Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
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Dual_CoRed
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Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Post by Dual_CoRed » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:48 am

Hello all. Looking forward to playing FOG 2 and as usual I'm going to start with Rome. I love learning about warfare during antiquity and have a subscription to Ancient Warfare magazine that I can't recommend enough. One of my theories on why the Romans were so effective was what I believe to be decentralized control. I believe the main generals gave their Centurians and officers of the individual cohorts freedom on the battlefield to flank, attack, fall back etc, giving the army flexibility that phalanx centered armies did not have. So I can see where a dynamic checkerboard type formation could be viable on the battlefield. However, I don't see what a checkerboard formation will do for Rome in FOG 2. Sending my Hastati forward to charge the enemy in one long line while my Principes and Triarii hold back seem like a good way to get the Hastati flanked. Also I am not familiar with where the checkerboard formation idea came from. What source? Thx for any answers on this.

Searry
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Re: Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Post by Searry » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:15 pm

The source is Polybios.

JaM2013
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Re: Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Post by JaM2013 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:19 pm

quincunx formation was a marching formation, there is no direct source about Roman Legion fighting in it too.. Typically, Romans deployed their legions in two or three lines of heavy infantry (not four, as common in FoGII deployments pictures btw). In combat, Hastati would form the line facing the enemy, engage them actively, then, fall back behind Principes, who would step forward and replace Hastati.. So while combat line would be most likely continuous, without gaps, second and third line would be still positioned with gaps, so any retreating units could easily get behind.

Trippe line was standard in early republic, while double line was being more popular during second Punic war, where Scipio Africanus commonly used very different deployment than typically expected, very often completely confusing his Carthaginian opponents (in one battle he placed his legions on flanks, and Iberian allies in center, enveloping Carthaginians)

After Reforms and introduction of Cohorts, Romans commonly used triple line again, yet this time, four Cohorts were in first line, three cohorts in second line, and another three in third. This is what Caesar used in his battles, sometimes using third line Cohorts as special reserve.

But most importantly, Romans would never deploy with four lines, three lines was the the maximum, giving commanders good depth and frontage. In case enemy was more numerous and could envelop the Romans, they would deploy in two lines. At the same time, Romans would not mix auxilia units with legionaries. Auxilia/Socii cohorts would fight together.

for example, here is Pharsalus deployment of both sides:

Image
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Dual_CoRed
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Re: Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Post by Dual_CoRed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:28 am

Wow Jam that's some great info thx. It makes more sense to me that the hastati would fight in one continuous line. The second line having gaps so the hastati could fall back makes sense.

JaM2013
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Re: Why the Roman "checkerboard" formation?

Post by JaM2013 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:11 pm

there is an excellent source of information on Roman combat tactics on this old page:

http://romanarmy.info/site_map.html


enjoy
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