Peter Donnelly
Canada
Comox Valley
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
The light barbarian chariot is a strange mixture of things, part warrior, part light cavalry, part chariot. Somewhat oddly, it has no ranged fire, which reflects its main historical role as a taxicab to the skirmish line, but I believe Caesar speaks of javelins as well.

I almost wish they did have ranged fire, because I am finding them woefully useless in the three scenarios where they appear. In Invasion Britain, they can throw themselves at the Roman bows, after which they are driven away with losses or destroyed by the infantry. In River Stour, they again have few easy targets and have to confront the Marius legions sooner or later. It's only in Foraging Party where they can at least do some useful lurking around the Roman flanks and hope to pick off a stray or two.

Theoretically they should be nimble evaders like light cavalry, but in practice they can't really afford to evade. One hit and they become light cavalry with swords.

Maybe this weakness is realistic, because it reflects why chariots had been abandoned by other Celtic peoples long before this. They were still useful in patrolling the open chalk downs of south Britain, but they could never stand in the line of battle.

I would be curious to know what experience others have had with this new unit type.

P.S. I've since discovered the single chariot in Clusium, where it can be quite useful against the lighter Roman units.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Milne
United Kingdom
Unspecified
Herts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I found the evade whenever possible tactic to be useful at the River Stour. Although they were worn down, my superior mobility allowed me to concentrate them against weakened Roman units (and, had there been fewer Roman leaders, to avoid them like the plague). I didn't win, but I got close!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
flag msg tools
SkookumPete wrote:
The light barbarian chariot is a strange mixture of things, part warrior, part light cavalry, part chariot. Somewhat oddly, it has no ranged fire, which reflects its main historical role as a taxicab to the skirmish line, but I believe Caesar speaks of javelins as well.

I almost wish they did have ranged fire...


You are quite right: "In chariot fighting the Britons begin by driving all over the field hurling javelins, and generally the terror inspired by the horses and the noise of the wheels are sufficient to throw their opponents' ranks into disorder. Then, after making their way between the squadrons of their own cavalry, they jump down from the chariots and engage on foot. In the meantime their charioteers retire a short distance from the battle and place the chariots in such a position that their masters, if hard pressed by numbers, have an easy means of retreat to their own lines. Thus they combine the mobility of cavalry wih the staying power of infantry ..."

Caesar Gallic War V.I (Penguin translation)

This certainly sounds like missile fire, skirmishing and evading to me.

While on the subject of new units, the representation of pilum-armed medium and heavy infantry doesn't sound right either. I've always understood that pila were thrown immediately before contact, the object being to disable the enemies' shields, and so they are often represented by a bonus on initial contact rather than a long-term missile capability such as would be appropriate for later javelin-armed infantry.

"Long thrusting spears from 8 to 12 feet long, held in one hand."
"Heavy throwing weapons such as the Pilum ... thrown only immediately before contact and so not counting as distant weapons."
"Lighter spears, javelins or darts, whether thrust or thrown."
are three separate classes of close combat weapons identified by the Wargames Research Group in their 5th ed Ancient rules (1976 I know, but what's 30 years in 2000?)

I would have been inclined to give the pilum-armed infantry an extra combat die on their first turn of combat only, whether attacking or defending. But they didn't ask me ...


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Donnelly
Canada
Comox Valley
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I did lose to the Britons at River Stour last night, so it can be done. My opponent was careful to concentrate on the Roman flanks, and to use his sole leader very carefully.

On the subject of pila and Marian infantry: I don't think we're intended to take this too literally. In most cases, the Marians are going to get in only a single shot anyway, since they are likely to be eager to close with the enemy. But in any case, the rule is intended to reflect a greater "zone of control" as the infantry developed more flexible tactics, rather than to suggest that the pilum was only used from Marius onward.

What the Marius rules do in the barbarian scenarios is give the Roman a chance to knock warriors and LBCh down to size before risking close combat. I like it.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
flag msg tools
SkookumPete wrote:
What the Marius rules do in the barbarian scenarios is give the Roman a chance to knock warriors and LBCh down to size before risking close combat. I like it.



But wouldn't the warriors and LBCh stay out of range and then charge in?

Alternatively, if they're within missile range, you have a single die as missile fire without swords or leaders, or the chance to get 4 dice by a melee attack with swords and probably leaders if you're organised. With the knowledge that if you take your one shot (and probably miss), next turn you're going to get an enraged mass of warriors at your throat. So either way they're going to get an attack on you, but if you charge them you have a chance to eliminate them or force them back, whereas you only have a single chance to knock a die off them by shooting - and when they charge they hit you first and might make you retreat. If I was going to try to whittle the warriors down I'd rather use conventional skirmishers who can evade.

And finally, the point is really that pila weren't used for skirmishing; they were thrown in the last few yards before closing for melee. I think it was in the 2nd century AD that legionaries started carrying several short javelins (lancea) to give them a conventional thrown weapon capability. To begin with they carried these along with the pilum, which gradually went out of use (I'm not sure why).

Presumably round about C&C Expansion #7 we will get late Roman medium/heavy infantry with the normal two-dice missile attack!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Donnelly
Canada
Comox Valley
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I'm not arguing that Marius legions should stand around and throw their pila, just pointing out that that ability to shoot after marching is useful, especially if you're organizing an attack on warriors (who might or might not have the ability to attack you first, but either way you'd rather knock a block off them before close combat).

Yes, the Marius legions do have "skirmishing" ability that does not reflect the role of the pilum, but as I said, this can represent any change in tactics that gave the Roman infantry a larger sphere of influence -- for example, placing archers behind the front ranks.



 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
flag msg tools
SkookumPete wrote:
I'm not arguing that Marius legions should stand around and throw their pila, just pointing out that that ability to shoot after marching is useful, especially if you're organizing an attack on warriors (who might or might not have the ability to attack you first, but either way you'd rather knock a block off them before close combat).

Yes, the Marius legions do have "skirmishing" ability that does not reflect the role of the pilum, but as I said, this can represent any change in tactics that gave the Roman infantry a larger sphere of influence -- for example, placing archers behind the front ranks.



Okay, both fair points.

I think my reservations stem from the feeling that the change in abilities doesn't correspond to what the rules say is the reason for it. There may well be some justification for representing greater tactical flexibility for the Romans in this period - they could easily have said so.

Anothe feeling is that so far all the units' relative abilities have made perfect sense and have led to historic tactics (within the limitations of the system). I'm not sure that these new ones fit so well - but it will take some experience to judge properly, so maybe we should wait until then!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.