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Author Topic: Early Byzantines - Huns  (Read 234 times)

Chevalier de la Terre

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Early Byzantines - Huns
« on: July 23, 2022, 10:11:58 PM »
In the Early Byzantine army list...is there any reason you can only re-grade one unit of Huns as Skirmisher Huns? Why not both?

CdlT

lionheartrjc

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2022, 07:08:40 AM »
At this time Huns was a term for any nomadic horse archer.  I would turn it around, any reason why you should be able to regrade all your Huns (other than that you would like to!)?

Richard

Chevalier de la Terre

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2022, 08:49:45 PM »
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At this time Huns was a term for any nomadic horse archer.

I know.

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I would turn it around, any reason why you should be able to regrade all your Huns (other than that you would like to!)?

Because the restriction is entirely arbitrary. What reason is there now for allowing one unit to be Skirmisher? The choice of the player would be to have Skirmishers or Flexibles, with pros and cons for both choices. But only one unit is allowed to be Skirmisher now - why?

What reason is their for them only to be rated Experienced Bow? At Ad Decium a mere 600 or so bested 2,000 Vandal Cavalry with little or no loss to themselves...doesn't sound like Experienced.

CdlT

LawrenceG

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2022, 10:45:28 PM »

What reason is their for them only to be rated Experienced Bow? At Ad Decium a mere 600 or so bested 2,000 Vandal Cavalry with little or no loss to themselves...doesn't sound like Experienced.

CdlT

Perhaps 1 base of Huns is 50 and 1 base of Vandals is 250.

tarnowski1

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2022, 07:25:30 AM »

Because the restriction is entirely arbitrary. What reason is there now for allowing one unit to be Skirmisher? The choice of the player would be to have Skirmishers or Flexibles, with pros and cons for both choices. But only one unit is allowed to be Skirmisher now - why?

is the primary purpose of that line to make them skirmishers or make them cantabrian skirmishers? most lists limit skilled or cantabrian focus.

I have no clue on Early Byzantine army composition but your assumption seems to be 'Hunnic' cavalry could be either skirmishers or flexible types whereas my assumption is Byzantine armies preferred Hunnic mercenaries , the flexible types, but on occasion had to settle for other nomads, pseudo-Huns, to stand in for limited availability of actual Huns.

What reason is their for them only to be rated Experienced Bow? At Ad Decium a mere 600 or so bested 2,000 Vandal Cavalry with little or no loss to themselves...doesn't sound like Experienced.

by shooting alone or also by combat/melee? Huns after all have ME or if skirmisher 'Huns' Cantabrian and so skilled.


Chevalier de la Terre

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2022, 10:32:03 PM »
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by shooting alone or also by combat/melee? Huns after all have ME or if skirmisher 'Huns' Cantabrian and so skilled.

Largely by shooting I would take from the sources. The Vandals had 2,000 horsemen dispatched on a right hook at Ad Decimum, they encountered the 600 Huns sent to cover Belisarius' left flank and were routed/destroyed. Outnumbered by more than 3 to 1...the tactics likely would have been the usual evade, mounted archery, disrupt and pick-off stragglers and only close to melee if favourable.

Procopius (History of the Wars III (the Vandalic War) xviii, 12-19:

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At the same time Gibamundus and his two thousand came to Pedion Halon, which is forty stades distant from Decimum on the left as one goes to Carthage, and is destitute of human habitation or trees or anything else, since the salt in the water permits nothing except salt to be produced there; that place they encountered the Huns and were all destroyed.

Procopius calls them "Huns" or "Massagetae" interchangeably, exact terms are not the issue: this was an expeditionary army so it's likely the best available were chosen. Losses were either very light or non-existent on the Hun side. Later in the campaign the Vandals attempted to bribe the Hunnic contingent to switch sides...indicating that they were seen as a potent force. Procopius when mentioning the Huns (or "Huns" if you prefer) generally has a high opinion of their combat ability. They ("Huns") are referred to often, in the Persian Wars, Vandalic War and later in Italy (Gothic War). Almost certainly different contingents of course, but mentioned in positive terms.

I would absolutely have an option to upgrade to Skilled (Flexibles) as their mounted archery skill is noted in the sources. The Eastern Roman/Byzantine army was increasingly reliant on mounted archery; they were no slouches in the field, the Bucellarii in particular noted for their mounted archery skill.


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is the primary purpose of that line to make them skirmishers or make them cantabrian skirmishers? most lists limit skilled or cantabrian focus.

I have no clue on Early Byzantine army composition but your assumption seems to be 'Hunnic' cavalry could be either skirmishers or flexible types whereas my assumption is Byzantine armies preferred Hunnic mercenaries , the flexible types, but on occasion had to settle for other nomads, pseudo-Huns, to stand in for limited availability of actual Huns.

I can't speak to "purpose". Again, terminology or names is not the focus: effectiveness is demonstrated by the sources. My question was simply...If one unit is allowed to be Skirmisher, why not both? The Skirmishing Huns or Flexible Huns are exactly the same troops, the difference in classification is an artificial wargames-rules-thing, not reality. But it does affect the way the force is built and functions. If the answer to the question is just.... "err, because", then fine: I simply wondered why.

For the record:
(a) I don't have an Early Byzantine army (yet....) I just have an interest in the period.
(b) Cantabrian is absolutely a no-brainer upgrade and is too effective for it's points IMO. I would make it more expensive or change the upgrade to rule to make it "shoot on White, S counts as a wound, no upgrade vs. Superior", etc. etc. Just saying.

CdlT

tarnowski1

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2022, 11:51:55 PM »


I can't speak to "purpose". Again, terminology or names is not the focus: effectiveness is demonstrated by the sources. My question was simply...If one unit is allowed to be Skirmisher, why not both? The Skirmishing Huns or Flexible Huns are exactly the same troops, the difference in classification is an artificial wargames-rules-thing, not reality. But it does affect the way the force is built and functions. If the answer to the question is just.... "err, because", then fine: I simply wondered why.

the point I was making was the flexible Huns and the skirmishing "huns" might not actually be representing the same troop type or function. Some primary horse archers are aggressive and will close or skirmish as suits , Mongols & Huns being the classic examples. Others are skirmishing cavalry that do not close but rely on others to provide the punch , Parthians for example. The list is quite clear that the skirmishers are not Huns but pseudo-huns as I can see no other reason why its listed as 'Regrade "huns"', other tribes, something not akin to Huns and probably not as well regarded. Maybe what's missing is the option to upgrade 1/2 of flexible Huns taken to skilled  as per the actual Hunnic list.

(b) Cantabrian is absolutely a no-brainer upgrade and is too effective for it's points IMO. I would make it more expensive or change the upgrade to rule to make it "shoot on White, S counts as a wound, no upgrade vs. Superior", etc. etc. Just saying.
CdlT
I disagree on that, Cantabrian is 17 points cheaper than skilled on average cavalry bow skirmishers but I'd always pay for skilled if I could. Its has a several disadvantages that make it less than perfect and imho in the right price range already.

- its suffers -1 bw on its move and that includes any of the limited moves post skirmishing away so a reposition of only 1BW instead of 2. This makes it harder to get back in bow range or adjust to enemy.
- the -1 off the variable move dice, again makes their vulnerability higher.
- cannot engage in combat and must skirmish or evade, may sound minor but it means they cant hold rough going , have to run away from enemy skirmishers and generally have fewer options.

nikgaukroger

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2022, 03:55:45 PM »
What reason is their for them only to be rated Experienced Bow? At Ad Decium a mere 600 or so bested 2,000 Vandal Cavalry with little or no loss to themselves...doesn't sound like Experienced.

Prokopios' description of the Vandals being terrified of the "Massagetae" suggests that they may have been Poor quality in MeG terms so that any shooting by Experienced shooters would get a colour upgrade to Green.

"The Roman Empire was not murdered and nor did it die a natural death; it accidentally committed suicide."

Pyrrhus

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2022, 03:38:44 PM »
Early Byzantines have long been one of my favourite armies and a period of great interest. My first Byzantine army, acquired some 30 years ago, was composed of highly converted figures from Tabletop Games 15mm Late Roman, Hunnic and Gothic figures.

Personally, I think the list writer is being very generous in both allowing 2 TuG of "Huns" in the army and allowing one to be "skirmishers". While it has been a while since I read my Procopius, I can't recall any record of more than one "unit" of mercenary horse archers in the armies led by Belisarius (I stand to be corrected). Where did these mercenary horse archers originate; they were not a troop type in most Western armies until approx. the 4th century C.E.? Horse archers are recorded in Achaemenid armies originating in the Eastern most provinces, ie. Bactria, Sogdia; likewise the Parthians. Later, we have the Alans who were forced West by encroaching Huns and then after the break up of the Hunnic "empire", the Avars. I suspect Belisarius's 600 Huns were in fact Avars, who were not shy at entering combat and were active and encroaching into Byzantine areas of influence at the time. If my assumption is correct, they should be represented as either Formed Flexible with characteristics similar to the "Huns" or as Formed Loose and similar to the Bucellarii. So, the question remains; who are the "skirmishing" horse archers? What remained of the Alans was a long way from the Eastern Roman empire as were horse archers of Persian origin. While we know of individual Persians deserting and joining the Byzantines, I find it difficult to accept that there were enough deserters from the Eastern most reaches of Persia to form a separate unit. I think there is a stronger argument for regrading the "Huns" as Formed Loose or upgrading them to Protected Formed Flexible on the basis that a valuable mercenary unit would be provided armour or, that they had acquired armour on the battlefield. In my humble opinion, there is no historical justification for allowing "skirmishing" horse archers in an Early Byzantine army. I stand to be corrected and look forward to counter points on this fascinating topic.

On a slightly different tangent, can someone please tell me why there is no allowance for Slavs in the Early Byzantine list? Isaurians (is anyone aware of a decent 15mm figure for Isaurians?) were common in Eastern armies but I do not recall any mention of them in Belisarius's armies in the West. However, Procopius does mention two different groups of Slavs as present or usually present in Byzantine armies. If I recall correctly, he disparages one group, perhaps the Antes, who were recruited and were untrained and of little martial value and compares them to other Slavs who were in fact valuable warriors.


nikgaukroger

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2022, 06:39:22 PM »
Belisarius was a bit early to have Avars who only made contact with Constantinople in the 550's and were on the Danube about a decade later. Bulgars are more likely IMO.
"The Roman Empire was not murdered and nor did it die a natural death; it accidentally committed suicide."

LawrenceG

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2022, 06:10:39 AM »
(is anyone aware of a decent 15mm figure for Isaurians?)

There was a Slingshot article a few years ago with a description and picture of an Isaurian which looked remarkably similar to Chariot Miniatures "SPQR25 Auxiliary Infantry, late 2nd-4th Century" but with a larger shield. This figure comes in 2 poses, one of which has "SPQR26" painted on its base in the picture on the Magister Militum website. The page for SPQR25 returns a "broken link" at the moment, but the rest of the SPQR range all display correctly, so I assume this is a temporary glitch.
https://www.magistermilitum.com/era/classical.html?cat%5B0%5D=62237&cat%5B1%5D=59625&cat%5B2%5D=59872&p=2&product_list_limit=48

nikgaukroger

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2022, 06:30:04 AM »
There was a discussion on the SoA forum - http://soa.org.uk/sm/index.php?topic=5213.msg69290#msg69290
"The Roman Empire was not murdered and nor did it die a natural death; it accidentally committed suicide."

Chevalier de la Terre

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Re: Early Byzantines - Huns
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2022, 11:24:49 PM »
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Personally, I think the list writer is being very generous in both allowing 2 TuG of "Huns" in the army and allowing one to be "skirmishers". While it has been a while since I read my Procopius, I can't recall any record of more than one "unit" of mercenary horse archers in the armies led by Belisarius (I stand to be corrected).

Two units is likely for Dara 530 AD where two separate groups of 300 Huns each were deployed, to the left and right of the infantry center.

CdlT