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Roman units not THAT homogenous.

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Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 3:46 am

I've seen several posts where the designers have talked about the homogenous nature of post Marian Roman armies. Marius standardized the basic equipment of the legionaries and the old terms of hastati, principes, and triarii became terms referencing experience and seniority rather then distinctions in equipment. However (I'm going to have to make references here to lend credibility) Sallust (a contemporary historian) tells accounts of a portion of roman legionaries shedding their armor in order to act as skirmishers in front of the legions. This seemed to be a common practice even in Imperial times. One of the advantages of the legionaries equipment and organization is that it allowed that flexibility. The subdivisions of the cohortal legion allowed those units to be subdivided and specialized for specific tasks. Need a scouting unit?, a skirmisher screen?, a foraging party? shave off a cohort, have them leave their armor at camp to move faster and be more maneuverable. There are a few instances of this mentioned in Caesars Gallic wars as again, it seems to be common practice.

In addition to the legionary they still had the auxillia. The auxillia were specialized troops either recruited from allied contingents or hired as mercenaries. It is likely that on Caesar's campaign there were Cretan archers, Balaeric slingers, Numidian cavalry, and Gallic heavy cavalry which are constantly mentioned. These auxillia were often mixed into formations with standard legionaries to perform specific tasks, these units were called Vexillations and were led by a single Legatus.

There is a lot of potential for a variety of units and I hope the developers put that in there. Between potentially having legionaries switch between light and heavy roles temporarily, Auxillia and mixed Vexillations I think there is plenty of room for variety.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 4:09 am

The flexibility of the legions is something we're trying to simulate in Rome. As an example, because of their pila they'll be useful both in melee and raged roles. We're also planning to let you change their marching order so you can force-march them somewhere to go faster, or put them in a marching order that leaves them more open to attack, but allows them to carry more supplies. In an earlier design we also wanted to be able to separate the legions into cohorts (Caesar actually mentions this more often than you might be aware) but unfortunately that was a feature we had to drop in order to keep our timeline reasonable.

And the auxiliaries are definitely going to be extraordinarily important. Caesar had few legions, and the legions he had were constantly undermanned. On top of that, the post-Marian Romans simply did not have javelineers, archers, skirmishers, or cavalry, so the only way to fill those roles is with auxiliaries.

Level 21 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 9:21 am

The flexibility of the legions came from more standardized equipment and extensive training, with extra emphasis on how to behave and respond to various situations. This allowed new recruits to more easily assimilate into the legion. i.e. Everyone knew what to teach them and the recruit quickly learned what to do, gaining confidence.

The strength of this fluid combination of cohesion and flexibility, was the redundancy that showed itself when a legion was faced with tactical setback and defeat, or when caught in a strategic bind. The training and confidence (moral) of the legionaries, enabled them to recover from a setback and regroup, rather than rout from a tactical defeat. They knew what to do, even if their immediate commander was killed. Contingency plans kept units from disintegrating and men from routing under duress.

Fighting in unfamiliar territory, I suspect that the legions were frequently caught off guard (under informed and/or underfed and overreaching), sustaining many minor defeats that they were able to recoil and recover from. Thanks to this redundancy, they survived to fight again.

A good analogy is that fighting a band of skilled warriors was like dealing with an egg. However tough, once you broke through the shell, it was all but over and they would run (pun intended). On the other hand, fighting a legion was like dealing with an onion. You'd have to peal away layer upon layer...

Caesar was far less likely to write about tactical defeats or strategic setbacks, unless they were too large to ignore when reporting back to Rome. He was also less likely to give credit to his Gallic/German auxiliaries, who were invaluable in reconnaissance, procuring supplies from the locals and fighting. If it lost its lines-of-communication, and more importantly, supply, a legion was vulnerable to disruption and defeat.

It's this level of legionary warfare that we are trying to recreate in Hegemony Rome. The level of unit diversity that we can include, will depend on what our small team of artists and programmers can put together after the main concepts have been addressed.

Anyway, we'll try. :)

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm

A few questions. Are you going to include the Triplex Acies formation? This particular formation was the reason a legion had the endurance and tactical flexibility in a battle that it did, the ability to withdrawal and relieve each other was a huge advantage . It would be neat to see this. Are you going to include the pig's snout or wedge? The formation was not really a wedge in the way people think but was two converging column meant to concentrate and break an enemy line. Of course there is the testudo, which I'm sure you'll include, although it was only ever good for sieges.

As to a legion occasionally acting as their own skirmishers, Sallust mentions legionaries shedding armor and acting as skirmishers in "The Jugurthan War", a war that Marius was the general for. There are depictions of legionaries without armor acting as skirmishers on Trajan's column. Vegetius writes about this fact in his tactical treatise when he talks of the early empire. These sources bookend the period you are portraying well. Id suggest looking into Osprey's always excellent books. Adam Hook's "Roman Battle Tactics" is an excellent source, a source where all of the above is talked about.

Perhaps a way to implement it is that when a legion is in camp the player can designate a certain percentage of the unit to shed their armor and act as said skirmishers. This would allow the ability to skirmish and pursue but take away from the ultimate striking power that a legion would have in close combat. It is also a way to shed weight and add speed. I'd make it so that the composition needed to be changed only in camp and gives the player a way to both customize their legions a bit and make deeper tactical decisions.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 29, 2012 at 3:08 am

Unfortunately, the triplex acies were done away with after the Marian reforms. As far as the flying wedge goes, it's certainly likely that we'll include it, especially since we implemented it in the first game (it's called the "Chevron Formation" there). I can't say for certain, though, because we're doing some work on the formations to make them more useful, and there's going to have to be a bit of experimentation with that new system, so I won't know for sure until that's done.

We do actually own a number of Osprey books; they are fantastic. Our artists especially love them for their visual reference.

Like I said, we're making sure that one of the strengths of the legions is their flexibility, but we always have to be careful not to make them too flexible, because at some point that starts to undermine the importance of the auxiliaries. Considering how often Caesar seemed to use his auxiliaries as skirmishers — and keep in mind that he gave credit to his auxiliaries in this role, even though he always preferred to give credit to his legions — it's unlikely that we'll promote using legions as skirmishers.

If we were doing a game about the civil war, on the other hand, I would be far more inclined to implement something similar, since Caesar had far fewer auxiliaries and had to get creative with his legions. He even used them as pikemen against Pompey's cavalry!

Level 6 Human Student
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Location: Latvia
Posted on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

Are you going to include auxiliary heavy infantry (Gauls and Germanians often served as such) and cavalry (Gauls) as well?

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on June 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Definitely yes to the cavalry. As far as the heavy infantry goes, we're undecided yet whether we'll split the auxiliary infantry into light/heavy or not. Depends how it plays.

Level 6 Human Student
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Location: Latvia
Posted on June 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

So how are the auxiliaries going to work? As allies, when you take control of their lands and units, or as some special type of recruitable unit?

Level 8 Human Truffle Farmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Australia
Posted on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I wonder if you would consider giving more staying power to units in battle? Slower paced battles where morale loss (and regain) is much slower with fewer casualties spread-out over a slightly longer time. I've found most battles in Hegemony: Gold/Phillip to be over too fast for me to really get creative with anything tactically. Plus, it is historically accurate to not have units rout on impact (spearmen...)