RTW: phalanx control

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RTW: phalanx control

Post by Louis Ste Colombe » Fri Oct 22, 2004 10:05

After a very funny greek oriented games with phalanx lines meeting and nothing much happening, I started to look with frogbeastegg the way phalanx works and how to get them to attack right.

We played two test games, including one with Darkhalf.

By default Phalanx are phalanx mode on, guard on.

When two phalanx meet and "fight", they would stop short of hitting each other, and drift right in a very pronounced way.

Taking phalanx unit off phalanx mode, and asking them to attack... will get them to draw their sword for assault! A bit pointless for a phalanx unit, but can still prove usefull in some situation.

Keeping phalanx unit on phalanx mode and guard off will reduce the difting right effect. When right clicking on an ennemy unit to attack (either single right click or double right click; no difference), if guard is off, the phalanx will actually engage, attack, and advance on the ennemy unit.

Be aware when attacking that the units will target the center of ennemy unit; so it may wheel a bit and show its flank while doing that: it's recommanded either to be really on the flank or really facing for good results; in between strange things might happen.

When defending, I'd also recommand to take guard off; it does not make a difference when attacked by cavalry, and it seems to engage better against incoming infantry (they got a "ready to attack" animation when the ennemy units come nearby that they don't have in guard on mode)

So first thing to do is to take guard off

A discussion on phalanx control is there;

http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?t=38342

You'll read recommandation about clicking behind the unit there; with guard on, that can be a pretty big disaster; we've seen some pretty random behaviour in that case; sometimes as if the phalanx was not aware someone was on the way.
With guard off; it's more reliable, they just engage the unit in between, just like clicking on the unit. That migh help avoiding the "unit target center of ennemy unit" effect.

Additional note; size does matter when phalanx meet phalanx. Long pike units got a clear advantage when fighting spears unit. They kill sooner and push harder.

List of units with long pikes;
Phalanx Pikemen (Pontus)
Bronze Shield (Pontus)
Levy Pikemen (Macedon, Seleucid)
Phalanx Pikemen (Macedon, Seleucid, Thrace)
Silver Shield Pikemen (Seleucid)

And that's it! No Spartan... No Hoplites... Actually, oddly enough, no Greek units!

Hope that helps,

Louis,

Edit; Annie is right, it's drifting right!
Last edited by Louis Ste Colombe on Thu Nov 11, 2004 13:39, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by ladyAn » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:03

Greek Cities are hoplites, not phalanx. Phalanx are a thing developped around Philips II of Macedon, father of Alexander, time, as the spears got lengthen to a pike. By that time, Greek Cities are absorbed by Macedonia. Maybe Tempi has better command of the subject, am just repeating....

BTW, I am a bit sad that RTW mix units of different eras, making a lot of historical aberations.

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Post by ladyAn » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:57

Read the posts. Veering Right was described, not left. And I don't remember having so much problem with them, but again, I didn't really play anything properly other than Romans yet. Wanted to make sure at least I got these guys right :)

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Post by FF-Cernunnos » Fri Oct 22, 2004 15:29

Did a few modules on Greeks at University. Sorry Annie but your incorrect on a few points.

The Greek Phalanx was formed by hoplites who were very often mere farmers. In the early period a hoplite was usually simply a farmer or landholder who could afford to buy the military equipment required. This is still true of the later periods where men bacame richer because of the city states. When one thinks of city states you shouldnt think of cities but rather areas of land much like our own modern countries are sub-divided. Think of America actually but obviously on a smaller scale.

These hoplites were formed into Phalanxes 10x10 men; these units could be formed into a single larger formation. The name hoplite comes from the round shield which they carried...the hoplon. Alongside the shield the hoplites were heavily armoured with breastplate and greaves they also carried a long spear around 10ft to 13ft long (3ft is roughly a metre) and a sword. The Spartans were recognised as the masters of phalanx warfare; the fact that their entire society was based on a warrior cult might have something to do with this.

IMPORTANT BIT
Because the hoplites carried their shield upon their left arm this invariably made their right side susceptable to attack and this may be why the units are veering right as they attempt to defend their weaker side or the right side is collapsed by the enemy. Might be worth looking at attacking the right side of a phalanx and seeing what happens.

Phillip II developed new tactics of warfare which is why he conquered the other Greek city states. Macedonian phalanxes not only carried a long spear but also a pike which was over 18ft long. This called for the use of both hands and so the shield was no longer carried on the arm but hung from the shoulder. Alongside the new type of phalanx Phillip developed extensive cavalry tactics. The hetairoi, or companions, are the most famous of these cavalry units. It was the combination of these troops that made the Macedonians almost invincible at the height of their power under Alexander. You only have to look at the ancient mosaic of Alexander defeating the Persians to see the Alexander loved his cavalry...he was reknowned for fighting alongside them in the frontline.

The Phalanx was in use from around 800 - 400 BC so is contemporary with the time periods within the game...just. In fact the early Roman army itself consists of a form of phalanx...the hasati, triarii and principes are reminiscent of these. Its only after several major defeats and the subsequent reforms of Publius Cornelius Scipio that the Roman army begins to take on a new form and actualy begins to use tactics properly.

[edit] I think I restored Cery's post.... but sorry still. Annie[/edit]
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Post by Phoenix » Sat Oct 23, 2004 0:07

Interesting I remember seeing a documentary about Hoplites and they were selected I think at a young age and is it true that they fought a Turkish army and held 30,000 troops off then eventually lost the battle?

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Post by FF-Cernunnos » Sat Oct 23, 2004 0:58

Your talking Sparta there Pheonix.

Spartan society was kinda cool but a bit bizarre which is why their my favourite Greek city state. Something that a lot of people dont realise was that there was actually three tiers to their society.

The Spartans, or Spartiate, were the highest class and could trace their lineage back many generations. At an early age Spartan children, both male and female, were declared either fit or unfit by the state. Unfit children were left out in the wilds to fend for themselves and probably eventually die. Deformed babies were thrown over cliffs rather than be allowed to blight Spartan society. At the age of 7 Spartan males were placed into military training; at the age of 20 a Spartan finally became a soldier; at 30 he bacame an 'equal' and allowed to move out of military barracks into his own home. Members of the Spartan military were allowed to retire at the age of 60...thats 53 years of military service!!

The middle class consisted of what the Spartans called perioeci or 'people around and about'. Perioeci were basically foreigners allowed to live in Sparta and conduct trade. As such they were actually quite important.

The only way that Spartan society could feed itself was because of the existence of the third tier, the helots. Helots were basically prisoners of war captured from other city states and turned into slaves. For example, the original helots came from Messinia which the Spartans occupied in 725 BC. The helots outnumbered their Spartan overlords roughly 10-1.


The battle your talking about was the battle of Thermopylae and it was against the Persians.

Leonidas, the Spartan king, set out to hold the pass of Thermopylae against the Persians under Xerxes in 480 B.C. with around 7, 000 men. Xerxes had been forced to march his troops across land rather than ferry them by ship because the Athenian navy executed a brilliantly conceved blockade of the Greek Penninsula. Leonidis divided his army keeping 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans at Thermopylae as a rear guard which eventually became a heroic stand. To begin with the Greeks did well and held the pass quite easily for several days but then a local Greek led the Persian general, Hydarnes, via a hidden pathway to the Greeks rear. The Spartans and their allies were more or less decimated. After the battle, Xerxes, the Persian King, ordered Leonidas head severed and and paraded around the army on a spear.

The Spartan burial mound can still be visited today although I havent been there myself one of my Greek friends has promised to take me there one day.
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Post by ladyAn » Sat Oct 23, 2004 3:36

Phew! Nothing lost I hope... (for accidentally click on Edit instead of Quote).

Will write rebuttal to Cerny's post later when I think clearer. But Cerny, you didn't prove me wrong :) Just differs by the name Phalanx (which to you means "fighting in formation like the Phalangists" while I just use it to distinguish it with earlier Hoplites). I should say "Athenians Hoplites, Spartan Hoplites or Mecedonian Phalangists".

My point was there are 4 types of people with pointy spears:

1. Spearmen that don't fight in formation; These are for examples some barbarians;
2. Spearmen that fight in formation but veer to the right when charging enemy; These are says Athenians;
3. Spearmen that fight in formation but don't veer to the right when charging; (Spartans).
4. Spearmen that has long spears, like the Mecedonians Pikemen (Phillips II of Macedon lengthen spear to pike).

Not all pointy spears could resist cavalry charge.

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Post by Spectre » Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:40

Getting back to the topic of phalanx control... today Annie tried to tell me that phalanx mode is a "toggle" (if I understood it right); that if some phalanxes in the group are in phalanx mode and others are not, they will shift modes independently of each other. Well, that's not true. If you use the phalanx ability in such a mixed situation, all the phalanxes that are not in phalanx mode will shift to phalanx while the others already in phalanx will remain in phalanx. Only if all of the units in the group are already in phalanx mode will they shift to normal mode.

Movement in other directions than forward will cause the phalanx to raise their spears momentarily even if they are in phalanx mode, so perhaps that's what you witnessed. Also, I did make the shift to phalanx only after I made contact, but that was just because I wanted to initiate melee with Red to get it over with.

In another game against the same opponent I didn't play his game of catch-up, and defeated his urbies easily. However, his ally in that game was somewhat incompetent (and Gus got dropped near the end), so full satisfaction wasn't attained. Still need Urb blood... :twisted:

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Post by Temptation » Mon Mar 07, 2005 22:42

*baps cern for making things unnessarily complicated*

Anyways, you got thus both hoplites and phalangites in RTW, who both fight in phalanx formations. The first are recognisable by their shorter pikes, heavier armour and better combat stats, the second ones are lighter armoured, have longer pikes and have poorer combat stats...

There are also phangites around in RTW who have equal long pikes as phalangites.... but are slighter better armoured and have good combat stats closely resembling that of hoplites. (such as the silver shields)

You can treat them as phalangites... I will post when I have more time, how to use these two different types of phalanx units to best effect.

Getting back to the topic of phalanx control... today Annie tried to tell me that phalanx mode is a "toggle" (if I understood it right); that if some phalanxes in the group are in phalanx mode and others are not, they will shift modes independently of each other. Well, that's not true. If you use the phalanx ability in such a mixed situation, all the phalanxes that are not in phalanx mode will shift to phalanx while the others already in phalanx will remain in phalanx. Only if all of the units in the group are already in phalanx mode will they shift to normal mode.
Sorry but what you claim spectre doesnt seem to be working for me... And I base this on not being able to let my group of phalanxes run by giving a single run order while one (or more) is in phalanx mode, no matter how often i keep pressing the phalanx toggle button. So I am wondering what I am doing wrong and what you are doing right?

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Post by ladyAn » Mon Mar 07, 2005 23:17

'F' command is definitely a toggle command. The units that were on phalanx will be taken off phalanx and vice versa. The icon remains off if 1 of the unit in the group remains off phalanx. Perhaps that gives you the impression they are all "off'?

Similarly with all other commands: 'R' (run/walk), 'A' auto fire, 'S' skirmish, 'D' guard/normal.

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Post by Spectre » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:11

Nope, I'm absolutely certain that the 'F' hotkey functions as I described. I tried it out in a custom battle(and had a close look at the spears rising and falling... :P). It's not a simple toggle. The same applies at least to skirmish; if some units in the group are NOT in skirmish more, they will be set to skirmish while the others will remain in skirmish. Same thing with phalanx. Skirmish & phalanx are set off by another press of the hotkey only if all of the units in the group are in skirmish / phalanx.

I dunno what I'm doing differently. I have all the units in the same control group, could that be the difference? Grouped units sometimes behave differently...

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Post by Temptation » Tue Mar 08, 2005 12:26

I dont think so, as I have my phalanxes in one group too

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Post by Spectre » Tue Mar 08, 2005 14:00

Getting back to this for a second...
The icon remains off if 1 of the unit in the group remains off phalanx.
Yep, this is true for me too. But, if I push the hotkey once in such a mixed situation, the icon lights up. Which means, like Annie said, that all the units in the group are in phalanx mode (which can be verified by eyeballing). But for you, the icon never "lights up", no matter how many times you press 'F'?

This is beyond weird. I'll have a look at my settings when I get home to check for oddities...

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Post by Louis Ste Colombe » Tue Mar 08, 2005 15:27

If I have a mix of phalanx able units, some in phalanx, some off phalanx and I press the X key (that's the "special" for me), they all go to phalanx mode, whether they were on phalanx or off phalanx.
For me it's not a toggle; the first strike get everyone in phalanx, and no units go from phalanx on to phalanx off.
If everyone is either phalanx on or phalanx off, then it's a toggle.
As far as I have seen playing a custom game, being in a group or not does not matter.

What is true is that if, in a group of units, you got some running phalanx off, and some phalanx off; the first strike get everyone phalanx on, the second strike get everyone phalanx off; but the only one running are the one which were running previously, before the first keystrike. So the AI remembers who was running before the phalanx order, and get them back running once phalanx is switch off.
Be aware that depending on your inital group status, running might or might not be available.

I am not talking icon here, but unit formation.

So I'd say Spectre observation is right.

Louis,

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Post by Louis Ste Colombe » Tue Mar 08, 2005 15:37

I've played a test game yesterday with frogbeastegg.

I took 10 silver pikemen and 10 companion cavalry, she got 10 praetorian cavalry and 10 triarii. Large unit setting.

I wanted to see how 10 silvershield pikement would fare against praetorian cavalry with different ranks and formation.

I had silvershield with 3 ranks, 6 ranks and 10 ranks, with either guard on or off, and all with phalanx on.
The praetorian charged head on: if phalanx is on with guard on, they lose badly (down to 10/20), and phalanx lose between 10 and 20 men (on 120).
With phalanx guard off, with 3 ranks, phalanx lose, but it's a close and long fight, and formation is pushed back, but not disrupt completly until routing (no animation of cavalry running through the phalanx). With guard off and either 6 or 10 ranks, I got the same result than with guard on (dead praetorin and 10/20 loss for the phalanx on 120).

When praetorian are on wedge, they all move on their left, attack a narrow part of the phalanx and seems to push back harder. I'd like to run some more test with cavalry on wedge. Phalanx lost with guard on, and won with guard off: part of that might be that phalanx with guard on did not move to help the few guys who fought the wedge. With guard off, they looked a bit more actvie to kill the wedge.

In all cases, phalanx on, guard off, 6 ranks deep won against praetorian frontal charge with very few losses (10/20%).

The companion cavalry frontal charge vs triarii was also interesting; without wedge triarii won. I'll let Froggy report what she did, but that was interesting.

Louis,

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Post by frogbeastegg » Tue Mar 08, 2005 20:30

Louis Ste Colombe wrote:I'll let Froggy report what she did, but that was interesting.
I guess that is my cue :p

Firstly I think it should definitely be noted the map we played on was not completely flat. There are issues with phalanxes on slopes not being able to attack correctly because of something to do with the hitboxes for their spear tips. I only skim read that thread on the org; busy froggy and all that. Any future ones, need to be done with the grassyflatlands map for the sake of fairness.

What did I do? Erm, I had no phalanx so I didn't do anything with them :p I had some cavalry; all I did was arrange them in 3 ranks or a wedge and charge head on at Louis' chosen targets. That's all that is relevant to this topic.

But I'm a frog, and a curious one at that, so I'll note down my triarii findings along with some musings and notes of my own before I forget them.

I used triarii in 3, 4 and 5 ranks. I did not use guard at all. Louis charged his fancy cavalry at me in some rank depth I didn't count, and also wedges.

To the normal, 3(?) rank deep cavalry formation: One time I stood and took the charge, the other I counter charged. Counter charging was by far the best action in the situation; I won *much* faster with around 8% fewer losses. Note: froggy is dyslexic and lousy at maths. 8%is a guess which sounds right. My 5 rank triarii took longer to win and took a couple more losses. The 4 rank and 3 rank were quite close when standing, but when charging the 3 rank unit did far better, winning sooner and with fewer losses.

My froggy conclusion: 3 ranks is very good, and always counter charge! Against cav in a normal type of formation depth is not really that helpful.

To the wedge cavalry: Again my triarii were in 3, 4 and 5 ranks. I stood to take the charge but did not have the manpower to do a countercharged wedge test. Here there was a big difference. The 4 rank unit had the first 3 men of the cav unit punch right through and end up behind the triarii. This unit routed soonest with very bad casualties. The 3 rank unit held out for longer, but also routed after a prolonged battle. The 5 rank triarii held out for longest but also lost in the end.

My froggy conclusion: wedges hurt, even if they look like they are ding very little. Must investigate counter charging them.

I want to try using a wedge against archers and skirmishers, to see if it will rip through the light formation.

I also want to test running a wedge behind its target, so it rams into the enemy with a movement order instead of an attack order. This may result in the wedge doing what it is supposed to - punching a hole and running through it. Against solid, dense infantry this will not work, IMO, but against thin or loose formations it should be devastating.

I want to test spears against swords, to see if swords have some kind of inherent advantage over spears in melee. I think spears attack slower, so swords get more chances to kill. I need a sword unit and a spear unit who are very close in terms of stats to test this.

I also want to test ... well, loads of things which grow more and more irrelevant to this topic as the list goes on. Mostly for the RTW beginner's guide, but also for my own curiosity. I am slowly piecing together the beginnings of a post to start a research topic at the org, but it's very slow going. I don't have much time, and I have other things I also want to do.
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Post by ladyAn » Wed Mar 09, 2005 6:15

Welcome home here in the Kitchen, Froggy :)

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Post by frogbeastegg » Sat Mar 12, 2005 15:14

New point for investigation in this topic. Over on the org I see people saying pikemen lose to the spear armed hoplites in head to head, good formation battles. In 1.1 this was not the case, and it's not exactly logical that the guys with the shorter weapons beat those with the longer ones assuming they both keep formation. So sometime I'd like to try hoplites against pikes.
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Post by Spectre » Sat Mar 12, 2005 16:14

I've always had the gut instinct that the large pike units are in pretty much all situations better than similarly priced 80-man hoplites. I'm available for testing whenever you are; my msn is crandaeolon@hotmail.com if ya wanna catch me.

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Post by frogbeastegg » Sun Mar 13, 2005 12:42

Thanks. I'm not sure when I'll next be playing RTW, so we'll have to see how it works out :)
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