointless member of the team.

Communication, Communication, Communication

One of the most forgotten, but crucial tactics is basic communication. No matter what is going on in the scenario, if you are the commander or not, you should be communicating what is around you to your teammates. This principle allows everyone to stay on the same page.

Some people worry that by declaring our plans and actions, the other team will see it coming and know what to do. That doesn’t matter. The other team should be communicating as well, but they have their own problems to deal with. Overall, the team that communicates better is most likely to win.

Squad Break Down

We’ve talked about the army overall, but all armies are made up of squads. These are small groups of maybe 2-3 people that work together within the army. Each squad will have a leader that will help direct the efforts of the other members. How do you decide who is in charge of the squad? Our saying goes that if you don’t know who is in charge, you are. Make sure you know who is in the squad and that you communicate your plans.

Teacher Resources


Explain the each of the following parts of the army and how they fit into the army as a whole. Include the following principles of being a Commander and what it means to lead a team.

  • Basics Parts of an Army
    • Commander
    • Linesmen
    • Cavalry Unit
    • Harrier
  • How to Plan a Tactic
    • What is the overall objective?
    • Who is on your team?
    • You are a team
  • Communication
  • Squad Break Down


Demonstrate each of the parts of the army with assisting Swordsmen, and describe how you would formulate a tactic in a basic melee.


After demonstrating, have the students plan through a hypothetical scenario to help them understand the techniques. Utilize the following drill to practice:

Basics of Command Drill

Working as a team, have the students assign roles to each other and plan a simple tactic for a basic woods battle. When they have formulated a plan move on to the Enable phase.


At this stage, each Novice should be able to understand the Basics of Command on their own and have a plan to implement in an upcoming scenario. Run through the following challenge before finishing:

Basics of Command Challenge (Put The Plan into Action)

Working as a group, the students should have a planned tactic to be implemented in an upcoming scenario. With the help of several students, run the scenario and allow the students to use their tactic. In the event that they fail, review their tactic and help them make adjustments before trying again.

Journal Prompt

Which part of the army do you feel you do best in? What can you do to improve in all of the basic parts of the army and planning tactics?

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed the Basics of Command lesson and have completed the Novice lessons! Let’s move on to the Novice Review & Test Match to request a Test Match with the Captain before graduating as a Swordsman.

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