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Thread: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

  1. #1
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    In other games, the answer to skirmishers is often cavalry. In Troy, we usually don't have cavalry.

    Playing as Hector, I'm finding enemy skirmishers quite challenging. If I attack the faction which Hector starts the campaign at war with, on their island to the south in the early campaign, they have better quality javelin throwers (harpies) and longer-range skirmishers (slingers). When I landed on their island with an army of swordsmen, javelin-throwers and spear militia, I lost the battle. The battle AI carried out an effective flanking move with several units, as well as making the most of its skirmishers.

    I'm wondering if others are finding enemy skirmishers challenging, and how you're countering them. For Hector, perhaps the answer is to delay going south until after you can recruit archers and slingers.

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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    "Archer" units have been indeed over-powered since at least Warhammer. They have been strengthened by the introduction of the health-bar system, which has rendered volleys less risky and predictable than before, while their damage output is also increased by the fact that every javelineer, slinger and archer is engaged in battle, contrary to infantry warriors, where usually only the front line participates in the melee (unless, of course, the unit has been encircled). As you mentioned, the relative rarity of horse units further exacerbates the problem.

    However, skirmishers cannot even come remotely close to the absolute king of the battlefied in Troy, which is your average chariot. Even average chariots can accumulate hundreds of killings and completely evaporate an elite army. They were always pretty strong in post-Medieval II games, but the crux of the matter is that in Troy collision is essentially broken. Soldiers never get stuck and letah blows often aim at the opposite direction. As a result, chariots are absolutely immune to cavalry and are only threatened by missiles, but, since they are quicker and more powerful than skirmishers, they can easily catch up with them and quickly annihilate them. The secret is, as Legend of Total War explains, to always move the chariots and never let them idle:



    In that video, Agamemnon with an army of medium-quality chariots casually destroys almost three full-stacks of elite warriors, while assaulting Troy itself. The auto-resolve obviously gave terrible odds and Legend always play at maximum difficulty, but he didn't even need to apply a sophisticated strategy. His tactics simply included massing all his chariots together and then blindly charging at everything in front of him. Seven minutes later, the Achaeans obtained a heroic victory and the Trojans lost the flower of their youth. I'm not suggesting that you should necessarily spam chariots, because many (myself included) don't find such exploits very enjoyable, but there's no doubt that chariots are more than an efficient counter to annoying skirmishers. A couple of chariots look like a balanced and basically obligatory addition to any army.

  3. #3
    valky's Avatar Ducenarius
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    while I *shrug* to legendofcheese and his findings, it's still up to the player to enjoy the game to their liking. I use sensible & proper armies,as I'd expect the AI recruits as well - sadly the latter can only be accomplished by thy use of more refined mods. Doesn't require skill to beat Legendary with doomstacks in any given TW title...I have more respect of players like Zerkovich for that matter.

    @topic:
    depends on the faction; for Odysseus I'd go straight for a full ambusher army and that includes javelins, like a lot! His ambusher or stalker + Warriors of Ithaca are a sight to behold, when thy release the kraken javelins! And the Skaven-ambush stance
    For Menelaus .. whose campaign am still into has pretty easy access to Centigors Centaurs, which can be stacked to up 8 warriors and 2 champions/elders (if fixed) in the province, if you got full control. Or you could recruit some chariots ^^

    Next campaign will only be started with proper_combat - mod...

    Nothing wrong with hidden stalking/sniping/fast-running/shielded/vanguard javelin throwers, though ^^ I like the Menelaus mechanic for that matter - ambushers and Harpy fiends are godlike, if used properly.

    cheese to the cheese god....I couldn't care less!

    (edit: missile units are way too strong currently....I run 2 skirmisher + 3 pebbles thrower in each army + the occasional missile some units have...and that is more than enough; hold the line! HOLD....unleash!...done)
    Last edited by valky; August 26, 2020 at 03:15 PM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    Both missile throwers and chariots having a key part on the battlefield seems pretty logical for the era.
    Optio, Legio I Latina

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    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    I think chariots should be a javelin unit as they're in history.

    How do you find friendly fire? Eg. how efficient are the javelins shooting over a battle line? (what is unhistorical, but what can we do)

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    valky's Avatar Ducenarius
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    I think chariots should be a javelin unit as they're in history.

    How do you find friendly fire? Eg. how efficient are the javelins shooting over a battle line? (what is unhistorical, but what can we do)
    While you are right, and Skirmisher were used to soften up the approaching battle lines and retreat back - you can with some training throw a javelin or a spear easily over a 1.8m obstacle - that in that case would be a human.
    But in TW games they do better if used in flanking; using them to shot over reduces the effectiveness quite a lot. A few will hit you men in the back and you still would throw them right into the shield of the enemy fighting your line. And they can't arc like arrows and to the lesser pebbles. I've seen a screenshot recently, where the latter arcs in like 50ish° .. nuff said.

    Bringing them around and let them do their job in the flank or back is pretty nasty, though .. hitpoint-bar goes down in mere seconds. THat's the reason, why ambusher/stalker & harpies are pretty OP, both for their stalking + sniping ability. And you can boost their range to 145m ... they get detected at roughly 90~m or later in scrub/grass.

    And for chariots, if am not mistaken, they had quite a lot of armament over the course in history. Scythed with bowmen (Persian), regular with spear-poking guys and/or javelin thrower, cataphract-like chariots (Mesopotamia) and so on. So I wouldn't force them into one role only. In that regard CA did a pretty damn good job for their variety, even if greek history/myth is not my strongest interest in ancient warfare.
    It's a 2ton warmachine ...

    That being said, it's not that I don't use them - but typically as 'support' with not more than 2-3 units per army. Get's the job done. I further play with KAM's spacing mod, so you have a much better chance at stopping them and they don't just roll over you.

    I have fun that way ^.^
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    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    I think the warfare depicted in the Troy TW is entirely mythological. In some aspects it's deviates much our historical knowledge (and also from reason). The chariots are one of those deviations, javelin units to a lesser extent.

    Skirmishers:
    - I doubt they would risk a volley over the line of friendly troops even if it was possible. They were untrained people, the probability that some javs would hit the backs of the friendly troops was too high. The visibility was too limited.
    - I doubt they would go around the lines and shoot in the back. Too low morale and discipline to make such a manouver. They'd flee earlier fearing any ambush or any troops attacking them. They would dispatch the javs at first occasion and then flee.
    - the range of effective (not the maximum, it's not the Olympics) jav volley would be 30 meters. Unless they're harpies ;-)
    - the use of this type of troops was to go in front of the enemy lines, throw the javs, perhaps make the enemy break the ranks by chasing them, and then retreat (in an unorganized manner) to make to space for the regular infantry (spearmen) to fight.

    Chariots:
    - they were not the Panzers or T-34, they didn't have armour, they had very fragile engines: horses. They were both very expensive and very prone to any cut injury. Armament of the warrior doesn't matter (and horsed didn't have any until Hellenistic times or later). There're not cataphracts for another 1000 years, and no such chariots ever. They appeared only in 20th century in Warhammer and the like ;-)
    - concerning 2-ton machines: in the Middle Ages the 2-horse merchant carts could carry up to 400 kg load. Very slowly, very slowly. 2-tons machines were possible in 20th century.
    - they were very slow as various parts of the machine were prone to failure with any faster movement (consider how the various parts were kept together: lignature, bronze nails or rather wooden pegs, there's no iron!)
    - they would never charge into organised enemy lines, hypothetically into fleeing enemy. In most circumstances fleeing people were still faster than the chariots so the main way of killing them was to hurl javelins that were on-board of chariot.
    - and this is the main issue: the chariots were mobile platforms for javelins (and bows), their main advantage was that they could carry ammunition that single people couldn't. Combination of load and mobility.

    Troy TW is a mythological game, not historical. So have fun with Minotaurs, Harpies, chariots and Olimpic-class javelinmen. They're all mythological.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    I think the warfare depicted in the Troy TW is entirely mythological. In some aspects it's deviates much our historical knowledge (and also from reason). The chariots are one of those deviations, javelin units to a lesser extent.

    Skirmishers:
    - I doubt they would risk a volley over the line of friendly troops even if it was possible. They were untrained people, the probability that some javs would hit the backs of the friendly troops was too high. The visibility was too limited.
    - I doubt they would go around the lines and shoot in the back. Too low morale and discipline to make such a manouver. They'd flee earlier fearing any ambush or any troops attacking them. They would dispatch the javs at first occasion and then flee.
    - the range of effective (not the maximum, it's not the Olympics) jav volley would be 30 meters. Unless they're harpies ;-)
    - the use of this type of troops was to go in front of the enemy lines, throw the javs, perhaps make the enemy break the ranks by chasing them, and then retreat (in an unorganized manner) to make to space for the regular infantry (spearmen) to fight.

    Chariots:
    - they were not the Panzers or T-34, they didn't have armour, they had very fragile engines: horses. They were both very expensive and very prone to any cut injury. Armament of the warrior doesn't matter (and horsed didn't have any until Hellenistic times or later). There're not cataphracts for another 1000 years, and no such chariots ever. They appeared only in 20th century in Warhammer and the like ;-)
    - concerning 2-ton machines: in the Middle Ages the 2-horse merchant carts could carry up to 400 kg load. Very slowly, very slowly. 2-tons machines were possible in 20th century.
    - they were very slow as various parts of the machine were prone to failure with any faster movement (consider how the various parts were kept together: lignature, bronze nails or rather wooden pegs, there's no iron!)
    - they would never charge into organised enemy lines, hypothetically into fleeing enemy. In most circumstances fleeing people were still faster than the chariots so the main way of killing them was to hurl javelins that were on-board of chariot.
    - and this is the main issue: the chariots were mobile platforms for javelins (and bows), their main advantage was that they could carry ammunition that single people couldn't. Combination of load and mobility.

    Troy TW is a mythological game, not historical. So have fun with Minotaurs, Harpies, chariots and Olimpic-class javelinmen. They're all mythological.
    good points. chariots served as a highly mobile shock and awe troops not the battering ram of later periods. its pitty the heroes dont start in he chariots by default with the charioteer to stir it and abilities to throw spears from the vehicle and alight to participate in the mellee. thats how they are portrayed in the Iliad btw.

    to add to the skirmishers, what we often tend to forget that these troops would almost always face enemy peltasts. one of their main priorities would therefore be not to kill the enemies but not to get killed themselves by dodging missiles flying their way. they are not a presicion weapon but merely a levy screening force. each individual skirmisher would be more concerned by not getting hit than scoring kills. a great concise but insightful discussion on this can be found in Adrian Goldsworthy's Battle of Cannae.

  9. #9
    valky's Avatar Ducenarius
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    - I doubt they would risk a volley over the line of friendly troops even if it was possible. They were untrained people, the probability that some javs would hit the backs of the friendly troops was too high. The visibility was too limited.
    - I doubt they would go around the lines and shoot in the back. Too low morale and discipline to make such a manouver. They'd flee earlier fearing any ambush or any troops attacking them. They would dispatch the javs at first occasion and then flee.
    - the range of effective (not the maximum, it's not the Olympics) jav volley would be 30 meters. Unless they're harpies ;-)
    - the use of this type of troops was to go in front of the enemy lines, throw the javs, perhaps make the enemy break the ranks by chasing them, and then retreat (in an unorganized manner) to make to space for the regular infantry (spearmen) to fight.
    I wrote how you would use them in TW, and even hinted how they were used in history. Alexander the Great is a very decent example and you'll find a lot of his battles depicted, in that they were screening your main army and soften up the enemy. Different age and such, but the combat doctrine wasn't that different. If my life depends on it, I'd actually give a damn and even try to pepper the enemy from behind the lines, if given the opportunity and considering the safety of my own troops, aká friendly fire. (or been given the order in doing so)
    It's actually not that hard to throw a spear....[x] done that. And if going for range, you'd throw it in a possible 35-40° but usually lesser angle. While it requires more strength, it's still easier to score a kill - even untrained - than a longbow. The latter is one hell of a weapon, if you can use it properly - but ever since I broke my left collarbone (metal-band with 7 screws) it's friggin' hard to get a steady aim. Respect of people, who can use it to the fullest!
    But that was not up for discussion ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    Chariots:
    - they were not the Panzers or T-34, they didn't have armour, they had very fragile engines: horses. They were both very expensive and very prone to any cut injury. Armament of the warrior doesn't matter (and horsed didn't have any until Hellenistic times or later). There're not cataphracts for another 1000 years, and no such chariots ever. They appeared only in 20th century in Warhammer and the like ;-)
    - concerning 2-ton machines: in the Middle Ages the 2-horse merchant carts could carry up to 400 kg load. Very slowly, very slowly. 2-tons machines were possible in 20th century.
    - they were very slow as various parts of the machine were prone to failure with any faster movement (consider how the various parts were kept together: lignature, bronze nails or rather wooden pegs, there's no iron!)
    - they would never charge into organised enemy lines, hypothetically into fleeing enemy. In most circumstances fleeing people were still faster than the chariots so the main way of killing them was to hurl javelins that were on-board of chariot.
    - and this is the main issue: the chariots were mobile platforms for javelins (and bows), their main advantage was that they could carry ammunition that single people couldn't. Combination of load and mobility.

    Troy TW is a mythological game, not historical. So have fun with Minotaurs, Harpies, chariots and Olimpic-class javelinmen. They're all mythological.
    2ton: given that horsies thanks to breeding and whatsoever are nowadays up to 1000kg, I assume the average in that age was about 800kg~ x2 + the chariot weight itself. That sums up easily to 2tons, if that helps to clarify my thinking.

    ALso: Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC - you were saying? But I get your thinking - it's more a psychological weapon than everything else..and the horses would most likely shy away, before running into a massive obstacle, that being a well-formed defensive line. Weren't they not even 'blinded' - missing the english word for that - the stuff, you'd put over the horses' eyes to tunnel or restrict their vision.
    I explicitly wrote: "over the course of history" - and hinted that warfare in that mythological period is not my strongest suit.
    Cataphract is prolly an overstatement on my end, but I was referring to more enhanced horse armor to fend of possible spears.

    I'd my pants if a chariot would be rolling towards me, with me holding a tiny pointy stick & shield....and it requires a certain amount of training and one hell of the commander to keep me in line and to not run away.

    The eye of the beholder

    cool discussion, though - always eager to learn a thing or 2.

    edit: am well aware of the mythological aspect of the game - similar to 3K.
    God, I'd so love to see a proper historical TW title after all that nonsense. Still good games, though .. but it's not MEII or Rome for that matter, or Empire.

    I made my peace, that am playing something akin to "TW:3 Troyhammer".
    Last edited by valky; August 28, 2020 at 07:23 AM.
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  10. #10
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    "screening your main army and soften up the enemy" - fully agree.
    "I'd actually give a damn and even try to pepper the enemy from behind the lines, if given the opportunity and considering the safety of my own troops, aká friendly fire" - but the commander of all the troops would give a damn. He wouldn't allow such a situation, imo. Unless in desparation.
    "It's actually not that hard to throw a spear....[x] done that. And if going for range, you'd throw it in a possible 35-40° but usually lesser angle. While it requires more strength, it's still easier to score a kill - even untrained - than a longbow." - yes, absolutely. and the bows in the bronze age were really crappy, even for hunting the javelins were used.

    "2ton: given that horsies thanks to breeding and whatsoever are nowadays up to 1000kg, I assume the average in that age was about 800kg~ x2 + the chariot weight itself. That sums up easily to 2tons, if that helps to clarify my thinking." - I don't think taking the extreme values is the best methodology. Yes, today a horse may weigh 1000 kg, but shouldn't we take an average for comparison? Based on the first webpage in the search, I'd say we should take 500-600 kg. Then we know that in the ancient times horses were too small to ride them (otherwise why chariots, not horseback?). So something like a pony: 300-400 kg. Then the cart itself couldn't be heavy for such horses. I'd think 2 horses + cart + 2 people = 1000 kg. A slow one.

    "Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC" - 900 years later, horses were finally big enough to carry riders with some armaments. There's been huge technological change and chariots were obsolete already for a few centuries. And yes, obsolete arms are in use. Panzer IV tanks were used in 60ties in the Israeli-Arab wars, and I think even later. So there might have been chariots at Gaugamela.

    "I'd my pants if a chariot would be rolling towards me, with me holding a tiny pointy stick & shield....and it requires a certain amount of training and one hell of the commander to keep me in line and to not run away." - that's true. Chariots must have had strong psychical effects, especially for people seeing them for the first time. But - unless in a very flat plain what was quite uncommon in Greece - they were slowly moving and shooting them with a javelin was not so hard if close enough (big object with two big soft spots: the horses). And the units were not one-type-weapon like depicted in the Total Wars games. On the contrary, each unit consisted of warriors with varied armament - so in every unit there're javelins. What follows, the chariots wouldn't dare approaching any well organised group of enemies. Only dis-organised, fleeing. If they would see that at the range of 50 m or so the enemy doesn't flee, they would make a stop and shoot somehow or turn away.

    The bottom line: no charging into the enemy lines in Troy TW style.

  11. #11
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    Yes, there's no doubt that the implementation of chariots is quite ahistorical in Troy. As Jurand explained, they could not really charge against a mass of men or actually accelerate in a sufficiently high speed. Even if they were, they would quickly overturn in the largely rocky and hilly terrain of Greece and Anatolia. They were either used either as highly mobile platforms for archers, slingers and javelineers or as prestigious vehicles for transporting rulers and members of the mobility across the battlefield. As already mentioned, comparing Bronze Age chariots with the scythed chariots of Darius III is faulty, because it doesn't take into account the considerable advances that had occurred in technology and horse-breeding in the span of an entire milenium. However, even the Persian scythed chariots (they were actually used until Mithradates VI of Pontus in the 1st century B.C.) were not designed as killing machines. On the contrary, our primary sources generally agree that their aim was to either undermine the enemy's morale or disrupt his formation. As far as I know, there is only one single instance of a successful deployment of chariots. During Aegesilaus' II invasion in Hellespontic Phrygia, Pharnabazus, the local satrap, defeated a numerically superior contingent of Greek hoplites, by firstly dispersing them with two scythed chariots and then charging against them with his cavalry. The Greeks lost tens of soldiers, but Xenophon specifies that all the killing was made by the cavalry, not the scythed chariots.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hellenica, IV, 1, 17-19
    But on one occasion, while the soldiers were getting their provisions in disdainful and careless fashion, because they had not previously met with any mishap, Pharnabazus came upon them, scattered as they were over the plain, with two scythe-bearing chariots and about four hundred horsemen. [18] Now when the Greeks saw him advancing upon them, they ran together to the number of about seven hundred; Pharnabazus, however, did not delay, but putting his chariots in front, and posting himself and the horsemen behind them, he gave orders to charge upon the Greeks. [19] And when the chariots dashed into the close-gathered crowd and scattered it, the horsemen speedily struck down about a hundred men, while the rest fled for refuge to Agesilaus; for he chanced to be near at hand with the hoplites.
    Anyway, there's not much point in even discussing the topic, because the absurd strength of chariots in Troy is not the result of a misunderstanding about history, but of the fact that an essential mechanic, collision, is basically broken. Lack of collision means that fast units are essentially invulnerable to infantry, spearmen included. Anyway, regarding the historical depiction of chariots in the Total War franchise, from my experience, Rome I got it best. In Alexander, playing as the Persian Empire, and lacking any professional infantry, I heavily relied on a combination of chariots and cavalry. After defeating the enemy cavalry, I sent my chariots to the enemy squares, whose shape was practically destroyed, although they suffered no substantial casualties. The chariots were however followed by my cavalry, which literally decimated the disorganised soldiers. The above would still be inaccurate in Troy, as the era's vehicles were much less efficient than their Achaemenid counterparts, but it would probably be a tad more balanced than the current Blitzkrieg.

  12. #12
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: In a land of no cavalry, the skirmisher is king?

    It sounds like chariots of this era were used to give skirmishers speed and to disrupt enemy formations, not to smash infantry formations like a Bronze Age version of a tank. Jurand made a good point about the vulnerability of horses and Abdulmecid about the rocky terrain and what primary sources tell us about how chariots were used historically.

    Posts like these are similar to a first draft for a short article. I wonder if anyone would be interested in writing (or co-writing) an article on Bronze Age chariot warfare for the Helios. (This could be a short piece, say between 750 and 1,500 words, or longer if you like). If anyone is interested, you might want to have a look at this post.

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