Thoughts on Early Byzantines

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Private First Class - Wehrmacht Inf
Private First Class - Wehrmacht Inf
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Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 9:50 pm

Thoughts on Early Byzantines

Post by Tucker » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:19 pm

I have few thoughts about Early Byzantine list (as the subject header would suggest), many of which have occured to other posters on this message board. I like list as a whole and think it serves its purpose well. However, a few changes could create a better, more historical representation of the Early Byzantine army.

1) Bucellarii

Reclassify them all as Bow*/Lancers, rather than the current mix of bows and lancers. This would better represent the actual armament of the unit, where every soldier was an archer and lancer. While not every soldier could master both weapons, that's what the 'lesser' kind of Roman cavalry can represent - those soldiers only proficient in bow or lance. Also, Bow* isn’t any more effective than a mixed formation though it is a bit more resistant to attrition, which is reflected in the increase cost of the unit.

There could also be an option to upgrade the Buccellarii to Elite, to represent the best veteran units and to differentiate them from the other cavalry, but I'm leery of this. The Elite rating is a rare thing, and the double armament should be sufficient to keep the bucellarii apart from the rabble. Though, on the other hand, later Byzantine cataphracts (and the earlier legionnaires) can be elite, so maybe the bucs should be as well.

2) Roman Cavalry

Give them an option to upgrade to Superior. I see no reason why Roman cavalry should be rated as consistently inferior to their Persian and Germanic counterparts when battlefield performance did not bear this out. Granted, the ideal solution would be to require a portion of the cavalry from other lists to be rated as Average as well, but changing the Byzantines to the standards of their enemies is the easier thing to do.

Another option would be to increase the maximum for the buccellarii, and assume the entry covers both ‘true’ biscuit eaters and the best of the line cavalry. Seeing as ideal was for all Byzantine cavalry was to master both weapons that option might be a more accurate way of representing the unit. But, again on the other hand, the instinct of the Byzantine cavalry was to shoot first and fight second (e.g. every freaking battle they fought in Italy) so maybe the ‘pure’ bow rating is the way to go.

3) Legiones

I don’t think giving the Legiones the Armored classification is a necessary change. While some, perhaps many, of them had some mail armor, I don’t think the amount was great enough as to require a reclassification. Furthermore, the infantry was an afterthought in the army; Protected classification emphasizes that.

I also think Light Spear/Swordsmen is the best weapon classification. They were used as rough terrain troops on occasion, which recommends against Defensive Spear, and swordsmanship was still a prized skill. In short, they don’t need a change, though I could be persuaded otherwise.

4) Isaurians

They should be Light Spear/Swordsmen. They were rated as good troops as close in fighting, so they deserve it. They might also be drilled, seeing as they were part of the regular army, but perhaps the intent is that ‘regular’ Isaurians are represented by the Legiones?

5) Foot Archers

I would increase the maxima to 12. Foot archery played an important, offensive role in at least a few battles, most notably Narses’ later campaign in Italy. Allowing two battlegroups of archers would better model this.

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