Bits & Bobs

Anything else related to the TRIUMPH! rules
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HoaryCenturion
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Bits & Bobs

Post by HoaryCenturion » Fri Aug 11, 2023 12:33 pm

Bits & Bobs

Greetings and salutations,

Here’s hoping that everyone’s gaming projects and pursuits are yielding good results. Here’s hoping that a few will take the time to respond and offer advice or direction to the following:

I see that previous discussion has sorted out the difference between camps and fortified camps. That said, I think it would be beneficial/useful to see a tutorial video on attacking camps. I would appreciate seeing a video detailing how each kind of camp is best modeled as well as how each type is best attacked and defended.
If a friendly unit is attacked on the front and a flank by the enemy and it wins the melee round, are both enemy units required to make “lost melee round” move? For example, let us say that a friendly unit of Heavy Foot is attacked frontally by an enemy unit of Heavy Foot and on its flank by an enemy unit of Bad Horse. The friendly Heavy Foot would have a factor of 3, right? (4 to start vs foot, but down 1 due to flanking attack) and the enemy Heavy Foot would have a factor of 4. Let us say that the die rolls result in a score of 8 for the friendly unit and a 6 for the enemy unit. The enemy Heavy Foot would have to move back its base width. What about the flanking enemy unit of Bad Horse? Does it stay in contact with the flank? Does it also move back a base width as the melee was lost? Something else?
I noted that Chalons was recently refought at Historicon . . . What is the status or possibility of using GRAND TRIUMPH to wargame other historical battles? The Society of Ancients has conducted a Battle Day since 2004. (See https://www.soa.org.uk/joomla/battle-day.) Have any other players of TRIUMPH attempted to refight these engagements? Has anyone tried Magnesia? I have been toying with it, but have stumbled over the representation of scythed chariots as well as the depth of the phalanx and the deployment of the legions.


Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
Chris
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David Kuijt
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Aug 11, 2023 5:11 pm

HoaryCenturion wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2023 12:33 pm
Bits & Bobs

If a friendly unit is attacked on the front and a flank by the enemy and it wins the melee round, are both enemy units required to make “lost melee round” move? For example, let us say that a friendly unit of Heavy Foot is attacked frontally by an enemy unit of Heavy Foot and on its flank by an enemy unit of Bad Horse. <and the attackers lose> The enemy Heavy Foot would have to move back its base width. What about the flanking enemy unit of Bad Horse? Does it stay in contact with the flank? Does it also move back a base width as the melee was lost? Something else?
See rule 77.1. It must immediately fall back.
HoaryCenturion wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2023 12:33 pm
I noted that Chalons was recently refought at Historicon . . . What is the status or possibility of using GRAND TRIUMPH to wargame other historical battles? The Society of Ancients has conducted a Battle Day since 2004. (See https://www.soa.org.uk/joomla/battle-day.) Have any other players of TRIUMPH attempted to refight these engagements? Has anyone tried Magnesia? I have been toying with it, but have stumbled over the representation of scythed chariots as well as the depth of the phalanx and the deployment of the legions.
Historical battles we have run with (Grand) TRIUMPH include Hydaspes, Hattin, Chalons, Hastings, Brunanburh, Asculum, and many others -- a dozen or so, at a guess. Plus some fantasy battles -- I've run Battle of the Five Armies and Pelennor Fields, for example. I haven't heard of anyone trying Magnesia yet, but Rod and I were discussing Granicus last week (probably going to be run by Brian and Larry at Fall In 2023, early November).

With regard to Scythed Chariots, use the rules in the Battle Cards supplement for TRIUMPH.
DK
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by HoaryCenturion » Sat Aug 12, 2023 12:41 am

DK,

Thanks for your prompt and informative reply.

I will re-read section 77.1.

Regarding the historical battles, I have seen the videos for Hattin and Hastings. Very well done. I had a pretty good seat for the refight of Asculum at Little Wars a few months ago.

I look forward to seeing future posts about Granicus . . . anything from ideas about OBs to how to address moving across the river, etc.

Regarding Magnesia and the chariots, well . . . the Battle Card did not really help, I think I need to review the ancient sources and then tweak the battle card, especially with respect to routing scythed chariots and their impact on friends.

As long as Granicus is being considered, I wonder if that might lead to an attempt at Gaugamela?

Thanks again for responding. Going to take a look at 77.1 now.

Cheers,
Chris
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Rod
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by Rod » Sat Aug 12, 2023 2:43 am

Planning Granicus, Issus, and then Gaugamela...

We started with Hydaspes and now working our way from the beginning of the campaign.

Having done Marathon I am also planning to do Platea.

So many battles so little time.
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Aug 12, 2023 6:20 pm

HoaryCenturion wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2023 12:41 am
Regarding Magnesia and the chariots, well . . . the Battle Card did not really help, I think I need to review the ancient sources and then tweak the battle card, especially with respect to routing scythed chariots and their impact on friends.
Are you thinking of representing the scythed chariots as a combat unit? (which is most definitely not what the battle card does)

I'd recommend strongly against that. We played with a variety of those rules for a long time, trying to find an answer. But the short (and best) answer was simply that they weren't a combat unit -- they were a one-time special event. There is no record ever (in any use of scythed chariots, any time in history) of a scythed chariot unit being used in an attack, and then being used again in the same battle. They aren't a combat unit that fights more than once. It's like a fireship in the attack on the Spanish Armada -- you can't use it again a few hours later. One-shot is all you got.
DK
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by HoaryCenturion » Sat Aug 12, 2023 11:58 pm

Replying in the order responded to:

Rod -
Appreciate and sympathize with your "struggle" of there being so many battles and so little time. The "curse" of the historical wargamer I guess.

FWIW, I have done Alexander's Persian battles with Armati (not Gaugamela; too big) and felt they were successful (subjective opinion). I have refought parts of Gaugamela with different rules.

Best of luck with your endeavors. On a related note, Ilipa (206 BC) is the contest for Battle Day 2024. I wonder how that might be staged with TRIUMPH?

Moving on to DK . . .

Thanks for clarifying the scythed chariot battle card for me. To answer your question, it was under consideration. My reading of the ancient source material informs that the Seleucid scythed chariots were directed against a variety of enemy troops, not just those listed on the battle card. Chapters 41 and 42 of Livy's narrative explain the significant effect the broken or panicked scythed chariots had on friendly forces. This is what I am looking to model or at least allow for the chance of. Difficult to do with the restrictive parameters of the battle card as it is written.

If my meaning was garbled with respect to the use of scythed chariots in the previous email, I apologize. Fortunately, emails are not like scythed chariots. One can always try again to make oneself clearer and hope to be understood.

Thanks to both. Cheers,
Chris
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by David Kuijt » Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:07 pm

HoaryCenturion wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2023 11:58 pm
Thanks for clarifying the scythed chariot battle card for me. To answer your question, it was under consideration. My reading of the ancient source material informs that the Seleucid scythed chariots were directed against a variety of enemy troops, not just those listed on the battle card. Chapters 41 and 42 of Livy's narrative explain the significant effect the broken or panicked scythed chariots had on friendly forces. This is what I am looking to model or at least allow for the chance of. Difficult to do with the restrictive parameters of the battle card as it is written.
Hey Chris,

Can you be more specific? Which book of Livy? http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D46

Note that Livy is writing about 30 BC, for a Roman audience who wanted to hear how foreign tricks redound upon their users. The last time Rome faced scythed chariots was during the wars with Mithridates, about 40 years earlier, so it is unlikely Livy had any first-hand accounts of their use -- certainly he would have had to rely on the accounts of others when describing battles with the Seleucids a hundred years before he was born.

With all that said, we are naturally reliant on Roman sources for the majority of our military descriptions of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Because we ain't got much else. We just have to be a little careful, as they are always biased.

Personally I'm skeptical of any devastating impact on friendly troops -- if riderless scythed chariots with panicked horses were so dangerous, they would likely have had a greater impact on the enemy troops they were originally run at, while they were still as concentrated as they were going to be.

With that said, creating rules for scythed chariots, based upon historical use, was complex. I'm by no means certain our answer is perfect -- but it's better (more likely to result in historical behavior) than all the previous systems we tested. And certainly more reasonable than we've seen in legacy systems. Although you mention Armati -- does Armati have a system for Scythed Chariots? I've never played Armati.
DK
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by HoaryCenturion » Wed Aug 16, 2023 12:18 pm

DK,

Not sure of the problem here, as the link to LIvy allows one to click arrows so as to go forwards and backwards in the narrative account, but here are the sections or chapters that I think apply to the vexing challenge of modeling scythed chariots, generally, on an ancient battlefield:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D41

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D42

I hope these links work.

Points taken regarding the bias inherent in most sources. It seems that this is a common problem or frequent trap in any historical writing.

Appreciate your skepticism. I wonder why, though, panicked horses would continue to move forward against enemy formations that had caused their state? Would not the inclination of the animals be to remove themselves from that danger or situation as quickly as possible? Would not the safest course be to turn around and put as much distance between yourself and the enemy formation causing you trouble? I recall reading that horses do not generally like running toward solid objects, especially ones with long pointy sticks or ones loosing volleys of missiles at them.

Yes, yes, drafting rules for these "guided missile weapons" is a challenge.

Armati provides for models/stands of Scythed Chariots, They can move 15 inches and wheel 2 inches as well as move. They have a single unit break point, so tend to die quickly. Per the QRS, they gain impetus against most units except for Elephants, camels, light-heavy infantry, light infantry and skirmishers. The frontal fighting value or combat factor in melee is a 5, which is pretty good. (This value is added to a d6 roll to determine the melee score which is then compared to the opponent's score.)

To the Strongest has an interesting approach to scythed chariots, allowing for a rout or rampage which can impact friendly formations.
ADLG also has a rout procedure, generally. I would have to look up the specifics re scythed chariots.
I recall Hail Caesar having some notes about the special characteristics of these vehicles.
I think Tactica II also has some rules worth investigating.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Chris
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by David Kuijt » Thu Aug 17, 2023 11:55 am

HoaryCenturion wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2023 12:18 pm
DK,

Not sure of the problem here, as the link to LIvy allows one to click arrows so as to go forwards and backwards in the narrative account, but here are the sections or chapters that I think apply to the vexing challenge of modeling scythed chariots, generally, on an ancient battlefield:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D41

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D42

I hope these links work.
Thanks, I'll take a look at them later today.
HoaryCenturion wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2023 12:18 pm
Points taken regarding the bias inherent in most sources. It seems that this is a common problem or frequent trap in any historical writing.
Yup.
HoaryCenturion wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2023 12:18 pm

Appreciate your skepticism. I wonder why, though, panicked horses would continue to move forward against enemy formations that had caused their state? Would not the inclination of the animals be to remove themselves from that danger or situation as quickly as possible? Would not the safest course be to turn around and put as much distance between yourself and the enemy formation causing you trouble? I recall reading that horses do not generally like running toward solid objects, especially ones with long pointy sticks or ones loosing volleys of missiles at them.
Keegan, in "The Face of Battle" has a significant discussion of how the common perception of charging knights is completely wrong -- if enemy foot stayed in formation, horses would not charge into them. Very few exceptions (one of them being a square broken by cavalry in a Napoleonic War battle -- which was vanishingly rare, as an occurrence). Yes, charging knights did "break" enemy foot -- happened a lot. But (essentially) NEVER by the actual collision; the foot broke while the charge was coming, and the broken unit created pathways for the oncoming knights, who then used them.

But the point I was making was not that panicked horses would continue to charge enemy formations -- it was that panicked horses who are repelled by an enemy formation would not then stay as a dense group who would now hit a second formation (enemy or friendly) with major negative effect. If the panicked horse stampede (or formation of scythed chariots where the drivers had jumped out before collision) is driven off by an enemy unit that managed to stand firm, they would be dispersed. Meaning that instead of 300 grouped horses stampeding a unit (the initial impact), you would get trickles of 1, 2, 3, maybe 5 horses running and trying to find an escape as individuals. That's what comes back towards your friendly lines -- not a rubber-ball rebound of 300 stampeding horses, but a spattering of dispersed groups of 3 to 10. And if 300 horses failed to have an impact on the enemy, then 3 horses is very unlikely to have much impact on friendlies, after running a quarter mile or more.

I see it as the initial attack being a water balloon. And whether it hits an enemy face or a shield, the balloon bursts. Some spray from the burst may come back at you (and even more may splatter around the original impact site) but it isn't a basketball that can hit you in the face as hard as your original throw -- it's a water balloon. Because (as you say) horses don't want to charge solid objects, and you grouped them up and scared them and did what you could to make them do it anyway -- but if it didn't work, the group doesn't stay together and rebound like a basketball at your own lines, it splatters, disperses, and the scared horses flee to any direction they think might be safe.

Now I'm all sad for the horses.
HoaryCenturion wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2023 12:18 pm
Yes, yes, drafting rules for these "guided missile weapons" is a challenge.

Armati provides for models/stands of Scythed Chariots, They can move 15 inches and wheel 2 inches as well as move. They have a single unit break point, so tend to die quickly. Per the QRS, they gain impetus against most units except for Elephants, camels, light-heavy infantry, light infantry and skirmishers. The frontal fighting value or combat factor in melee is a 5, which is pretty good. (This value is added to a d6 roll to determine the melee score which is then compared to the opponent's score.)

To the Strongest has an interesting approach to scythed chariots, allowing for a rout or rampage which can impact friendly formations.
ADLG also has a rout procedure, generally. I would have to look up the specifics re scythed chariots.
I recall Hail Caesar having some notes about the special characteristics of these vehicles.
I think Tactica II also has some rules worth investigating.
Thanks, Chris.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for any rules system that treats them as a combat unit. The same combat unit is used to represent cattle and horse stampedes (used by various cultures, from sub-saharan Africa to Asia), and the untrained elephant stampede used at Zama. There is no way any of those things can attack twice in any battle, which is what can happen with any combat unit. I'm sorry, it's silly. You muster up a whole bunch of cattle with your cowboys (or equivalent), scare the hell out of them and get them running in the right direction, have some impact on some combat unit -- hopefully destroying them. And then use them again? Are you serious? Those cattle/horses/elephants/scythed chariots are spread all over the countryside, dispersed, and exhausted. It would take many hours in a flat empty plain to collect them again, much less during a battle while enemy were maneuvering against you. And note that many descriptions of scythed chariots include that the drivers would jump out of their chariots before impact (like the skeleton crew of a fireship leaving in a dinghy before it enters the enemy fleet, from the Spanish Armada through to the Napoleonic Wars). And the ones that don't include that description may well be omitting it because it was (a) obvious to the writers or (b) the writer had never seen those items in action.

Which is why our representation of "expendables" (one-shot "weapons") is as a battle card, not a combat unit. Because I've played legacy systems where I could use a Scythed Chariot as a Pac-Man eating up multiple enemy units (especially when I could maneuver to hit an enemy line from the side) -- and it's just stupid, in the real world. And there has never been a description of a scythed chariot unit (or a stampede "unit") attacking more than once in a single battle. It makes no sense.
DK
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Re: Bits & Bobs

Post by HoaryCenturion » Fri Aug 18, 2023 9:56 pm

DK (and perhaps Rod as well, as I reference Alexander’s battles against Darius III),

A delayed and unformatted or reviewed reply . . .


Looking over the chapter on Magnesia in Professor Sabin’s book LOST BATTLES, I found this on page 199: “Livy (XXXVII.41-2) described Eumenes panicking the scythed chariots and quickly routing the entire Seleucid left . . .”

It appears that the Seleucid numbers were larger than the Roman and allied numbers in this part of the field. It appears too, at least as some other wargamers have interpreted it, that the Seleucid scythed chariots were directed at some enemy horse. (The vehicles may have attempted to get at the peltasts as well.)

Anyway, it seems, accepting the version of the ancient narrative, that the rout of the scythed chariots contributed to the collapse of the Seleucid left.

In my original email, I admitted to struggling with how to model this on my tabletop. Not that I wanted to stage an exercise, but that I wanted to allow for the opportunity of friendly scythed chariots ruining friendly formations’ day.

[For what it’s worth: Professor Sabin has an entire section on Alexander the Great. He covers and analyzes the Granicus, Issus, and Gaugamela. VD Hanson also had a good chapter in one of his books about Gaugamela. Going way back to 2004, Gaugamela was the first historical battle selected for The Society of Ancients Battle Day.]


Having some spare time, I took a quick survey of articles in old issues of Slingshot. A “brief” summary of my findings follows.

A gent by the name of Stephen Edwards “argued” for 7 essential characteristics of scythed chariots:

1 / They were always placed ahead of the main battleline to begin the engagement.
2 / They were always deployed at wide intervals rather then in compact masses.
3 / Their purpose was not to destroy enemy units, but to break up their formation so that they became vulnerable to other troops behind the chariots.
4 / They could launch only one charge.
5 / They were ineffective unless charging at full speed.
6 / They could do little damage to light troops, but were vulnerable to light troops themselves.
7 / If driven back they “considerably impair the order of the rest of the army, who are afraid of the scythes of their own side.”

The footnote for Number 7 contained information about the writing of Mark Elvin, THE PATTERN OF THE CHINESE PAST and Charles Huecker, THE MING DYNASTY: ITS ORGINS AND EVOLVING INSTITUTIONS.

It would appear that Number 7 also calls into question your excellent water ballon analogy.

In another issue, there is a reference to the Charles Grant pointing out in 1978 “that horses will not crash head long into obstacles.” This contributor, a Richard Devereaux, cites Daxyleum - 399 BC - as evidence of chariot success. There is also a reference to Bythinia - 88 BC - where chariots managed to disorder a phalanx.

Generally speaking, it seems that scythed chariots were more psychological weapons than anything else.

In another article or response to discussion of scythed chariots, a Martyn Brawn remarks that “historically scythed chariots were normally used in large numbers, en masse.” Referring to previously mentioned battles, he notes that at Chaeronea - 86 BC - there were 60 such vehicles employed. (This mention of numbers led me to think about scale, which led me to think about the YouTube tutorials about game scale regarding TRIUMPH.)

This gent makes the argument that “the driver of a scythed chariot was not a suicidal fanatic.”

In yet another piece, Darrell Smith puts scythed chariots under a microscope as it were. Here identifies and very briefly summarizes 8 historical contests. These are:
Cunaxa - 401 BC
Dascyleum - 399 BC
Gaugamela - 331 BC
Elephant Victory - 273 BC
Apollonia - 220 BC
Magnesia - 190 BC
Bithynia - 88 BC
Chaeronea - 86 BC

Focusing in on Magnesia, again, Darrell observed or stated: “A large number of Seleucid chariots were deployed on the army’s left flank and charged an opposing Roman army. The chariots took casualties from the Roman light troops and routed . . .”

Another gentleman comments about the difference in scythed chariot deployment and engagement by ancient wargamers when compared to their documented historical use.

Yet another gentleman (scythed chariot pundit?) asks the age-old and familiar question with regard to scythed chariots” “have the rule writers got it right then?”

There is mention of moving at speed and in a straight line to gain impetus. Not so clear is what the targeted formation(s) can do in terms of moving out of the way, opening lanes, etc. There is also another note about the typical classification of scythed chariot drivers being fanatics.

I’ll close this admittedly disorganized collection of snippets from old Slingshot issues and whatnot with a line from Steve Neate who offered his 2 cents (or 2 pence) during the great scythed chariot discussions. This is what he said or wrote: “Variety is the spice of life and ancient wargaming.”

Ironically, as I don’t employ miniatures, I think it’s good to have scythed chariot models on a tabletop. I think they should be employed in sufficient numbers and not in “in case of emergency packets” held in reserve. I think they should have 1 chance to make a dent or at least disorder the enemy line. I also think there should be a provision for their panic or rout to ruin a friendly unit’s day. To borrow your analogy, it’s like throwing the water balloon and having it break just when it’s released.

Thanks for an interesting discussion.

Best of luck to you and your colleagues on developing the Alexander scenarios.

Cheers,
Chris
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