Tagged: Horse Archers
12/07/2019 at 15:49 #117869
It’s Friday, it’s as hot as Hell and so a not so young man’s thoughts turn to horse archers. I’m sure you’ve all been there. The heat, the flies, the fletching.
Anyhow, I’ve just re-painted my first unit of Early Byzantine Horse Archers. I’ll post a pic when I’ve done the basing.
Naturally enough I began to think about how different rules treat horse archery. Mine, Pulse of Battle, allow them to trot forward shoot and trot back in a seamless move. That suits me. They also don’t differentiate between foot archery and mounted archery in terms of range. I’m not sure about that.
I thought I’d ask here. How do your rules treat horse archery and are you happy with the results?
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/12/07/2019 at 16:16 #117873willbParticipant
I use Scutarii from Hoplite Research. The rules allow missile fire at any point during a move. So if you have several horse archer units in open order, the first could start at missile range, shoot with their bows and fall back up to a full move. As this happens the following unit could move up, shoot, and then move away. Additional units could do the same with the last unit ending its turn as it moved into range and used its bows.12/07/2019 at 19:33 #117889PatriceParticipant
They also don’t differentiate between foot archery and mounted archery in terms of range. I’m not sure about that.
If they are using the same kind of bows I wouldn’t differentiate ranges.
I would differentiate accuracy (between an immobile foot bowman and a moving mounted bowman) if shooting at an isolated lone target, but if we’re talking about whole big units shooting at one another there probably doesn’t need to be a real difference in the rules.
…I also like to allow the “caracole” or “Cantabrian circle”, with the unit being displayed in a circle and considering the range for all of them at the closest point (for them to shoot …but also for the enemy unit to shoot back) for the whole game turn:
http://www.anargader.net/12/07/2019 at 22:44 #117896OchoinParticipant
The inimitable Lindybeige has some thoughts on the topic:
He mentions the “unbeatable” nature of Parthian armies in Ancients tournaments. I remember a chap at a Show waxing lyrically on this very point for far too long.
donald13/07/2019 at 02:23 #117898vtsaogamesParticipant
My take on nomadic horse archers: they were the ultimate tactical force in open terrain. They were incredible when a strong leader unified them, like Attila, Ghengis or Tamerlane. But the rest of the time you could always hire one tribe to attack the other. In a similar fashion, the US army always had scouts from one tribe when warring with another. Lack of unity (not represented in our tactical games) was their Achilles heel.
https://corlearshookfencibles.blogspot.com/13/07/2019 at 09:27 #117902Doug MelvilleParticipant
The antidote to horse archers was better armour (so cataphracts) and foot archers with powerful bows – simple equation, you can get a lot more foot archers into the same space as a horse archer, and mass shooting kills or wounds horses. This was one of the reasons Chinese armies were very keen on crossbows. The Sasanian response to Hunnic invasion was armoured horsemen with bows.
--An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.com/ --13/07/2019 at 11:45 #117917
That’s a very good point about target size Patrice.
Taking up from Doug above. We can note that:
The Roman response to Hunnic horse archers was to create Roman armoured horse archers.
The Mamluks who stopped the Mongols were armoured horse archers.
To add to what Vincent said the Huns fall apart when Atilla died. The Mongols likewise break into factions. It’s politics that does for them.
Taking an example from outside our period it took the invention of the Colt Revolver to enable the horse, bow and lance armed Commanche to be tackled effectively. Once again mass shooting.
Any more thoughts on Rules?
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/13/07/2019 at 23:21 #117927OchoinParticipant
Any more thoughts on Rules?
Could I suggest that like any troop type that has an easy option to run away, they can? That is, allow particularly brittle morale.
donald13/07/2019 at 23:58 #117928Sane MaxParticipant
oddly, all my fave rules systems have had a serious problem with Horse Archers.
in WAB they were appalling. They could always fall back when charged as long as they had the space, shooting you up all the while, and were fast and cheap. They always did horribly well in tournaments.
in Warmaster ancients it was worse. The authors had to produce a fat errata to break them a bit, as otherwise they were unstoppable.
DBA and DBM were very odd. Horse archery was combat, basically. it felt wrong. I am sure, since Barker was sure, that it produced realistic results. But it felt very odd indeed.
In Hail Caesar they are their own troop type.I have not played it enough yet, but they seem a lot more of a pest and less of a war-winner.
Historically, I was taught (this was the 80’s) that Nomad armies simply couldn’t sustain themselves for long west of the Hungarian plains. Not enough space and grassland. add in all the rivers and terrain features they could be trapped against and it was all very unwelcoming.
But i do get the impression Atilla and his huns were something else completely – some huns, with an awful lot of subject germans. He could have pulled of universal empire if it wasn’t for the sexy german girl and the nosebleed.14/07/2019 at 15:00 #117943
That’s interesting Pat. I’ve not played WAB, Warmaster or Hail Caesar. Two things come to mind first why should they be cheap? A lifetime went into what Nomads could do. Also, thinking about Parthians there does seem to an issue with the number of arrows available. They brought extra ones just in case they ran out. I no longer play any of the DB’s and like you I found the treatment of horse archers unsatisfactory.
James Roach’s Ager Sanguinis Crusades rules, Piquet style, suit me pretty well. Turcoman move fast in a whirling mass, can move and shoot in every direction but if you catch them you will break them up. You can also put manners on them with cross bow shooting. I’ll be reporting back on how well Pulse of Battle deals with horse archers.
I remember Ferrill’s book too, still got it. It made a big impact mainly because pre the internet we were so starved of info’. He thought the Huns, or many of them, became infantry because of the factors you list. I don’t think his conclusions are widely accepted now though, except that mountains rivers and forests are clearly not Hun friendly terrain.
I’m minded of what the Turcoman did to Anatolia destroying the irrigation systems to ensure a terrain that suited them. The Huns could have done the same to many parts of Europe west of Hungary had they wanted. What they really wanted was a reliable flow of tribute in all its forms. Peter Heather reckons that Atilla overturned the traditional Hun political system by killing, as opposed to subjugating the minor Hun Kings. That would explain why it fell apart so quickly post Atilla.
I seem to recall reading that Atilla was drunk too at that fatal liaison. It’s sobering to think that the Huns were the also rans of the steppe wars.
The thing about giving horse archers brittle morale Ochoin is that the ones we know most about don’t seem to have had any morale problems at all. Huns, Mongols and Turcoman all liked to get stuck in whenever opportunity presented. Actually, the Turcoman would do it even when no opportunity of success existed. That they advanced shot and retreated to shoot again is just their tactical method it doesn’t tell us about their morale. In high spirits or out of sorts they always fought the same way.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/14/07/2019 at 16:46 #117944vtsaogamesParticipant
A number of Mongol Khans shortened their lives with excessive drinking, including Ogedai.
I think it was at Arsouf where the horse archers got closer and closer while the Crusaders remained on the defensive. When the knights finally charged, the horse archers were too close to escape and a number were ridden down,the rest routed. But that was a rare event. Usually the knights charged when first shot at.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by vtsaogames.
https://corlearshookfencibles.blogspot.com/14/07/2019 at 20:40 #117953
Yeah the timing of the Frankish charge was everything. Get it right you win. Get it wrong you probably die. It’s what makes Crusades games so interesting to play.
I finished my horse archer unit of Old Glory 15mm Early Byzantines.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/15/07/2019 at 12:45 #117976Sane MaxParticipant
In WAB it was surprisingly difficult to kill cavalry with bow fire. Cavalry got a built in plus 1 armour save, no idea why, (I assume just an unthinking carry over from Fantasy, where cavalry were almost always pretty much elite troops).
As for catching them – yes, if you caught them they were in trouble. Catching them was almost impossible unless you were very lucky, or their user was inept.
TBH, i think the overall issue is not a problem with how games design Horse-Archers – it’s the games we play with them. I played in a WAB tournament many years ago, and my opponent was mostly horse-archers. I either falsely recalled, or assumed wrongly, that skirmishers cannot ‘hold’ ground, and played for a draw – the best I could hope for – only to find out they could. that’s silly of course, but I cannot remember the last time I played a pure take-and-hold game, where the aim was to capture area ‘a’ and be in possession of it at the end of the game. As LindyBeige says, that was what most battles really amounted to, rather than two groups meeting at an appointed time and seeing who could kick the most hell out of the other, like Greek Hoplite Warfare.
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