I'm Already Drunk, So Tell Me More about Your Livestock.
|Worship at the alter of the Horse Gods|
One of the things that I'm learning is that each breed of horse has more benefits and disadvantages than just the color of the coat and the length of their mane. There are horses that are only for show and that can't be ridden for long distances. There are work horses who can pull tones but would fight you if you were fool enough to put a saddle on them. Then there are horses that can sense danger; that thrive in harsh environments, and some that need constant care and supervision.
That there were such differences was surprising to me because all the horses I had ever been around didn't need any of that. A ready supply of water in the form of a pond and plenty of grazing land seemed more than enough. I've been around a dozen or so breeds so I had foolishly allowed myself to believe that all horses were so hearty.
Then there's the war horses. By and large the majority of war horses are light breeds designed for speed and maneuverability over hulking beasts of burden that seem to dominate fantasy literature. Which only makes sense because you're not going to use the horse to run over your opponents like you would with an elephant; rather you're going to use them for the natural height advantage and for the increased speed they'll provide you.
Granted you want something that will be able to handle all of the armor you're wearing and the bullshit you're loading them down with, but I think that's a mistake. If you look at the some of the greatest horse breeds - the Appaloosa and the Arabian for example - you'll find that they gained their greatest renown for how they were handled in combat by lightly armored, highly mobile riders. So while the game has you wanting to ride off into combat armored to the hilt like the Paladin and charging in with a Heavy Warhorse the smarter strategy is to ride a Light Warhorse and wear light armor so that you can move like a champ and gut the dork in armor.
There's a big difference between the fantasy and the reality there and I tend to like the reality better. It's more evocative of the Robert E. Howard tales that dominated my youth and that still influence how I think about combat. There's also my love affairs with the Apache, Comanche, and Mongol that push me more towards the light warhorse than his heavier counterpart.
|Arab Warriors on a Hillside by Adolf Schreyer|
There's just not enough there to make any choice you make meaningful in relation between the light and heavy horses.
|Telling all ya'll it's a Sabotage!|
With ponies the game completely threw up it's hands and said, "Fuck it. We're just going to make them smaller horses for the small creatures to ride." And while that's one way to play it, they were so wrong to do that!
There are ponies that make any horse smaller than a Clydesdale look like a chump. They're used for hauling heavy loads down narrow roads that would send trucks toppling down the cliff side. They've got breeds of ponies that survive in swamps and marshes that would break your horse's leg with their first step into the muck. There are breeds that full sized adults can ride and that are used today to help shepherds fight off rustlers.
I'm really amazed at how versatile the pony is and it kind of shocks me that they're so bland as they exist in the game. I mean you could take four breeds of pony and have enough variety to match most everything you could encounter in the game. I'm still processing a lot of this information and I find myself wondering why these two are treated so blandly in the game - well in most every game I've ever played actually.
Why are we missing an opportunity to have some meaningful differences between these breeds? Is it because we're worried about the added complexity to our games? Seriously asking here guys.