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Superhero combat tactics

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Chuck, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck Scribe

    I just recently finished watching "Star Wars The Bad Batch" and while I enjoyed it, there was one thing that really bothered me. They were supposed to be this elite, unstoppable special warfare unit, but they obviously didn't know anything about basic combat tactics. They were constantly making mistakes that even the freshest FNG would never make. This was obviously because the writers were not veterans and didn't know better.

    But it got me thinking. Science fiction tactics really wouldn't be any different than modern tactics. The weapons might be more advanced, but a laser rifle is still a rifle and a space ship is still a ship. But what happens when you add super powers into the mix? How would a military fight using superheroes?

    Does anyone know of any resources that actually discuss superhero combat tactics?
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    Most capes[tuff] isn't very intelligent, so you're not going to find any of that in any mainstream capes[tuff].

    The best thing I can think of that might help you would be Warcraft 3 or MOBAs in general. You have a really powerful guy who has the power to call down lightning, buff nearby troops, use farsight, and can take a lot more damage than the basic grunts or archers. He serves as both a unit commander and a special person to escort. It's understood that everyone else is expendable since this one guy has the power to turn the game if he shows up. But he's still just a guy and enough arrows to the face will kill him. In an RTS like Warcraft 3 you can make assumptions of what hero the opponent might have based on the type of army they're using and then build up your own army/defenses to counter that, but scouting will be really important, too, so you know what to prepare for.

    So if we have a standard sci-fi army and some standard superheroes, it would probably go the same way. We KNOW they have a Really Fast Guy like the Flash, so bullets/lasers won't work on him, he could just run behind our lines and stab our general. So maybe the general can be radioing this in, you can create bottlenecks and zones that slow him down (tachyons? I don't know I don't write hard SF), or maybe the Flash has an "effective range" based on how many seconds he can go super fast, so someone does the math and keeps all the important stuff far enough away from him. If there's a chance the enemy might have Super Man with them, then you're going to have some kryptonite weapons (and specially trained troops) waiting. Or maybe you cause some giant disaster in another part of the world that keeps Super Man busy, he's morally compelled to save innocent civilians over allied soldiers since civilians are more "innocent" or something.

    For attackers, they'd want troops/tactics that protects their hero and guards their weaknesses. Maybe kryptonite gives off some specific energy signature so your scanners look for it, then you use tactical strikes to destroy it. The Flash has some EMPs to take out the tachyon fields. Have some stealth bombers fly alongside Wondar Woman's invisible jet, Aquaman uses his sea critters to scan the enemy harbor for mines before the u-boats come in. It would all come down to finding units and heroes that pair well together.
  3. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    To your for question, have your heard of the Malazan Book of the Fallen? Epic wars fought with epic magic, and ordinary soldiers with epic weapons. Hands down a must read.

    To your other questions, I'm writing a superhero novel now (first one in beta reading.) I have a scene where one superhero faces off against the military might of a nation. The nation lost. Her powers are extreme, think Storm from X-Men but on a continental level, and one can see why they lost. The question is then asked, or should be asked, do humans feel safe in the face of such awesome power? Sure, superheroes may fight for the people, but what of supervillains? What if you just happen to be on the wrong side of "the people?"

    I like to explore these ideas more than the mechanics of superhero warfare combat. For now. I already have scenes planned where I'll have to answer the questions you've raised exactly and I'll be taking inspiration from book like the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and others such as the Wheel of Time.
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I would quibble a bit here. If we imagine the difference in tactics between a fighting force that lived 15,000 year ago and, say, Napoleon's army, you'll find lots of difference. There's even a framework called "Generations of Warfare" that looks at changes brought on by evolving technology and infrastructure, mostly during modern times, and some of these are dramatic enough we might as well call them "new."

    The tactics that evolve from having basic firearms vs having SF firearms that might have, say, AI-guided bullets linked via satellites able to scan a battleground down to the milimeter per pixel resolution...heh, or better, would be quite different.

    Then there is the "indistinguishable from magic" aspect of technology, which might make it appear to be super powers after all.

    I think this would depend on the types of superheroes available to each side and in general.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I think it’s pretty much an unknowable answer. I’ve been watching Walking Dead and how stupid these characters are just drives me nuts. How the hell are they still alive? Game of Thrones (HBO) tactics also made me cringe, in particular the moronic use of dragons. But, oh well. The differences in warfare could be staggering depending on the powers, down to the point of why have major conflicts when it might turn out to be your super vs my super? Two champions for their king determines the victor, the losing king goes into exile. I’ve never seen anyone attempt to explain supers warfare because the variables would be unlimited. At least with space warfare you’d have the extra dimension for flanking maneuvers from above and below.
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    There's the three obvious answers: Snipers. Snipers. Snipers. A superhero is a single person, so any option to take one out quickly dramatically reduces your enemy's force.

    Depending on a superhero's actual powers, a standard sniper might not work. And other superheroes might not want to reveal themselves right away, and try to look like just a regular soldier while they bide their time. There's so many unknowns, based on which powers each side has available, so it's hard to get concrete. That's why there's a million animes with powered characters battling it out. Finding a good mix of how different powers interact is a big part of what people are looking for in the genre. There aren't a lot of shortcuts.
  7. Chuck

    Chuck Scribe

    It seems like everyone here is focused on superhero combat using a single super powered individual. When I saw Avengers Endgame, I initially wanted to complain, because there was no obvious coordination with the combatants on either end. I cut them some slack because the good guys didn't plan on getting attacked and most of the good guys were teleported in from across the galaxy, and the bad guys were mostly mindless drones that attacked anyone who wasn't on their side. Imagine if the Avengers had time to train, plan, and execute a proper attack plan. How different would that fight have gone? Instead it was a free for all, capture the gauntlet.
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I don't know who here watches much anime, but there's several which talk about strategy and tactics, and it gives off a very different feel than you'd see in a movie. There's a lot of time spent talking, planning, analyzing, thinking of different options. And it's interesting, until it's boring.

    Regardless, there's an anime I'd recommend for the purpose of seeing how they think about tactics. That's World Trigger, especially the later episodes. They debate their plans and plan some more. Then they fight. Then talk explain why all their plans worked or not. Lots, and lots, of talking strategy, in particular once they get to the team vs. team sports-like battles. They aren't superheroes, but soldiers with special equipment. But the thought process would be similar.

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