Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Paul59 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:52 am

Cunningcairn wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:57 am
Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:40 am
Is there any actual historical evidence for ancient Cataphracts destroying infantry? Can anyone quote the name of a battle or two?
Weren't cataphracts the only cavalry type to break Roman legionaries in a frontal charge? I think it was Magnesia. If you take Gaugamela didn't Alexander's Companions charge right through the Persian and Greek mercenary foot when attacking Darius at the end of the battle? I think the fact that lancer armed cavalry survived from Biblical times right into the 20 century speaks for itself. Yes they evolved their armour and weaponry but essentially they remained lancers. That's because they were very effective.
I have just been looking at Livy's account of Magnesia, it is quite vague about the circumstances of the Roman "Legion" being broken. The translation that I have says:

"Antiochus from his position on his right wing had noticed that the Romans, trusting to the protection of the river, had only four squadrons of cavalry in position there, and these, keeping in touch with their infantry, had left the bank of the river exposed. He attacked this part of the line with his auxiliaries and cataphracti, and not only forced back their front, but wheeling round along the river, pressed on their flank until the cavalry were put to flight and the infantry, who were next to them, were driven with them in headlong flight to their camp."

In game terms, that could be read as the Seleucid auxiliary infantry pushed the Roman Legion back, the Cataphracts routed the Roman cavalry (which may have caused the Legion to fail a cohesion test and disrupt), and then hit the Legion in the flank. But to be fair, who knows? Maybe the cataphracts did attack the legion frontally with success, but the description is not detailed enough to make a judgement in my opinion.

I'm not saying that you are all wrong in wanting cataphracts (and other lance armed ancient cavalry?) to crush infantry on impact, but it needs to be backed up with historical evidence. BTW, there is also the battle of Panion, where the Seleucid cataphracts broke part of the Ptolemaic phalanx, but in that case the Phalanx were already engaged to their front by the Seleucid phalanx and the cataphacts charged into the Ptolemaic rear.

We don't need to concern ourselves with later period knights, it has already been hinted that they will have enhanced capabilities in the game.
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:57 am

Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:52 am
Cunningcairn wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:57 am
Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:40 am
Is there any actual historical evidence for ancient Cataphracts destroying infantry? Can anyone quote the name of a battle or two?
Weren't cataphracts the only cavalry type to break Roman legionaries in a frontal charge? I think it was Magnesia. If you take Gaugamela didn't Alexander's Companions charge right through the Persian and Greek mercenary foot when attacking Darius at the end of the battle? I think the fact that lancer armed cavalry survived from Biblical times right into the 20 century speaks for itself. Yes they evolved their armour and weaponry but essentially they remained lancers. That's because they were very effective.
I have just been looking at Livy's account of Magnesia, it is quite vague about the circumstances of the Roman "Legion" being broken. The translation that I have says:

"Antiochus from his position on his right wing had noticed that the Romans, trusting to the protection of the river, had only four squadrons of cavalry in position there, and these, keeping in touch with their infantry, had left the bank of the river exposed. He attacked this part of the line with his auxiliaries and cataphracti, and not only forced back their front, but wheeling round along the river, pressed on their flank until the cavalry were put to flight and the infantry, who were next to them, were driven with them in headlong flight to their camp."

In game terms, that could be read as the Seleucid auxiliary infantry pushed the Roman Legion back, the Cataphracts routed the Roman cavalry (which may have caused the Legion to fail a cohesion test and disrupt), and then hit the Legion in the flank. But to be fair, who knows? Maybe the cataphracts did attack the legion frontally with success, but the description is not detailed enough to make a judgement in my opinion.

I'm not saying that you are all wrong in wanting cataphracts (and other lance armed ancient cavalry?) to crush infantry on impact, but it needs to be backed up with historical evidence. BTW, there is also the battle of Panion, where the Seleucid cataphracts broke part of the Ptolemaic phalanx, but in that case the Phalanx were already engaged to their front by the Seleucid phalanx and the cataphacts charged into the Ptolemaic rear.

We don't need to concern ourselves with later period knights, it has already been hinted that they will have enhanced capabilities in the game.
Livy was a Roman propaganda machine and the founder of false news :D

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Paul59 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:18 pm

Cunningcairn wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:57 am
Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:52 am
Cunningcairn wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:57 am


Weren't cataphracts the only cavalry type to break Roman legionaries in a frontal charge? I think it was Magnesia. If you take Gaugamela didn't Alexander's Companions charge right through the Persian and Greek mercenary foot when attacking Darius at the end of the battle? I think the fact that lancer armed cavalry survived from Biblical times right into the 20 century speaks for itself. Yes they evolved their armour and weaponry but essentially they remained lancers. That's because they were very effective.
I have just been looking at Livy's account of Magnesia, it is quite vague about the circumstances of the Roman "Legion" being broken. The translation that I have says:

"Antiochus from his position on his right wing had noticed that the Romans, trusting to the protection of the river, had only four squadrons of cavalry in position there, and these, keeping in touch with their infantry, had left the bank of the river exposed. He attacked this part of the line with his auxiliaries and cataphracti, and not only forced back their front, but wheeling round along the river, pressed on their flank until the cavalry were put to flight and the infantry, who were next to them, were driven with them in headlong flight to their camp."

In game terms, that could be read as the Seleucid auxiliary infantry pushed the Roman Legion back, the Cataphracts routed the Roman cavalry (which may have caused the Legion to fail a cohesion test and disrupt), and then hit the Legion in the flank. But to be fair, who knows? Maybe the cataphracts did attack the legion frontally with success, but the description is not detailed enough to make a judgement in my opinion.

I'm not saying that you are all wrong in wanting cataphracts (and other lance armed ancient cavalry?) to crush infantry on impact, but it needs to be backed up with historical evidence. BTW, there is also the battle of Panion, where the Seleucid cataphracts broke part of the Ptolemaic phalanx, but in that case the Phalanx were already engaged to their front by the Seleucid phalanx and the cataphacts charged into the Ptolemaic rear.

We don't need to concern ourselves with later period knights, it has already been hinted that they will have enhanced capabilities in the game.
Livy was a Roman propaganda machine and the founder of false news :D
But he is the primary ancient source for the battle of Magnesia. Appian, the only other ancient writer who mentions the battle, was writing over 300 years after the event and gives even less detail on this incident.
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:24 pm

Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:18 pm

Livy was a Roman propaganda machine and the founder of false news :D
But he is the primary ancient source for the battle of Magnesia. Appian, the only other ancient writer who mentions the battle, was writing over 300 years after the event and gives even less detail on this incident.
[/quote]

I was joking

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:55 pm

Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:18 pm

I'm not saying that you are all wrong in wanting cataphracts (and other lance armed ancient cavalry?) to crush infantry on impact, but it needs to be backed up with historical evidence. BTW, there is also the battle of Panion, where the Seleucid cataphracts broke part of the Ptolemaic phalanx, but in that case the Phalanx were already engaged to their front by the Seleucid phalanx and the cataphacts charged into the Ptolemaic rear.
Livy was a Roman propaganda machine and the founder of false news :D
[/quote]

But he is the primary ancient source for the battle of Magnesia. Appian, the only other ancient writer who mentions the battle, was writing over 300 years after the event and gives even less detail on this incident.
[/quote]

Historical evidence of dominance of one troop type over another is not always available and what evidence there is, is probably biased when written by the victors. It is probably better to deduce the effectiveness of troop types by their success on the battlefield and survival through time as weapons, tactics and armour evolved. Why was the shieldwall developed? Would it not have been easier and less costly to have an army of untrained medium foot with non-specialist weapons? Why do armies like the sub-Roman British, the Kingdom of Soissons and the Bretons do so much better in FOG2 than they did in real life if there is not something wrong with the modelling of their troop types? Why are the Parthians and Sarmatians not popular choices in FOG2 if they were so successful in real life. Why did the pike phalanx last into the 17th century? Why did lancers last into the 20th century. We know that armies of disciplined troops with sophisticated weapons (technology) and tactics were those that won the battles. We should not ignore history because there is no written proof detailing the results of a particular encounter between particular troop types. Personally I don't think lancers of any kind should have a POA over steady HF with spear or pike in a frontal charge. I do think they should have a very large POA over MF with non-specialised weapons. I really like FOG2 and understand how difficult it is to create a game that gives the correct interpretation of ancient warfare but sometimes the arguments defending a particular viewpoint do not make sense to me.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:29 pm

What makes you think medium foot would be easier and less costly than a shieldwall? It seems to me that the shieldwall was retained in many cultures because it was one of the easiest ways to make poorly armored and trained men into effective fighters.

The Parthians and Sarmatians aren’t popular because equal points battles take away one of the greatest advantages of mounted armies, strategic mobility. Historically, such armies would almost never fight in “equal points” battles.

The Pike Phalanx certainly did NOT last into the 17th century. Hellenistic Phalanxes disappeared with the Hellenistic empires. Medieval Scottish and Flemish spearmen were not at all similar, neither were the dense pike blocks of the Swiss and Landsknechts, or the smaller number of pikemen in linear 17th century formations. Just because the weapon itself existed does not mean its use remained unchanged in the 1600 years in between.

Lances also were used into the 20th century, but a Cataphract is not the same as a Knight/Gendarme is not the same as a Winged Hussar is very much not the same as unarmored light Napoleonic/Bolivarian lancers. Even the Lance being used was drastically different for each of these roles, because their tactical use was different.

I think the equal points system is part of the problem with the MF spam armies – if they had similar numbers of men to their heavier opponents, they would not be so successful, just as if the horse archers had similar numbers, they would be more successful. Personally, I don’t think drastic changes are needed; perhaps another -1 cohesion testing for MF in the open, or a slight POA boost for cavalry on Impact, or a slight points cost increase, but I think such changes need to be made very carefully and methodically. I think just one of those changes would be enough.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Paul59 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:03 pm

I can think of another troop type that lasted a very long time; light spear armed medium foot! Does that make them king of the battlefield?

Only joking!
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by TheGrayMouser » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:55 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:29 pm

I think the equal points system is part of the problem with the MF spam armies – if they had similar numbers of men to their heavier opponents, they would not be so successful, just as if the horse archers had similar numbers, they would be more successful. Personally, I don’t think drastic changes are needed; perhaps another -1 cohesion testing for MF in the open, or a slight POA boost for cavalry on Impact, or a slight points cost increase, but I think such changes need to be made very carefully and methodically. I think just one of those changes would be enough.
This is most certainly true. I would add that since you can helocopter command your troops and micromanage them to the 10th power, more maneuver units equals much greater ability of medium foot "horde" armies.
I imagine they would be not be as good if there was a mechanic that forced you to move and charge a portion of your army in say "group mode" for armies over a certain size ( not points wise, but actual unit #'s)

Personally, I would have no problem if mounted got an additional 100POA vs medium in open, ie the way it was in FOG1 ( medium foot hordes were still an issue even with this in FOG1 but they also were 33% faster than heavy foot )

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Gaznak » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:34 pm

It seems like this thread is conflating a bunch of issues. Cataphract historicity, spam armies, mf spam armies, hf spam armies.

I think the spam armies problem is just a difficult one since this game heavily rewards maneuver with auto drops on flank. Its almost always better to take more troops because of this, no matter what type they are.

Raw hf spam could stand to lose their +1 rolls, like warbands already have.

I'm personally not sure about what to do about mf since "medium foot" is already a somewhat arbitrary designation, though one that works well for the most part. It seems inappropriate to me to have, say, thorakitai or roman auxilia taking a bigger malus on impact than they already do. Maybe the solution would be to make thorakitai hf in that case...

Anyway good thread all around.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Sun Sep 08, 2019 5:44 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:29 pm
What makes you think medium foot would be easier and less costly than a shieldwall? It seems to me that the shieldwall was retained in many cultures because it was one of the easiest ways to make poorly armored and trained men into effective fighters.

The Parthians and Sarmatians aren’t popular because equal points battles take away one of the greatest advantages of mounted armies, strategic mobility. Historically, such armies would almost never fight in “equal points” battles.

The Pike Phalanx certainly did NOT last into the 17th century. Hellenistic Phalanxes disappeared with the Hellenistic empires. Medieval Scottish and Flemish spearmen were not at all similar, neither were the dense pike blocks of the Swiss and Landsknechts, or the smaller number of pikemen in linear 17th century formations. Just because the weapon itself existed does not mean its use remained unchanged in the 1600 years in between.

Lances also were used into the 20th century, but a Cataphract is not the same as a Knight/Gendarme is not the same as a Winged Hussar is very much not the same as unarmored light Napoleonic/Bolivarian lancers. Even the Lance being used was drastically different for each of these roles, because their tactical use was different.

I think the equal points system is part of the problem with the MF spam armies – if they had similar numbers of men to their heavier opponents, they would not be so successful, just as if the horse archers had similar numbers, they would be more successful. Personally, I don’t think drastic changes are needed; perhaps another -1 cohesion testing for MF in the open, or a slight POA boost for cavalry on Impact, or a slight points cost increase, but I think such changes need to be made very carefully and methodically. I think just one of those changes would be enough.
You are missing the point completely.

Shieldwalls were formed as a counter to what had not been working. More training was required. Training costs money. The development of the Theurophoroi is an example of a military nation reacting to changing battlefield conditions. Yes it is classified as MF but is a vastly different beast to the MF classified as irregular or untrained with no battlefield drill training and armed with a short spear and sword.

The Sarmatians were used as mercenaries by many nations not because of their strategic mobility. Many nations adopted Parthian cataphract technology not because of their strategic mobility or their use in conjunction with mounted archers.

The pike phalanx did exist into the 17th century as did the lancer into the 20th century. As I said evolving as technology changed. Obviously a gendarme is different to cataphract and a Bengal lancer etc. but essentially they are lancers be they light through to extra heavy or not.

Yes the equal points system probably does add to the problem but it is the essence of the game and the rest of what you say is exactly what I am saying.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:15 pm

I don't think there's strong evidence that the shield wall was formed to counter what hadn't been working, or that it required more training. I'd say the shield wall was useful precisely because it required less training of its massed, often levied ranks.

And no, the Pike Phalanx did NOT exist in the 17th century. A battalion of foot composed of 100 pikemen and 400 musketeers is not a phalanx, it's a formation whose power lies in firepower, with the pikes protecting the shot from cavalry. That is not a phalanx.

But yes, I do agree that cataphracts are underwhelming, and I only field them when I'm using an army that lacks a good heavy infantry component.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Paul59 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:37 pm

I quickly set up a test scenario, just to see how effective Cataphracts are against Irregular Foot and Raw Legionaries in FOG2. I had 10 cataphracts pitted against 10 Raw Legionaries, and another 10 cataphracts against 10 Irregular foot all in open terrain. I ran it through once, and I know that is not statistically valid, I would have to do it about a thousand times, but I don't have time for that! But at least it gives an idea of the current state of play.

Briefly, here are the results:

As expected, the results on impact were not great. Two legionaries and two Irregular foot were disrupted, and despite badly losing a few combats, all the other foot passed their cohesion tests.

In the melee rounds things started to go badly down hill for the foot. By the end of turn 2, 3 irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 3, 5 legionaries and 6 Irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 4 all the foot were heading for the hills.

So it really boils down to whether you think that is historically correct, or not.
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by MikeC_81 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:47 pm

Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:37 pm
I quickly set up a test scenario, just to see how effective Cataphracts are against Irregular Foot and Raw Legionaries in FOG2. I had 10 cataphracts pitted against 10 Raw Legionaries, and another 10 cataphracts against 10 Irregular foot all in open terrain. I ran it through once, and I know that is not statistically valid, I would have to do it about a thousand times, but I don't have time for that! But at least it gives an idea of the current state of play.

Briefly, here are the results:

As expected, the results on impact were not great. Two legionaries and two Irregular foot were disrupted, and despite badly losing a few combats, all the other foot passed their cohesion tests.

In the melee rounds things started to go badly down hill for the foot. By the end of turn 2, 3 irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 3, 5 legionaries and 6 Irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 4 all the foot were heading for the hills.

So it really boils down to whether you think that is historically correct, or not.
This goes beyond an issue of historical accuracy. Cats are priced at a premium right now costing 68 points to field a single unit. They are not nearly as maneuverable as other cavalry and behave more like infantry but without the staying power of even the small 480 man blocks. If you want them for offensive they need to hit harder and be stuck in combat less often before casualties drain their efficacy.

Right now they can be employed successfully, like other lancers, as defensive ZoC machines where they can cut off a sizable amount of terrain against Infantry since charging shock cavalry of any sort reduces their PoA to zero in most cases outside of Deep Pikes. Anyone want to force infantry through Cat controlled terrain is going to have to send units in and cheese the no break off mechanic but stuffing a second unit behind the sacrificial lamb so you can strip their ZoC.

Maybe Cats deserve their own PoA on impact something like +50 cumulative to the +100 lancer PoA on the account of their super long two-handed pikes? Not sure.

The fact that low-cost MF is hyper-efficient is another ball of yarn. I think that problem stems more from the fact that the DL has these armies in Late Antiquity where there is generally very few heavy foot and cavalry units that are similarly cost-efficient units that are highlighting this issue. That and the fact that Irr Foot as Average MF never made any sense to me at all. Average quality is supposed to be trained troops where Irr Foot should definitely be anything but trained. They are bad units at 30 points apiece but for the wrong reasons.
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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:29 am

Paul59 wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:37 pm
I quickly set up a test scenario, just to see how effective Cataphracts are against Irregular Foot and Raw Legionaries in FOG2. I had 10 cataphracts pitted against 10 Raw Legionaries, and another 10 cataphracts against 10 Irregular foot all in open terrain. I ran it through once, and I know that is not statistically valid, I would have to do it about a thousand times, but I don't have time for that! But at least it gives an idea of the current state of play.

Briefly, here are the results:

As expected, the results on impact were not great. Two legionaries and two Irregular foot were disrupted, and despite badly losing a few combats, all the other foot passed their cohesion tests.

In the melee rounds things started to go badly down hill for the foot. By the end of turn 2, 3 irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 3, 5 legionaries and 6 Irregular foot were routed. By the end of turn 4 all the foot were heading for the hills.

So it really boils down to whether you think that is historically correct, or not.
I tested 13 superior cataphracts charging 13 Raw HF Limitanei. Cataphracts had about 37% chance of winning each charge. They caused the Limitanei to test 3 times and the Limitanei dropped one cohesion level on one occasion. This is a totally different result when average warband charged each other. There were far more testing and many fragmentations and in the case of the warband they each had an equal chance of winning. I understand that this is not a statistical analysis but does follow my experience with these troop types. Firstly even if the Limitanei are HF one would think the superior cataphracts would be more succesful than average warbands charging average warbands. There is something wrong here.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by 76mm » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:41 pm

I would think that any raw troops would be especially vulnerable to cats--it must have taken extensive training to keep men from cowering, if not fleeing, when charged by huge armored horses...

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by KiwiWarlord » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:57 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:15 pm
But yes, I do agree that cataphracts are underwhelming, and I only field them when I'm using an army that lacks a good heavy infantry component.
Yes totally agree, very underwhelming indeed. Cats definitely need some extra 'punch' on Impact imo.
Many very good comments being bandied about in this thread.

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:12 pm

I just did the 13 cat vs Limitanei test again and got exactly the same result. 3 cohesion tests and one cohesion drop. Interestingly the predicted % win dropped to between 30% and 34%. Why does that happen?

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:09 am

Cunningcairn wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:12 pm
I just did the 13 cat vs Limitanei test again and got exactly the same result. 3 cohesion tests and one cohesion drop. Interestingly the predicted % win dropped to between 30% and 34%. Why does that happen?
I tested the 13 Parthian superior cataphracts against 13 Etruscan Raw offensive spear. Cataphracts were given about a 20% winning and 5% losing chance. Results for two turns were as follows.
Round 1
4/13 losses to Etruscan Raw OSp 3 disruptions
Round 2
3/13 losses to Etruscan Raw OSp 3 disruptions

Parthians did not need to test cohesion.

So the number of cohesion tests were the same for the Limitanei LSp as the Etruscan OSp but the Etruscan disruption rate was 3 times higher. Granted there were only 26 combats but I would have thought that OSp should be better than LSp against mounted and also that the disruption rate would have been closer. But what I find more striking is that the fragmentation rate experienced by the warband against warband just doesn't happen with Cataphracts and Raw HF. Any comments anyone?

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:52 pm

That's because Warband vs Warband involves taking a -1 for losing vs shock, AND not getting the +1 for being heavy infantry. The raw hoplites only suffer from the former

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Re: Cataphracts : Rework Needed ?

Post by Cunningcairn » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:39 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:52 pm
That's because Warband vs Warband involves taking a -1 for losing vs shock, AND not getting the +1 for being heavy infantry. The raw hoplites only suffer from the former
Well that has got to be what it is. I haven't done the math but you would think because raw troops re-roll 6's there ability to not fragment wouldn't be better than average warband. Also the cats are superior so they re-roll 1's. Further to that the cats start with a large POA advantage where the warband start with no advantage. Surely the HF +1 can't make that much of a difference?

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