Charge cavalry too weak

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
jomni
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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by jomni » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:16 am

Do we want a wedge formation in the game?

I found lancer cavalry to be effective during impact, then break off for another impact phase next turn. Being stuck in melee is not desireable. Maybe a wedge formation can be implemented to increase the chance of “bouncing”, and hopefully to the rear of the enemy unit (not stepping back as we have now).

SLancaster
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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by SLancaster » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:53 am

I will just say in a nutshell that cavalry in FoG 2 could be made a bit more powerful and thus useful. Charges are fairly average a lot of the time. I was even playing a league game v Barrold and he laughed when my cataphracts became disordered after charging some poorly armed rabble....

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by MeerkatRabbit » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:10 am

leonardus68 wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:43 pm
You have a XXI century philosophy and not taking into account the ancient era horizon. With you're suppositions, cavalry will never stand a chance to almost any infantry type, just riding in front of first row and dangling to and fro the sword with one hand and with another to drive the horse......hoping to not crash the horse in one soldier......and to not hook another friendly horse in the process. Man, you're on the wrong track here. From you're perspective cavalry were only good against another cavalry or skirmishers. And game great minus here also.
I think you’re misunderstanding me here. I’m not saying cavalry was ineffective against infantry. Quite the contrary - they could be incredibly devastating. To again bring up the Napoleonic era, there are a lot of documented examples of infantry units getting annihilated by cavalry, and sometimes the only way to really stop a cavalry charge from succeeding would be by hitting them with a devastating musket volley at the right moment, before they got too close. There was an incident at the Battle of Dresden in 1813 in which two large Austrian infantry squares were destroyed by a relatively small group of lancers. It had been raining heavily and the Austrians couldn’t fire their muskets. The lancers were able to get up close and use their reach advantage to start methodically spearing the infantry beyond the reach of the Austrian bayonets. They didn’t crash into the formation, but used their mobility in the mud and their reach advantage to start opening up holes in the formation. Then they would nudge their way into the formation, thus causing the infantry to become further disorganized, which would allow even further horses inside, which would disrupt the formation even further and so on until the entire thing collapsed.

If infantry are able to present an unbroken wall of bayonets or spear points and are determined to hold that position, most cavalry, especially sword or sabre-armed cavalry would not be able to do much against them. Even lancers could still have trouble. Napoleonic cavalry liked to do repeated charges against infantry formations in order to continually test their resolve. They would charge at them at high speed and make a big spectacular show of it, trying to be as scary as possible, either running in circles around them or charging straight at them over and over again with units in echelon formation. It takes a lot of nerve to face a cavalry charge like that, with hundreds of horsemen right in front of your face. If it looked like the infantry were holding firm when they got close, and were just standing there unshaken, the cavalry would peel off and run away as fast as possible, because they knew they wouldn’t be able to get through.

On the other hand, if the infantry were shaken even a little bit and the tiniest gap formed (like if one guy in the front rank got scared and tried to pull back a bit), they would be screwed. If a single horse could get inside the formation, the entire formation could collapse. That’s why that single wounded horse crashing into the square at Garcia Hernandez was such a big deal - big enough to mean the death of that entire formation. There was a quote from a French officer at Waterloo (De Brack): “not being able to break down the rampart of bayonets which opposed us, [one of the lancers] stood up in his stirrups and hurled his lance like a dart; it passed through an infantry soldier, whose death would have opened a passage for us, if the gap had not been quickly closed.” That one gap may have been all they needed to wipe out that unit.

The point I was trying to make is that cavalry can’t just run down densely-packed infantry. Horses will not intentionally impale themselves, and horses don’t even like to trample people either. They won’t intentionally trample someone or step on them if they could avoid it. Russian infantry were known to do a really ballsey move to take advantage of this against sword-armed cavalry. They would wait until an enemy cavalry charge was almost on top of them, then dive to the ground and lie prone. The riders, armed only with swords, would not be able to reach them on the ground, and the horses, not willing to step on them, would jump over them. The momentum of their charge would force them to continue on a short distance in order to rally. The infantry would rise back up again when the cavalry had passed, then turn around and deliver a nasty volley right into their backsides. In addition to Russians using this on occasion, Saxon troops also used this tactic against Swedish cavalry led by Charles XII.

I don’t really know all that much about ancient warfare, but it really doesn’t seem like it would be that different to me. I could be wrong, but the psychology of men and horses would work the same way. For all I know, things might have been even more difficult for cavalry in the ancient world because they would be going up against much more deep and dense infantry formations than Napoleonic times. Napoleonic infantry lines would usually only be a few men deep. Perhaps heavily armored medieval knights could be devastating against poorly trained levies, but it seems like it would be very different against deep formations of ancient heavy infantry like the Romans.

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by SLancaster » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:09 am

Concerning Napoleonic times.. I do know something of that. I think MeerkatRabbit is overstating his case considerably.

1. Primary purpose of Napoleonic cavalry was to engage enemy cavalry and drive it off the field. Cavalry would not seek to engage formed infantry continually throughout a battle. There may be a few incidents like Dresden when infantry ran out of ammo or couldn’t fire but these are not the norm.

2. It was extremely rare for cavalry to break a formed square.

3. Napoleonic infantry lines weren’t just a few lines deep. The French frequently used attack columns and the Russians at times had very deep moving squares.

Yes, Napoleonic cavalry could be devastating when used at the right time but as at Waterloo, Ney’s huge cavalry charge really needed infantry and artillery support in order to be truly effective against the British infantry squares.

Let’s hope that one day we can recreate this on FoG 3 Napoleonic!

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by MVP7 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:12 am

SLancaster, I think you might have misunderstood MeerkatRabbit. I think the difficulty of breaking formed infantry with cavalry and that not being the main role of cavalry was his point.


I found TheGrayMouser's excerpts from Aelian pretty interesting although I find it hard to visualize some of the formations described. Of course I wouldn't use the word "merely" about holding firms against cavalry since that is obviously not a meager achievement. A highly collective formation like pike phalanx would obviously have to be drilled and prepared for cavalry charge even if it is unlikely to beat them.

I wonder about the translation of terms "shock" and "charge" though. Especially the part "The order of battle best opposed to this by infantry is the plagia phalanx or oblong battalion, which although it is easily pierced, yet the depth is so small that the violent charge of the horse is hardly felt by the foot, but expends itself on the air, because being extended lateral, the battalion is of small dimension from front to rear.", makes me think that the charge and shock might be referring to the cavalry throwing spears and javelins at the phalanx to disrupt it rather than riding into contact with the pikes.

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by melm » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:54 am

I scanned European Medieval Tactics (1) by David Nicolle published by Osprey.
I quote some here.

(Page 10) "Since cavalry could rarely break disciplined infantry(in this or any other period), the primary role of such Romano-Byzantine armoured cavalry was to menace and render immobile an enemy's footsoldiers,..."

'menace' can be interpret as ZOC in game. Lancer charging spearmen(o or d) may offer you several percent of win, which is 'rare'.

(Page 13) "The Alans, for example, were described as fighting in highly manoeuvrable, close-packed units, armed with javelins and swords, and emplying feigned retreats and flank attacks.

So flank charge is indeed viable. And we can see Alans are not using the momentum of running horse to break the formation from the front, but from flank(or rear)

(Page 28) The evolution of the couched-lance style of cavalry combat in Western Europe during 9th to 11th centuries was highly significant, although in fact it would eventually prove to be a tactical dead-end. This technique was not, however, a Western European invention, as is still widely believed, but was copied from Europe's Byzantine and Islamic neighbours. With a 'couched' lance the weapon was held tightly beneath a rider's upper arm, using the forward momentum of his horse to give impetus to its strike. All of the other three cavlry spear techniques already mentioned continued to be used alongside the couched lance in Byzantine and many Islamic forces; they also survived in Western Europe well into- and in many places throughout - the 11th century."

This may suggest that before 9th century, mounted spearmen, or we call them lancers, may not be that devastating as 9th century lancers. Thus, charging may not be weak in FOGII before 9th century.

(Page 29) There's an illustration depicting training for 8th-9th century Carolingian cursores attack cavalry. Mounted squadrons divided in two columns facing the target.
I quote the movements below
"Movements:(1) Squadrons charge in sequence, to throw javelins; (2) Squadrons swerve aside, then rejoin behind their original positions(After Von Pawlikowski-Cholewa)."

So charge may not mean physical contact.

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by MVP7 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:48 pm

I wonder if the couched lance was more important for fighting between mounted opponents than against infantry. Presumably couching gives more control, accuracy and stability in what is likely to be the one chance to kill or unhorse the mounted opponent. Against infantry the couching cavalryman would have to get unnecessarily close to the formation while at the same time decelerating (or evading) which would reduce the force that could be gained from couching. Ramming a couched lance into the infantryman at full force would also most likely result in immediate loss of the lance which could also be used for repeatedly stabbing the infantry from safer distance.

Both theGreyMouser's and melm's quotes seem to raise the interesting possibility that light spear could actually be more damaging to steady infantry than lancers since the the javelins and such could be used from beyond the infantry's reach. Not that there's records of such tactics being particularly effective either as far as I know.

@melm, does the book have more details about the Alan cavalry "fighting in highly manoeuvrable, close-packed units, armed with javelins and swords, and emplying feigned retreats and flank attacks."? That sounds like an interesting unit with 'Light Horse', 'Light Spear' and 'Swordsmen', or at least light javelin horsemen.

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by melm » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:20 pm

MVP7 wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:48 pm

@melm, does the book have more details about the Alan cavalry "fighting in highly manoeuvrable, close-packed units, armed with javelins and swords, and emplying feigned retreats and flank attacks."? That sounds like an interesting unit with 'Light Horse', 'Light Spear' and 'Swordsmen', or at least light javelin horsemen.
Sadly not. Osprey's book is usually sketchy with mere 64 pages.

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Re: Charge cavalry too weak

Post by kvnrthr » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:13 pm

Now that I think about it, it would make sense to have armor count at least somewhat in the impact phase. If equal in experience in elan, a soldier who has better armor will be more confident in the charge.

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