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Scorpion vs Ballista: Discuss

MikeyBarracudaMikeyBarracuda MemberRegistered Users Posts: 60
edited October 2013 in General Discussion
Hi All,

Here is how I understand the theoretical purpose of ballistas and scorpions:

Ballista: Good all-around siege weapon. Decent at killing units and decent at damaging walls. Catapults/Onagers are better at taking walls, but have less ammo/accuracy and therefore not as good at killing troops.

Scorpion: Siege weapon designed specifically for taking out units. Low damage / incapable of damaging walls+gates but has more ammo and faster rate of fire than other siege weapons. The unit-killing siege weapon.

Theoretically, scorpions should be the best of the siege weapons at taking out units...and yet this is clearly not the case in actual gameplay. In my experience with both Rome and Egypt, ballistas consistently do better than scorpions (in terms of kills) and have the additional advantage of damaging walls. I have tested this several times, using up full ammunition for both the scorpion and ballista. The ballista has had more kills in every single test (almost always by a significant amount). So now, I don't bother with scorpions at all, just ballistas.

Has anyone had a different experience? Do you ever choose scorpions over ballistas for any practical reason? Seems to me that scorpions need a bit of a buff against units, or ballistas need a bit of a nerf. I realize that scorpions do cost a little bit less, and I am taking that into account already for my judgement.
"Heavy is the head that eats the crayons"
Post edited by MikeyBarracuda on

Comments

  • Setrus#7519Setrus#7519 Senior Member SwedenRegistered Users Posts: 18,845
    edited October 2013
    I know what you mean, Mikey, which is a shame...had the same issue with those weapons in the old Rome 1 and Medieval 2, the bigger siege weapons were simply better at everything, more versatile, more effective.

    Really, if the ballistae and such got a massive downgrade to their accuracy, I wouldn't shed any tears. :)
    Don't worry.
  • The janissaryThe janissary Senior Member SwedenRegistered Users Posts: 390
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »

    Really, if the ballistae and such got a massive downgrade to their accuracy, I wouldn't shed any tears. :)

    agreed :D
  • WhiteFlagofWarWhiteFlagofWar Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 1,667
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    Really, if the ballistae and such got a massive downgrade to their accuracy, I wouldn't shed any tears. :)

    But...but...I love my ancient snipers/main battle tanks...:(:(

    I have like 2-3 in all of my armies...

    and on my ships...

    and walls..

    lol, I never really thought about it but those things are everywhere. :p
  • Setrus#7519Setrus#7519 Senior Member SwedenRegistered Users Posts: 18,845
    edited October 2013
    But...but...I love my ancient snipers/main battle tanks...:(:(

    I have like 2-3 in all of my armies...

    and on my ships...

    and walls..

    lol, I never really thought about it but those things are everywhere. :p

    Yeaaaahh...see the issue? ;)

    They ought to be like the Trebuchets in Medieval 2, pretty good when you hit enemy troops...but you NEVER hit them enough. Scorpions could actually remain unchanged, if maybe slightly more accurate, with the change to ballistae and such, they would suddenly be useful.
    (would also force you to bring 3-4 ballistae/onagers to sieges, since their innaccuracy would mean you'd have to concentrate several of them to actually get a breach, and then more shots than before would miss...would really make for a siege-specialised army)
    Don't worry.
  • MrJadeMrJade Senior Member ArkansasRegistered Users Posts: 7,166
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    Yeaaaahh...see the issue? ;)

    They ought to be like the Trebuchets in Medieval 2, pretty good when you hit enemy troops...but you NEVER hit them enough. Scorpions could actually remain unchanged, if maybe slightly more accurate, with the change to ballistae and such, they would suddenly be useful.
    (would also force you to bring 3-4 ballistae/onagers to sieges, since their innaccuracy would mean you'd have to concentrate several of them to actually get a breach, and then more shots than before would miss...would really make for a siege-specialised army)

    The question becomes were ballistae that inaccurate? I think the issue is that we are not modeling the extra cost of a ballistics vs a scorpion.
  • XanderleoXanderleo Senior Member New YorkRegistered Users Posts: 889
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    I know what you mean, Mikey, which is a shame...had the same issue with those weapons in the old Rome 1 and Medieval 2, the bigger siege weapons were simply better at everything, more versatile, more effective.

    Really, if the ballistae and such got a massive downgrade to their accuracy, I wouldn't shed any tears. :)

    This.
  • KatterKatter Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 7
    edited October 2013
    I do wish the scorpio did a bit better in terms of sheer killing power. Even if the scorpio and ballista had equal killing potential, the ballista's range gives your army a better way to force an enemy out of a defensive position.
  • WhiteFlagofWarWhiteFlagofWar Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 1,667
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    Yeaaaahh...see the issue? ;)

    They ought to be like the Trebuchets in Medieval 2, pretty good when you hit enemy troops...but you NEVER hit them enough. Scorpions could actually remain unchanged, if maybe slightly more accurate, with the change to ballistae and such, they would suddenly be useful.

    Although I do agree for the sake of balance, were ballistae not known for their accuracy? I mean all in all they're just bigger scorpions that hurled rocks instead of arrows...

    I know the scorpions were more "nimble", had a better firing arc and such(of course with less range), but as long as they were in range, crewed by an experienced team of Romans(or whoever else)...

    Now things like onagers, which I have less experience with considering you don't really need any siege tech past the ballistae thanks to this very issue, need to be more "random" in their accuracy, like the Trebuchets, and also given some incentive to use them...
  • Grave_DiggerGrave_Digger Registered Users Posts: 561
    edited October 2013
    The question becomes were ballistae that inaccurate? I think the issue is that we are not modeling the extra cost of a ballistics vs a scorpion.

    I can imagine that a ballista was quite inaccurate when it had to shoot at moving units (because they first need to be set-up correctly) while at a fixed location it could be quite accurate while scorpions wouldn't have that disadvantage as they are faster to reposition and change their aim.
  • MikeyBarracudaMikeyBarracuda Member Registered Users Posts: 60
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    Yeaaaahh...see the issue? ;)

    They ought to be like the Trebuchets in Medieval 2, pretty good when you hit enemy troops...but you NEVER hit them enough. Scorpions could actually remain unchanged, if maybe slightly more accurate, with the change to ballistae and such, they would suddenly be useful.
    (would also force you to bring 3-4 ballistae/onagers to sieges, since their innaccuracy would mean you'd have to concentrate several of them to actually get a breach, and then more shots than before would miss...would really make for a siege-specialised army)

    I agree with this. Essentially: Nerf ballista accuracy a bit, keep scorpions the same.
    "Heavy is the head that eats the crayons"
  • Setrus#7519Setrus#7519 Senior Member SwedenRegistered Users Posts: 18,845
    edited October 2013
    The question becomes were ballistae that inaccurate? I think the issue is that we are not modeling the extra cost of a ballistics vs a scorpion.
    I can imagine that a ballista was quite inaccurate when it had to shoot at moving units (because they first need to be set-up correctly) while at a fixed location it could be quite accurate while scorpions wouldn't have that disadvantage as they are faster to reposition and change their aim.

    Agreed with this answer. I remember trebuchets versus walls being pretty accurate in medieval 2, simply because the wall would "catch" overshots...but against troops, especially moving ones? No chance.


    Now things like onagers, which I have less experience with considering you don't really need any siege tech past the ballistae thanks to this very issue, need to be more "random" in their accuracy, like the Trebuchets, and also given some incentive to use them...

    Exactly...it's an issue, I think none of us can deny that. :)
    So if these bigger pieces are very innacurate, I think the balance would get better, because doesn't onagers have more ammo? Then you could choose between having 4 ballistae in an army capable of perhaps doing SOME damage to the enemy troops with explosive shot while taking down walls with normal shots...or 1-2 onagers that would be able to handle a wall. :)

    So yes, random is the way. :) (think CA tried to avoid the issue with the Shogun 2 catapults, but overdid it a bit...)
    Don't worry.
  • MrJadeMrJade Senior Member ArkansasRegistered Users Posts: 7,166
    edited October 2013
    I can imagine that a ballista was quite inaccurate when it had to shoot at moving units (because they first need to be set-up correctly) while at a fixed location it could be quite accurate while scorpions wouldn't have that disadvantage as they are faster to reposition and change their aim.

    Another issue is that in reality armies were significantly more massive than in the game, meaning that all engines had a better chance of hitting because the troops are closely packed in most classical warfare, and there would be more of them.
  • EuryonEuryon Member Registered Users Posts: 59
    edited October 2013
    The fix for siege weaponry is amazingly simple.

    Each unit of ballistae and onagers recruited provides one (1) weapon. Not 4. 1.

    You can still take down a wall or two, or cause some harm to an approaching unit, but you're not gonna be devastating entire armies from half the map away.

    If you wanted to tweak, sure... Increase damage against walls a little, maybe a little more range, slower reload speed... Make it more siegey.

    Scorpions can remain 4 pieces per unit, of course.
  • SD101SD101 Member Registered Users Posts: 35
    edited October 2013
    Why do they shoot stones instead of bolts...?
  • Setrus#7519Setrus#7519 Senior Member SwedenRegistered Users Posts: 18,845
    edited October 2013
    Euryon wrote: »
    The fix for siege weaponry is amazingly simple.

    Each unit of ballistae and onagers recruited provides one (1) weapon. Not 4. 1.

    You can still take down a wall or two, or cause some harm to an approaching unit, but you're not gonna be devastating entire armies from half the map away.

    If you wanted to tweak, sure... Increase damage against walls a little, maybe a little more range, slower reload speed... Make it more siegey.

    Scorpions can remain 4 pieces per unit, of course.

    That's an interesting idea, actually...sounds like something a modder could easily do, for one.
    SD101 wrote: »
    Why do they shoot stones instead of bolts...?

    Because walls aren't impressed by bolts?
    Most seriously though, I don't think the larger ballistae (as in, anything bigger than the scorpion) shot bolts or arrows...though I could be wrong. *unsure*
    Don't worry.
  • SD101SD101 Member Registered Users Posts: 35
    edited October 2013
    Setrus wrote: »
    Because walls aren't impressed by bolts?
    Most seriously though, I don't think the larger ballistae (as in, anything bigger than the scorpion) shot bolts or arrows...though I could be wrong. *unsure*

    I'm not talking about for siege warfare...I'm talking about when used against infantry.....
  • SandSeaSentinelSandSeaSentinel Junior Member Arizona, USARegistered Users Posts: 11
    edited October 2013
    Ballistae really were better to support large armies. They were INCREDIBLY accurate at most distances. Also, true ballistae did loose stones, not bolts like in Rome I and Medieval 2.

    Scorpions were smaller, and thus easier to make in larger quantities. A traditional Roman legion was supported by at least one "battery" of thirty (!!!!!) scorpions. Scorpions have a better rate of shot, requiring less energy to draw, and will go through multiple men.
  • Agtie#5257Agtie#5257 Senior Member CanadiaRegistered Users Posts: 1,110
    edited October 2013
    In campaign there is no reason to take scorpions over ballista, money isn't really an issue, and ballistas are simply way better (and they can wreck walls).

    In multiplayer bringing a ballista is suicidal, it will never kill it's own cost (~1700) in enemy units, unless the enemy piles a bunch of units into a big ball and sits there letting you shoot at him. Scorpions on the other hand are quite capable of killing more than their own cost (~550) by sniping elites / generals.

    But yeah the big issue with siege equipment in general is they are ridiculously accurate, but they need to be since armies in Total War tend to be smallish and spread out in big wide thin lines. Same reason for all ranged unit accuracy really (Shoguns mangonels and homing arrows come to mind). When every missile launched at you is so accurate that you can actually dodge them since you know where they are going (where you will be in a second or two), you know there's an issue.
    Ballistae really were better to support large armies. They were INCREDIBLY accurate at most distances.

    Not half a mile away to directly hit their general who was galloping forwards at an angle to the siege engine, 9 times out of 10.
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