Welcome Back, Variants! Following last week’s blast of a post about artillery and indirect fire, I’d like to talk about Box Barrages today. A box barrage is a form of artillery fire that falls around a specific part of the battlefield, with the aim of preventing escape or reinforcement of that area.
For a Box Barrage, a commander selects a section of the battle where an offensive is to take place, and artillery falls on the three sides that the attack does not come from. Usually, this was also preceded by a direct barrage in the area targeted for attack, before the big guns shifted to the box to support the attack. This was most commonly used during World War I to assist in breakthroughs in the trenches on the Western Front. The biggest drawback of this type of barrage, or any barrage really, is the enemy knows roughly where the attack will come from and can plan accordingly. This could involve troops inside the barrage going to the ground and preparing positions, or rushing reinforcements to the edge of the barrage and waiting to counterattack.
Now, as we discussed last time, there isn’t really a stand-in for artillery in most TTRPG’s, but a rough substitute in your standard fantasy setting can be arrow fire or siege weapons. While not nearly as destructive, it can achieve the goal of preventing easy reinforcement of the position under assault. Some spells in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition can be used on the TTRPG battlefield as a miniature version of this, notably the Wall Spells. Spells like Wall of Fire, Water, and Force can be set up around a specific target or area to isolate them for the party to gain local superiority over the enemies.
So if your party is getting ready for a big fight, keep this tactic in mind. Remember, the key to victory is to fight smarter, not harder.