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Subject: Long Bow overkill rss

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Peter Manning
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In the game I feel that longbows tend to dominate the battlefield too much.

One of the problems is that they can come back into the battle even after being retired and cause another wave of longbow jockeying for position. To not respond to any long bow threat is far too risky.

Yet these battles are famed for the most part for their bloody hand to hand fighting rather than continual longbow jousting…

I played Bosworth with a friend tonight and he suggested such a simple mechanic I just thought I'd thought of it earlier. We are planning to play through all the battles now from first to last and will use the rule below:

Each side has a longbow/Archer action counter set at 5 on the general record track. In any turn in which a side fires arrows the counter is moved down one space. Once it reaches zero all the arrows have been shot and that sides longbow/archer units can no longer fire. This rule applies to active unit fire and return fire BUT EXCLUDES reaction fire. An archer unit does not have to return fire.

The idea is that in battle arrow replenishment would be limited and so it is abstracted away. The idea of only having the 5 activations means that your going to husband these fire opportunities and the longbow won't dominate the whole battle. Even a side which wins the longbow duel will not necessarily win the battle, as is often the case at present, as they are a limited resource - as they indeed were!

Forcing any use to move the counter down is a bit abstracted but any alternatives seem too fussy.

What this rule does mean is that you'll need to protect your archers from harassing units until you want to use them…which seems right. If you do use 1 or 2 of your five times on only one or two units then just rationalise your fire with your main archer line as being more exhaustive fire (using more arrows for these units) at this time.

Food for thought…maybe...

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Nathan Leavitt
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Hmm.. Haven't brought it to the table yet so not sure I can chime in. However, your mechanic seems like a good way to solve the issue. How did you come up with 5?
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Peter Manning
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Five is a judgement call. Not too many to make the rule pointless but not too few to constrain things too much. I guess it could be seven or 3, but five felt like a better starting point to test it out and see…

I'm also undecided as to make the zero stop even reaction fire or always continue to allow that even when on zero. I think I'll start by making the zero point stop all fire including reaction fire.

If because of this a given archer does not fire when attacked I'll just rationalise that that unit had already run out...
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beresford dickens
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Of course we did do a lot in playtesting to tone down the longbow. One thing to note is that we did away with Reaction Fire vs flank attack, so if you hit'em in the flank they are chopped liver. We also changed it so that only one missile unit can Reaction Fire at a unit per hex it enters, previously if you tried to approach a line of LB the one on the left would Disorder you and his mate on the right would Eliminate/Retire you.

A tactic I have used for the Lancastrians at Towton is to mix INF and DMs in the middle of Somerset's line so that the INF are a threat to rush out and flank the Yorkist LBs if they move too close.
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Dave Langdon
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Quoting the op...

"In the game I feel that longbows tend to dominate the battlefield too much.

One of the problems is that they can come back into the battle even after being retired and cause another wave of longbow jockeying for position. To not respond to any long bow threat is far too risky."

I haven't played the game but the above nicely reflects history, they did dominate, they could run away and come back, they were a huge threat. Not having played the game though, I can't vouch for how they feel rules wise.

P.s. Archers were generally well resupplied by runners in a battle. Estimating 6 average shots in a volley before fatigue, likely 100 arrows with resupply, that's a lot of potential volleys.
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Peter Manning
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I have a lot of sympathy for what you say Dave as I agree. And as Beresford rightly remarks we had many discussions during development about the archers and how to tone them down to allow the 'clash of arms'.

We have ended up with a great game which is a lot of fun to play. It has great replay value for each battle.

When I played Wednesday night with a committed war gamer who has read lots on this period the way we played Bosworth out…as cagey players meant we were both optimising our longbows and using them to bully everything else in one way or another…and just when the field had been more or less cleared to make way for a larger clash of arms…they rallied on both sides and we both backed away from each other to let the LB have another set to…maybe this is right but I thought the suggestion to limit LB use might have merits in that as dominating as LB are there is in effect a time limit on their use through such a suggestion.

Maybe ruling out all arrow use after 5 is too much the other way…maybe 5 uses for any type of fire (activation, reaction, return fire) in an activation might be better if…when on zero archers get say a -2 modifier to reflect possible lack of ammo, possibility of no ammo…an in-between the extremes choice?

Or maybe we should leave well alone and the game will not quite tick the box of the person I was playing Bosworth with…That said in all other respects from the LB he thought the game was excellent. He asked to play through all the other battles over the next few months…so as we play testers know this is a great game whatever.

It was great to play over the Bosworth game map with Glenn Foard and Anne Curry's book 'Bosworth 1485: a battlefield rediscovered' to hand. The map on page 139 shows the bullet and round shot scatter across the battlefield and illustrates well why Richard went for the version of events he has put in the game…although there are at least two other possible orientations of the forces that could make sense of the projectile scatter…the one chosen by Richard Berg makes for a very good game. We might not know for sure how the forces were orientated but at least we are fighting over the right ground! And to have all this confirmed in the same year that Richard 3's body was rediscovered makes the game especially evocative and timely! What a great time to be interested in this period of history!

And Ralph and GMT have done an outstanding production job on the game to boot.

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Nate Merchant
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We just played Bosworth tonight and I totally agree with Peter (the OP). Bosworth became a battle about skirmishing with longbows and artillery. We had three(!) shock combats all game. I led the Yorkist side, and it was actually the better, royal bowmen who fled the field.

I know longbowmen were powerful at that period in time, but I suppose I missed the part about Richard the Third being shot out of the saddle...
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I was Nate's opponent last night and I agree about the LBs as well.

I think part of the problem is that by changing the ground scale and leaving movement rates the same the system effectively changed its (unspecified) time scale. This is not reflected at all in the amount of damage missile fire can do. I would think about an across-the-board modifier to active and return fire.

Edit: You could also disallow moving and firing in the same activation, but that might not be drastic enough.
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Merle Gehman

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Agree with your observation. If one side has a long bow superiority, the best tactic is simply to fire until the enemy flees. The long bow inferior side can try to charge, but usually that's suicide as the LBs have a good chance of disrupting the attacker and then eliminate them the next round.

In reality, the LBs carried at most two dozen arrows and soon ran out of ammunition. This happened at Agincourt, Poitiers, and Towton.

The game system really needs an ammunition rule. Your suggestion is a good one. You could also simply mark them out of ammo on a "9" roll.

In addition, fire units shouldn't be able to fire if they start with an enemy unit adjacent. At this point, the archers would have dropped their bows, and have prepared to fight with swords, axes or mallets as they did at Agincourt.

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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I got to play twice more at GMT East this weekend, Bosworth again and Barnet. The second play of Bosworth saw diminished importance of LBs since with experience we found ways to mitigate their power. It is important to note that only one unit may take reaction fire when a unit moves adjacent to two missile units. Also, reaction fire is disallowed through the flanks. Both these new rules together allow a better chance to approach, even with a 60% chance of being disordered. And some unit types can still win a shock combat against LB even disordered. As the Yorkists I used my slight missile advantage to disorder much of the Lancastrian line, but once it was scrum time the advantage couldn't be sustained. I still won, but it took work and a bunch of good continuity rolls.

Barnet did not feature much missile combat, thanks to the fog rules, and it was just as enjoyable.

I still have objections to a couple bits of the system, but the hard-hitting quick play nature of the mechanics leads to enjoyable games even with my misgivings.
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Ralph Shelton
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Renton
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Reaction Fire has never been allowed through the flanks, only Return Fire.
We tried hard to mitigate the effects of too much missile fire.

There are some things that bother me too, but the game moves along so quickly and gives a good feel for the combat of the times that it remains one of my favorites.
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Peter Manning
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Okay - have now settled on using this rule when playing the game, wondering whether it would work with the earlier 2 games too…

When an archer unit recovers from rout, place the rout marker beneath the unit to denote this. Any archer unit that has routed only has the capability to fire through reaction fire, triggered either through movement into an adjacent hex or by being fired at. It can fire under these conditions as many times as triggered.

The idea is to stop the archer phase of a battle going on and on and allowing the other units to get involved…One play of Bosworth I did was all about the archers at first which was fine, but then they all recovered for both sides and everyone disengaged due the new archer battle recommencing yet again…didn't feel quite right.
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