Monday 21 May 2012

Those Pesky Skirmishers - Further Thoughts On Parum Pugna

(Peltasts persecute ponderous pachyderms. Greeks are Garrison 20mm, Elephants Minifig PBs with Numidian crews)

Skirmishers always present a bit of a problem in wargames. On the one hand you want them to serve some useful purpose, on the other not to turn them into superheroes (such as The X Men, or Don Featherstone's Napoleonic British Rifle Brigade). In Parum Pugna the skirmishers can fire at any point during movement, alowing them to scamper into close range of a slower moving enemy and then run away again. Their impact in one off attacks is limited, but it mounts up over time and, as we saw during the Korepsis Pass refight, will eventually wear down even a well-equipped and disciplined foe (good historical examples would be the actions at Pylos and Lechaeum). One thing I wanted to avoid was allowing skirmishers to be deployed as kamikaze squads, hurled into close combat with massed enemy units with no chance of winning, but with every possibility of delaying the enemy for at least a round of melee. In Parum Pugna skirmishing troops are simply not allowed to initiate hand-to-hand combat. This is slightly Draconian, I know and there is reason to suggest that some feistier skirmishers - such as Alexander's Agrianes - should be allowed to wade into a weakened opponent, or to charge into their flanks or rear. I should add that in the rules heavier peltast types such as the Thracians are dealt with seperately, based in larger groups and able to skirmish and fight at close quarters.


  1. I'm unfamiliar with Featherstone's Rifle Brigade but as you equated them to the X Men, got a laugh out of the reference anyway as Sharpe came readily to mind.

    Your treatment of skirmishers makes good sense to me, Harry. And that goes for the rules in general, I've been inspired to resume painting the ancient flats. One of these years I'll finish enough to actually battle with.


  2. I certainly found the capabilities of the Athenian psiloi at Marathon to make them valuable indeed, particularly for keeping the opposing light troops and cavalry busy and away from doing more useful things. I am all in favour of different troop types having different roles and something different to contribute to an army rather than just being better or worse.

    I've recently been playing some Basic Impetus where the skirmishers are completely unable to harm each other and can only rarely damage or hold up the big guys but which are utterly indispensable as a screen against missile fire and for their maneuverablility and the way their zone of control (my term) restricts the maneuvers of the opposing big boys.


    1. I tend to think of skirmishers being a bit like wasps - not dangerous, but impossible to ignore once they start buzzing around your head.