Bow Levy - what to do with them?

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Snowcat
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Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Snowcat » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:48 am

Having just received my pdf of the rules, the first thing that struck me like a rock to the face was the non-ranged missile fire for Bow Levy. Coming from a DBx background, this made me do a double-take and a re-read of the relevant section until it became clear I had not misread the rules.

The design philosophy behind this rule becomes apparent when reading the description for Bow Levy in the Meshwesh troop types.

This makes some sense, but what do you actually do with them on the tabletop? :?

Sure, they're cheap - but they can't really fight and have no ranged attack. Sure, they don't suffer combat-related penalties for being in difficult terrain - but their movement through such terrain will drain command points, and their movement rate is already very slow. Consequently they don't appear to combine well with Light Foot and Skirmishers as a 'rough terrain force'.

So . . . what do you do with them? Placing them in open terrain seems hazardous to their health against an array of possible opponents, and 'hiding' them in difficult terrain seems somewhat pointless.

:?:

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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby David Kuijt » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:36 am

Those were the same questions that Jack the Butcher asked as his Assyrian army charged forward to meet my Neo Babylonians with its 16 stands of Bow Levy. "Haha," he said (memory edited for greater theatricality), "your Bow Levy will fall before my Elite Cavalry and Chariots."

Lo and behold, one or two Bow Levy did die. And the survivors of his Chariots and Elite Cavalry retreated, leaving many of their own corpses on the ground, vowing to find somewhere else to attack.

But there was no such place. Because 16 stands of Bow Levy take up an awful lot of space. Neo-Babylonian Bow Levy army won something like 16-4.

Moral of this story: Bow Levy are really good at giving as good as they get (point for point) when fighting against mounted. And there are a LOT of them, making the maneuver of maneuver army not so useful. If you play Bow Levy in historical matchups, you will find that they are a very, very useful troop type.
DK

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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Snowcat » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:49 am

Blimey! Here I am wondering what to do with 0-4 elements of them, and you took 16!!!!!!!!

:shock: :o :?

Jack the Butcher eh? :)

Hmm, much pondering to do...

Thanks (you've provided some Christmas hope for the Middle Assyrians on my shopping list).

Cheers

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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby David Kuijt » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:39 am

Snowcat wrote:Blimey! Here I am wondering what to do with 0-4 elements of them, and you took 16!!!!!!!!


2-4 stands is really useful -- that's the perfect amount for a holding action against enemy flank attacks with mounted. Set them up on one flank and you are basically immune to enemy horsebow flanking movements, and quite resistant to flanking movements by any other mounted except Cataphracts or Elephants. And Cataphracts and Elephants are too expensive and too slow to be sent on looping flanking maneuvers, so you don't need to worry about them much either.

Skythians hate-hate-hate wads of Bow Levy. And chariots hate them too. At +2:+3, even with shatter results on their side, they have to kill twice as many Bow Levy as they lose Horsebow or Chariots, and that rarely happens.
DK

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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Snowcat » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:46 am

Re using 2-4 Bow Levy against flanking moves by enemy mounted - I imagine this works best with the standard 2ft table depth. i.e. on a 3ft deep table it might be more difficult to achieve, unless setting up very defensively overall. (I'd been considering playing on a 3ft square table because I have one.)

I can get a 4 x Levy Bow in addition to an Internal Ally 2 x Light Foot + 1 Skirmisher combo working in the Middle Assyrian army along with the more elite troops.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Cheers.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby David Kuijt » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:51 pm

Snowcat wrote:Re using 2-4 Bow Levy against flanking moves by enemy mounted - I imagine this works best with the standard 2ft table depth. i.e. on a 3ft deep table it might be more difficult to achieve, unless setting up very defensively overall. (I'd been considering playing on a 3ft square table because I have one.)

I can get a 4 x Levy Bow in addition to an Internal Ally 2 x Light Foot + 1 Skirmisher combo working in the Middle Assyrian army along with the more elite troops.


Altering the table proportions alters the game, yes. And messes up the terrain system too. I'd just mark off the legal space on the map with tape or a very light pencil line rather than using a square map.

Middle Assyrians might be glad of their levy bowmen if going up against the Mitanni who could have up to 8 chariots. They don't need them as difficult terrain troops, because their Hupshu, Ashsharitu, or Huradu fill that role much better, but the levy bowmen are very useful as open terrain support for their own chariots against the massed chariots of the Mitanni or Syro-Canaanites.
DK

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Bill Hupp
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Bill Hupp » Tue Dec 27, 2016 6:17 am

Bow Levy was very effective for the Poles against Mongols in the Leignitz scenario we ran at Fall In.

SInce they are open order troops we wondered out loud if their movement rate should be maybe a higher than close order hordes and more like rabble. (Pure speculation on our part.)

Bill
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Snowcat
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Snowcat » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:35 am

Interesting thoughts on the Bow Levy - I'm nearly sold. :)

Re their slow movement, good point there. Take Zagros Highlanders for instance (e.g. Lullubi): Rabble and Bow Levy, basically identical apart from carrying a bow and quiver instead of a spear, you'd think they'd move at the same rate. Are the Bow Levy extra-cautious? Conversely the Lullubi Bodyguard troops are Raiders armed with both axe and bow - yet they move twice as fast as the Bow Levy...! Fair effort.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby David Kuijt » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:17 pm

It's natural to fixate on weapons when thinking about movement speed. But that's the smallest part of the picture. Bow Levy are huddled masses who are scared. They know (by and large) that they are likely to die, and they are unhappy about that. If they weren't scared, they'd be skirmishers, rabble, or archers (depending upon training, ammo supply, and fighting style). You could as well say that Horde are close order with lighter armor (usually) than Heavy Foot or Raiders -- why are they slower? Because moving as a group requires training, and fear means you try to stay together. Being afraid, trying to stick together, and untrained makes you slow. Same answer fits for bow levy as well.
DK

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Re: Bow Levy - what to do with them?

Postby Snowcat » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:32 pm

Fair enough. Although, ironically, Lullubi Rabble are the same naked dudes as the Bow Levy, except they have a pointy stick instead of a bow and quiver of arrows. Not sure that would fill me with much more confidence to be honest! ;)

Perhaps, going more by your philosophy, the Bow Levy are the weedier men with no delusions of grandeur, whereas the Rabble think they're Uruks!

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