Author Topic: Alexander vs Persia: an update  (Read 48888 times)

iamJMAN00793

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #120 on: December 12, 2013, 08:52:56 PM »
Still, I'm hoping we'll be done in 5-10 days!
Awesome! Right before Christmas.
Every man dies. Not every man really lives. ~ Braveheart

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #121 on: December 18, 2013, 11:08:47 AM »
Well as it turns out, 10 days may have been optimistic.   :-\   Those Indian Elephants were a real pain to get right.  On the upside, I have not one but two finished units to show off:

First, the Sparabara!

   

Sparabara - Standard - 168 pts
O:(4)5*/5*  D:1*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 11  Mv: 3.5"  4G/2Y/3R
Ranged attack is LOS. O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  D:+1/+0 vs. ranged attacks. 

Although the 'shielded archers' had proven inadequate as line infantry, they still had their uses.


Originally the Sparabara were the line troops of the Persian Empire, and they were actually quite an effective weapon in the flat regions of the Ancient Near East.  Heavy infantry could easily be disrupted by ranks of archers, but those archers were quite vulnerable to charges from enemy cavalry.  So a small rank of spearmen was their to protect them against cavalry, and that front rank could also carry early tower-shields to protect the archers from enemy arrows.

Again, as part of my personal mission to rehabilitate the Persian Empire, I feel compelled to point out that this formation is similar to Italian pavisers of the Middle Ages.  To protect against knights, these troops had crossbowmen hiding behind a thin rank of spearmen with tower shields.  Also early pike & shot formations of the Renaissance used the same concept, wherein fire-arm wielding troops formed up behind ranks of protective pikemen.  So when people talk about how "obsolete" the Sparabara were, they are probably being too harsh.

The irony is that had the Persian Kings retained their Sparabara corps, they would have actually been more effective against the Greeks.  See, during the early Greco-Persian Wars (480s BC), the Sparabar had a very rough time against the heavily armored Greek hoplites.  Part of that was that the Greeks wore the Classical Era's equivalent of plate mail.  But an equal part of that was that the Sparabara were being called upon to fight in the hilly regions of Greece (instead of the wide plains of the Near East), where they couldn't whittle the enemy down from afar.  Combat units are less effective when taken out of the context for which they were designed.

By Alexander's day, the Greek hoplite had lightened considerably (culminating in the Macedonian phalanx).  There are many reasons for this, but not the least is that tactical advantage of wearing less armor.  Phalanxes were more mobile and nimble, which had proven necessary in the past 150 years (after things like "skirmishers defeating phalanxes" started happening).  The aspis shield was proven to be effective enough for hoplites.

So, by the time the Persians had given up on the 'shielded archers,' the Greeks had evolved to a less armored form of infantry which ironically would have made the archers more effective against the Greeks.  Of course we can only argue counter-factual, but we know that at Issus, Alexander had his men double-time march towards the Persian line because he feared the effects their arrows would have.  One can only wonder if, had there been a resurgence in the shielded archer concept, instead of hailing Alexander as one of the great generals of his era he would be known as a petty, megalomaniac princeling whose arrow-riddled bones still lay somewhere in Southern Turkey.


Next up, we have the unit everyone has been waiting for:  the Immortals.

   

Immortals - Elite - 252 pts
O:(4)6*/5*  D:2*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  4G/4Y/2R
Ranged attack is LOS. O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  D:+1/+0 vs. ranged attacks. 

"[T]hese picked ten thousand Persians, who were called Immortals for this reason: when any one of them was forced to fall out of the number by death or sickness, another was chosen so that they were never more or fewer than ten thousand." - Herodotus

Quite a far cry from these guys, huh?

That's obviously intentional on my part.  All history is a study of alien cultures, as weird and fantastical to us as anything you'll find in science fiction.  Because look, if I wrote a story about people who dressed up in their prettiest silk clothes to go fight, you'd think I was describing some (bad) episode of Star Trek.

But that's what happened.  A lot.  And not only did (many, many) pre-modern cultures think it okay to wear garish and loud clothes into battle, they thought it was intimidating!  And they had that thought because others did find it intimidating.  Part of that is because of the uniform appearance (in an era where standardized uniforms was really expensive) and part of that is because the ancients had different color associations than we do today.  For example, pink, purple, and yellow are colors we associate with being 'girly.'  To them, those were colors they associated with wealth, because they were hard to produce. 

So while to us, guys fighting in bright yellow pajamas borders on absurd (whereas armored ninjas with steel facemasks is intimidating), to most periods of history it would be quite impressive and intimidating.  (That's right, historically, we modern Westerners are the weird ones, not them).  To them, a unit all clad in (relatively) uniform silks clothes made out of expensive colors said one thing:  these guys are such bad@$$es that the king has seen fit to spend a lot of money on them.

Plus, I'll be honest, I just want to see this exchange at the gaming table:

(Before the game)
Non-Persian player:  Haw, haw, your best troops are a bunch of yellow-pajama-wearin' pansies...

(After the game)
Persian player:  Haw, haw, you just got your @$$ kicked by my yellow-pajama-wearin' pansies...

 8)

Torrg

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #122 on: December 18, 2013, 11:15:39 PM »
These look awesome, I think the artist is getting better with each new creation.
Wow. :)
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
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Chad_YMG

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #123 on: December 19, 2013, 07:59:30 AM »
This isn't the artist's normal medium, and I think it took him a bit to really hit his stride but he's really hitting home runs now.
David Humphrey está todavía en la Colina 217.
      - From Spanish translation of Hill 218 rules

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #124 on: December 20, 2013, 01:08:23 AM »
Part of that is on me.  When I did the art brief, I kept the clothes of the Alexander units very simple, whereas the Persians have lots of patterns and detail work.  This was to portray the relative wealth of the Persians over the Greeks & Macedonians. 

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #125 on: December 23, 2013, 04:12:52 AM »
Getting sooo close to being done!  In fact, we're so close that I can't help but share three finished Command Cards for Persia.  But first, a story:

When I submitted a scope-of-work to Daniel (back in January), I had to ultimately take a guess at what was needed for Command Cards.  We've adjusted and tweaked as we've gone along (what I've taken to describing as "Calling an Audible") and one of the biggest audible I've called is the art for three of the four unique Persia command cards.

The rules of those three cards were written to capture the them of Persia's "teeming hordes."  So for the art I had this idea of instead of doing 2-3 guys just standing about, we have the art match the rules.  In short, I wanted the art to evoke something like this:



Here's what Daniel pulled off:

Second Wave

Play during the Movement & Command phase. Discard X cards (X may be zero.)  X+1 units in the yellow or red heal one point and gain ?(+1) +0/+0 this turn for engaged attacks.


Blot Out the Sun

Choose one:
Play during the movement and command phase. Choose up to 4 units to get ?(+1) +0/+0 this turn for ranged attacks.
OR
Play during the Movement & Command Phase. Draw 1 Command Card.


A Thousand Nations

Play during the Movement & Command Phase. All your units gain +1P this turn. This bonus increases to +3P if you have at least 6 non-routing units when this card is played.


I love what he's done, especially when you consider that he had to go back in and redo all the detail work for all of these.  This wasn't a simple cut & paste job.  I also worked with him to get the right units in each shot.  Of course the Sparabara & Thanvabara for Blot Out the Sun is an obvious choice.  But using Takabara for Second Wave...I'll bet you didn't put that together on first glance.  And of course A Thousand Nations is just me taking Persia's Core units and throwing them together.

I hope you guys like these.  I think they came out very in-theme with their rules.  We have one more card (Gaze of the King), which doesn't follow this pattern as it focuses on the Persian King.  I ended up calling an audible on that one too, but you'll have to wait and see... 

Kevin

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #126 on: December 23, 2013, 09:18:56 AM »
Nice pics.  If I can make one suggestion:  add another large group of archers behind the archers in Blot Out the Sun to make it really look like an endless horde.

On a non-command-card thing.  Was just looking at the shields wielded by the guys (Takabara, yes?) in the Second Wave card.  Man, those shields suck! [1]

1) Take a round shield.
2) Remove the part which would deflect a spear thrust aimed at your upper chest and neck.
3) ???
4) PROFIT!


[1]  From a real life sense, not an artistic sense.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #127 on: December 23, 2013, 12:39:51 PM »
Nice pics.  If I can make one suggestion:  add another large group of archers behind the archers in Blot Out the Sun to make it really look like an endless horde.

The artwork has already been approved.  Once that happens, there's almost no going back.

Ideally I'd like that for all those units, but a single unit is already millions of polygons for the computer to render.  Plus Daniel has to go paint each of those models after they're rendered.  So we went with a compromise that still captures the theme.


Quote
On a non-command-card thing.  Was just looking at the shields wielded by the guys (Takabara, yes?) in the Second Wave card.  Man, those shields suck! [1]

There's a second of reasons that I think they wouldn't suck.

First, we know that that the "violin" shields used by the immortals has the "holes" like they did so that Immortals could stab their spears through and trap enemy spears.  This could be the same case here.  The taka, to my knowledge, was more of a parrying shield.  In essence a large bucker.  If that's the case, then the crescent at the top could be used to catch an enemy spear as he thrusted at you.  Functionally you could disarm him and pin him down to hack at that now-exposed arm at the same time.

Second, I don't think the Persians were stupid.  They used the wicker Spara until it was proven to be ineffective and then very quickly transitioned to the hoplite aspis shield.  So if there's hill folk that clung to the crescent shaped taka, then that hole at the top had to served some purpose.  Otherwise they would have ditched it.


I have a feeling that the Taka bearers wanted you to think "That shield is stupid.  I'm gonna stab him in the neck right through that top part."  And then you find yourself minus one arm and a necessary amount of blood.   8)


Torrg

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #128 on: December 23, 2013, 02:03:02 PM »
I agree with Kevin. At first look that shield shape looks like you are easy prey.

More important though I think the art work is great!
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
Robert A. Heinlein

Kevin

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #129 on: December 23, 2013, 02:55:45 PM »
Yeah, well that shield still seems like the sort of thing which just might work in a one-on-one sparring match, but would fail miserably in a chaotic battlefield with pointy things going every which way.

But hey, not like it was the first or the last example of highly questionable equipment.  99 years ago French soldiers were given a red cap and trousers and sent off to fight the field-grey Germans.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #130 on: December 23, 2013, 04:35:37 PM »
Yeah, well that shield still seems like the sort of thing which just might work in a one-on-one sparring match, but would fail miserably in a chaotic battlefield with pointy things going every which way.

What you're describing is the difference between heroic combat and soldier combat.  The most classic comparison is the Roman legionnaire and the Gallic warrior.  The Gallic warrior wielded a shield and a broadsword.  Units of those warriors were more loosely packed simply because a broadsword requires more room to swing (usually about 3 feet of space on all sides).  So combats between units of warriors were a lot of mini-fights and even duels.  By contrast a legionnaire with a short stabbing sword could be packed shoulder to shoulder.  Each Gallic Warrior could find himself fighting 2-3 legionnaires.

Same thing here:  the Takabara fought a loosely packed raider style warfare (which makes sense seeing as how they were hill tribes who would raid the lowlands for things like cattle, horses, and slaves).  Notice they're equipped with axes, which being slashing weapons needed a lot of room like swords.  Against a phalanx these guys were outclassed because the phalanx would fill the air with speartips, not just width (because guys are shoulder to shoulder) but depth (because of the deeper ranks).

Against the spearman, the taka parried just fine.  Against the spearmen, not so much.  But for the raiding style of warfare that Takabara fought, the taka was a perfectly good tool.  We can't exactly judge them based upon being thrust into a style of combat for which they were never meant.  It's like judging a jeep on its ability to fly.


Quote
But hey, not like it was the first or the last example of highly questionable equipment.  99 years ago French soldiers were given a red cap and trousers and sent off to fight the field-grey Germans.

Well...there's a difference between equipment issued by a bureaucracy that hasn't fought a major war in 60 years and equipment that has been tried and tested by generations of cyclical raids.

Hannibal

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #131 on: December 24, 2013, 02:00:07 AM »
Two more units done!   First, the Saka Horse Archers:

 

Saka Horse Archers - Standard - 171 pts
O:(4)5/5  D:1*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 12  Mv:6"  2G/2Y/2R
Cavalry. D:+1/+0 while Charging (This is in addition to the normal Charging Bonus.) No penalty for Move and Shoot. Range attack is LOS.  When Direct Controlled may treat Rear Arc as Front Arc for ranged attacks.  No "King's Favor" box.

The Saka were a tribe of Scythians, one of the few peoples Persia could not conquer.


The Saka lived along the northeast frontier of the Persian Empire, where the vast plains made it hard for the Persians to pin down the nimble raiders and subdue them.  When they couldn't defeat them, the Persians turned to hiring them as mercenaries (something they repeated with the Greeks on the other frontier of their empire). 

Like the Mercenary Greeks, the Saka were not fully absorbed into Persian culture and particularly the caste system based upon recognition by the king.  Hence they do not have the King's Favor ability.

From a rules perspective, we had to think of a way to differentiate them from the Wildmen Horse Archers, so we opted to give them lighter armor (D:1/1) but a better Courage (12 vs 11) to represent their fierce reputation.  We also opted to give them a special rule to allow the "Parthian Shot" for which steppe horse archers are so famous.  In truth, I doubt players will use the ability and so its more of a flavor ability, but one that I think is worth keeping because it is so thematic.

Art-wise, I wanted Daniel to come up with something different than normal to represent their skirmisher style of combat.  I wanted to portray that Parthian Shot on the card.  Unfortunately it didn't work to have some of the horses facing the wrong way with only the archers turned towards the front of the card.  It was too confusing, but Daniel came up with what you see here instead.

I think he did a great job.  You can almost picture the two rows as each half of a "ring" of horses wheeling in a circle, firing as they do.  Little details that you'll note on the top down is that each rear rank bowman has his bow pointed through a gap between the horses in front of him.  The clothing is obviously plain, because these guys are poorer than the cosmopolitan Persians, with a simple pattern to give some depth to the guys.



Next up are the Royal Guard
 


Royal Guard - Elite - 188 pts
O:(5*)5*/5*  D:3*/1  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  3G/2Y/3R
O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large. O:+1/+0 vs. ranged attacks.  If during the Combat Phase this unit is backing up a friendly unit engaged with an enemy unit in the Yellow or Red, mark the King's favor box on this unit (if not marked).

These elite Immortals were the personal guard of the King of Kings, committed only to turn the tide of battle.

The Anusiya (lit. "companions") were, like any organization, not a monolithic army of nothing but foot soldiers.   They organized into different battalions each with their own command structure and in fact could operate independently.  The highest honor was to serve in the detachment whose job it was to protect the king.  While there is some doubt that the full compliment of Immortals were present at Issus and Gaugamela, there's no doubt that these men were present.  They actually seldom saw combat, but they could be sent in when things got tough, not unlike Rome's Triarii.

Originally, these guys were simply highly skilled spearmen.  And while that unit was serviceable, we never liked that the scenarios always ended up with them in the rear ranks.  It was taking 250-300 pts and basically lighting them on fire.  So last year when we revisited them, we decided that we should redo these guys in such a way that they played as they fought:  in the rear ranks until the crucial part of the battle.

This posed a real problem, because Battleground isn't a game that rewards taking a very good unit and sitting it behind your lines.  We kicked around ideas of a way to give people an incentive to do that, starting with the obvious place of copying the Triarii.  But I really didn't want to do that because these guys weren't dedicated to shoring up holes in the line like the Triarii.  They were much more stationary, waiting by the king until he gave the order to go in and finish a weakened enemy.  Also, part of what made the Triarii cool is that they were unique.

First, we decided to make them no better at backing up units than anyone else.  Again, they're not Triarii.  They're not really professional support troops.

Instead, we decided to make the Royal Guard "Anti-Triarii."  Whereas Triarii made the guys they were backing up better, we wanted the guys on the front rank to make the Royal Guard better.  We decided that the Royal Guard would be a so-so unit on their own, but if they saw an enemy starting to waiver they'd get a free King's Favor.  They'd get psyched up by seeing the enemy getting pummeled and with the king turning to them and saying "now go finish them off!"

What is cool about this is that Persia has fairly flimsy line troops, and usually need to use backup troops.  This means that the Royal Guard can exploit openings created by other units.  But also it syngerizes with Persia's army ability.  I used to never put King's Favor on a unit of Kardakes, because that's a CA gone for the game, and the Kardakes a D:2/1 unit.  With the Royal Guard, a player can functionally "recycle" the King's Favor.  Sure the Kardakes may die, but the Royal Guard backing them up will most likely get it because the Kardakes will put the enemy into the Yellow before they're destroyed. 

The Royal Guard isn't a unit I use every game, but it really does bring together the army and its ability.  It adds a new dimension and a new play style to Persia, allowing them to slug it out with an infantry line instead of being limited to a cavalry build or a stand-and-shoot build.  And a player wasn't even forced to put Royal Guard behind the line.  They're a perfectly serviceable tank unit.  At 188 pts for a D:3/1 spear unit, you could put them on a flank to delay against an enemy unit and they'll hold up for awhile.  Not forever, because they only have 8 total boxes, but like the actual Royal Guard, they could be pressed into service if need be.

Visually, I wanted the unit to look similar to Immortals, so a person could see right away that they were the same type of guy.  This was done fairly easily by inverting the colors from the Immortals.  (Also having the same equipment as the front rank of Immortals helped)  This is pretty typical because if you look at the various divisions of Immortals, they were usually some variation of yellow and purple (two very expensive colors).  Daniel differentiated them a little more by giving them a more ornate shield pattern, which I think is visually very striking, but also giving them a slightly more aggressive pose.  Note these guys are in more of a crouch than the Immortals. 



So there you have it!  We're now down to the Scythed Chariots, the Indian Elephant, and the Gaze of the King command card.  These will come after Christmas, so I'm a little off on my "5-10 days" promise, but I'm hoping we'll either have them ready not long after the New Year!




iamJMAN00793

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #132 on: December 24, 2013, 03:44:40 AM »
Love those Royal Guard. The art on the shields is beautiful.
Every man dies. Not every man really lives. ~ Braveheart

Chad_YMG

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #133 on: December 24, 2013, 08:14:41 AM »
My wife and I were going to buy a Jeep, but my research showed that they're really bad at flying.
David Humphrey está todavía en la Colina 217.
      - From Spanish translation of Hill 218 rules

RushAss

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Re: Alexander vs Persia: an update
« Reply #134 on: December 24, 2013, 11:33:21 AM »
My wife and I were going to buy a Jeep, but my research showed that they're really bad at flying.
All this time I was under the impression that Chad didn't drink alcohol.  Apparently I was horrifically wrong about that.
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