Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

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Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:37 pm

Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

Postby bobgrot » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:52 am

I'm new to Swordpoint and have decided to go in a Horse archery direction, though which central Asian list to use is still undecided.

The Scythians with their superior shooters and nomad cavalry are very tempting, but the low number of formed units, and the lack of survivability is worrying.

1 General
2 Clan Chiefs
2 units: 6 Senior Nobles, Light armour, bow, shield, spear, half barding, superior fighters, superior shooters
5 units: 6 Warriors, Bow, skirmishers, superior shooters, nomad cavalry
1 unit: 5 Dismounted archers

Hopefully the superior shooters on the warriors can deal with opposing archers and then weaken the enemy line enough for the Nobles to charge the remnants. Chiefs with the Nobles, General standing behind the Warrior horse skirmishers to keep them fighting.
I'm assuming that it is sensible to have the Skirmish cavalry units with a narrow frontage as all bases can shoot from the centre front (presumably rationalised as a cantabrian circle or similar)

The second option I'm considering is Sarmatians, a ranked up and armoured force.
1 General
4 Clan Chiefs
6 units: Combined 3 bases of nobles (Kontos, Heavy armour, Bows and Cloth Barding), 3 bases of light cavalry (Bows)
1 unit: 6 Horse Archers, skirmishers

The Combined units can shoot and can take hits due to a 3+ defence against shooting, they also moderately capable in close combat, helped by the massed cavalry rule.

Both lists have most units with special deployment, so they don't waste a game turn before starting shooting.
The Sycthian list seems more like my mental vision of a cloud of deadly horse archers, but the Sarmatians seem a lot less fragile and more capable of adjusting from shooting to close combat.

Which list would be easier to use? I suspect learning the game with either list will be tricky.
Are there any fundimental game concepts that I'm missing that would hamper these lists?
Are there any tweaks (be they major or minor) you can suggest?
What other lists from the Classical book do you suggest?

Bob Stradling
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Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:46 am

Re: Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

Postby Bob Stradling » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:33 am

Cavalry armies are not really my strength.

You are right about the skirmishing horse archers only needing to be one base wide for them all to shoot.

Skirmish units cannot usually use the General's cohesion value so no point in having him there to boost morale.

Your basic premise is good, but bear in mind it can be difficult to concentrate fire on a unit due to the targeting rules and having to shoot at what is closest. Can also be difficult to take a base off as you have to do 3 or 4 unsaved hits on a formed infantry unit, whereas you only need two on a cavalry unit. Despite this you will gain a lot of momentum tokens from doing 10% casualties even without removing bases.

As you are likely to charge first you can use your pool of momentum tokens to your advantage.

Thing is you have to give it a go and see if it works for you.

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Re: Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

Postby bobgrot » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:49 pm

Thanks. The point about skirmishers and commanders make me consider dropping a Chief and putting the General with the second unit of Nobles.

With the benefit of Superior Shooters and Skirmishers I "should" be getting hits at a ratio around 2:1, but then I'm losing bases at a rate of 2:1. That will require some careful movement to get two units shooting against a single target in order to decisively win any contest. Hopefully my opponents will have spent a lot of their force on line infantry, given that foot archers are half or quarter the cost of my Horse archers.

The Momentum markers worry me, as the Scythians only have 2 units that can use them fully (I believe skirmishers can only charge other skirmishers).

The Sarmatian list looks like it will make better use of Momentum, though it will probably have difficulty avoiding unwinnable fights (Barding and a lack of Nomad Cavalry)

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Re: Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

Postby MartinG » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:14 pm

Remember that routing units cannot rally unless a commander is within command radius, so it can be worth having a commander acting as a sweeper. However Scythian warriors are C6 so would need to throw a 3 or less with 2D6 and are unlikely to rally at all, so going down to 2 commanders is probably a good thing. With the skirmishing units in single files it is usually possible to get two units shooting at the same target, especially if you can avoid having the initiative and can place your units after your opponent has moved. You will need a lot of patience with this list, especially as you will have to time the nobles' advance from the baseline carefully to prevent them being engaged by enemy combat troops before you are ready. Ideally you want your target discouraged and lacking a depth bonus before you charge, and you will still only push them back unless you catch them unsupported. Remember the disengage rule!
I would suggest a look at the Parthian list, as cataphracts are more likely to succeed in the charge; also the Armenian list offers a bit more variety in what you can take.
"No one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way"

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Re: Deciding on Classical Horse archer lists

Postby bobgrot » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:47 pm

The Parthian list does look interesting if only for the Camel-phracts.
My main concern with the Parthian and Armenian (and Palmyran) lists is that the Combat Cavalry are purely that, and cannot contribute before charging in. With only two combat units I suspect the enemy line will need a deal of softening up. Regrettably the local gaming are adverse to Sassanids.

I was tempted by the Sudanese list, but models for that cannot be re-purposed for a different faction (Iranian Archers are a bit more cross cultural)

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