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Re: (TFT) Reality in Melee (The Space Gamer #20, 1978), Elephants in war

On May 13, 2011, at 2:22 PM, Jay Carlisle wrote:

----- Original Message ----- From: "Joey Beutel"

That still shows a lack of discipline.... even if your not following
orders out of fear, thats lack of discipline compared to the unit that
follows anyway. BTW, I never said knights didn't fight in units
(although due to the nature of medieval combat there were plenty of
times that there were too few fighters to really notice...), just that
they didn't fight in tight pike ranks with a 'no moving out of line'

Yeah... I fired that one off the top of my head and was not very clear about my point. It's a complicated subject in some ways and becomes easy to get lost in the minutia and though I've been practicing I'm still not a very good secretary for the lunitic in my head. Where I drifted most I think was in the idea that how a unit fights is dictated in part by the style they were equiped to fight in and the farther you get from a club the more likely that major features of that equipment evolved in response to the equipment they expect to face. In some ways the medieval knight can be viewed as a return to the Trojan style hero with a chariot and expensive, heavy equipment who can rapidaly move from place to place along the battle-line.
Any unit can go impetuious... or leader for that matter.
I just think that saying that knights generally were undisiplined is very strong and maybe a tad misleading.
My bag for poor communication.

Please, you are totally right that my statements are a bit strong (and therefore a bit misleading). I guess the real point is that soldiers are all different, and some knights were probably very disciplined, while some hoplites might break at the sight of the enemy. The key there though is that the stye of warfare required of a hoplite to be successful is much more dependent on his discipline, less so for a Knight, who also wasn't really expected of much, as he was essentially an unpunishable noble... (which led to their downfall in some ways, as their style of fighting just doesn't work out too well in modern, 1500s- warfare... its not so much that they lacked discipline that killed them, it was that their style which didn't really require as much discipline just didn't work anymore).

That knights fought in looser formations than the phalanx doesn't
mean much unless they had similar equipment that they were useing in
such a different way.

What's a Formation for Heinlein's Starship Troopers?
The better armed and armored you are the larger area you command
(zoc) in general.
True, but I wouldn't say a knight in early medieval or even dark ages
Europe was really better equipped than a Hoplite... maybe for
individual combat, maybe in a 1:1 comparison, but the hoplites were
pretty much as well armed as it got (armored, shielded, long piked) in
their heyday, and you can't really say more than that for the Knights
themselves. I guess what I'm saying is that if a unit of (at least
early) medieval knights went into combat against a unit of hoplites
(or someone similarly trained with updated weaponry) then the hoplites probably win. Pikes in disciplined rows (along with organized units of peasant archers) were the downfall of knights, after all... it started
being a waste of money to put so much armor on only ONE unreliable

I hear you Sir and agree with a couple of caveats.
"Ordered" pikemen are indeed effective against the calvary charge, but they require that the field of battle is narrow enough for effective deployment.
Give the Calv too much space and the mobility trumps the formation.
A charge to a phalanx flank pretty quickly drops them from primary weapon to sidearm if they can't turn to meet it. Also the trigger had quite a role in sheading the knight from his armor.
Of course, that's back to the evoloution of arms.

I used to think that, but my recent opinion has been more towards the idea that the idea of spending so much money on one soldier (chosen for his hereditary more than his ability, as well) to have very expensive armor and weapons for a function on a battlefield that just didn't work that well- massed peasants with pikes and bows were cheaper, didn't risk loss of aristocrats, and had a much higher chance of winning. No doubt this is a large factor, but the question of whether guns played a big role is interesting... I used to think it did, but knights really declined before guns were very common, so I think pikes and longbows and crossbows were perhaps more important in this role. Also, a lot of early guns could be blocked quite well (better than arrows, often) by a knights heavy plate armor (I think the term 'bulletproof" comes from back when armorers would shoot their armor with a pistol, proving the armor resisted bullets). Indeed, the heavy plate armor was arguably facilitated by such battlefield developments... the modern image of a super heavy armored knight could be said to be the result of guns, not ending because of guns! Once guns had become a big part of the battlefield knights barely existed anyway, and even into the 1800s officers would often wear a bit of metal to help block bullets...

So I think the reason knights stopped being a dominant force on the battlefield has more to do with a social, political, economic (and slightly technological, in the form of weapons for peasants, though this is more social) change than the invention of guns.

You take a rabble of knights and I'll take a group that has a
Formation or two and can close in double time while holding said
Formation and lets see who wins the most outta 100 battles all else
being equal.

You're on.

hee hee hee... I'm working on it.
I'm trying real hard to add some strategy and building to the mix rather than just focus on the combat itself. If I let the players into the Power Structure of a little town and give them enough resources (maybe a dungeon crawl) to throw around on Unit creation and the buildings needed for support then I have them playing something like a Sim-City thing where the actual combat works like a disaster for something like a viking raid on the town. Combats fine but I'm really sick of the whole focus centered on killing things.
Amen to that. Well, not necessarily. I've just wanted a game for a long time (this isn't so big a problem with TFT, as low level characters are already like this) where killing is acutally a big deal... remember Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood? The main character was implied to have only killed a coupla dozen people, tops, in his whole career as a murderer. The Schofield only killed one (and never before the movie). Etc. All these games (FPSs, RPGs, many wargames) frequently involve characters who kill thousands over the course of only a few years. Why not have a game where a fight is REALLY deadly, really fast, and relatively small?

But I digress. TFT is acutally a lot like that for low level characters (kill counts rarely get very high if you don't count animals).
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