Author Topic: Design Notes: Militia  (Read 610 times)

Hannibal

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Design Notes: Militia
« on: December 08, 2016, 10:53:42 AM »
Nice!

Just for the sake of continuity, I have noticed these changes from the current Hawkshold roster:

I believe you got them all.


Quote
The biggest change I see is Pikemen becoming Militia Pikemen... Is there any development comment on these?

What do you mean by development comment?

joeyeti

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Design Notes: Militia
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 11:28:29 AM »
I meant the reasoning behind the changes...

I am not yet versed in the game much, but the changes seem to be substantive - making the Militia weaker with health bar redistribution (so it gets the first penalty quicker), slightly lower Attack (even if with a lower Charging penalty) and consequently being 30% cheaper.

Or is it just that the game results showed that the unit should be weakened as such?

RushAss

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Design Notes: Militia
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2016, 12:49:22 AM »
I meant the reasoning behind the changes...

I am not yet versed in the game much, but the changes seem to be substantive - making the Militia weaker with health bar redistribution (so it gets the first penalty quicker), slightly lower Attack (even if with a lower Charging penalty) and consequently being 30% cheaper.

Or is it just that the game results showed that the unit should be weakened as such?

From this discussion: http://ymgforum.com/index.php/topic,10528.0.html

Militia Pikemen - Standard - 136pts
O:(7*)4*/5*  D:1/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12   Mv: 2.5"  3G/4Y/3R
O:(-1) -0/-0 while Charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. Cavalry and/or Large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 while Holding vs. Charging Cavalry and/or Charging Large units.

For this draft I went with the Pikemen being something of a cross between the Militia and the Spearmen.  More trained than the former but less trained than the latter.  I kept them at 2.5" move to reflect the immobility of the phalanx without a bunch of special rules.  Note the Pikemen modifiers (-2 dice when charging and the Def bonus) are gone.

To get into the reasoning behind it, Pikemen where very similar to Spearmen and we wanted to separate them somewhat and make them feel like 2 distinct units.
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joeyeti

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Design Notes: Militia
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2016, 07:43:22 AM »
Thx RushAss,

unfortunately I cannot view the linked discussion (probably have no access there)...

Hannibal

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Re: Design Notes: Militia
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2016, 11:26:05 AM »
I meant the reasoning behind the changes...

Ah I see.

The change has to do with giving the Pikemen a more distinct role.  One thing I've found is that if you have two units in an army that fill the same role, inevitably one of them will be better.  The definition of "better" depends on a lot of things, mind you.  For example, with Spearmen & Pikemen, if you knew that every army you faced has to have 4 Large or cavalry units, then the "better" unit is the one that more successfully counters those units.  Conversely, if you knew that every army in every faction has a Longbowmen unit that they must take, then better might mean the unit more able to withstand shooting attacks (i.e. the D:2/2 Spearmen).

Now obviously these are extreme examples to showcase my point, but I've played historical game systems where this sort of thing can happen.  I play a tournament in a "Knights" time period and I have choice between pikemen and spearmen... well the pikemen are just better at their role of killing Knights than the spearmen.

In Battleground, utility and mobility are usually what makes a unit better.  Pikemen are a specialized unit vs the more general purpose Spearmen.  The Pikemen might do better against Cavalry, but if the pikemen get matched up against something else, that D:1/2 makes it harder for them to grind out a win.  By contrast, the Spearmen can fight off Cavalry/Large almost as well as Pikemen, but if they get matched up with somebody else's 200pt line unit, you're happy.  If they get matched up with somebody's 300pt beatstick unit, you're okay with that too.  And if you have a wider line than the enemy, you can threaten his flank with that 3.5" movement, whereas the 2.5" moving Pikemen have a harder time.

And that's before Core & Standard got introduced.  Pikemen got the label of Standard, meaning to take them (instead of a Spearmen unit) you have to take at least a 70pt Peasant Mob.  Given the lack of utility & mobility and now the fact that they don't meet Core, Pikemen were by and large a stay in the box unit.  Now, Pikemen were a decent (if a little overpriced) unit.  And if they were the only 'pointy stick' unit in the faction they'd see a lot more play.  But the much more useful Spearmen are in the same faction and fulfill the same role for "better."


When we started brainstorming changes for Hawkshold, Pikemen were one of the first units we zeroed in on.  The idea was either to give them a role distinct from the Spearmen, or remove them & replace them with another unit.  One idea I floated was a Swiss Pikemen style unit (Off Skill 6 and Cge 13 and whatnot) but for the first draft we're thinking of going the other direction.  I'm drawing from the Hundred Year's War era (and Burgundy specifically) for inspiration on Hawkshold and one of the things that came out of that era were the pike militias of the Low Country cities.  They hadn't yet reached the level of professionalism that they would in the pike-and-shotte era, but they were still pretty useful auxiliaries.

The unit you see here is redesigned with that thinking in mind.  They have Off Skill 4 and a weak (3-4-3) hit box arrangement to reflect that they are still very much amateurs, like the Militia unit.  However that hit box arrangement shows they are a progression towards the regular Spearmen & Swordsmen.  The slower speed captures the immobility of the pike blocks without a bunch of special rules (I like elegant solutions such as this wherever possible).  But their Cge 12 demonstrates their esprit de corps of fighting besides their comrades.  They have a desire to prove themselves to the rest of the Hawkshold army.

As far as fulfilling a role, they become pretty well optimized at one of two things.  They're obviously very good against Large and cavalry (although a little less so), but their cheap cost makes them a really nice chump unit.  If the enemy sends a 200pt at them, the Pikemen will lose.  But they'll lose slowly enough and you have contained his unit for far fewer points than he spent.  Pretty much no matter who they fight, the Pikemen will tie down a larger number of points.  Their low speed means you can put them on a flank and organically curl back that flank to defend it.

By contrast, the Hawk Spearmen can fight against Large equally well and slightly better against cavalry but they can also be sent in to another ~200pt unit and maybe grind out a win.  I don't expect Pikemen to ever win any fights, it's only a question of how slowly did they lose and how damaged is the enemy after they lose?

The two concerns that have been raised are that these Pikemen are too optimized and too low cost for being able to chump stack.  That they're essentially min/maxed.  I see the sentiment and that's part of the reason these guys stayed at Standard.  If they were Core I'd probably start every build with 4 of them, and they'd turn not just Spearmen into stay-in-the-box units but also Militia.  However by making them Standard, to take them over Spearmen you have to pay a tax of buying another Core unit.

As for their optimization vs Large & Cavalry, I think their low speed will hinder them.  Most Large units (and the slowest Cavalry units) move 5", double what the Pikemen move.  Those Large/Cavalry units shouldn't ever have to fight the Militia Pikemen if they don't want to.  They should be able to use their speed to get a better matchup (in most cases).

And of course we could be wrong on this.  The Pikemen might be too optimized even with those limitations. That's why we iterate drafts of an army and playtest them.  It could be that we need to weaken the Pikemen a little more.  Shift a Yellow box to a Red box (making them 3-3-4).  Or it could be that they need to be Cge 11 instead.  Or it could be that they're just so optimized that this unit needs to go.  We'll simply have to see.


I hope that this is what you were looking for.  Sorry if it went on a bit long, but I wanted to fully explain the thinking behind this unit.  And currently there is this very conversation going on in the design forum.