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Author Topic: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?  (Read 551 times)

Offline Philhelm

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I created what I envisioned as a unit of dismounted Teutonic Knights using the trait system from the newly released Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles.  However, it got me thinking about what would best characterize the historical Teutonic Knights, in a way that might differentiate them from other knights of the era.  I don't know a whole lot about the Order, and my online research hasn't turned up much yet (supposedly they were less disciplined than, say, the Knights Templar, and had a reputation for ruthlessness, but I can't say how accurate those opinions may be).  What kind of themes/game mechanics do some of the games out there use in order to characterize the Teutonic Order?

Also, why is it that at least some video games (Age of Empires 2, Knights of Honor) depict Teutonic Knights exclusively as infantry?  I never played Medieval: Total War, but it seems that they have both mounted and dismounted Ritterbruder, whereas other orders only seem to have cavalry (at least at a glance on the wiki).  I've read that the Teutonic Knights dismounted when fighting in the forest, but otherwise it seems that they mostly fought as cavalry.  Would some of them opt to fight on foot in the open field, or were the forest battles prevalent enough that they would have notably fought often as infantry?  I'm assuming that there must be some reason that they are often depicted as infantry, even if it is in historically inaccurate video games.  Is this prevalent in tabletop game rulesets as well?

Also, what was the most prevalent ranged weapon (crossbows or bows) used by the Order and/or its allies around 1400?

Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 07:33:38 AM »
Can't help with the Knight I'm afraid, but you might be able to help me concerning 'Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles'.
I'm a big fan of the rules, so how does 'bigger' battles work, like how many figures a side and wotnot?

???
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Offline Richelieu

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 09:34:29 AM »
I would personally guess, that any order knights would best be represented as just normal knights, perhaps with a bit more discipline or fighting skill representing living by the rules of the order and a high amount of training.
As to your observation regarding games: When it comes to Medieval 2 Total War it was just for gameplay purposes. In the base game and the crusades campaign all military order knights are only available as cavalry units, which works, as they are no factions of their own. But in the teutonic campaign the teutonic order is it's own faction and without the foot knights it would lack heavy infantry.
About the bows and crossbows: I don't know what was more prevalent but the teutonic order had mounted crossbowmen as part of it's forces. I don't know if the teutonic knights had any more inclination to fight on foot than other knights, but at Tannenberg/Grunwald/Zalgiris, which seems to be, where you are aiming, they fought mounted.

Offline Andreas Johansson

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 12:30:31 PM »
The most prevalent ranged weapon ca 1400 would definitely be the crossbow.

The Ritterbrüder were, like other knights, basically horsemen but capable of fighting dismounted if circumstances called for it. "Proper" infantry would be provided by lesser members of the order, mercenaries, and levies from subject towns and districts, but the army's emphasis was on the cavalry which besides knights would include various lesser sorts of horsemen, such as mounted crossbowmen.

Knights woold chiefly have fought dismounted in sieges, and amphibious operations, and the like; HYW-style dismounting for field battles was rare.

Offline Maniac

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 02:51:05 PM »
The Northern Crusades were a long series of raids and skirmishes, mostly during the winter time as the rivers and marshes froze over enough to enable combat.  In the environs crossbows would have been a useful weapon, and would have been a common mercenary weapon for hundreds of years.  The Teutonic Knights relied on said mercenaries to supplement their forces in the area.  It was considered an important enough weapon that various bans on their sale to the pagan tribes were enacted.

The crossbow and pavise would have been in use during the 1400s as a popular merc or foot infantry tool.

As to styling them in a game, the military orders were closer to a 'modern' standing military than other armies of their day.  They would have practiced more often, and spent more time in formation drills.  Discipline was crucial to maintaining the monastic life and cohesive form on the battlefield.  Almost always outnumbered, discipline, arms, and armor would have been a key factor in success.  In games with morale factors higher moral, drilled or stubborn type traits would be good for them.

The knights were still knights, and still prone to thoughts about knightly class.  So while it would have been more common for them to dismount than their secular peers, it would still have been a bit against the grain for them.  It would have been situational, but more common than secular knights.  Having a rapid reaction cavalry group would have been useful, but bulking up the line of foot about to engage in a skirmish wouldn't be out of the norm for them.  This was a lesson hard learned during the crusades, and something the military orders would have known and adapted to local circumstances.

Eric Christiansen's The Northern Crusades and William Urban's Teutonic Knights are both fairly decent books.


« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 02:59:00 PM by Maniac »
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Offline Philhelm

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 04:56:28 PM »
Can't help with the Knight I'm afraid, but you might be able to help me concerning 'Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles'.
I'm a big fan of the rules, so how does 'bigger' battles work, like how many figures a side and wotnot?

???

The game rules are pretty loose, but the suggestion is a Commander and five Units.  The Commander could be a single model or it could include command staff.  The Unit size is based on what "feels right;" for example, it suggests 5-6 models for modern squad-sized elements and maybe 10-12 for medieval, Napoleonic, etc. (fewer for cavalry, more for Irregular troops).  The rules also provide suggestions for different model scales and basing methods; for example, a stand of four 15mm infantry could represent one model within the Unit, or all the models can be based on one stand and you keep track of wounds rather than removing models.  In addition, Units can be designated as Foot or Cavalry, as well as either Regular, Irregular, or Tribal (conferring different close combat ability, movement speed, morale, and ability to fight at close order).

The Commander provides morale bonuses and if attached to a unit it will confer its three Traits to the unit, provide a rally bonus, and confer close combat rerolls.  One Unit is the most experienced and is allowed three Traits.  The second Unit is somewhat experienced and is allowed two traits.  The remaining Units get one Trait each.  A Hero can be created in lieu of one Unit and is more combat oriented than the Commander (the Hero gets three Traits but some of the Traits are specific to only Heroes (example: Two Fisted, which allows the Hero to roll as many close combat dice as there are enemy units).  Two Grunt Units (rolling on d8s instead of d10s) can be created in lieu of one basic Unit.  A Monster/Beast Unit can replace two normal Units.  A Vehicle can replace one normal Unit.

Offline Inkpaduta

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2020, 05:19:11 PM »
Traits could be more disciplined, more confident or arrogant and true belief in what they were doing with crusades.

Offline BaronVonJ

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2020, 05:33:33 PM »
Harry, think of it just like like regular FfoL game. but instead of a single mini per card, it's a group.

Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2020, 12:39:55 AM »
Thanks for that chaps. Farver's Day's coming up soon in Blighty, so the kids can crack open their piggy-banks and buy Daddio a prezzie!

:)

Offline Philhelm

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2020, 10:01:56 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.  It seems that the general consensus is that the Teutonic Knights (and other Orders) would have been comparable to any other knight save for a higher reputation for discipline due to their organization structure, training, etc.

There's a "Loyal" trait in Bigger Battles that essentially allows a unit to not flee so long as other units in the command are on the field.  Something like that might fit the bill.

Offline Atheling

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Re: How are Teutonic Knights best characterized in game mechanics?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 07:06:57 AM »
If I may, I'd like to add something......

I don't play AFFoL but it might be an idea to somehow take into account the difference in the manner in which Ordensstaat fought during it's history. Although always small in number and very dependent on their "allies" their tactics changed as time went on, again down to their dwindling numbers in terms of how they controlled the territory they occupied.

For example, they might choose to fight on foot in their later incarnation whilst they could definitely be portrayed as mounted and impetuous in their earlier days.

Hope this makes sense? I'm still waiting for my Matcha to kick in!  :D

 

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