Ancient cavalry, too powerful in FoG?

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Strategos69
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Ancient cavalry, too powerful in FoG?

Post by Strategos69 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:36 pm

This post is mainly focused on cavalry covered by the army books 1 and 3, although it might be also for others but, as I have no idea about those, I would concentrate in these two. The fact is that in my last game a BG of libyphoenician cavalry (superior light spear armoured swordsmen) broke a BG of hoplites in a frontal charge. Certainly I was very lucky with the dice. We came into contact because I was pursuing another unit and crash with a part of the Siracusan hoplites. In the impact phase there was only 1 base in contact. 2 dice each, cavalry at 5's and hoplites at 4's. I got one hit, the hoplites none, failed the CT and drop one level. Then in melee the calvary had an advante in PoA and rerolls. Other BG covered the flank of the cavalry, which slowly killed the hoplites.

It is true that it is an example of lucky dice, but I have been wondering if cavalry of Ancient times is somehow overrrated when dealing with medium and heavy infantry. We have no records that I know of succesful frontal charges of cavalry of those times into enemy heavy infantry in good order and that made me wonder if there are not missing PoA's regarding this situation or, as noted in the steppe cavalry thread, there is a category missing to cover trhis type of troop, willing to engage in close combat against other cavalry but not powerful enough to have any effect in a big body of compact infantry. Now, against hoplites (average offensive spearmen) the cavalry described is:
- PoA at impact as long as the hoplites are not FRG. If they were FRG they would be at a +PoA
even in melee as long as the hoplites are steady and then at a +PoA

Against Roman legionaries III BC (average impact foot protected) a similar situation occurs:
- PoA for the cavalry at impact
+ PoA for the cavalry at melee

In my opinion, the cavalry could be with some advantage (or even) if charged by enemy heavy or medium foot (to represent the defensive role they could be given attacking the enemies that went too far in the line); disadvantaged at impact if they charge (- PoA) and completely disadvantaged in melee (-- PoA). In that regard, it is interesting to point some quotes of Ancient authors:

The Athenians did not pursue far, being held in check by the numerous and undefeated Syracusan horse, who attacked and drove back any of their heavy infantry whom they saw pursuing in advance of the rest; in spite of which the victors followed so far as was safe in a body, and then went back and set up a trophy. (Thucydides, 6.70)

The horsemen rode at them [the Greeks] and shot arrows and javelins among the whole Greek army to its great hurt, since they were mounted archers and
difficult to deal with in an encounter. (Herodotus, IX.49)

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Post by HannibalBarca » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:06 pm

That is 17 point-per-base Libyphoenician cavalry against 8 p.p.b. Syracusan hoplites (let's say they're drilled too). If you replicate that across your fighting width (with impact +POA for the hoplites, then evens at mêlée), you're going to get outflanked somewhere!

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Post by Strategos69 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:25 pm

You are right in what you say. My point is less a matter of points than interactions. Historically legions or hoplites (heavy infantry in good order) being broken by cavalry barely happened. It might and if someone knows it, I would like to read about that. The closest thing I have read was Apian description of the battle of Magnesia, but this short account of the battle does not match the one of Livy.

Here I post a comparision in an equal points scenario. Let's take 8 (4+4) bases of legionaries (heavy impact foot average protected) and 4 (2+2) cavalry (superior, armoured). The legionaries are better at impact with a mean of 2 hits for 1+5/9 for the cavalry (I can't see the explanation behind this kind of interaction, with no distinction between who charged whom) whereas at melee cavalry have a mean of hits of 3 and the legionaries of 2+2/3. If we take the example of the hoplites the expected number of hits at melee is the same. At melee the steady hoplites have an expectation of 4 hits, whereas the cavalry have 2+2/3. If the hoplites are not steady they drop drastically in their possibilities to 2+2/3 expected hits.

My main point is that it would be very foolish for an Ancient general to charge againts steady foot, and they would avoid that kind of combat. But if that happens in FoG, if you are not overlapped in both flanks, then the odds are much different.
Last edited by Strategos69 on Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by hazelbark » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:00 pm

I don't think the cavalry is all that extraordinarily powerful in these periods in combat.

Last knight is had 4 bases of elite companions charge 4 bases of superior legionaires. At the JAP I broke off with only 2 bases of Companions.

If I am the legion I want the massed lancers to my front not running around trying to get a flank.

And hoplites. If they don't disrupt at impact that cavalry is on evens. The overlaps will usually beat the suerior difference.

Perhaps the spear should be a touch better. But the cavalry frontally storming the HF is far from a safe deal for the cavalry.

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Post by Strategos69 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:12 pm

hazelbark wrote:I don't think the cavalry is all that extraordinarily powerful in these periods in combat.

Last knight is had 4 bases of elite companions charge 4 bases of superior legionaires. At the JAP I broke off with only 2 bases of Companions.

If I am the legion I want the massed lancers to my front not running around trying to get a flank.

And hoplites. If they don't disrupt at impact that cavalry is on evens. The overlaps will usually beat the suerior difference.

Perhaps the spear should be a touch better. But the cavalry frontally storming the HF is far from a safe deal for the cavalry.
I agree with you that they are not that good. My point is that they are not that bad either and that seems not very historical to me. It did not happen historically and my guess is that it was because that kind of charge was a suicide for getting little benefit. In your game, at least on the paper you had a slight advantage, so your charge was justified in game terms which I question to be historically accurate.

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Post by waldo » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:22 pm

hazelbark wrote: And hoplites. If they don't disrupt at impact that cavalry is on evens. The overlaps will usually beat the suerior difference.

Perhaps the spear should be a touch better. But the cavalry frontally storming the HF is far from a safe deal for the cavalry.
I know 'if they don't disrupt at impact' is more likely but they occasionally do and then it's all over. There are some interactions that seem slightly ahistorical, this one and cavalry charging into elephants and defeating them are two that come to mind.

How many times do ancient sources mention this happening?

Walter

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Post by ValentinianVictor » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:46 pm

The problem is that we have very few accounts of this kind of interaction. The most recent paper to discuss this, by Rance, has some conclusions that do not suit those who enjoy using mounted armies.

Here is the link and you can make up your own mind-

http://www.duke.edu/web/classics/grbs/F ... Rance2.pdf

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Post by grahambriggs » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:06 pm

I think the possibility of a breakthrough is perhaps a little too high but I suspect that is a feature of a broad ruleset. Also, it is still a poor idea to charge with the cavalry, and ifr the owner felt there was no chance, would they charge?

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Post by Strategos69 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:15 pm

ValentinianVictor wrote:The problem is that we have very few accounts of this kind of interaction. The most recent paper to discuss this, by Rance, has some conclusions that do not suit those who enjoy using mounted armies.

Here is the link and you can make up your own mind-

http://www.duke.edu/web/classics/grbs/F ... Rance2.pdf
You are right: there are almost no data to know about this interaction but I guess the reason is because, as described by Maurice, it was "hazardous" for the cavalry to try. Actually, it was an article I read that changed my mind about cavalry. Here I post the link

http://gladius.revistas.csic.es/index.p ... view/38/39

It is about the Macedonian cavalry.
grahambriggs wrote:I think the possibility of a breakthrough is perhaps a little too high but I suspect that is a feature of a broad ruleset. Also, it is still a poor idea to charge with the cavalry, and ifr the owner felt there was no chance, would they charge?
The point is how hard should it be. If you charge so that there is only one base at impact (which is not too difficult given that you have more movement), it is not very likely that the cavalry will lose any level of cohesion at impact. Indeed, against legionaries you might be advantaged (one PoA up) and against the hoplites it is all about being a little lucky (but not that much). But as Walter said, cavalry was not there to chase enemy elephants, heavy or medium foot (against medium foot they are even more advantaged due to CT modifiers). It is true that it is not a big deal, but those unrealistic interactions do appear, especially if you play with people that are not that much into history.

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Post by hazelbark » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:38 pm

waldo wrote: I know 'if they don't disrupt at impact' is more likely but they occasionally do and then it's all over. There are some interactions that seem slightly ahistorical, this one and cavalry charging into elephants and defeating them are two that come to mind.
I think sorting the type of cavalry matters. A former player in our group was an Indian scholar and had read a lot of stuff more 15th and 16th century, but he was of the opinion that there was a considerable body of training for mounted indian nobles on how to defeat Elephants. Even a manual on teaching cavarly to rear up so the rider could more easily lance the elephants head/eyes/face. Sadly he has gone off to do other things.

So I think which relates to the point made elsewhere, that this is essentially the classcial period and geographic armies.

I could think of a few minor fixes that have been suggested
Give Elephants self support versus mounted or shooting +1 CT
Allow 3 base BGs.
Allow 2 base BGs to have 2 LF or MF bases.
Make mounted in front edge contact severly disrodered
Make mounted at the beginning of impact take an extra CT for being hit or hitting elephants.

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Post by grahambriggs » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:10 pm

Strategos69 wrote:
grahambriggs wrote:I think the possibility of a breakthrough is perhaps a little too high but I suspect that is a feature of a broad ruleset. Also, it is still a poor idea to charge with the cavalry, and ifr the owner felt there was no chance, would they charge?
The point is how hard should it be. If you charge so that there is only one base at impact (which is not too difficult given that you have more movement), it is not very likely that the cavalry will lose any level of cohesion at impact. Indeed, against legionaries you might be advantaged (one PoA up) and against the hoplites it is all about being a little lucky (but not that much). But as Walter said, cavalry was not there to chase enemy elephants, heavy or medium foot (against medium foot they are even more advantaged due to CT modifiers). It is true that it is not a big deal, but those unrealistic interactions do appear, especially if you play with people that are not that much into history.
I suspect the fix here is to stop cheesy moves to minimise impact - e.g. penalise troops that charge in column.I believe the authors are already considering how to do this.

Of course if the cavalry have hit you such that they overlap you that might be a little more acceptable, as you could have supported the flank so they were unable to do that. And of course, the infantry could fill in bases so that they fight 6 aggainst the cavalry's 4.

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Post by Strategos69 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:43 pm

grahambriggs wrote: I suspect the fix here is to stop cheesy moves to minimise impact - e.g. penalise troops that charge in column.I believe the authors are already considering how to do this.
I agree that this is a point to be fixed. A simple way to deal with it would be giving one dice per overlap at impact.
grahambriggs wrote: Of course if the cavalry have hit you such that they overlap you that might be a little more acceptable, as you could have supported the flank so they were unable to do that. And of course, the infantry could fill in bases so that they fight 6 aggainst the cavalry's 4.
The problem I see to the interaction right now is that the cavalry has a bigger chance than what I could claim as "hazardous". Being in a formation 2 wide 2 deep, there will be only 4 dice maximum per side at impact. The heavy infantry would be (unless pikes) at best at 4's, which means they can expect to inflict 2 hits. The cavalry will be at 5's, so that they can expect to inflict 1 or 2 hits. If the cavalry loses, in the resolution of the combat they will likely have a -1 rerolling 1's. At melee the cavalry would be facing 6 or 8 enemy bases (most likely 6) that will have to impact at 5's for legionaries or 4's for steady hoplites. They can expect 2 or 3 impacts. The cavalry would be at 4's in any case, rerolling 1´s, with an expectation of 2 or 3 hits.

So, my fix would be:
- PoA cavalry charging to the front of non FRG heavy or medium foot
+ PoA medium or heavy infantry figthing at melee against cavalry
(and/or cavalry can't apply their armour PoA when fighting medium or heavy infantry)

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Post by waldo » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:21 am

hazelbark wrote: I think sorting the type of cavalry matters. A former player in our group was an Indian scholar and had read a lot of stuff more 15th and 16th century, but he was of the opinion that there was a considerable body of training for mounted indian nobles on how to defeat Elephants. Even a manual on teaching cavarly to rear up so the rider could more easily lance the elephants head/eyes/face. Sadly he has gone off to do other things.
Indian nobles, not Companions, Thessalians etc who I've seen take on elephants and win. Training is one thing, whether they were effective against elephants is another. Someone (Nik?) once mentioned a source for this but no other info.

Walter

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Post by hammy » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:29 am

Strategos69 wrote: So, my fix would be:
- PoA cavalry charging to the front of non FRG heavy or medium foot
+ PoA medium or heavy infantry figthing at melee against cavalry
(and/or cavalry can't apply their armour PoA when fighting medium or heavy infantry)
Wow! You really don't like cavalry much do you :shock:

If cavalry are so rubbish why did cavalry rule the battlefield for about 1000 years from 500 to 1500 AD?

This would mean that for example Norman knights charging a militia spear formation (protected defensive spear) would be -- at impact and - in melee. Is this really what you think is correct?

Lancer cavalry into bowmen, even unprotected bow with no melee capability would have the lancers impacting at a + (with the bow having extra dice for shooting) and + in melee. Surely having way better armour, a quality melee weapon and a warhorse against a bloke with a fruit knife and a jerkin is pretty much the definition of a big advantage?

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Post by philqw78 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:33 am

hammy wrote:This would mean that for example Norman knights charging a militia spear formation (protected defensive spear) would be -- at impact and - in melee. Is this really what you think is correct?
No, they would be triple minus at impact and double minus in melee at Senlac Hill as the foot they beat would be uphill. Obviously this is right as they had to flee so as to tempt them off the hill to beat them.
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Post by grahambriggs » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:52 am

Changing the POAs in the way suggested is overkill. And I don't think that will necessarily be the effect that is needed.

The concern seemed to be that it was a little too likely that the cavalry should be able to break through decent infantry frontally. e.g. armoured sword superior cavalry beating average protected hoplites frontally. And it does seem that this happens in FOG a little more than might be expected from historical accounts.

The problem seems to be that if the cavalry beat the infantry in the first melee round, and the infantry lose cohesion they are effectively doomed, bar some miracle. It's reasonably likely that the cavalry will shade the combat - equal factors but better, and the hoplites will probably test Cohesion with a -1. So without generals or rear support they'll probably drop.

I would say that decent battleline infantry should be tougher than that, and a way to achieve that could be the cohesion test. Perhaps the -1 for 1HP3B should not apply for HF against mounted?

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Post by hammy » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:53 am

philqw78 wrote:
hammy wrote:This would mean that for example Norman knights charging a militia spear formation (protected defensive spear) would be -- at impact and - in melee. Is this really what you think is correct?
No, they would be triple minus at impact and double minus in melee at Senlac Hill as the foot they beat would be uphill. Obviously this is right as they had to flee so as to tempt them off the hill to beat them.
True but it does mean that the impact at Senlac hill would not have been any significant dissadvantage for the knights charging up the hill compared to charging on the flat :D

I remain somewhat unconvinced by this idea.

If there is a problem with the game as it stands it may be that the effects of grading advantages are perhaps a little too much and comitting a commander to the front rank is seen as an easy and not too risky option. Kn charging spears at a - POA but a grade and commander up is not that risky an exercise.

It may be that the problem simply lies with the +2 to the death roll for BGs of all sizes. That combined with 4 base superior BGs being able to lose 2 bases and still not break could be something to do with it.

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Post by grahambriggs » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:12 pm

Hmm, yes playing around with the death roll might help the bigger battalions. Perhaps a +1 on the death roll if winning or drawing would help matters.

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Post by hammy » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:19 pm

grahambriggs wrote:Hmm, yes playing around with the death roll might help the bigger battalions. Perhaps a +1 on the death roll if winning or drawing would help matters.
You could even scale death roll modifiers based on the size of the BG but that migh be in effect a double whammy.

How about +2 of you win or draw and are fighting with as many or more dice than your opponent, +1 if you are have fewer but more than half as many dice and +0 if you have half the number of dice you are against.

Also for shooting +2 if you take fewer than 1 HPB, +1 of you take 1HPB or more.

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Post by philqw78 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:29 pm

Just a plus one on the CT for being steady foot would make a BIG difference. It would also prolong foot v foot combat which sometimes is over very quickly. But this would make impact foot less effective. Unless they bring in -2 on CT for losing to undrilled impact foot and staying -1 for losing to drilled IF.

And round and round in circles we go.
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