Bow Levy

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Gavmeister
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Bow Levy

Post by Gavmeister » Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm

I'm having difficulty convincing myself why Bow Levy can't shoot. The rules say they are “…untrained in volley fire, and provided with smaller supplies of ammunition. Their long-range fire is weak and ineffective, and they would only use their relatively scarce supply of arrows when an enemy was quite close.”

Here's my case:
Training a man to use a bow is a lot more involved than handing him a spear.
Unless you are a Skirmisher who can run away, the aim of having a bow is to shoot enemies long before they get anywhere near you, especially if you have nothing more than a dagger or club to defend yourself with.
Many troops in this category seem to be there because they were poorly equipped for close combat, or were unenthusiastic (like Flemish crossbow in the medieval Burgundian list). Not because they couldn't shoot straight.
Would armies with lots of Bow (e.g. Elamites, Babylonians) really be parsimonious with arrows?
Why would armies develop as 'Bow Levy' instead of 'Horde' if their opponents were almost wholly made up of foot troops, e.g. many of the early Bronze Age armies.
Most shooting in pre-gunpowder times was continuous anyway, rather than volleyed, except when under imminent threat of close combat.
A suitable 2 point close range-only shooter is already there: Rabble.

A suggestion: let them shoot like Archers but with a factor of only +2 instead of +3. Obviously, this would raise their cost to 3 points. Possible Battle Card?
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David Schlanger
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by David Schlanger » Wed Jun 30, 2021 7:34 pm

We have lots of troops in Triumph! that "could" have been given ranged attack capabilities depending on the conceptual approach to shooting in the game - Horse Bow, Skirmishers, Bow Levy, even Elite Cavalry and Chariots.

You make some good points here, but does not necessarily line up with all of the decisions we made during the game design. For Bow Levy their effectiveness with the bow is taken into consideration with their close combat factor. Horde, Bow Levy and Rabble are all very poor quality troops with different flavors of crappy foot - Close Order and tougher against foot (Horde), Open Order and more capable against mounted (Bow Levy), and Open Order and more capable in bad terrain (Rabble).

We do have additional flexibility built into the system via Battle Cards (as you see with the Shower Shooting battle card). There are even more cards in Fantasy Triumph! It is possible at some point down the road there will be additional historical Battle Cards.

But yes, please play it the way you like. If you want to play Bow Levy with a more limited ranged attack and 3 point cost, go for it. And please report your battles here on the forum so we can share with what you experience with that change to the game.

DS
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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Jun 30, 2021 9:37 pm

David Schlanger wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 7:34 pm
But yes, please play it the way you like. If you want to play Bow Levy with a more limited ranged attack and 3 point cost, go for it. And please report your battles here on the forum so we can share with what you experience with that change to the game.

DS
Note also that there is a battle card "Shower Shooting" (same one in Fantasy Triumph is called "Ranged Attack") that is a 1pt per stand card and gives most of what you were talking about (+2 combat factor ranged attack). You might want to look at that first.
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by Gavmeister » Thu Jul 01, 2021 2:16 pm

Thank you, Two Davids. I hadn't noticed Shower Shooting; that seems to have exactly the effect I was looking for. Shooting at +2 with an additional restriction on moving, to reflect timid defensive behaviour. I'll give it a try!
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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:00 am

Not arguing about your idea right now, but pointing out some issues in your supporting arguments for pedantry's sake. Well, not just for pedantry -- hoping some of those reading this will get a more nuanced view on a complicated subject.
Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Here's my case:
Training a man to use a bow is a lot more involved than handing him a spear.
"Train" is an assumption (that the man involved comes from a background of nothing). Very few soldiers were career soldiers in ancient and medieval times -- so if you were had a bow, you probably knew how to use one before you ever were drafted into the army. Because you used it to supplement your diet with birds or small animals. Same for the sling. Feudal muster lists include requirements that levy bring their own weapons -- so the only people who showed up with bows would not require training with them.
Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Unless you are a Skirmisher who can run away, the aim of having a bow is to shoot enemies long before they get anywhere near you, especially if you have nothing more than a dagger or club to defend yourself with.
"long before" is misleading. 20 yards is more than enough distance to miss under pressure, even against an unarmored man-sized target. And individuals can always run away -- Skirmishers are the units where they can reform after they run away. Bow levy who started firing at long range (more than 20 yards or so) would not necessarily be more effective than ones who waited until their shot was more certain.
Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Many troops in this category seem to be there because they were poorly equipped for close combat, or were unenthusiastic (like Flemish crossbow in the medieval Burgundian list). Not because they couldn't shoot straight.
Why do you say so? The Francs Archers (Bow Levy) were said to be "unable to kill a chicken". They're Bow Levy.

If you can find me an instance of a unit rated as Bow Levy and give evidence that they were capable archers, well equipped with quarrels or arrows, those guys probably are miscategorized.

But note that unequipped for close combat in the later Medieval period DID fairly clearly mean they sucked. Because there are no examples of capable long-range shooters in mass who weren't treated well by their generals -- they had quilted aketons, simple helmets, and other stuff that could save their lives. If they didn't have any weapons but the bow, their generals were pretty sure they sucked.

Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Would armies with lots of Bow (e.g. Elamites, Babylonians) really be parsimonious with arrows?
Armies didn't supply the arrows in many of those cases; individuals did.

Let me flip that around. Do you have any evidence that the Elamites or Babylonians created any sort of governmental or army arrow supply, with an infrastructure to help deliver those arrows? Do you have any evidence that the Elamites volley fired at long distances? Remember, 100 meters is about 1.5mu for most armies. And 100 meters is very long range for a crappy self bow, and nobody shoots at a non-stationary target with a bow at more than 50 meters or so. Firing one stand at another stand at distance is always volley fire. And volley fire requires lots of arrows -- almost always supplied by the army, because individuals couldn't support it.
Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Why would armies develop as 'Bow Levy' instead of 'Horde' if their opponents were almost wholly made up of foot troops, e.g. many of the early Bronze Age armies.
We classify based upon how they fought. "Why would" questions are very gamer-misleading. Why would medieval Generals not investigate the terrain in advance? Why would they not create an infrastructure to feed their armies? Why would they not dig good latrines? But they did all those things poorly.


Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
Most shooting in pre-gunpowder times was continuous anyway, rather than volleyed, except when under imminent threat of close combat.
The critical thing to examine is range. Continuous "fire at will" shooting is close-range. Pick a target, fire at it. Volley fire would rarely be used "when under imminent threat of close combat" -- that's a Napoleonic warfare response to an attack, not an archery response. Volley fire was used with archery to make for effective shooting at longer ranges. Volley fire wasn't about "I will hit that enemy in his face" --- that's close-range shooting only (Skirmisher range).

Gavmeister wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:33 pm
A suitable 2 point close range-only shooter is already there: Rabble.
Rabble doesn't work well against enemy Chariots or any mounted. Bow Levy works great against Chariots and all mounted. Rabble and Bow Levy serve very different purposes; they don't function the same at all.
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by Gavmeister » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:59 pm

Some very good points there and I'll just come back on a few.

1. 'Trained' is perhaps the wrong word for me to use in this context. A better phrase might be 'learn to use'. Most archers would have learned to use the bow before joining up, for sure. I was seeking to differentiate Bow Levy, made up of men competent in use of the bow, from Horde and Rabble, who may well have just been handed spears or crude short-range missile weapons after being conscripted.

2. If you're being charged it may well be best to wait until seeing the whites of their eyes - that's close combat. But in a stationary confrontation competent archers with a decent supply of arrows should be able to shoot, even if not especially well or at a low rate. Especially if the other guys are shooting at them.

3. I thought the francs archers would pop up at some point, although you misquote slightly - their ability to kill chickens was never in doubt. The main problem was that they usually ran away from the army before killing anything else. I think it's a bit of a stretch to then say that entire Bow Levy armies, like the Elamites and Babylonians, were made up of thousands of archers unable to shoot at more than 20 paces. The Babylonians later become 'Pavisiers' able to shoot at range, with just the addition of a front rank or two of guys with shields. The mass of the stand is made up of the same old bowmen; but suddenly they can shoot.

4. Let's face it neither of us is going to be able to prove one way or another exactly how good Babylonian and Elamite archers were, or how many arrows they brought with them or were given by their rulers. But these were both major powers for centuries, millennia even. The Assyrians increased the size of their shields and added armour in the later Sargonid period when these two nations became their main enemies. They mass-produced lots of other things, why not arrows.

I'm not attacking the excellent rules and your refreshing approach, just seeking to air an alternative view and some genuine questions. Maybe I'm still fixed on Bow(Inferior). I'll leave it there.
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Rod
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by Rod » Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:01 pm

All interesting points, try playing the Bow Levy and comparing to Rabble and Horde.

What you will find is that Bow Levy do represent guys with Bows in that they have abilities that Rabble and Horde do not have.

One issue we get into with the shooting concept at lot at this scale is the old, "why don't all my figures with bow and slings have ranged fire?" it is usually aimed at Mongol Horsebow.

As David mentions above, the "bow" ability is in there, but it does not always show up as "ranged fire" in the game sense of firing 3MU away.

Horsebow ride up and shoot at relatively close range without getting into the thick of it. That is why they evade instead of dying in many instances.

Bow Levy kill many things that would normally dance away from Rabble or Horde, because they have Bows.

And for those that really want down range for either troop, add shower shooting for special rules or scenarios.
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David Kuijt
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Jul 03, 2021 12:12 pm

Good points.
Gavmeister wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:59 pm

I'm not attacking the excellent rules and your refreshing approach, just seeking to air an alternative view and some genuine questions. Maybe I'm still fixed on Bow(Inferior). I'll leave it there.
Thanks for the props! I'm not trying to squish alternative views, so I'll leave off with the point-by-point response. I will say this, though -- consider that you might be too harsh on Bow Levy as an effective troop type. I won an open tournament at ... I think it was Historicon 2019? Something fairly close pre-covid, regardless. Anyway, I won an open tournament (all armies allowed, not just historical enemies) with Neo-Babylonian Empire, 16 Bow Levy. And that included against some Medieval opponents. Any of the 2-pt troop types are difficult to play, but that doesn't mean they can't be effective if you understand their powers and limitations.
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Re: Bow Levy

Post by Gavmeister » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:12 am

Impressive! These armies are nicknamed 'cockroaches' over here. One of our club members specialises in winning DBM/LAdlaG competitions with them. I'll nudge him to give Triumph a go.
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