Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

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ochoin
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Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by ochoin » Sun Nov 29, 2020 11:40 pm

My two Dark Age (OK Early Medieval, if you insist) armies - Saxons & Late Romans/Arthurian - have significant numbers of missile troops.

The Saxons have large units of skirmishing javelin & bow armed levies whilst the Romans have smaller units of archers; both foot & mounted. Additionally, the Roman heavy infantry have plumbatae (darts). These might only be thrown, at close range, at a charging enemy.

I'm looking closely at Thomas' quick play Medieval rules. He allows an armour save but still, I think the power of archery looks a bit too effective. I would like a skirmishing bow unit (12 figures strong) to have the average result of firing on a medium armoured foot (an 8 figure unit) at 1-2 hits (after armour saves). Bonus for cover or being in a shieldwall should reduce this.

After tweaking the numbers, I've been throwing some dice & it seems about right....opinions?

I think I'd like to make the (single) Roman foot archer unit (10 figures) a tad more effective.......better bows & a more aggressive posture. Does this sound right?

Finally, movement. Obviously, the various mounted bowmen & javelin-throwers should be allowed to shoot & fire....how about their Foot brethren?

I'm not looking for Crecy or Agincourt here as I want hand-to-hand combat to be far more effective.

Ultimately, I think after a fairly extensive tweak, to get a practice game in before Xmas.

donald

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BaronVonWreckedoften
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by BaronVonWreckedoften » Mon Nov 30, 2020 11:43 am

ochoin wrote:
Sun Nov 29, 2020 11:40 pm
.....& a more aggressive posture.
Have you tried standing with one foot advanced towards the enemy, and both hands moving from them to you in a beckoning motion, whilst chanting "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough(, Jimmy*)!"?

(* Optional for non-Caledonians. )

ochoin
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by ochoin » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:17 pm

Would a passive-aggressive posture involve complementing an opponent's attire whilst subtly suggesting his hose are too curt?


donald

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Paul
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by Paul » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:20 pm

Bows may be under-represented in Early Medieval (Called late Iron Age in Northern Europe, just to confuse things further :D ) graves. This is because the simpler ones don't survive too well, not having any knock or knocking plate protection Those that are found in later graves tend to be seen as "hunting bows" with a draw weight of up to 70lbs, (much less than later Warbows or "Longbows" despite being of similar size). They are very good and efficient weapons at unprotected targets but suffer against armour and shields.
As you're looking at the early post Roman period though Bows may be in much more abundance than just skirmishing units. Continental Saxons made a lot of use of the bow in warfare and you're probably looking at first or second generation immigrants who will be very different in Character to Viking Period "Anglo" Saxons (Or "English" as they called themselves :D). So fielding a unit of decent archers, on a par with the Roman ones may be perfectly justifiable as well as your skirmishers.

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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by grizzlymc » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:44 pm

Is that a yes, or a no?

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Paul
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by Paul » Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:58 pm

grizzlymc wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 12:44 pm
Is that a yes, or a no?
Have you never heard of Schrödingers Archer?

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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by grizzlymc » Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:01 pm

He loosed his arrow and he did not?
He hit his target and missed it?

My experience of archery is that it is useless unless you have a composite bow o some sort: English Yew, Beetlenut Palm, glue and bones, whatever.

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Paul
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by Paul » Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:16 pm

grizzlymc wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:01 pm
He loosed his arrow and he did not?
He hit his target and missed it?
...and both!

Early medieval bows in England were generally made from Yew or Fir and up to 6ft stave length, where they do survive they are pretty much the same as late Medieval bows. I think the general consensus is that they were not designed to be drawn as far as the "Longbow" which made a big difference with the draw weight.
I used to own and shoot a "period" reproduction bow, albeit only about 30-40lbs draw, a typical hunting bow, when I was a re enactor back in the '90s. Standard arrows pierce skin and clothing no problem at 20-30 yards but don't go through shields or armour. I wasn't a good enough shot to hit anything past those sorts of ranges :D
A quick bit of reading does seem to back up the difference between early and late Saxon archery with early poems suggesting massed shooting and later ones individual archers.

I'd be tempted to make skirmish bowfire against a formed shieldwall virtually ineffective, the odd accidental hit in the lower leg or foot might happen! In your period units of archers could and probably did rain arrows down onto opponents. One of the main purposes of javelins at the time was to break up shieldwalls by dragging down shields when they stuck in. I think that (to use WRG parlance) Light Throwing Spears were loosed just before contact for this purpose.

ochoin
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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by ochoin » Mon Nov 30, 2020 7:25 pm

Paul, this stuff is gold.

I'll look at the Neil Thomas rules with an newly informed eye.

donald

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Re: Dark Age archery: hit & miss?

Post by valleyboy » Tue Dec 01, 2020 6:25 am

What about slingers? Were they at all effective?

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