To beat Pk you need to break up their hedgehog and get in amongst their files of pikemen. John Warry showed how the Romans did this in 'Warfare in the Classical World': by throwing pila to disrupt the integrity of the hedehog and following this up by sending groups of legionaries between the files of disordered pikes. Once the Romans are in amongst the pike formation, their superiority in hand-to-hand with an individualistic cut and thrust style vs pikemen still trying to retain their original formation (holding pikes) spells doom for the pikemen, especially if the Romans can get them on uneven ground.
Being in a solid shield wall (4Sp) with your mates tightly packed on either side of you is not of much benefit facing a hedgehog of pikes. In fact, it presents the hedgehog with a tightly packed gift with a ribbon on top, completely lacking the system and flexibility required to disrupt the pikemen as they close. See above.
So: Side support does not count vs Pk.
If side support nerfed Pk, simply remove it vs Pk. It's logical and doesn't get much more straightforward than that.
6-4 against spears across the line and the Spears won't last long. Diodorus writes about Chareronea "The battle was hotly contested for a long time and many fell on both sides, so that for a while the struggle permitted hopes of victory to both". There is a tumulus near the proposed battle site that contains the burnt corpses of the Macedonians that seems to add weight to this statement as they were far more likely to fall during battle than in the aftermath. The more I read, the more I am agreeing with Fred Eugene Ray Jr (Greek and Macedonian Land Battles of the 4th Century B.C.) that the pikes and spears were not hugely different in effect in this era. Even Diodorus states clearly that Philip's generalship was a major factor, together with the combined arms of the Macedonian army.
That's Pk with rear support. That leaves other enemy elements elsewhere, doesn't it.
It's hard to see how hoplites could stand up to pikemen unless the pikemen thinned their ranks, or the hoplites went deep and fought very well.
So in an equal world, that's Sp4 vs Pk3 where the pike have extended their line, giving an edge to the hoplites; and Sp4 vs Pk6 where the pike have gone deep at the expense of narrowing their line somewhere, providing a more significant edge to the pikes. Sounds about right to me.
Very few battles were fought on even terms, such as 12 elements vs 12 elements (which isn't actually necessarily 'equal' anyway), or the same points cost per army. So there's every chance that in a battle where hoplites bloodied pikes (and still lost) they may have had numbers in their favour. Or the hoplites may have also gone deep in the Theban style (e.g. 8Sp), changing the factors somewhat. Deeper hoplites = Sp5 vs Pk6, or Pk3 where Pk have thinned ranks. Again, seems fine to me.
I agree that single ranked Pk does look 'off' on the table, but historically did they not sometimes thin their formations? Or did they always - in the case of a Macedonian phalanx - stay 16 ranks deep, i.e. approx double the depth of standard infantry units?
Duncan Head in his excellent “Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars” says this:-
“Under Philip II the usual depth may have been ten ranks, as a file was called dekas, ten, but thereafter it was 16. Thus the speira, the basic 256 man unit, formed up 16 men wide by 16 deep. However at Ipssos the phalanx attacked in half-files, eight deep, (perhaps) because the impetus which was the main advantage of the deeper formation would have been broken by the river obstacle. The Seleucid phalanx at Magnesia fought 32 deep, which was regarded with hindsight as too deep for the rear ranks to be of any use. At Kynoskephalai Philip V doubled the depth of his phalanx on the right wing, so they too may have attacked 32 deep. But he initially deployed only half the phalanx, and then contracted it to make room for the other half, so he may well have started eight deep to cover the ground, then deepened to the normal 16 to attack.”
If I remember right - one of the advantages of a block 16 men x 16 men was that if an enemy flanked you the files could turn into ranks and fight off the flanking attacks. I’m not sure of any historical evidence for this but it would lead to the possibility of a “double ranked Pike can’t be hard flanked rule” or a “double ranked Pike withdraw 1 BW if hard flanked and lose rule.” Any thoughts on this?
“While drill was available to face the phalanx about, so that the file-leaders still formed the new front rank, there was no similar technique to face a flank, except by wheeling the whole formation; in addition, any turn was obviously difficult when pikes were lowered and the phalanx was engaged. It was this weakness which the Romans, with their more flexible units, exploited. Nonetheless, the unmanoeuvrability of the later phalanx should not be exaggerated. Note that at Kynoskephalai and Corinth the Romans won by attacking the phalanx from an unexpected direction while it was already engaged frontally, a difficult situation for any type of troops, while at Magnesia and Pydna other causes of disorder applied. Philopoimen at Mantineia, wheeling one unit of his phalanx on to the Spartan flank, proved that before combat had been joined, the separate units even of the later phalanx could manoeuvre independently and effectively. That they rarely did so in practise was due as much to the rarity of flexible generalship and mobile tactics as much as to the inherent clumsiness of the formation.”
So a few more weeks have gone by, and once again I read how DBA 3.0 has nerfed the Macedonians, most recently in the Least Popular Army thread. As this usually refers to side support nerfing Pk, I ask again: why not just do away with side support vs Pk?
(The argument that this hurts Sp too much doesn't hold up.)
Ah, but that raises the question of what do you do with extra Spears Snowcat. Take away the Spear side-support and you have CF 4 v CF 6, and the Spear long single line is no longer effective. They’d have no choice but to form-up in multiple lines in order to fill in the inevitable gaps the Pikes will punch in their battleline... ...which ends up looking more like a Roman formation than a Greek one.
Allowing Spears to have +1 for rear-support instead would cure the problem. They’d have a CF of 4+1 (the same as Blades), so would still be inferior to the Pikes CF, but at least they’d still ‘look’ like a Greek formation (albeit deeper), and their frontage would be the same as that of the Pikemen.
This is the approach taken by Shirmplyamazing’s “Everyone gets rear-support with reduced heavy foot combat factors”, which I think is a better solution.