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Subject: How Hoplite Misses a Key Part of its History rss

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Brendan Clark
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When you surface from immersion in a project, when the attention to detail has passed, you step back and take a look. Hopefully you’ll be pleased with the results. Sometimes you’re not convinced.

Looking back, almost a year after the publication of Hoplite the latter has been my experience as a playtester. For me a game like Hoplite, like the other GBoH games, is first a simulation and second a game. I want insight into the history, enjoyment as I learn and a battle of wits with my opponent. I want to learn, for example, not just that Caesar or Hannibal were great leaders, but why and how? Why was the Roman Manipular system so flexible? With Hoplite I wanted to learn why the hoplites were so potent against the Persians, who came so close to conquering Greece. How did the hoplites fight each other?

Now, after the passage of time, some reflection and reading anew around the topic of hoplite warfare I realise that we all – the designer, developer, and playtesters – missed an opportunity to tell more fully the narrative of hoplite warfare, in particular how it changed during the period covered by the game.

Some may hold the view that hoplite warfare remained stuck in a rut over two centuries, but that’s not the case even though the game itself may give that impression. One man, a Theban, wrought radical change, breaking with the custom that had sent two lines of hoplites crashing headlong into each other, like two battering rams. Today he’s mostly obscured from history, though he makes an appearance in Hoplite. As does his Theban Massed Hoplite Phalanx.

So Hoplite comes tantalisingly close, even depicting his army deployed radically – for the time – in echelon formation at the battle of Mantinea, 362 BC. He is, of course, Epaminondas, a Theban Boeotarch or general. But he was much more than that. Epaminondas, as a military tactician, stands above every other general in Greek history (excluding of course the Macedonian kings Philip II and Alexander the Great). According to Richard A. Gabriel, his tactics "marked the beginning of the end of traditional Greek methods of war". His innovative strategy at Leuctra, 371 BC, allowed him to defeat the vaunted Spartan phalanx with a smaller force, and his decision to refuse his right flank was the first recorded instance of such a tactic.

Many of the tactical innovations that Epaminondas implemented would be adopted by Philip II of Macedon, who in his youth had been kept as a hostage in Thebes. He may have learned directly from Epaminondas himself . If so, we can see how the 24 year gap between the period covered by Hoplite and that covered by Great Battles of Alexander was bridged, and how hoplite warfare evolved, to be adopted and transformed by Phillip II and Alexander.

But other than one scenario set up showing echelon formation (Mantinea scenario) and the representation of the Theban Massed Hoplite Phalanx, some more light infantry and light cavalry than was the practise, Hoplite does not give us insight into how Epaminondas executed his radically different form of hoplite warfare. Indeed, as soon as the game gets underway and players start to roll the die for ‘Hoplite Advance to Combat’, the die roll ‘fest’ begins and Epaminondas’ radical echelon formation falls apart before your eyes. Frustratingly, at the very point when his full tactical reforms should be show-cased, a game mechanic is applied which breaks them apart.

As an aside, my fellow playtesters know I was always sceptical of the ‘Hoplite Advance to Combat’ game mechanic, believing it to be over-complicated and an exaggeration of what happened when the hoplites began their advance, especially when it can set hoplite phalanxes running at their enemy from a distance of 9 hexes, which represents 900 yards. It can lead to consequences in scenarios with terrain – like Delium and Plataea – that just aren’t credible. My preference was for something simpler and more straightforward like The Hellenic Law of Inertia in Great Battles of Alexander (rule 6.14).

Whatever my views are about the generic application of the Hoplite Advance to Combat mechanic in Hoplite, I think you will need to introduce a ‘house rule’ that exempts all Epaminondas’ hoplite units from the mechanic in the Leuctra and Mantinea scenarios, just as the Spartan hoplites are exempted. Generally I don’t like ‘house rules’ as I would much prefer the official rules handle all the game mechanics, but here – unless there is some change in the Living Rules for Hoplite – I don’t think we’re left with much choice. If you want to see how hoplite warfare was literally re-shaped by the imagination and innovation of Epaminondas, you’d better ‘house rule’ Hoplite.



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Ryszard Tokarczuk
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"The most simple solution" that do not solve really the issue that you are presenting is to stagger the Theban line at Leuctra to the rear, much like it is being done in Mantinea variant.

"Elite" triangle can be ascribed to Thebans under Epaminondas but then I feel compelled to raise the problem of revaluating other hoplites in fourth century. Maybe not all of them had improved their training, but some did or at least not only Spartans had the benefit of discipline and training by then. A line between those that is to be found is fine indeed and the results - always arbitrary.

To propose something - as I find Leuctra scenario difficult to "follow my understanding of the battle events" - maybe Theban Hoplites there could choose (and not roll for) the pace of their advance?
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Igor Radic
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Brengun wrote:


....how Epaminondas executed his radically different form of hoplite warfare.




Not sure how to implement that,because there is a controversy is Epaminondas really contributed anything to the Greek warfare,or he uses a refined variation of already existing tactics.
Philip II of Macedon did accept his tactical inovations,with some adjustments.(" Philip doubled the length of the spear used by his phalanxes and reduced the shields his warriors used, allowing them to hold their spears with two hands. He also understood that while a phalanx is almost unstoppable from the front they are vulnerable from the flanks and rear")
Both (Epaminondas and Philip II) used this tactics by breaking strong military tradition, which is based on belief that Archers are cowardly units (useless is the word),place of honor in the line...and so.

Actually you can apply Epaminondas tactics in every battle,which again, will be against tradition and consequently simulation.So the game allows you more freedom in terms of tactics,and also try not to use chit-pulling.




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advance to combat skews the game. It used to be an advantage to attack. Now you are better off sitting back and waiting until your enemy is 'right distance away' asides the TQ check nonsense.
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Igor Radic
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I'm still unable to see how advance to combat or not "enough insides" skews the game,except random statements i can't see any proof of that theory.So,i will take above statement as it is, and expend it at all scenarios just to came to conclusion - that if one advances to combat looses the game,just he doesn't know that yet...

Battle of Mantinea is a great example where moving is advantage,something which Epaminondas noticed before the battle,and Spartans did feel consequences of not moving at first stage of battle.Again not advancing into battle will be against tradition and simulation,but again the game allows to explore all tactics even sitzkrieg so to speak.
Looking through "modern eyes" at ancient times will raise many question then answers,where outcome of battle will be resolved by some kind of "deus ex machines",where someone has forget something,another one is looking at cow intestines to predict outcome of battle,third had a warning dream,while others are singing to please the Gods...etc.
So based on that knowledge it is impossible to implement "more insights",we don't have enough info.

And within all that we have dawn of military tactics,which brings me to another issue of TQ check - i had served two different armies,one by using Russian military training doctrine and another western oriented doctrine,in both cases we had constant practice of marching,where staying at formation is almost impossible for the first two weeks,it required constant practice to be able to keep formation,something which falls apart when we stop doing it - this is so perfectly reflected by TQ check.Hoplites did not have any military training,except Spartans.

I think that playing Hoplites requires fine tuning an proper use/timing of every unit available at given time.In example bellow (Battle of Cunaxa) playing FtF,outcome of battle had rapidly changed when Persian player decides to move Artaxerxes closes to the battle line,he's doing that because his units are out-of-command,but forgets to send LC to protect OC.
Now,since he sees that Cyrus advancing in his direction,he had a choice to "detach" Artaxerxes from LC - but this will be against tradition - following many writing where we found that battles are fought first between champions and then after with regular units,that tradition is deeply rooted and even it came before inventing the Hoplites,still that tradition is kept alive when it comes to Leader-to-Leader battle.Thus Persians lost the battle,even if they had numerical advantage.
Two LC with 1CH are moved adjanced later after the battle is over,in a "i should do that first" phase.....



 
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But the same ruling about TQ check only for defender was already present in Chariots of Fire? Back then, I think, it hasn`t produced such explicit reaction as "who moves first, loses" stance in regards to Hoplite.

I understand the remarks about Advance Into Combat, but I do not agree with the conclusion. It is still the attacking side that is being favored. At the same time, the designers of the game tried to represent "characteristic traits" of hoplite units. In other words, Advance Into Combat in my eyes offers kind of flavor typical for the period.

Personally, I don`t think that the rules as written produce fully the results I`d expect from "hoplite battle", but contrary to other opinions - I think that it calls for fine-tuning/ variant of the rule, but not dropping it completely. This is because my understanding of the hoplite warfare, subjective that it is, is not that far from designers` point of view. It`s not identical, but I like some of the things that result from introduction of Advance Into Combat.
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Igor Radic
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I'm expanding that theory (moving-not moving) which i find extreme,since it's missing or deliberately leads one to conclusion that Hoplites revolve only around moving-not-moving mechanism - "fine tuning" is needed to play Hoplites;but this is already covered in the rulebook.

P.S.
Can we say that attacking side is favored when one doesn't move or it is move?I did not get that impression in any of scenario i had played.
We simply do not have enough info about Hoplite battles,only reliable source is Xenophon of Athens,something which author noticed about in the rulebook.
 
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Hm, I agree with You, ulterius. By saying that attacking side is favored I mean
- only defender has to make Pre-Shock TQ checks
- there are rules when both sides Rout and there are ties in Cohesion Hits; in such cases (8.15, point 1) it`s defender that routs, not the attacker.

Given this - it pays off to be the one that moves to the enemy and not to be defender. This means that hoplites (especially with lower TQ) have a real incentive to move and not to wait for their enemies. Then Advance Into Combat kicks in. But it`s still not the end - the sequence of activations are not given, the Initiative activation is not certain, plus there are Momentums and Trumps. Many things can still happen after the first hoplite starts to move.

To people that say "what a strange game, the only way to win is not to move" I`m saying - this remark shouldn`t be the end of your thinking, but the beginning. What can be done about it under the rules as written? In my opinion, there are ways to use hoplite movement to one`s advantage.
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Igor Radic
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Also,most of the battles were fought around September,after the harvest (and lower temperatures,at what time of the day?).This is realated to Hoplite run,can they run under the hot Mediterranean sun?Or we are forgetting "run tactics" used during the battle of Aigospotamoi (not naval battle)?

Battles are mostly planned in advance,so if defender chooses not to fight and retreats to his city..well attacker had no much choice then go home.Decision which is unacceptable by today warfare standards.Why Greeks did not dig the trenches?It's logical - but only to us.Where is it their siege artillery?Maybe did not invent one yet?
 
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Brendan Clark
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Ulterius wrote:
Brengun wrote:


....how Epaminondas executed his radically different form of hoplite warfare.




Not sure how to implement that,because there is a controversy is Epaminondas really contributed anything to the Greek warfare...







You don't know how to implement that in game terms? I also doubt very much that those who witnessed the battle of Leuctra, especially the outnumbered Thebans, would agree with your statement. Seems bizarre that such a comment could be made given the hard evidence: Sparta was undoubtedly defeated and by new Hoplite tactics.
 
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Igor Radic
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Battle of Mantinea was a draw,only "winners" are Macedionian in later phases of history,for Spartans this was second defeat...yes Thebans wins tactical victory but at high costs,which is the same as no victory....
Which reminds me at one single thing which bothers me - copying wiki content and publishing him in playbook.
 
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Brendan Clark
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Ulterius wrote:
Battle of Mantinea was a draw,only "winners" are Macedionian in later phases of history...


That's interesting...I don't recall any sources I've read saying the Macedonians were the "winners" of the actual battle in the "later phases of history", which is what your sources presumably say? Fascinating, especially as Mantinea was fought in 362 BC and the Macedonians didn't show up till 338 BC. But didn't the Romans show up later and defeat the Macedonians and Greeks? So aren't they the victors of Mantinea...


 
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RyTo wrote:
Hm, I agree with You, ulterius. By saying that attacking side is favored I mean
- only defender has to make Pre-Shock TQ checks
- there are rules when both sides Rout and there are ties in Cohesion Hits; in such cases (8.15, point 1) it`s defender that routs, not the attacker.

Given this - it pays off to be the one that moves to the enemy and not to be defender.


No so fast, buster!

You're so keen to win this particular debate you've fired off two rapid fire shots. First shot hits the bull's eye in game terms. No doubt about that. Though some might say there's a question about whether a defender would just sit there and watch an attacker charge into him. Seems dubious that a defender won't counter-charge but that's how it works in Chariots of Fire and Hoplite.

Second shot hits the target's rim and ricochets. Yes, in shock combat the attacker has the edge when his cohesion hits are compared under (8.15, point 1)with the defender's hits. But, as you know shake, the 'attacker' is not automatically the player that moves his hoplite line first. It is the player whose units are active that are making the shock attack, which could just as well be the player who moves his hoplite line second.

As you've said, there are also other variables that make it difficult to predict who has the advantage in this debate on "go first = lose".
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Igor Radic
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At that time Macedonians are usually seeing as Greeks,because they were part of Greek empire;but they are not.By weakening both Spartans and Thebans at Battle of Mantinea it will be stepping stone for rise of Macedonians and their expansion.So we can say that Epimanondas tactics is very questionable,he is also killed at battle of Mantinea....

I will try to keep focus at thesis stated by you.Because someone who is reading it will expect some historical notes which can be maybe related to or even prove that thesis.

-"How Hoplite Misses a Key Part of its History"
By reading,it's not clear what Key Part/s is missed?Please elaborate.

Further - "Many of the tactical innovations that Epaminondas implemented ..." i'm not aware any of many Epaminondas tactics,moreover Pagoda uses same tactic.

I had tried to give some insights about how preparations for battle, as well battle itself is carried,from what we now,and that is not much.All that just not to revolve around move-no-move idea and topic which is not elaborated enough.


P.S.

I just saw that you are in a mood of "winning debate",either you are 16y old or deliberately not interested to help find those missed elements.I will not post here anymore.
 
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Brendan Clark
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Ulterius wrote:

P.S.

I just saw that you are in a mood of "winning debate",either you are 16y old or deliberately not interested to help find those missed elements.I will not post here anymore.


You shouldn't worry about my tongue in cheek responses. Ryszard is a friend and he won't mind me referring to him as "buster". I'm not interested in winning this debate about "move first = lose". In fact, as I've said, I think it is probably very difficult to predict either way, given the variables like momentum and trumping which Ryszard has correctly pointed out.

And I encourage you to keep testing the game and keep posting here. In all seriousness, the debate on Hoplite Advance to Combat could turn out to be fruitful: if another way could be found that resolves some of the issues it raises, including advancing to combat through terrain like hills (Delium and Plataea) then we could have both a better simulation and game. In time, with more playtesting, the designer and developer might be persuaded to agree some adjustment.

So continue to take part. This is not about one player winning, but potentially the Hoplite game community being winners.
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Ryszard Tokarczuk
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Brengun is right when he points out that in my last post "attacker" according to rules is really an "active side", and so the rules can favor also the person who waits and simply has its activation... and his, let`s say Engaged, units attack and with tie in Cohesion hits... So Yes. There is this aspect that has to be remembered.

I`m not offended by the words. Internet users will never know the extent of my discussions with Brendan about GBoH and Hoplite. We do not see everything in the same light, but there are things on which we do agree, and changes to the Hoplite ruleset is one of those.

There are, as I see it, three issues of contention
- to move or not to move (from what I see there is no argument between Brengun, ulterius and me; there are still others like hipshot and, as I believe, calandale - that have different opinion. That`s alright - we all can have our own opinions and express them).

- dreaded Advance Into Combat - this is something that most likely each one of us have different opinions on.

- from the opening text, the controversial innovations of Theban commander, Epaminondas. This is something that most likely should be discussed in a different topic I`m somewhat a historian, I saw some sources or books. There is a difficulty of appraising the Epaminondas, yet I think I know what Brengun has on his mind. It starts with breaking with Greek "sacred" tradition of occupying the right side of the line with the most prominent (politically, for example) soldiers. In concilliatory manner I can observe that earlier Theban generals like Pagondas used tactics that foreshadow the ones used by Epaminondas - increasing the depth of hoplites in chosen part of the battlefield.

Still, there is the point by Brengun that cannot be easily refuted. Advancing in "historical" echelon formation for Thebans with Advance Into Combat is... difficult at best. This means that Epaminondas is dropped to the position of "that leader with nice Initiative from the scenarios with Big Block of Hoplites". I`m probably under the influence of Epaminondas` fame coming from classical sources so I must say that it does feel a little dry.

The fact that hoplites in the Epaminondas age were not exactly the same as in Greco-Persian wars - well, this is something that I agree with wholeheartedly.

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Once you guys fix that problem then we can deal with the vanishing routed Hoplites issue versus the trotting Persians to the edge of the board when routed.

More simply fixed, but never the less a problem when Side A (greek) routs several units that are not PH or HO and they move off the board i.e. Platea or Marathon, but due to the size of the map the units are not counted towards the RP limit until they exit. So a Persian army can fight on and try to disintegrate a HO unit or two and win even though they have technically lost a few turns ago.

I'm playing out of command range/movement range as Routed.
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Interesting solution to the Routed "phalanxes" being eliminated - and another old mainstay of GBoH series. Yeah, vanishing Hoplites seem to be in disadvantage.

Please, don`t understand me wrong, I`m with you with that issue... but for Plataea I can only recommend switching double hex units to single hex ones... in official rules they are not "vanishing" but rout to the edge of the map (Rule 10.23 speaks about "Hoplite Phalanx", that is double hex unit). It can be seen as inconsequence - why others vanish when single hex remain?

As you know very well, in Plataea the road off-map is a very long and time-taking indeed... :/

There is even simpler solution - count Routed units still *on map* against the Rout Level. Players would have to try, from time to time, to try to rally them and not just "forget about them" (anyone remembers Routing Carthaginian Levies in Ilipa, in SPQR? 4 TQ and 4 MPs - for how many turns they are moving off map? )
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Brendan Clark
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hipshot wrote:
Once you guys fix that problem ...


Ryszard really has some insightful ideas around Advance to Combat that also have the potential to add a level of player suspense and tension that isn't in the game. And it should make a difference in those scenarios with terrain like Delium and Plataea. Rightly he's reflecting and working through the details.

I'm so encouraged and excited by what I've seen that I'm going to remove the variant rules I posted. I'd recommend waiting for his variant rules. I think they will be a game changer for the better.
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I`ve submitted the pdf file with variant rules to BGG administration. I hope that all interested will be able to access them shortly.

The changes are mostly about Advance Into Combat. They are generally about hoplite units and their movement. Everyone is welcome to comment on them, once they are accessible. Variant is unofficial and its` use is entirely up to the readers.
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Ulterius wrote:

Battles are mostly planned in advance,so if defender chooses not to fight and retreats to his city..well attacker had no much choice then go home.Decision which is unacceptable by today warfare standards.Why Greeks did not dig the trenches?It's logical - but only to us.Where is it their siege artillery?Maybe did not invent one yet?


If the enemy did not fight, then a cities crops could be taken or destroyed, resulting in starvation.

Trenches are not easy to get a large mass of densely packed men over and into formation without presenting a ripe target for the enemy. This prevents any chance of advancing.

Greek siege artillery probably existed. Its application in a battle was limited.
 
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Loris Pagnotta
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The Big difference between the manipular Legion and the Phalanx lay in the Command chain, the Legion with Praefects, Legates and Centurions can move forward, stop and go, retreat as need, while the phalanx move forward strictly following the already done battleplan, that has few possibility to be adjusted.

Is not a case if the Legion is commanded from the rear, while the Greek commanders are in first line between their men.

When the Phalanx line start is movement is unstoppable (also from his leaders) but the system portray a Phalanx line that move and stop, then maybe is hit be the enemy while it is stopped, giving to active player moving phalanx a great and un-explicable advantage (No Morale Check).

Stop and go is a game necessity but not realistic and we must see the units as they are still moving.

When a long line of Phalanx advance, the speed of the men isn't the same for many different reasons (most notable are effects of terrain) but also the minimal command structure of the phalanx, permit that the line don't break, so if many men swiftly advanced, while other are slowed, the bulk of the Phalanx, accelerate or decelerate to maintain the line. I'm pretty sure that looking at an advancing Phalanx, you see it as a wave in a calm sea. In Hoplites "the advance into combat rule" produces surreal effects.

Another unreal effect (common to all the GBoH system) are the cohesion hits taken for movement in or through some terrain type. Obviously if the unit move through a steep bank and then do a combat, the disorder given by difficult terrain can give a lot of problem but if instead the unit continue to move, after few time they regain a good order.
The system fail to portray this, because you need of a leader to remove these temporary cohesion hits and this give to the side with better leaders an undue great advantage over the other side when moving.
We can try an house rule by using chits of different colour with 1-2 value, that are placed during the movement and removed at the start of the next movement.

I dislike the activation, momentum, trump system and also don't like the absence of ZOCs, so Hoplite isn't my game, but in general I want to say that I don't agree with the concept that a game must be a simulation. A game must be fun, and an historical simulation game must also come to a realistic result with balanced Victory Condition. Too many scenarios in this series are unbalanced, they become unplayable, ending up as simply set up exercises. The success of the simulation come from the flavor of the rules, the realistic outcome and the fun.
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I have to say I disagree with the guff directed at this game and the GBoH series. After 15 iterations I think it is safe to say they have a winning formula as a game. You mentioned that because of the nature of the stop-go-stop-go of games the system somehow loses some of what is is trying to do, which is, simulate combat in Greece during the 4th and 5th centuries before Christ.

The command structure for the Roman manipular legion is more complex than that of your average Diadochic phalanx, but not as much as you would think. The Phalanx did have junior officers as well. Below is a paragraph copied from Wikipedia,

"Phalanx composition and strength

The basic combat element of the Greek armies was either the stichos (meaning "file"; usually 8-16 men strong) or the enomotia (meaning "sworn" and made up by 2-4 stichœ; totaling up to 32 men), both led by a dimœrites who was assisted by a decadarchos and two decasterœ (sing. decasteros). Four to a maximum of 32 enomotiæ (depending on the era in question or the city) were forming a lochos led by a lochagos, who in this way was in command of initially 100 hoplites to a maximum of ca. 500 in the late Hellenistic armies. Here, it has to be noted that the military manuals of Asclepiodotus and Aelian use the term lochos to denote a file in the phalanx. A taxis (mora for the Spartans) was the greatest standard hoplitic formation of 500 to 1500 men, led by a strategos (general). The entire army, a total of several taxeis or moræ was led by a generals' council. The commander-in-chief was usually called a polemarchos or a strategos autocrator."


The problem the Phalanx faced in fighting the legion wasn't so much about leadership, Roman generals at this point are usually lackluster at best. The issue was at the heart of the Phalanx itself. Unless the phalanx had straight ground, and experienced calvary to guard its flanks/rear it would lose cohesion as the fighting would slowly but eventually break apart the lines. When the lines were broke, the maniples would slip in the gap and begin their gruesome work where their equipment was far better suited to close quarters combat. Pyhrrus of Epirus was able to best roman on numerous occasions, and it can be argued that Philip V might have won Cynoscephalae. Also, Perseus of Macedon may have beat the Romans again at Pydna had his calvary engaged.

The game does a god job, you always have to keep in mind that the time scale of a turn is not very long. There are several examples of Phalanx(s) going over rough ground and not being able to regain formation, even with officers there. All these formation had officers capable of getting things trimmed but with the heat of battle and in the time frames considered I don't think its realistic to see it unless a special leader, i.e. general in this case, would make a special stop just to shape up a given formation.


I think the other systems concerning leadership are intuitive and smart. The ability for better leaders to steal momentum from weaker leaders is genius, using initiative to rate leaders is pretty smart too. The trump mechanic is a little gamey, but hey...its a game. And I was under the assumption that there are ZOC in GBoH, in the front hexes of all combat units and the front and flanks of several special units. I have tried other ancient systems and none can hold a candle to what GboH does. Thanks for a well written post though and I hope you find that Ancients sweet spot your searching for...
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Loris Pagnotta
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GBoH is surely the better system available for the antiquity and after more than a hundred ftf match played, I can say with some presumption that I'm an expert of the system.
I have three copy of SPQR, two of Alexander and all the other games and expansions of this serie (CoF and Chandragupta excluded) I think we can say that I'm not an enemy of the system and I think it's too late to advise me to look elsewhere.
I think that the chits draw system of "Hoplite" and "Simple GBoH" aren't an improvement but a misguided attempt to simplify.
I also say that some game mechanics aren't convincing.
Obviously these are my opinions, you are free to agree or not and your arguments are a welcomed contribution.
I never have compared the Roman command system of 300-200 B.C. with the Greeck command system of 4th and 5th centuries B.C. (me too know the history) nor have discussed about battles between Legions and Macedonian Phalanxes (that aren't the object of the game).
I think you love much this game and maybe my criticisms irritated you to the point that don't read carefully what I write, maybe also my english can have created some misinterpretations.
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well, someone else can back me up here, but you did mention the Romans their leadership system and compared it to that of the phalanx, i do the love the game, but I am an adult and not a child who can't appraise something honestly. I am glad your an expert, but you say you dislike many of the key mechanics which makes such a large count of f2f games kind of crazy. Anyway, your English is better then my Italian and I took two years of it in college. As far as chit pull, you din't mention that before, and i think in the case of this and CoF it does a good job bringing in an element of chaos, keep in mind it can be overcome with trump, but i know you dislike that as well Happy Chit Pushing Amico!

P.S. Mark Herman says a game is a game, its never a true simulation.
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