Scruffy battles . . .

Byzantine Productions Pike and Shot is a deep strategy game set during the bloody conflict of the Thirty Years War.

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stockwellpete
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Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:02 am

Most of my battles end up with units all over the place with there being no discernible army lines. Do other people have this happen or is it because I am fairly hopeless at this game?

I think the main reason is the way rout and pursuit is handled in the game. Take a simple example, two ECW Royalist cavalry attack two ECW Parliamentarian horse - the units are side by side and in contact with each other, then one of the Parliamentarian horse routs and the triumphant Royalist horse pursues leaving the other two units to continue the melee. I think this is probably wrong because although combat resolution is decided individually really what we have here is one larger cavalry melee involving four units. So I think the victorious cavalry unit should certainly occupy the square of the defeated unit but then it should melee against the other Parliamentarian horse unit, and not go charging off in pursuit.

Now if you look at a more complex engagement involving infantry in the centre where you might have 5 or 6 pike blocks on each side coming together in probably the most important melee of the battle, at the moment you can have a situation where 3 units of each side are victorious and they end up pursuing through the enemy line so they then have to turn round again to continue the fight. That seems daft to me. It is worse if you have great big lumbering keils in the battle line because they can only be stopped by other keils in most cases. Surely once the units become locked together it should be resolved as if it was one bigger melee? If this were to happen then I am sure the battles would be less "scruffy" and much more realistic.
Last edited by stockwellpete on Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by t341 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 4:22 pm

same with me, also have problems with the caracole, units should be retreating after firing their weapons

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by TheGrayMouser » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:32 pm

stockwellpete wrote:Most of my battles end up with units all over the place with there being no discernible army lines. Do other people have this happen or is it because I am fairly hopeless at this game?

I think the main reason is the way rout and pursuit is handled in the game. Take a simple example, two ECW Royalist cavalry attack two ECW Parliamentarian horse - the units are side by side and in contact with each other, then one of the Parliamentarian horse routs and the triumphant Royalist horse pursues leaving the other two units to continue the melee. I think this is probably wrong because although combat resolution is decided individually really what we have here is one larger cavalry melee involving four units. So I think the victorious cavalry unit should certainly occupy the square of the defeated unit but then it should melee against the other Parliamentarian horse unit, and not go charging off in pursuit.
There are presumed to be gaps between units side by side.... Even so, I cant think of any other game, be it PC or board game that treats adjacent units in the matter you speak of (one giant melee), although in your ECW example, maybe there should be a lessor chance the victorious unit gives chase... Having rules fro battle lines and wings etc would be nice but likely out of the ability of the engine and rules.

Probably the best ways to keep order is to play slow and steady, keep reserves and multiple "lines" Don't pile units into melee to get the guaranteed kill etc.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:07 am

TheGrayMouser wrote:There are presumed to be gaps between units side by side....
Hmm . . . I am not sure why that would be, TGM. Once the various regiments or mounted contingents came together to melee then they would have got all mixed up surely (particularly cavalry) so I think there is a case for treating these situations as one larger melee once contact is made. The game does make a nod in this direction when a routed unit can cause cohesion drops for adjacent friendly units.
Even so, I cant think of any other game, be it PC or board game that treats adjacent units in the matter you speak of (one giant melee), although in your ECW example, maybe there should be a lessor chance the victorious unit gives chase... Having rules fro battle lines and wings etc would be nice but likely out of the ability of the engine and rules.
Perhaps other games don't do this but it is always interesting to speculate how a game might be done a bit differently. In this case, what if the victorious unit in a melee would, first of all, move into the square of the defeated unit, and if it was then adjacent to another enemy unit (or units) it would have to engage one of them? Either the AI could decide which new enemy unit was attacked or the player could decide this on their next turn. If there was no other adjacent enemy unit then the victorious unit would pursue the defeated enemy unit. I think that might be within the scope of the engine (what do I know?) and that would stop larger melees breaking up and would reduce the number of situations where adjacent victorious enemy units end up behind each other and then have to turn round to continue the melee.
Probably the best ways to keep order is to play slow and steady, keep reserves and multiple "lines" Don't pile units into melee to get the guaranteed kill etc.
Yes, there is certainly a benefit in deploying in depth with your army. With the ECW armies I tend to use the chequerboard formation - for the Parliamentarians I often pick 12 pike units and deploy them 5-4-3 with the veterans in the centre of the second line and the raw pikes in the third line. Then I will have a couple of cavalry units behind the raw pikes to cover any breakthroughs.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:46 am

I think I might be mistaken here because I have just played a solo game Swedes v Catholics (30YW) and the units behaved in exactly the way I suggested in the post above. They didn't go pursuing defeated units out of larger melees - sometimes they attacked another unit straight away, sometimes they just occupied the square of the defeated unit. I didn't have any two v two cavalry melees to check what happens there. Anyway, the battle had a definite shape to it throughout, which was good. So it must just be in Italian War battles with the tercios, which ignore ZOC's (I think they do in most situations anyway), where this very atomised battlefield develops. I'll have to do some more solo games to see.

One thing I did notice that struck me as a little odd in the Swedes v Catholic solo game was that the two infantry lines approached each other on the diagonal (because of terrain features) and I was able to move a Swedish unit between two adjacent Catholic units to disperse the artillery behind them. Really, there wouldn't be a gap there for a whole pike block to penetrate, would there?

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by ianiow » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:13 am

Pete, I remember reading somewhere that certain units are more prone to pursuit than others. Determined foot/cavalry, Gendarmes, Cavaliers and Warriors?

I have also noticed the permeability of a diagonal line! Twice now I have witnessed a seemingly solid line of defensive ghosted though by my opponents cavalry. A second diagonal line behind it I assume is the cure.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:55 am

ianiow wrote:Pete, I remember reading somewhere that certain units are more prone to pursuit than others. Determined foot/cavalry, Gendarmes, Cavaliers and Warriors?
Yes, definitely Cavaliers and gendarmes according to the rulebook. I am a little bit confused by the rules, to be honest. They say, " . . . if pursuers meet fresh enemy in an adjacent map square that is within 45 degrees of straight ahead, they will charge them if they have enough move left and they (the AI) fancy their chances." So, if you have a melee with 3 pike blocks in a line facing 3 enemy pike blocks and the middle block of pikes of one side is routed, then the victorious pike block will pursue and occupy the vacated square. And because the two enemy pike blocks that are now on either side of the victorious unit are not within 45 degrees, it is possible that the victorious unit could continue to pursue the defeated unit. Have I got that right? Furthermore, if the melee consisted of ECW cavalry instead, say, then the victorious Cavalier unit in the centre would be even more likely to pursue the defeated enemy unit? If I have understood this correctly then that is what I think is a bit problematic. I don't think units should be pursuing defeated enemy units out of a melee while adjacent (whatever the angle) to an enemy unit.
I have also noticed the permeability of a diagonal line! Twice now I have witnessed a seemingly solid line of defensive ghosted though by my opponents cavalry. A second diagonal line behind it I assume is the cure.
Yes, this is something else I feel a bit uncertain about. The other thing is you can fire between friendly units in a diagonal line as well. I think I would prefer it if you couldn't really.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by Doyley50 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:27 pm

"Furthermore, if the melee consisted of ECW cavalry instead, say, then the victorious Cavalier unit in the centre would be even more likely to pursue the defeated enemy unit? If I have understood this correctly then that is what I think is a bit problematic. I don't think units should be pursuing defeated enemy units out of a melee while adjacent (whatever the angle) to an enemy unit."

Royalist horse were, certainly in the earlier stages of the ECWs, likely to thrash their opponents. While they might have been superior cavalry their great failing was to go charging after the enemy they had just defeated come what may without regard to events outside their immediate vicinity.... only to return later to find that in the meantime the battle had been lost.....Cromwell eventually managed to create Roundhead horse which were on a par with the Cavaliers, but who didn't go charging after their defeated enemy but regrouped ready to return to the main battle. So it would seem to me to be historically correct behaviour for Cavaliers.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:39 pm

Doyley50 wrote:Royalist horse were, certainly in the earlier stages of the ECWs, likely to thrash their opponents. While they might have been superior cavalry their great failing was to go charging after the enemy they had just defeated come what may without regard to events outside their immediate vicinity.... only to return later to find that in the meantime the battle had been lost.....Cromwell eventually managed to create Roundhead horse which were on a par with the Cavaliers, but who didn't go charging after their defeated enemy but regrouped ready to return to the main battle. So it would seem to me to be historically correct behaviour for Cavaliers.
Yes, I am not challenging their propensity to pursue (e.g. Rupert at Edgehill 1642), it is more that they should not pursue while the larger melee of which they were a part is still continuing. It is really a question of timing here. To continue the example of 3 v 3 where one Parliamentarian horse has routed, the three Cavalier horse units would, most likely, make short work of the remaining two Parliamentarian horse units and it is then that the pursuit should take place.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by TheGrayMouser » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:45 pm

I knw the diagonal line thing has come up before but the effects in the game boil down to this one rule:
*only the ONE grid directly in front of any unit exerts a ZOC

A diagonal line is permeable as:
*the game design does assume gaps between units
*if one accepts a units "center" is in the center of a grid, the distance between a unit diagonal from another is 50% greater than if they are orthogonally adjacent(and you will notice movement AP costs are 50% greater as well 4 vs 6 AP's in a clear grid), thus any assumed gap between units is an even larger assumed gap!

*if this was not part of the game rules then basically 10 units would be able to cover the frontage of 15 units if they deployed on a diagonal which would be cheesy.

As ianiow points out, a second "line" (really just one unit) directly between yet behind two units diagonally adjacent shuts off penetration. It might SEEM like your getting ripped off on frontage as we are so used to hexes, but your really not.
Takes some getting used to for sure but I think that is works out logically and realistically, even if it looks odd.

I think units that count as kiels ignore ZOC's from anything but a fellow kiel


**to get a better appreciation of the above, play in top down mode to "see the gaps"!

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:15 pm

Thanks, TGM. The length of a diagonal across the interior of a square is greater than the length of the sides of the square so that makes sense now. Visually, it just looks as if there should be no gap. :wink:

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:42 am

Just one point here for Richard - I posted this question earlier in the thread,

"The (rules) say, " . . . if pursuers meet fresh enemy in an adjacent map square that is within 45 degrees of straight ahead, they will charge them if they have enough move left and they (the AI) fancy their chances."

So, if you have a melee with 3 pike blocks in a line facing 3 enemy pike blocks and the middle block of pikes of one side is routed, then the victorious pike block will pursue and occupy the vacated square. And because the two enemy pike blocks that are now on either side of the victorious unit are not within 45 degrees, it is quite likely that the victorious unit will continue to pursue the defeated unit and move out of the larger melee altogether.

Having played some more solo games, I am pretty sure that this is what happens regularly now and I think it does contribute to making many battles "scruffy". If instead, the victorious pike unit was to occupy the vacated square and then, if it was adjacent to another (unrouted) enemy unit, it either stopped or the AI allocated it a new melee opponent then that would be better.

Melees would hold together more and the instances of atomised battles with isolated units fighting each other all over the place would be reduced.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by jomni » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:01 am

If the pusuing unit did stop because two enemy units are beside it.
What will you do with that unit? Will you wheel 90 degrees left or right to engage the enemy and expose your flank to the second line in the process? Or move it forward so that it clears the action to find more targets in the enemy second line?

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:18 am

jomni wrote:If the pursuing unit did stop because two enemy units are beside it.
What will you do with that unit? Will you wheel 90 degrees left or right to engage the enemy and expose your flank to the second line in the process? Or move it forward so that it clears the action to find more targets in the enemy second line?
Well, you could turn the unit 45 degrees and engage (or the AI could decide that for you). To be honest, I am not finding that many situations where the "second line" would become a factor (as in a chequerboard formation) because usually opponents are putting all their infantry units into a line to maximise firepower before the charges and melees begin.

The alternative possibility is to say that the victorious unit does not advance into the vacated square, if it still has enemy units in adjacent squares, but turns immediately to engage another enemy unit (again this could be decided by the AI).

I am not saying that I am right here, but I am just wondering about the realism of "victorious" units pursuing "routed" enemy units out of a larger melee that is still continuing around them.

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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by rbodleyscott » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:02 pm

stockwellpete wrote:I am not saying that I am right here, but I am just wondering about the realism of "victorious" units pursuing "routed" enemy units out of a larger melee that is still continuing around them.
I would say that this concern is less valid than it would be in other more linear periods of warfare. Pike and shot units really did form their own separate bodies. The whole point of the pike and shot combo was that each battalion was self-supporting.

Even if side-by-side units were touching (and you can see from contemporary battle paintings that they usually weren't) really the melee part of the unit is the central pike block, and there were certainly major gaps between one pike block and the next, especially as the proportion of shot in the units increased. Viewing multiple units in combat in a line as one big melee is almost certainly wrong for this particular period.

So the question really is, having gone to push of pike with their immediate opponents and put them to flight, how much awareness would the pike block have of their neighbouring pike blocks some distance away, and how easy would it be counter their natural human tendency to want to finish off their defeated opponents? (Which after all is much more fun, and seemingly less risky, than starting another fight with a new enemy unit.)
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Re: Scruffy battles . . .

Post by stockwellpete » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:47 pm

rbodleyscott wrote: I would say that this concern is less valid than it would be in other more linear periods of warfare. Pike and shot units really did form their own separate bodies. The whole point of the pike and shot combo was that each battalion was self-supporting.

Even if side-by-side units were touching (and you can see from contemporary battle paintings that they usually weren't) really the melee part of the unit is the central pike block, and there were certainly major gaps between one pike block and the next, especially as the proportion of shot in the units increased. Viewing multiple units in combat in a line as one big melee is almost certainly wrong for this particular period.
Yes, I accept your argument here with regards to infantry formations, although I am not so confident that it would apply to cavalry troops which would almost certainly intermingle much more in melee.
So the question really is, having gone to push of pike with their immediate opponents and put them to flight, how much awareness would the pike block have of their neighbouring pike blocks some distance away, and how easy would it be counter their natural human tendency to want to finish off their defeated opponents? (Which after all is much more fun, and seemingly less risky, than starting another fight with a new enemy unit.)
When I was referring to "the larger melee" in my earlier post I really meant it in terms of the three separate melees that tended to constitute the early modern battle, the two cavalry confrontations on the flanks and the infantry face-off in the centre. In my readings of the ECW I am certainly coming across battles (and skirmishes) that are very complex and confusing (i.e. scruffy") - and they include examples where cavalry are routed and pursued for miles, or where triumphant cavalry stay on the battlefield and help their infantry gain a victory, but I have yet to come across a battle where one part of an infantry force successfully pursues the enemy while the other part is routed (so effectively they are both behind the other's starting position). Usually one side or other pushes the other back until the rout begins; occasionally defeated infantry are able to withdraw in good order. I would be interested to know of historical examples that might disprove what I am suggesting.

The other point is that in these "scruffy" battles, the armies become so atomised that there are no longer discernible army lines. At the start, armies would often be painstakingly deployed and at the centre of the position would be the army commander, often much of the artillery, the reserve, the stores and supply wagons, and maybe even the camp, so the centre was very important and needed to be defended. To lose the centre would be an absolute catastrophe. But in P+S the opposite is true. It doesn't really matter if your centre is overrun because there is only likely to be artillery there (perhaps) and then that might only cost you 3% or so in losses. So even if you do lose your centre the units of your increasingly dispersed army can go into "commando mode" and still win you a victory. That doesn't strike me as being particularly credible from a historical point of view.

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