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Thread: Indian longbowmen in action

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    Clear the battlefield... Member Tarkus's Avatar
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    Default Indian longbowmen in action

    Caught a pretty interesting (but annoyingly "300-ish") History Channel show recently on Alexander's Battle of the Hydaspes River. In it, they discussed how Porus' Indian longbowmen would typically anchor their huge 6-foot bows in the ground and kneel on one knee to effectively fire their weapon. These units were apparently rendered effectively useless in the battle because they were unable to anchor their bows in the mud that had been created by the heavy rains of the night before.

    I confess that I have yet to see EB's Indian longbowmen in battle, but will probably do so sooner or later as I play through my Baktrian campaign (now at 235BC, mopping up the Saka and beginning to eye the lands to the southeast, beyond the Hindu Kush). I am very curious to know if these units use their weapons in the manner described above, or instead fire them in the traditional manner of other archer units.

    Thanks!
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    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarkus View Post
    Caught a pretty interesting (but annoyingly "300-ish") History Channel show recently on Alexander's Battle of the Hydaspes River. In it, they discussed how Porus' Indian longbowmen would typically anchor their huge 6-foot bows in the ground and kneel on one knee to effectively fire their weapon. These units were apparently rendered effectively useless in the battle because they were unable to anchor their bows in the mud that had been created by the heavy rains of the night before.

    I confess that I have yet to see EB's Indian longbowmen in battle, but will probably do so sooner or later as I play through my Baktrian campaign (now at 235BC, mopping up the Saka and beginning to eye the lands to the southeast, beyond the Hindu Kush). I am very curious to know if these units use their weapons in the manner described above, or instead fire them in the traditional manner of other archer units.

    Thanks!
    sounds more like an ancient arab tactic (minus the anchoring) rather than an Indian one..that said, I wouldn't rule it out.

    EDIT: twas battles BC wasn't it?
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 04-28-2009 at 04:29.
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    Clear the battlefield... Member Tarkus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim View Post
    EDIT: twas battles BC wasn't it?
    Twas indeed. Good historical analysis in my opinion, but all the sepia-toned landscapes and comic-book blood splatters got a little old.
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    Villiage Idiot Member antisocialmunky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    *waits for nerd rage to ensue*

    I wouldn't call their historical analysis particularly good. Its pretty much slightly dumb down standard history channel fair... so not particularly great. HC has tis moments but I don't think this show is one of them.
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    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    I stopped taking the history channel too seriously a while back. It's great to watch and all, but there's just been too many times where I'd grind my teeth upon hearing some idiotic historical lie/mistake.

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    Misanthropos Member I of the Storm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    How do they call this kind of stuff? Infotainment? That's about all that is to expect from it, some facts and some more entertainment. Just don't expect anything academic from these shows and you'll be fine and having an hour of fun.

    TV+Expectations=Disappointment. Always. Trust me.

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    Member Member Macilrille's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Hear- hear.

    I wonder why they would want to anchor them on the ground? Medieval English Yeomen did not, they are IMO the ultimate archers, but still... why would Indians with apparently similar longbows do so? I am puzzled
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    EB on ALX player Member ziegenpeter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Another thing: In this episode one of the historians says that until that battle, Alex<# <army has never seen elephants. True?

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    More or less - AFAIK the Persians actually had a few along for Gaugamela, but left them in the camp (probably to avoid panicking their own horses, which weren't used to the critters) where the Macs later marveled at them.
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    The Forgotten one Member Onehandstan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Macilrille View Post
    Hear- hear.

    I wonder why they would want to anchor them on the ground? Medieval English Yeomen did not, they are IMO the ultimate archers, but still... why would Indians with apparently similar longbows do so? I am puzzled
    I think it's a close run thin g between them and mongol warriors TBH, weren;t the bows about the same strength? And then there's the advantage of some of the world's best ever Horse Archers...
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    Deadhead Member Owen Glyndwr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    I'm having trouble imagining how that would work. If they are kneeling on the ground, wouldn't the bow be harder to bring to full draw? Sounds terribly inefficient to me, especially if the Indian Longbow is a big as the English varient...

    Also remember that this is the show that tried to liken King David to the Godfather.
    "You must know, then, that there are two methods of fight, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second. It is therefore necessary for a prince to know well how to use both the beast and the man.
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    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Owen Glyndwr View Post
    I'm having trouble imagining how that would work. If they are kneeling on the ground, wouldn't the bow be harder to bring to full draw? Sounds terribly inefficient to me, especially if the Indian Longbow is a big as the English varient...

    Also remember that this is the show that tried to liken King David to the Godfather.
    well, its worth pointing out that arab archers were kneeling with largish bows (between 4-6ft)*. however, the part that strikes me about battles BC is the fact that bows were anchored unto the ground. this is in itself interesting. the qusetion is, does anyone in EB's guild who knows if they did so?

    *there is an account of archers dropping their arrows unto the ground, and kneeling to load and fire.
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 04-28-2009 at 18:10.
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    Clear the battlefield... Member Tarkus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Found this at The Armchair General...according to Arrian, ANABASIS ALEXANDRI: BOOK VIII (INDICA) Tr. E. Iliff Robson (1933):

    ...the [Indian longbowmen] infantry have a bow, of the height of the owner; this they poise on the ground, and set their left foot against it, and shoot thus; drawing the bowstring a very long way back; for their arrows are little short of three cubits, and nothing can stand against an arrow shot by an Indian archer, neither shield nor breastplate nor any strong armour.
    Either I or the History Channel advisors goofed on the kneeling thing...I can't remember anymore. But the processing of anchoring the bow on the ground appears to be reasonable.

    And enough History Channel-bashing already...! We're all aware of the edu-tainment aspects of their approach. Nobody here is calling The History Channel a flawless scholarly resource. But I for one learned a few things watching the Hydaspes episode, and had fun doing it...it's all good.
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    Member Member Macilrille's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    I dunno about the comparison between English Longbows and Mongol/Composite bows, I was too lazy to look anywhere but Wiki and it gives no draw strength (=power) for Mongol/composite bows, onlu a range of over 500 m (which in itself sounds somewhat incredible as most modern assult rifles have an effective range of >300 m), the evidence for this range sounds somewhat spurious as well, so if anyone knows the comparative data for Mongol bows, please enlighten us.

    This is copied directly of Wiki

    English longbow:
    The original draw forces of examples from the Mary Rose were typically estimated at 706–804 N (160–180 lbf ) at a 76.2 cm (30 inch) draw length.

    A longbow must be long enough to allow its user to draw the string to a point on the face or body, and the length therefore varies with the user. In continental Europe it was generally seen as any bow longer than 1.2 m (4 ft). The Society of Antiquaries says it is of 5 or 6 feet (1.5-1.83 m) in length.[7] Richard Bartelot, of the Royal Artillery Institution, said that the bow was of yew, 6 feet (1.83 m) long, with a 3 foot (914 mm) arrow. Gaston Phoebus, in 1388, wrote that a longbow should be "of yew or boxwood, seventy inches [1.78 m] between the points of attachment for the cord". Historian Jim Bradbury said they were an average of about 5 feet and 8 inches.

    The range of the medieval weapon is unknown, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds). Modern longbows have a useful range up to 180 m (200 yd). A 667N(150 lbf) Mary Rose replica longbow was able to shoot a 53.6 g (1.9 oz) arrow 328.0 m (360 yd) and a 95.9 g (3.3 oz) a distance of 249.9 m (272 yd).

    The longbow had a long range and high accuracy, but not both at the same time.

    A Welsh or English military archer during the 14th and 15th Century was expected to shoot at least ten "aimed shots" per minute. An experienced military longbowman was expected to shoot twenty aimed shots per minute. A typical military longbow archer would be provided with between 60 and 72 arrows at the time of battle, which would last the archer from three to six minutes, at full rate of shooting.

    Most would conserve arrows after the initial volleys and instead fire aimed shots, while young boy runners would be used to resupply the archers. Firing this many arrows from such high-tension bows would tire most men though.



    F-ing hell, imagine charging 5000 English Archers. That would be an average of 75.000 arrows a minute raining down on you and your friends. One certainly understands how the Chivalry of France withered under such concentrations of fire. 75.000 arrows

    Anyway, Mongols ... ?
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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Onehandstan View Post
    I think it's a close run thin g between them and mongol warriors TBH, weren;t the bows about the same strength? And then there's the advantage of some of the world's best ever Horse Archers...
    Nonsense. The Mongols weren't anything special by steppe standards, as the skills of individual warriors went (they're just better documented, or at least known, than most). What made them succesful was organisation, leadership, strategy and tactics, not being ten foot tall and farting fire.

    Ditto for the English archers, who when you get to it were largely upper peasantry that trained reasonably regularly (though of course the career soldiers were a little different story). Skill-wise they in all likelihood lost to the crop of "life-trained" archers quite ubiquitous to the heavily forested regions of mainland Europe, who commonly hunted for profit and food. On a similar vein the longbow was nothing new (though the English Crown took to mass-producing the things for standard issue to ensure its troops had proper war-grade bows), and I'm guessing lost heavily in power to the large composite bows of diverse "Eastern" infantry archers - or at least, as those now used bigger bows than their mounted colleagues I'd imagine there was a practical reason for that...

    What made the English longbowmen powerful was how they were employed as an integrated part of a combined-arms force, and drilled to operate systematically as fire support. In short, organisation and tactics again.
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    Member Member Nachtmeister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Referring to Macilrille's post:
    The effective range of modern assault rifles is mainly limited by the sights attached to them - you can't aim at something the size of a pencil tip with notch and bead sights effectively when you only have ~.5 sec to take your shot before getting back under cover (single engagement) or when you must provide cover fire / suppressing fire...
    Some stats (albeit from Wikipedia):

    M16
    mass with empty magazine: ~ 3,8 kg (depending on exact model)
    caliber: 5,56 x 45 mm NATO
    point-blank range: 550 m
    maximum range: 2000 m
    cadence: 700-950 rounds/min
    muzzle velocity: 990 m/s
    muzzle energy: 2048 Joule

    G36
    mass with empty magazine: 3,63 kg (depending on exact model)
    caliber: 5,56 x 45 mm NATO
    point-blank-range: 500 m
    maximum range: 2860 m
    cadence: 750 rounds/min
    muzzle velocity: 920 m/s
    muzzle energy: 1700 Joule (note that this leads to better burst-precision due to lower recoil)

    G3
    mass with empty magazine: 4,38 kg
    caliber: 7,62 x 51 mm NATO
    point-blank-range: 400 m (with notch and bead sights)
    maximum range: 3.500 m
    cadence: 600 rounds/min
    muzzle velocity: 800 m/s
    muzzle energy: ca.3000 Joule (this will punch through brick and concrete walls)
    The actual values of the G3 are in stronger contrast to the above two (Wikipedia...); in english military terms it is referred to as a "battle rifle" (not an assault rifle), having approximately double impact-power as compared to M16 but also a much stronger recoil (you can easily break a collar bone when firing it without the proper technique).
    Note that the lower velocity actually is more effective at knocking an opponent down; compare getting hit by a 9mm handgun to getting hit by a longbow (the former will not even necessarily shove you when penetrating as long as it does not hit a bone while the latter can lift you off your feet if fired directly and repelled by armor, seen that once on a documentary where they shot a rubber ball tipped arrow -no weight added- at a guy wearing medieval tjosting armor).

    Now the whole point is that the above ranges are for direct fire, while the bow-ranges given in most texts refer to indirect fire. If you count in the indirect fire, you can probably roughly double the ranges of the above firearms (the G3 would likely win that comparison, being a step closer to artillery, which I think is the modern equivalent of such longbow-volleys, than the other two).
    Also, rate of fire is a big issue here: many modern engagements take place at ranges below 200m (which is where the H&K mp7 comes in but I will spare you the details for now), where there is no time to pick up and draw a new arrow. Compare 600/min to 20/min; with "aimed" shots the modern guns are at a rough tenth with 60/min, meaning a tripled cadence - otherwise, why sacrifice the relative stealth afforded by the bow...! Anyway, the sheer extent of the advantages only becomes apparent when testing such a modern infantry weapon on a shooting range. War-cinematics can not convey the terrible power wielded on today's "conventional" battlefields.

    To pick up the point of awe at the sheer amount of ammunition spent by those archers against the french knights - well somehow Normandy seems to be a magnet for battles basically coming down to many, many soldiers finding their deaths in the area-covering fire of other soldiers waiting for them in a fortified position... And the British always win.

    What a mammoth of a post. But I could not constrain myself.
    I hope it does not completely fail to interest.

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    The shift to the "intermediate" calibres used in assault rifles indeed happened specifically because it was realized the full-powered rifle calibres (which remain ballistically effective well out to a kilometer or two...) were major overkill given the short ranges infantry combat actually happened in. Plus the recoil was a pain and a half in automatic weapons.

    Anyways, arrows are a different thing entirely as they don't have the benefit of a chemical propellant charge. Between a good bow, strong archer and suitable "flight" arrow the shot can be sent far indeed... but at that range even an unarmoured victim, should you somehow hit him, is likely going to suffer superficial injuries at best. And hitting anything smaller than a building is something of a proverbial "long shot" (a figure of speech, incidentally, originating from early gunpowder artillery).

    Practical combat distances tended to be in the order of a hundred meters or less - and it's worth noting that even at for example Crecy, where the knights' armour was still little more than mail (which isn't quite the optimal defense against pointy stuff), the French cavalry was able to repeatedly charge and reach the main English battleline, which ought to say something about the concrete killing power of arrows fired at long distances against armoured targets. On a similar vein witness accounts from the Crusades describe knights going about like nobody's business as veritable walking pincushions... the light arrows the Turks favoured had some shortcoming with "hard" targets, clearly.

    On the other end of the scale would be stuff like the almost meter-long armour-piercing arrows scale-clad Late Bronze Age charioteers used to kill each other at fairly short distances, probably the already mentioned huge bows and arrows of the Indians, and the Karduchoi archers Xenophon and the Ten Thousand encountered in the mountains... they were apparently able to reuse the arrows as javelins no problem.
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    Member Member Nachtmeister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Hmm. It would be interesting to find out something about those "ten-thousand-march impeding archers": did they (like the British/Welsh longbowmen) suffer from deformation of the spine due to the sheer stress put on it from drawing their bows? Have any skeletons that could belong to their peoples' military groups been found yet? Granted, if even Xenophon does not mention their practices for dealing with their own dead, it is not even certain that any skeletons could have been preserved... Unfortunately, I have only read a "entertainment-oriented" airport paperback version of the ten thousand...

    I am honoured to have been presented with my first baloons - - by Ibrahim for tactical observations
    and with my second balloon by Christopher Burgoyne for physical elaboration on the advantages conferred by the Kontos over the Xyston.

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    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Nachtmeister View Post
    Hmm. It would be interesting to find out something about those "ten-thousand-march impeding archers": did they (like the British/Welsh longbowmen) suffer from deformation of the spine due to the sheer stress put on it from drawing their bows? Have any skeletons that could belong to their peoples' military groups been found yet? Granted, if even Xenophon does not mention their practices for dealing with their own dead, it is not even certain that any skeletons could have been preserved... Unfortunately, I have only read a "entertainment-oriented" airport paperback version of the ten thousand...
    well, the persians exposed their dead. and IIRC cremation was used on bodies in India, but I'm not sure if this applied to commoners or not.
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 04-29-2009 at 03:33.
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    Guest Aemilius Paulus's Avatar
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    Question Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim View Post
    well, the persians exposed their dead.
    The Zoroastrian Persians did, as they believed that basically almost nothing was more unclean than a corpse, so unclean that the earth should not be allowed to swallow it, and most of all, the holy fire, should definitely not touch the dead body as well. Not all Persians were Zoroastrian though... Of which time period are the Persians you speak of are?

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    Member Member Nachtmeister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Aemilius Paulus View Post
    The Zoroastrian Persians did, as they believed that basically almost nothing was more unclean than a corpse, so unclean that the earth should not be allowed to swallow it, and most of all, the holy fire, should definitely not touch the dead body as well. Not all Persians were Zoroastrian though... Of which time period are the Persians you speak of are?
    Errrm... I do not know for sure. My guess is very long before the advent of Zoroastrism though.
    These "persians" I am referring to are the ones that used Xenophon's army for target practice.
    The ones with the javelin-sized arrows.
    My point is that if deformed spinal columns (as a result of regular exercise with the British longbow) are evident on the remains of British archers, how would the ancient Armenian archers' skeletons look? Unless of course they applied a very much superior technique...

    I am honoured to have been presented with my first baloons - - by Ibrahim for tactical observations
    and with my second balloon by Christopher Burgoyne for physical elaboration on the advantages conferred by the Kontos over the Xyston.

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    EBII Bricklayer Member V.T. Marvin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Aemilius Paulus View Post
    Of which time period are the Persians you speak of are?
    Time is not a problem here: Xenophon´s anabasis took place in 401-400 BC, while Ahura Mazda was the principal deity of the Persian Empire since Darius (at the latest), a hundred years earlier.

    The trouble is, that those "longbowmen" were not exactly Persians. IIRC Xenophon met them while crossing the moutains between Northern Mesopotamia and Black sea coast. From the description it seems that those particular men were not exactly well-ordered subjects of the Great King, but rather a largely independent tribe within the Empire. Therefore my guess would be that they were not zoroastrians (in any of many, time-dependent meanings of the word), but rather similar in culture to other people of contemporary Kappadoikia and Lesser Armenia.
    Last edited by V.T. Marvin; 04-29-2009 at 07:40.

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    I'm under the impression they were one of the rather numerous Iranic peoples of the region. And if Karduchi -> Kurd, their descendants are still about.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman View Post
    I'm under the impression they were one of the rather numerous Iranic peoples of the region. And if Karduchi -> Kurd, their descendants are still about.
    I was under the same impression, i.e. that they were Kurdish ancestors that lived in the mountains.

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    Clear the battlefield... Member Tarkus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Good stuff, guys -- but a bit off-topic.

    I get back to my original question: Do the Indian longbowmen share the same arrow-launching animation as other EB archers, or do they fire in a manner described above by Arrian?

    Thanks!
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    Member Member Nachtmeister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarkus View Post
    Good stuff, guys -- but a bit off-topic.

    I get back to my original question: Do the Indian longbowmen share the same arrow-launching animation as other EB archers, or do they fire in a manner described above by Arrian?

    Thanks!
    I believe they have a very normal archer-animation. AFAIK, Hoplitai are the only unit type that got a custom animation in EB... No vanilla Indians, no vanilla Indian-animation... And the same goes for Armenian archers.

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    The overhand-spear animation the hoplites use is also used by all the other overhand-spearmen in the game. Except those that use the "fast" version instead.
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    Member Member Nachtmeister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman View Post
    The overhand-spear animation the hoplites use is also used by all the other overhand-spearmen in the game. Except those that use the "fast" version instead.
    Sorry for being unclear - to clarify:

    Code:
    [model(hopliati)]=[model(shipri tukul)]=[...etc.]
    [skin(hoplitai)]≠[skin(shipri tukul)]≠[...etc.]
    AFAIK, the animation is the same for all units based on the same unit model; the unit model is what I meant by "unit type", not the skin/in-game-unit...

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    and with my second balloon by Christopher Burgoyne for physical elaboration on the advantages conferred by the Kontos over the Xyston.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Indian longbowmen in action

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman View Post
    On a similar vein witness accounts from the Crusades describe knights going about like nobody's business as veritable walking pincushions... the light arrows the Turks favoured had some shortcoming with "hard" targets, clearly.

    On the other end of the scale would be stuff like the almost meter-long armour-piercing arrows scale-clad Late Bronze Age charioteers used to kill each other at fairly short distances, probably the already mentioned huge bows and arrows of the Indians, and the Karduchoi archers Xenophon and the Ten Thousand encountered in the mountains... they were apparently able to reuse the arrows as javelins no problem.
    Yeah, I've the account of the first crusade. Quite epic, that first battle by the river where the knights stood their ground and took all those arrows.
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