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The decline of the Warbands

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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu May 21, 2015 2:15 am

How did the large warbands lose their impetus so quickly? Even with some artillery casualties it would take some time to grind down the back rank. The way you described the above battle it sounds like the impetus was lost on the first hit. Is that how you played it?
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Oldentired on Thu May 21, 2015 5:02 am

i've also found it is a definite nerf.

we run 350pt competition games here, so the chance of being able to take sufficient warband to make them worthwhile is low under the new rules.

previously taking 4 or 6 was often sufficient. now it's simply not efficient, you're better off spending those points on another troop type.

and likewise regarding maintaining formation to gather the flank bonus. it's almost impossible in many situations, for instance if you're broken up by terrain, or if they land a shot on your line and that unit in the middle disrupts.

historically the stereotype of your warband is heavy hitting, but ultimately not able to stand up to a protracted fight, and that worked really well under the +2 rule. if you couldn't make an impact in the charge you were in trouble. now you can't make sufficient difference on the charge to give yourself a chance of blowing through the enemy line.

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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Oldentired on Thu May 21, 2015 5:04 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:How did the large warbands lose their impetus so quickly? Even with some artillery casualties it would take some time to grind down the back rank. The way you described the above battle it sounds like the impetus was lost on the first hit. Is that how you played it?

i think he meant by charging the warbands? catching them on the back foot, as it were.

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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by dadiepiombo on Thu May 21, 2015 8:07 am

well if warbands lost their impetus at first loss there is no way to win for them, but at this stage there is no advantage in making Large Units.
Also I see that many players don't ugrade the frontal rank to VBU 5 where possible an this can make the difference.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Thu May 21, 2015 9:12 am

Oldentired wrote:now you can't make sufficient difference on the charge to give yourself a chance of blowing through the enemy line.

That's my thoughts too - and giving them the +2 back for depth doesn't compensate enough for what the opposition are getting for flanks etc - which is why I think we need to look elsewhere such as the CT
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu May 21, 2015 1:57 pm

Cyrus The Adequate wrote: That's my thoughts too - and giving them the +2 back for depth doesn't compensate enough for what the opposition are getting for flanks etc - which is why I think we need to look elsewhere such as the CT

The question isn't compensation Cyrus. Before the changes many felt that the large upgraded Warbands were overpowered in Impetus. It just seems to me that with the removal of the +2 depth bonus and the changes to flanks and quality the pendulum may have swung too far the other way. That has been our experience so far. My suggestion is that we reinstate the +2 depth bonus and see how that plays out. You talk as if it doesn't make a large difference but I don't think you're correct on this. True the +2 doesn't isn't a huge deal when the warband comes in on a charge with 11 dice instead of 9. It is a big deal when it is locked in melee disordered and has 6 dice instead of 4 (a 50% increase.)
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by rnsulentic on Fri May 22, 2015 2:31 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:How did the large warbands lose their impetus so quickly? Even with some artillery casualties it would take some time to grind down the back rank. The way you described the above battle it sounds like the impetus was lost on the first hit. Is that how you played it?

What happened was the Dacians took a second move and pretty much failed all their cohesion checks, and so disordered themselves. The Roman artillery started plinking away, and caused further cohesion checks, which then caused casualties because they had to take a cohesion check while already disordered if they passed, and whatever they blew the check by if they didn't. The back ranks got chewed to the point where the Romans charged (being fresh) Dacians could not countercharge, (being disordered) and Romans threw pilums (rolled a six) causing more cohesion checks and then got hit with a 6-2 against 5. Or stood and threw and caused cohesion checks again. It just got ugly fast for the Dacians.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Fri May 22, 2015 7:52 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:
Cyrus The Adequate wrote: That's my thoughts too - and giving them the +2 back for depth doesn't compensate enough for what the opposition are getting for flanks etc - which is why I think we need to look elsewhere such as the CT

The question isn't compensation Cyrus. Before the changes many felt that the large upgraded Warbands were overpowered in Impetus. It just seems to me that with the removal of the +2 depth bonus and the changes to flanks and quality the pendulum may have swung too far the other way. That has been our experience so far. My suggestion is that we reinstate the +2 depth bonus and see how that plays out. You talk as if it doesn't make a large difference but I don't think you're correct on this. True the +2 doesn't isn't a huge deal when the warband comes in on a charge with 11 dice instead of 9. It is a big deal when it is locked in melee disordered and has 6 dice instead of 4 (a 50% increase.)

I'm not arguing for a return to the original situation where even the most diehard warband player will (probably) agree they could be devastating, although I will point out that in competitive play they pretty much have disappeared from the UK circuit as contenders a couple of years ago because players all learned how to counter them. However I think your point about the +2 dice only being important when locked in stationary melee is - at that point they have lost anyway, the +2 may help turn a quick death into a slower one.

At danger of repeating myself (apols to Stark) the raw number of dice is not really the issue - what made warband so dangerous was their ability to inflict more casualties in the CT phase, initiating another round of melee with impetus due to their rear rank. The change to linear bonus and discipline making a difference has made this unlikely to happen - I'm not a statistician but I'm sure if someone ran the numbers the raw chances of getting more hits has increased significantly on the defenders side whereas the warband, either on 9 or 11 dice has not. What is more, to restore equilibrium to the exchange would need proportionally more dice added to the warband side as each additional dice adds proportionally less overall to the warband than to the defender. That is why I think the CT test is the key.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by dadiepiombo on Fri May 22, 2015 7:53 am

I see many errors in leading Dacians

1) Were they screened?

2) Why they did 2 moves knowing that Romansd had artillery and that 2 moves were not enough to charge?
A second move by warband make sense to charge

3) Romans on charge has just 1 pilum so pretty lucky

But before loosing impetus Dacians has to get 4 losses.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by dadiepiombo on Fri May 22, 2015 7:55 am

I'm not contrary on CT as Cyrus said. A bit too premature for the moment. It is something that will be taken seriously in consideration for Impetus 2.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Fri May 22, 2015 8:26 am

Were having a bit of a meet on Saturday - I'll reinstate the +2 for depth and see if it makes a difference
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by starkadder on Fri May 22, 2015 9:34 am

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:Were having a bit of a meet on Saturday - I'll reinstate the +2 for depth and see if it makes a difference

And that's a Good Thing, Cyrus.
Play-testing is one of the keys.

It was interesting to read the remark that warbands had disappeared from the English scene as people had worked out counters to them. Were these gamey or tricksy solutions or were they reasonable variations on historical deployment and tactics?

If the latter, then that seems a reasonable evolution of tactical theory.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Fri May 22, 2015 10:13 am

Only my opinion, but initially warbands were seen as almost unstoppable - or rather you needed an very good player on the opposing side to do so. This may well be because the scene here was small, mostly 28mm and most players were still using armies either ported from other systems or bought in - and at the time plastic had just impacted so Romans vs Warband were rather common match ups and almost always one sided. As we "matured" and the player base expanded players worked out the tactics to break up and delay large warband units and use mounted troops to get on flanks etc. This coincided with the release of the different army books, so the number and variety of opponents increased. Light horse dominated for a time, which could usually give warband problems unless they managed to hem them in - that's a "gamey" solution but understandable given the controlling factor is table size.

I can't comment on the current trend as I've been taking a sabbatical, but my general impression is that the majority of warband regularly encountered in competitions was the smaller 2-4 base groups used as auxiliaries in armies as high impact punch units. The new support rules etc mean they are now redundant at that.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri May 22, 2015 1:11 pm

Play-testing is a good idea, something we plan to do as well. The +2 depth bonus is a subtle improvement. A +1 on the CT is a large improvement (worth many dice) which seems excessive on first blush. That may prove mistaken on my part but I think small tinkering is a better approach to start with.

With respect to army tactics the depth bonus has nothing to with warbands fighting cavalry or non historical opponents. My Byzantine army never had a major problem with my friends Gauls and Germans. Neither would a Mongol army. The problem with warbands has to do with how they interact with good quality FP (ie. Roman and Greek infantry.) Overall I would have chosen a large unit of upgraded impetuous FL at 25 points before the changes instead of a unit of Roman Legion FP at 28 points. With all the recent changes the situation has reversed. Personally my hunch is that we only need to nudge the warbands a bit to make them competitive.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Sat May 23, 2015 5:34 pm

Played a couple of games today with the +2 reinstated. Happy to report this seemed to bring them back into the realm of viable so no need to mess about further in our view
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Gaius Cassius on Sun May 24, 2015 5:54 pm

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:Played a couple of games today with the +2 reinstated. Happy to report this seemed to bring them back into the realm of viable so no need to mess about further in our view

That certainly makes things easy to remedy then. Hopefully others will confirm your results (including my group.)
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Oldentired on Sun May 24, 2015 6:07 pm

a wild, wild suggestion.

make warband +1 dice per rank. seems a happy medium

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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Black Bart on Sun May 24, 2015 8:54 pm


Hi all

I'm with Cyrus and Gaius here. The warband rules need to be amended to make them competitive.

I think reinstating the +2 depth bonus will work well but I'm happy to try the ct amendment proposed by Cyrus as well.

What do others think?

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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Tarty on Mon May 25, 2015 12:03 am

Haven't had enough games with warbands lately to be able to give an informed opinion.
Starkers you had an historical refight with warbands just recently ....( the game I was late to Rolling Eyes ) and managed to get up agains't pike. Think they struggled agains't the pike though didn't they ? ...still that's only one game.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by rnsulentic on Mon May 25, 2015 2:49 am

dadiepiombo wrote:I see many errors in leading Dacians

1) Were they screened?

2) Why they did 2 moves knowing that Romansd had artillery and that 2 moves were not enough to charge?
A second move by warband make sense to charge

3) Romans on charge has just 1 pilum so pretty lucky

But before loosing impetus Dacians has to get 4 losses.

The Dacians were screened, but the skirmishers couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, and they were withdrawn as a badjob.

The second move was a very bad idea that we all recognize now as a very bad idea and if God is kind we won't have such very bad ideas in the future.

Yes, the Romans charging got very lucky. Two Roman units charged and I rolled two sixes! I wish my dice were that hot all the time.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by starkadder on Mon May 25, 2015 7:01 am

Tarty wrote:Starkers you had an historical refight with warbands just recently ....( the game I was late to Rolling Eyes ) and managed to get up agains't pike. Think they struggled agains't the pike though didn't they ? ...still that's only one game.


Ignorance was bliss, in this case, Tarty. I had never handled warbands before that game so I didn't know their former vicious glory.

To explain to others, it was a battle between a Macedonian Successor army and a bunch of trouble-making Celts (me). I still used them as I believe a warband should be and smashed headlong into the wings of the Macedonians in an attempt to expose the flanks of the pike blocks. This was tough but successful and I had enough follow-up troops to try and take the pikes on frontally, on the flanks and with some cavalry to the rear. One particular block was surprisingly solid and shrugged off my most violent efforts. The other began crumbling but that was due mainly to the flank attacks. I would never be keen on taking on a pike block frontally, unless it was with another pike block.

So did it work? I was more than satisfied with what they did. There was a lot of loot to be had from the Macedonian baggage.

I did use up a lot chariots though. It was a real used car lot after it.
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Jim Webster on Mon May 25, 2015 9:08 am

Strikes me your tactics were sensible, and within the limits of what was historically possible.

I too am always nervous about fighting pike blocks with anything other than Pike. Even with legionaries it should be difficult
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Re: The decline of the Warbands

Post by Gaius Cassius on Mon May 25, 2015 4:30 pm

Upgraded warbands can take on Pike frontally in Impetus. Pike tend to win if the the melee becomes static and grinds out with disorder loses. The points difference is much to the warbands favour (25 to 47 points.) The big difference is that warbands have a hard time against mounted units.

Losing chariots in a Celt army often leads to commands breaking with their 3VD.
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