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Ask me about Warfare

Discussion in 'Research' started by thecoldembrace, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Alexander managed to beat an army of Scythian horse archers, though I doubt anyone other than a very skilled general could replicate that feat.

    The problem of skirmishers could be countered by cavalry. Indeed, the failure of their cavalry to show led to Spartan defeat at least once against Athenian peltasts.
     
  2. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    Something not mentioned is that the Macedonian style of phalanx warfare actually 'devolved' after the death of Alexander as generals became too focused on the phalanx (and focused only on fighting other phalanxes) and neglected the combined arms tactics that contributed so heavily to Philip and Alexander's successes. Without Rome the Greeks may have continued in their rut until another enemy (Parthia, Scythia, or even the Dacians or Illyrians) broke them out of it or overran them, or they may have corrected this as they waged their constant wars against one another. Pyrrhus of Epirus was an effective leader and two time King of Macedon with a fairly flexible phalanx army including cavalry, skirmishers, and elephants. Without Rome (and a particularly well aimed roof tile) he may have left a solid military legacy emulated by the other Greeks.

    As for how such a force could evolve over time, well, that's a very complicated question. Armies don't necessarily get better, they just undergo reform in response to their political, cultural, and military environments. How it would evolve is a question that should ideally take into account the political nature of your world, the usual enemies they face, and the 'feeling' you're trying to evoke when designing them. If you want dory-armed old-style Greek hoplites you can justify them, not that most readers would even think to question it. If you want highly developed sarissa-armed Macedonian phalanxes that integrate swordsmen and ranged units modelled off the Spanish tercios you can justify that too.
     
    Gurkhal likes this.
  3. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    The idea I have right now for the world is that I essentially want to be more Hellenistic than Hellenic, in that this essential Greek culture would have spread and become the greater cultural sphere of the world with many different variations. There will be barbarians at the edges and some other cultures that could offer a challenge, at least in the future but at at present the Greeks owns the world, in a fashion.

    For political enviroments I am hoping to be able to have kings and dynasties in the Hellenistic/Illiad/Mycenaenan fashion rather than people's assemblies as dynastic politics and systems interests me more and I find them easier to work with in regards to crafting stories. In regards to enemies I was thinking that the "Greeks" will probably come around to beat most of them up and they adopts the Greek system for themselves to counter or are slowly, or quickly, grinded down. So I'm thinking once again that it will mostly be other Hellenistic armies, maybe with some local twists and additions to a small degree some "barbarians".

    I hope I managed to get across what I had in my mind. :)
     
  4. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    I don't know, I think there's something to be said for the populist tyrannies, particularly in far-flung colonies a la Syracuse. Of course many tyrants try to establish themselves as kings and secure themselves a dynasty. Sometimes the only difference between a king and a tyrant is pedigree.

    A fairly safe bet as the Thracians, Illyrians, Italians, Pontics, and even the Carthaginians all adopted hoplite tactics. They also all got 'Romed' but we can hardly hold that against them. This will go both ways though, as the Greeks adopted the peltast from the Thracians and the thureos from the Gauls and the Seleucids in particularly adopted Persian and Indian forces, though the latter were mostly elephants.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the ancient world, particularly the Hellenistic world, adored its mercenaries. Galatians (a Gallic tribe that somehow ended up in Anatolia) were particularly popular but Hellenistic powers recruited widely and sold their own services just as broadly.

    As for the evolution of forces, my inclination would be that the core factions, in the cultural heartland, would remain focused on fighting other Hellenistic armies, either stagnating into 'pike push' contests or reforming into lighter, more integrated forces. Far flung colonies would use an older style force, fewer pikes or even a reliance on mercenary pikes, while integrating more local tactics as you already mentioned. The same would be true of the 'barbarians' but with the hoplites being the minority and a greater focus on skirmishing. Also the occasional faction that didn't Hellenise, like the Galatians or Armenians, but these would mostly sit on the periphery. The whole thing would be vulnerable to a military reformation as it was to Rome and as the Greeks were to Macedonia but that's almost always true with established military traditions.

    Obviously the adage 'your world, your rules' applies but that's my brief thoughts on it. Certainly there's a great variety even within the Hellenistic world and a lot of potential for interesting stories.
     
    Gurkhal likes this.
  5. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

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    I've been confused on ancient navies and really just pre- gunpowder navies in general.

    Obviously ships can fight one another, scare off pirates, and disrupt trade routes, but were they any danger to coastal settlements? Could ancient navies launch assaults on land or were they confined entirely to sea combat?
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Think vikings.
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Think Julius Caesar in Britain.
     
  8. WazpByte

    WazpByte Acolyte

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    I've got a question, I hope you can help with it! :)

    During the period around 900 AD, do you think the power of a Japanese "kingdom"s army would stand up to the force of a European one of similiar time, if they engaged in a fight in a normal area (e.g. plains), with both sides attacking eachother?
     
  9. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    It probably depends on whether the battle takes place on a plain or in mountainous terrain. It's hard to say because no one is really sure about Japanese demographics pre-17th century, but the Japanese would be technologically-disadvantaged, at least as it pertains to iron metallurgy. Since Japan is a mountainous island, fighting in plains would also probably put them at a tactical disadvantage as their battle tactics evolved more for that type of warfare as opposed to out on the open.
     
  10. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    Ultimately there's no reason either side couldn't win, with tactics and generalship being the most important factor. Both sides could field roughly comparable numbers and while the Europeans would have a slight edge in armour the Japanese would field better archers. Japanese military strength was somewhat underdeveloped at this time but by no means ineffectual while Europe was still trying to deal with its Viking problem. That said Europe was a big and diverse place. Where the Japanese would be on more even footing against the English or the distracted heirs of the Carolingian Empire, the First Bulgarian Empire was experiencing its zenith, defeating a relatively powerful Byzantine Empire, and Hungary was beating up East Francia. Even the Byzantines were close to a military resurgence, seeing significant gains in the mid-10th century. All of which is to say is that the European army these Japanese encountered could be very different depending on which Europeans they were fighting.

    While the Heian-period Japanese military is a little hard to research prior to the Genpei War, the samurai of this period favoured bows over other weapons and would continue to do so for some time. They were also a primarily mounted force, with Japanese strategy revolving largely around internal politics and weakening individuals, rather than conquest at a state level. They'd usually open a battle by attempting a formal archery exchange, firing whistling-bulb arrows and then trying to engage in individual samurai duels. This would go badly for them against a European army as the Europeans weren't so formal, but it would be unlikely to end the battle there and then. Against eastern Europeans they'd run the risk of getting broken up by cavalry attacks and scattered but against a shield wall it would become a game of trying to break up the enemy formation without exhausting their manpower. if they succeeded, which they very well could under an intelligent commander, they would carry the day. If they failed the Europeans would take the victory.

    Be aware that the above analysis is fairly brief and also highly speculative. I could provide a more precise breakdown if I knew which particular European army you had in mind, although the only one I'm truly familiar with during this period is the Byzantine army of the middle to late 10th century. Also this discusses a single battle while a full military campaign would be very different. If you want me to clarify anything or expand on any point, I'd be happy to do so.
     
  11. R.H. Smith

    R.H. Smith Minstrel

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    Hello TheColdEmbrace, quick question.

    I read The Art of War, had to actually read it twice to really get the gist of it. What are your thoughts on what is talked about there?
     
  12. halisme

    halisme Dreamer

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    In my novel, the culture of one country is caste based. When going to war, it's mostly the warrior caste and the labour caste (Lumberers, miners and farmers). Now, would it be more effective for the warrior caste to kept in large blocks, or to spread them into the peasents units to provide better coordination and moral?
     
  13. Hey Halisme,

    I'm going to try and answer your question but please not that I am not a historian, and that most of my knowledge on the subject comes from my own research, which may or may not be flawed.

    If the main force of your army consists of levies (i.e. non-professional soldiers) then you'll need someone there (a seasoned fighter) to keep them in line. Without a good commander to keep them in check, there's a high chance these men will turn tail and flee at the slightest provocation, or that their lines will lose cohesion, or that they'll pursue some small enemy force and quit the field as a consequence (while ignoring the main army). So if you put all your elite, professional soldiers in one unit, then your levies will be worthless. But with a good commander, these levies can actually get things done.

    Alternatively, grouping all your elites does open up new strategies. You can try and do some variation of the oblique order (a strategy used extensively by Frederick the Great). By concentrating more/better soldiers in one part of the line, you can overwhelm the enemy there by local superiority. Your elites can smash through their levies and then turn their flank, routing the rest of the army. However, for that strategy to work you will need the rest of your line to hold (because if the enemy routs that part of your army, it doesn't matter you routed one wing of his army).

    So ideally, you want good officers (or something like officers, such as a knight) to command your levies, while you want to group up the rest of your elites to overwhelm the enemy in one location, so you can then swing around and clean up.

    In medieval times, this kind of strategy was prevalent. The knights were supersoldiers, the levies were less significant. When both commanders used this strategy (and they often did) it'd come down to the knights. If your knights won, then they could rout the enemy levies. If their knights won, then there was little your levies could do to turn the tide.

    Things changed when kings and nobles started using professional armies (i.e. free companies and later standing armies of professional soldiers) because the knight sort of lost its elite status. And infantry, no longer being a group of inexperienced soldiers under a noble's command, became a force to be reckoned with. If your knights were routed, or if you had less knights, that wasn't necessarily the end of it. For instance in the Battle of the Golden Spurs, the Flemish army had way less knights, but they had good infantry (city militias from the guilds) and they wrecked the French.

    To summarize: you need at least some experienced warriors to command your levies, but grouping up the remainder would be very useful (because: oblique order tactics), especially if your opponent doesn't.
     
    halisme likes this.
  14. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    If I remember correctly in most wars only about 1% of the male population serve in the military. If your warrior caste is big enough they can wage war without conscripting the peasants. If 5% of the population are professional soldiers that is more than enough. In fact if a country have a very large professional full time military an then conscript some of its workers it will do more harm than good - you will have less people to supply the army with food and weapons and other essential supplies and more solders using the already existing supplies.
     
  15. halisme

    halisme Dreamer

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    It's probably somewhere beteen one and three percent depending on the war, however, the country used to be a theocracy, and they still have an "every war is a holy war" mindset. It makes it hard to stop peasents from joining.
     
  16. C. A. Stanley

    C. A. Stanley Minstrel

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    Hi Cold, I have a question re guerilla warfare. Specifically, guerilla warfare within a forest (jungle) setting, where the trees are used as a means of transportation. Could you point me in the right direction for further research (a specific battle / nation where it was used)? The 'enemy army' in my story is not so much an army, but a collection of much smaller units comprising of family members and friends, who are simply protecting their territory. They have bridges up amongst the trees, and use these (and their own inherent agility) to quickly and stealthily traverse large areas of forest, to weaken and demoralise the invading army with night time raids and random attacks, and retreat (leaving the army looking around wondering where the f*** the attack came from!). Obviously, attacking from up in the trees, projectile weapons would be essential. Is there a particular projectile weapon ideal for 'vertical warfare', or would a simple bow do the trick?
     
  17. AngryMidget

    AngryMidget Acolyte

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    Hi Stanley, while I may not be Cold, I'll try to shed some light on this topic. In Guerrilla warfare, any weapon that can be used, is used. Whether it be bows, stones, guns, javelins, if it works, they will use it. Guerrilla warfare is often used by a weakened and poorer nation, where 'high-class' technology is limited. Improvised weapons are very common, desperate times call for desperate measures. Really, as long as the weapon is viable and deadly, it will often be used. Hope this helps with the weapon issue. As for with the bridges, it's a unique idea but also a hazardous one. Many people may question you about it, stating its impracticality, as if one bridge is found, usually all the others are too as I assume they are connected. Please don't take offense to this, I'm just attempting to shed some light on it. Hope these tips helped.
    AngryMidget
     
  18. halfdan

    halfdan Scribe

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    Damn..just saw your thread after i opend mine...maybe you can help me!

    Im looking for this Information:

    Whats the Pro/con of the different Weapons

    What Armor is used..and same. Whats pro/con?

    When its better to use a lighter armor..instead of an Platearmor?

    Sure there is also a difference between battles and normal dayactivities/just some little fights
     
  19. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    You're going to have give more specifics. What era? What weapons? What type of warfare? Otherwise I'm just going to tell you that portable nukes are brilliant!!!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  20. halfdan

    halfdan Scribe

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    sorry..forgot the most important part! 1200-1400 around that.
     
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