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Thread: Flying units

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    Flying units

    Flying unit: Cavalry units with this special training ride griffons, hippogrifs, pegasi or other similar flying creatures, are equipped with light armor and fight with missile weapons, lances or medium martial weapons. Usually they exploit their tactical superiority by avoiding to engage non flying units and firing at the enemy from above.
    Flying units identify hostile units in adjacent provinces (refer to the section on Strategic Movement for details) and, when attacking while flying, ignore any defensive bonus their target would normally receive from fortification or defensive terrain. They can’t fly in inclement or worse weather conditions or with limited visibility. Unit modifier: Melee -2, missile +2 while flying, movement +1 while flying, +5 GB muster cost. Special: While flying, the unit may enter an area occupied by a non flying friendly unit and can be engaged only by other flying units. Flying units can engage naval units if the battle takes place close to dry land (“shallow water” terrain) but can’t take off from naval units. Enemy units get +2 to their missile attacks against a flying unit. This special training is available only to cavalry units with light or no armor.

    What do you think? Someone already created this kind of special training?
    Last edited by Elrond; 04-26-2009 at 05:24 PM.

  2. #2
    When I did similar description, I gave "missile +1 while flying, but AC+4 vs enemy archers". Shooting down fast-moving aerial target is very hard job, at least without air-defence optics, but many advantages of firing from above are negated by the lack of similar optics or other targeting devices. We must count also higher penetration power for missiles going down and less power for AA arrows. If we drop all real stuff about AA fire, we still have "+1 for attacker on higher ground" , "-2 to hit when mounted" and decreased range increments when shooting into the air, IIRC.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Weapons like arrows don't rely on tracking and hitting a target, it more about putting up a volume of arrows into the space where an enemy unit is. So it is more like can you put an arrow into a 150 yard by 150 yard box. If a missile unit can do that, some of their arrows will find targets. The real defense of flying units would be to fly high enough that they are beyond the effective range of archers. However their own missile fire would be very subject to wind from such a height.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    Weapons like arrows don't rely on tracking and hitting a target, it more about putting up a volume of arrows into the space where an enemy unit is. So it is more like can you put an arrow into a 150 yard by 150 yard box. If a missile unit can do that, some of their arrows will find targets. The real defense of flying units would be to fly high enough that they are beyond the effective range of archers. However their own missile fire would be very subject to wind from such a height.
    Exactly.

    In the meantime, I made a few changes. Flying units can't identify hostile units in adjacent provinces (unless they have the scout special training, of course). Having a better visibility is not enough. You must also train in not beeing detected. And only archer units get the +2 to their missile attacks against flying units. A unit needs to be trained specifically in archery to get that bonus. Muster cost drops to +4 GB.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    In practice wouldn't the flying unit just try bombing? Dropping a bushel of pebbles is less cinematic than ye old burning oil sacks but is far more practical.

    Accuracy as noted would be poor, but rocks, arrowheads, coins, etc would be less susceptible to wind than arrows and probably be every bit as dangerous as 'real weapons'.

    I'd also expect that given the rare magic setting, the morale impact would be terrible. Innishiere's flying hunt would terrify its neighbours whether or not its aerial charges were actually effective at all.

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    At 10:36 AM 4/27/2009, AndrewTall wrote:

    >In practice wouldn`t the flying unit just try bombing? Dropping a
    >bushel of pebbles is less cinematic than ye old burning oil sacks
    >but is far more practical.
    >
    >Accuracy as noted would be poor, but rocks, arrowheads, coins, etc
    >would be less susceptible to wind than arrows and probably be every
    >bit as dangerous as `real weapons`.
    >
    >I`d also expect that given the rare magic setting, the morale impact
    >would be terrible. Innishiere`s flying hunt would terrify its
    >neighbours whether or not its aerial charges were actually effective at all.

    I think we`d have to look to the early stages of air combat in WW I
    for examples of how flying units would change warfare. WW II is a
    bit too far advanced to compare well. At least, I`m pretty confident
    that a knights on griffons would fair badly against, say, a squadron
    of Bf-109s.... Something like a dragon is, of course, the exception
    that proves the rule, particularly a BR dragon. My money`d be on the
    dragon, but that`s not really a legit comparison.

    In any case, the presence of flying units powered by anything more
    significant than hot air does lead pretty quickly to the idea of
    strategic bombing and all the accoutrement of air power: intelligence
    gathering/recon, dropping units behind enemy lines like infiltrators
    or elite airborne troops, anti-air weapons, bomb shelters, rapid
    response politics/policies, changes to strategic base locations. Of
    course, those are all modern terms for such things, but they`re all
    concepts that are extensions of existing land/sea military, so one
    gets to them pretty quickly when climbs up off the map.

    So, consider that certain military architecture features would
    probably change quite a bit. No more open courtyards or tower tops
    for castles. Underground features would be even more
    important. (They actually already are unrealistically advanced in
    almost all gaming, so I don`t think it`d need to go much beyond what
    already exists.) Certain assets would be less likely to be
    concentrated. That is, one has a central armory that tightly packs
    all your equipment into one place because that armory is located in a
    relatively secure place. Putting everything in one place is less of
    a merit if that location can be raided by air.

    Similarly, land units would be interested in missile weapons more,
    and operating under cover from the air would be a vital aspect of maneuver.

    Gary

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    I don't think the defensive ramifications of fantasy air power would be nearly that extensive, Gary, unless there were flying ships or citadels involved that could deposit large numbers of troops. Plus, I don't think anyone is yet talking about massive numbers of hot air balloons or dozens of units of pegasi cavalry.

    In other words, without the ability to deposit large numbers of troops quickly in any one area, fortifications don't really need to change. The relatively tiny numbers of troops flying mounts might be able to deposit on or beyond walls would very quickly be slaughtered by any reasonable garrison. That's also assuming that the mounts can either land safely to deposit troops (unlikely due to withering archer fire), or that those paratroopers can have access to feather fall or parachutes. Given the flavor of BR, I doubt either of the latter would or should be an option. Therefore, no paratroopers.

    With no paratroopers, then you need only be worried about aerial bombardment and strafing aerial lance charges. Bombardment presents a problem because large amounts of weight can't be carried aloft easily, particularly not without sacrificing maneuverability, speed, and altitude, the chief advantages of flying units. So only a few sacks of stones or flasks of oil would be likely, and the impact of the attack rather minimal, probably less lethal than a cloud of arrows. Archer fire from above would be a better option (requiring fewer landings to pick up more ammunition), but couldn't amass the density of arrows that a land unit can manage because the flying units simply can't array themselves in that kind of density, and their speed makes aiming an even less likely alternative.

    That leaves aerial lance charges. These could truly be devastating, as a skilled flying unit could lower long lances and attack any non-polearm-wielding land troops with very little exposure of their own to attack. Further, a strafing charge exposes the entire land unit to attack, not just the front lines of it first, allowing the aerial unit to attack from any angle, any flank (hit the rear and the side that side that holds only a column or two of right-hand shield bearers).

    I think the primary impact of aerial cavalry would be 1. Far-ranging scouting with no respect for fortifications, garrisoned troops, or borders; and 2. Massive morale impacts (not to be taken lightly!)

    Fortifications need only construct wooden hoardings (typical technology for the period) and maintain archers in order to mostly nullify aerial troops. They won't be effective against such fortifications.

    _________________________________

    I would say the typical battlefield statistics would need to include a special rule for Charging, Movement, and Morale impact, but otherwise the unit would be pretty weak. Yes, it's kind of clumsy to have three special conditions for one unit, but aerial units are pretty different. Archers would get their normal bonus against them, and others would if they were in range.

    Base: 4.5GB +2 Melee, +0 Missile, Defense 10, Move 6, Hits 2, Morale +2, Special: -2 to morale of all enemy units, +2 morale to all allied units; roll morale twice for the target of any hit inflicted by the aerial unit and take the lower result.

    Typical units would probably be mustered as Scouts or Elites or both, having these stats:
    Aerial Scouts (LtSc): 6GB, +2 Melee, +4 Missile, Defense 12, Move 9, Hits 1, Morale +4
    Aerial Knights (EliteMed): 7GB, +6 Melee, +2 Missile, Defense 14, Move 7, Hits 3, Morale +6
    Aerial Harriers (EliteMedScTgh): 9GB, +4 Melee, +4 Missile, Defense 14, Move 9, Hits 3, Morale +8

    Special rules for all aerial units:
    Overland movement is not limited by terrain, fortifications, or presence of units in a province (except other aerial units).

    Aerial units may not be heavily armored.

    Most aerial units are either considered to be either hippogriffs, pegasi, or giant eagles, or a mix of any of those. Griffons, wyverns or other units are exceedingly rare as they must be pure units mustered at an additional +4GB cost. These have base statistics of: 8.5GB, +4 Melee, +0 Missile, +12 Defense, Move 4, 3 Hits, Morale +4, same Special power.

    All aerial units have 4 Attack Ranges:
    1. High Altitude = cannot be hit by any attacks, Unit Missile attacks can be made at -2 penalty;
    2. Low Altitude = can only be hit by missile attacks, Unit Missile attacks at no penalty (no melee);
    3. Strafing Charge = can only be hit by missile and pike attacks, Unit makes Melee attacks at +2 (for charge)
    4. Melee = unit lands, is vulnerable to all attacks, can use any attack form.

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    Mmm, if the flying unit is able to make enough damage charging, why they won't be able to make enough damage bombarding with alchemist fire or something like that? If they can go as low as to make a charge then they can bombard with a lot of precision, wreaking havoc pretty easily.

    I think these types of units are great as skirmishers or to disrupt trade, supplies, strike important targets of opportunity (generals,...).

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    I'm agree that flying units can't wear heavy armor...and in my opinion they can't wear armor at all.The rider can,but not the flying beast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    Mmm, if the flying unit is able to make enough damage charging, why they won't be able to make enough damage bombarding with alchemist fire or something like that? If they can go as low as to make a charge then they can bombard with a lot of precision, wreaking havoc pretty easily.

    I think these types of units are great as skirmishers or to disrupt trade, supplies, strike important targets of opportunity (generals,...).
    So you agree that high altitude bombardment is inaccurate and has a minor impact.

    Dive bombing is not really a whole lot better.
    1. Strafing Bowfire: still difficult to aim and hit the target moving at that speed, with no massed arrows.
    2. Close range stones or sacks of stones: still limited to striking 1-3 people, still very limited in how many the mount and rider can carry (2-6 "bombs" before having to return to the supply wagons, land, reload).
    3. Close range fire and oil (molotov cocktails): very scary, but similar to the above, and dangerous because it could catch the mount's feathers on fire.
    4. Close range alchemical concoctions (Greek fire, acid, explosives, etc.): very expensive, probably almost as heavy as stones (4-10 munitions?). Yes, these would be most effective, comparatively safe for the rider, lighter, and capable of wounding more troops (2-6?) in a very scary way. However, the expense would make this impractical. If you want to allow this, I would suggest that each volley/attack costs 1GB and adds +6 to that one attack. It would get expensive very quickly.

    As for wearing any armor, I think medium and light armors are acceptable, with the typical modifiers. D&D stats leave these mounts capable of carrying almost as much as land-based mounts, allowing the rider to wear typical armor. The mount could also probably wear a limited leather "breastplate" strip across its belly and sternum; wouldn't be heavy or restrictive. Normal medium cavalry most likely doesn't wear any barding or only leather barding anyway, so I think it's comparable. And again, tough to hit those moving targets.

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