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Improving Pilum?

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by GamesPoet on Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:22 am

Gaius Cassius wrote: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.
I'm not convinced that "many players" with "many complaints" is reason enough for a change in the rules. How many is many? How many of them were repeating the same complaint to equal many complaints?

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:58 pm

I don't particularly recall complaints about the Pilum.

I think with hindsight the general complaints about the Roman army - and by that I mean Republican through to Middle Imperial have evolved as the game has evolved. The complaints are not the same now as they were five or so tears ago, but the implication that the Legions are not working properly has remained.

The initial armies in the main rule book - Republican and Caesar each had their problems - the Republican was hamstrung by an overly complex and not very usable line relief mechanism, and Caesar was hindered by a very restrictive list, particularly at 300pts where half max and mins were in play. The "book" opponents however were also less flexible - Hannibal was limited to single rank infantry, but the large units of Gauls would regularly overrun the legions in both lists due to all the advantages LUs had.

Extra 2 gave us a swath of Imperial Roman lists. These all look very competitive at 500 points but as the norm was 300 and one command they again struggled against the big wall of humanity warband armies that didnt need any finesse troops, so the Romans again were felt to be somehow underpowered, but for different reasons.

I suspect the current 350 format and support changes mean those Roman lists are rather competitive now -  but they still have something of a tarnished reputation
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:15 pm

There has been lots of complaints about Pilum Cyrus in the past. Did you have a different handle on the old Forum?

Basically the value versus the benefit. At 3 points Long Spear or Composite Bow C seem a much better value. Heck, even javelin is considerably superior to Pilum which is why moving to Heavy Javelin is such a demotion for the respective troops.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:36 pm

Yes I'm using a nom de plume here to protect my fake identity on the old forum.

I would say with the best will in the world my recollection of the number of complaints about Pilum clearly differs to yours - particularly as quite a few were the result of a misunderstanding in the rules anyway. Given the low overall traffic I think any measure of "lots" "many" etc should be viewed with a certain amount of scepticism, particularly if you accept the general thrust of the discussion is that Romans don't get played because they are underpowered. which suggests the actual number of players with any great depth of experience both with and against Pilum is not that great. Personally I have yet to find any player who was happy to have his opponents throw the damned things at him, which speaks volumes.

I would disagree with your statement on the "value" of the different weapons too - points systems are notoriously subjective. Having a Javelin is of zero use if you are being charged but those 2 dice you get before contact could save your unit by disordering the charge. Yes you have lost a very effective 5-6 dice shot if you had the opportunity in your turn, but you are losing it because experience has shown it was an error to allow it in the first place. Given the new support rules allow the Legions more confidence to receive a charge rather than counter charge, the "value" of a Pilum has if anything increased.



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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:28 pm

If you go back and look at the old Forum I am certain you will find Cyrus that there were a number of common complaints about Legion units from a variety of sources. Yes, “lots” is a subjective opinion and considering that the Forum responders represent a small fraction of Impetus gamers it may be somewhat misleading. Still, many of the most committed Impetus gamers show up here on the Forum and they certainly were more common on the old Forum (for some reason many didn’t migrate over to the new platform.) With the improvement in linear mechanics the Legions have improved some but the mechanism around Pilum still leaves much to be desired.

Personally I have yet to find any player who was happy to have his opponents throw the damned things at him, which speaks volumes.

I think your comment above Cyrus misses the point. No one likes receiving the Pilum dice. Why would they? The question of value is better summed up by whether the player would give up the weapons system for the points. Personally, I think Long Spear, Javelin, Composite Bow C etc. is worth the points. I, for one, would gladly give up the 3 points for Pilum, because of its unpredictable results and because it is lost when the unit is worn.  What Pilum does with the Legion is take an expensive unit and make it even more expensive (VBU6 B infantry is fairly rare in Impetus.) The fact that point systems are subjective (and I agree with your comment) doesn’t mean that the system is beyond refinement.

As an aside, I think that the change to heavy javelin for the Irish and Samnite lists makes sense. In the later that is exactly what they did (throw a variety of spears and javelins into the battle line.) My point is that if the Pilum rule worked better the move from javelin to heavy javelin would seem less like a demotion and more of a refinement to the system.  We tried a few minor tweaks to the Pilum rule that we feel gives a better representation of the pilum effect and makes the Roman infantry more competitive with other systems. The basic improvement that we play tested is that Pilum effect is not lost when the units is worn.  That sounds reasonable to my ears.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:24 am

Ok let's look at that in two ways.

Firstly you claim there is a matter of value. I don't see that as in any way relevant (or indeed correct) - we do not get a "build your own unit" option - you get what the rules say a unit is, and in this case a Legionary has Pilum. Now let us look at the raw cost of 3 points. In a 350 point game an Imperial Roman army will probably deploy 4-6 Legionary units (at least in my experience) so the cost of those Pilums is about the same as a base of skirmishers - is this really that significant?

Secondly - the minor matter of history. Most sources agree the Roman Legion carried at best 2 Pila and that they were thrown just before contact to break up enemy formations, make shields less useful etc. In Impetus this limited supply and use is represented by losing the Pilum ability once the unit becomes worn - ie takes a casualty. That makes perfect sense to me - unlike the proposal that you make to retain the pilum even when worn. Pila apparently weigh anything up to five kilos each and their military effect is based largely on achieving a mass shock effect by a single volley rather than a steady attrition effect as would sustained skirmish javelin fire. Why would you NOT throw them all at once? Given the nature of the weapon and tactical use, and the restrictions of the rules, the current representation that they are lost when worn is good sense AND a far batter representation of the historical usage.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:42 pm

Cyrus, shouldn't javelin as a weapon system be lost when a unit gets worn since it is highly unlikely that these troops would have carried anymore than a two or three javelins into battle? And when one comes to think about it most archers only carried 20 to 30 arrows into battle as well. So wouldn't worn be a good way to represent archers running out of arrows? And when one comes to further think about it as a unit with long spear begins to lose VBU it represents both a morale loss and men beginning to fritter away from the battle line. So wouldn't a unit of long spear become unable to maintain an effective front at some point before routing that would cause it to lose the long spear effect? My point is of course that in Impetus we don't worry about these kinds of issues. Except for some strange reason we do in the case of Pilum because Pilum is the only weapons system lost when a unit becomes worn.

As an aside, I think your historical take on pilum is incorrect. The idea that the whole unit throws its pilum in one heave is impossible. Frankly there isn't room for 6 ranks for legionnaires to have the requisite space and running room to let the whole unit fire at once. My hunch (we don't really know how pilum was used) is that the first couple of ranks  tossed in their pilum with the rear ranks holding them for later use. The idea of a residual benefit for pilum that we are experimenting with both conforms to how Impetus actually works as a rules system and how we think pilum was probably used in battle.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:22 pm

No

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:18 am

I'd be curious Cyrus why, in your thinking, units armed with javelin keep the benefit of javelins when worn but legions lose it when armed with pilum?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:17 am

Because I disagree with you on almost every point you make including your wild assumptions based on zero evidence (other than your own assertions).

Rather than get involved further with an idea that I confidently expect to go nowhere I thought it best to starve you of the oxygen you seek.

Is that sufficient?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:38 am

Personally .... I see pilum a bit like 'first volley' in the black powder period. That first initial withheld use of the weapon is always the most effective... I would even go so far as upping the dice on that first crack.. then perhaps losing the pilum altogether from then on worn or not.

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:50 pm

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:Because I disagree with you on almost every point you make including your wild assumptions based on zero evidence  (other than your own assertions).

I am curious about this on several fronts. First, factually what have I proposed that you disagree with. Did infantry carry more than 2 or 3 javelins into battle? Did most archer units have a greater supply of arrows (obviously some did - Towton comes to mind.) How do you see units functioning at their VBU declines? I offered my hypothesis. What is yours. I am also fascinated Cyrus the you criticize me for offering zero based evidence but when I search the past responses from you I didn't see any from you. Why the double standard?


Cyrus The Adequate wrote: Rather than get involved further with an idea that I confidently expect to go nowhere I thought it best to starve you of the oxygen you seek.

Is that sufficient?

I am beginning to see a pattern with you Cyrus. You enter into conversations with often some intelligent observations but as the discussion moves you begin to revert to hostile assertions and then storm away. The most recent previous example that I can think of is in the discussion around Viking and Saxon cavalry. There is no reason for any of us to get upset on a Forum like this. And no need to attack others either.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:55 pm

Did you read the bit about not wanting to give you the attention you seek?
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:55 am

Tarty wrote:Personally .... I see pilum a bit like 'first volley' in the black powder period. That first initial withheld use of the weapon is always the most effective... I would even go so far as  upping the dice on that first crack.. then perhaps losing the pilum altogether from then on worn or not.
 

Worn status is probably the easiest way to keep track of "first fire" effect if that is how one sees it. Not perfect but it gets the job done.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:28 am

Would it be a reasonable compromise for any Roman commander wanting pilum to have the OPTION of paying 3points per allowed unit to include it?

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:10 pm

Granicus Gaugamela wrote:Would it be a reasonable compromise for any Roman commander wanting pilum to have the OPTION of paying 3points per allowed unit to include it?

Pilum does give a bit a flavour to the game. In WRG all these kinds of weapons were placed under the category of HTW. It may be reasonable compromise GG from a gaming point of view but with a loss of a bit of flavour. Not sure how I feel.

As an aside, I once almost beat a Mongol army with Punic Romans (using A class legions.) I got on to the flank of his CL and had a chance to roll up several of them but in spite of getting some good melee rolls and he rolled low CTs and bounced out. After that it was a massacre but for a moment the Mongol player was really sweating. So anything is possible in Impetus and Romans do win (especially later Roman armies with more varieties of support troops.) We do find that the earlier Romans (Republic and Early Empire) tend to lose more than they win. Linear improvements in the rules help the Romans and the discipline bonus adds to their effect. In our estimation a small improvement in the Pilum rule would probably make them competitive.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by GamesPoet on Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:56 pm

What does HTW mean?

And the view of the proposed Pilum rule in an earlier post has been read in this thread. ; )

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:34 pm

HTW - Heavy Throwing Weapons
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by GamesPoet on Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:42 pm

Thank you! : )

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:19 am

Granicus Gaugamela wrote:Would it be a reasonable compromise for any Roman commander wanting pilum to have the OPTION of paying 3points per allowed unit to include it?
I tend to agree with Cyrus here GG and should avoid the "..want fries with that ? " approach. Pilum shouldn't be a choice thing...not for Romans anyway.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:34 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:
Tarty wrote:Personally .... I see pilum a bit like 'first volley' in the black powder period. That first initial withheld use of the weapon is always the most effective... I would even go so far as  upping the dice on that first crack.. then perhaps losing the pilum altogether from then on worn or not.
 

Worn status is probably the easiest way to keep track of "first fire" effect if that is how one sees it. Not perfect but it gets the job done.

Getting that first hit on VBU 6 FPs is not always that easy. The flip side of that coin is losing your pilum through missile fire. Both of these don't model pilum particularly well under the 'worn' guidelines in my opinion. Just thought it was worth bringing up if we're discussing pilum.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:35 am

One of the things I like about Impetus is that the loss of VBU could represent a whole lot of things, hard casualties, faltering morale, men frittering away from the front line. It occurred to me that the loss of VBU in a T unit could represent the depletion of ammunition. The great thing is that we don't have to worry about what it represents. It just is.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:44 am

I agree....it works well most of the time. Pilum is one of those 'add ons' that could operate a little differently here and reflect more their specific use.
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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:32 am

Tarty wrote:
Granicus Gaugamela wrote:Would it be a reasonable compromise for any Roman commander wanting pilum to have the OPTION of paying 3points per allowed unit to include it?
I tend to agree with Cyrus here GG and should avoid the "..want fries with that ? " approach. Pilum shouldn't be a choice thing...not for Romans anyway.

As opposed to pavises, archer stakes, front rank upgrades etc etc etc?

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Re: Improving Pilum?

Post by Tarty on Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:51 am

Granicus Gaugamela wrote:
Tarty wrote:
Granicus Gaugamela wrote:Would it be a reasonable compromise for any Roman commander wanting pilum to have the OPTION of paying 3points per allowed unit to include it?
I tend to agree with Cyrus here GG and should avoid the "..want fries with that ? " approach. Pilum shouldn't be a choice thing...not for Romans anyway.

As opposed to pavises, archer stakes, front rank upgrades etc etc etc?

Yes big difference....absolutely !! Pilum is mandatory for these guys and shouldn't be an option ever. They come with the package take it or leave it.
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