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Thread: Military Composition
04-13-2009, 09:09 PM #1
Based on the Karl Ritter thread, it might be productive to try and develop a consensus (however nebulous) on what warfare looks like, what troops are common, and so on.
It might be useful to think in terms of regions (South Coast, Taelshore, Plains States, &c) rather than five nations, but there is no reason to ignore generalities at the nations level, if its useful.
Here are the constraints that are important to me.
1) Nations should not be more or less indistinguishable. Andrew's formulation of Anuireans as knights and archers looks too much like Rjurik huskarls and archers. Now, a border land like the Northern Marches with its mountains and forests, adjacent to the Highlands, might fit the bill, but preferably not all of Anuire.
2) Historically, we can identify one troop type with cultures, (Romans had cavalry, but its the Legions that did the conquering) but that can be constraining for game play. On the other hand, too many options just produces case 1 everyone seems to have every troop type and they are all pretty much all equally good. Which raised problems for case 3. Let's try and have two types of troops that are the heart of the army for each region, and not a little of everything. Armies may still have a variety of troop types, but not all are as effective.
3) We should be mindful of the society behind the military formations. Troops are effective (as opposed to merely extant) because of the social features behind the society. Knights are not mere armored men on horseback. Good knights are formed by a society that values the totality of knighthood, and celebrates their prowess in games (jousting), song, and other arts. Good archers practice frequently and imply exemptions from labor and tax burdens as a class of yeoman. Again celebration, contests, and rewards. As I suggested in point 2, its hard to imagine celebrating and esteeming more than two groups, if you try and honor too much, you end up honoring nothing. Everybody's a winner. Pikes suggest an unusual social harmony, either through religious training, isolation from outsiders, or close contact and mutual reliance as in towns.
4) Every realm is going to have the opportunity to have an exceptional unit. If a PC wants to have Rjurik Pikes and is willing to see that they are trained and well led, and so on, why not? Its just a question of being more expensive. The normal two troop types I am looking for are the ones that bubble up naturally because the way society is constituted these people are found easily and have traditions and practices that are part of their social norms. Other units can be raised, but are either marginally inferior, or more expensive, or the number you can raise is very small.
So let's start by seeing if we can all agree on this general outline (general because realms will be different from the expected norm, PC's and NPC's can influence their militaries with time, effort, and gold). I'll also post a further set of assumptions about specific choices in another post.
Are the nations different?
Are two troop types more characteristic of a nation or region than the others?
Does a military formation imply a social order behind it, and vice versa?
Once we have generalizations, is it sufficiently flexible for game play to make further comment on how realms might go beyond what their social order hands them.
04-13-2009, 10:21 PM #2
I am good Ken. Would love to hear some ideas. I certainly think unique troop types per region or country really give that area some extra personality. Once we have a good background into the unit it can really fill in some good color for a country.
I have been running a Khinasi campaign based around the Island States, there are already some unique units there to work with as a base. Also many outside influences that certainly could make a difference.
Min Dhousai is in a constant fight with the Orogs of the Iron Hand Tribe. Often the fights occur on mountainous terrain and in deep jungles. A special unit for them would have to take that into consideration. Horsemen type units would be out, but perhaps a ground unit with the ability to ignore mountainous terrain.
Ghamoura already has a special unit in place with a good background. The Inquistion are a religous unit with a priority of maintaining order in Ghamoura and seeking out wizards in the realm to punish.
04-13-2009, 10:38 PM #3
I think Anuire has knights and heavy infantry. This is mostly because of the specialty war cards, knights and elite infantry are the kind provided. It is also the case that we have an imperial history that seems Romanesque with its legions of heavy infantry. So while the nobility can glory as knights, the whole of Anuire sees in heavy infantry the glory of the empire, and esteems them greatly. Plus there is an infrastructure of people who know how this unit operates, it has a history, a tradition, and is a known quantity.
Other units certainly exist, but are underrated. Heavy infantry and heavy cavalry win battles. Other units can be useful (one supposes) but don't get their share of the glory. Hence Anuirean archers, pikemen, and so on, are less esteemed, don't get the best and most able, and are simply serviceable units. Adding a third unit troubles me because it means you can hit your opponent with rock, paper, and scissors.
The Romans had their legions, and despite missile troops, equites, and light infantry, they didn't cover the weaknesses of the legions entirely. If Anuire has both legions and knights, giving them a third unit just eliminates the challenge of handling your army, and reduces everything to a measure of who has more money.
Rjurik have archers and huskarls. Obviously the vikings are gone by the renaissance, but this combination of heavy infantry and archery is continued by a realm that had considerable viking influence, and wasn't all that different in its own origins: England. Making Anuire too English militarily tends to duplicate the Rjurik.
The Brecht are townsfolk, at least that's where the contending forces have their bases and draw their strength. Towns tend to form pikemen. When townsfolk fight, they tend to understand that they are in this together. They won't sack his shop and leave me alone. So its easier to carry this attitude into combat, where mutual protection can make a unit very defensible. They are also the only non-dwarves to use lots of crossbows. As a craft-wise people, this makes perfect sense. Horses seem out of place because of terrain and the weakest noble position. Of course there tend to be a lot of elite cavalry war cards, but I think this is natural if you assume that those nobles committed to knightly virtues group together in a single unit, rather than leading several units you geta concentration of the most committed and best, rather their dilution.
The Brecht should also have elite ships. Both in the sense that their elite boats tend to be the best designed and crafted, but also veteran crews.
Khinasi are the other horsey people, and tend to be lightly armored and fast. Their light horse is most fearsome envisioned as horse archers. Light infantry seems to be the compliment here, although it might vary from place to place whether its spearmen, archers, or something else.
Vos are big on melee and have strong attack ratings, even where their speed can be slower than the lighter Khinasi or Brecht. So a heavy infantry here. Many of the elite units in the war cards are elite infantry. And of course the vaarsk.
04-13-2009, 10:47 PM #4
Good post, K.
I'm writing this from work, so I'll be a little vague (I'm without my books and on my iPhone).
The Northern Marches:
The smaller, less populated realms of the North would most likely not rely on massed cavalry - they lack the economic might of the bigger realms, and will place their trust in relatively cheaper units.
Here they have natural barriers against many of their potential enemies, but the goblins are never to far away. I would say that scouts and longbowmen would be their military cornerstones. I would also think that mustered troops such as light infantry is common.
Shielded from rapid invasion by mountains and rivers, their lands have much in common with the North, but the presense of Boeruine dominates the region. Further, the access to trade-ports suggests more wealth.
I would guess that heavy infantry and crossbows would fit the bill here, as these troops can be used to guard against both the Manslayer, the goblins of Markazor, as well as the Peaks. And of course against your neighbour.
The great plains and fields of the Heartlands is to me the homeland of the mounted knight. In fact, several of the realms have domestic knightly orders. The militaristic rulers here would probably do well to invest in heavy infantry or crossbows to anchor their battle-lines, and rely on mustered troops such as light infantry and pikes to fill their rosters.
The Southern Coast:
I've always seen the Southerners as closer to the Imperial legacy, and as such I have pictured them as infantry-based. Heavy infantry and pikes would be my pick.
04-13-2009, 10:54 PM #5
Scouts have the terrain benefits, but are often so light that they lack staying power in a battle and have very weak melee and defense. However, envisioned as an elite unit, they may be like the Stille Waechter, move of 2, freely through hills, defense 3, melee 4, no missile. Or the unit might be like a conventional scout, but with an very high defense. Say, move 2, freely through forest or hills, defense 4, melee 1, missile 4, with an additional defense penalty when flanked.
What I like most about the approach you've described is that you build an army for a purpose, such as to fight the Iron Hand Tribes, and as such, you tend to be a lot less effective against other opponents.
Certainly the army of Avanil is designed specifically to defeat Boeruine, and they do well against other foes only because other powers aren't all that different from Boeruine. A unit designed to fight Orogs in mountainous jungles will almost certainly be less effective dollar for dollar against standard Khinasi troops.
Focus on who the main enemy is, what they do (like the Inquistion) and you don't always get an all-purpose handy unit.
04-14-2009, 02:12 AM #6
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Interesting topic. I'm assuming you're willing to ignore the existing units and their stats in favor of first developing the concept and making the rules follow. Also that the selected favored units will be relatively cheaper to raise and maintain than their stats would otherwise suggest--or the other unit types would be relatively more expensive. If we were to add in a Discipline statistic (like Solmyr uses), this might accomplish most of the difference on its own.
I agree with your guiding principles, but I'd add one very important subset of the culture: available resources. This depends much on geography. I also think that, when we consider the unit types, we must consider that the nobility may esteem a certain unit type, but the yeoman and commoners may be limited in what else the nobles see fit to equip them as.
In this respect, Anuire retains its place as the most mighty military culture because it has the greatest diversity of geography and the development to use it. In this respect, I was thinking along the same lines as you, Swordgaunt; regional/geographical variation.
I think we should not shy away from breaking it down further. Yes, each realm has two main supported unit types and can develop one specialty type for a specific purpose. If the game goes on for generations, these can be changed, but generally in the scope of our games only the Specialty type can be changed, with any other changes being more expensive and losing the benefit of the cultural specialization.
As I said previously, Anuire is the most diverse and will see the greatest variety. I was originally thinking heavy cavalry and heavy infantry like you, Ken, but then I realized that there really aren't that many mountains available to wider Anuire anymore. I think the Imperial Legions were mostly supplied through trade with Brechtur. But when Brechtur threw off the Anuirean yoke, the Gorgon grew in strength, and the Empire broke, that supply faded. I think only the wealthiest realms can manage to continue specializing in Heavy Infantry. Otherwise, heavy armor has become the privilege of the nobility. I think, in the place of heavily armored infantry, Anuireans would be highly prejudiced in favor of cavalry, thinking that infantry without heavy armor are just fit to be ridden down.
Knights and Heavy Infantry:
So Knights and Heavy Infantry would go to Boeruine, Avanil, Ghoere, Alamie, Diemed. They may choose to double down on one of those unit types with their specialty unit, like the Iron Guards of Ghoere.
Knights and Cavalry:
Appropriate to less rich realms that nevertheless of the farmland to support vast numbers of horses. Tuornen, Mhoried, Elinie, Roesone, Medoere, Osoerde, Coeranys.
Knights or Cavalry and Archers or Pikemen:
Appropriate to even less wealthy realms that rely on forests for defense and have to be mobile to repel raiders, or repel the cavalry of greater powers. Dhoesone, Cariele, Talinie, Brosengae, Mieres, Taeghas, Ilien, Aerenwe. Possible alternative for Medoere, Coeranys, Roesone.
Heavy Infantry and Marines:
A possible alternative suitable for Broesengae, Mieres, Ilien, Endier, Imperial City due to their reliance on naval power and defense of small territories (Mieres has a large territory, but could get around the coastline via ships). The difficulty of defense, of course, being that you must spread out your troops to defend a wide area; well, that's not so much of a drawback for these areas, so they don't need speedy troops to get around. They can't mass large offensive armies of heavy infantry (necessary because they are slow), so they are primarily for defensive purposes--except that they could be landed with the marines along any shore.
I agree with you, Ken. Huscarls = heavy infantry, with less armor than Anuirean infantry but greater offensive power. Archers would be the masses, used to defend against raids, defend the town palisades and motte and bailey fortifications, and fend off Anuirean cavalry.
I am also in agreement here. Horse archers/fast light cavalry. Also the light infantry, well equipped as light infantry go; leather armor and small shields, but speedy on the march and with a secondary capability--shortbows or javelins. Spear as primary weapon (slightly more effective vs. cavalry, but not like massed pikes), some short sword as secondary.
Pikemen would indeed be the Brecht answer to mass yeomen resistance, and how they threw off Anuirean cavalry. I would say their "pikemen" are not all massed pikes, but halberdiers as well, and given their ingenuity, the whole variety of polearms (bec de corbins, glaives, etc). Pikes won't work very well against heavy infantry, after all (like Anuireans and Orogs), but some of those other polearms would. The Brecht are polearm people!
Despite their access to ores, they're not much for heavy armor. And the regions are too mountainous for massed cavalry. I see cavalry as being the place for commanders, but not whole units very often. However, the Brecht seem to have a great tradition for light dueling, individualism, and speed. I think they are supreme skirmishers--another adaptation quite good for the mountains and great for harassing invading armies.
So in addition to the polarmed masses, you'd have a very peculiar "Elite Infantry" that is much more like an "Elite Irregular," less armored and quick, but of great individual skill and able to cross mountainous terrain. I think they'd be a very versatile unit, functioning like Marines except with mountainous terrain swapped for swamp, making them dangerously versatile on land or at see. They'd have crossbows, small swords (any of the great variety of full-edged "fencing" swords), and a mishmash of personalized weaponry.
Vaarsk and heavy infantry akin to the Rjurik, yes.
Archers, of course, and cavalry, all scouts, their training and magic there for flavor but blended into the statistics. The demihumans are easy.
Heavy Infantry and Heavy Crossbowmen, of course.
Wolfriders and cheap modest infantry.
Heavy Lizardriders and Heavy Infantry.
Heavy Irregulars (not in terms of armor, but in terms of offensive power and durability).
04-14-2009, 03:38 AM #7
A thought on the Brechts-
As a merchant-culture, I would think they would minimize their expenses as much as possible. One way to do this is to make use of mercenaries where possible. Apart from this, I agree with Rowan. Brechtur would be the land of massed pikes (of all types).
The helbard is indeed an extremely effective weapon against an armored enemy, besides, it has that Brecht-flavor - Swiss Guards, anyone?
04-14-2009, 07:23 AM #8
Rey M. - court wizard of Tuarhievel
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04-14-2009, 11:52 AM #9
realm scale an entire unit would most likely protect trade routes of guilders and rulers when not at war.
- Allow additional levies be raised per the gold amount of trade routes in the country. This would mean that a country always has access to extra soliders if needed. Make these units special units with a good defense.
04-14-2009, 01:51 PM #10
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I've never really agreed with how mercenaries are handled in this game. The lack of discipline, desire to pillage, and high cost make some sense if we're talking about offering pay to opportunistic men, slapping them in armor and giving them a sword and calling them soldiers.
Professional mercenary units would likely be more skilled than all but the nobility or veterans of a realm's military. They would bring most of their own arms and armor and horses to the contract. They would likely have seen more battles than the bulk of the armies of realms and would also recognize the importance of discipline and the danger of losing unit cohesion and retreat or rout. So while professional mercs (as opposed to unskilled irregulars) may be unwilling to fight against unfavorable odds or take undue risk (they're not fighting for a cause), and they may require in their contracts that they be allowed to pillage, their unit cohesion once battle is joined would likely be relatively high.
Unskilled irregular mercenaries would seem to me to be the place for double muster cost and low morale, and be available for immediate muster.
Professional merc companies would require travel time to muster, depending on their location, and their maintenance cost may be higher, but their initial cost would not be greater, or at least not much greater. They may charge a risk premium if they perceive higher risk in a conflict, and demand the right to plunder, but having double the muster cost causes a disincentive to hire them and makes a regent worried that they'll leave his service for someone else's big signing bonus.
If maintenance cost is higher but signing costs are not, Brechts are likely to employ them frequently for short periods, when troops are necessary. When not contracted, Brecht mercs wouldn't be likely to turn to brigandage, but would take easy jobs as house guards and caravan guards.
skill of a professional soldier, however. Let the trade route GB value indicate the GB value of merc units that can be mustered instantly, perhaps at a discount (maybe at just the maintenance cost).
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