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Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

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Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Aurelius on Tue Jul 21, 2015 5:01 pm

Hi All,

Have been out of circulation for a while, so may have missed some significant points. The new Heavy Javelin class looks to be a good way forward for VBU5 javelin armed FL. Should this be given to Late Roman Auxilia Palatina? They currently lack javelin, yet historically appear to have been armed with a variety of throwing weapons. Views?

TD

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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Tarty on Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:22 am

I've thought about this also.
I came to the conclusion that it was more about the numbers of VBU 5 Jav's in the other armies that made it necessary to do something also changes the way these armies as a whole operate on the table which is a good thing.
I wouldn't be agains't changing Palatina to heavy Jav but it's not going to have 'a huge' effect on LIR's because of the numbers involved... other than making them more expensive of course  Wink
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:57 am

I'm not so sure heavy javelin is the appropriate remedy across the board. Oddly ones that used such a weapon (Iberian) are exempt from it and it's use seems a completely game driven solution to the 5/1 Javelin situation which is essentially a broken mechanic.

Not sure what the solution to the Bonnachts is but a choice between 5/2 or 5/1 with javelin isn't much of a points decision especially as VD is the same. Maybe it should just be 5/1 or 4/1 javelin. Or maybe FP 5/1 or FL 4/1 javelin. But heavy javelin feels wrong historically speaking. (although it my be right in terms of game balance)

On the LIR auxilia, this has always been vexing - they are long spear and throwing weapon armed whatever their VBU - changing the weapon because of an upgrade in VBU is just wrong, discipline yes, impetus yes but going from comitatenses to palatina doesn't change the troop functionality or weapon. So again either Comitatenses are C class or 3/1 javelin and palatine B class or 4/1 javelin (A class is probably a step too far) or they aren't really different at all but losing the javelin for an upgrade is just plain wrong.

Similarly with later Greeks - the move from FL peltast with javelin to thureophoroi with long spear and/or javelin shouldn't result in a wholesale loss of javelin. Thureophoroi were the universal troop type but in impetus become a second rate under performer. For instance the Pergamene list offers them as 5/1 FL long spear or 2/0 S javelin but not the more common version of 4/1 FL javelin.

And all because there is only one VBU and it does everything from morale to armour to combat. A second missile VBU would solve a lot in 2ed. But would invalidate a lot of lists, so we just live with it. Anyway I can field stuff how I like at home so it's only tournaments that need to keep to the lists as writ, as such I have learned to accept the situation. Very Happy
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:09 pm

The move from VBU4 to VBU5 is a big step up in Impetus. Troops become more resilient and able to pass CTs with multiple hits. All for 4 points.

I think the idea that VBU5 units lose javelin in the upgrade is to reflect the fact that the javelin is now represented in the higher VBU and the unit has moved more into the realm of battle infantry. Allowing such units to have heavy javelin to represent another layer of uncertainty seems reasonable to me. The mechanism doesn't have to be understood literally.  

The problem I have with heavy javelin is that, on its own, it isn't really worth 3 points. On the other hand, the upgrade to VBU5 for 4 points is really good value so it kind of balances things out.

With respect to the Spanish the number of VBU5 javelin armed troops is relatively small and they come with high VD. So the Spanish player is going to be reluctant to risk them in melee unless it is absolutely necessary. Changing the Elite Scutarii to heavy javelin runs against how the whole Spanish army fights in Impetus (which tends to avoid melee and engage in skirmish like shooting.)  The Elite Scutarii play a very different role in the Spanish army than Samnite or Irish VBU5 units do in theirs in my experience.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:53 pm

yep that's the tournament balance argument.

it's not the historical one though.

for instance comitatenses to palatina isn't a move from javelin skirmisher to battle line infantry. It's a move from the border regular army to the field elite army.

if the upgrade is to be represented (and who doesn't like an upgrade) why does it have to be VBU based?

why are Irish bonnachts VBU 5 that's the question.

Iberian scutarii were equipped with heavy javelin as were many Italian states - if that changes the way the army plays that's fine because that's how they were equipped and it's an optional upgrade.

I understand why you make the distinction between numbers of units in an army on play balance but for me that's not what should determine the factors. Longbow A are powerful too - no-one suggests stripping WotR armies of them because you can have lots.

Either 5/1 javelin is an OK measure of a performance level or its too much, how many an army gets is irrelevant.

I think we mostly all agree that 5/1 javelin breaks the game - the solution therefore is to reduce them to what we consider the most effective level and that's 4/1 javelin.

if upgrades are required from there they need to be found elsewhere (and that means, Impetus, Discipline or VD)

heavy javelin is a reasonable construct, though just why it should be different from the heavy javelin called pilum is beyond me, and plenty of troops were so equipped from daylami to scutarii to arguably franks. But for me it's the wrong solution to the issue at hand.

and frankly doesn't address the bigger problems of strange LIR auxilia and under performing thureophoroi who have their tactical role stripped to allow a VBU increase to 5
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:05 pm

I don't think it is only about tournament balance. Moving Elite Scutarii to heavy javelin changes the way the Iberian army fights since this unit must melee to get the full benefit of what it represents. Of course, this is exactly what the Iberian player doesn't want to do because the rest of his army his light, skirmish, javelin armed troops. This is in contrast to the Samnite army which is made up of primarily of VBU5 FL battle infantry. So it makes sense to me that in spite of the fact that both troop types are armed similar they are depicted differently since the two armies function very differently (both in Impetus terms and historically.) As for the Irish, well I don't know enough about them to offer an opinion.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Tarty on Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:21 am

Gaius Cassius wrote: Moving Elite Scutarii to heavy javelin changes the way the Iberian army fights since this unit must melee to get the full benefit of what it represents. Of course, this is exactly what the Iberian player doesn't want to do because the rest of his army his light, skirmish, javelin armed troops.

I agree ( as someone who uses Spanish often ) Being VD 3 however I'm often reluctant to use them up front early on rather relegate them to a 'sweeper' role which they are very effective at... and much safer Smile

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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:41 am

I am starting to build a Thracian army. Similar in some ways to the Spanish but also different. The Thracian army can upgrade Peltast infantry to VBU5 and 6 but without javelins. With good cavalry the Thracian army can be very aggressive in a way the Spanish can't afford to be. The Spanish are a very good counter punching army with the Elite Scutarii coming in, as you say Tarty, in a sweeper role hoping to land the knock out punch. But the Spanish player who prematurely uses them could find the knock out punch being landed on him.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:46 am

Gaius Cassius wrote:I don't think it is only about tournament balance. Moving Elite Scutarii to heavy javelin changes the way the Iberian army fights since this unit must melee to get the full benefit of what it represents. Of course, this is exactly what the Iberian player doesn't want to do because the rest of his army his light, skirmish, javelin armed troops.

I understand (tournament balance/game balance - that's one side of the bargaining chip, historical authenticity is the other) but surely if you select a heavy javelin Iberian force you should adapt the skirmish tactics - you're changing the weapons system so change the tactics, it reflects a different sort of close ambush Iberian tactic. Anyway it's the counter-intuitiveness of the solution to a problem not applying to one of the obvious proponents that bothers me. Makes it look like a very poor solution to me.

I still think heavy javelin is moving in the wrong direction to solve a problem created elsewhere.

If I ruled the world Shocked

I'd eliminate javelin missile capability from FL (limit shooting to javelin S and CL)
I'd eliminate pilum and delete the anti-warband special rule for Roman Auxilia.

If you want javelin skirmishing foot select S supported by close fighting FL.

Troops with close range missile weapons (which to my mind includes FL javelins, Roman pila, darts, daylami, franks, Mezzo-Americans, throwing sticks, etc) use them as part of melee and are represented by their Impetus bonus which they get whilst fresh regardless of charge. Note this naturally includes FP as well as FL.

Their VBU can then be upgraded up and down without generating the shooting problem which is at the heart of the VBU 5/1 Bonnacht problem.

Upgrades to long spear (thureophoroi, legion change from MIR to LIR) or pike replace the defensive impetus bonus with a negation of enemy mounted impetus. It's a functional difference that makes sense unlike the current situation.

There is more decision on whether to take S javelins and they have a better battlefield role rather been very poor cousins to FL javelins.

I understand why pila have been given the special rule pre-melee but I think it's too granular for Impetus - whether the pila disordered the enemy on contact is a function of the dice rolls of the first round it doesn't/shouldn't need to be a special sub-phase.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:28 pm

Yikes Zippee, your ruling the world would change Impetus in some pretty significant ways.

I have some sympathy with what you are saying but at the same time I think you are getting too literal about the matter. What qualifies as a heavy javelin or a javelin is a semantic argument and needs to be judged on how throwing weapons were used by a particular nation. I think an argument could be made that the whole Iberian list could be redesigned as one approximating the Samnite list. In this case the Scutarii are really flexible battle infantry armed with heavy throwing weapons and following up with the sword. On the other hand, the current list more reflects an understanding of the Iberians as a skirmish army adept at hit and run tactics. Another reasonable interpretation. The thing is, you can't rate the Scutarii as one type of FL and rate the Elite Scutarii as another because it works at cross purposes with what the list intends to represent. That to my thinking is a historical argument and not about tournament play balance.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:46 pm

Yeah it's probably a good thing for everyone else, fortunately I can do what I like in my own games room Very Happy

Working with the Iberian list as it stands you're probably right but then that's only one list for a whole heap of different peoples, time periods and conflicts.

And if S javelins were better able to perform their skirmish role you wouldn't need to be doing it with FL. Or perhaps you'd be forced to learn. So maybe it's the fact that you can't re-equip enough of your FL. . .

but I think the problem with FL and javelins is much wider than just Iberians or just Irish.

And I speak as the owner of Kappadokians, Thracians and very many boxes of assorted "Asiatic" FL types such as psidians, paphlagonians, Lykians and assorted greeks and persians. Not to mention heaps of roman auxilia and hellenistic thureophoroi, bedouin, arabs, daylami, etc, etc

Game wise they work really well as javelin missile chuckers and are pretty pants when upgraded with proper weapons I'm just not really convinced its a terribly accurate portrayal!

As my mate said in our last game, why have I put these Galatian noble CM in front of these skuzy hillmen FL - they're way harder than the horsey boys and are only 1VD! That can't be right can it?
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Jim Webster on Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:34 pm

Gaius Cassius wrote:Yikes Zippee, your ruling the world would change Impetus in some pretty significant ways.

I have some sympathy with what you are saying but at the same time I think you are getting too literal about the matter. What qualifies as a heavy javelin or a javelin is a semantic argument and needs to be judged on how throwing weapons were used by a particular nation. I think an argument could be made that the whole Iberian list could be redesigned as one approximating the Samnite list. In this case the Scutarii are really flexible battle infantry armed with heavy throwing weapons and following up with the sword. On the other hand, the current list more reflects an understanding of the Iberians as a skirmish army adept at hit and run tactics. Another reasonable interpretation. The thing is, you can't rate the Scutarii as one type of FL and rate the Elite Scutarii as another because it works at cross purposes with what the list intends to represent. That to my thinking is a historical argument and not about tournament play balance.


To be honest giving Spanish Infantry and Samnite infantry heavy javelins is making them a sort of legionary. Which is probably a lot better representation of their abilities that having them as javelin armed auxilia
When I was reading up about Mago's army fighting in Liguria and how Livy describes Spanish forces being raised and trained, they fit pretty easily into a legionary model.
With the Samnites,they stood toe to toe against Legionaries in hard fighting and whilst they might have eventually lost, it was eventually.

So all in all, for these troop types I think heavy javelin works well

Jim
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Tarty on Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:59 pm

Spanish army is tough to pin down when it comes to battlefield dogma. Up for toe to toe ? yes most definitely... but also one of the best at avoiding contact when it suited them.
Without drastically changing FL capabilities ( like an evade option for them ) their ability to employ ranged fire of some sort is vital.
In my opinion Impetus does a great job of this 'fluid' style of fighting one of the stand outs I think ...... force these guys to make contact and your heading down the DBX path Sad .... Ok I'll step down from the podium now.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by GamesPoet on Fri Jul 24, 2015 2:32 am

Zippee wrote:If you want javelin skirmishing foot select S supported by close fighting FL.
But is this the way units of Takabara fought?

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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:24 am

GamesPoet wrote:
Zippee wrote:If you want javelin skirmishing foot select S supported by close fighting FL.
But is this the way units of Takabara fought?

Takabara like peltasts and the bulk of "hillmen javelin mobs" fought (in as far as we have any good evidence for how they fought) in fluid groups that are hard to pin down to wargames bases and permanent data sets.

Takabara as 'toughened up' S javelins fit the bill. Oddly takabara don't have the option to be either/or FL/S most such troops do (or the option is there under the guise of Paphlagonian FL or Psidian S or similar without either being compulsory) allowing you to choose to deploy them for the tactical stance you wish to take.

I see no evidence of takabara being battle line troops capable of holding their own against decent cavalry and FP. As game pieces FL javelins are brilliant, tactically flexible and good value both in pints and VD but their subsequent use isn't representative of their historical value, worth or use (as we understand it - which is poorly).

Seriously who would pick 5/1 FL long spear over 4/1 FL javelins
look at the Pergamene list:
0-14 FL Citizen & Mysian 4/1 B VD 1 javelin (19)
6-12 FL Thureophoroi 5/1 B VD 2 long spear (23) or S 2/0 B VD 1 javelin (12)

This in an army that has its heavy troops as either Galatian warband and/or pikes with CP xystophoroi and cataphracts to boot.

the core of the army should be thureophoroi as in many late hellensitic armies but I'd never take them in Impetus (not in numbers - maybe as commander units for the flank) as the cheaper, disposable FL javelins are far better and tactically more flexible. Why? because they can do the whole shooty dance thing getting disorder before contact which is they key to winning in Impetus - any troops with the ability to inflict disorder before combat are infinitely superior to troops that can't.

If FL are shooty (or you believe that best reflects their tactical role) then their impetus should be 0 to make them rely on it. And that would over penalise them way more than taking away the shooty option.

The sane (easy to write but less than satisfying because it doesn't address the rest of the issue) compromise is to limit shooty FL to 4/1 (which is a powerful troop) with the bulk being relatively fragile 3/1 troops. The 5/1 are an anachronism that should just be regarded as 4/1 - I don't think the heavy javelin solution works, it just changes how they inflict the preparatory disorder. And as I've said I don't like the granularity of that mechanic - not even for Romans I think it's below the level of Impetus as a set of rules, the effect is just part of the black box of the first combat turn's dice rolls.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Pezhetairoi on Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:37 am

I like your points, Zippee. Something to think about.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Roundie on Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:39 am

Hi I'm completely new to these rules (still to play my 1st game in fact) so please forgive me if thus is a dumb question, but do I understand this correctly?
FP when hit by javelins get a +2 mod to CT tests- +1 for being FP & +1 for being at Short or point blank range?
FP when hit by heavy javelins would get no mods because heavy javelins function in the same way as Pilums?


Last edited by Roundie on Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Tarty on Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:32 am

Yes that's correct....Pilum/Heavy Javelin are part of melee and not considered as ranged fire.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Roundie on Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:34 am

cool thanks
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by starkadder on Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:12 pm

I apologise to anyone disturbed by exhuming this conversation.

I used an Anglo-Irish army for the first time yesterday and stumbled into the 5/1 + pilum thing. In a different army, I also use almughavars.

I haven't used a VBU5 javelin before but it is curious to me that there is now no effective difference between Almughavar ascona and bonnacht javelins. Both have been neutered by the pila requirement, the former because of its "lightness" becomes a dart, the latter because it is seen as "heavy".

No range weapons, just one chance at offence/defence and that chance must be taken at point of engagement. No possible disruption other than very good luck.  It does not seem logical to me.

I don't use the javelin "sewing machine of death" as I don't believe that these formations were capable of such a complex interchange (and it would have been complex and confusing). 

I won't be using 5/1 bonnachts anymore either as they have been spavined and are not worth the cost. It's not a major problem.

Why, at least, cannot an interpenetration be subject to a discipline test if either unit has fired?

In case you're wondering, I had a slashing victory against some very unpleasant Free Company types.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:39 pm

Zippee wrote:
why are Irish bonnachts VBU 5 that's the question.

There is the nail getting hit straight and true on the head. The "Heavy Javelin" is in my view a valid weapon type, and the points are about right if the Pilum points are right. The problem is the lists themselves introduced problems in game balance that could have been avoided if they had been properly vetted. The Bonnachts are particularly galling as they already existed in Extra 3 as 4-1 C class Javelinmen but are allowed to upgrade to 5-1 in Extra 5. I just wish list writers would pause and ask "are these troops really as good as the best of their type in the history of the world?" because that's exactly what is happening when you rate FL as 5-1
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Gaius Cassius on Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:24 pm

Yes, 5-1 javelin armed FL are extremely powerful in Impetus and only a few units really should get it.

I am not a great fan of the current pilum rule. I don't think it works very well. The move from javelin to heavy javelin is really a demotion in the rules. On the other hand, the upgrade from VBU4 to VBU5 for 4 points is an incredible value. So they balance out in the end to my thinking.

I agree that the Irish list is a bit wonky but the Samnite list with FL 5-1 heavy javelin seems spot on to how I imagine this army to fight.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by stecal on Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:06 pm

Perhaps in impetus2 there will be Shooting Modifiers like currently in Baroque to fix things like heavy javelins.

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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Jim Webster on Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:38 pm

I think in this case Zippy is right. Should Irish bonnachts be VBU 5
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

Post by Zippee on Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:43 pm

stecal wrote:Perhaps in impetus2 there will be Shooting Modifiers like currently in Baroque to fix things like heavy javelins.

Right idea, wrong example Very Happy

Better still to treat them like point blank pistols - once use only, fire and forget weapons. I still maintain the use of pilums and such is below the granularity of the Impetus black box combat system but if they are to be included then this is the way to do it.

If SM / MM modifiers get in it will be to replace the mixed unit type large units - spear & bow = pike & musket. Not even sure if large units as opposed to massed units will remain - they produce a host of technical problems in combat that can be eradicated by the inclusion of a massed pike (or warband or what-have-you) unit instead.
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Re: Heavy Javelin (weapon creep!)

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