elephants

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kevinj
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Re: elephants

Post by kevinj » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:36 pm

philqw78 wrote:A Roman also wrote that elephants were scared of mice, the first known reference to elephant musophobia.
Presumably that would be Skilled Swordsmice wearing something like this:

http://www.beautifullife.info/art-works ... f-de-boer/

zoltan
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Re: elephants

Post by zoltan » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:24 pm

philqw78 wrote:A Roman also wrote that elephants were scared of mice, the first known reference to elephant musophobia.
Silly me, I thought the Roman was referring to the elephants' discomfort at the sound made by the clarion players, especially the third chap from the left who seemed awfully out of tune.

ValentinianVictor
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Re: elephants

Post by ValentinianVictor » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:54 pm

Did'nt the Sasanids find their Elephants of little use against the Romans, to the extent at one battle they placed them in the third line?

philqw78
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Re: elephants

Post by philqw78 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:40 am

zoltan wrote:
philqw78 wrote:A Roman also wrote that elephants were scared of mice, the first known reference to elephant musophobia.
Silly me, I thought the Roman was referring to the elephants' discomfort at the sound made by the clarion players, especially the third chap from the left who seemed awfully out of tune.
No, definately the singing mice, hence musophobia
phil
putting the arg into argumentative

ShrubMiK
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Re: elephants

Post by ShrubMiK » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:27 pm

ValentinianVictor wrote:Did'nt the Sasanids find their Elephants of little use against the Romans, to the extent at one battle they placed them in the third line?
This is something that has puzzled me greatly...it seems elephants were very scary for a very limited (in the context of the full timeframe covered by the most popular "ancients" rulesets), but then suddenyl were not prticularly scary. I've no idea whether it was aconfidence thng, techniques were learend to nullify them, elephants got smaller, or just too few in number to have an impact.

And yes before somebody comes in with the "completely different Asian experience of elphants" line yes I know, Iam talking about the Western experience here...and it seems a valid puzzle in its own right.

Besides even in Asia elephants may have been in active use for longer, but were they really scary for all of that time against the more sophisticated opponents? did Chinese armies fight them? Or use them?

I'd love to see some analysis from somebody who knows their Nellie stuff...

And back on the actual topic, it seems hard to represent elephants effectively in a long period ruleset, they are almost bound to be overpowered in some eras and underpowered in others. You might be able to address some of this by having them different qualities depending on who and when the army is, and only fight contemporary opponents, but maybe that would break something else.

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Re: elephants

Post by marty » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:46 pm

And back on the actual topic, it seems hard to represent elephants effectively in a long period ruleset, they are almost bound to be overpowered in some eras and underpowered in others
FOG avoided this issue by having them underpowered in all periods. :P

Martin

Strategos69
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Re: elephants

Post by Strategos69 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:23 pm

Actually there are two issues here (and again, only in the Western experience), as ShrubMiK pointed out. The first one is their spectacular impact in some moments, specially when they were first introduced. The second one is how they were used and if rulesets really represent that.

For the first question actually it is totally right and can only be covered with special rules. If you play historical match ups, some peoples should have some negative modifiers for some years when fighting enemies with elephants for the first time and those should disappear after they got experienced with them. It is quite clear with the Roman experience and how they suffered and feared them when they were brought by Pyrhrus and how they were neutralized relatively easiily in Second Punic War. In fact, Hannibal elephants made an impact when they were used as those levies were not used to them, but in the future they were not as useful. Indeed, for example, there is a record of Gauls fleeing when they first saw Carthaginian elephants when Hannibal was crossing the Alps. Thus, you would need for every list when there is terror to elephants and when not, with special effects for those instances.

For the second question, I think that there is a standard that sets that elephants worked closely with heavy infantry, which in my opinion is not something we can read in Ancient battles. Except for Magnesia, in other battles elephants were deployed either in front or behind the heavy foot battle line. The problems that most rulesets have with elephants are twofold. The first one is that they could be deployed in a thinned line and mixed with light infantry. This means that they could work in more packed formations, as they did to counter cavalry in Ipsos, or more spread. Carthaginians, for example, are given up to six bases width. This is not enough to cover the whole front in Zama. The four bases of Hellenistic armies do not let you recreate the historical deployment with a screen of elephants (indeed, who would do that given the rules). Thus you don't have enough bases of them to have a deployment that looks like the ones you can read in Ancient sources. This means that finally, if used, they are put inside the battle line, which is quite unhistorical. The second problem is that rarely you can see their random behavior. They could win the battle themselves (Bagradas, battle of the elephants) or carry the defeat of their own side (Magnesia). If you only have two bases that don't flee randomly, their risk can be calculated and minimized. Indeed, as they cannot give you the victory by any means, you are not put into the decision of taking the risk or not. They are just not good enougn and worth the points.

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Re: elephants

Post by ethan » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:14 pm

This still leaves the issue of covering Eastern/Indian warfare in which huge numbers of elephants were used. A quick look at the army lists and we can see the Ghaznavids "noted for their use of elephants" with numbers in the 1,300 to 1,600 range being given. Clearly they are being use en masse here and the Ghaznavids were a pretty successful army...

Basically I think Hazelbark's suggestion is the real fix. You create two different ways you can have elephants.

1. As an "attachment" to other units, mostly LF/MF that give them a bit of a bonus and some resilience against mounted especially. This is mostly a Western use.

2. As a massed unit. This covers the general Eastern use of elephants and some Western use.

Trying to stretch one definition across these two uses is difficult.

zoltan
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Re: elephants

Post by zoltan » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:28 pm

Yeah, I'm still finding that my 14 elephant Khmer/Cham army is neither fish nor fowel. The 2 base BGs are still brittle and tend to explode and this is not compensated for by 3 dice at impact.

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Re: elephants

Post by marty » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:39 pm

Hopefully once the V2 dust has settled a bit and the possibility of points changes are been looked at elephants will come down enough to make them a more reasonable option.

I have also tried them with the changes and I think they are now a reasonable representation of massed elephant formations but dont consider them worth anywhere near 25 points.

Martin

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Re: elephants

Post by hazelbark » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:06 pm

I think it depends on the army. As i posted before 50 points in a Dailami army is a cheap BG. So they are worth it.

I think I have come to the conclusion that massed elephants need to accompany manuverable troops like Maurayans.

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Re: elephants

Post by zoltan » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:24 pm

hazelbark wrote:I think it depends on the army. As i posted before 50 points in a Dailami army is a cheap BG. So they are worth it.

I think I have come to the conclusion that massed elephants need to accompany manuverable troops like Maurayans.
And armed with a little more than a wet bus ticket.... :cry:

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Re: elephants

Post by citizen6 » Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:14 pm

----- It is quite clear with the Roman experience and how they suffered and feared them when they were brought by Pyrhrus and how they were neutralized relatively easiily in Second Punic War. ------

I'm not having have a go at Strategos (it's just that this quote illustrates a particular point). I don't think there is much similarity between these two events and this, to me, is most of the issue with ancient rule sets and how they deal with elephants. That is, the rulesets deal with elephants too uniformly.

Pyrrhus - elephants were new to the Romans, were Indian, and were well trained.
Carthage II - elephants were not new, were African and were more than likely not trained (or not well trained at best)

Elephants, generally, were highly trained (so probably should be Drilled) but given the time constraints that Hannibal had in the lead up to Zama it is unlikely that those he had access to were well trained (at least this is what the sources suggest). There is marked difference in size and strength between African and Indian elephants - which is not covered in the rules. They are seen as equal, while both biology (and simple observation) and the source material tell us otherwise.

I also don't buy that elephants were only useful upon first encounter. Certainly, they may not have had the shock value but they would have still been a challenge to deal with. Ammianus Marc. mentions how much trouble the Romans had with Indian elephants in the 4th century (and they having been trained in the classics and in military strategy would have almost certainly been aware of the "tricks" for dealing with elephants). Also if elephants were only a one trick pony why were they used in combat from Alexander through to well after the invention of gunpowder. No, I think they were useful but like all weapons of war - there is a time and a place.

The Romans continued to use them after Zama but the general decline in Roman usage, to me, is more a reflection of the lack of access to Indian elephants (because of the Parthians) and the lower effectiveness of the African elephant in combat. Hannibal in Gaul is often quoted as evidence that Africans were effective but they were novel to the Gauls and a significant number of the "Africans" were in fact, Indians (a gift from the Ptolemies). Given the mass differential and the correlation between mass and survival in the cold (it could be argued that these were the dominant survivors of the Alps trek - but that's quite conjectural).

To me, elephants should disrupt HI (only) on impact and have a good charge bonus against all but LI. After that they should be fairly even with HI and MI but should have a random rout direction that disrupts and causes casualties (though not many) in any HI/MI/Cav unit that they move through. The sources suggest that even when bested, it was uncommon for elephants to be killed in battle, so unit death should also not be common with random routing being the most likely outcome.

Now while that may be more historical I realise it may not be balanced for "gaming". But quite a bit of the offset could be managed with a cost adjustment.

Just my 2p worth

Cheers

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Re: elephants

Post by Strategos69 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:38 pm

I agree with your points, citizen 6. In fact I think that most (or almost all) Ancient wargaming rulesets do not deal quite well with elephants. I proposed something in the lines you are saying a while ago in this same forum, but given the results, that was not much successful. Instead of dying elephants had to roll for a random route with both of their bases, making it more likely to hit other troops as explained in the sources.

What I was referring to earlier was that elephants had more success in Trebia than in later battles (Metaurus, the battles in Spain). For most of Italians there, Trebia was also their first experience with elephants, as it was Bagradas plain for another generation of Romans and Heraklea before that. Indeed it is true that trained and untrained elephants should be treated differently. The difference in size of African and Asian elephants and their ability to fight it is also pointed out by the sources.

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