Auxilia & Thureophoroi/Thorakitai - advance notice

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ValentinianVictor
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Post by ValentinianVictor » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:08 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
thefrenchjester wrote:why not letting the choice to field them as Medium Foot?

Ancient authors gave different interpretations of how they are fielded;
Well the point is rather that they didn't - unless you know different, in which case now is the time to present your evidence.

Modern authors have differed in their interpretations in the past, which is not the same thing. More recent interpretations better fit the actual evidence. (In our opinion of course).

As a starting point see:

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson ... ates1.html

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson ... ates2.html

Also any of the many works on the Roman army by Adrian Goldsworthy.

We see it as our role to make FOG as realistic as possible, and not to reiterate the cliches of the wargaming past. Wargames rules should follow the latest evidence. If we stood still on historical interpretation, Late Roman legions (for example) would still be armed with long spear and javelin, as they were in early versions of WRG rules.
I have found Goldsworthy a bit 'thin' when it comes to his works describing the Late Roman army in particular. I put far more trust in 'Twilight of Empire' by Nicasie who states that the Auxilia Palatina differed from the Legions in their battlefield role where the 'auxilia could also play the role of light or medium infantry.' whilst noting that they '...seem to have been able to operate as heavy infantry when the occasion demanded...'

This is echoed by McDowell in the Osprey book with the same title as Nicasie's 'Twilight of Empire' where he states that the auxilia '...were trained to operate with a greater degree of flexibility than the legions...' whilst suggesting both in that book and his 'Adrianople AD 378' that they may well have been heavy infantry who could carry out specialised roles.

Unfortunately, other well known books that deal with the Late Roman Army such as 'The Late Roman Army' by Southern & Dixon and 'Warfare in Roman Europe AD350-425' by Elton and The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare Vol II, are deficient in describing the role of Late Roman auxilia on the battlefield.

My own research indicates that Late Roman auxilia could form the first line on the battlefield, such as at Strasburg, whilst also being able to fight on the flanks in difficult terrain, again at Strasburg, as specialist troops able to effect river assaults etc or act as a reserve line, as both at Strasburg or Adrianople. I feel Late Roman auxilia in particular should have the option to be either MF or HF to better reflect their battlefield role.

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Post by nikgaukroger » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:25 pm

ValentinianVictor wrote: I have found Goldsworthy a bit 'thin' when it comes to his works describing the Late Roman army in particular. I put far more trust in 'Twilight of Empire' by Nicasie who states that the Auxilia Palatina differed from the Legions in their battlefield role where the 'auxilia could also play the role of light or medium infantry.' whilst noting that they '...seem to have been able to operate as heavy infantry when the occasion demanded...'

Remind me why he thinks that. IMO the battle accounts of Ammianus show no material difference in behaviour between the legiones and auxilia palatina in field battles.

My own research indicates that Late Roman auxilia could form the first line on the battlefield, such as at Strasburg, whilst also being able to fight on the flanks in difficult terrain, again at Strasburg

Did they actually fight in difficult terrain at Strasbourg? Ammianus 16.12.27 says:

"The trumpets now gave forth a terrible sound; Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing, when he came near the ditches filled with armed men, from which the enemy had arranged that those who were there concealed should suddenly rise up, and throw the Roman line into confusion, halted boldly, and suspecting some yet hidden ambuscade, neither attempted to retreat nor advance."
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Post by ValentinianVictor » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:33 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:
ValentinianVictor wrote: I have found Goldsworthy a bit 'thin' when it comes to his works describing the Late Roman army in particular. I put far more trust in 'Twilight of Empire' by Nicasie who states that the Auxilia Palatina differed from the Legions in their battlefield role where the 'auxilia could also play the role of light or medium infantry.' whilst noting that they '...seem to have been able to operate as heavy infantry when the occasion demanded...'

Remind me why he thinks that. IMO the battle accounts of Ammianus show no material difference in behaviour between the legiones and auxilia palatina in field battles.

My own research indicates that Late Roman auxilia could form the first line on the battlefield, such as at Strasburg, whilst also being able to fight on the flanks in difficult terrain, again at Strasburg

Did they actually fight in difficult terrain at Strasbourg? Ammianus 16.12.27 says:

"The trumpets now gave forth a terrible sound; Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing, when he came near the ditches filled with armed men, from which the enemy had arranged that those who were there concealed should suddenly rise up, and throw the Roman line into confusion, halted boldly, and suspecting some yet hidden ambuscade, neither attempted to retreat nor advance."
I'd suggest having a read of Nicasie Nik as he does give his reasons there, based on in no small part Ammianus! I'm sure Libanius' account of Strasburg (Oration 18 ) has Severus going into marshy ground to do battle with the Allemanni hidden amoungst the reeds there, defeating them and which in turn demoralises the Allemanni infantry.

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Post by nikgaukroger » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:06 pm

ValentinianVictor wrote: I'd suggest having a read of Nicasie Nik as he does give his reasons there, based on in no small part Ammianus!
Well if he bases it on the descriptions in Ammianus of the field battle performance, then I disagree with him. If, however, he is suggesting that they are more flexible troops overall, used in "specialist" operations such as the fiver raids on Germans described in Ammianus, then I agree with him. However, we must remember that a rule set such as FoG is aiming to represent field battles (albeit in a reasonably broad sense) and not other operations and so it is their performance in those that must drive classification. If I have time I'll dig the book out.


I'm sure Libanius' account of Strasburg (Oration 18 ) has Severus going into marshy ground to do battle with the Allemanni hidden amoungst the reeds there, defeating them and which in turn demoralises the Allemanni infantry.
Ah, must look that up I guess. Mind you in terms of FoG classifications if HF Romans go into a marsh to fight HF Germans they will still tend to trash them quite handily :P

However, just checking the Ammianus he doesn't say who the troops were on the left does he? Can we say they were Auxilia Palatina? or dies Libanius say?
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Post by nikgaukroger » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:09 pm

Is this the bit of Libanius you were thinking of?
And as for the barbarians, who were well informed of his arrangements, the braver part of their men were set against the better troops on the Roman side, whilst they had strengthened their own right wing with a reserve which they concealed behind an elevated water-course, overgrown with reeds, that country being marshy, that concealed them sitting down. Nevertheless, they did not thus escape the eyes of the Romans upon the extreme left; but these as soon as they discovered them ran down with a shout, and starting them out of their cover, began the chase, and threw into confusion by their means as much as half their army, flight causing flight, that of the first occasioning that of the second, and in this engagement there is something similar to the sea-fight between the Corinthians and the Corcyrseans, for in that one also it was the fate of either side to be beaten and to beat; for in reality each side gained the day;
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Post by Maniakes » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:29 pm

nikgaukroger wrote: Ammianus 16.12.27 says:

.. Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing... halted boldly..."
Halting boldly seems a very Late Roman concept to me (or perhaps I'm stereotyping a little ..)

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Post by ValentinianVictor » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:33 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:Is this the bit of Libanius you were thinking of?
And as for the barbarians, who were well informed of his arrangements, the braver part of their men were set against the better troops on the Roman side, whilst they had strengthened their own right wing with a reserve which they concealed behind an elevated water-course, overgrown with reeds, that country being marshy, that concealed them sitting down. Nevertheless, they did not thus escape the eyes of the Romans upon the extreme left; but these as soon as they discovered them ran down with a shout, and starting them out of their cover, began the chase, and threw into confusion by their means as much as half their army, flight causing flight, that of the first occasioning that of the second, and in this engagement there is something similar to the sea-fight between the Corinthians and the Corcyrseans, for in that one also it was the fate of either side to be beaten and to beat; for in reality each side gained the day;
Indeed it is, although the Loeb version has a slightly different translation.

In relation to your previous question, its difficult to know exactly who or what was on the left wing of the Roman army. We know from both Ammianus and Libanius that practically all of the Roman cavalry, including the Clibanarii, were placed on the right, probably due to the fact that the terrain on the left was unsuitable for mounted troops if indeed it was marshy ground. We know in the front line were at least two auxilia units, the Cornuti and the Braccati, and they were joined by two more, the Batavi and the Regii, when the fighting became more intense. Most modern historians take this to mean that its likely that the Roman left wing may well have been made up of auxilia and the remaining cavalry, the cavalry probably there just as a protective reserve (unless of course they did support the attack into the marshy ground!). The Allemanni managed to burst through the front line, only being stopped by at least one Legion, the Primani. It was probably at this point that the news of the rout of the Allemanni right wing sent the rest into panic and then the Allemanic army then broke as a whole.

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Post by nikgaukroger » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:49 pm

Checking Ammianus there are a number of references to troops who are "expedita" - whatever that means in a C4th context - plus others of troops who are "velitis" and one I found of levis armaturae auxiliis.

Speculate wildly on what all that means :lol:
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Post by ValentinianVictor » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:09 am

nikgaukroger wrote:Checking Ammianus there are a number of references to troops who are "expedita" - whatever that means in a C4th context - plus others of troops who are "velitis" and one I found of levis armaturae auxiliis.

Speculate wildly on what all that means :lol:
Yes, this is a very interesting question, taken up by Nicasie by the way, and the usual definition of 'expediti' or its derivatives is 'light-armed'. The whole gamault of Roman troop types, apart from catafractarii/clibanarii, have their 'expediti' types, for example Valentinian I, whilst still a general, was tasked to guard a strategic mountain pass with some 'equites expediti', there are also references to 'velites expediti, 'auxiliarum expediti', 'legionarii expediti' etc.

It appears that these may be troops tasked with undertaking special operations such as protecting passes, effecting river assaults, night raiders, advanced strikes etc.

One translation of 'levis armaturae auxiliis' could be 'lightly armoured auxilia' or even 'swift armoured auxilia'.

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Post by philqw78 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:57 am

Could it not be translated as a "selected"/"picked" group
phil
putting the arg into argumentative

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Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:01 am

philqw78 wrote:Could it not be translated as a "selected"/"picked" group

Don't think so.
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Post by Maniakes » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:22 am

nikgaukroger wrote:Is this the bit of Libanius you were thinking of?
And as for the barbarians, who were well informed of his arrangements, the braver part of their men were set against the better troops on the Roman side, whilst they had strengthened their own right wing with a reserve which they concealed behind an elevated water-course, overgrown with reeds, that country being marshy, that concealed them sitting down. Nevertheless, they did not thus escape the eyes of the Romans upon the extreme left; but these as soon as they discovered them ran down with a shout, and starting them out of their cover, began the chase, and threw into confusion by their means as much as half their army, flight causing flight, that of the first occasioning that of the second, and in this engagement there is something similar to the sea-fight between the Corinthians and the Corcyrseans, for in that one also it was the fate of either side to be beaten and to beat; for in reality each side gained the day;
This doesn't sound like a desperate fight in rough terrain to me (I don't know if that is due to the vagaries if the translation though). It sounds like the Germans are waiting in ambush ready to leap out and shout "Boo" and the Romans see them, come up and shout "Boo" first and the Germans run off - ie an incident determined by morale and good
battlefield alertness rather than by equipment or formation. If this is typical of the sources that are being used to try and understand equipment and formation then it is no wonder there are multiple interpretations!

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Post by zocco » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:35 am

So let me get this right - because AM indicates that Auxilia at Strasbourg (ie one battle) were in close order (in open terrain) - which by the way I agree with - since they were facing German HF this makes sense, then suddenly auxilia must be HF all of the time ? Including when they were operating in more rugged terrain ?

Too me this not only lacks merit (at least as the rules currently stand) but seems to be a rather arbitrary use of the (so called) evidence.

If this is so I'd imagine that Hypaspists willl no longer be MF nor for that matter will Foot Companions have the MF option (as I can't imagine them being any better off in rugged terrain than Auxilia [many of which as I've previously mentioned were recruited from MF types - such as Batavians , Thracians etc - but seem somehow (??) by becoming trained Auxilia to have lost this ability].

There is in addition a flipside to this - namely many Far Eastern types were rated as MF - is there any evidence that these guys (say Chinese Halbadiers and no doubt many othes) had any ability in rough/difficult terrain ?? :shock:

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Post by philqw78 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:38 am

zocco wrote:There is in addition a flipside to this - namely many Far Eastern types were rated as MF - is there any evidence that these guys (say Chinese Halbadiers and no doubt many othes) had any ability in rough/difficult terrain ?? :shock:
They were not trusted by their own leaders to stand in the open, so they 'survived' longer in terrain.
phil
putting the arg into argumentative

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Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:01 pm

zocco wrote:So let me get this right - because AM indicates that Auxilia at Strasbourg (ie one battle) were in close order (in open terrain) - which by the way I agree with - since they were facing German HF this makes sense, then suddenly auxilia must be HF all of the time ? Including when they were operating in more rugged terrain ?

Too me this not only lacks merit (at least as the rules currently stand) but seems to be a rather arbitrary use of the (so called) evidence.

If we were relying on a single battle then I might well agree with you, however, we are not - there are, for example, the other accounts in Ammianus (although we never get enough information to really satisfy us), Tacitus and other Roman sources.


There is in addition a flipside to this - namely many Far Eastern types were rated as MF - is there any evidence that these guys (say Chinese Halbadiers and no doubt many othes) had any ability in rough/difficult terrain ?? :shock:
The rationale for the eastern troops has been covered many times, and a significant part is their vulnerability to mounted troops which in FoG is best represented, in the authors' opinion, by classifying them as MF.
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Post by waldo » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:08 pm

zocco wrote:So let me get this right - because AM indicates that Auxilia at Strasbourg (ie one battle) were in close order (in open terrain) - which by the way I agree with - since they were facing German HF this makes sense, then suddenly auxilia must be HF all of the time ? Including when they were operating in more rugged terrain ?
I believe that they 'solved' this problem in WRG 6th/7th edition - by having regular loose formation troops who fought as (the equivalent of) HF but moved as MF...

Walter

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Post by jonphilp » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:51 pm

Not wishing to go over old ground the Chinese MI smacks of Western European bias and a lack of translated Chinese sources. According to former Chinese colleagues ( I know Nick I can not back this up with written evidence) the majority of Han, Western Jin infantry were expected to hold out against enemy cavalry. Thet had difficulty against Bow armed Chariots in the early period when they did not have large numbers of bow troops and troops were not very mobile( similar issues in the Biblical middle east). Later Crossbow units were expected to stop a full frontal attack by Cavalry ?( I have never managed this in a FOG game) It was the militia/ hasty armed levy who were the weak links . Also mixed units and separate Crosssbow/ Heavy Weapon were found in the same army at the same time. As the armies in "Empires of the Dragon" & "Blood & Gold" seem to have been compiled in a different way to the rest of the army books ( these armies tend to work against armies of the same book but not in open play), I assume this proposed change will not result in any changes. Hopefully HI will get an increased movement then perhaps the FOG Anti Cavalry Battlegroups may have a role in keeping with their title.

The Chinese armies in FOGR do look very interesting.
Last edited by jonphilp on Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Maniakes » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:01 pm

The thing is that when you add a troop type to an army list you are also adding an ability. So players take MF in their combined arms lists in order to be able to deal with rough terrain. Surely in a "top down" system like FOG this should be your starting point. So for example the Byzantines had dificulty in the terrain of the Balkans and their list should reflect that.

I remember reading (in Goldsworthy I think) that in this Late period the Romans conducted far more successful ambushes than were conducted against them - and he gave a general impression of an army that was very competent in terrain. So my question for those of you (which is most of you, I think!) who know more about the period than me is this - leaving aside the exact troop type that should represent auxila etc do we know that the Late Roman army should be competent in terrain? If that is the case then I think the list should reflect that "look and feel" and it sounds like there is enough ambiguity in the sources to allow the troop classifications to be tweaked to achieve that.

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Post by grahambriggs » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:59 pm

jonphilp wrote: As the armies in "Empires of the Dragon" & "Blood & Gold" seem to have been compiled in a different way to the rest of the army books ( these armies tend to work against armies of the same book but not in open play)

I can speak to the approach we took on "Blood and Gold". And the answer is, yes, they are different to the rest of the army books. Deliberately so. American armies of the periiod were very effective in fighting each other, but once the Europeans arrived were unable to cope. Their battlefield disadvantages included:

- no anti cavalry drills. The spanish cavalry rode through the Aztec army to kill their commander on one occasion. The southern Mapuche did not learn to ground their pikes until much later.

- Spanish steel shields and armour. Not good if you have a glass sword.

- no real thrusting weapons. Which meant that their armour was not designed for them. So European lances and thrusting swords went through the armour.

The quick learners identified that they couldn't beat the Europeans on the flat, so used bad going

All that says "MF" to me.

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Post by hazelbark » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:11 pm

Empires of the Dragon which I play a lot, but did not write, actually are pretty decent. I think you don't see them as much in opens because:

1) Fewer owned in general
2) For a pure competition gamer there are similar but slightly better armies elsewhere.
3) The seem to have been parsimonious dishing out superior ratings relative to other books.
4) At 800 points there are only a few that stay viable above 12-13 BGs.

Frankly I think they did the game a disservice by not having them a touch more interesting.

That said, I've run the XiXia and while i stumbled horribly at the IWF, I've also done quite well at the ITC and others with them.

What the Chinese armies have that is distinct from many others is the MF with 2nd rank bow. That gives them some options against the predominant shooty cav type armies.

Again not claiming they are world beaters, but they are better than people think.

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