Archers/flyers questions

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EHamilton
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Joined: 2012-04-27 16:03
Archers/flyers questions

For D@W Battles

1. Flyers effectively can declare that they are at elevation. Does that mean flyers always get the -4 to-hit modifier whenever archers attack them, and always get a +1 attack modifier when they attack? Or are those benefits already factored into their attack throws and AC?

2. Flyers usually ignore threat from non-flyer units. But they count as being in a threatened hex "when they attack" a unit on the ground. Obviously this makes a readied counterattack legal. But does that also mean that they have to formally disengage while moving in the next turn, by moving directly backward away from the unit and being limited to "marching" speed? Or can they just rise back into the air and move around the unit however they want?

3. Most missile attacks don't track ammo, using the "deplete ammo on a roll of 1" rule. Does this also apply to thrown weapons like spears or javelins, or should those be individually tracked? It seems like if you have only 3 javelins, there should be a much higher chance of running out of them!

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

1. No, the benefits are not factored into their attack throws and AC. A Flyer operating at elevation would get the -4 modifier when archers attack them and a +1 attack modifier when they attack with their own missile weapons.

2. They can just rise back into the air and move however they want. The Flyer is threatened only "when they attack", e.g. in the course of the attack sequence. A Flyer unit can only be threatened by an enemy Flyer or by an enemy unit conducting a reaction attack against the Flyer.

3. This is an issue I wrestled with during the game design. Ultimately I concluded that the "deplete ammo on a roll of 1" rule should apply to thrown weapons, even though the troops using them carry less than 20 ammunition. It has to do with how we simulate archery versus thrown weapons.

Javelineers were among the most popular and commonly employed light troops on their battlefield. If their effectiveness were really so limited as 1/7th the useful attacks of archers, it seems like this wouldn't be the case.

Moreover, we rarely find evidence in the historical records that javelineers ran out of javelins. We frequently find evidence in the historical records that archers ran out of arrows. And yet we know that archers carried 20+ arrows while javelineers carried 3-5 javelins.

So the effectiveness of javelineers relative to archers seemed like a historical puzzle.

In deeper reading, I determined it was an issue of formations and tactics. Archers were generally employed using volley fire at medium-to-long range. The majority of the archers couldn't even see the targets they were shooting at, and were simply emulating the firing stance of their neighbors. From Sumer to Ancient Rome concludes that only the tiniest percentage (<1%) of arrows fired would have dealt damage to enemy. D@W assumes that when a bowman unit fires, ALL of the archers are attacking, with the first rank at normal effectiveness (getting 1 attack), and the 2nd-6th rank at about 20% effectiveness (5 x .2 = 1 attack).

In contrast, javelins and other thrown weapons were usually discharged by the leading ranks of the light infantry, with direct fire aimed right at the enemy. As a result, when a javelin unit attacks, only the first two ranks are assumed to be attacking, both at normal effectiveness. The other four ranks will fire when they move to the front (or, more typically, when the leading ranks retire backwards).

And that's the answer to the ammo quandry, too. The archers are firing all their arrows with every attack, but only a portion of the javelineers are tossing their javelins with every attack. Relative ammo expenditure is such that the javelineers don't really run out of javelins faster than the archers run out of arrows.

A lot of this is hidden in the "deep structure" of D@W. (Have you ever wondered why a unit of 120 men gets 2 attacks per round even though normal men get 1 attack per round?)

bobloblah
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Alex said: (Have you ever wondered why a unit of 120 men gets 2 attacks per round even though normal men get 1 attack per round?)

I have now. DAAAAAAMN YOU, MACRIS!

EHamilton
Dwimmermount BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-04-27 16:03

1. No, the benefits are not factored into their attack throws and AC. A Flyer operating at elevation would get the -4 modifier when archers attack them and a +1 attack modifier when they attack with their own missile weapons.


-archon

To clarify: The rules on page 29 don't say that the +1 attack modifier for higher elevation applies exclusively to missile attacks, so I've been assuming that applies to melee too. Does that also apply to flyers who are swooping down to make a melee attack?

Or do they temporarily lose elevation (and the bonus) during a melee attack, and then gain it back the moment the attack finishes?

Or was the intent that this bonus only applies to missile attacks and never to melee attacks, even for non-flyers?

Thanks for the detailed survey of javelin-use literature!

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

You are correct; I mis-remembered my own rule. Flyers would gain +1 attack modifier for higher elevation for so long as they wish to remain elevated.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Here is a simple thought experiment that explains it, more or less:

Melee Assumptions:
There are 20 men in the front row each with 1 HD
There are 6 ranks of men, for a total of 120 men
A hit in D@W represents a hit by 20 men
Each hit deals 1 HD of damage, killing 20 men
It should take 6 hits to kill a 1 HD unit
If the front row are the ones attacking, they should get 1 attack
Since units get 2 attacks, we know that the second rank is also attacking - either "poking through" or filling in the gaps.

Bow Assumptions:
There are 20 archers in the front row
There are 100 archers in the rear rows
A hit in D@W represents a hit by 20 arrows
Rear rank archers in the unit cannot even see actual enemies because they are in rear ranks
Rear rank fire is being aimed at an enemy formation, not at specific enemies
For each “hit” on a formation by the rear rank using plunging fire, only 20% of the arrows actually hit a target (From Sumer to Rome)
The number of attacks should be (20/20) + (100/20 x .2) = 1+1=2
Sustained rate of fire (factoring in fatigue) was 6 arrows per minute per archer using volley fire, or 1 arrow per combat round

Crossbow Assumptions:
There are 20 crossbowmen in the front row, kneeling
There are 20 crossbowmen in the second row
There are 80 crossbowmen in the rear rows
Rear rank fire is being aimed at an enemy formation, not at specific enemies
For each “hit” on a formation by the rear rank using plunging fire, only 20% of the bolts actually hit a target (From Sumer to Rome)
A hit in D@W represents a hit by 20 bolts
Assume sustained rate of fire was 4 bolts per minute for crossbowmen or 2 shots every 3 combat rounds
The number of attacks should be ((20 x 0.67)/20) + ((20 x 0.67)/20) + ((80x0.67/20)x.2) = 0.67 + 0.67 + 0.53 = 1.87 ~ 2.0