Defending against Horse Bow

Share some insight about your best TRIUMPH! strategy.
David Crenshaw
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Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Crenshaw » Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:35 pm

Recently Paul Potter and I had a game day and were able to get in six games in person. Both of our families being vaccinated we decided to go all out in what we felt was a safe environment, unfortunately the battlefield definitely did not turn out to be a safe environment for me! Paul played two horse bow heavy armies and I played a variety of armies to try and combat them. Sub Roman British, Feudal and Medieval English, and Samurai (was only able to field 5 of the possible 9 horse bow elements).

Some Caveats:

1) These were learning games so we may have made mistakes
2) I have never rolled so many ones (especially for movement pips) in my life
3) We mistakenly played march moves to within 4 instead of 8 MUs.

Some observations/concerns:

1) The high Maneuverability rating of horse bow armies means they will likely be able to minimize the number of terrain pieces.
2) The Triumph board being larger, and # of terrain piece placement determined to a great extent by the advantaged player, gives a large advantage to a horse bow army.
3) Horse bow is effectively impervious to knights - I found this ability over emphasized. By increasing the combat factor to three and having a combat result of Panic, horse bow can easily out maneuver and destroy knights. While that may be desirable, I believe there were some instances of knights being able to close on horse bow.
4) Not all horse bow stayed at distance I believe. Samurai, Russian, and Islamic horse bow units would close with other cavalry and hence a panic result is not always appropriate for a doubled outcome result.
5) I have read in some instances during the crusades that crossbow armed infantry supported by knights were able to keep Islamic cavalry at bay. That was not my experience in these games as horse bow have little reason to fear either.
6) Archers are extremely disadvantaged with: minimal terrain, destroyed by all mounted if in close combat, reduced movement and range, inability to mass volleys and combine fire, and increased combat effectiveness of horse bow.

I would love to hear some strategies to effectively engage or defend against horse bow heavy armies and how the observations/concerns might be addressed through strategy, and whether those with more experience have found these observations to be accurate, or if our experience was out of the norm. Obviously some of the concerns would be addressed with the use of historical opponents, but I found the use of our existing armies in some admittedly rather odd pairings to be helpful in illuminating some of the interactions of the game.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Last edited by David Crenshaw on Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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greedo
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Re: Definding against Horse Bow

Post by greedo » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:01 pm

Good post. I will say I've never played any ancients game that does horse bow well, mainly because they tend to lump light cavalry in with steppe type horse bow.
They are different and it's really refreshing to see them as two distinct troop types in Triumph. So in a way I'm actually glad Bow armed cavalry can be such a menace, hopefully not too much so, but threatening nonetheless.

The only really constructive comment I have is more because I'm a beginner too. The confusion of 4MU and 8MU. For whatever reason, I've gotten stuck on thinking in terms of Base Widths. It's genius to base the game measurements on something derived from the width of the base to make the game scalable, but perhaps because the bases are actually on the table, I always think in terms of "how many of those bases will that be?" aka Base Widths. Using measurements that are half a base width gives more flexibility to the different movement rates and ranges.
I might have to translate all the movement rates and ranges to X or X+1/2 Base Widths just to keep it straight in my head.
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David Schlanger
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Schlanger » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:21 pm

Hi David,

It's really awesome to see your post! I am very pleased that you and Paul were able to get together for some real face to face games. I can't believe how long it has been already... no face to face games... no Cons. It is crazy.

Anyway...

So I love your feedback. It is refreshing in that I can not remember ANY feedback on Triumph! up until this moment where a player painted a picture of Horse Bow as potentially over-powered or just described them in a light of their power and impact on the game. We have been running the Epic Conflicts convention demo games event for several years (back when we had Cons) and one of the four battles for those events is Horse Bow vs. Medieval combined arms. Players have always struggled with how to best make use of the Horse Bow army's advantages. It is generally not an easy thing for beginning players.

Horse Bow are designed to be one of the few troops capable of handling Knights, so I am not surprised that you found that Knights can struggle against them. Knights will generally need to rely on the combined arms aspect of things to prevent getting into too much trouble. Generally speaking, Horse Bow heavy armies tend to be smaller (primarily 4 point stands) so often opponents with Heavy Foot, Bow Levy, other 3 or 2 point stands will outsize them. Archers should still be able to at least break up Horse Bow formations and increase the PIP demands for fast moving maneuver army. And Horse Bow with +2 versus foot generally will not be able to make much headway against foot contingents. While it can be difficult for Knights to destroy Horse Bow, panic can cause problems for PIPs and it can even be dangerous. Panic is not nearly as good as the ability to Evade.

Comparing Triumph! to DBA for Horse Bow armies leaves me wondering why anyone would want to play DBA. In Triumph, they can function in a way that highlights their historical strengths and are competitive and FUN to play.
Hope you continue to play with them and I think you will see how well Horse Bow work within the game!

DS
David Crenshaw wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:35 pm
Recently Paul Potter and I had a game day and were able to get in six games in person. Both of our families being vaccinated we decided to go all out in what we felt was a safe environment, unfortunately the battlefield definitely did not turn out to be a safe environment for me! Paul played two horse bow heavy armies and I played a variety of armies to try and combat them. Sub Roman British, Feudal and Medieval English, and Samurai (was only able to field 5 of the possible 9 horse bow elements).

Some Caveats:

1) These were learning games so we may have made mistakes
2) I have never rolled so many ones (especially for movement pips) in my life
3) We mistakenly played march moves to within 4 instead of 8 MUs.

Some observations/concerns:

1) The high Maneuverability rating of horse bow armies means they will likely be able to minimize the number of terrain pieces.
2) The Triumph board being larger, and # of terrain piece placement determined to a great extent by the advantaged player, gives a large advantage to a horse bow army.
3) Horse bow is effectively impervious to knights - I found this ability over emphasized. By increasing the combat factor to three and having a combat result of Panic, horse bow can easily out maneuver and destroy knights. While that may be desirable, I believe there were some instances of knights being able to close on horse bow.
4) Not all horse bow stayed at distance I believe. Samurai, Russian, and Islamic horse bow units would close with other cavalry and hence a panic result is not always appropriate for a doubled outcome result.
5) I have read in some instances during the crusades that crossbow armed infantry supported by knights were able to keep Islamic cavalry at bay. That was not my experience in these games as horse bow have little reason to fear either.
6) Archers are extremely disadvantaged with: minimal terrain, destroyed by all mounted if in close combat, reduced movement and range, inability to mass volleys and combine fire, and increased combat effectiveness of horse bow.

I would love to hear some strategies to effectively engage or defend against horse bow heavy armies and how the observations/concerns might be addressed through strategy, and whether those with more experience have found these observations to be accurate, or if our experience was out of the norm. Obviously some of the concerns would be addressed with the use of historical opponents, but I found the use of our existing armies in some admittedly rather odd pairings to be helpful in illuminating some of the interactions of the game.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Rod
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Rod » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:03 pm

Horsebow are awesome, but they have weaknesses too.

Bow Levy are very effective defensively against them. They do not do well when shot at from range either. Slower moving infantry want to get them in ZOC to take away their speed advantage. Also, remember Panic destroys them if they run into anything behind them once they start the run after falling back, even their own troops.

I find the crusade match ups to be very interesting, you might want to watch my Hattin Videos which shows some horsebow and Crusader interactions.
David Crenshaw
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Crenshaw » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:50 pm

Thanks David and Rod.

I'll have to try a Bow Levy match up and see how that goes and take a look at your Hattin videos.

A couple of points:

Paul had the Khazar? army for most of the games, which is a deadly combo of knights, javelin cavalry and horse bow for which I could find little to no response. Bow were marginally effective and really my only recourse, but are extremely brittle when hit, even when combined with heavy infantry. The heavy infantry and bow are very vulnerable to knights, and javelin cavalry, so the mounted combo is highly effective (too effective?). The only game I won of the six was one in which I was able to kill a couple of elements with bow fire, but that is statistically fairly rare at 3-2 combat factors. More often than not horse archers and or javelin cavalry can simply charge home from beyond archery range.

Numerical advantages are illusory and virtually never materialized because of the maneuverability and range of the javelin cavalry and/or horse bow to attack where they want. With no terrain to speak of to deter them this is a huge advantage. Additionally, while there may be a small numerical advantage for low point cost armies, this is mitigated by the need to garrison the camp vs a highly mobile opponent.

Being forced to deploy in the middle of an open battlefield it was frustrating to know Paul would simply swing around on my flanks and crush me piecemeal, so I am looking for tactical formations that might help guard against that. Has anyone tried a fairly compact double line? The difficulty I had was invariably being overwhelmed on one flank or the other, and not having the time or mobility to respond to the lightning fast assault of the light horse elements.
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Rod
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Rod » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:09 pm

A compact or doubled line can be very effective, especially with open order troops.

Knights when charging have a tendency to break through an initial line in localized places, but if there is a second line they often find themselves double overlapped. No second line, they can break through and create havoc.

Remember open order can pass through open order, so mounted can swap with bow levy and archers, this can be very effective with combined armies like crusaders. Also, you do not want to bunch up your archers like in DBA, better to intersperse them like a more realistic formation with the heavy foot.
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Rod
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Rod » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:13 pm

And yes Khazar with open terrain is a dream come true. Try some war wagons and artillery against him see how he likes that.
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David Kuijt
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Kuijt » Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:14 pm

Knights against Horsebow in isolation is very even.

But Paul's playing style is very aggressive, and he is adept at maneuver -- both traits that maximize advantages for maneuver armies like the Khazars. So I'm not surprised that you found it very challenging.

To give you tactical advice on how to beat Horsebow isn't difficult -- Rod and DS have both pointed out several issues. Giving you tactical advice on how to beat PAUL playing Horsebow (and the Khazars in general) is more difficult -- it depends upon which army you are playing. Different tools give different solutions.

How many archers did you have? As DS mentioned, archers are an excellent answer to any army of Knights, Horsebow, and JavCav -- but you gotta use them right. And against an aggressive player like Paul, that takes some care.
DK
David Crenshaw
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Crenshaw » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:06 pm

Thanks David K,

I had anywhere from 3-6 archers depending on the army. I tried intermingling archers with raiders (samurai) and heavy foot (Feudal or Medieval English) on every occasion, but with Javelin Cavalry and horse Bow combined it was a simple matter for Paul to hit melee troops with Javelin cavalry and archers with either. Not to mention that I was forced to respond to him since my flanks were hanging out in mid air, so it was extremely rare that I was able to establish a coherent battle line, hence my question about an intentionally compact center with a double line that might allow a quicker response given less distance to travel.

It was the inherent terrain advantage he was able to garner with the high maneuver rating, and the fact that the first two terrain pieces invariable show up against a base edge, that also stymied me. Out of six games only one had more than two terrain pieces I believe.

David C.
paulgpotter
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by paulgpotter » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:09 am

David, it was sure good to get to spend some time with you on Friday. Fellowship and gaming are two of the things I have most missed since the age of covid began and you brought both of these with you. Since our discussion about this on Friday I have been thinking about this topic and would say:

-Gang up on my flank and attack my camp faster than I do the same to you.

-Don't be to concerned about maintaining a line as I am not likely to attack it unless I feel I have real advantage in that fight. I will slowly move my line towards yours to occupy you and hopefully divert your attention from your flanks. If I do attack your line it will be because I do not think my attack on your flank is going well and I want to put pressure on your line so I can better get control of the situation on your flank.
In one of the games that is exactly what happened, My flank attack was not going well so I closed the line making it harder for you to defend your flank.

-Deploy in blocks of 4 rather than a line, especially near your flanks with a space of two elements between each block. If you need to maneuver to the sides the blocks are more mobile than trying to move a line sideways one element at a time. If you have blocks and need to form them in a line it is only a matter of moving the rear elements out and up to the sides of the front rank elements of the block filling in the line.

-Put pressure on my line diverting my pips from my attack on your flank. I may even find it necessary to pull back some of my flank attacking troops to assist my line. In one of the games I did bring back some of the flank attackers due to pressure on my line.The problem with this approach is that you may need the pips for defending your flank rather than attacking the line. When I am moving towards a flank you can angle off 3 or so elements (or if you have them maneuver out a block of 4 elements to do the same) to take on or delay the flank attackers while you press home with your line (using march moves of course).

-Keep some sort of mobile reserve, even if it is fast moving foot. deploy these in a block rather than a line.In several of the games we played I deployed my fast moving troops in the rear in blocks so you would not know which flank I was going after. With movement of 8 mu light horse (here meaning jav cav and horse bow) and march moves I can get to either of your flanks or respond to a threat you are presenting quickly. fast moving foot (as do other foot) also benefit from march moves to quickly get to a position to assist your flank from a rear reserve position.

-If you have the option of raising the terrain count by all means do that to the max. When I had the option to on friday I decreased the terrain count in two of the games.

-Give me so much Samuel Adams that I can't think straight. Now that I think about it I did not partake of the beer until after we were done playing.

-Put an element in your camp to garrison it. If you have an option purchase a fortified camp or standard wagon to act as your camp. If I remember right some armies have the option of an off board camp.

-if you have the option purchase barricades to block a flank.

Don't let your opponent cheat you. When I made the few panic moves I did (I ran off the board once) I was deviating by the minimum amount necessary to avoid friends and what not, sorry about that.

Some thoughts about playing light horse:

-Don't fear archers, just ride them down, If riding them down does not work and you lose then you get to play an other game. Archers can also be avoided.

-Don't out run your own command radius. You remember that I did that in one of the games then had to spend two turns getting the general advanced up with the line to restore command range. I once thought in triumph that command range extended farther for horse bow. maybe I made that up.

-For maneuverability keep your light horse in blocks. When you make contact bring the rear elements of the block out or do this a turn before making contact.

-If your general is fast enough put him in the flank attacking group.

If I come up with any more ideas I will post them here.

Look forward to seeing you again and wish every one here some good gaming and good fellowship.

-Paul
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