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Total War Heaven » Forums » Rome: Total War Discussion » Battle 151: The Carthagenian Box
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Topic Subject:Battle 151: The Carthagenian Box
Barbarian_Prince
Legionary
posted 03 March 2007 13:38 EDT (US)         
This is a tactical observation on Carthage (and its use of the so-called "Box" tactic).

I have fought Carthagenian players online for a total of 11 times. Using a "No Rules, 10k Denarii" setting, all of my previous Carthage opponents have fought in typically the same manner: a well-balanced army with heavy infantry in the center, cavalry on both flanks and skirmishers in front of the infantry center. On occasion, my foes will use elephants. But this morning, I fought an opponent who thought outside of the box. This particular commander of Carthage used the "Box" tactic typically associated with the Greek City-States. I really wasn't expecting this.

With the "Box" came the spam army:
- 1 General's Armoured Bodyguard (plus the general)
- 9 Sacred Band (spearmen)
- 9 Slingers
- 1 Onager

At 10k denarii, the enemy had 500 denarii left to spend on upgrades. I'm assuming all of his denarii went to upgrading the attack of his Slingers.

This gave the enemy a total number of 1505 troops (not including the general). In comparison, I had 1020 troops...

The Macedon Army:
- 4 Companion Cavalry (plus the general)
- 4 Royal Pikemen
- 2 Archers
- 2 Peltasts

Individually, 1 Sacred Band Spearmen was clearly superior to 1 Royal Pikemen. The fact that he had 9 of them (compared to my 4) clearly worked in his favor. His 9 Slingers also held a superiority in firepower over my Archers/Peltasts. My advantage in cavalry was nearly negated by the fact that his troops fought in a "box."

This is how the enemy initially arrayed his troops:
A) 7 Slingers stood in close formation in the middle of the "box." 2 more Slinger units in front of his "box" in loose formation (ready to exchange fire with my skirmishers).
B) In the center of the "box" (amid the Slingers) was the enemy's Onager unit.
C) & D) 9 Sacred Band Spearmen formed the skeletal structure of the "box."

Each flank was closed off by 2 Sacred Band spearmen standing in tight formation. The front of the "box" was enclosed by 2 Sacred Band spearmen stretched out quite thinly in loose formation (to allow the skirmishers to enter and leave as they pleased). The rear of the "box" was protected by 3 Sacred Band spearmen in loose formation (not as thinly spread as the front spearmen). Just behind the "box" was the enemy's general unit (the General's Armoured Bodyguard).

His "box" could not be opened up without attacking him. And so I attacked. It was the only way to get my cavalry into the battle.

At the beginning of the battle, I advanced all of my troops forwards towards the enemy. The enemy adjusted his box so that both of our fronts would clash on an equal frontage. I sent my Archers forward to do battle with his Slingers. I also charged my Companion Cavalry on both flanks towards the enemy Slingers who were standing outside of the wall of Sacred Band spears. I did harm to several Slingers. At the same time, his Onager was wreaking havoc on my infantry. In just 2 shots, his Onager had taken out close to 30 Royal Pikemen. Another shot scared away one formation of Companion Cavalry.

While my phalanx advanced towards his "box," my cavalry circled around the enemy formation in the hopes that a gap would soon appear. The General's Armoured Bodyguard fled into the center of his box as soon as my Companions approached it from the rear.

Finally, my 4 Royal Pikemen came upon the enemy's front where 2 Sacred Band spearmen stood guard. Just before contact, the 2 stretched out Sacred Band spearmen closed ranks to meet my spears. As spearmen tightened formation, a gap opened between the pair of Sacred Bands. And that's when the "box" finally opened up.

I galloped all of my horses at topspeed towards the opening at the front. Instead of running from my horses, his Slingers put up a heroic stand. His General's Armoured Bodyguard assisted in ejecting my first unit of Companion Cavalry. But then came my remaining 3 units of Companion Cavalry who plowed right through the horde of Slingers. One by one, his Slingers fled. Next the Carthagenian general fell to his death after my Companions thrust their spears fowards.

The Sacred Band spearmen peeled away in pairs to close in on my cavalry. The box was coming apart but my horses were losing room to maneuver. Soon the action resembled the chaos of a typical battle where units were free to maneuver. But despite routing his 9 Slingers, 1 Onager and his General's Armoured Bodyguard, I was clearly outmatched by the mere presence of 9 Sacred Band spearmen. By this time, I had lost too many Pikemen to continue a spearfight with higher-quality spearmen. My remaining Companion Cavalry attacked the enemy from behind and managed to route 2 Sacred Band spearmen. But once his remaining spearmen got rolling, there was no more opportunity for my horses to outflank his units effectively.

I surrendered once my Royal Pikemen fled. 1 cavalry unit alone doesn't stand a chance against 7 units of enemy spearmen.


"It is a lovely thing to live with courage and to die leaving behind an everlasting renown." - ALEXANDER THE GREAT

[This message has been edited by Barbarian_Prince (edited 03-03-2007 @ 02:02 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
jameroquai
Legionary
posted 03 March 2007 15:11 EDT (US)     1 / 15       
nice battle, imo your tactic was good, considering that you managed to get inside the box and kill his general and missile units, a bit unfortunate the cost of untis of carthage is quite cheap compared to macedons.
dsmi1
Legionary
posted 03 March 2007 22:43 EDT (US)     2 / 15       
What an interesting battle.

How is the range of your two archers compared to his slingers? Could you have drawn them out with your fire?

Great effort anyway, good luck with the next one.

Barbarian_Prince
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 03:52 EDT (US)     3 / 15       

Quote:

nice battle, imo your tactic was good, considering that you managed to get inside the box and kill his general and missile units, a bit unfortunate the cost of untis of carthage is quite cheap compared to macedons.


Thank you! Too bad I lost though lol

Macedon was apparently underrated by the game designers. Oh well...Macedon for life!

Quote:

What an interesting battle.
How is the range of your two archers compared to his slingers? Could you have drawn them out with your fire?

Great effort anyway, good luck with the next one.


I'm not sure about the range difference between slingers and archers, but the slingers have superior stats (let me double-check that though).

In any case, I only had 2 archers and 2 peltasts (a non-factor) against his 9 slingers. I could've drew out their fire for a few rounds before my archers routed.

Appreciate it! I'll write up a new report once I have something interesting to document =)


"It is a lovely thing to live with courage and to die leaving behind an everlasting renown." - ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Yuri Andropov
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 11:36 EDT (US)     4 / 15       
You seem to have come across a rather unsubtle variation of the n00b box.

Such tactics are despicable. Well done for doing so well against such n00bish tactics.


Surrender!
You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept!
Enkidu of Uruk
Legionary
(id: thekid951)
posted 04 March 2007 11:39 EDT (US)     5 / 15       
May be a stupid question but why are these tactics n00bish? He won with it

Carthage
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 11:58 EDT (US)     6 / 15       
Yeah, but it is pretty unsporting isn't it.

Carthage
And beyond, green fields under a swift sunrise
Oh well, thats not so bad, is it?
No, no it's not

Proud joint winner of the M2TWH Saladin award
New Roman
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 13:01 EDT (US)     7 / 15       
It wasnt a glorious victory, but it was indeed a victory.
Lord Ahm
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 13:38 EDT (US)     8 / 15       
Interesting game, but why did you censor your opponent's name?

Ahm Heribeus
Is a suits murmur
Sonicdahedgie
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 13:52 EDT (US)     9 / 15       
How about instead of bitching about the box whenever an opponent uses it, you all get together and try to think of some way to counter it?
deadly trojan
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 14:22 EDT (US)     10 / 15       
good battle, u put up a good fight and i think its a bit stupid people should say its noobish to use a tactic to beat sum1, its like saying to an enemy 'u got 500 armour elephant with 3 golds exp and i got cavalry, its unfair that u got that', as the say goes 'alls fair in love and war' or 'life is not fair' . but i personally (i dont no much of tactics but i think this would work) would do this:
get 1 of ure cavalry and traget 1 corner of the box and do the same with the others, use all of ure royal pike right upfront in the formation of the lose band and use all ure range mem to bombard the sum of the slingers even if some still attack your army but hopfully the box should losen up the front should be getting destroyed by ure loose formation pikes while they are getting ridden down by ure horses, get all of your horses to 1 corner after 10-30 seconds depending on how heavy the dmg they are getting. hopefully they whould refrain from firing that leathal catapult when we are to close to his own men so he does kill them with friendly fire or worse rout them from the dmg. i dont know if this would work but its a fair shot.
Barbarian_Prince
Legionary
posted 04 March 2007 14:35 EDT (US)     11 / 15       
Hey guys,
I appreciate all of the feedback. I didn't want to start an argument - I just wanted to write about an online anomoly regarding Carthage (since I've never seen them use the "box" before).

Quote:

Interesting game, but why did you censor your opponent's name?


That's a good question! I typically only censor names where I beat that particular opponent (unless it's someone from the forum where we know each other). So next time, I'll leave his name if my opponent beats me! =)

"It is a lovely thing to live with courage and to die leaving behind an everlasting renown." - ALEXANDER THE GREAT

[This message has been edited by Barbarian_Prince (edited 03-04-2007 @ 02:37 PM).]

wlnoble
Legionary
posted 05 March 2007 04:27 EDT (US)     12 / 15       
Hi Barb Prince,

Hard luck that you didnt beat this guy. I think, given the army you had, that your tactics were sound and may have worked on a different occasion.

In retrospect ( always easy to say), if you had of known that he was going to have this army, i personally would have had quite a few more archers. Archers have a better range than slingers, not much in the case of cheap ones, but enough to make them leave the box and be susceptible to your superiour caverly numbers. Even your 2 archers, may have been enough to tempt him out and take your cav to him. When/if you did attack the slingers, you need to be careful that your horse dont chase the them back through the sacred band (ok, obvious, but i will say it anyway). They are great infantry and IMO better than Macedons one on one.

To get close before they run, do not directly attack them, ie. go to a point beside them and you will be able to get in between them and the sacred band. This means that they will skirmish/run away from their main troop protection and be slaughtered, well, in theory anyway.

After and if you can get rid of the slingers, you would still have the problem of the sacred band being superior in numbers and class to your spearman. Your cav may go a long way to countering this, however horse against spear when outnumbered is always going to be diffucult. He could have engaged your spears and still had units to directly defend against your charging horse. This is where more archers, once again could paly a big part. That is the only weak link that i see in your army. Someone who is adept at using missles may take advantage of the fact that you only have 2. Small numbers of archers should not be a problem for you while you have cav superiority, however any army that is able to kill your caverly, will most likely win the battle.

Rome, with their better cav, as well as factions with chariots, being the anti cav machines that they are, will always have an advantage on you. Once they kill your horse, your main troops are susceptible to getting shot to peices.

Regarding the 'noob box'. I hadnt actually heard it called that before last week, however it sort of makes sense to me. Its an easy (therefore generally a begineers) tactic to employ and has a reasonable amount of success. It is also often done against the perimeter so that you cant even get to the back of it. A spear army that cant be flanked, that has missle support, is diffucult to beat. Agreed, it is a tactic, but does not involve a great amount of thought or skill, which is where the 'noob' comes into it. Anyone that has played online a while has both seen and done it many times. Its considered a bit lame I suppose, like going all HA in low money. Very diffucult to beat for many players, but not involving a lot of skill. Each to their own i suppose.

Oman.


[This message has been edited by wlnoble (edited 03-05-2007 @ 04:30 AM).]

Barbarian_Prince
Legionary
posted 06 March 2007 19:49 EDT (US)     13 / 15       

Quote:

however any army that is able to kill your caverly, will most likely win the battle.


Very true, that is almost always the case. The few battles where I managed to win (despite my cavalry routing) would be games I consider to be "great." I once saved a battle (after all of my phalangites/cavalrymen routed) because my archers/peltasts still had almost a full supply of arrows/javelins.

Quote:

Rome, with their better cav, as well as factions with chariots, being the anti cav machines that they are, will always have an advantage on you.


Another truth. Carthage, Rome, the Seleucids - there's a significant list of factions with superior cavalry. It's almost sickening but I still enjoy the battle.

"It is a lovely thing to live with courage and to die leaving behind an everlasting renown." - ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Badgerius
Legionary
posted 07 March 2007 10:02 EDT (US)     14 / 15       
In general, for what it is worth, I have to agree with the people that say you can't criticise 'n00b' tactics, the guy did win the battle... and you would have been laughing if you'd had more archers or onagers of your own as his box would have been an easy target.

Besides, he'll get bored with 'the box' if he comes up against an opponent that uses it too as they'll just sit there staring at each other too scared to move !!!!!

Anyway, it was great effort to try and crack the problem Barbarian Prince

Noviomagum
Legionary
posted 07 March 2007 13:08 EDT (US)     15 / 15       
I really like the challenge of people boxing themselves up, esp. in a 2v2 where one enemy is boxed. You take on the box damaged but with two players which usually results in a win.
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