I don't see skirmishing as a great tactical tool in this period: they should be vulnerable and useful on limited occasions only. My take on Dark Ages skirmishers is not that they were well drilled, brave, or intended to advance directly up to a formed enemy unit and lob their javelins at it. In Dark Ages battles, the formed units are still pretty fluid: they’re not weighed down with a load of armour and don't necessarily carry a huge encumbering shield, don't fight in restrictive battle lines, and mostly don't fight in a tight formation (excepting Shieldwall at the crunch point, but before immediate contact I don’t imagine they held such a tight formation); skirmishers won't hold any great advantage over the majority of troops in terms of mobility as we’re not talking phalanx vs psiloi.
In the battles fought in Dux Bellorum, skirmishers are just a weaker version of everyone else rather than a specialist light troop. They’re shifty and cautious and they’re possibly not experienced fighters. They’re probably being used as skirmishers because they don't have the equipment to perform a different role, not because they have been trained accordingly.Throwing them out in a line in front of your formed units isn't the way to use them on the Dux Bellorum battlefield: as you already know (and have possibly found out to your cost), in this game they can't evade so should be used differently.
1) Use them around the edges of your army (see 6 and 7 below) ... putting them out front will see them minced up.
2) Don't bravely advance them and expect them to perform well; keep them out of the way until there’s an advantage to exploit.
3) Take rough ground with them and sit them there.
4) DO let the enemy come to you.
5) Pile on LPs to dissuade attacks or to move away (not my favoured advice but try it if you insist on the skirmish line approach).
6) Put them on a flank where the enemy is already opposed by your own formed troops, who are a greater threat ... if the enemy goes for your skirmishers their flank is exposed to your real fighters ... and if the enemy faces off against your formed troops, you can lob your javelins from the side.
7) Work them around behind isolated enemy units that are already in contact with your formed units and again lob javelins, or if you’re feeling brave, charge in to add the extra dice in combat.
8) Or keep them behind your main battle line at the start of the game, and send them through gaps when the enemy is weakening.
9) Use them to chase off/face off against other skirmishers, but just don't stick them in front of formed units. Except when you decide to use them to trigger an uncontrolled charge by enemy Warriors, pulling the enemy into range of your own formed troops.
10) Be very afraid of horsemen, you can't outrun them. Skirmishers present a challenge for players to get the best use from them, there’s no one guaranteed way to bring success. In fact, what do you consider to be success for a skirmisher unit? I would say inflicting a couple of hits and not dying is a major result on a deadly Dark Ages battlefield. Try anything that seems sneaky and cowardly (in a tactical sense, not as a gamer!) ... that’s going to get you better results than advancing a skirmish line in front of your enemy’s heavy hitters.
So that’s my take on skirmishers and that’s why the rules work as they do; to me that’s one of the exciting aspects of writing a period specific set of rules, you’re not dealing with generalisations. Having them able to evade made them too powerful (or rather I should say, not weak enough) and too influential in the game for my liking. But as with any game you play, I believe you should tweak it to work for you.
Last Edited By: kurtusbrown Jan 30 15 5:22 PM. Edited 1 time