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M Helsdon

Phalanx Warfare

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I take everyone's point about Sartar cavalry, it has been a long time since I found my copy.  The Sartar cavalry aren't nearly as good as I remember them.  My opinion is no doubt misinformed by the fact that I used them to break the back of the Lunars and harrowed Tarsh with them so often, back in the day. 

In the game King of Dragon Pass, you cannot have more weaponthanes than you have horses.  I think a horse represents the difference between the carls and the tribe's dedicated warriors, as much as proper armor and weapons.  Clearly being mounted is something the Sartarites understand and value, even if their hill fort culture can't produce cavalry of the quality of the Grazers or even the best of the Lunars.  I would expect that Sartarites on the Eastern border with Prax would be better riders than the western side of the kingdom, with the exception of those Bush Rangers (they seem to get in everywhere).

Next up, there are in fact a few Orlanthi tribal rider subcults of Orlanth, he is, after all, a mobility rune deity such as Finovan the Raider, Ulanin the Rider, and Beran the Rider, quite apart from Elmal.  Yes, it is likely that many Orlanthi weapon thanes are poor riders and so operate more like hobilars, riding to battle, then dismounting to fight.  On the other hand, many Sartarite ex-pats, outlaws and refugees served as mercenaries, and many of them would have been caravan guards and therefore would have been mounted.  I am not suggesting that they would be a majority of Sartarite forces, perish the thought, that would be silly, but there would be enough.  Now perhaps Mastakos is a god of Chariots, but he also likes riders, and there is an age of Hero Quests coming.

Now Argrath is quite a cosmopolitain ruler, being one of the few people who has traveled across Glorantha and hero quested pretty much everywhere he went. If anything Argrath represents something pretty terrifying, in that he is perhaps the first person who will reconcile the magic, tactics and philosophy of the EWF and the God Learners since Delecti. Is there any doubt that he saw the cataphract tactics of the West, the Praxian riders  the Lunars, and who knows what else?  Now Argrath is NOT a conservative, and he has a war to win.  Why would he rehash old tactics that are proven failures when he could hybridize a new and better answer?  And if not him then why not Kallyr?  To turn the Sartarite rebels into an effective force will mean an abandonment of prior military doctrines in favor of new tricks that the Lunars aren't ready for, even if those new tricks have their origins in old tricks.  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to differ is a form of madness, so stop cuddling the lunes.

I also don't buy the idea that Sartar cavalry uses recycled Lunar equipment and methods.  Perhaps that is true in 1624, but why would it be the case even 5 years later after ongoing Sartarite military success and all that plunder?  It might be handy to be able to dress as Lunars to mount surprise attacks, but you would want to have a clearly identifiable look so you didn't get shot down by your own side. 

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5 hours ago, Darius West said:

In the game King of Dragon Pass, you cannot have more weaponthanes than you have horses.  I think a horse represents the difference between the carls and the tribe's dedicated warriors, as much as proper armor and weapons. 

A weaponthane can fight as cavalry or infantry; a horsethane prefers to fight mounted; a housecarl may be provided with a horse but will probably ride to a battle and fight afoot; a wealthy carl may ride to a battle but fight afoot.

5 hours ago, Darius West said:

I also don't buy the idea that Sartar cavalry uses recycled Lunar equipment and methods.  Perhaps that is true in 1624, but why would it be the case even 5 years later after ongoing Sartarite military success and all that plunder? 

Sartarite cavalry and infantry will make use of captured Lunar equipment. Plate, chain and scale armor is expensive, with the latter two taking considerable time to manufacture. Armor in RPGs is far cheaper and more widely available than it would be in reality; Lunar garrisons and depots, especially the large one at Alda-Chur would be a ready supply. Whilst clans all have a redsmith, they won't be very experienced at making armor, which requires specialist skills. Armor tends to look very similar whoever makes it - but even in a single Lunar regiment won't be uniform - if you look at the soldiers in the color plates in the Guide, you will notice that helmets vary enormously in style. Pre-industrial metal work was always very individual. Captured armor will be a major form of booty, and will be pressed into service.

Captured shields will be repainted, because Lunar and Sartarite decorations will be very different and the main way of recognizing friend from foe. Here are a selection of Lunar, Sartarite, Solar (the one on the far right is an Elmal design) and Earth shields (Tarsh Exiles and Esrolian). Note that a regiment having uniform shield designs is very rare, even in the Lunar Army.

Earth Sun Air Lunar Shields.JPG

Edited by M Helsdon
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2 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Holay standard and shield depicting Rowdril. The standard also features the Dog Rune.

Very nice!  These are not your friendly hunting dogs.

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Very nice!  These are not your friendly hunting dogs.

Thanks. Assuming they are anything like historical war dogs, they are highly dangerous.

In attempting to gather material on war in Glorantha, war dogs have an entry in the introduction and a later section:

There is a long tradition in Saird of utilizing war dogs.  Dogs are used as sentries or taken on patrols, and taken into battle.

Dogs are often associated with Darkness by many Gloranthan cultures. The Orlanthi tend to have a very negative view of canines, in part because in numerous adventures Orlanth faced great obstacles from various dog gods. The Wolf Runners of the Sartar Free Army are an exception.

------

War Dogs

The Sairdites have a tradition of breeding war dogs for ferocity and training them for battle. The worship of Jajagappa, the Death God, normally depicted with the head of a dog and the body of a human goes back into the prehistory of the Jajalarings Dog People. Jajagappa drags the souls of the dead into the Underworld and hunts those who would escape his nets. The god appears on the Dara Happan God Wall.

‘Father Dog’ Rowdril is one of the sons of Jajagappa, and is the father of Ensoval and the other specialty dog breeds, for which Saird is famous. Rowdril himself is the father of the war hounds.

The Rowdril breed have a solidly built body with great depth and breadth, heavy bones, pendant ears, a relatively short and well-muscled neck, a broad skull with a wide, short muzzle and a heavy dewlap protecting the neck. Their feet are armed with sharp claws and their strong jaws are set with close-set teeth. The anatomy and musculature of the head and neck are such the dogs can pull down large prey and chew through bone, meat and hide.  Their jaws hinge wide and their skulls are heavy and shaped to prevent any lateral motion of the lower jaw when captured prey struggles.

The dogs are protected with spiked collars. In battle some are armored with leather barding or mail covered in razor-sharp spikes, intended to force the enemy out of formation as the dogs run through them. They are trained to fight men, and have no fear of swords, leaping up to grasp the sword arm in their powerful jaws, crushing and breaking bones, and going for the throat when they have a man down.

Dogs are also used as sentries and to accompany foot patrols, scouts and foraging parties.

Guard dogs are trained to watch for unwanted or unexpected people and animals (especially as animals approaching a camp or fortification may be inhabited by allied or bound spirits). The dogs are trained to discriminate between strangers and familiar animals and people.

War Dog Logistics

A fully grown Rowdril war hound will eat between 4-6 lbs. a day - a mixture of bone, organs, and muscle meat.

Edited by M Helsdon
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Sun Dome battle formations:

A: Double File - road travel

B: Open - battlefield march or maneuver [hmm, front rank spears should be vertical]

C: Close - battle

D: Locked Shields - battle minimum spacing.

When in open-order formation, each soldier of the phalanx occupies six feet of frontage; in close-order formation, three feet; and in the “locked-shields” formation, one and a half feet. The latter is most commonly used by Yelmalion phalangites.

[I haven't quite got the correct spacing.]

Sun Dome Formations.JPG

Edited by M Helsdon
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Improved version...

Sun Dome battle formations:

A: Double File - road travel

B: Open - battlefield march or maneuver

C: Close - battle

D: Locked Shields - battle minimum spacing.

When in open-order formation, each soldier of the phalanx occupies six feet of frontage; in close-order formation, three feet; and in the “locked-shields” formation, one and a half feet. The latter is most commonly used by Yelmalion phalangites.

To follow: Stonewall formations.

Sun Dome Formation.JPG

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A Stonewall regiment used to illustrate phalanx formations. The formations are drawn as though facing an enemy before them (towards the bottom of the page).

Most of these formations require considerable discipline and drill to perform. Only the Stonewall Phalanxes and most Yelmalion mercenary regiments have the necessary training.

A: a single Century in Close order.

B: a single Century in Open order.

C: standard Line formation.

D: Double Depth Line formation.

E: Oblique – flank refused.

F: Half-Moon crescent formation. The Half-Moon or Crescent is a phalanx formation taken in the face of an approaching attack by an infantry or cavalry wedge or rhombus.

The wings are extended forward and the center hollowed. This permits the phalanx to surround the attackers, meaning that combat is not restricted to the point of contact between its line and the wedge. If the enemy succeed in breaking through the center, the wings can converge on their flanks, trapping them.

G: Wedge formation. Like the shield-wall Boar’s Head, a phalanx wedge is intended to force an opposing line to split with the aim of breaking through it.

H: Inverted Wedge formation. The inverted wedge is used to encircle and envelop an enemy.

I: Double Wedge formation. The double-wedge formations (sometimes called the Water formations) are similarly intended to disrupt an enemy line.

J: Inverted Double Wedge formation.

K: Square formation. There are two types of the defensive Square formation. Both are sometimes called Earth formations.

The first is implemented with a regiment marching with the front and rear marching in phalanx and the sides in column. Baggage and non-combatants are placed in the center.

The second is a battlefield formation with all four sides acting as a phalanx with spears pointing outwards. Skirmishers are often deployed within the ranks at the corners, as these are the weak-spots of the formation. The formation is immobile unless the sides turn to become columns, at which point the flanks become vulnerable to attack, and the rear ranks turn full about to face forward. Some troops train to march slowly backwards, but can rapidly become disordered due to terrain.

L. Circle formation. A defensive immobile formation, with spears sticking out in all directions. Baggage and non-combatants are placed in the center.

This is also known as the Sky formation.

M. Sunstand formation. The spearmen are drawn up in an extremely close formation, intended to present a cavalry charge with a perimeter horses and most other mounts will refuse to breach.

In the Dara Happan tradition, the command Century is placed in the center.

This is a purely defensive formation, with spear points bristling out in all directions. This allows for a reasonably effective defense even if parts of an army have been divided in battle but requires a high level of discipline. Such a formation is capable of holding off cataphract heavy cavalry, but is almost defenseless against a stand-off attack by archers. The array of spears provides limited protection, but when the formation is adopted to defend against horse archers, its lack of mobility can prove disastrous.

phalanx formations.JPG

Edited by M Helsdon
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Formations A-K are all historical Macedonian formations; M is derived from the Sunstand formation described in 'The Glorious Reascent of Yelm' and the medieval Circular Schiltrons; L is a hollow Circular Schiltron - no historical precedent.
 
Sources consulted include The Tactics of Aelian, Warfare in the Classical World (Warry), Greece and Rome at War (Connolly), Ancient and Medieval Warfare (Spaulding and Nickerson), numerous Osprey books etc.
Edited by M Helsdon
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On 10/4/2016 at 1:16 AM, M Helsdon said:
... L is a hollow Circular Schiltron - no historical precedent.

??? - I had thought that I recalled seeing this mentioned in classical sources; to protect a high-value non-combat target in the center.  Wounded men, women, etc; occasionally some gear or supply, such as water in a desert.  Or maybe I am just (mis-)recalling a hollow square ... ?

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5 hours ago, g33k said:

??? - I had thought that I recalled seeing this mentioned in classical sources; to protect a high-value non-combat target in the center.  Wounded men, women, etc; occasionally some gear or supply, such as water in a desert.  Or maybe I am just (mis-)recalling a hollow square ... ?

I can't find any references to a phalanx adopting a circular hollow formation, though a hollow square is described. You may be referring to the circular schiltron, which may or may not have been hollow, but it wasn't a Classical or Macedonian phalanx formation so far as I am aware...

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5 hours ago, davecake said:

I think of the Sunstand as a uniquely Gloranthan formation in any case - the centre often occupied by magicians, who have no historical equivalent. 

The description in GRoY describes the center as occupied by the 'fifth quarter', the 'head quarter'. Then he created the first war formation, which was arranged like his city. It was round, for in the ranks each soldier stood shoulder to shoulder with his fellow, curving around to form a circle. The men were divided into four groups, each facing a different direction. And in the center was a fifth quarter, the head quarter. This formation is called the Sunstand formation.

There is no mention of magicians in the regimental organization, though doubtless a regiment included regimental priests.

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I may have missed something. I have seen orders to go from open order to close order, but no order to go from close order to open order.

Am I right?

 

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2 hours ago, jean said:

I may have missed something. I have seen orders to go from open order to close order, but no order to go from close order to open order.

Am I right?

 

No...(though there was a typo). The order is: The depth, double!

This order is used to move from close order to open order. Each alternate file (of eight or ten soldiers) moves to the rear of the file beside it in an orderly fashion. This means that an empty space is created between the remaining files. The alternative would be for every file except the one at the center to shuffle sideways a variable distance, which would be incredibly difficult and dangerous upon the battlefield.

The file is the basic unit of a phalanx, with a file leader and a half-file leader, and changes in formation are made by the moving of files.

In the formation diagrams above, see states A and B.

Edited by M Helsdon

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