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1660+ Horse

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:55 pm
by AlexDetrojan
Can anyone be so kind as to give me a primer for the correct use of Horse in the Roi Soleil Era. I've been playing the Italian Wars era and pre-1600 era a lot and horse then is so different from the much later eras. Kind of flummoxed as to their correct usage and match-ups. Any and all tips appreciated.

Re: 1660+ Horse

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:41 am
by SnuggleBunnies
I mean... it's a pretty broad question. The range of types is quite diverse. Off the top of my head:

Encompassing a wide range of quality and armor:

Carbine / Pistol (Melee)
Carbine / Swordsmen
Bow / Swordsmen
Pistol (Impact) / Pistol (Melee)
Impact Horse / Pistol (Melee)

Going into the uses of all of these types would be an essay. Instead, I guess it would be easier to compare to the 1500-1600 lists. For one thing, armor is less and less important. It's still useful in cavalry melees, but that's about it. Few troops are armed with bows by this point, and infantry nearly universally carry muskets, which negate armor even in melee. There are also a lot more Impact Horse about, and, since armor isn't taken into account on impact, spending the points on armor isn't as wise an investment overall. Even relatively cheap Unarmored Horse (Impact) can be deadly. Where the Impact Horse trait before was largely limited to expensive (due to quality and armor) Polish Winged Hussars, the average unarmored Impact horse are comparatively cost effective.

Infantry firepower in general is more fearful in this period. In the pre 1550 lists, while the firepower of massed archers and crossbowmen is deadly to cavalry, such troops are incapable of defending themselves on open ground. Post 1650, most infantry are either armed with muskets and bayonets, or 80% muskets 20% pikes, possibly with Light Guns for an extra +50 POA defensive Impact. Even the Poles and Russians field substantial numbers of Pike and Shot by this point, and their non-Western infantry is still either Musket, Swordsmen or Musket, Heavy Weapon, both capable of repelling cavalry if they survive Impact. The only bright spot is that there are no Pike Keils by this period, so infantry disrupted by musketry or artillery will be vulnerable to cavalry assaults, and can be flank attacked.

So instead of the pre-1550 pattern of using Gendarmes to fight other cavalry and overrun non-Pike infantry, or the pre 1600 pattern of using Reiters to ZoC pikemen in place and blast them with the caracole, supporting arquebus fire and artillery, or the pre 1630 interlacing of shooty cavalry such as Arkebusiers in between units of Pike or Tercio type infantry, it's generally wiser to deploy nearly all of your cavalry on the wings. In the earlier period, cavalry, infantry, and skirmishers fight intermixed across the battlefield. In the later period, the two armies' opposing cavalry and supporting skirmishers (dragoons, light horse etc.) engage one another. The side with the weaker infantry force attempts to keep the engagement limited to the flanks at first, while the side with the stronger infantry force attempts to force a general action before the flank combat is completed. At this point, the battle becomes a race; whichever side can win the cavalry action, and get a couple of units into the enemy army's rear, while at the very least avoiding defeat in the musketry dominated action in the center, will probably win.

As for cavalry on cavalry matchups; Impact Horse get +100 in open terrain, and against non-Superior Determined Horse armed with pistols. So Veteran Horse can contend with Impact Horse, but Horse cannot. Mounted Swordsmen don't get their +100 POA vs mounted melee pistoleers, unless the pistoleers are disordered or unsteady. So if you are fielding Impact Horse, you want a mass charge in open terrain to sweep away the opposition. If you are fighting against Impact Horse, you want to camp out in broken terrain or on hills, and cover the front with ZoC to force the Impact Horse to either stand off and do nothing, get shot at, or engage in circumstances less favorable to them. Since Impact Horse are more expensive, losing them to fire or engaging on even terms in a grinding, slow melee in rough ground or forests is no good for them.

Still, the above scenarios really only cover the most standard Western armies. Some of the Western armies, such as the Swedes and French, have infantry much better equipped for charging into contact than sustaining a firefight; that Impact power can be fearsome, but the lack of tactical flexibility it causes, and the expense of Salvo foot, can be limiting. Then there are the non-Western (or at least less Western) armies, such as the Poles, Russians, and Turks. The Poles and Russians at this point are far closer in fighting style to the West than in the pre-1600 lists, using Pike and Shot and Horse. Still, both also deploy non-Western styles of fighting, such as Bow cavalry, Hadjuks and Streltsy, etc. The Turkish style remains more separate - though their cavalry are armed more with carbines than with bows in this period, they still emphasize missile exchange in a way that most Western style cavalry no longer do. Their infantry is also still without pike or bayonet; though the Janissaries can be formidable close fighters, and their musketry is deadly, they require some kind of terrain protection to be guaranteed to survive against cavalry charges.

Basically, by 1650, a Europe wide military culture is clearly well established; England, Denmark, France, the Empire, and even to a certain extent Russia and Poland field at least pretty similar armies. Compare that to the situation in the 1494 lists: Poles fielding Light Spear, Crossbow infantry supporting Crossbow and Lance armed cavalry, England's traditional Bow and Bill and dismounted Men at Arms, the Boyars of Russia, the Halberd and Crossbow armed Scandinavians, and of course the Swiss and Landsknechts, not to mention the Turks, who still rely to a large extent on archery at this point. By the end of the game in 1698, the differences are far more those of doctrine (fire vs shock) than armament.

Whoops, that got off topic, just about turned into an essay anyway. Hopefully at least part of that was helpful. Of course all of the above depends heavily on the terrain and army matchups.

Re: 1660+ Horse

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:21 am
by AlexDetrojan
SnuggleBunnies, Thanks, that was exactly what I was looking for! If o.k. with you, can I copy and paste this on to a word document on my P.C? So if I'm reading you right, Horse(Shock) are the real primo units whether armored or not? I just played a game of Louis XIV's French vs appropriate Dutch enemies and found that these shock horse have a fairly good chance of winning when charged into disrupted or fragmented pike formations! I'm beginning to like this era quite a bit. Thanks for your measured and thoughtful response.

Re: 1660+ Horse

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:37 am
by SnuggleBunnies
Sure, feel free. And yes, I would say the shock horse have an edge overall, though skilled play can mitigate their advantages.