Soldiers outside of an army cannot attack or defend at any time during the game. They can only incur damage when attacked, but they can never initiate or deal out damage. They also cannot move on their own outside of an army. The only way to eliminate opposing units or heroes by brute force is through the Battle Hero Action. This Hero Action is conducted by heroes with their armies. For the Battle Hero Action, you will be using the confessor dice. On the confessor dice, the Battle symbol (the pike) determines how many units in the opposing army will be destroyed in an attack. The Defense symbol (the shield) determines how many opposing attacks that you block.
It costs 1 Hero Action for your hero to perform a battle. To do so, you must be adjacent (not diagonal) to a territory with an opposing army in it. You must also have at least 1 soldier marker on your army mat. The hero marker only represents your hero and so you are not able to attack unless you have at least 1 soldier marker on your mat. However, if your hero is attacked, he is able to defend even if he has no soldiers in his army. This is representative of the local population responding under the leadership of the hero to defend their territory.
Performing the attack is simple. Roll 1 confessor die and count up the number of pikes. The same is true when your army gets bonuses for having the Battle 2 (2 confessor dice when attacking), Battle 3 (3 dice), or Battle 4 (4 dice) ability. If you have 3 pikes, you have hit the opposing army 3 times. If you roll 2 pikes, you have hit them 2 times. 1 pike, and yes you guessed it, you have hit the opposing army 1 time. The opposing army also will get to roll 1 confessor die. For every shield that is rolled, the defending army blocks 1 attack. If 2 shields are rolled, the defending army has blocked 2 attacks. Now all that remains is to do the math. If the attacker rolls 2 pikes and the defender rolls 1 shield, the defending army must remove 1 unit (soldier or hero marker). If the attacker rolls 3 pikes and the defender rolls none, then the defending army must remove 3 units. If there are no soldier markers left in your army or in the territory you are defending, you are forced to remove your hero marker and that hero’s army is destroyed. Remove it from play. There are no second chances, no reprieves, and no way to get that hero back. This is why each move that you make needs to be thought out carefully. The attacker can also incur damage. If the defending army rolls 2 shields and the attacking army rolls zero pikes (a cross or shield side), then the attacking army must remove 2 units (soldier or hero markers) from your army. When attacking, you may not remove a unit from the territory you are attacking from if you incur a loss. The soldier unit marker in the territory that an army is attacking from is not involved in the battle. Battle 1, Battle 2, Battle 3, and Battle 4 techniques do not give you any extra dice when defending, only attacking. Only the matchlock technology technique allows you to roll 2 dice when defending. Do not forget to factor in techniques when battling.
Take note that the Battle ability is conducted independently of the Move ability. Only 1 army can be on 1 territory at a time. No army can move into another territory until that territory has been cleared of all opposing units or armies. After conducting all actions with 1 hero, then perform the same Hero Actions (Move, Build, Recruit, Publish, Battle) with each of your other heroes. Again, you may perform these hero actions in any order you choose as long as that hero has sufficient hero action points to perform them.