Late Roman infantry bows

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:37 pm

TheGrayMouser wrote:
MVP7 wrote:There are certainly ways to work around it but my main issue is that the Legio units in the game end up being a easily ignorable toothless defensive units, the very thing that the bows should be preventing it from becoming. They suffer from the very weakness that the bows are specifically supposed to mitigate.

They wouldn't need to be killers with the bows or even do enough damage to consistently cause cohesion loss with concentrated fire. They just really need to be able to do a little bit of damage so that enemies can't just stand right in front of them for several turns with complete impunity and force the player to throw away even the defensive bonus that the now otherwise pointless bows provide.
They have the same POA versus attacking shock cavalry ( lancers) as do earlier impact foot legions which is ZERO... And they are better defending versus lancers... I dont think they need ahistorical fire power to go chasing down lancers..

As for the AI getting stuck in front of them, thats a differnt problem. Havnt run into that yet ( I usually enjoy playing the nomands vs the AI)
I don't see how using the bows that they have in the very situations the bows were meant for would be ahistorical. They don't need bows to chase down lancers, they need bows so they don't have to chase down lancers. I'd think that the very reason bowmen were integrated into the legion formations was to give them more tools to deal with light infantry and cavalry, the unit types pure heavy infantry have historically had most trouble (actively) dealing with.

I have played six battles (out of seven) in a campaign between the Rome and Bosporans. So far not even once (not counting two flank charges) has a Legio unit been charged by any enemy and it's not a matter of them having better targets to charge at. Every battle so far has consisted of enemy lancers standing right in front of the Legios doing nothing, forcing me to slowly surround the cavalry and other units with my infantry which is completely upside-down dynamic. This means that while the new Romans are in theory good at defense, especially against cavalry, in practice they are just an expensive but lackluster offensive heavy foot unit. Their defensive capabilities are irrelevant when the AI has no need or reason to attack them under any circumstances and having some ranged capability would create that need and reason.

There's both historical and gameplay reasons to give the units with 20% bows ranged attacks even if it's not their forte. The bows were there for a reason but since they are essentially a non-factor as it is, the units suffer from all the tactical pitfalls of defensive heavy infantry that the bows were there to mitigate. Giving the units some weak ranged attack would not make them overpowered in the game, it would just give them little something to compensate for the overall loss of offensive capabilities compared to the older doctrine and make their dynamic more historical.

SnuggleBunnies
Major - 8.8 cm FlaK 36
Major - 8.8 cm FlaK 36
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:09 am

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:02 pm

They are cheaper than the earlier infantry for the same poa on defense. So smaller numbers of them can hold the center while the cavalry and ranged do the attacking, which seems appropriate for the period. Also, the ranged attack of 90 archers would do basically nothing before running out of ammunition.

Perhaps the unit should just be listed as darts, light spear, swordsmen.

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:18 pm

Separating the integrated bows entirely would make more sense than having a unit with bows that can't use them.

Imagine a situation where 480 Legio Palatina, 96 of them being bowmen, are standing in a defensive position. A group of 120 horse archers ride within established javelin throwing distance of the unit and start shooting at them. What possible reason could those 96 bowmen have for not shooting at the enemy which is well withing bow-range, how could they be unable to cause even some casualties to the horse archers.

Why would the Romans have integrated bows into the infantry units in the first place if they had nothing significant to offer in comparison to javelins and darts.

Odenathus
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 285
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:02 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by Odenathus » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:24 pm

I've wondered about 'integral' bowmen who can't shoot. Is it Appian who has them in his ideal formation, but shooting overhead? I can't see how letting such a unit have limited firepower would spoil the overall system.

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:38 pm

I would imagine the original reasoning for not giving them ranged attack is that the attack would have insignificant role in the overall combat capabilities of the unit so having the bows merely as a defensive modifier would be enough. It might be a good compromise in some larger scale tabletop game where number of men is not modeled in 1:1 scale but in FoG2 even those few kills would count without it being too large effect.

edb1815
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 297
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:28 pm
Location: Delaware, USA

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by edb1815 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:45 pm

MVP7 wrote:I would imagine the original reasoning for not giving them ranged attack is that the attack would have insignificant role in the overall combat capabilities of the unit so having the bows merely as a defensive modifier would be enough. It might be a good compromise in some larger scale tabletop game where number of men is not modeled in 1:1 scale but in FoG2 even those few kills would count without it being too large effect.
I think you are right the scaling of the TT system is a big part of it. I am sure Nik or RBS could give a definitive answer here. I have late Roman miniatures and used them for TT FOG and other systems. Usually if you are molding combat at a lower level down to 1:1 skirmish even, you do see ranged fire for the rear ranks of bowmen. I have seen several rules sets use this method for the rear rank bowmen - late Romans, Byzantines, Sassanids, etc. At that point you are usually rolling a dice for each bow shot as well.

rbodleyscott
Field of Glory 2
Field of Glory 2
Posts: 22348
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:25 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by rbodleyscott » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:40 pm

It was a design decision not to effectively force players to execute lots and lots of shooting orders for minimal effect. Some people might like that sort of micromanagement thing, many don't. But if it was allowed, those that don't like it would be losing out overall if they didn't do it.

Having made that decision, the game is balanced accordingly, so we have no plans to change it.
Richard Bodley Scott

Image

rbodleyscott
Field of Glory 2
Field of Glory 2
Posts: 22348
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:25 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by rbodleyscott » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:44 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:Perhaps the unit should just be listed as darts, light spear, swordsmen.
Then some people would complain that is wasn't realistic because Late Roman units should have a proportion of archers. (Although this isn't entirely certain - it is for the Byzantines, but not for the Late Romans).

Like so many design decisions, you cannot please everybody.
Richard Bodley Scott

Image

Nijis
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 528
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:33 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by Nijis » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:08 pm

I certainly don't mind skipping the micromanagement of not having to take lots of weak shots.

For those who dislike being pin-cushioned by archers when you have some archers who theoretically could respond, but don't, I might make one suggestion that I don't think would require too much balancing: give units with a sprinkling of archers a small "shoot-back" capacity: if engaged, they fire back automatically and may inflict a small number of casualties, say, similar to the one or two casualties inflicted since Legions Triumphant when units evade. The player is not required to take any action.

That said, I realize that any change requires at least some rebalancing, and this effect would not influence gameplay very much, so I recognize that it may be far more trouble than it would be worth.
Last edited by Nijis on Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:10 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
SnuggleBunnies wrote:Perhaps the unit should just be listed as darts, light spear, swordsmen.
Then some people would complain that is wasn't realistic because Late Roman units should have a proportion of archers. (Although this isn't entirely certain - it is for the Byzantines, but not for the Late Romans).

Like so many design decisions, you cannot please everybody.
Personally I think having bows and not being able to use them is much more glaringly unrealistic than not having non-functioning bows for uncertain historical reasons.

I don't see how Romans having most of their units being shooters would be any different from Indians, Achaemenid Persians, all of the nomads and countless other army lists having most of their units being shooters. This just seems like a very arbitrary and unnecessary place to draw a line.

Has someone actually said that they don't want shootable bows because it's too much work or is this just something that someone thinks someone else might feel like when coming up with justifications for a decision that seems like a redundant leftover stemming from a mindset of tabletop gaming realities?

nikgaukroger
Field of Glory Moderator
Field of Glory Moderator
Posts: 10267
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:30 am
Location: LarryWorld

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by nikgaukroger » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:16 pm

MVP7 wrote: Personally I think having bows and not being able to use them is much more glaringly unrealistic than not having non-functioning bows for uncertain historical reasons.
Presumably you feel the same way about Sarmatians, etc. as well?

Personally I'm with Richard that having them as shooters would be terribly tedious.
Nik Gaukroger

"Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does, he will tell you.
If he does not, why humiliate him?" - Canon Sydney Smith

nikgaukroger@blueyonder.co.uk

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:44 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:
MVP7 wrote: Personally I think having bows and not being able to use them is much more glaringly unrealistic than not having non-functioning bows for uncertain historical reasons.
Presumably you feel the same way about Sarmatians, etc. as well?

Personally I'm with Richard that having them as shooters would be terribly tedious.
What exactly are you referring to with Sarmatians? I feel like that if a unit in the game has bows, it should also be able to use those bows in similar manner to other units that have bows. Units that should historically have bows should have bows.

I really don't see how taking a few more shots over the few turns (where units would be in range but not in melee) would be such a massive hurdle that it's worth practically removing a feature that is important for the function of the late Roman heavy infantry. Even if all the legios and auxilia palatinas were shooting their bows, Romans would still have relatively few shooting units in their army when compared to most of the other lists.

Currently the exact same things are happening to the modernized Legio units that happened to the earlier legionaries at Carrhae despite them having the new tools to cope in that exact kind of situations. Through my entire campaign playing with the late Romans against Bosporans not a turn went by where I didn't wish the bows weren't just for flavor. The reason for the addition of bows in those defensive formations became painfully obvious very fast.

SnuggleBunnies
Major - 8.8 cm FlaK 36
Major - 8.8 cm FlaK 36
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:09 am

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:35 pm

I don't think a change is necessary, because as Richard said it was balanced with the current capabilities in mind. I don't find Romans vs Bosporans to be that difficult a combination. In any campaign, you will wish you had more of something, as no one faction has everything.

And yes, I would find all the minimal casualty shooting tedious.

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:27 pm

My issue is not with battles being harder for the Romans, I wouldn't even call their list weak. My main issue is with the dynamic of those encounters getting extremely weird and gamey because of the absence of bows and the function of the AI.

In every battle the enemy cavalry is just waiting right in front of the legios being surrounded with heavy infantry until I can flank charge it from multiple directions to avoid the bad charging odds. It's a bit unimmersive to imagine how the things are playing out on the ground level with the almost hundred integrated archers in every unit refusing to fire their bows unless it's strictly in self defense meanwhile the enemy lancers are waiting apathetically as the Roman infantry meticulously surrounds them.

nikgaukroger
Field of Glory Moderator
Field of Glory Moderator
Posts: 10267
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:30 am
Location: LarryWorld

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by nikgaukroger » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:30 pm

MVP7 wrote: What exactly are you referring to with Sarmatians? I feel like that if a unit in the game has bows, it should also be able to use those bows in similar manner to other units that have bows. Units that should historically have bows should have bows.
A fair enough view IMO. Whilst personally I am more or less in line with RBS on this I can see why people prefer otherwise.
Nik Gaukroger

"Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does, he will tell you.
If he does not, why humiliate him?" - Canon Sydney Smith

nikgaukroger@blueyonder.co.uk

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:00 pm

I started digging around in the game files and found a bit of script that reduces the range of the late Romans to zero. I increased the range to 2 and started a custom battle against Germanic horse tribe army. The Romans could now use their bows with 2 range but there was no ranged damage or even damage calculations being shown for them (not sure yet if it's because of non-standard bow range or if the ranged damage is separately disabled elsewhere).

However, the enemy cavalry AI completely changed it's behavior. Instead of idling right in front of my infantry, they were actively falling back to keep their distance and as a result, making more room for themselves to maneuver. It was surprisingly good result as I was worried that the AI would just stand there like before and suffer the ranged attacks without reacting. I'll probably try to make this into a working mod at some point.

MikeC_81
2nd Lieutenant - Elite Panzer IVF/2
2nd Lieutenant - Elite Panzer IVF/2
Posts: 747
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:28 am

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MikeC_81 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:54 am

TheGrayMouser wrote: They have the same POA versus attacking shock cavalry ( lancers) as do earlier impact foot legions which is ZERO... And they are better defending versus lancers... I dont think they need ahistorical fire power to go chasing down lancers..

As for the AI getting stuck in front of them, thats a differnt problem. Havnt run into that yet ( I usually enjoy playing the nomands vs the AI)
After this thread started, I decided to carve out some time to visit my local University's library today just to confirm some things are the same as I remembered them back when I was in school and to look up fresh literature on the subject. Just a word on primary sources; they are few and two of the major works on the late 4th Century Army were written by people who may or may not have had an axe to grind (Ammanianus Marcellinus and Vegetius) and then we have the late 6th century Byzantine manual Strategikon. Then there is the issue of whether the manuals of Vegetius and the Strategikon were prescriptive or descriptive. We also have absolutely no literary sources on what happened in 200 years in between although experimental archaeology helps a lot in terms of filling in the gaps as to what was logical.

From a historical perspective, MVP is right in that it does seem odd that the Late Roman lists that stop using the Roman Legionary unit and transition to Legio Comitatensis don't behave any differently vs their predecessors. The sources clearly indicate that the Legionaries after the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine were more varied in their weaponry especially the proliferation of ranged weapons that could strike out farther than the Pilum though the Pilum or rather a Pilum like weapon was still heavy in circulation. Additions to standard Legionary weaponry according to Vegetius include slings, bows, and darts. Essentially the work of light troops such as Velites, Auxillary skirmishers/Numeri contingents were folded into the heavy infantry themselves organically. These changes are attributed by the sources and modern day scholars as a response to the need to diversify the Roman military's need for increased range warfare. They are described sometimes as deploying like light troops to screen before falling back or sometimes manning the rear of the lines hurling missiles overhead.

These changes to weapons and tactics do suggest that units that belong to the family of 20% Bows/80% Darts/Light Spear/Swordsmen should have a greater degree of responsiveness vs their opponents at range than their Republican and Early Imperial counterparts. These weapons, referencing in particular plumbata, are described to have been used on the enemy at range to entice them to charge or to be hurled at the enemy preceding a charge. As I have already noted I don't really like separating them from the family of Impact Foot as there is no real reason historically to have done so but what is done is done. Perhaps we could look at removing the 20% bows from the heavies and giving these Roman lists a large contingent of 50% bow/50% sling light troops to simulate this new reality for the Romans. The reduction of quality of the Roman foot soldier also is not supported by modern scholars. At least not until the disaster at Andrianopolis. The most recent scholarly work done within the past 10 years seem to be far more favorable of even the the Limitanei as good quality troops.

From a gameplay balancing perspective. The costing is off imo despite someone's correction that its not a total downgrade in that they get extra PoA against charging cavalry. Losing 100 PoA attacking to be traded off for 100 or 66 PoA defending against Cavalry is a very one sided trade.
FoG 2 Post Game Analysis Series on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKmEROEwX2fgjoQLlQULhPg/

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:04 am

Thanks MikeC, very interesting stuff! That seems to support that the added ranged flexibility of the new legionaries was an important factor in their doctrine.

On the modding front, I have now managed to properly enable the bows for the roman units with range of 2 (rather than the usual 4) and I'm quite liking how it's playing. My apologies in advance as this should probably be in the modding sub-forum but I wanted to add to this discussion the balance and gameplay effects of the changes I was suggesting.

Limiting the range of 20% bows to 2 prevents the Romans from shooting from outside charging distance (disabling any chance of kiting) and reduces the overall amount and intensity of the missile fire (depicting that the archers act as direct fire support for their own units rather than firing long range barrages like dedicated ranged unit). The damage to other heavy and even medium infantry units is rather negligible and most likely not enough to cause cohesion loss (as I hoped) but the legionaries have enough firepower to suppress small numbers of attacking light infantry/cavalry and dwindle down heavier cavalry. As the units run out of ammo their damage drops to almost zero against heavy or medium units which prevents the battles from degrading into long shooting line battles. The overall balance of the 20% bow units themselves seems to be in line with the other units in the game. Their ability to shoot is neither useless nor overpowered and affects just the kind of units in just the kind of way I was hoping for.

Having played a game of Romans vs Romans the AI seems to handle the unusual units surprisingly well, although more testing is obviously needed. I already mentioned the improved cavalry behavior: It now seems to falls back from the shooting range of the Roman infantry that it won't charge rather than sitting there waiting. This is actually benefiting the AI cavalry more than the player since it gets the units out of the ZOC and gives them room to maneuver into better positions. I was worried that the AI might try to use the 20% bow units like massed archers but things worked out better than I expected here as well. The AI aggressively engages in melee as usual, using the bows mainly in situations where it's unable to close distance or at too bad odds to initiate an attack.

Animations wise things are also working out surprisingly well. When shooting the legionaries play a spear throwing animation but there is no visible projectiles. Given the lack of visible bows for the unit, this seems like a good compromise. All the changes could be made from a single script file which I'd imagine is not usually affected by mods so it should be fairly compatible. It also affects all units with 20% bows or less, including the ones added or modified by mods. My compliments to the programmers for logically arranged and well commented code!

I'll probably upload this once I have tested this bit more and packaged it neatly. For now, I don't think price changes to the 20% bow units are needed. That would be optimal as I could avoid touching the unit/army files which would make the mod conflicting with most mods.

MVP7
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
1st Lieutenant - Grenadier
Posts: 760
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Late Roman infantry bows

Post by MVP7 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:44 pm

I uploaded a mod that enables the bows in the modding subforum: http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtop ... 92&t=83264

Post Reply

Return to “Field of Glory II”