Elephants panicking

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
Mord
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Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:24 am

I haven't been able to find much info on this game-wise, either in the manual or on the forums. As I understand it when an elephant unit breaks, a cohesion test is conducted for friendlies up to two tiles away (an extra title from a standard break test). Is that the only danger from a herd of freaked out pachyderms? There's no chance of them barreling through the nearest mass of men to get away from the fighting? If a standard cohesion test is the only consequence, I have a suggestion. Along with the cohesion test, when the elephants rout, instead of running through a maze of units to find freedom, how about they take a shortcut straight through whomever is in the way (a modified skirmisher move)? Exceptions would be any units engaged in melee (would cause a change of direction for the elephant), or any unit that could evade out of the path (light horse/foot). Any other unit/units would be hit with 10+ (or whatever seems realistic) casualties and suffer a Severely Disordered for one turn (as if in woods). That would be a great way to simulate the chaos and horror 15 or so 5 ton-tanks going off the rails, would inspire. Or something similar to this. So far (unless I am missing something) what I have seen doesn't come close to what I expect would've happened on an ancient battlefield.


Thanks.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by rbodleyscott » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:30 am

It is an abstraction.
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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:53 pm

Yes, I understand, but why can't it be less "abstract'"? There seems to be little consequence compared to the dangers of fielding such flighty beasts in battle. Elephants moving through a unit (or in the least, up to and causing some numerical casualties as if charged) would still be an abstraction but with heavier risk. The beauty of it would be that it could happen to either friendlies or foe. It just feels like there is a little bit more that could be done with them to better capture the real world risks.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by rbodleyscott » Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:13 pm

Mord wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:53 pm
The beauty of it would be that it could happen to either friendlies or foe.
This is a standard (computer) wargaming trope, but doesn't seem to have much basis in historical reality. Elephants did not generally run amok at random, or only a few individuals did. Elephants are not stupid, mostly once they panicked they fled away from their tormentors. This meant that while they might trample their own side, they would be unlikely to trample the enemy side. I am aware that many games have depicted them rampaging at random, but that doesn't seem to be what usually happened historically.
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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:28 pm

Also, just because units often pass cohesion tests doesn't mean that VERY bad things can't happen. If you have one unit of elephants break, causing another to break... you can have a horrific chain reaction shattering a portion of your army.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:03 pm

Fair enough. But my argument wasn't to trample at random but to flee the unit they were combating through whatever might be in their way instead of zig-zagging around everyone. I only said friend or foe because there's no telling who would be blocking the exit once they rout. So, I guess what you are saying is they'd flee any enemy, whether being attacked by it or not. I guess an about-face would statically be more apt to have them charging back through their own lines anyway. Cool. I have no issue with it only effecting friendlies. That's fine and offers more risk to the one fielding the elephants if he does something stupid with them.

So, then the two-square cohesion test represents them crashing through their own troops causing panic? If so, then my argument would be that if said "friendlies" fail this test they should not only take a cohesion drop but suffer some casualties to represent not getting out of the way.

Mord.
Last edited by Mord on Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:13 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:28 pm
you can have a horrific chain reaction shattering a portion of your army.
I like to think of this as the Ancient's version of "Bejewelled" (or Candy Crush for you younger guys). So satisfying watching those rolling routs. Unless they're yours!


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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by rbodleyscott » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:09 pm

Mord wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:03 pm
So, then the two-square cohesion test represents them crashing through their own troops causing panic?
It does.
If so, then my argument would be that if said "friendlies" fail this test they should not only take a cohesion drop but suffer some casualties to represent not getting out of the way.
Arguably, though it complicates the coding for largely cosmetic benefit.
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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:21 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:09 pm

Arguably, though it complicates the coding for largely cosmetic benefit.
Yeah, I guess in the end you are right. LOL. After all, you do have to code it. Though, I will say I love my original idea of them crashing through whoever is in their way, at least on the first turn of the rout. It could lead to a lot of chaos. Anyway, thanks for engaging in the conversation. I really like that you are willing to interact with players.

BTW, any chance we could get a feature that would allow us to name units in Custom Battles like we can in Campaigns? And/Or be able to toggle banners on and off?

Mord.
Last edited by Mord on Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:53 pm

Casualties would be a nice little detail, but my suspicion is that the actual casualties were pretty light - the real consequence was the chaos and panic caused by people *not* trying to become casualties. If I recall correctly, at Zama the Romans made lanes of sorts to deal with the elephants, funneling them in between men with javelins. This indicates that the elephants could not be necessarily goaded into crashing directly into a solid wall of footmen. Granted, panicked pachyderms put upon by peltasts might be a little more willing to go *wherever* but I think the game's modeling of the elephants largely fleeing through any available gap, with cohesion tests representing a few of the most injured/panicked beasts going rogue seems plausible.

If it were to be added in, I would guess it would be something along the lines of the casualties inflicted on evading troops - pretty small. Casualties would just be a side effect of the actually important psychological effect.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by sIg3b » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:22 pm

I´d like Elephants to be a bit more spectacular. Somewhat more powerful, but also causing more havoc to their own when things go wrong.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:36 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:53 pm
If it were to be added in, I would guess it would be something along the lines of the casualties inflicted on evading troops - pretty small. Casualties would just be a side effect of the actually important psychological effect.
Yes, that's exactly what I had in my head — something like 2-10 or 2-15.

As to the other part, I figured units engaged in melee and Pike and other large spear formations would be ignored. Light troops and light horse would try to evade out of the way, and medium units would be passed through, thus causing the casualties and Extremely Disordered effect (for one turn). But I can live with what we have if that's the way it must be. There's enough there that my mind can fill in the blanks. Having this discussion helped too.

The deeper I delve into this game the more I am finding that a lot of the choices that were made seem to hover in that sweet spot between detail vs abstraction. That compromise works very well with my imagination. I end up seeing much more than what's actually being shown. Not many games pull that off. It's very cool.

Mord.
Last edited by Mord on Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:41 pm

sIg3b wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:22 pm
I´d like Elephants to be a bit more spectacular. Somewhat more powerful, but also causing more havoc to their own when things go wrong.
You've come to the right thread. Maybe we can get some tweaking?


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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by rbodleyscott » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:54 pm

Mord wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:21 pm
BTW, any chance we could get a feature that would allow us to name units in Custom Battles like we can in Campaigns?
Once again, it would be a lot of work for minimal benefit. Not many people are going to want to spend the time naming their units for one-off battles. Development time is limited and has to be prioritised.
And/Or be able to toggle banners on and off?
It would be very difficult to play without the unit status information that is displayed on the banners.
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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by Mord » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:38 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:54 pm
It would be very difficult to play without the unit status information that is displayed on the banners.
That request was more for screenshots, viewing the map, units etc. I wouldn't play with them off. Same reason I toggle the over head icons in Combat Mission. LOL. But I know the answer...I get it. Small teams need to prioritize what is gonna make the most people happy. I am just a huge fan of options. I can't ever seem to have enough of them.

Give me time. I know I have an idea buried some where in my brain that you are gonna love!


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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by General Shapur » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:07 pm

I expect its either me - or perhaps people getting used to dealing with elephants - but they seem a lot easier to put down these days. Certainly they are devastating in a flank attack - but head on; seems to be a waste of 60 points. They are good for giving cav the yips - but easily bypassed. I don't really think this is a bad thing - were they really that good once troops got used to facing them?
Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too. M.A.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by bloodphoenix » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:54 am

General Shapur wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:07 pm
I expect its either me - or perhaps people getting used to dealing with elephants - but they seem a lot easier to put down these days. Certainly they are devastating in a flank attack - but head on; seems to be a waste of 60 points. They are good for giving cav the yips - but easily bypassed. I don't really think this is a bad thing - were they really that good once troops got used to facing them?
Let me see if I can para-phrase what you just said, Shapur. "Is it just me, or are elephants in this game historically accurate?"

The sad reality, which is just not as fun or dramatic as many people would like it to be, is that war elephants were not "The Tanks of the Ancient Battlefield" that laid waste to all who dared face their massive wrath.
Elephants were most effective as a counter-cavalry weapon. But that seems to have largely been because horses did not like the way they smelled, and over time, those who had both types of animals in their armies found that it was possible to train your cavalry with your elephants and get the horses accustomed to the odor. Or so I've read.

Those occasions when Elephants proved decisive or devastating against infantry, seem to have mostly occurred under one of two circumstances.

The first was with troops that were poorly trained, with indifferent morale, and poor equipment in the bargain (to the extent that they may have lacked weapons that could do much to their thick-hided foe).

The second was against armies that had never before faced elephants in battle (like the Romans facing Pyrrhus). You have to consider that for many of the soldiers in the Roman army at that time, it was likely the first time they had seen one in ANY context. Imagine what it might have been like. The largest animal you were accustomed to seeing on a battlefield was a horse. And now you are seeing elephants for the first time...not just one mind you...but a whole line of them advancing toward you! They were likely trumpeting (an unearthly sound if it was new to your ears). And I would suggest another consideration. I used to do reenacting, and know what its like to feel, transmitted through the earth, the impact of the hooves of 20 or 30 horses, in formation, at a full gallop. I can understand why infantry sometimes broke and ran before cavalry reached them. Its...daunting. It makes you feel very small and fragile, even when you know that they aren't coming to hack at your body with sharp things, and trod your blood under-hoof. I can only imagine what it would feel like if it was a dozen adult elephants charging at you. And if you had never seen such an animal...well...you would think it was some kind of monster straight out of your cultural myths. So, my personal theory is that they were most effective as a psychological weapon. And that once soldiers realized they were mere animals, and could be killed, much of that terror factor was lost.

Now, realize that I'm saying that with a full understanding and appreciation of just how crazy-strong a full-grown elephant is. I said that its possible for a group of Bronze or Iron Age foot-soldiers to dispatch one...I did NOT SAY I'd want to be one of those warriors. I've seen the YouTube videos. I know elephants can toss humans around like a rag-doll, and demolish things like cars and lightly built structures. I will never willingly go within a mile of an angry bull elephant. But that said, the expense of their training and maintenance did not generally justify their impact on the battlefield. Oh, I'm sure that Flatus the trampled Velite would beg to differ, but they were not an "ultimate weapon that changed the course of a battle". The only battle I can think of when they did? Was when they turned en masse and quit the field, routing their own army in the process...

Of course, there are "historic" sources that suggest otherwise. If you extend "historic" to include mere years as well as centuries, and include as "sources" previous computer games.
I seem to remember that the war elephants in Rome: Total War were satisfyingly "Awesome".

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by pinwolf » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:57 am

Question: Are there any differences between the three different pachyderm units in the game (Elephants, Indian Elephants and Muslim War Elephants)?

For instance Wikipedia tells me that the elephants used by Carthage in the Punic Wars where North African elephant {Loxodonta africana pharaohensis}. These where very small elephants, perhaps 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) at the shoulder. The species got extinct around 100 AD. This should be the FoG II - 'Elephant' unit also used by Romans? And Seleucids?

FoG II - 'Indian Elephants' unit should be Indian elephant {Elephas maximus indicus} (a sub-species of Asian elephant {Elephas maximus}):
In general, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants and have the highest body point on the head. The tip of their trunk has one finger-like process. Their back is convex or level.
Average, males are about 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall at the shoulder and 4 t (4.4 short tons) in weight
Indian elephants (sub-species) reach a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.5 m (6.6 and 11.5 ft), weigh between 2 t and 5 t (4,400 and 11,000 lb)


What are 'Muslim War Elephants'?

Maybe -> Syrian elephant or Western Asiatic elephant {Elephas maximus asurus}
- westernmost subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which became extinct in ancient times.
Syrian elephants were among the largest Asian elephant subspecies to have survived into historic times, measuring 3.5 metres (11 ft 6 in) or more at the shoulder; on par with the largest reported Indian elephants. Skeletal remains show it did not differ much from the Indian subspecies, except in size.
But they where supposedly extinct already around 100 BCE, so could not be muslim :wink:

Maybe are this -> African bush elephant {Loxodonta africana}?:
- also known as the African savanna elephant, is the largest living terrestrial animal
- bulls reach a shoulder height of 3.2–4 m (10–13 ft) and a weight of 7 t (7.7 short tons).
The heaviest male on record weighed 10.4 t (11.5 short tons) and was shot in 1974 in Angola.

So, does the game has some internal formula that recognizes differences or are all elephants regardless of unit type the same?
Last edited by pinwolf on Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:12 am

pinwolf wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:57 am
Question: Are there any differences between the three different pachyderm units in the game (Elephants, Indian Elephants and Muslim War Elephants)?

For instance Wikipedia tells me that the elephants used by Carthage in the Punic Wars where North African elephant {Loxodonta africana pharaohensis}. These where very small elephants, perhaps 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) at the shoulder. The species got extinct around 100 AD. This should be the FoG II - 'Elephant' unit also used by Romans and Seleucids?

FoG II - 'Indian Elephants' unit should be Indian elephant {Elephas maximus indicus} (a sub-species of Asian elephant {Elephas maximus}):
In general, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants and have the highest body point on the head. The tip of their trunk has one finger-like process. Their back is convex or level.
Average, males are about 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall at the shoulder and 4 t (4.4 short tons) in weight
Indian elephants (sub-species) reach a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.5 m (6.6 and 11.5 ft), weigh between 2 t and 5 t (4,400 and 11,000 lb)


What are 'Muslim War Elephants'?
Maybe -> Syrian elephant or Western Asiatic elephant {Elephas maximus asurus} [extinct around 100 BCE]
- westernmost subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which became extinct in ancient times.
Syrian elephants were among the largest Asian elephant subspecies to have survived into historic times, measuring 3.5 metres (11 ft 6 in) or more at the shoulder; on par with the largest reported Indian elephants. Skeletal remains show it did not differ much from the Indian subspecies, except in size.

Or are this African bush elephant {Loxodonta africana}
- also known as the African savanna elephant, is the largest living terrestrial animal
- bulls reach a shoulder height of 3.2–4 m (10–13 ft) and a weight of 7 t (7.7 short tons).
The heaviest male on record weighed 10.4 t (11.5 short tons) and was shot in 1974 in Angola.

So, does the game has some internal formula that recognices differences or are all elephants regardless of unit type the same?
Muslim War elephants would be of the Indian species. The African bush elephant has seemingly never been used in warfare. As you say, Carthaginian elephants were of the now-extinct North African species.

The issue of species does not seem to have had any significant effect on the efficacy of the elephants in warfare, except when North African Elephants came into direct conflict with Indian elephants. To avoid introducing unnecessary complexity, therefore, all elephants are treated the same in the game, except in certain Epic Battle scenarios where North African Elephants met Indian Elephants. In those cases, the Indian elephants are given an advantage in a direct confrontation.
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Re: Elephants panicking

Post by pinwolf » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:16 am

Thank you for clarifying.

Edit:
But it would be really nice if the "direct confrontation advantage" of 'Indian Elephants'-unit vs. 'Elephants'-unit from the epic battles could be made compliant to rules in custom battles and also apply for the ''Muslim War Elephants'-unit.

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