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Thread: Some Phalanx Tactics

  1. #1
    Requin Member Vincent Butler's Avatar
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    Default Some Phalanx Tactics

    These work best with Pike units instead of hoplites, but can be used for hoplites as well. A point about phalanx is that they fell out of use, not because the formation itself was useless, it just seemed like it because the commanders did not use the supporting units well, peltasts were a key part of phalanx warfares, and you needed to protect your flanks as well, best with cavalry.

    1) Bridge
    Line up your phalanx at an angle with spears crossed over your end of the bridge. Have archers and/or slingers on the sides, and skirmishers/legionaries behind to throw javelins/pila. The enemy can't reform on your side because they are still trying to cross while your spears are stabbing them. Works even better with two or three rows of phalanx units, because heavy units or massed routing units can eventually push through the phalanx. If fighting Egypt or Rome, good to have onagers along because Egypt and Rome like to bring siege weapons with their armies. If a town, especially Corduba, keeps rioting, I will pull my army out and station at a bridge before they kick me out. This tactic works even if the enemy is a Gold sword/silver shield/2 gold chevron army like so many civil revolt armies are. Again, if they are that good, use two or three rows of phalanx units.

    2) City
    This is probably a duh, but barricade your streets with your phalanx, if you can pick a point where you can cross spears, even better. Large Roman/Greek cities work best as there are only two entrances to the town square, barricade at your town square, your towers will wipe out most of the enemies before they reach you.

    3) Corner of Map
    If you are in dire straits, have most units squeezed into the corner of the map, and line your phalanx up starting at one side and gradually curving to meet the other side of the edge of the corner. Give room for your missile units to fire. If you can use trees to prevent siege weapons from advancing, use that corner.

    4) Attacking
    Try to gain the upper ground (duh), and while the enemy is advancing, order your phalanx to move down the hill to attack the enemy. Did this with Phalanx pikemen, owned Early Legionary. Say what you will about Early Legionary, they still can kick tail with a lot of enemy infantry. Also make the enemy march to you if you can, to wear them out. Standard phalanx tactics apply, such as protecting your flank, and slamming into the back of the enemy with your cavalry after your phalanx pins them. Macedon and Seleucia are the best for this, as they have pikemen and heavy cav, have not tried Pontus. Thrace might work, but their cavalry is too light to use a slamming technique as effectively.

    These tactics do not really work for the Europa Barbarorum mod, just the standard Rome Total War game.
    Last edited by Vincent Butler; 07-15-2014 at 02:08. Reason: notes
    Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: Psalm 144:1

    In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    1) Bridge:

    Two armoured phalanx placed on top of each other and stretched across the end of the bridge so they just overlap the edges are unbeatable. Add a few missile units just behind and some cavalry for mopping up. For some reason sometimes the enemy routs TOWARD your forces and it's quite entertaining sitting back and watching them commit hari-kiri.

    3) Corner of the map:

    I've noticed if you set up too close to the red line, units sometime behave strangely (move toward the enemy for instance).

    4) Attacking:

    I wonder if a cavalry side attack is better so the enemy have somewhere to rout to (no fighting to the death).

    I've more or less decided greek cities is best. I agree that romans are good, but they rout easily from a frontal attack on a good phalanx (triari are tough nuts though).

  3. #3
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    Two armoured phalanx placed on top of each other and stretched across the end of the bridge so they just overlap the edges are unbeatable
    Not if the opposing force is heavy with missile troops. Roman Archer Auxillia, with decent weapon upgrades, will shoot that bunched formation to pieces. Most of the time it's better to deploy far enough back from the bridge to stay out of archery range, and pepper the troops trying to cross from the other side. You let them get crammed together on the bridge. Your archers will have a turkey shoot and often times a chain rout starts with decimated troops trying to get off the bridge back to their own side, causing a further jam with those still attempting to cross to your side. You can win a battle without any of your infantry seeing action
    High Plains Drifter

  4. #4

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I've lived a sheltered life :)

    I've never played a game where I haven't destroyed all the Romans before the appearance of archer auxiliaries. But I have been in a situation at a bridge with hordes of Scythian horse archers on the other side of the river - and it was a bloodbath (still won though, but it convinced me to always auto-resolve when faced with similar). My experience otherwise is that the enemy just charge over the bridge in a seething mass right into the jagged line.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I've never played a game where I haven't destroyed all the Romans before the appearance of archer auxiliaries
    Archer Auxillia aren't the only ones with the firepower to decimate Armored Hoplites....Cretan's, Chosen Archers, Forester Warbands, Cataphract Archers, and Chariot Archers all have the capability.

    You get better results forming a horseshoe formation around your end of the bridge, and let them cross. You have them surrounded on three sides and it doesn't take much to get units to rout when faced with that. You use the same method for horse archers. Let them cross....keep your cavalry to the flanks and circle behind them, cutting off their retreat. Can't tell you how many times I've destroyed every single soldier in the opposing army by denying their retreat.

    It's even more fun when you have woods on your side of the bridge, particularly if its to one side of the road. Place all your cavalry in the woods, concealing them....put the rest of your army opposite where they can be seen. The AI charges across, and turns its back to your cavalry (and if enemy generals are present, they are the first to fall to your cavalry sweeping out of the woods). It's a slaughter.....
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 07-20-2014 at 17:21.
    High Plains Drifter

  6. #6

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    Ha ha - does sound like good fun. I've come across the others you mention and seriously they aint no problem on hard when you have armoured hoplites. I just place the hoplites and curve around missile units including horse archers behind them. Some cavalry and generals behind those to mop up when the enemy run. None have ever got through in numbers. On the other hand maybe I should be more adventurous :)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I've come across the others you mention and seriously they aint no problem on hard when you have armoured hoplites
    I had a game (as Seleucia) where I had 3 Cretan's sitting on a very high hill outside of Sardis. No fronting units of any kind. Those three Cretan's beat off several attempts by GC Armored Hoplites to take that hill. In every attempt, the AH suffered heavy losses and were routed. Granted it was a steep hill the hoplites had to climb, but I've done it with other all-archer armies against mixed hoplites. Can you say skirmish.....
    High Plains Drifter

  8. #8

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I'd say this was a skirmish. I presume the GCAH were AI controlled :) I think both you and I would not attack a group of 3 Cretans with hoplites. If I was playing a human at a bridge I would guess it would be much more difficult.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I adopted the horseshoe formation for defending bridges way back in the STW 1 days. Once muskets became available, it was the best way, IMHO, to defend against a multiple stack attack. When battles take 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours (real time), and all day (game time), you have to keep your troops as fresh as possible to avoid routing.

    In RTW, I will often arrange my forces in two groups at nearly 90 degrees to the river, and place my general with a few of my best infantry in the middle facing the enemy. If the troops crossing turn to attack one group, they get it in the flank from the other, and vice-versa. If they go for the general, they get it in the flanks from both sides.

    Personally, I think they should have allowed for crossings at shallows along the river at several points. Would be more realistic, and make things far more interesting
    High Plains Drifter

  10. #10

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    I've had one occasion where the sneaky gits sent half their army over a ford further down the river (can't remember where that was). And it did make it more interesting - a close run thing.

    I think it might have been near Massila before roads. Since that battle I now check the entire river length for more than one ford. It's possible the construction of a bridge causes the AI to ignore fords.
    Last edited by williamsiddell; 07-21-2014 at 12:33.

  11. #11
    Requin Member Vincent Butler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by ReluctantSamurai View Post
    In RTW, I will often arrange my forces in two groups at nearly 90 degrees to the river, and place my general with a few of my best infantry in the middle facing the enemy.
    I at least try for crossed spears across my end of the bridge; the way phalanx forms up, it is not always perfect. I put skirmishers/legionaries (usually skirmisher, more ammo) behind my phalanx to pelt the enemy as they are on the bridge, and maybe archers/slingers on the sides, as I mentioned in the first post. If not using phalanx, the horseshoe would probably be better. The spears-over-bridge is only marginally successful in EB, your units will not really stab, but just keep the enemy at bay, only killing a few at a time; you will usually win if you leave it be, but it will take forever. Against Baktria, with their cataphract bodyguard, it is tedious.
    As for the fords, the enemy almost never goes for them, I never put my guys near one until after the enemy has started crossing the bridge, just so I don't tempt them.
    Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: Psalm 144:1

    In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    -Henry V by William Shakespeare

  12. #12
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    Gentlemen...whatever works for you is the way to go. I prefer to have a bit more fun, and I go for total, and complete destruction....not a single enemy soldier lives to tell the tale of 'terror at the bridge'
    High Plains Drifter

  13. #13

    Default Re: Some Phalanx Tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Butler View Post
    but it will take forever.
    I start the bridge battle, fast movement, and go and make tea :) Especially if it's the kind where they rout toward your phalanx. In full rout it is sometimes not possible to wipe out all the running cavalry before they reach the edge, but even then I usually get the army rout message.

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