Sunday, November 27, 2011
The question posed by Patrick is - Does the rules set reflect the real world described above? Testing of the Ancient Warfare engine shows that a massed rank phalanx of 12 ranks (512 men) will roll over the legionary units to their front. However, if there are only 6 ranks deep (256 men) or less, the phalanx will in the process of grinding down the legionaries suffer too many casualties. The net result is the phalanx disintegrates and the pike men rout. The legionaries also suffer to the point where the combat units are no longer battlefield worthy. Hence the need for the Legion to have 2 or 3 lines of units to continue the battle.
It is interesting to discuss if the rules used in this computer game give too much benefit to the legionary or only reflects the fragility of a phalanx that lacks depth. Alexander used a phalanx that was 8 ranks deep whilst the Hellenistic armies faced by the Romans used 16 ranks deep and at Magnesia 32 ranks deep.
Certainly, once the phalanx is disrupted by terrain or combat its effectiveness is reduced sufficiently for the legionaries to win a frontal struggle. How accurately do you think Ancient Warfare games reflect combat between the Legion and the Phalanx?
Monday, March 21, 2011
Light infantry should primarily be used to keep enemy missile troops away from your main body and to harass the enemy main line. Missiles will weaken but will not destroy an enemy MI / HI unit, but it is possible to cause enough loss to an enemy unit that their morale breaks and they rout from the battlefield. However, it is unlikely the enemy will stand and receive missile fire sufficiently long without taking some counter measure such as the use of cavalry.
Light infantry without missiles are effectively useless and a liability as their loss will award victory points to your opponent. The only time you should consider moving your LI into melee combat is to engage other LI.
Cavalry is the nemesis of light infantry. If caught by MC or HC shock troops your LI can be eliminated very quickly. Good practice is therefore to provide support for your LI with either MI or HI or cavalry of your own.
If supporting with MI or HI, place your missile troops just 2 hexes ahead. This allows your heavier infantry to charge through and protect them. If cavalry are the supporting group then ensure they can reach your LI within ¼ of their movement allowance to protect them from oncoming enemy units. Remember your own units cannot charge through your LI unless the combined stack level is 100% or below. An example is shown below where HI is providing the support (click for a larger view):
When skirmishing, remember that LI use 30 action points for every volley fired. That means you can't move your full movement allowance if you intend to reserve APs for fire. In clear terrain, for example, you can move only 3 hexes. Note that if enemy units are already in range then the skirmish command will cause units to fire before undertaking any movement.
Foots archers can fire over intervening friendly forced. Overhead fire has a reduced range – e.g., the composite bow can range to only 6 instead of 9 hexes – so it's often useful to place your archers directly behind the main line as seen below:
Another useful role for LI is scouting. They move rapidly and can penetrate rough terrain easily. Use them to dispel Fog of War. They can be easily lost when used in this role, but the information benefit can be well worth it.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Command Control gives a player realism and a whole new level of challenges. Once you have mastered the basics of the game, I recommend you always play with this option on.
With the Command Control option in play, all units within a group must be within the command range of their leader or risk becoming fixed in position and unable to move. There is nothing worse than mounting a full-scale attack and finding some of your key units are suddenly immobile because outside command range. To avoid this you are advised to take 2 key actions –
1 – Always check the command range of your leaders (use the toolbar ‘sword’ button to display command range) at the start of your turn. Re-assign units to a new group and leader if the units to be moved may end up out of command range of their original leader. Note – Legendary leaders can command any unit within the leader's range, not just those assigned as part of its group.
2 – Keep your leaders out of harm’s way. Loss of a leader can cripple your attempt to move the army forward. Loss of a leader also has a significant impact on the morale of units in the same group. I only use leaders in combat as a last-gasp attempt to hold a position and when the number of units remaining in the group is very few. Even if a group is destroyed except for the leader, the leader can be re-assigned to command another group. You may consider this to be a bit ‘gamey’ as many ancient battles were fought with their leaders in the front line and many battles were lost for the same reason. Ultimately it is up to you.
Any new group that you create is immediately operational in the game but it will not free up a fixed unit until the next turn.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Back to my favourite period in history – the Punic Wars and particularly the Second Punic War…
Everyone thinks of the Legionary when we talk about the Roman army but Roman cavalry is less well-known. The Roman army of this earlier period used its own citizens or local Italian allies in the main cavalry force. Not until the conquest of Gaul and later did other nationalities begin to provide the principal numbers to the cavalry arm of the Roman army.
This article will look at use of the Roman Citizen / Italian allied Heavy Cavalry (HC).
These cavalry are shock troops designed to crash into an enemy and use the long sword or short spear for the kill. They are high in point value and should be used sparingly. Look to support them with Legionaries or light troops. Although traditionally used on the wings of an army, heavy cavalry, when numbers are small, can be better placed as a strategic reserve to the rear of the army. They can then be used at the critical point to turn a battle, stop a flanking attack, or seize the initiative when a gap appears in the enemy line.
Do not commit your HC to a frontal attack on large numbers of light medium, medium, or heavy infantry. The enemy infantry will absorb the shock of your HC charge then start to kill more than they lose. Maximum benefit comes by charging into the rear of an enemy unit. HC can also roll over artillery units and light infantry.
The other key role for HC is to face off against enemy cavalry and neutralise the threat of an enemy envelopment. In this way they give the main infantry line time to destroy the enemy centre.
Size? The optimum number is usually between 30 – 60 per unit. If the combat is expected to last more than two turns I seek to operate units with a strength of 45 each. Remember that cavalry units > 50 suffer a fatigue multiplier and can wear out very quickly in combat.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
… by Lucius
Morale – better known in the game as fatigue -- is at the heart of Ancient Warfare. Most battles are won or lost on the state of an army's morale and you ignore it at your peril. The purpose of this short article is to bring morale and fatigue back to the forefront of player's minds, and to remind them of some of the specific rules that govern it in the game.
When a unit's fatigue level rises to 70 it automatically routs. Once rout occurs the unit disintegrates into a rabble and losses to it can increase dramatically as the unit is no longer capable of defending itself. Moreover, a rout can seriously affect the morale of nearby units and a chain reaction can begin that can quickly unravel your entire situation.
There are 3 levels of fatigue – Low (no problem controlling units), Medium (disadvantage when in combat), and High (unit unlikely to respond to your commands, poor fighting ability, low kill rate on the opposition). A player can use the quick colour guide to see at a glance the level of fatigue among his units. Click Display – Show Unit’s Fatigue Level to reveal the units suffering from low, medium and high fatigue. This works both in 2D and 3D views.
Fatigue increases from several causes. The level will increase by 1 for each casualty suffered, by 2 for each quarter turn the unit charges, and 2 per quarter turn the unit undergoes forced march.
While units rout automatically at level 70, rout can occur earlier as a result of a poor reaction test. Many things can cause a unit to undergo reaction testing – it happens all the time, if invisibly, in the game. To avoid failing these tests, it's very helpful to have friendly units in good morale adjacent. Conversely, having a routing unit nearby can lower the chances of passing a reaction test.
Units along the fighting line can fatigue quickly. To avoid a problem the Roman player may wish to use the special capabilities of legionary units to refresh the front line. See the "Retire Front Line" command under the Units menu. Once withdrawn, fatigued units can rest and if the battle is well-managed they may actually return to the fray.
This ability to retire the front line is unique to the Roman side and is one of the reasons the Roman player can be hard to beat if he manages his forces well. However, the Roman player faces a Catch-22 here; if the unit is too fatigued it may fail a reaction test and disobey the order to retire from the front line. All the more reason to pay the closest attention to fatigue levels.
To recover from fatigue a unit must not move, fire, be fired at, charge, or melee in a turn. It must also not be in a building or involved in destroying a bridge or creating a palisade.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
You can get it here.