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Thread: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

  1. #1

    Default Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Hey fam,

    Started a new Pontos game for 2.35. I got bored/frustrated with the last game because it was a slog dealing with the north side of the Black Sea. Honestly, I would just happily never expand north of the caucuses if it wasn't for the fact that I need to take Khersonesos to trigger the imperial reforms.

    My biggest gripe is that dealing with mostly horse archer armies in the open field is basically impossible unless you're fielding an army of mostly fast cavalry yourself.

    I remember in EB1 that foot archers used to fare pretty well against horse archers, but now they barely make a dent. This is even after I tweaked the battle_config file so that the missile-target-accuracy is 0.275 vs cavalry (and infantry, although they still seem to take more casualties from missiles than horses, which just feels wrong considering the difference in target size). This is especially an issue because coordinated charges by light cav, even those with poor combat stats, will break most archer and other light skirmisher units.

    Fielding spearmen, even cost-effective units with high armor and big shields to soak up arrows and blunt charges, isn't terribly effective because they rely on the AI charging their skirmisher cav into them. When using them as backup for already engaged horse archers (by attacking them with a unit of fast cavalry and having the spearmen run up to join the fray) it's still micro hell on a large scale.

    It's really boring to have to run around the Ukraine with stacks of horse archers to fight other horse archers, and the battles themselves feel so chaotic. It also feels very ahistoric. Traditionally, I've run less than historic army comps, but I've been trying to diversify and use more well rounded stacks. I'm at my wit's end, and this close to just tweaking the battle_config to make cav even more susceptible to missiles.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I can't possibly be the only one who's dealt with it.

    Edit: found old thread http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...-archer-armies

    Going to try these tips. Still, I recall cavalry taking way too few casualties from foot archer units.
    Last edited by Krampus; February 10, 2019 at 01:58 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    The micro hell is what I'd been going with. Once your troops make contact with the horse archers, the enemy will likely turn more aggressive, but at least then you will be able to actually fight rather than have to chase them across the map.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Bring chirurgeons
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    or just auto resolve.

    Honestly we will never get the absolutely perfect historical role of these units in any TW game ever. The series has gone a funny way. And i highly doubt CA or anyone really will ever do all the work to make it so that units such as skirmishers stay hidden really well as they walk towards enemy, And AI with cavalry archers that circle and harass the entire army, or attrition them slowly to death by making them simply try to chase them across the steppe.

    I love pontos, i use to love rome when i first played EB, than the Saka, and with EB 2 its Pontos, They have an awesome variety of units around them once you get the first reform. The best you can do is just auto resolve if you hate horse battles. We will never get to see sneaky iberians move up behind roman lines and shower them with soliferum, or really historical horse archer battles, or even usage. You think horse archers in real life got into perfect squares? and just went around in perfect squares shooting arrows at the same target simultaneously? Can EB team answer this actually? i really want to know if they did that historically.

  5. #5
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    An old horse archers guide is here.

    Quote Originally Posted by moisesjns View Post
    You think horse archers in real life got into perfect squares? and just went around in perfect squares shooting arrows at the same target simultaneously? Can EB team answer this actually? i really want to know if they did that historically.
    I recall the Hungarian Cavalry in the Stainless Steel (they might have been from vanilla) would form a disorganized oval space so it's possible to have them not in the squares (and maybe it's the case in the EBII, I haven't got so much experience).
    Last edited by Jurand of Cracow; February 11, 2019 at 05:25 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Quote Originally Posted by Krampus View Post
    It also feels very ahistoric.
    I think that this is the issue. It is not a fault in game or mod design, but in fact the historical circumstance. Horse archers are unbeatable if the battle is fought on their terms, which is on flat, open plains where their horses can run uninhibited. Yes, they are faster than you and they can shoot you to attrition. Furthermore, historically those armies were all on horseback and could therefore avoid any battle with unfavorable odds against a slow-moving infantry army.

    I think you are doing the right thing historically if you leave them alone. If you absolutely must fight them, you need to have a lot of highly mobile cavalry or a ton of archers with range equal or superior to the horse archers. Perhaps a combination of both would work.
    Last edited by Septentrionalis; February 11, 2019 at 10:46 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    With favorable luck, all you need to defeat a Sarmatian field army is a few units of light cavalry. They're just as fast, and when cavalry units charge, they temporarily acquire a speed boost which allows them to sprint. If you catch a Sarmatian unit sitting stationary as your light cavalry comes in with a charge, you'll usually overtake the enemy and entangle them in melee. Follow up with your infantry and heavier cav units and destroy them; the AI will even funnel in additional units as backup sometimes, usually as a charge against your infantry, so you only need to catch them so many times to get a grip on their army.

    If you have at least 3 or, ideally, 4 light cav units, you have a lot of options in these battles. The AI always has their horse-archers on skirmish mode, which means they only retreat directly backward from the attacker. With as few as 2 light cav units, you can bring a flanking squad around the side and collide into the enemy as they try to retreat. The key is not to let your army get drawn apart and maintain a tight formation with your infantry and supporting cavalry close at hand. In my experience, foot archers are not especially useful in these battles, but I do endorse them against the lightest form of steppe archer.

    Anyway, playing as the Sweboz, in all of my battles against the Sarmatians they always wound up charging me at some point when they thought they could hit my infantry from the flank. Possibly because my army was usually of roughly equal size. It was whenever my army was gauged to be stronger than theirs that I would have to deal with the nuisance of only hit-and-run tactics.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckitz View Post
    With as few as 2 light cav units, you can bring a flanking squad around the side and collide into the enemy as they try to retreat. The key is not to let your army get drawn apart and maintain a tight formation with your infantry and supporting cavalry close at hand. In my experience, foot archers are not especially useful in these battles, but I do endorse them against the lightest form of steppe archer.
    Pretty solid thinking, thanks for the advice! I have not played against horse archers in EB2 (only in RTW) but I was imagining for future stack-against-stack battles having about half of my force foot archers protected by a few quality spearman units stretched thin to provide a cover against charges. Then having the remaining 2/5 of the stack cavalry (likely melee cavalry) that would spread around to wrap the enemy cavalry by giving them pressure from the sides and possibly back, if feasible. The idea would be to corral them so that at least some of them would remain within arrow distance while foot archers concentrate fire on them. Then use the opportunity to engage individual units while the foot archers concentrate fire elsewhere. Does that seem like a working scenario to you at all?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Yes, I can recommend a pretty wide line of infantry for battles against the Sarmatians - but your mastery of your own cavalry will be paramount, because using your infantry in that way, I think you'll want to have some cavalry available to defuse any incoming enemy charges. Such an arrangement of your infantry would be vulnerable to cataphracts, for example - especially if the troops are only levies. I really can't recommend more than 2 or, at most, 3 units of foot-archers - so many is useful for punishing the unarmored horse-archers, but any more than that will waste units since its only a marginal increase in effectiveness in this role. The most effective tactic of them all is the light cavalry charge against the enemy in a stationary position. This is a winning tactic so long as you keep the body of your army close, bound together, and prepared to rush into the melee.

    I must also warn you, in seriousness - use great caution when fighting Sarmatians under commanders with 5 or more stars. If their armies are of equal or greater size than yours, they will be a grave danger no matter what under such a degree of leadership. If I did not have a commander with more stars than that, I would never risk the battle so long as I had the choice.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Historically fighting and subduing steppe nomad factions was a challenge, and there is a reason neither the Achaemenids, nor Alexander nor the Romans ever really conquered the steppes. Not to mention, there are not many advantages to settled factions to go to this area of the map - the economy is always going to be poor and most camps cannot be converted to cities even for those factions that can convert camps. It is probably best to just conquer around the coast and defend. If you can get the AI to attack you in a river crossing battle, then you will obviously have a huge advantage with the enemy forced to charge into your spear formations while you can decimate them with missile units. Same applies to city and camp battles: in the corridors where the fighting takes place your infantry will have the advantage. If you absolutely have to engage the Sarmatians in an open battle, you may need to get units that can deal with them: the Scythian horse and foot archers have better range than the Sarmatian archers, and are also better in melee too (unless you are fighting Aursa horse archers, those are pretty capable in melee too), and Scythian nobles that can be recruited in Vartustana can deal with pretty much any Sarmatian cavalry unit in a melee.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Something that might also be helpful is keeping a couple units of medium spearmen which you can run around to support your cavalry, from what I remember of a old Bosphoran campaign its useful to catch a unit with light cav then replace the light cav with the spearmen in order to minimize cav casualties and get those spear attack bonuses into play. Also if you're not finding the archers to be very effective, try waiting till you've pinned a unit, then just focusing all your archers on it for 2-3 volleys, its not super effective, but it will speed up your battles.

    Oh yeah and make sure you watch to make sure that the enemy isn't bringing there own cavalry to support the one you trapped, not even your heaviest cav is surviving a charge from 6 units of samartian horse archers. If the AI tries this, just retreat your cav behind your infantry lines and laugh while they get butchered by your spearmen, maybe flank them after a bit, just for fun.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ganos Paran View Post
    try waiting till you've pinned a unit, then just focusing all your archers on it for 2-3 volleys
    I may be slightly off-topic and stating the obvious, but I recommend always concentrating fire. Even in regular infantry battles, if all archers and slingers concentrate on a single valuable unit in the front line the whole time it approaches, that unit is likely to break when javelins fly or some time after they clash with the front line. That gives a nice upper hand right from the start, which is valuable when pitted against a powerful opponent.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Advice for dealing with Sarmatians as Pontos, or generally for fighting nomad stacks as settled factions

    Yup, also don't forget that archers can break up battle lines, while this isn't really implemented in the game like it would have worked in history, but you can "stun lock" an opposing unit or two with 2+ archers firing slightly out of sync (just about a second or so) and really screw with infantry attack lines, plus concentrating fire makes those chevrons rack up way faster than normal since it makes infantry lines bunch up. Unfortunately all of this only sort of affects cav units unless you can get them trapped in a melee and then get your archers to fire at a flat angle which seems to be them most effective way to use them.

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