Author Topic: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise  (Read 1816 times)

Anton

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2020, 11:04:44 AM »
I'd go with the "annoying and dangerous" split too.  There is a nice functionality to it.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2020, 06:15:49 PM »
I've been looking at the original text of Le Livre de Trahisons, a Burgundian chronicle, which describes the Battle of Browershaven in 1426.  This quite a well known action but I wanted to see I could resolve a few details.  It would make another good description for our Battle series but I'd need to translate it.  Anyway, the reason why I mention it is it contains a classic account of the effectiveness or otherwise of missile weapons of the time. 

In brief, the English and their rebel allies are attacking Browershaven, where the Burgundian army is disembarking.  They approach MAA in the centre, archers on two wings.  The artillery of Dordrecht open the firing, with two "shots" - probably salvos - which have no effect.  The militia crossbows then engage, 1000 men or more, shoot one shot/salvo which is as effective "as throwing rotten apples".  The English archers reply and the militia are quickly thrown into disarray and fall back.  The Burgundian men-at-arms then advance to engage their English opponents.  One wing of English archers switches target but has no effect against their armour.  Some men have their cuirasses bent, but the Sire De L'Isle Adam (the Duke of Burgundy's standard bearer) does not.  Instead, he has arrows sticking out of his harness everywhere and the standard is full of arrows.  Only one knight is killed - he has chosen to fight with his visor open and gets an arrow in his eye.  The fight is determined by hand-to-hand combat - the English men-at-arms fight marvellously but the Burgundians attack the archers and drive them into a ditch, where they drown.  It all goes down hill from there for the English.

So, in one battle a hierarchy.  Artillery is ineffective.  Militia crossbows are shot to pieces by longbows.  Longbows are ineffective against fully armoured men at arms.  For Justin and his query about how much shooting slowed an advance, I think this one is a "not much" example.  The English come on "step by step" - steadily. 

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Anton

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2020, 08:59:01 PM »
That's a really interesting deconstruction.

The guns presumably missed entirely?

The Militia were presumably disheartened by their own ineffective shooting and disconcerted by the effectiveness of the Archers and so retreated.

The Burgundian MAA get buffeted by the arrows but can still advance to close.

The Archers cannot stand against the MAA.

There's a lot to think on there.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2020, 09:29:50 AM »
I suspect with the crossbowmen it is about inexperience.  I suspect that the Burgundians are using a traditional deployment, pushing a screen of crossbowmen out to cover the deployment of the men-at-arms, who were not fully prepared when the English appeared.  They have chosen to engage at a "safe" harassing distance but, like the Genoese at Crecy, find the archers are capable of bringing down a heavy barrage at that distance.  Being inexperienced militia, confronted with a rather more deadly battlefield environment than they were expecting they fell back.  One thing of interest is the militia continue to be a target of one wing of the archers, while the other concentrates on "the banners" i.e. the men-at-arms, so they have not run away completely, they are just hanging back to the rear of the  men-at-arms.

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Justin Swanton

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2020, 12:52:27 PM »
I've been looking at the original text of Le Livre de Trahisons, a Burgundian chronicle, which describes the Battle of Browershaven in 1426.  This quite a well known action but I wanted to see I could resolve a few details.  It would make another good description for our Battle series but I'd need to translate it.  Anyway, the reason why I mention it is it contains a classic account of the effectiveness or otherwise of missile weapons of the time. 

In brief, the English and their rebel allies are attacking Browershaven, where the Burgundian army is disembarking.  They approach MAA in the centre, archers on two wings.  The artillery of Dordrecht open the firing, with two "shots" - probably salvos - which have no effect.  The militia crossbows then engage, 1000 men or more, shoot one shot/salvo which is as effective "as throwing rotten apples".  The English archers reply and the militia are quickly thrown into disarray and fall back.  The Burgundian men-at-arms then advance to engage their English opponents.  One wing of English archers switches target but has no effect against their armour.  Some men have their cuirasses bent, but the Sire De L'Isle Adam (the Duke of Burgundy's standard bearer) does not.  Instead, he has arrows sticking out of his harness everywhere and the standard is full of arrows.  Only one knight is killed - he has chosen to fight with his visor open and gets an arrow in his eye.  The fight is determined by hand-to-hand combat - the English men-at-arms fight marvellously but the Burgundians attack the archers and drive them into a ditch, where they drown.  It all goes down hill from there for the English.

So, in one battle a hierarchy.  Artillery is ineffective.  Militia crossbows are shot to pieces by longbows.  Longbows are ineffective against fully armoured men at arms.  For Justin and his query about how much shooting slowed an advance, I think this one is a "not much" example.  The English come on "step by step" - steadily.

What is interesting is the difference between unarmoured (or partially armoured) and heavily armoured infantry. The former are driven back in rout, the latter are hardly affected. It seems one can make a distinction between three types that face massed archery fire:

a) unarmoured foot who retire;

b) partially armoured foot (armed with a shield and little else that is effective), who stop to shelter behind their shields or advance only very slowly;

c) fully armoured foot, with body armour and helmets that completely protect their faces, who advance without problem.

A big factor seems to be the helmet: without it the infantryman must duck behind his shield and in consequence can't see where he is going, which I imagine severely restricts his ability to advance in order. Any other examples?
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2020, 01:03:28 PM »
Another thing worth considering is extreme range and short range shooting. Extreme range shooting IMHO has the advantage that the archers don't have to see their target to place the arrows within a fairly narrow bracket, just a few yards deep, since the variation in bow elevation at extreme range affects the distance the arrow will travel much less than elevation at close range.

On the other hand, even though shooting at a shorter range can be done only by the front rank(s) of an archer line, it does affect the front rank of advancing enemy infantry, and it is that front rank that determines how fast the enemy will approach and whether the enemy stops and retires, besides being made up of the enemy's best fighters. If those troops find the missile fire too much, the odds are that the entire line will give way.

So advancing infantry will have to pass through a beaten zone a couple of dozen yards deep where everyone is shot at by all enemy archers, after which the middle and rear rankers can relax as only the front rankers can now be targeted. But does this find any echo in the sources? (I'm thinking of the Greeks at Marathon and Alexander at Issus who get past enemy massed archer fire by a sudden and unexpected charge).
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2020, 06:03:36 PM »
Of course an archery beaten zone is quite a small spot,
where as a modern beaten zone is potentially quite deep,

since archery requires a high trajectory to gain range and explosive propulsion can project flat for quite a distance.

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2020, 09:09:36 AM »
Since anecdotes in battle accounts can be found to support virtually any position, if I was trying to write wargame rules (rather than doing historical analysis) I'd be inclined to conclude that differences in equipment (bow, crossbow, whatever) and armour make no difference and all that matters is quality (experience, training, morale, what have you). Poor quality troops shoot badly and run away readily, and so forth. As to what range they did it at, I can't imagine why it would matter (for games purposes).
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2020, 09:29:11 AM »
Since anecdotes in battle accounts can be found to support virtually any position, if I was trying to write wargame rules (rather than doing historical analysis) I'd be inclined to conclude that differences in equipment (bow, crossbow, whatever) and armour make no difference and all that matters is quality (experience, training, morale, what have you). Poor quality troops shoot badly and run away readily, and so forth. As to what range they did it at, I can't imagine why it would matter (for games purposes).

It does make a big difference in wargaming terms if missile fire slows down enemy troops to moving at difficult terrain speed. Gives the archers more time to rout their opponents completely.

I thinking for example of inflicting a difficult terrain movement penalty on troops that are more vulnerable to missile fire if they get shot in that turn. The penalty wouldn't affect troops that don't already suffer too much from missiles, for example heavy armoured cavalry, hoplites and pikemen.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 09:33:34 AM by Justin Swanton »
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2020, 09:39:37 AM »
However in this period there seem to be few examples of complete routs other than poorly armoured troops.  The deciding factor is invariably melee.  Archers seem to be more about causing disruption than casulties against heavily armoured oppents.  They were potentiality devestationg against cavalryalso.

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2020, 09:57:20 AM »
Quote
It does make a big difference in wargaming terms if missile fire slows down enemy troops to moving at difficult terrain speed. Gives the archers more time to rout their opponents completely.

Yes but. Especially on a gridded surface, whether archers are more effective because their target is slowed down, or more effective because they are more effective, is immaterial. Rather than slowing down the target with all the extra rules load that goes with it, you could just up the power of the archers, +2 instead of +1 vs. unarmoured.

Of course you might want to have extra rules load if your aim is 'design for cause' - but even so you could just gloss the rules ("+2 vs. unarmoured - target is considered slowed and takes more hits").
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2020, 09:59:17 AM »
Quote
It does make a big difference in wargaming terms if missile fire slows down enemy troops to moving at difficult terrain speed. Gives the archers more time to rout their opponents completely.

Yes but. Especially on a gridded surface, whether archers are more effective because their target is slowed down, or more effective because they are more effective, is immaterial. Rather than slowing down the target with all the extra rules load that goes with it, you could just up the power of the archers, +2 instead of +1 vs. unarmoured.

Of course you might want to have extra rules load if your aim is 'design for cause' - but even so you could just gloss the rules ("+2 vs. unarmoured - target is considered slowed and takes more hits").

True.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2020, 10:07:59 AM »
Quote
As to what range they did it at, I can't imagine why it would matter (for games purposes).

Thus speaks the arch abstracter :)

Actually, I think it is pretty important to at least have a can/can't act division.  Even chess has limits as to which squares a piece can take another piece in.  If range didn't matter, MAA with polearms could be engaging each other from the baseline, which seems a bit silly.

Whether you need more ranges than a distance at which effect happens or doesn't is then about how abstract you want to be.

As to whether armour mattered, we might note that medieval writers and law makers thought it mattered a lot.  So, it is historically justifiable to consider it.  They also tended to think the quality of soldier in the armour was important but would likely consider "moral" qualities based on class or ethnicity, rather than think training or motivation, I think. 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2020, 11:29:17 AM »
I can be very arch, and I do like abstraction.

It would be perfectly possible for range to not matter and for non-silly polearms to engage from the baseline, in a game where the positioning of the toy soldiers on the table didn't define their capabilities in the game - such games arre perfectly possible, think Up Front or even D&D. It's also possible - think DBx - to assume all ranges are the same (and represented on the table by contact).

But I know that wargamers don't want to stray too far from the moving diorama idea, so I wouldn't necessarily advocate that, but I feel that ranges broken down to metre (or yard) accuracy just seem pointless, and lead to endless unsolvable problems over whether slings outranged bows, or longbows outranged crossbows etc etc. We don't know and it doesn't matter. :) Having detailed ranges like those you quoted above only makes sense if it is assumed that the positioning of the toy soldiers on the table precisely represents their positioning in real life, and there are all sorts of problems with that (and a gridded board has already gone beyond that anyway).

I expect armour mattered hugely to the person inside it, and as you say, law makers would be keen to ensure that the right sort of people had the right sort of equipment - as wargamers rather than people planning or fighting an actual war, we can probabaly safely assume that rich knights will have expensive armour, and roll the whole lot up into a '+3 v peasants'. A few cases of rich knights in crappy armour will slip through the net, but that's the least of wargaming's problems.

Anyway sorry to derail the ranges discussion - I know not everyone likes to abstract to the extent I do. (I pity the fools).
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2020, 12:34:59 PM »
There is , of course, a middle way.  I do agree we can be very hung up on things like "how far can a longbow shoot".  But , if we want our "moving diorama" (animated fiction, martial puppet theatre?)  to represent more dimensions of the historical experience, we might wish to put in some more texture, like the effective/annoying split, where different missile tactics can be represented.  But then you need some criteria as to when each might be appropriate Range banding is an obvious choice, as it is objective, if rather arbitrary.  You could, of course, randomise it, perhaps weighting effective against troop quality (e.g. +1 for veterans, -1 for militia or some such).  IIRC Ed Smith's WOTR rules did this for archers being charged, so whether you shot at a longer, less effective, range depending on how good you were, with veterans "waiting to see the whites of their eyes".  But then, if you already build in a random factor, could this not be subsumed within it?   I suppose it does depend on how different the outcome sets for "dangerous" and "annoying" were.  So, if its just about "hits" then they could easily be combined.  But if it's more effect based - "unaffected", "disordered", "falter", "check morale", "potential leader casualties" etc. - you might have a different distribution in different results tables.  Just a few thoughts.
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