Wolves at the Gate some feedback

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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Scartabelli
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Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:37 pm

Salve fratres!

First, of I want to say that so far I really enjoyed the new DLC but I've noticed a few things that maybe could use some attention.


First the lack of some kind of army list that could represent Polabian Slavs, Slavic pirates/vikings and mercenaries. Having such a list ( especially for 960-1040 time period) would make the Campaigns options for HRE/Germany way more interesting since now Polish-German campaigns kind of lack interesting allies. The areas the Polabians and Pomeranians inhabited were also an important direction for expansion for both Germans and Poles. Moreover, Polabians (Obotrites) were important allies of Charlemagne and other Carolingian kings, later they fought for different sides like Germans, Poles, Scandinavians, and Magyars. So both from historic and gameplay perspectives they would be really useful to make custom campaigns and battles more interesting. This could also bring more unit variety.

The second smaller thing. The Polish army list. It lacks one key unit that is well documented in the sources. Namely the "clipeati" or how their name is sometimes translated "tarczownicy" (literally: "shieldbearers"). In the past, they were often categorized as infantry but now historians are quite sure that the formation hidden under this name is unarmored cavalry (part of druzhina) that possibly was also fighting on foot if needed just like the less numerous "Pancerni" or armored druzhina. Long story short adding unarmored cavalry that can dismount to offensive shieldwall to the Polish army list would be a good idea.
Oh, and one small thing, why are there slingers in Polish rooster? Seems rather ridiculous. Maybe swap them for javelinmen?

Another thing that seems weird to me is that Kievian shieldbearers are offensive spearmen while Polish shieldbearers are defensive. The majority of both Kievian and Polish armie members were Slavs who had very similar ways of warfare so why such a difference? As far as we know Kievian and Polish style of warfare was fairly similar. On top of that in Polish-Kievian conflicts, Poles were most of the time the ones that were on the offensive.

rbodleyscott
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:12 am

Scartabelli wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:37 pm
First the lack of some kind of army list that could represent Polabian Slavs, Slavic pirates/vikings and mercenaries. Having such a list ( especially for 960-1040 time period) would make the Campaigns options for HRE/Germany way more interesting since now Polish-German campaigns kind of lack interesting allies. The areas the Polabians and Pomeranians inhabited were also an important direction for expansion for both Germans and Poles. Moreover, Polabians (Obotrites) were important allies of Charlemagne and other Carolingian kings, later they fought for different sides like Germans, Poles, Scandinavians, and Magyars. So both from historic and gameplay perspectives they would be really useful to make custom campaigns and battles more interesting. This could also bring more unit variety.
We lacked the necessary research to make such a list. We used the Great Moravian list as Obotrites in the Charlemagne campaign, but don't really know how appropriate it is.

Have you any information on composition for Polabian armies?
The second smaller thing. The Polish army list. It lacks one key unit that is well documented in the sources. Namely the "clipeati" or how their name is sometimes translated "tarczownicy" (literally: "shieldbearers"). In the past, they were often categorized as infantry but now historians are quite sure that the formation hidden under this name is unarmored cavalry (part of druzhina) that possibly was also fighting on foot if needed just like the less numerous "Pancerni" or armored druzhina. Long story short adding unarmored cavalry that can dismount to offensive shieldwall to the Polish army list would be a good idea.
Does this evidence come from the period of the current Polish list or from a later period?

In the forthcoming update we did add a few such unarmoured cavalry, that can dismount as offensive spearmen, but in small numbers. Do you think they should be a high proportion of the cavalry?
Oh, and one small thing, why are there slingers in Polish rooster? Seems rather ridiculous. Maybe swap them for javelinmen?


Ian Heath, in "Armies of Feudal Europe", says that Polish peasant weapons included slings in the period just following this list, and it isn't very likely that this arose de novo, hence we included them in the current list
Another thing that seems weird to me is that Kievian shieldbearers are offensive spearmen while Polish shieldbearers are defensive. The majority of both Kievian and Polish armie members were Slavs who had very similar ways of warfare so why such a difference? As far as we know Kievian and Polish style of warfare was fairly similar. On top of that in Polish-Kievian conflicts, Poles were most of the time the ones that were on the offensive.
This is based on our theory of military development in this period. The theory goes that as cavalry becomes a more important arm in armies, and most of the higher class "professional" warriors become cavalry, the infantry that remain adopt a more secondary (and less aggressive) role. The Rus had very few cavalry, apart from Polovtsy mercenaries/allies, so are relying on their infantry to win the battle, which forces a more aggressive stance. Also, although their armies are mostly ethnically Slav, they are heavily influenced by, and have adopted the Viking method of war. The later Dark Age western, Polish (and Muslim) armies are now relying more on their cavalry and hence their infantry adopt a more defensive role. The Russian army list for the later 11th century will also have Defensive Spearmen, as cavalry become their more important arm.

You are of course at liberty to disagree with this theory, but this method of determing who qualifies as Offensive Spearmen and who as Defensive Spearmen is fairly fundamental to the FOG system, so we would need some pretty good evidence to overturn it in the case of the Poles.

Depending on whether the evidence for clipeati is valid for this period, we could add some pre-dismounted cavalry units, rated as Offensive Spearmen, as in other Dark Age armies.
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Scartabelli
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:26 am

Have you any information on composition for Polabian armies?
This is in some ways problematic. The first concern is the diversity of Polabian Slavs since some of them like Obotrites developed into monarchies pretty quickly as well as at least partially adapted Christianity while others like Veleti were thoroughly antimonarchist and antichristian. In a sence, Northen Veleti confederation was a pagan version of crusaders. There were also some differences between the Northen and Southern tribes as Northerners through access to Baltic sea enjoyed more contacts with Scandinavia and Western Europe. Although I don't think that making two separate lists would be justifiable.

Ok, so when it comes to possible Polabian army composition.

Firstly, the famous "Wiciędzy" or "Chąśnicy" they were the Polabian equivalent of Scandinavian Vikings. They were a social class that had a similar "lifestyle" of piracy, raiding and trading around the Baltic sea. We know that in more than one occasion such warriors were also hired as mercenaries by various Scandinavian rulers. Sometimes Scandinavian and Slavic Vikings would join their forces and raid together like in 845 when Danish and Slavic Vikings formed a fleet of 600 ships, raided and burned down Hamburg.

When it comes to cavalry, the archeological findings show us that Polabians had only access to very small horses and most likely weren't using heavy cavalry in any significant numbers, at least not before XI century but it seems that Slavs did use some light cavalry.

The so-called Battle on the Raxa River (German: Schlacht an der Raxa) fought October 16th, 955 gives us some insight on how Polabians fought. In that battle, they managed to lead Otto"s army into a trap between the wetlands and the backwaters of the Recknitz river. So we can see that lightly armored and still fighting mainly of foot Polabains preferred to fight their opponent in rough terrain. Historians estimate the Slavic army at 8,000 thousand infantry and 1,000 light cavalry.

Summing this up. It seems that although Polabians fought mainly on foot. The warrior class most likely used shieldwall as their main tactic while the masses of Slavic tribesmen most likely fought in traditional Slavic way of hit and run tactics and using rough terrain to their advantage. All of this supplemented by light horsemen and maybe some more heavily armoured nobles.

So something like that:
Armored Cavalry (very little, maybe dismountable to offensive spearmen)
Unarmored cavalry (a bit more but still not too numerous, dismountable)
Shieldwall (Offensive) (few core units)
Irregular Infantry (many of them available) they could also be swapped for raw shieldwall I guess
Massed Archers (maybe?)
Light Archers
Light Javelinmen

So yeah, Moravian army list does fit a bit I guess.

Asa main source I'm using the quite fresh publication about the history of Polabian Slavs "Under Pagan Banner, The history of a thousand wars of Polabian Slavs from the seventh to the twelfth century" Warsaw 2016 by Profesor Artur Szrejter, a specialist on the topic. For obvious reasons, I didn't go into too much detail here.

Still, it is quite speculative but to be honest not more than Polish or Rus army list.
Does this evidence come from the period of the current Polish list or from a later period?
If you presume it comest from later period then you are right. The information about Polish druzhina being divided into loricati and clipeati so armored and unarmoured cavalry comes from Gesta principum Polonorum written in times of Duke Boleslav III Wrymouth. More precisely between 1112 and 1118. Although most historians starting from Kukiel and ending on Bogacki agree that the druzhina must have looked very similar even 100 years earlier.
Ian Heath, in "Armies of Feudal Europe", says that Polish peasant weapons included slings

I wonder if he did cite any sources because I've never heard of any primary source or archeological finding that could confirm that. Even the newest publication about the weaponry used in Medieval Poland or about Early Piast Armies by Bogacki slings aren't really mentioned. Javelins, on the other hand, or more precisely javelin-heads do appear among the findings. When it comes to written sources Thietmar focuses only on Polish archers claiming that they were to the main strength of the Polish army.
Was he writing the truth or simply trying to smear the opponents and claim they could fight against Germans in honorable close combat remains to be a subject of speculations.

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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:46 am

Thanks for your very interesting post. Food for thought, certainly.
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:17 pm

Scartabelli wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:26 am
Ian Heath, in "Armies of Feudal Europe", says that Polish peasant weapons included slings

I wonder if he did cite any sources because I've never heard of any primary source or archeological finding that could confirm that. Even the newest publication about the weaponry used in Medieval Poland or about Early Piast Armies by Bogacki slings aren't really mentioned. Javelins, on the other hand, or more precisely javelin-heads do appear among the findings.
While generally well-researched, sadly the Wargames Research Group publications do not cite sources. Also they are of course quite old, the 2nd edition of Armies of Feudal Europe having been published in 1989.
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by MVP7 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:59 pm

Thanks for the interesting post and the suggested army lists sounds like a good addition to East European longitudes.

From Ian Heath's books I have have got the impression that almost every "military" had at least its camp followers armed with slings if not proper light infantry. Such units might not be a part of the line of battle and stay with the baggage instead, and I think at least some FoG2 lists have omitted such slingers mentioned in the Heath's books(?). Could be nice to have a raw or below average version of slingers to depict such units.

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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:16 pm

While generally well-researched, sadly the Wargames Research Group publications do not cite sources. Also they are of course quite old, the 2nd edition of Armies of Feudal Europe having been published in 1989.
They may be well researched when it comes to western or otherwise more popular nations. I didn't read Armies of Feudal Europe but I did recently go through Heath's other books published by Wargames Research Grup like "Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066" and "Armies of the Middle Ages v2 The Ottoman Empire Eastern Europe and the Near East 1300-1500" and God they are awful when dealing with Central-Eastern Europe, and this is aside the fact them being outdated. Just to give you an example, Heath when speaking about the Battle of Grunwald 1410 (Tannenberg) cites Sienkiewicz who was XIX century novelist.

Although this shouldn't be really a surprise since not many books and even fewer sources are being published and translated to English.

P.S. I have to admit though that his "Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300 - Organisation Tactics Dress and Weapons" had researched Wends pretty well. In the same time the chapter devoted to Poland is absolutely terrible though

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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:14 pm

As you say, there is a dearth of material accessible to non Polish-speakers. We are always ready to listen to those with better access to sources.
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:27 am

How about this for a revised Polish list. Note that the armoured and unarmoured cavalry units can also dismount at deployment time if desired.

Do you think that the Clipeati often operated as mounted cavalry, or were they perhaps more often used on foot, after riding to the battlefield?

If the former, should I increase the proportion of Unarmoured relative to Armoured cavalry, or if the latter, perhaps increase the proportion of pre-dismounted Unarmoured to Armoured Cavalry units?

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Scartabelli
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:28 pm

Do you think that the Clipeati often operated as mounted cavalry, or were they perhaps more often used on foot, after riding to the battlefield?
Hm, in the time period eclipsed by this army list Piast rulers were usually fighting outside their domain borders so most likely without major support of their own levy peasants. They would, of course, supplement their armies with some allies but generally, I would imagine that considerable part of clipeati had to fight on foot to support those allies/mercenaries anyway. So yeah you can increase the amount of pre-dismounted cavalry a bit but not too much.

When it comes to the ratio of armoured to unarmoured cavalry, it looks ok. At the time Duchy/Kingdom of Poland was often fighting with Germans and Rus so needed more heavily armoured units. The ratio probably changed in favour of clipeati later when Pomerania become the main focus of expansion, but that is not important now.

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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:11 pm

Thanks
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Scartabelli
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:58 pm

No, I think I should thank you. Been a long time since I met devs so open for feedback.

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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by rbodleyscott » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:42 am

How about this then? (An alternative would be to reduce the pre-dismounted armoured cavalry to 1 and increase the pre-dismounted unarmoured cavalry to 4 - in a 1200 point army)

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Scartabelli
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Re: Wolves at the Gate some feedback

Post by Scartabelli » Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:33 pm

Looks perfect. Great job.

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