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Thread: How much cavalry do you use?

  1. #21
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar I am your sovereign now
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    Default Re: How much cavalry do you use?

    Quote Originally Posted by QuintusSertorius View Post
    Oh dear, the stirrup myth. Stirrups have nothing whatsoever to do with shock cavalry, Alexander's Companions didn't need stirrups to charge home. What they do is provide side-to-side stability in the saddle, making for a more stable archery platform. They also make you less likely to lose your seat in a standing melee.
    Let's not downplay the stirrup too much. The stirrup, with an early toe version in India around 200 BC but the modern version first appearing in Jin dynasty China around the 4th century AD, provides a rider with great leverage and support. The stirrup alongside successively larger versions of the couched lance and gradual improvements to heavy armor from mail to full plate led to the devastating success of mounted European knights from the High to Late Middle Ages, at least until the improvement of gunpowder weaponry in the Early Modern era rendered them less effective.

    You're right, though, that shock cavalry existed well before then. The Macedonian Hetairoi Companion Cavalry were undoubtedly shock cavalry able to land decisive killer blows from the flanks and rear of enemy armies in the classic "hammer and anvil" tactic when combined with phalanx infantry. Also, early versions of the saddle in a padded treeless form existed among ancient Scythians, Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks, Macedonians, etc. Perhaps without sharing such knowledge with each other, the ancient Han dynasty Chinese and Romans seem to have both separately invented their own four-horned saddles by the 1st century BC, within the EBII timeframe! While these saddles lacked stirrups, they nevertheless provided decent support for heavy cavalry charges.

    To answer the question of the OP, I usually use 4 to 6 cavalry units in a full stack army regardless of the faction or culture. I also had no qualms using Black Sea horse archers as the Romans, the Pergamon and Koinon Hellenon Greeks, the Macedonians, or even the Carthaginians. If you expand that far as an empire you might as well take advantage of local units and fighting styles.

  2. #22

    Default Re: How much cavalry do you use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Louise von Preussen View Post
    What you say is true, but remember: Romani infantry polls are always cheap and plenty, esp. if you build lots of coloniae, and also it suits historically the sort of approach they had to warfare. Camillan-Polybian approach to battles was always to use plenty of reserves and grind the enemy to death.

    ... In truth, however, we must remember this: cavalry really didn't succeed in becoming truly decisive and strong on its own until saddles, stirrups, and larger breeds came in from Asia. So most Greeks and Romans didn't have that, their breeds were also smaller, making them unsuitable for shock roles.
    This is what Quintus was answering to. Stirrups weren't a requisite for shock cavalry to exist and be important, and there are hundreds of examples already mentioned. The idea that stirrups made heavy cavalry relevant all of a sudden is very very outdated. What stirrups did is free the hand of the rider so he could couch his lance and carry a shield, instead of using two hands on it. It made these cavalrymen more resilient while allowing them to carry less armour on themselves and the horse, so they were much faster than old fashioned cataphracts. So yes the stirrup was important in the development of the knight, but shock cavalry had existed for hundreds of years before. And it's wrong to say that Greek and romans didn't have shock cavalry, because lots of "greeks" did, and lots of roman consuls used allied shock cavalry when they could, eventually making their own units in the imperial era.

  3. #23

    Default Re: How much cavalry do you use?

    Not really knowledgeable in this debate, but wouldn't the horned saddles the Romans and others had (very early) be just as good or better than stirrups for a skilled rider? I remember seeing a demonstration on Youtube of these being used, seemed to be it would be great for both charge stability and more flexible than stirrups for shifting around in the saddle. I'd guess if you are a truly skilled rider (few around these days that haven't been trained using stirrups), you'd get similar performance.

    Disclaimer, again, about having little knowledge of cavalry or horses, those are the big dog shaped things right?


    This was just posted today - spooky!!

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  4. #24

    Default Re: How much cavalry do you use?

    Shock cavalry could be good with enough training, but never became decisive in itself, until the advent of stirrups and saddles.
    "Romans not only easily conquered those who fought by cutting, but mocked them too. For the cut, even delivered with force, frequently does not kill, when the vital parts are protected by equipment and bone. On the contrary, a point brought to bear is fatal at two inches; for it is necessary that whatever vital parts it penetrates, it is immersed. Next, when a cut is delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed. However, the point is delivered with the cover of the body and wounds the enemy before he sees it."

    - Flavius Vegetius Renatus (in Epitoma Rei Militari, ca. 390)

  5. #25

    Default Re: How much cavalry do you use?

    Intentionally placing your army at a cavalry disadvantage to facilitate grindy battles is soooooo satisfying. I do this now, but back then I always had 5-9 units of cavalry including the general. Battles were uniformly bland, consisting of splaying my heavy infantry in a long line, and overwhelming enemy cavalry on the flanks. My victorious riders would then slaughter enemy light troops before killing their general. Finally, the abundance of cavalry makes mopping up the routing enemies trivial.

    All that changes when you only have 1 General, 1 heavy unit, and 2-3 light units of cavalry. Suddenly you have to rely on your infantry for support to win the battle on the flanks. Maybe even employ some kiting and baiting maneuvers with your light cavalry. Casualties increase but so does the room for tactical innovation. This also has strategic map ramifications. No longer can your massive cavalry arm win you battles against 3 enemy armies at once. Reinforcing armies are now a threat, so you have to seek them out and destroy them before settling down for a multi-year siege. This also necessitates the need for spies to spot reinforcements trickling in.

    I've been playing the game wrong dammit

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