Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

  1. #1
    Friend of Lady Luck Member Mooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,290

    Default Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    I was thinking about hoplites (Been playing lots of EB lately). It seems to me that hoplites could be defeated easily with one of the most crude weapons ever invented, Molotiv Cocktails. Basically bottles of alcohol with a rag on fire extending out the end.

    Think about it: A bunch of armoured men in a dense formation, if they get out of the formation they will get cut to pieces (Assuming the opposite force is non-hoplite) but what can they do if the person next to them suddenly goes up in flames?

    Would this be practical? Is there examples of this on record?
    Quote Originally Posted by Furunculus View Post
    i love the idea that angsty-teens can get so spazzed out by computer games that they try to rage-rape themselves with a remote.

  2. #2
    Blue Eyed Samurai Senior Member Wishazu's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Great Britain
    Posts
    1,679

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Well they used "Greek Fire" on their ships I think, though I`m not sure if it`s true. Greek Fire Grenades would have been very handy.
    "Wishazu does his usual hero thing and slices all the zombies to death, wiping out yet another horde." - Askthepizzaguy, Resident Evil: Dark Falls

    "Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical"
    Sun Tzu the Art of War

    Blue eyes for our samurai
    Red blood for his sword
    Your ronin days are over
    For your home is now the Org
    By Gregoshi

  3. #3
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    4,407

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    First of all why should a hoplite be slaughtered just because he goes out of formation? IIRC Spartans sent out their younger and faster soldiers to charge enemy peltasts.

    It is also a rather short ranged weapon, fragile and limited amount of ammo. Does modern day riot police gets slaughtered because people throw Molotovs at them? Plus no easy way of igniting them but having a torch with you too.

    I think I'd prefer a spear instead


    CBR

  4. #4
    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Grand Duchy of Yorkshire
    Posts
    8,631

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    A Kalashnikov would do the job better.
    There are times I wish they’d just ban everything- baccy and beer, burgers and bangers, and all the rest- once and for all. Instead, they creep forward one apparently tiny step at a time. It’s like being executed with a bacon slicer.

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

    To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise.

    "The purpose of a university education for Left / Liberals is to attain all the politically correct attitudes towards minorties, and the financial means to live as far away from them as possible."

  5. #5
    Friend of Lady Luck Member Mooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,290

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    First of all why should a hoplite be slaughtered just because he goes out of formation? IIRC Spartans sent out their younger and faster soldiers to charge enemy peltasts.

    It is also a rather short ranged weapon, fragile and limited amount of ammo. Does modern day riot police gets slaughtered because people throw Molotovs at them? Plus no easy way of igniting them but having a torch with you too.

    I think I'd prefer a spear instead


    CBR
    Well they would be significantly weakened without their formation. And it would be much more easier for say for example, thracians to engage them. With the 8+ ft spears they cant be too handy in close combat either.

    Well they used "Greek Fire" on their ships I think, though I`m not sure if it`s true. Greek Fire Grenades would have been very handy.
    That brings back so many memories of those 12 unit naptha throwers in MTW 1.
    Quote Originally Posted by Furunculus View Post
    i love the idea that angsty-teens can get so spazzed out by computer games that they try to rage-rape themselves with a remote.

  6. #6
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    4,407

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    It's not like hoplites didn't have a sidearm. Light infantry's main advantage would be their ability to maintain a distance and throw stuff at their heavier and slower opponents.

    IIRC some Thracians used even longer spears than the hoplites. Their more standard peltast tactics were to shower the enemy with missiles as is to be expected from such troops.


    CBR

  7. #7

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    you assume that only a formation of Hoplites would be in the field. If there were also slingmen or archers you'd be cut to pieces before getting near enough to throw your molotov cocktails.....
    Old warriors know more tricks!

  8. #8
    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    The Mountains.
    Posts
    3,868

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Even without their formation hoplites were tough heavy infantry, and assuming the hoplites were supported by cavalry and light infantry there is very little chance that you could put enough molotovs on target in an effective way to break the formation. If you landed a few bottles you might take out four or five men, but you certainly would not break a disciplined formation.
    "A man's dying is more his survivor's affair than his own."
    C.S. Lewis

    "So many people tiptoe through life, so carefully, to arrive, safely, at death."
    Jermaine Evans

  9. #9
    Awaiting the Rapture Member rotorgun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Not in Kansas anymore Toto....
    Posts
    971

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    I think that Don Esteban has a point-the only way it could work effectively is with a combined arms approach. The Hoplite formation was, operating alone, very vulnerable to missle armed troops. That it would be equally vulnerable, or maybe even more so, if those missles were incendiary is very likely. The problem would be to isolate the formations so that your attacks would be effective. Then, once the formations begin to break up, they must be charged with either light or heavy infantry, or particulary cavalry. This must take place immediately in order to take advantage of their panic and disorder.

    Cavalry is especially useful in this way. It is an intersting phenomena in the nature of horses that they will usually try to head for any gaps in a crowd rather than run over other animals. Police horsemen take advantage of this nature when dealing with large crowds. First the crowd is broken up by tear gas, rubber bullets, and other non-lethal means, then the horsemen rush into the gaps and begin to use their superior moral advantage, shall we say, to further isolate individuals within the throng. The foot police then follow up and the arrests can begin. I watched an interesting program in how police horses were trained, and it works wonderfully once the animals are accustomed to all the distractions. Their inborn fear of fire would no doubt be an obstacle to overcome, but it could be done with patience.
    Last edited by rotorgun; 02-18-2009 at 02:36.
    Rotorgun
    ...the general must neither be so undecided that he entirely distrusts himself, nor so obstinate as not to think that anyone can have a better idea...for such a man...is bound to make many costly mistakes
    Onasander

    Editing my posts due to poor typing and grammer is a way of life.

  10. #10
    Poll Smoker Senior Member CountArach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    9,029

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Why would you waste alcohol like that?
    Rest in Peace TosaInu, the Org will be your legacy
    Quote Originally Posted by Leon Blum - For All Mankind
    Nothing established by violence and maintained by force, nothing that degrades humanity and is based on contempt for human personality, can endure.

  11. #11
    Awaiting the Rapture Member rotorgun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Not in Kansas anymore Toto....
    Posts
    971

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by CountArach View Post
    Why would you waste alcohol like that?
    Oh no, why you would save the alcohol for afterwards, because you'll surely need it after such a fracas as taking out a Hoplite battle formation. I didn't say it would be easy.
    Rotorgun
    ...the general must neither be so undecided that he entirely distrusts himself, nor so obstinate as not to think that anyone can have a better idea...for such a man...is bound to make many costly mistakes
    Onasander

    Editing my posts due to poor typing and grammer is a way of life.

  12. #12
    Bopa Member Incongruous's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    H.M.S Default
    Posts
    2,647

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    If used in tandem with a coordinated heavy cavalry charge, it could work very well against hoplites.

    Sig by Durango

    Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm.
    -Oscar Wilde

  13. #13
    Friend of Lady Luck Member Mooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,290

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    So we all agree now that if I was a general back in the successor states id be a tactical genius and people would read about me in high school history class?
    Quote Originally Posted by Furunculus View Post
    i love the idea that angsty-teens can get so spazzed out by computer games that they try to rage-rape themselves with a remote.

  14. #14
    Vindicative son of a gun Member Jolt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Chuck Norris' hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.
    Posts
    3,740

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Possible tactic against hoplite formations? One word. "Nuke".
    BLARGH!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    [QUOTE=Mooks;2141104]

    Would this be practical? QUOTE]

    Well, Molotov Cocktails are also known as petrol bombs. This is because the alochol ingredient is optional (sorry Count Arach), but you have to have gasoline or some substitute (kerosine has been used). Alcohol alone doesn't give you much of a bomb.

    So I guess you could be a military genius, but you'd have to be an engineering genius first and build an Ancient world oil drill, and before that you'd have to be a marketing genius and persuade some prince that its smart to dig a huge hole in the ground to seek a mythical wonder liquid that contains the power of the gods. Oh, did I mention refining the petrol?

    Wishazu is closer to the mark with his Greek fire. It was invented too late to be used against hoplites, but I think we can assume that the Byzantines could have used it against heavily armored spearmen. The problem is that they did not use Greek fire in field battles, only naval battles and seiges. I don't know why, but my guess is that the delivery system of pumps was too cumbersome to be a practical field weapon, and too easy for the enemy to spot and keep away from too. I think we can assume that Greek fire was not a practical field weapon, or some bright general would have started using it. Who knows? Maybe one of them tried. If you could go back through time and face hoplites, I think you might have a chance of introducing some form of Greek fire plus a field flame thrower, provided you have the chemical and engineering knowledge.


    Of course if you failed spectacularly enough, you might get famous anyway!
    Last edited by Brandy Blue; 02-19-2009 at 00:46.
    In those simple times there was a great wonder and mystery in life. Man walked in fear and solemnity, with Heaven very close above his head, and Hell below his very feet. God's visible hand was everywhere, in the rainbow and the comet, in the thunder and the wind. The Devil too raged openly upon the earth; he skulked behind the hedge-rows in the gloaming; he laughed loudly in the night-time; he clawed the dying sinner, pounced on the unbaptized babe, and twisted the limbs of the epileptic. A foul fiend slunk ever by a man's side and whispered villainies in his ear, while above him there hovered an angel of grace . . .

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  16. #16
    A Member Member Conradus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Going to the land where men walk without footprints.
    Posts
    948

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Didn't the ancients use oil for lanterns and such?
    So the need for oil drill and marketing genius greatly falls away. Refinement is another matter however.

  17. #17
    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    in ur city killin ur militias
    Posts
    2,934

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    A couple of thoughts.

    First, fire. Fire was just as dangerous to the user as to the usee back in the olden days. Several books I've read that cover Greek Fire mention how volatile it was, and how it would often just as well incinerate the attackers due to some kind of mishap or malfunction. Even lesser oil-based items wouldn't have been as feasible. First, having some kind of device to use and throw would have been additional weight to carry to the battlefield. Second you'd have to get uncomfortably close to toss it. Third you'd have to hope like hell the container would break, the most likely device would have been some kind of clay pot. You'd have to do it thin, find some way to light it, then get it the hell out to the front lines to toss before it'd go up in your hands. Not really worth the trouble, in terms of weight, usability, and potential danger to the user, so I can see why this never became popular.

    Second, missile-based attacks. This right here is your best bet if forced to take them head on, and it's still not a guarantee. One of the main benefits of the phalanx-type massed spear formation was that it provided excellent defense against arrows and javelin type attacks due to the large number of spears and how they were arrayed. Of course it wasn't perfect, but it was much better when using the sarissa than say your average warspear 6' in length. The non-sarissa non-phalanx formations would generally have been more vulnerable, however this is also dependant on the amount and type of armor worn by the individuals.

    Third, non-smooth terrain. Pick your battles, and pick where you have them. Case in point, the well known Battle of Pydna. Phalanxes depended on cohesion for strength, the uneven terrain took away this advantage and the close combat sword and shield proved more versatile.

    Fourth, flanking. Best way by far. Get along side or behind 'em. The spear-based phalanx was always strongest to the front, and weak on the sides and back (except in RTW, where you have the butt-spike bug).

    "Justice is the firm and continuous desire to render to everyone
    that which is his due."
    - Justinian I

  18. #18

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradus View Post
    Didn't the ancients use oil for lanterns and such?
    So the need for oil drill and marketing genius greatly falls away. Refinement is another matter however.
    Well, I'm not really sure about that. They did use oil lamps, but I think they used olive oil or other non-petrol oils. I don't think that you would get a proper explosion using such oils. If you could, then they would not be safe to use for oil lamps. But that's just my guess.
    In those simple times there was a great wonder and mystery in life. Man walked in fear and solemnity, with Heaven very close above his head, and Hell below his very feet. God's visible hand was everywhere, in the rainbow and the comet, in the thunder and the wind. The Devil too raged openly upon the earth; he skulked behind the hedge-rows in the gloaming; he laughed loudly in the night-time; he clawed the dying sinner, pounced on the unbaptized babe, and twisted the limbs of the epileptic. A foul fiend slunk ever by a man's side and whispered villainies in his ear, while above him there hovered an angel of grace . . .

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  19. #19
    A Member Member Conradus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Going to the land where men walk without footprints.
    Posts
    948

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy Blue View Post
    Well, I'm not really sure about that. They did use oil lamps, but I think they used olive oil or other non-petrol oils. I don't think that you would get a proper explosion using such oils. If you could, then they would not be safe to use for oil lamps. But that's just my guess.
    I thought they had oil pits in Ancient times and wiki seems to agree with me.
    Probably some oil close to the surface was easy to extract and sometimes borrelled up.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum

  20. #20
    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    in ur city killin ur militias
    Posts
    2,934

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Something worth noting.

    Oils generally do not explosively combust. You guys probably know there's multiple types of explosives and methods for ignition. Some things require electric shock, others require extreme compression, others simple heat, etc. For example, gasoline/petrol itself doesn't explode when ignited, the vapors are what have explosive properties.

    The kinds of oils available to the ancient greeks would not "explode", but they'd readily burn to varying degrees. They had manufactured oils such as plant extracts, and natural petroleum and derivatives were well known (such as bitumen, tars, oil shales and sands, etc). Consider that one of the uses of oil as a lamp fuel would depend on the fuel burning more slowly, not faster. This is of course also a function of the container or vessel's shape used as a lamp, but generally the oil itself would be more desirable the slower and more steadily it burned.

    Bottom line, I still completely agree that having a bunch of flaming oil dumped into the middle of a formation would be a surefire way to cause some real chaos and panic, but I still maintain that as a weapon fire-based personal arms would be more trouble and danger than they're worth.


    "Justice is the firm and continuous desire to render to everyone
    that which is his due."
    - Justinian I

  21. #21
    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    East of Augusta Vindelicorum
    Posts
    5,575

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Well I guess if war dogs don't work you could try flaming cats. A few flaming cats would break any formation.



    Education: that which reveals to the wise,
    and conceals from the stupid,
    the vast limits of their knowledge.
    Mark Twain

  22. #22
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    The EUSSR
    Posts
    30,680

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Using hills was the downfall of hoplite warfare. Roman learned that in their wars against the Samnites, and they adopted their lose formation.
    Last edited by Fragony; 02-27-2009 at 12:53.

  23. #23
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Latibulm mali regis in muris.
    Posts
    11,238

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Don't think so Frag. The Hoplites were developed in a rather hilly area of the world. Height advantage and bottlenecks -- both common to hill country -- can be crucial to a success for Hoplites. Hoplites have trouble in the same country that horses and modern armor has trouble -- woods and marsh/swamp. The Italian Peninsula has numerous hills, but in the days of the Roman republic it had lots of little woods and marshes as well -- and that was where the relatively flexible formations of the Samnites worked better.

    In truth, it was really the whole package that made it work and not any one element. Manipular tactics, pila, short sword and shield, tight teamwork among squads. ALL of those components came together to produce a better and more flexible system than the Hoplite one.

    OTOH, the combined arms hoplite army, as its apex form under Alexander indicates, was far more flexible than it is sometimes given credit for. Pikemen were a core military unit well into the 1600s. Even with the development of more reliable firearms and firearms that could (at least with care) be used in poor weather, the pike did not really become useless on the battlefield until the development of rifled muskets. There was serious consideration to using pike forces in the American revolution and pikes were a component of the 1798 rising in Ireland. Even though outclassed by the better firearms of that era, most projectile weapons had a maximum effective range of 100 meters. That's a distance that a pike unit might cover quickly enough to have come to grips with the musket-armed units unless the musket soldiers were trained to a good edge. It wasn't until the depth of the killing zone quadrupled during the middle of the 1800s that the pike lost all use.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

  24. #24
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    The EUSSR
    Posts
    30,680

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Don't think so Frag. The Hoplites were developed in a rather hilly area of the world.
    They didn't fight on the hills, fighting was a pretty basic thing, field, hoplites, other hoplites, wait for one of the party's to run. When the romans switched to the more flexible legion can fight on hills hoplite warfare was absolete.
    Last edited by Fragony; 03-05-2009 at 21:26.

  25. #25
    Corporate Hippie Member rasoforos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    2,713

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    They didn't fight on the hills, fighting was a pretty basic thing, field, hoplites, other hoplites, wait for one of the party's to run. When the romans switched to the more flexible legion can fight on hills hoplite warfare was absolete.
    Not really. You gotta see southern Greece, especially Sparta where hoplite tactics were perfected. There is not enough flat ground to make a stadium (Nemea is a great example) let alone have a battle.
    Αξιζει φιλε να πεθανεις για ενα ονειρο, κι ας ειναι η φωτια του να σε καψει.

    http://grumpygreekguy.tumblr.com/

  26. #26
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    The EUSSR
    Posts
    30,680

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by rasoforos View Post
    Not really. You gotta see southern Greece, especially Sparta where hoplite tactics were perfected. There is not enough flat ground to make a stadium (Nemea is a great example) let alone have a battle.
    Hoplites would always go for the level ground it is essential for the formation, of course that wasn't always possible. But it is because of that dependency on flat terrain that they got spanked so badly by the legions and hoplite warfare completely vanished.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    Hoplites would always go for the level ground it is essential for the formation, of course that wasn't always possible. But it is because of that dependency on flat terrain that they got spanked so badly by the legions and hoplite warfare completely vanished.
    Well, firstly there's a difference between Spartan Hoplite warfare and a Macedonian Phalanx. By the time the Legions came around, Sparta was no longer the power it once was and Macedonia had already spread its military traditions around the Mediterranean.. Both Hannibal and Pyrrhus used the Macedonian style Phalanx to defeat the Romans on several occasions. I was more under the impression that the phalanx disappeared because it was used by the weak and disorganized successor states, who were not led by great generals and did not use the combined armies the phalanx requires properly, not because it was inherently inferior.

    Of course, there's that famous battle (featured in RTW, no less) where the city of Sparta crushed Pyrrhus' army. I do not know if the Spartans used their traditional Hoplites in that battle or used the more modern Macedonian style, but I'm sure someone here would.
    Last edited by DisruptorX; 03-08-2009 at 17:31.
    "Sit now there, and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come to those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, master of the fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear; and never shall thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end". -Tolkien

  28. #28
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    The EUSSR
    Posts
    30,680

    Default Re: Possible tactic against hoplite formations?

    Believe it was last used at Corinth 191 (?) BC. The romans used it as well but it proved unsatisfactory against their war against the Samnites that is when they changed to legions.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO