Dan Becker
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Over the holidays, I was reading one of the Osprey books on the battles of Alexander. As usual, I like to wonder about the battles and compare them to some of the setups in Commands and Colors Ancients.

A description of the Battle of the Hydaspes River intrigued me. In this book they describe the Indians using the 200 war elephants as a mobile fortress wall. The towering howdahs were used as platforms to rain missles down on the enemy. For a long time, no one dared near this fortress wall. The frightened horses could not approach. Close combat engagement was delayed until some slow heavily armored phalangists could get into position.

If you look at the scenario Hydaspes in Expansion 1, you see that Borg modeled this battle with a row of elephants interspersed with light bow infantry.

Any thoughts on this design decision? As elephants are somewhat weak in this game, what would they look like with ranged combat? (It sure would help chase off those pesky skirmishers that always taunt the elephants.) In CCA terms, how would you counter 200 war elephants?
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Sifu
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Dan, I think elephants would be ridiculously overpowered if given ranged combat abilities. As it is, they are kind of like cruise missiles - fragile but capable of incredible destruction. Using them is really a matter of finesse, given the risks involved.

One alternative to Borg's decision in this scenario might be to make a scenario-specific rule allowing elephants ranged combat - but then you would need to beef up the opposing force, I think.
 
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Trent Garner
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An alternative house rule for this scenario might be to allow the elephants a ranged attack at one hex range, but the enemy does not get a chance to battle-back. You would declare a ranged attack for the elephant unit instead of close combat in this instance. That would make the elephants only slightly more powerful, and would serve to mimic the way they were used in this battle. You still have to maneuver to an adjacent hex, but you need not fear a battle back. This could work to your advantage, or not, depending on the situation.

You could also allow standard ranged attacks by elephant units, but perhaps limit them, say by disallowing a ranged attack on two consecutive turns by elephant units.

There are many ways to address the issue, limited only by your imagination.
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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beckerdo wrote:
...Any thoughts on this design decision? As elephants are somewhat weak in this game, what would they look like with ranged combat? (It sure would help chase off those pesky skirmishers that always taunt the elephants.) In CCA terms, how would you counter 200 war elephants?


If you look at the illustration of the Elephant on the cover of the rules, it appears that you may only be able to get a couple missile-throwing troops atop the elephant to do their work effectively. In your example, that may only be four hundred peltasts atop elephants across the whole battle front. Anyway, given the scale of the game, it would seem to be very few compared to how many are probably in other units.

...Perhaps, as a special rule for a DYO Hydaspes scenario, you might allow Elephants in Close Combat to re-roll one die that scored a Miss on the original throw to be re-rolled for an opportunity at a bonus hit or retreat. The caveat might be that such a die, when re-rolled, is treated AS IF it were cast by a Light Foot unit in Ranged Combat. (i.e., only inflicts hits on Target Color and retreat moves on Banners.)

Example: An Elephant with a friendly Leader in an adjacent hex is Battling Back against an unsupported Medium Foot Unit under the Peltasts Atop Elephants Scenario Special Rule. The Elephant rolls four dice and scores a Green, a Helmet, a Blue and a Sword. This puts two hits (Blue and Sword) on the Medium Foot unit and two opportunities to re-roll for additional hits or retreats. (The Green, and Helmet are all misses since the target's color is Blue and Elephants cannot receive bonuses for friendly Leaders in the same or an adjacent hex.)

The Sword die is picked up and retossed due to the rule allowing Elephant units to re-roll Swords for additional hits. The second toss of the Sword die generates a Banner. Any of the remaining two dice that missed may also be picked up under the Peltasts Atop Elephants Scenario Special Rule and re-rolled as if they were cast by a Light Foot in Ranged Combat. One of these dice is picked up and re-rolled, generating a Sword. This is another Miss, since the die is rolled as if cast by a Light Foot unit in Ranged Combat, not an Elephant unit in Close Combat. If this re-roll had been a Helmet, this would also be a Miss for the same reason.

The final count is one Blue, one Sword, and one Banner. The unsupported Medium Foot Unit takes two hits and must also retreat one hex.

Cantatta's suggested rule also has great merit and is sure a lot easier to remember!
 
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