Polybian Roman

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MarkusB
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Polybian Roman

Postby MarkusB » Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:23 pm

A couple of questions on this list: (1) The general has to be the one allowed Jav Cav element, which is marked as 'battleline'. It's the only example of battleline Jav Cav I could find in all the classic era lists I skimmed through on Meshwesh... Was this done on purpose or is it a typo? (2) I think that the list structure implies that Elite Foot elements to represent a full acies triplex formation complete with triarii- could you confirm this?

(...as a side commentary, I really like the classification of velites as light infantry rather than skirmishers - their mass and density are underestimated in almost all rulesets I ever read)

many thanks in advance!

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David Kuijt
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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby David Kuijt » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:05 pm

Hadn't searched on Javelin Cavalry Battleline Generals. A casual search seems to indicate that there are 176 army lists with the option of Javelin Cavalry generals; not so easy to break that down into army lists where the Javelin Cavalry are deployed usually in the center, rather than on the flanks.

The Elite Foot are the triarii. Romans in this period are a problem for most systems because we know too much, and the scale is kind of variable from some battles to others, but for us the choice was pretty clear that the best veteran dudes had to be Elite Foot. For those of us who used to play legacy systems where the triarii were rated as "Spear" and so always worse than the rest of the army against enemy foot, this was a tremendous relief, as you might imagine.

Yes, without spending too much time criticizing legacy systems, the classification of dudes with small shields and javelins was always a problem there. I'm much happier with it in Triumph, where nobody gets to be "Skirmisher" unless they've got more range than a javelin -- so skirmishing bow or crossbow or slingers exist, but dudes with javelins are always Rabble or Light Foot depending upon whether they suck or not.
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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby MarkusB » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:20 am

Hi David, thanks for the answer. The problem (if it is a problem) with Polybians is that the general *has* to go with the Jav Cav, there is only one Jav Cav allowed, AND it is a battleline troop. Could this help the historical symmetrical avoured deployment? On the other hand, the traditional deployment position of Roman Equites (which I assume are the troopers to which the general would most likely stick) is the right wing.

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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby MarkusB » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:31 pm

In his Ab Urbe Condita Libri CXLII (often called "Historiae"), book XXVI, Titus Livius famously describes the first time Velites were employed against Carthaginian cavalry (at Capua in 211 BC). Small and agile legionaries were chosen to 'hitch a lift' with equites, dismounting just before contact with enemy cavalry:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... g=original

This tactic was so successful that Velites (i.e. 'veiled', as opposed to loricati, armoured) were introduced in the OOBs of legions raised from 210 onwards with a standard equipment - even though a variety of light troops were occasionally called velites before this (Polybius does this somewhere IIRC), potentially generating confusion.

Are you aware of further examples of them being employed in this sort-of-mounted infantry role? I've never found anything along these lines, but if they did, it might deserve a battle card or something similar?

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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby David Kuijt » Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:09 pm

MarkusB wrote:In his Ab Urbe Condita Libri CXLII (often called "Historiae"), book XXVI, Titus Livius famously describes the first time Velites were employed against Carthaginian cavalry (at Capua in 211 BC). Small and agile legionaries were chosen to 'hitch a lift' with equites, dismounting just before contact with enemy cavalry:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... g=original

This tactic was so successful that Velites (i.e. 'veiled', as opposed to loricati, armoured) were introduced in the OOBs of legions raised from 210 onwards with a standard equipment - even though a variety of light troops were occasionally called velites before this (Polybius does this somewhere IIRC), potentially generating confusion.

Are you aware of further examples of them being employed in this sort-of-mounted infantry role? I've never found anything along these lines, but if they did, it might deserve a battle card or something similar?


IIRC, something similar (cavalry-skirmisher assistance, or perhaps cavalry-rabble assistance depending upon classification) is attested for some of the Greekies (called "hammipoi"?) and maybe also for something like Early German. I'm unfamiliar with the details, though. Anyone? Andreas?

[edit] -- reading through your link above, the Velites as described would be Light Foot in Triumph, not Skirmishers. So it would be (if it were to be) a Battle Card for Light Foot assistance for Cavalry, rather than Skirmisher assistance for foot (the current Skirmish Screen battle card design). This may or may not be a similar thing to the Hammipoi of the Greekies.

Another similar example where the infantry support is subsumed into the stand itself rather than being a battle card is the chariot runners of the NKE and Hittites in the 13th century BCE -- those troops are just assumed to be part of the regular chariot stand, rather than something special and separate (and separable) like the Skirmish Screen battle card.
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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby MarkusB » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:04 pm

David Kuijt wrote:IIRC, something similar (cavalry-skirmisher assistance, or perhaps cavalry-rabble assistance depending upon classification) is attested for some of the Greekies (called "hammipoi"?)


Right, the hammippoi... Yes, they are usually referred to as light infantry closely cooperating with cavalry, but we don't know how (as far as I know) this cooperation happened. In his 'Hellenika', Xenophon describes the deployment of Epaminondas' cavalry at Mantinea as a "strong column" (or possibly wedge) with hammippoi "stationed among them":

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... ction%3D24

...while his opponents deployed their cavalry "as a phalanx, and without supporting infantry":

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... ction%3D23

...almost suggesting that having hammippoi was the norm rather than the exception? I don't know about any other source re: hammippoi.

Re: early germans - I'm totally ignorant.

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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby Andreas Johansson » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:29 am

Greek Hamippoi and Germanic light infantry are noted as fighting in close cooperation with cavalry, even intermixing with them, but not, AFAIK, as hitching a ride.

Thucydides 5.57.2 mentions hamippoi; oddly, most online translations render this as "dismounted troopers", but this is probably an example of the looseness with which Classicists often render technical terms. Jowett has "five hundred cavalry, and attached to each horseman a foot-soldier", and more literally it says "five hundred cavalry and hamippoi to the same number", leaving the technical term untranslated. The literal meaning is something like "ones accompanying horses".

Apart from the mentions in the Hellenica, Xenophon has this to say in The Cavalry Commander (5.13)

Another duty of a cavalry commander is to demonstrate to the city the weakness of cavalry destitute of infantry as compared with cavalry that has infantry attached to it. Further, having got his infantry, a cavalry commander should make use of it. A mounted man being much higher than a man on foot, infantry may be hidden away not only among the cavalry but in the rear as well.


Near as I can make sense of the Greek syntax, he's using hamippoi here not as a noun, but as an adjective "accompanying horses" (modifying pezoi "infantrymen"). The implication is surely that the utility of such soldiers was not universally recognized - their use had to be argued for. Given the experience of later ages, I'm inclined to believe that the skeptics had a point and that mixing light infantry with cavalry is not in general very useful. That some Greeks (and Germans) found it helpful would then be due to particular circumstances - one might suggest small horses, unsophisticated horsemanship, and little emphasis on shock action as relevant.

The Constitution of the Athenians (4th century) mentions "the hamippoi" as part of the military establishment but gives no further details.

The word also occurs in a non-military context in Sophocles' Antigone.

That would exhaust the occurrences of the word in Classical literature that I can find via the Perseus Project.

--

There is a story about Kublai Khan having infantry hitching a ride with cavalrymen, which would make Yuan another candidate for any battle card to this effect. But only know of this via wargamer lore, no idea what the original source may be. Nor do I know if it had any battlefield effect that needs representing.

--

Polybius BTW probably didn't write about velites under that name - he wrote in Greek, and normally used approximate Greek equivalents for Latin technical terms (which sometimes causes ambiguity for us poor moderns).

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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby David Kuijt » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:10 pm

Thanks, Andreas -- that's all good information.

Andreas Johansson wrote:There is a story about Kublai Khan having infantry hitching a ride with cavalrymen, which would make Yuan another candidate for any battle card to this effect. But only know of this via wargamer lore, no idea what the original source may be. Nor do I know if it had any battlefield effect that needs representing.


Right, that might well refer to strategic mobility (pre-battle) as well; the lines blur when we're talking about stuff like kallapani, Kyrenean Greek hoplites who moved around in carts, or HYW English longbowmen. All of which have the "Mounted Infantry" battle card.
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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby Andreas Johansson » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:49 pm

I should also have mentioned that Thucydides' hamippoi are Boiotian. When battle (1st Mantineia) is eventually joined after much manoeuvre and diplomacy, the Boiotians are no longer present, and we anyway don't hear about what any cavalry did in the battle.

(All translators presume they were combatants, but given the literal meaning of the word and that there was one per cavalryman, I wouldn't be shocked if they actually were grooms or similar attendants. A word can have multiple usages, after all, or change meaning over the decades. Still, Occam is presumably on the side of Thucydides' hamippoi being the same as Xenophon's, and Thucydides' appears to count them as part of the Boiotian contingent's fighting strength.)

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Re: Polybian Roman

Postby MarkusB » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:34 pm

Thank you Andreas, lots of food for thought in your answer.

So if I understand correctly, there might be grounds for a couple of (entirely optional) battle cards, covering bad horse with intermingled rabble (hamippoi), and light infantry hitching a lift (velites). However, the sources are so vague that representing this with rules seems difficult- what were the hamippoi good for, after all? Staying power? Impact? Did they help against other cavalry? And regarding velites, which part of their success at Capua depended on the suprise element (which wasn't apparently attempted again)? Hmm...


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