Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
kvnrthr
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Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by kvnrthr » Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:28 pm

I find lancer cavalry to be not so suited for an offensive role. Unless your opponent has put some raw and/or medium non-spearmen foot in the open, a frontal charge is not a great idea. Meanwhile, for flank charges, as long as you have an enemy unit pinned down one cavalry unit is as good as any other to get that crucial disruption, and I actually prefer light spear or even horse archers for that role, as they can evade away from bad situations.

Lancers do have a niche, but I actually feel they do better in the defense pinning down enemy infantry, which I'm not sure is historical. The impression I get was that the first cavalry with lancer classification in game (Companions, or Xystophoroi) were more focused on charges than contemporary cavalry, who tended to skirmish more. In game both have no problem doing a flank charge, while especially for early army lists filled with hoplites/pikes the lancers wouldn't bother charging frontally anyway. Although do correct me if this history is wrong, perhaps the differences were overstated in popular histories.

Also, I'm not an expert player by any means. I might be using the lancers wrong.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Gaznak » Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:30 pm

kvnrthr wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:28 pm
Meanwhile, for flank charges, as long as you have an enemy unit pinned down one cavalry unit is as good as any other to get that crucial disruption
Lancers are better because they apply -1 cohesion modifier to units they beat on impact. All flank attacks will drop one level but lancers are more likely to initiate a morale collapse than other horsemen.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Schweetness101 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 2:59 am

I had a similar question in an earlier thread:
viewtopic.php?f=477&t=95780

I don't know enough about the history to say for certain, but it does seem wrong that lancers are used best to neutralize enemy heavy infantry by standing in front of them.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by AlexDetrojan » Wed Apr 29, 2020 4:30 am

Well, that begs the question: what are Lancers good for in this game? And if this matches what they were used for throughout the ages? If not, I would suggest a rework of them might be in order.
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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by pinwolf » Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:37 am

kvnrthr wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:28 pm
I find lancer cavalry to be not so suited for an offensive role. Unless your opponent has put some raw and/or medium non-spearmen foot in the open, a frontal charge is not a great idea.
...The impression I get was that the first cavalry with lancer classification in game (Companions, or Xystophoroi) were more focused on charges than contemporary cavalry, who tended to skirmish more
This is from Archer Jones' Art of War in the Western World:
...Light infantrymen, if they can keep out of the way, have an obvious superiority over heavy
infantrymen.
On billiard table terrain of infinite extent, light infantry could defeat heavy infantry if
it had enough missiles and patience and adhered to its light infantry tactics of avoiding shock
combat in which the heavy infantry specialised. Most Greek states continued to rely primarily on
heavy infantry, but successes such as those recounted above caused the heavy infantry to
acknowledge the presence of the light infantry by substituting leather or stiffened cloth for metal
armour and sometimes using felt instead metal for their helmets. In this way the heavy infantry
reduced the advantage in speed enjoyed by the light infantry while still remaining well enough
armoured to fight other heavy infantry and, of course, amply protected to defeat light infantry in
close combat.
The Greeks also developed some cavalry, though this weapon system, expensive and limited by the
terrain, never became predominant and remained essentially an auxiliary system. In battle the main
hoplite forces tended to fight each other, and the auxiliary light infantry and cavalry each engaged
the other in their own separate battles.
But when Epaminondas defeated the Spartans at the Battle
of Leuctra, he combined the action of his better cavalry force with his deep array of infantry and
the flank assault by his Sacred Band. The cavalry did not prove the decisive element, but, after
defeating the inferior Spartan cavalry, its attack helped disrupt the Spartan flank manoeuvre and the
action of the cavalry helped the Sacred Band’s flank attack against the Spartan flanking segment.

The Greeks did not develop further either the infantry manoeuvres or the role of cavalry
exemplified at Leuctra. Others did, creating a method of combining arms that had theoretical as
well as practical superiority over the old Greek as well as the initial Persian way of war. King
Philip of the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon perfected this system, and his son, Alexander the
Great, used it to conquer Greece and the Persian Empire. Conceptually the Macedonian tactical
method blended the Greek and Persian systems by depending heavily on cavalry but substituting in
the line Greek heavy infantry for Persian light infantry. The reliance on cavalry had its origin not
only in the Persian practice but also in the traditional importance Macedonians had attached to
cavalry in a country more suited to the horse.
Philip bequeathed to Alexander a force of heavy cavalry. Whereas Greek and Persian cavalry used
the javelin or the bow and were prepared to thrust with a javelin or light spear, some Macedonian
cavalry relied primarily on shock action. Like the heavy infantry, these men wore armour and
carried shields and a short lance, a cavalry spear. About nine feet long and weighing four pounds,
the lance had an iron point on each end. Though the horseman lacked a stirrup, training and
practice enabled him to keep his seat reasonably well in combat at close quarters. When he thrust
with his lance, he released it at or just before the moment of impact to avoid transmitting to himself
the shock of the blow. He thus escaped the danger of losing his seat on his mount.

Macedonian horsemen also differed from Greek cavalry in that they were thoroughly disciplined
and trained to work together in groups and to respond to commands. They thus had better
articulation, training, and skill in addition to their primary reliance on shock action. Over cavalry
relying on javelins and rarely closing with the enemy, this doctrine enabled them to enjoy the same
advantage as Greek heavy infantry held over light infantry in shock combat
. Cavalry unprepared
for determined shock action could not resist their charge. Heavy cavalry had the same dominance
over light infantry, as did heavy infantry, with an important difference - light infantry could not
escape by running away.
Only the heavy infantry, a formation of armoured hoplites with their
spears, could resist the charge and best them in hand-to-hand combat.
So, main tactical purpose of lance cavalery is to fight light (bow/javelin) cavalry and light infantry. It is not intended to frontal charge heavy infantry.
I see them as 'tanks' for the skirmish battle that also have a moral breaking bonus over normal cavalery when making a flank/rear charge into ongoing melee fights.
Last edited by pinwolf on Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Schweetness101 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 3:26 pm

pinwolf wrote:
Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:37 am
This is from Archer Jones' Art of War in the Western World:
.... Heavy cavalry had the same dominance
over light infantry, as did heavy infantry, with an important difference - light infantry could not
escape by running away.
[/b] Only the heavy infantry, a formation of armoured hoplites with their
spears, could resist the charge and best them in hand-to-hand combat.
So, main tactical purpose of lance cavalery is to fight light (bow/javelin) cavalry and light infantry. It is not intended to frontal charge heavy infantry.
I see them as 'tanks' for the skirmish battle that also have a moral breaking bonus over normal cavalery when making a flank/rear charge into ongoing melee fights.
a key terminology question though is what does the above author mean by light infantry? If you look for example at this picture:

Image

it seems possible that under some systems and in some histories what the historian is calling 'light infantry' are FOG2's medium infantry, and in turn the historians are calling FOG2's light infantry 'skirmishers'.

It looks like Archer Jones is referring to FOG2's light infantry as light infantry given that he describes them as using missiles and running away, but should perhaps FOG2's medium infantry be a bit weaker in the open to lancer charges? Or perhaps lancers should get a better bonus/impose a stronger malus against disrupted heavy infantry?

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Athos1660 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:24 pm

The primary tactical purpose of non-light cavalry is to fight non-light cavalry.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by MVP7 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:22 pm

The main advantage of lancers is against light spear cavalry while both types are equally good at flanking and bad at fighting infantry head on so I think overall the non-light cavalry types do what they are supposed to do.

Regarding Light Infantry and Skirmishers, I have never seen them regarded as two different troop types in literature. The FoG2 medium infantry is basically a mix of loose order or low quality heavy/melee infantry which includes irregulars and such, while troops like massed archers would be usually called "light infantry" outside of wargames.

I wouldn't mind medium infantry having reduced POA against non-light cavalry in the open but that has more to do with FoG2 medium infantry being really good rather than underperforming of cavalry.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by TheGrayMouser » Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:40 am

Arthur Jones writes from a very theoretical level regarding troop types. So there are only 4 types when discussing ancient and medieval. Lights ( foot and mounted) whom shoot, and heavies whom fight close. On his matrix of combat roles light foot are attack superior to heavy foot onthe hypothetical battlefield of unlimited ammo, and unlimited retreat options. They are defense superior to light horse as the assumption is light foot have more powerful missles or can achieve greater density of fire. They of course cannot force an engagement with light horse ( or heavies either but can be ridden down heavy horse) Heavy infantry is defense superior to heavy horse, etc etc. on the macro scale it makes sense ( and he has similar matrices all they modern ware fare)

Medium foot are the bane of balance in this game. I would have no problem if mounted got a 100 poa versus medium foot in open in addition to whatever weapon poa they get ( so like Fog 1). If that is too much then at least lancers and heavy chariots.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Gaznak » Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:46 am

TheGrayMouser wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:40 am
Medium foot are the bane of balance in this game. I would have no problem if mounted got a 100 poa versus medium foot in open in addition to whatever weapon poa they get ( so like Fog 1). If that is too much then at least lancers and heavy chariots.
I made a mod for myself that gave all mounted units +50 impact against medium foot and feel like it works well enough.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by melm » Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:48 am

Medium infantry is in the realm of wargames to depict a certain unit that can fight flexibly, for example, Thureorophroi. They can gather close to fight as heavy infantry and also scatter to fight like skirmishers. Since none of the games have the rules for changing formation, the medium infantry type is created. Not looks ideal but it looks close to their role. I don't see there's any need to nerf the medium.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by kvnrthr » Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:20 am

MVP7, I would say that the lancers are more likely to get caught when chasing an evading unit, while light spear cavalry are far more flimsy.

On a separate note I find it very odd that any cavalry has trouble catching light infantry unless it stands right next to it. Especially against a mass of light infantry units, your cavalry chases one away, and instead of pursuing it tries to charge another unit which evades, then you're out of AP. All the light infantry turns around and pelts your cavalry to death.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by TheGrayMouser » Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:23 am

kvnrthr wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:20 am
MVP7, I would say that the lancers are more likely to get caught when chasing an evading unit, while light spear cavalry are far more flimsy.

On a separate note I find it very odd that any cavalry has trouble catching light infantry unless it stands right next to it. Especially against a mass of light infantry units, your cavalry chases one away, and instead of pursuing it tries to charge another unit which evades, then you're out of AP. All the light infantry turns around and pelts your cavalry to death.
I have advocated for evading light foot (from Cavalry)to auto drop a cohesion level.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by TheGrayMouser » Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:35 am

melm wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:48 am
Medium infantry is in the realm of wargames to depict a certain unit that can fight flexibly, for example, Thureorophroi. They can gather close to fight as heavy infantry and also scatter to fight like skirmishers. Since none of the games have the rules for changing formation, the medium infantry type is created. Not looks ideal but it looks close to their role. I don't see there's any need to nerf the medium.
But their given the best of both worlds, yet with oddities. If their supposedly in close order, why suffer a mal cohesion when losing to “heavies”? If they have the same weapon and armor as a heavy, why are they “better” in rough? I don’t believe a Roman cohort was any less capable in some open forest than a thurophori unit, and probably better trained. Yet the Roman impact poa is oddly unaffected in woods but the thuro’s offensive spear doesn’t work despite the supposed “flexibility”. Hmmm.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by MVP7 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:48 am

melm wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:48 am
Medium infantry is in the realm of wargames to depict a certain unit that can fight flexibly, for example, Thureorophroi. They can gather close to fight as heavy infantry and also scatter to fight like skirmishers. Since none of the games have the rules for changing formation, the medium infantry type is created. Not looks ideal but it looks close to their role. I don't see there's any need to nerf the medium.
The pricing of medium infantry doesn't reflect their real capabilities though. Being heavy infantry only matters on statistical level after you start losing impacts/melees while medium infantry completely dominates non-open terrain with a clear POA advantage. Despite this the medium infantry seems to be considered the worse of the two and gets maneuverability for no extra cost.

One of the weirdest examples of medium/heavy difference are the Loose and Close order Warbands. Close Warbands don't get the full CT bonuses of heavy infantry while Loose Warbands are far more flexible. If the organization of Close and Loose warbands gives Loose Order a massive advantage in the rough then why does Close Order get virtually nothing even in the open?

Medium foot is just far more flexible and cost effective than the extremely specialized heavy infantry.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:10 pm

Loose warbands get the additional -1 for losing in the open, which close order don't. So there is a difference.
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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by melm » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:20 pm

TheGrayMouser wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:35 am
melm wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:48 am
Medium infantry is in the realm of wargames to depict a certain unit that can fight flexibly, for example, Thureorophroi. They can gather close to fight as heavy infantry and also scatter to fight like skirmishers. Since none of the games have the rules for changing formation, the medium infantry type is created. Not looks ideal but it looks close to their role. I don't see there's any need to nerf the medium.
But their given the best of both worlds, yet with oddities. If their supposedly in close order, why suffer a mal cohesion when losing to “heavies”? If they have the same weapon and armor as a heavy, why are they “better” in rough? I don’t believe a Roman cohort was any less capable in some open forest than a thurophori unit, and probably better trained. Yet the Roman impact poa is oddly unaffected in woods but the thuro’s offensive spear doesn’t work despite the supposed “flexibility”. Hmmm.
It may come from the idea of training that heavy inf only focuses on training to be heavy while medium has less training to perfom as heavy. Otherwise, you are right, medium should not suffer negative cohesion when fight against heavy of the same quality. All in all, it's the paradigm of tabletop wargame, which has the limitations. Should Roman suffer penalty fighting against the troops who has the training of skirmishing in the forest? Probably yes, Romans are trained to keep formation. Probably not, as legionaries also has skirmish training. Everyone has their own opinion.
Last edited by melm on Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by MVP7 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:23 pm

SnuggleBunnies wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:10 pm
Loose warbands get the additional -1 for losing in the open, which close order don't. So there is a difference.
Sure, but Loose Warband will wipe the floor with any heavy or cavalry unit in the game when fighting on rough or forest tiles. The CT modifier is a fairly small downside that only really matters on large scale while the heavy foot is extremely vulnerable when fighting outside their comfort zone.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by Athos1660 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:26 pm

kvnrthr wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:20 am
I find it very odd that any cavalry has trouble catching light infantry unless it stands right next to it.
Maybe it is because, in this situation, light infantry might tend to disperse while non-light cavalry might tend to remain clustered. Moreover the latter is not always at a gallop.
TheGrayMouser wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:23 am
I have advocated for evading light foot (from Cavalry)to auto drop a cohesion level.
But light foot is happy to evade. That's skirmishing, isn't it ? :-)
kvnrthr wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:20 am
Especially against a mass of light infantry units, your cavalry chases one away, and instead of pursuing it tries to charge another unit which evades, then you're out of AP. All the light infantry turns around and pelts your cavalry to death.
Indeed, the mass of light infantry units in some armies is sometimes boring.
But LF able to evade cavalry (the mechanism) is nice, IMHO.

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Re: Comparing historical and in-game lancer/light spear cavalry

Post by MVP7 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:38 pm

If you think of the light infantry being attacked by cavalry on the ground level the light infantry wouldn't fight as a solid unit that could be caught or forced to fight in melee.

The evasion of light infantry and decision to either commit the cavalry in longer pursuit or direct them towards the main enemy force at the risk of light infantry returning seems like a good abstraction of the messy process of hunting down the loosely organized skirmishers.

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