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Improving Pilum?

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Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:20 pm

A common topic on the Forum but we still run into the problem with Roman infantry under performing in the rules. The main problem seems to us to be the pilum benefit versus cost (as it currently stands the benefit should cost 1 point in our estimation.) We don't have any great solutions but were wondering as a first step whether the benefit should continue after the unit becomes worn (with perhaps the loss of 1d6.) Beyond that others have suggested in the past to increase the pilum dice to 4.

As an aside, one of the problems with heavy javelins is that the pilum effect upon which it is based is so ineffective. It really is demotion for units to move from javelin to heavy javelin.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to improve pilum. Would it make sense to have heavy javelin become 3/3 dice and Roman pilum 2/4 dice?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by accard on Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:45 am

I think an upgrade is certainly worth testing.

Why is there the differential for Pilum and heavy javelin though, was their effect really that different? Maybe that could be looked at. 3/3 for both perhaps? I think currently it makes the heavy javelin more useful being more effective in an aggressive stance than the pilum.

Poor Romans.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:22 am

It's not so much that we were trying to improve VBU 5 javelin armed infantry, it's just that if there were more than a couple of units of them they were game breakers.

Effectively they have been demoted, that, to an extent, was the aim
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:45 pm

We play tested the following last night in a Roman/Carthaginian match up with regards to Pilum.

Pilum armed infantry in good condition on the first round of melee as the defender get 3d6 as per the rules. In all other cases Pilum armed infantry gets 1d6 on the first round of melee with disorder or worn status having no effect. On continuing rounds of melee all Pilum armed infantry get 1d6 pilum to be rolled before melee dice are calculated.

What the above did was give Pilum armed infantry some residual ability after becoming worn and allowed this residual ability to continually impact each round of melee. Rolling 1d6 isn't a big deal but it did two things.

1. By rolling enough rounds of melee it did produce more hits and tilted a few combats in the Roman favour.

2. It created an element of uncertainty for the Carthaginian opponent in determining the likely outcome of any melee.

Over all we like the effect and will continue to experiment with this approach.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:11 pm

I'm loath to start making more changes until we have a firm grasp of the current situation - the inclusion of the supported flanks is a massive bonus to the Legions and I'm unconvinced this has fully filtered down to results yet.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:18 am

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:I'm loath to start making more changes until we have a firm grasp of the current situation - the inclusion of the supported flanks is a massive bonus to the Legions and I'm unconvinced this has fully filtered down to results yet.

We play Impetus a lot. I would imagine I have played 20+ 350 point games since the new rules came into place and probably watched another 10. I have played the Romans at least a half dozen times in the last 3 months so our experimenting is based on considerable play experience. We have enough experience with the new concepts to see that the Roman infantry is still under powered for the cost and that there still needs to be some improvements in the pilum rule.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:12 am

Once again I dispute that Roman infantry are underpowered for the cost. The only difference is the 3 points for pilum so even if pilum gave you 1 dice in all situations it would only be at a cost of 3 points which is far less than an additional point of VBU and is about equivalent to an extra point of Impetus.

Just because the Romans are not all slicing and dicing machines does not make them underpowered, you just need to examine how you use them.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:08 am

People forget that Romans didn't win every battle. They fought tough fights against Samnites or Gauls and took them seriously as opponents
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:09 am

Don't think I've ever had an easy fight agains't Romans in Impetus tough buggers as they should be.

Unlike DBX where they weren't competitive ?? ( was told this many times by veteran DBX players over the years )..uncompetitive ? Romans ? really ? ok something not right here.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:30 am

I think it was safe to say in previous years the Romans were a little underpowered - certainly they never featured well in competitions I was aware of.

The root cause may well have been the proliferation of deep infantry units which would usually win against the Legions because of the mechanics of the cohesion test. My general observation is that irrespective of the advantages of offering a longer frontage the deeper units usually win in Impetus. I was always uneasy at the proliferation of army lists where spear units were almost by default allowed to double up ranks - in fact I still hold that most should not unless there is firm evidence that they fought in deep formations - and I would suggest for instance that most Hoplites did not as a rule fight 12 deep, nor should most dark age and medieval infantry.

Lorenzo has created a rod for his own back, and has seriously hamstrung his beloved Romans in doing so. However I think the change to allow supports has in some ways rebalanced this a bit. I don't think messing around with the Pilum is a solution worth following, and I would point out the 3 point cost hardly makes the Legions dramatically more expensive when you are looking at the grand scheme of things.

If the root cause is large units (as I believe it is) then the solution is to reduce the numbers of LUs. The problem is LUs are now established in the printed lists and Lorenzo will not change those significantly in the near future.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:18 pm

I wonder if this is a 15mm v 28mm issue here. With 15mm having too many deep units means you surrender too much of the table and your flank supports get mugged and the enemy cavalry pour round your rear before you beat his infantry
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:24 pm

Hey Jim, the Romans didn't lose every battle either!! The new flanking rules do help balance things between linear and deep armies. I don't disagree with what Cyrus has said about this at all.

Our experience is that with a modest improvement in Pilum (like the +2 for large warbands against infantry) we can make the Roman lists viable against other armies. Not suggesting that what we are experimenting with is the best solution but it did produce a very close game and gave the Romans a realistic opportunity to win. As an aside, I was playing Punic Romans against the Carthaginians. I have given up on line relief (sadly!) and am fighting this list as if it were a Late Republican Roman army with all the legions deployed on the front line (where they are most needed.)
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:26 pm

I have used line relief against phalanx armies. It seems to work well enough against them because they are drawn up deep as well. I suspect that the problem with line relief against Carthaginians is that they might not have many deep infantry units and so they'll well and truly outflank you

Again (not because I doubt your comments but out of interest) are we talking 15mm or 28mm?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:27 pm

Hey Tarty, if you remember the old Forum there were many players who complained about the Roman lists and how poorly the compared with other lists. Many complaints about how Pilum worked.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:31 pm

We play 28mm Jim but in the game most recently played there was a great deal of flank open. So table size with these armies isn't an issue (the Carthaginians are an expensive army to field as well.)

If I were playing against a phalanx army I might deploy the legions in depth to get line relief. But with the new linear improvements and with the hope of outflanking the pike blocks I might still deploy all the legions on the front line. Hard to say.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:00 pm

Gaius Cassius wrote:We play 28mm Jim but in the game most recently played there was a great deal of flank open. So table size with these armies isn't an issue (the Carthaginians are an expensive army to field as well.)

If I were playing against a phalanx army I might deploy the legions in depth to get line relief. But with the new linear improvements and with the hope of outflanking the pike blocks I might still deploy all the legions on the front line. Hard to say.

I think it's one of these things you have to decide at the start of a battle. We had a campaign which involved a lot of Gallic v Roman battles and the Romans tended to win frontally but also by stiffening their flanks to try and win there first

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:34 pm

Jim Webster wrote:I wonder if this is a 15mm v 28mm issue here. With 15mm having too many deep units means you surrender too much of the table and your flank supports get mugged and the enemy cavalry pour round your rear before you beat his infantry

Which Cavalry is that Jim? at 350 points the Romans I see usually have a pair of 5-2s so they have trouble "pouring" anywhere!

I'm not bemoaning the lack of cav btw, I'm just a wee bit concerned we have a couple of posts recently suggesting some fairly radical changes and I'm not sure we need them - or rather as I said the solution is to review the lists and thin down a lot of those LUs.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Jim Webster on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:45 pm

I don't think we need a lot of changes either. Indeed with most rule sets one of the complaints is that Romans don't do well

Look for Roman Republican armies in DBMM competitions for example Smile

I think we need time for changes to bed in, for people to get used to them and learn to cope with them

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:04 pm

We may be a bit ahead of some because we play Impetus a lot so we've already digested the most recent amendments and have seen their application in numerous games with a wide variety of armies from Biblical to Italian Wars.

Changing the lists to thin down the LUs Cyrus is by far the most radical idea posted recently that I've seen and it won't happen.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:14 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:We may be a bit ahead of some because we play Impetus a lot so we've already digested the most recent amendments and have seen their application in numerous games with a wide variety of armies from Biblical to Italian Wars.

Changing the lists to thin down the LUs Cyrus is by far the most radical idea posted recently that I've seen and it won't happen.

Or you may simply be blinded by your own experience playing the same gaming group over and over?

I'd agree though to an extent - unless you address the root cause you will be constantly tinkering with ephemera - Pilum, Scorpio, supports etc etc but Lorenzo is set against changing the published lists.

That's not to say some or all do not have their own value, but the elephant in the room is LUs

and Elephants of course
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:10 am

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:I think it was safe to say in previous years the Romans were a little underpowered - certainly they never featured well in competitions I was aware of.

I played my first tournament with a Roman list and won. That's not to boast, just to provide evidence that it can be done. Also looking at this years results in Milan the Roman armies did very well.


Cyrus The Adequate wrote:
The root cause may well have been the proliferation of deep infantry units which would usually win against the Legions because of the mechanics of the cohesion test.

<snip for brevity whilst maintaining your key point>

If the root cause is large units (as I believe it is) then the solution is to reduce the numbers of LUs. The problem is LUs are now established in the printed lists and Lorenzo  will not change those significantly in the near future.

Totally agree. The large units remaining totally effective in VBU terms vs a degrading opponent is the key issue. Even with good solid Romans working from a VBU6 base they start dropping effectiveness immediately whereas a VBU5 warband guy has his first 4 hits covered by his rear unit. Unless the Romans are inflicting multiple losses the warband takes more losses but remains effective whereas the Roman is likely degraded to a position of inferiorirty within 2-3 rounds of melee (esp as the warband retains Impetus until rear is gone and a hit is done to front thus allowing them to charge back in if contact is broken off). Of course, taking some Romans capable of denying warband their Impetus is sometimes an option.

The new rules re flank support and discipline advantage redress the difference to a great extent, disciplined Romans are much easier to keep in formation or rejoin formation once it has been broken and their Discipline is almost always going to give them 1 or 2 dice against warbands.

Equally the warband are very vulnerable to cavalry, get in amongt them and they are in deep poop.

Use the Roman ability to manoeuvre and hit a warband in the flank and you stand a very good chance of destroying it outright given it has a much lower base from which the cohesion test is calculated. Use their impetuosity against them, have them come head on toward the closest frontal unit whilst getting a second one read to pounce and you will probably clean them up very very quickly. Just don't stand there and let them plough into you as a charging formed mass.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:40 am

What Roman list did you play GG?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:47 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:What Roman list did you play GG?

From memory Mid Republican, maybe Tartty can remember, it was one of his tourneys.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:05 am

I don't remember . Did we have a bunch of newbies ? I would have been busy running around answering questions probably. Mid Republican ? mmm could have been JR's ?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:13 am

Tarty wrote:I don't remember . Did we have a bunch of newbies ? I would have been busy running around answering questions probably. Mid Republican ? mmm could have been JR's ?

It was my intro to your crew, I borrowed some kit that I thought looked OK and then you showed up with your stuff and I felt... intimidated.

Might have been Late Western come to think of it. Mid Republican is one of my current projects.

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