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Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

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Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:44 am

We played a 350 point game on Sunday between Carthaginians and Punic Romans. We substituted Pilum for Firelance for the Hastati/Principes. I must say that it gave the Romans some extra hitting power and made line relief more important (the Firelance rule only applies to units in good order.) The Carthaginian player didn't roll well with his Gauls and the Roman infantry diced and sliced through the middle of his army to victory. Overall I think this change makes the Roman infantry more dangerous and a worthy foe. It encourages the Roman player to be aggressive tactically with his infantry in a way that feels right to me.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:22 am

Well it is a major power upgrade.

In theory it means the Romans should get an additional hit per melee phase which doesn't sound like much but the major effect is to protect them from catastrophic failure where they score no hits.

The great strength of the Romans is their high base VBU from which to calculate the critical number, if you give them and them alone rerolls then your are bolstering their position considerably compared to the rest.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:51 pm

The general experience of Impetus players on this Forum is that the Roman armies don't perform well in Impetus when compared to others (this includes Republican and early Empire.) We've been playing around with different potential upgrades to assist in rebalancing the Roman lists when compared to other lists.

I think your assessment is correct about what the Firelance rule does. It gives them an extra hit per melee overall and protects them from getting no hits. This is a major upgrade. On the other hand, the Romans are very expensive troops and they get no benefit in the lists from large units (unlike pretty much everyone else in the period.) As I said, the reason we are going to make this a house rule is because the Romans generally get slaughtered in Impetus. That can still happen but opponents will now have some respect for these armies.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:18 pm

It's just too much when combined with their discipline.

Given they are at 5 or 6 to start with and their enemies are at 4 or 5 they usually have a 1 point advantage per cohesion test. Give them a "bonus" hit and they are up by 2 with the guarantee of rerolling bad results whilst keeping good ones.

If people aren't respecting Roman armies it is not because the army is weak, it is one of the better ones around.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:15 pm

Granicus Gaugamela wrote: If people aren't respecting Roman armies it is not because the army is weak, it is one of the better ones around.  

That's not the consensus from the Forum. The general agreement is that the Roman Republican and early Empire lists do not perform well vis-a- vis other lists.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by RogerC on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:17 pm

I tend to agree with GC here. Somehow Republican and similar Romans are underpowered (or too expensive). The benefit of pilum is too small and it is lost too easily.

I understand what you mean GG about them having a high value for the cohesion test. But against warband or pikes (historic opponents) they are too easily worn down and a failure to get any hits in a melee round can be catastrophic.

So I think the firelance variation may be a good one. i haven't tried it out yet.

Mind you, I used it with my Sung Chinese. No hits so reroll. Of course, no hits again!

I also have one question about using that reroll. If I roll e.g. 6,5 and lower scores, do I have to reroll the 5 or can I leave it in the hope that my reroll gets either a 6 or a 5 to get another hit? Th3e rule says 'may reroll all failed hits' which could mean either.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Aurelius on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:27 pm

Interesting discussion. I'm with GC in the opinion that the Roman legionary is underpowered for the cost. Intrigued by the "firelance" rule.

In the next friendly with my regular opponent we are going to try keeping the standard pilum rule but raising dice to 5 in defence and 3 if attacking. Will see how it goes...

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:57 pm

I believe RogerC that any leftover 5s are rerolled.

Aurelius, the thing I like about the firelance rule is that is continues even when the unit becomes worn. One possibility is rather than allow more pilum dice is to allow any non pilum hits to be rerolled like the firelance rule. When the unit becomes worn it no longer gets the reroll be gets to keep its regular pilum dice. Just a thought.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:47 am

As we discussed previously I would support ALL disciplined (i.e. non impetuous) FPs getting the Firelance equivalent.

The warband types get cheap costs and a +2 large unit vs infantry benefit.

Are you of the belief that FP Romans were somehow better infantry than Greek hoplites or Frankish heavy foot?

I suggest not.

In Impetus terms if the Firelance Romans met heavy feudal foot then the Romans would have a mammoth advantage. Considering a change only in the context of Romans vs Warband is a dangerous mechanism IMHO.

But I do agree that in Impetus the FP guys in general don't get a benefit equal to their status in terms of being the backbone of most armies. Pretty much every other class gets something special (evade, movement, terrain, etc) but the poor bloody infantry do not.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:19 am

Well the Greek hoplites fight as large units and get that advantage plus long spear and a second rank discount. The only advantage the Romans get is the pilum rule which is a pretty weak benefit. The firelance rule would give them a chance against the hoplites. At the present time I don't think they do well against most other heavy infantry relative to cost and VD. So I don't think that the point of the exercise is to make Roman infantry better than other infantry but to give the Roman army a decent chance.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Pyjamas on Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:41 am

Hi Gents,

Excuse my ignorance and just so I can get my head around the discussion a bit more, where specifically can I find the "Firelance" rule please?

cheers and thanks

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Aurelius on Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:28 am

It's a special rule that lurks in the EI 5 "Late Sung Chinese" list. In case you do not have EI 5 the rule is as follows (it refers to a unit of CP in the list):

"Cavalry with firelance may re-roll all failed hits in combat (once for melee phase) if the unit is in order."

Scary.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:30 pm

Gaius Cassius wrote:Well the Greek hoplites fight as large units and get that advantage plus long spear and a second rank discount. The only advantage the Romans get is the pilum rule which is a pretty weak benefit. The firelance rule would give them a chance against the hoplites. At the present time I don't think they do well against most other heavy infantry relative to cost and VD. So I don't think that the point of the exercise is to make Roman infantry better than other infantry but to give the Roman army a decent chance.

Plenty of Romans can fight as large units with missile capability so they get shooting at range and once that shooting is of no value (i.e. melee) it converts into ablative armour.

Pilum is pretty damn good, if you get charged then you have about a 50% chance of disordering your opponent as they come in so any melee hit means a step loss for disorder on disorder at least.

Romans have brilliant cohesion, that is their strength. If you go head to head with warband then you are playing to their strength, Romans need to be used as a key thinking and manoeuvre type army.

Assuming the Romans are a VBU6 unit then they should score 1 hit per attack. With Firelance you keep that one hit and roll 5 more dice so they effectively become an 11 dice unit. Mammoth increase. Assume they get a second hit with their rerolls. YOu just doubled their hitting power, i.e. a 100% increase.

Now look at the effect on the enemy. If they are a 5 VBU enemy then your 1 hit takes the test to being a 4 or a 66% chance of passing, the increase to 2 hits takes it to a 3 or a 50% chance of passing, which is about a 20% lesser chance.

Even worse, what if the enemy are a VBU4 unit? One hit means they need a 3 (50%) but 2 hits means they need a 2 (33%) which is about a 33% reduction.

And all the while the Romans have their ferocious discipline of VBU 6 to fall back on whilst opposing people who are likely to get only 1 hit so they fail only on a 6 (87% pass rate).

So no, giving just one type of FP Firelance without a major cost increase is extremely unbalancing.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:06 pm

Granicus Gaugamela wrote: Plenty of Romans can fight as large units with missile capability so they get shooting at range and once that shooting is of no value (i.e. melee) it converts into ablative armour.

Pilum is pretty damn good, if you get charged then you have about a 50% chance of disordering your opponent as they come in so any melee hit means a step loss for disorder on disorder at least.

Romans have brilliant cohesion, that is their strength.  If you go head to head with warband then you are playing to their strength, Romans need to be used as a key thinking and manoeuvre type army.

I don't know what lists you're looking at GG but the lists I am looking at (Republic and Early Empire) have none of the missile fire capability that you talk about.

We generally find pilum to be ineffective in Impetus and I've noticed that most experienced Impetus players agree. 3 dice gives one about a 40% to disorder. Consider that for the same cost one can get javelin, composite bow C, long spear (and firelance.) These attributes continue for the life of the unit unlike pilum which is lost once the unit becomes worn.

I don't find your tactical advice helpful. What do you mean by "key thinking." And in Impetus how do you propose manoeuvering the Romans in front of warbands. Consider that Gauls are closing at 8U a turn and will certainly make a double move in their final thrust home on the legions as the Roman player you really don't have a lot of time to try fancy things. And in any event, your best option as the Roman player in front of warbands is to stay close and present a solid from to them.

But the larger point which seems to have currency among experienced Roman players in Impetus is that these armies (Republican and early Empire) don't do well against other lists. The idea isn't to build super legions but to give these Roman lists a reasonable chance.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by frazer on Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:17 pm

hi Guys

on our side of the pond we tend to think the poor Romans are weak.

from a pure rule lawyers point of view..if you had 3 points to upgrade a unit, what would you take...pilum....firelance..or javelin.  

pilum is the obvious last choice.

it is a benefit you lose as soon as you suffer casualties, unlike all others.

as it stands Roman legions get killed by warband or cavalry pretty easy, for their points cost they under perform.

all the best

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:36 pm

One option for Pilum that we have bandied about is to allow the Legion to throw its pilum at the start of every melee round. The thinking is that melee doesn't necessarily mean units locked in continuous close hand action but is periods of close range activity and inactivity intermingled (worn units with few dice that continue in melee from one round to the next reflect the unwillingness of weakened units to close.) Add to this that the pilum effect is for units in fresh or worn state and we may have a solution. A disordered legion would throw two dice at the very beginning of each melee round. Not decisive but some improvement. I still prefer firelance because it gives more certainty that the legion will cause a hit (but not a guarantee as RogerC states) and encourages the Roman player to be aggressive with his legions.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:30 am

GC wrote:I don't know what lists you're looking at GG but the lists I am looking at (Republic and Early Empire) have none of the missile fire capability that you talk about.

Fair enough, I've loaned out a couple of my EI's so I can't fully comment on the Republicans specifically right now so please take the following in a broad context.

Leaving aside the Middle and Late Imperials with the Large Unit capability with supporting archers the Early Imperials can go with supporting archers firing through the Heavy Foot without penalty.

But even more importantly they have a very obvious defence against the Gauls - go with some of the best Light Infantry in the game, the 23 point VBU5 Imp1 guys.  They deny the warband their Impetus entirely,
they have good speed and good discipline so you should be able to relatively easily attack poor discipline warband in a manner you choose rather than what they choose.  And all of a sudden once their impetus bonus is negated they become a fairly pathetic VBU4 unit vs your VBU5.  Your unit costs 23, their large costs 21 (12+9) or if they upgrade the front to VBU5 25 points (16+9).  

And you have the advantage in both movement and roughly evens in melee


GC wrote:We generally find pilum to be ineffective in Impetus and I've noticed that most experienced Impetus players agree. 3 dice gives one about a 40% to disorder.

OK, technically 42% but that's 42% of disordering an enemy prior to melee once they are committed.  The effects of that -1 on their melee dice and morale is very significant and has no equivalent in broad terms.  Even a large unit created with supporting archers does not have the flexibility of the pilum (accepting this changes when a unit is no longer fresh).

GC wrote:
Consider that for the same cost one can get javelin, composite bow C, long spear (and firelance.) These attributes continue for the life of the unit unlike pilum which is lost once the unit becomes worn.

Sure.  But so what?  The Roman heavies didn't carry any of these historically and firelance is a very rarely given benefit.  The only type I would really like to see that applied to are the Polish winged hussars who were quite clearly insane death to my enemy or death to me types.  

Note: I do believe all FP should get rerolls of misses (or maybe dice that score 1-3 or something) but that is again a distraction to the current point.

GC wrote:
I don't find your tactical advice helpful. What do you mean by "key thinking."

I'm trying not to be paternalistic so please don't take it as such, "key thinking" is looking at your comparative advantage(s) and disadvantage(s) and working out how to draw best effect from them.  

For Gauls and warband in general this is pretty easy - get in Large formations, get in line and go as straight as possible for the enemy infantry because that is about the only situation you have the advantage.

The Romans know this.  So get your cavalry out to hit the Warband.  You largely know how the warband will have to move as an Impetuaous unit so you can plan accordingly.  You can position units so that the warband line has to either break up and  aim for the nearest unit slightly off centre to them which then isolates that warband from the rest (ever tried to refrm a disrupted line of Disc C troops that can't stand still?) or if they choose the "one move straight ahead as a minimum" option then they leave their flank vulnerable.  Get yourself on opportunity when you know their attack channel, have the supporting archers fire through the FP at no penalty, use your widest infantry unit(s) to go even wider knowing you have discipline B checks and a better command radius rather than disc C with poor command radius so you should be able to gain a local advantage, if they are the heavy warband then get yourself positioned so you engage them in poor terrain - it affects them far more than it does you etc etc etc.


GC wrote:
And in Impetus how do you propose manoeuvering the Romans in front of warbands. Consider that Gauls are closing at 8U a turn and will certainly make a double move in their final thrust home on the legions as the Roman player you really don't have a lot of time to try fancy things. And in any event, your best option as the Roman player in front of warbands is to stay close and present a solid from to them.

OK, so the Gauls are FL warband.  Pepper them with arrows, they don't get the bonus save the FP types do.

And DON'T form a solid front to accept their charge, that is THEIR best comparative advantage.  By doing so you are doing exactly what they want you to do.

Use your cavalry to disrupt their line (your M10 5+2 cav vs VBU4  or 5 warband) or get your FPs into an echelon or non parallel line and then use your discipline to hit them one unit out on each flank so you break up their formation.  

If they are group moving you can play havoc with them and stop them within a charge move or double move of your own infantry.  

Get one unit of skirmishers out front and sacrifice them to disrupt the warband line if you must, just make sure you DON'T let them hit you as a mass.

Determine from the very start of the game how you will gain a local advantage at one point of their line and work that.  Once you do that the Gaul ill discipline will make it exceptionally hard for him to respond in a properly coordinated manner.

Standing in front of an organised mass of crazed Huns is most certainly NOT the way to go.


GC wrote:
But the larger point which seems to have currency among experienced Roman players in Impetus is that these armies (Republican and early Empire) don't do well against other lists. The idea isn't to build super legions but to give these Roman lists a reasonable chance.

I accept that's where we disagree.  Giving Firelance (or rerolls) to just one type of FP would make them super legions who just plough straight ahead because they have the advantage in both melee and morale tests.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:39 am

frazer wrote:
as it stands Roman legions get killed by warband or cavalry pretty easy, for their points cost they under perform.

Can you give us some more specifics mate?

If the legions are VBU5 or 6 then they should be shrugging of a heck of a lot of damage.

As for points, let's assume they are a 28 point VBU6+ I2 unit.

A large VBU 4 warband unit is 21 or VBU5 is 25. For seven or three points extra you have pilum and Disc B and 1 (for cost of 3 points) 2 points (for cost of 7 points) on your cohesions tests. Hardly a major impediment.

If your opponent is VBU4+I1 Greek hoplites then their large unit costs them 30 (17+13) points so the Roman infantry have a cost advantage there with the offset being pikes (good vs cavalry) vs pilum (40% disorder) and better morale base for the cohesion test.




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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:22 pm

I notice GG that all your commentary is geared towards a legion/warband confrontation. But the conclusion that many of us have reached on the pilum benefit and the overall effectiveness of legions and the Roman armies in general in Impetus extends far beyond this one encounter. The Roman lists is overpriced for what it can deliver and constantly loses to other lists. While the Empire FL may stop the impetus of warbands it does nothing to assist in defeating large units of pike or long spear.

The comparison of Pilum to CompBow C, Long Spear, Javelin etc. is with respect to cost. I think most experienced Impetus players feel that Pilum relative to these arms is expensive and not equivalent in cost. The big difference is that these other weapons systems do not disappear when the unit becomes worn.

Your more basic point is that perhaps Firelance is a bit too large a benefit to give to the most important units in the Roman lists. Fair enough. We are going to continue to playtest this out. But from my vantage, considering that the Roman Middle Republican list consistently loses to other lists (in and out of period) means that there needs to a rebalancing of the effect of the legions.

I note that Lorenzo has stated that large units are going to be reduced in effectiveness in Impetus 2 vis-a-vis linear armies. Perhaps this will take care of the problem.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:02 pm

Gaius Cassius wrote:I notice GG that all your commentary is geared towards a legion/warband confrontation.

To be fair that is the situation you have most referred to.

Gaius Cassius wrote:
But the conclusion that many of us have reached on the pilum benefit and the overall effectiveness of legions and the Roman armies in general in Impetus extends far beyond this one encounter. The Roman lists is overpriced for what it can deliver and constantly loses to other lists. While the Empire FL may stop the impetus of warbands it does nothing to assist in defeating large units of pike or long spear.

I have given you enough argument to show the same thing occurs against those. Price up the full large unit and the Roman is generally cheaper and a lot more flexible. The large pike has depth which aids it to some degree but it also takes more casualties due to its lower base VBU.

Gaius Cassius wrote:
The comparison of Pilum to CompBow C, Long Spear, Javelin etc. is with respect to cost. I think most experienced Impetus players feel that Pilum relative to these arms is expensive and not equivalent in cost. The big difference is that these other weapons systems do not disappear when the unit becomes worn.

Pilum costs a whole 3 points. Big deal.

Gaius Cassius wrote:
Your more basic point is that perhaps Firelance is a bit too large a benefit to give to the most important units in the Roman lists. Fair enough. We are going to continue to playtest this out. But from my vantage, considering that the Roman Middle Republican list consistently loses to other lists (in and out of period) means that there needs to a rebalancing of the effect of the legions.

Yes, Firelance for only one FP type at a cost of a mere 3 points is far too much. It turns them into a definite supertroop type of unit.


Gaius Cassius wrote:
I note that Lorenzo has stated that large units are going to be reduced in effectiveness in Impetus 2 vis-a-vis linear armies. Perhaps this will take care of the problem.

Will be interesting to see how that goes, hopefully we get to see the Rule mods via Advanced Impetus relatively soon.

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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Zippee on Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:58 am

Personally I'm more on GC's side of this fence than GG Smile

I'm not a fan of the pilum rule as it stands. I'd rather see the current rule changed to allow units to add Impetus in attack or defence than have additional "special weapon" rules - I just don't like that sort of rule amendment.

If it were to be a missile (which I'd also be happy to accept) I'd add a dart/pilum/heavy weapon with point blank range only to the weapon list and leave it at that. Again I don't like weapon based rules that have odd effects like re-rolls. It seems arbitrary and unusual to me.

Roman FP stood on opportunity and getting a free missile attack before combat would be pretty tough.

I'd then aide early Roman FP by allowing more flexible manoeuvre - opening up echelon, rear and side-step to reflect maniple/cohort structure as opposed to solid phalanx.

Later Roman FP get integral archers which makes them rock solid IMO, so I wouldn't transfer that to them.

I do dislike the change in weapon status/loss of javelin for auxilia that become FP - that's just game mechanics trumping common sense  Shocked Downgrading the javelin to dart for both would sit better I think.
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

Post by Jim Webster on Sat Nov 01, 2014 4:11 pm

You could change the pilum rule to make it a missile weapon.
It would have a range of 2u, a factor of -3

So if you stood to receive the charge with legionaries VBU6 you'd throw 3 dice and if you charged you'd throw one dice
The main problem would be that it would mean altering the rules about movement, charging and going into contact.
But this way units wouldn't have to be fresh to get pilum, but by the time your unit is down to VBU3 the pilum doesn't matter

Jim
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Re: Roman Infantry with Firelance Rule

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