Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

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batesmotel34
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Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

Post by batesmotel34 »

I played my first game of Strength and Honour this week after getting the rules when they first came out. I like the overall high friction on command and control and the feel of commanding units on the scale of legions. Most of my experience with gaming in this period has been with WRG/DBA/DBM/FoG/ADLG which place a much greater emphasis on different troop types and weapons. The decreased importance of these differentiations at this level of command seems highly appropriate but the one area that doesn't feel quite right is the interaction of foot versus mounted units.

Cavalry shouldn't just be infantry that moves faster but that was sort of how it felt at least in my first game. The special abilities for Roman legions do make them feel noticeably different from other foot and mounted, but otherwise mounted really just seem faster moving foot. The strength for both the Spanish/Gaulish body guards and the Roman cavalry felt too high compared to Roman legion strength. In addition, cavalry and light horse should really be much more effective against light troops or other weak foot in the open. While legionnaires might have some trouble clearing foot skirmishers out of their way, cavalry and probably light horse should find it much easier. At a minimum it seems like the anomalous result of a 5vs skirmishers probably shouldn't apply against foot skirmishers who are defending against mounted troops (possibly excluding elephants and cataphracts). I think the game manages to avoid a period when the Romans are fighting against mounted cavalry that are bow armed (e.g. the Sassanids, Huns, etc.) so while I suspect it wouldn't handle those well it may be out of period so not a problem if restricted to the period and armies the rules are currently cover. Similarly absent so far are mounted units that charge with lance or kontos like Sarmatian, Alans or more out of period Hellenistic Companions/Xystophoroi . Cavalry following up/pursuing an enemy they've pushed back/disordered also feels less effective than it should be and that the following cavalry should get to fight them a second time if they didn't manage to break contact. Possibly there should be some chance they'd fight fresh enemy who are in their way as well but that strikes me as a bit less critical.

Overall I enjoyed the rules and expect to try them again but the mounted/foot interaction seem like it should still be important at this level of abstraction.

Chris
MarkBackhouse
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Re: Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

Post by MarkBackhouse »

While cavalry are initially quite strong their relatively low to average discipline scores plus their tendency to fall back further distances means they tend to break up more than infantry lines. Their relatively high combat scores normally makes them quite punchy in the first turn against lighter infantry. They tend to struggle against well formed units of infantry supporting their flanks.

I’d try it a few more times. If you don’t like it, then adapt it to how you’d like to interpret it. It’s relatively easy to tweak stats and add characteristics to fit your favoured interpretation. Removing the ‘5’ result on foot skirmishers in combat might be an easy fix if you don’t like it and your opponent agrees!
Funnily enough I’ve just written a Sarmatian list for WSS magazine and will be running games at SELWG with them.

The size of units in Strength and Honour means decisive crushing victories between units are pretty rare. I think the key thing is causing setbacks wins games. Attacking disordered units with cavalry should be a 3 dice combat that pretty much guarantees a push back result and very often a discipline test. The low discipline of lighter infantry and skirmishers especially makes failed discipline tests pretty commonplace.

I’m pleased you enjoyed them. Give it a few more goes, and then give them a tweak if you feel you need them!

Happy gaming
Mark
MarkBackhouse
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Re: Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

Post by MarkBackhouse »

On another note the period it covers didn’t tend to emphasise the importance of heavy cavalry as you rightly say. The Parthians with their nimble horse archers and kontos armed cataphracts are probably the closest to the armies you mention. These battles play very differently to the largely warband heavy opponents in the West. They tend to end up with a game of cat and mouse trying to break up the legion formations and draw them away from mutually supporting legions before the cataphracts delivery a hopefully decisive blow. While the Parthians are a challenge I think experiences at Carrhae have maybe exaggerated their impact in some wargames rules and the reality is that while they were a threat they could be mostly rebuffed by well formed troops.
Funnily, I’ve had a fair few comments critiquing the power of the cavalry in the rules during this period as being overly exaggerated!
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Truscott Trotter
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Re: Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

Post by Truscott Trotter »

I think what some people critizing the power of cavalry may be missing is the tactics on non lance or bow armed cavalry.
Javelin /spear armed cavalry used a combination of feint charges, close range shooting and rapid break offs followed by counter charges when the infantry broke up in pursuit.
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Captain Reid
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Re: Mounted units vs foot units doesn't feel quite right

Post by Captain Reid »

MarkBackhouse wrote: Tue Sep 26, 2023 7:41 pm On another note the period it covers didn’t tend to emphasise the importance of heavy cavalry as you rightly say. The Parthians with their nimble horse archers and kontos armed cataphracts are probably the closest to the armies you mention. These battles play very differently to the largely warband heavy opponents in the West. They tend to end up with a game of cat and mouse trying to break up the legion formations and draw them away from mutually supporting legions before the cataphracts delivery a hopefully decisive blow. While the Parthians are a challenge I think experiences at Carrhae have maybe exaggerated their impact in some wargames rules and the reality is that while they were a threat they could be mostly rebuffed by well formed troops.
Funnily, I’ve had a fair few comments critiquing the power of the cavalry in the rules during this period as being overly exaggerated!
Carrhae casts a long shadow. As does Antony's slightly later logistical struggles. But the Romans trounced the Parthians more often than vice versa. Even at Carrhae it seems Crassus' moral collapse contributed a good deal to the Roman disaster - and even then a good number marched to safety with Cassius.
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