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The Problem with Sword/Spear Units


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At the moment, units are arbitrarily divided into sword and spear melee categories.  I would argue that this distinction is bad for the following reasons:

Few soldiers equipped exclusively swords, which were primarily a side arm.  

The representation of sword units being a counter to spear units is ludicrous for our purposes during the ancient times.  Instead, disciplined all infantry formations should always be able to withstand frontal cavalry assaults.  Any differentiation between spear and sword wielding is similarly arbitrary.  

The spearman, a unit type that is countered by sword and ranged units, is largely ineffective against cavalry due to a lack of adequate mobility.

Thus, there should instead just be melee infantry and melee cavalry, with subtypes based more around armour and training yet still retaining the core functions of their parent categories.  This would greatly streamline one of the game's more unintuitive aspects.

 

I've intentionally kept this brief and would be willing to elaborate my points if needed.

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1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

At the moment, units are arbitrarily divided into sword and spear melee categories.  I would argue that this distinction is bad for the following reasons:

Few soldiers equipped exclusively swords, which were primarily a side arm.  

The representation of sword units being a counter to spear units is ludicrous for our purposes during the ancient times.  Instead, disciplined all infantry formations should always be able to withstand frontal cavalry assaults.  Any differentiation between spear and sword wielding is similarly arbitrary.  

The spearman, a unit type that is countered by sword and ranged units, is largely ineffective against cavalry due to a lack of adequate mobility.

Thus, there should instead just be melee infantry and melee cavalry, with subtypes based more around armour and training yet still retaining the core functions of their parent categories.  This would greatly streamline one of the game's more unintuitive aspects.

 

I've intentionally kept this brief and would be willing to elaborate my points if needed.

I think this analysis comes back time to time here. Personally I agree, this is a gamey choice from a classical rock paper scissors system, it could be justified if it worked but I think it brings more issues than it solves.

As Thorfinn indicated, historically the ability to withstand against cavalry depended on the formation. I think this is a critical point that should be included in the gameplay design for the future.

Edited by Genava55
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1 hour ago, Genava55 said:

I think this analysis comes back time to time here. Personally I agree, this is a gamey choice from a classical rock paper scissors system, it could be justified if it worked but I think it brings more issues than it solves.

As Thorfinn indicated, historically the ability to withstand against cavalry depended on the formation. I think this is a critical point that should be included in the gameplay design for the future.

Since weapon swapping is not in the engine, i feel swordsmen having similar stats to ranged units might be a good abstraction.

Since historically most swordsmen were sort of heavy skirmishers that charged after throwing.

Edited by Ultimate Aurelian
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50 minutes ago, Ultimate Aurelian said:

Since historically most swordsmen were sort of heavy skirmishers that charged after throwing.

As far as I know that's true for the Hastati (romans) but I'm not sure there are references to other civilizations.

Still would definitely be cool for swordsmen to throw pilla.

Edited by badosu
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50 minutes ago, badosu said:

As far as I know that's true for the Hastati (romans) but I'm not sure there are references to other civilizations.

Srill would definitely be cool for swordsmen to throw pilla.

It was done by Celts and Iberians too.

In EB most of their infantry units throw spears.

 

Edited by Ultimate Aurelian
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8 hours ago, badosu said:

As far as I know that's true for the Hastati (romans) but I'm not sure there are references to other civilizations.

There are often misconception about the legionaries, we usually imagine them standing firm against waves of barbarians. But in Polybius books this is clear they are charging very often and that it is one of their main assets.

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14 hours ago, Ultimate Aurelian said:

weapon swapping is not in the engine

As of yesterday, I have a mod that adds it. I gave ranged units an ammo counter, initialized in their template, and made it so if they run out of ammo but have a melee weapon defined (or if their target gets within their minimum range) they will switch to melee and charge. The ammo count gets reset if they spend enough time out of combat, allowing you to retreat and rearm.

I'm still debugging some things and the animations transitions are a little wonky sometimes, but it should be ready to share in not too long (few more weekends maybe). Honestly, I'm surprised no one else has ever tried this before. Other than accounting for interrupted attacks it was not hard to code. Took me like two days, and I barely know any Java. This community has weird development priorities IMO.

The first time watching my maniples of Hastati throw their 2 pila and charge with gladius in hand was way more gratifying than adding another civ to the pile...^_^

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12 hours ago, ChronA said:

The first time watching my maniples of Hastati throw their 2 pila and charge with gladius in hand was way more gratifying than adding another civ to the pile...^_^

While I've always wanted to see Hastati do this in the game, adding civs is pretty much an art task rather than a programming task. Having said that, they haven't added a new civ in 3 years either. ;) 

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17 hours ago, ChronA said:

As of yesterday, I have a mod that adds it. I gave ranged units an ammo counter, initialized in their template, and made it so if they run out of ammo but have a melee weapon defined (or if their target gets within their minimum range) they will switch to melee and charge. The ammo count gets reset if they spend enough time out of combat, allowing you to retreat and rearm.

This is sweet! I think I mentioned on some other thread, adding counter mechanic for ranged units could finally make the meta a bit more realistic (and melee-driven).

E.g. send javelineers in front, skirmish as they are supposed to, retreat while the counter recharges. Send in the heavy infantry, skirmish the flanks with the recharges.

Could even make slingers more interesting, as a unit that has no recharge delay but very inaccurate/lower damage against melee units (except my beloved balearic slinger champs :-P).

Archers could be meta without needing a buff, friendly fire would be awesome to restrict abuse (one can only dream :banana:)

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On 02/11/2020 at 12:32 PM, ChronA said:

As of yesterday, I have a mod that adds it. I gave ranged units an ammo counter, initialized in their template, and made it so if they run out of ammo but have a melee weapon defined (or if their target gets within their minimum range) they will switch to melee and charge. The ammo count gets reset if they spend enough time out of combat, allowing you to retreat and rearm.

I'm still debugging some things and the animations transitions are a little wonky sometimes, but it should be ready to share in not too long (few more weekends maybe). Honestly, I'm surprised no one else has ever tried this before. Other than accounting for interrupted attacks it was not hard to code. Took me like two days, and I barely know any Java. This community has weird development priorities IMO.

The first time watching my maniples of Hastati throw their 2 pila and charge with gladius in hand was way more gratifying than adding another civ to the pile...^_^

I was was a bit sceptical going into this thread but @ChronA - I'm really taken with the idea of this mechanic. It might throw out my reliance on Slingers and Celtic factions, but it certainly would add a new dimension and adjust a players thinking into the make up of their forces when building an army. 

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On 03/11/2020 at 12:41 AM, badosu said:

This is sweet! I think I mentioned on some other thread, adding counter mechanic for ranged units could finally make the meta a bit more realistic (and melee-driven).

Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with balance while I hunt for bugs. I'm finding some surprising thing things just by tweaking a few parameters.

To bring this back to the very astute original topic, what exactly would a historically authentic counter network for 0AD look like?
(Sorry for wall of text. I only share in the hopes other find my idle musings pleasantly provocative.)

I think OP is correct that a compact formation of infantry, whether spearmen or "swordsmen" or even ranged units, will be effectively invulnerable to cavalry attack or any other melee force smaller than itself. And unless they are very lightly armored, non-artillery ranged bombardment is unlikely to do more than superficial damage either (even if skirmishers can kite heavy infantry forever). In either case, I think the tactical utility of cavalry and ranged skirmishers vs the heavy infantry deathball in open terrain is to force an engagement, by chip damage or threat of encirclement. Or, in favorable terrain like a choke point, a dense forest, or a bog, a smaller force of heavy infantry supported by ranged skirmishers can actually defeat larger, pure heavy infantry formations by a strategy of defeat in detail.

So the counters to heavy infantry are: 1) bigger group of heavy infantry 2) artillery bombardment (late game only) 3) mixed melee and ranged infantry with favorable terrain.
That in itself puts some pretty stringent limits on your game design. Heavy infantry either need to to be tech-blocked or prohibitively expensive until late game, or you need maps with lots of defensible terrain if you want the combat to be at all interesting.:unsure:
 

I also think it is intriguing that, from what I've seen (and I may be very wrong), Greek and Roman and even many medieval sources often don't make that much distinction between different variants of ranged skirmisher or even light melee infantry. That suggests there were no big differences between them for the job they were meant to do.

We know there are some differences. Like babosu said, spear throwers have the fastest rate of fire, and they usually have a small shield, which would give a lot of protection in hand-to-hand combat (ie. high hack armor). On the other hand, they have the shortest range and the least amount of ammo.
> Slingers were agreed by ancient sources to have the longest range, were the easiest to train and equip (low cost and build time), and had effectively unlimited ammo. However, (with the exception of professional slingers) I think we can surmise that slingers had an inferior baseline of accuracy compared to javelinists and archers. Also, before factoring in interactions with armor, each individual strike from a sling stone may have been slightly less likely to be lethal or debilitating than a hit from a javelin or arrow (less damage); but this effect, if it existed at all, was probably so slight that you could probably ignore it and give all 3 weapons the same damage.
> Lastly, archers (I think) had the lowest rate of attack by a significant margin. In the real world you can't loose arrows from a war bow as fast as you can nock them... your arms would fall off. However, bows have decent range, and probably had better baseline accuracy at their preferred engagement distance than slings. I feel like I've also read somewhere that bows were considered an anti-cavalry weapon in some parts of the ancient world, and my tests seem to back that up. Effectiveness of range weapons against Cav seems to scale most strongly with accuracy and reaction speed (range/prepare time). Archers have a noticeable edge over slings and javelins against Cav in most of my experiments.

Apparently none of that was of much consequence to the Greeks or Romans. But a game with no variety in its ranged units would be boring. So if you need to map distinctive roles onto them, I think the most historically accurate would be having javelinists as the anti-melee-infantry version. Slingers work as the more anti-ranged-specialized and long distance sustained fire-support variety. And archers might be the jacks-of-all-trades + hit-and-run/close-support specialist with an interesting anti-cavalry flavor....

One other more thing that might be worth remembering too, is that the republican Romans and probably others favored their lighter troops for capturing buildings. It makes sense that they would be better equipped for individual CQC in tight environments, compared to heavy infantry optimized for group fighting. So maybe javelinists and light "swordsmen" can be distinguished in their gameplay with bonuses to their capture attack.
 

So to answer my own question about a historically authentic counter network for 0AD... It might look like:

(Light Infantry)

  • Light Spearmen (fast melee infantry with a spear, little armor, possibly a small shield): Counters melee cavalry, light swordsmen. Countered by ranged units, towers/fortifications, medium and heavy infantry.
  • Light Swordsmen (fast melee infantry with a sword, little armor, usually a small shield, & a capture bonus): Counters buildings. Countered by ranged units, cavalry, light spearmen, medium and heavy infantry, heavy fortifications.
  • Javelin Skirmishers (fast ranged infantry with javelins, little armor, usually a small shield, & a capture bonus): Counters buildings, light & medium melee infantry, sometimes ranged cavalry. Countered by slingers, archers, cavalry,  heavy infantry, heavy fortifications.
  • Slingers (fast ranged infantry with a sling, little armor): Counters light melee infantry, javelin skirmishers, archers, sometimes ranged cavalry. Countered by heavy infantry, melee cavalry, buildings.
  • Archers (fast ranged infantry with a bow, little armor): Counters light melee infantry, javelin skirmishers, sometimes cavalry. Countered by slingers, heavy infantry, buildings.

(Medium Infantry)

  • Medium Spearmen (melee infantry with a spear, a large shield, sometimes partial armor): Counters melee cavalry, light & medium swordsmen. Countered by javelin skirmishers, heavy infantry, heavy fortifications.
  • Medium Swordsmen (melee infantry with a sword, a large shield, sometimes partial armor, & a capture bonus): Counters buildings/fortifications. Countered by javelin skirmishers, cavalry, heavy infantry.
  • Pikemen (melee infantry with a pike, sometimes a small shield or partial armor): Counters melee cavalry, light & medium melee infantry. Countered by ranged units, heavy infantry, towers/fortifications.
  • Sword Skirmishers (melee & ranged infantry with javelins, a sword, a large shield, sometimes partial armor, & a capture bonus): Counters buildings/fortifications, light & medium melee infantry, sometimes cavalry. Countered by javelin skirmishers (by cost), heavy infantry.
  • Heavy Slingers (melee & ranged infantry with a sling, a sword, full armor or partial armor and a large shield, & a capture bonus): Counters light infantry, sometimes cavalry. Countered by medium melee infantry, heavy infantry.
  • Heavy Archers (ranged infantry with a bow, full armor): Counters light infantry, sometimes cavalry. Countered by medium melee infantry, heavy infantry, buildings.

(Heavy Infantry) 
>> have no reliable counter-play until late game, so they are not affordable/available in numbers until late game.

  • Heavy Spearmen (melee infantry with a spear, a large shield, & full armor): Counters cavalry, light & medium infantry. Countered by heavy pikemen, artillery, heavy fortifications.
  • Heavy Pikemen (melee infantry with a pike, full armor and usually a small shield): Counters cavalry, any melee infantry. Countered by heavy skirmishers, massed ranged infantry, artillery, heavy fortifications.
  • Heavy Skirmishers (melee & ranged infantry with a variety of weapons, full armor, & usually a large shield): Counters any light & medium infantry, heavy pikemen, usually cavalry. Countered by heavy spearmen, artillery.
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6 minutes ago, mysticjim said:

I was was a bit sceptical going into this thread but @ChronA - I'm really taken with the idea of this mechanic. It might throw out my reliance on Slingers and Celtic factions, but it certainly would add a new dimension and adjust a players thinking into the make up of their forces when building an army. 

Aw! Thanks! :victory:

By the way, I was quite successful with my bug hunting today. The mod is no longer spitting out error messages every 2 seconds whenever ammo-using units get into combat. Also, the CPU performance cost of all the new new target selection logic I added seems to be pretty mild, which is something I was worried about. So, tomorrow I'll be double checking if there are any new bugs associated with hunting and gathering and building. And if that checks out, I'll make the Git repo public and start writing a forum post pointing you all too it!^_^

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Counter to heavy infantry is making flanking work as it's supposed to, e.g. a frontal cav charge won't break a compact infantry formation but cav is mobile enough to surround it (anvil and hammer tactic). If enemy does not have cav to counter, they can't avoid formation to be surrounded. Also skirmishers for kiting/hit-and-run.

That's why cav should be a counter to infantry, but not in a simple manner. Also trampling mechanic (for spear cav) could break and induce more flanking nerfs to formation.

I'm not sure how to make it work, the simplest manner would be to nerf armor if a unit is surrounded, but that's too simplistic since one needs to take into account the area (otherwise it will be hardly effective). Another way would be to, when units on formation they receive a buff. When they have formation broken they lose the buff, when they are flanked in an area (e.g. more than one quadrant in a x-tile distance has enemy units) they receive a severe nerf.

What would be nice about this is that the way we take the engagements would matter much more than currently, and would also reward strategy instead of spamming/micro.

When considering counter, think not only on the stats and simple engagements but the role these units perform. Instead of a game where one spam a simple OP unit and a few counters to the opponents counters, prioritizing a well thought army composition and tactics should be rewarded. It's extremely ambitious and I'm not saying you need to do that at the moment, but an ideal to pursue perhaps.

If we were to be really picky about it, an additional morale mechanic would come into play, but that's nearly impossible to do in a fairly competitive manner.

With regard to training (historically), spearmen were definitely the most easy to recruit. Both archers and slingers required extensive training, especially slingers. A slinger without training does not make any sense, they would never catch a target on the battlefied, these are specialized skirmish units. To counter the extensive training required for archers/slingers, javelineers and melee receive better buffs with experience but are terrible at start (also rewards better tactics, can also be changed with techs e.g. start at lvl, champs, etc). Keep in mind that training with regard to melee was more about discipline/keeping formation/holding the line than actual combat prowess.

With this idea in mind, experience buff could be not only increasing stats (e.g. armour/health) but decreasing the threshold of a unit to be flanked. There is nothing that experience helps you with being hit with a javelin if you think about it, but it definitely helps with making the whole formation fight better against another melee formation/holding a cav charge.

Edited by badosu
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@ChronA:

I think a god deal of what you have is well thought out.  But... The hugest issue I see is that you are putting out a system that seems a bit needlessly complex.  In fairness, the same can be said for 0 A.D. and many RTS games.  

As I see it, there doesn't need to be an emphasis on differentiating armament for the most part.  This is a general idea of Thorfinn's Shallow Minded approach to the concept:

 

Heavy infantry:

Strengths: heavy armour, frontal attacks.

Weaknesses: Small Stamina, bad line of sight, vulnerable to flanking manoeuvres, and kiting. 

Use: the meat-grinder at the front that is capable of small distance charging to catch out ranged units that are too close.

 

Skirmisher:

Strengths: Armour piercing attack, high damage, good line-of-sight.

Weaknesses: Low armour, short range.

Use: screening force that can lay out ambushes on careless players.  Its armour lets it hold up a bit against ranged attacks.  Can be a decent counter to Heavy infantry with good micro.

 

The list goes on.  Many more special outliers can just be worked out just by modifying these.  Let's take an example: Skiritae.  Skiritae were essentially heavy infantry given the fact that they were fielded in the Spartan phalanx formation at the Battle of Mantinea in the Peloponnesian War, but their function along with what Xenophon writes about in Cyropaedia implies that they were somewhat like special ops troops (the analogy is a stretch but bear with me.).  Thus, as heavy infantry, they would have a lower amount of armour but would on the flip-side enjoy higher stamina that would allow them to serve a more flexible purpose.   

So anyways, a lot of what badosu wrote above were some of my thoughts but written in a more succinct fashion.  

 

 

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On 03/11/2020 at 6:41 AM, badosu said:

friendly fire would be awesome to restrict abuse

One can already use that in SVN., just one template change away ;)

6 hours ago, badosu said:

Also trampling mechanic

Is being worked on (D1838).

6 hours ago, badosu said:

morale mechanic

I have that around somewhere.

3 hours ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

battalions

(D2175)

11 hours ago, ChronA said:

I'll make the Git repo public

Looking forward to that! :)

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10 hours ago, badosu said:

Counter to heavy infantry is making flanking work as it's supposed to, e.g. a frontal cav charge won't break a compact infantry formation but cav is mobile enough to surround it (anvil and hammer tactic).

I agree in principle. I think the problem is figuring out how to make it work on the simulation side (**and not be cheesable). 

11 hours ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

@ChronA: I think a god deal of what you have is well thought out.  But... The hugest issue I see is that you are putting out a system that seems a bit needlessly complex.  In fairness, the same can be said for 0 A.D. and many RTS games.  

Thanks; and that is a very fair criticism. Anyway, I wasn't really trying to suggest my scheme outlined above would be an ideal or even a good design for a game. More-so, I was just trying to demonstrate the possibility of a more historically authentic design, while still paying homage to the RTS aesthetics of diverse units and pronounced counters. (If the objective is just to simulate the actually strategy of ancient warfare with as few moving parts as possible, I suspect all you actually need is heavy melee infantry, slightly ranged light infantry, and melee cavalry)

11 hours ago, badosu said:

Both archers and slingers required extensive training, especially slingers. A slinger without training does not make any sense, they would never catch a target on the battlefied, these are specialized skirmish units.

I think you are spot-on with respect to elite slingers and archers, who were actually expected to do serious war fighting. (And there were definitely some armies who employed that doctrine.) However I think it is a mistake to believe the purpose of skimishers was (or is... both in the real world, and in strategy games) always to inflict major casualties. Rather it's the threat that sustained bombardment could eventually produce casualties that mattered. The skirmishers present enemy infantry with a choice: either come fight, or go away, or mill around over there while we very slowly plink you to death.

For that job, a bunch of farmers--with staff slings they made from sticks and string an hour ago, and who could only hit the broad side of a barn with one shot out of a hundred--will get it done just fine, and there's no beating them for speed of recruitment or equipment cost. (Just don't expect them to stick around if the enemy charges or is able to shoot back.)

 

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Everyone, a note on terminology: unless explicitly stated otherwise, “light” means “ranged” and “heavy” means “melee” (i.e. troops that fought in formation). The terms refer to their rôle on the battlefield, not to the heaviness of their arms and armour, as some people mistakingly assume. A few modern authors also use the term “medium” for troops that could fulfill both functions, though that term is not as widespread.

18 hours ago, ChronA said:

I also think it is intriguing that, from what I've seen (and I may be very wrong), Greek and Roman and even many medieval sources often don't make that much distinction between different variants of ranged skirmisher or even light melee infantry. That suggests there were no big differences between them for the job they were meant to do.

This observation is worth a bit more attention. There is more than one reason for this.

Firstly, it's indeed mostly true: light troops indeed had much the same function: raiding, skirmishing, chasing off enemy skirmishers, harassing enemy troops with projectiles to force them to raise their shields and stay put, and killing off fleeing opponents; whether they're armed with javelin, sling, bow and arrow, crossbow, musket, or rifle is of lesser importance—that does not mean there are no differences, though.

Secondly, battles were typically decided by the main battle formation (i.e. heavy infantry) or a (heavy) cavalry charge, so other troops deserve less attention.

Thirdly, light troops were typically of lesser social status, therefore of less interest to authors and their public; reading and writing were very much elite activities. Likewise, servants and slaves are rarely mentioned in texts, even though we know they were present in large numbers. For instance, in Classical Greek warfare, most citizen hoplites had a servant each with them. By contrast, in the Macedonian army of Philip and Alexander, eight pikemen only had one servant between them; about the same ratio was true for imperial Roman legionaries.

19 hours ago, ChronA said:

spear throwers have the fastest rate of fire

Source, please? Picking a spear, wrapping a leather thong (the ἀνκύλε ankyle or āmentum) around it, holding it in the right place, choosing a target, lifting your arm, then throwing it, releasing the javelin while keeping hold of the strap—I fail to see how this is faster than picking a pebble from a purse and slinging it, or placing an arrow on the bow and pulling back the string.

Crossbows, arquebuses, muskets etc. are indeed a lot slower. They're adopted nonetheless because they require much less skill to use; when aiming and shooting you expose less of your body than when using javelin, sling, or bow and error; and they can be reloaded when hiding behind shields or walls, making them especially suitable for siege warfare.

19 hours ago, ChronA said:

Slingers were agreed by ancient sources to have the longest range

It's a bit more subtle than that. I wrote about it earlier in more detail (see this post). Xenophon Anabasis 3.3.16–17:

Spoiler

[16] ἡμεῖς οὖν εἰ μέλλοιμεν τούτους εἴργειν ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι βλάπτειν ἡμᾶς πορευομένους, σφενδονητῶν τὴν ταχίστην δεῖ καὶ ἱππέων. ἀκούω δ᾽ εἶναι ἐν τῷ στρατεύματι ἡμῶν Ῥοδίους, ὧν τοὺς πολλούς φασιν ἐπίστασθαι σφενδονᾶν, καὶ τὸ βέλος αὐτῶν καὶ διπλάσιον φέρεσθαι τῶν Περσικῶν σφενδονῶν.
[17] ἐκεῖναι γὰρ διὰ τὸ χειροπληθέσι τοῖς λίθοις σφενδονᾶν ἐπὶ βραχὺ ἐξικνοῦνται, οἱ δὲ Ῥόδιοι καὶ ταῖς μολυβδίσιν ἐπίστανται χρῆσθαι.

[16] Hence, if we should propose to put an end to the possibility of their harming us on our march, we need slingers ourselves at once, and horsemen also. Now I am told that there are Rhodians in our army, that most of them understand the use of the sling, and that their missile carries no less than twice as far as those from the Persian slings.
[17] For the latter have only a short range because the stones that are used in them are as large as the hand can hold; the Rhodians, however, are versed also in the art of slinging leaden bullets.

(text and translation taken from Perseus)

 

19 hours ago, ChronA said:

[Slingers] were the easiest to train and equip (low cost and build time), and had effectively unlimited ammo. However, (with the exception of professional slingers) I think we can surmise that slingers had an inferior baseline of accuracy compared to javelinists and archers.

14 hours ago, badosu said:

Both archers and slingers required extensive training, especially slingers. A slinger without training does not make any sense, they would never catch a target on the battlefied, these are specialized skirmish units.

2 hours ago, ChronA said:

I think you are spot-on with respect to elite slingers and archers, who were actually expected to do serious war fighting. (And there were definitely some armies who employed that doctrine.)

Though you're right slings were cheap (basically a strip of clocth), slingers were specialists. Also, “elite slingers” is a bit of an oxymoron: they were of low social status and came from poor families in rural areas, but had a lifetime of experience with the sling: boys herded livestock from a young age, using slings to keep the herd together and fend off wolves etc. When more than one son survived into adulthood (infant and child mortality were very high in pre-modern times), only one could inherit what little property the family had, therefore to avoid poverty and have a chance at a better life, the others went abroad to serve as mercenaries. There was no such thing as an “unskilled slinger”.

Archers were specialists too, though of a higher social status. The bow and arrow is very much an elite weapon: composite bows and strings were delicate weapons, requiring high skill to make and maintain, therefore not cheap. Moreover, archery requires years of practice, which means skilled archers could only be people who had plenty of free time (typically a leisure class whose lands were worked by others).

2 hours ago, ChronA said:

For that job, a bunch of farmers--with staff slings they made from sticks and string an hour ago, and who could only hit the broad side of a barn with one shot out of a hundred--will get it done just fine, and there's no beating them for speed of recruitment or equipment cost. (Just don't expect them to stick around if the enemy charges or is able to shoot back.)

To the best of my knowledge, the staff sling (fūstibalus) belongs to Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Period, i.e. postdating 0 A.D.'s timeframe; they would be a nice addition to Millennium A.D., though.

Also, mass conscription is something of modern times. In Antiquity, economic power, military power, and political power were correlated. In Greek city states, only citizens with at least a certain amount of wealth were expected to serve on campaigns, i.e. those with enough land and income to own a pair of oxen, who served as hoplites (heavy infantry). The richest supplied the cavalry (or paid others to ride their horses, while they themselves fought on foot as hoplites. Poorer people could volunteer, but were generally not expected to fight, except in emergencies (the same applies to slaves and children)—Sparta and its helots is an exception. Light troops were often mercenaries (i.e. foreigners and specialists).

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For Hellenistic warfare specifically, the following nine troop types are listed by Aelian Tactica §2, which is largely similar to Arrian Tactica §2–4 and Asclepiodotus Tactica §1 (all three go back to a (now lost) treatise of Poseidonius, which in turn is based on an (also lost) Tactica by Polybius):

  • infantry:
    • hoplites, i.e. heavy infantry, equipped with (partially) metal armour, greaves, heavy shields (aspis), and long spears or pikes
    • peltasts, equipped with lighter armour, boots, smaller shields (peltē), and shorter spears; hence more mobile
    • psiloi, i.e. light infantry (archers, javelineers, slingers, and those that throw rocks by hand); no armour, greaves, or shields
  • cavalry:
    • lancers
    • javelin cavalry
    • horse archers
    • cataphracts, i.e. armoured horses
  • chariotry
  • elephantry

As for the length of thrusting spear and pike, it varied over time (the values are only approximates, obviously):

classical hoplites:        8 feet      → 2.56 m
Iphicrates' peltasts:     16 feet      → 5.12 m
Alexander's pikemen:      10–12 cubits → 4.80–5.76 m
pikemen c. 300 BC:        16 cubits    → 7.68 m
Late Hellenistic pikemen: 14 cubits    → 6.72 m

See Christopher Matthew “The Length of the Sarissa” Antichthon 46 (January 2012) 79–100 https://doi.org/10.1017/S0066477400000150 for more details.

The main source for Iphicrates' reforms is Diodorus Siculus Library 15.44.3:

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Diod. Sic. 15.44.3

On 02/11/2020 at 8:06 AM, Genava55 said:

There are often misconception about the legionaries, we usually imagine them standing firm against waves of barbarians. But in Polybius books this is clear they are charging very often and that it is one of their main assets.

Indeed. The relevant section is Polybius Histories XVIII.28–32:

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Polyb. 18.28

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Polyb. 18.29

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Polyb. 18.30

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Polyb. 18.31

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekTexts&getid=1&query=Polyb. 18.32

Basically, as long as the phalanx holds, it can withstand and drive back anything in front of them, but when it breaks (e.g. due to uneven terrain), it becomes vulnerable and the more manoevrable Romans can make mincemeat of them. :)

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1 hour ago, Nescio said:

Basically, as long as the phalanx holds, it can withstand and drive back anything in front of them, but when it breaks (e.g. due to uneven terrain), it becomes vulnerable and the more manoevrable Romans can make mincemeat of them. :)

@Thorfinn the Shallow Minded

When I say I believe battalions are the way to go, it's to be able to depict things like this. It is very difficult to depict the nuance of "maneuverable" Roman swordsmen vs. "immovable object" Macedonian phalangites using the game's current mosh pit combat. With mosh pit combat you have to use unintuitive things like attack bonuses and auras and even then it is unsatisfactory in visually depicting what the combat would be like. Without battalions you can't even have the concept of "flanks" let alone the battle lines and complex maneuvers which defined the era. 

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I think the best is to enable new mechanics for the modders, in time there will be several approaches explored. Some people prefer AoE like gameplay, some others prefer Total War battles, some prefer soft city builders with warfare gameplay like Dawn of Man and other prefer more tactical aspects like BFME or Ancestors Legacy.

Battalions, switchable weapons, area damage etc. those will be useful and really appreciated anyway.

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I think a flanking mechanic like this could work:

- Set a distance threshold, slightly higher than melee range (e.g. 3-4 tiles)
- Find an enemy melee unit inside that threshold
- Define quadrants where that unit is in 45 degree of the first quadrant
- For each other quadrant that has at least another enemy melee unit inside it nerf -1 armor

This could be doable on an experiment mod, I would expect performance to be incredibly poor. Another issue is defining the start quadrant, I'm not sure it's well defined (nerfs are the same regardless the initial unit).

Nevertheless could be a good attempt.

Edited by badosu
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