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Stannis's huge victory at the wall.


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#1 Seņor de la Tormenta

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:28 PM

Im kind of tired of reading people saying Stannis defeated a bunch of untrained wildings armed with bones and stone.
 
I really cant get why there is such a hard look upon him, when many facts tell us it was an enormus victory,
 
Wildings as not proben fighters, unable to make strategic plans is just a myth. A myth used to steal Stannis merits!
 
People got to remember that not so far ago,  Bowen Marsh, with good men as Endrew Tarth, at the briedge of skulls faced an equal size wilding army and got heavy casualties. Almost 1 brother, for each wilding killed, and with crows fighting the westerosi way: with all the iron they could wear. A fact that no one remembers when it comes to give credit to Stannis beating an army 20 times bigger than his.
 
If this case is not enought, we heard that in the past, wildings got into the north, and the Lords or Kings in winterfell needed to call their full power (not just 1k men) to stop them. Willem Stark, lord of winterfell even got himself killed facing them.
 
So why do we, even with this clear text facts, just continue saying it was a cheap victory?
 
 

Edited by Seņor de la Tormenta, 08 November 2013 - 09:04 PM.


#2 GallowsKnight

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:46 PM

Agreed. The Wildlings lacked technology and their discipline was not the same as a Seven Kingdoms army. But they weren't exactly a rabble of peasants. They were brave men and women used to harsh environments and conflicts between one another. Mance rallies his cavalry quite quickly and we see other Wildlings forming spear walls. There were of course the Giants and the Mammoths as well. And off course having roughly 20x times Stannis' number. The victory is a credit to Stannis. He landed an army at Eastwatch and forced marched them quickly enough to take Mance by surprise. He then used Eastwatch Rangers to draw the Wildlings into his trap, where he used the three columns of heavy horse to smash them, while his infantry followed behind.

#3 James Arryn

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:50 PM

My objection the overrating of this victory is not that the wildlings were pushovers.

It's that by far and away the decisive factor was timing. Which was, unless I've missed something, completely a matter of chance. The wildlings were hit in an exposed flank when they were committed to the front.

GRRM has a lot of these, by the way. The Hammer and Anvil, ok. An unexpected flank attack saves a seemingly doomed but determined defence, arriving at just the right moment, leading to a rout.

But then at the Blackwater, a determined but apparently doomed defence is saved at the last second by...an unexpected flank attack by a third party. Completely uncoordinated with the defending army, and arriving by sheer chance at an opportune moment, leading to a rout.

Spoiler


Seeing a pattern?

Now as far as I understand it, Stannis' plan was land in the East. Head west along the Wall.

That's it, right? There was no coordination with the NW, no waiting for a day or so to pounce at the right moment. It just happens, completely by chance, at the right moment. And the wildlings try and mount a resistance but pretty quickly rout. Except for the giants.

As always, Stannis' men fight hard and fight well. Sign of a solid commander with solid subordinates. And his unit commanders show initiative in Cromwelling the giants. But nothing that Stannis does or about the attack is remarkable except the timing. It's pretty standard fare.

If you appear unexpectedly and hit an army hard enough in the flank, especially one conducting a siege, it will rout. That's pretty basic. And again, the essence of Stannis achieving that tactical surprise was, so farvascwe know, complete chance. His superior armament and training would help, but honestly I would expect a 7K army to route almost as quickly under similar circumstances.

Or did I miss something? It's pretty much exactly what Tywin/Garlan did to Stannis, except that at least required the coordination of 2 armies. This was 1, heading West.

Nothing remarkable except GRRM's go-to perfect timing by chance. Nothing Stannis has ever done as a commander has impressed me, strategically or tactically. He has very solid command and control, he seems to drill very well and his troops have excellent discipline and fight hard. All good stuff. But also pretty standard. He's no slouch, he shows no weak points as a commander, he's versatile. But nothing stands out, either. Nothing is unconventional. There's nothing he does that an ordinary solid commander wouldn't do about as well.

Hopefully Winterfell is his Austerlitz or w/e. But until that, he's down in my books as solid, dependable and tough...but beatable and conventional.

Edited by James Arryn, 08 November 2013 - 09:19 PM.


#4 DaarioKnowsBest

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:54 PM

I think it's a credit to Stannis and deserves merit for it.
I just can't get behind the exaggerations of how he was such an underdog in the fight and he overcame astronomical odds to beat the big bad wildlings.

Stannis did his job and deserves credit for it, I just don't agree that it was some unprecedented victory that's unbelievable and amazing.

Wildling are a far less advanced society no matter how many there are.

Edited by DaarioKnowsBest, 08 November 2013 - 08:55 PM.


#5 northernmonkey

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:58 PM

There's a big difference between the Night's Watch and the army of a potential king. The wildlings can't have faced a true Westerosi army for god knows how long. Obviously we should give credit to Stannis, but I think it's clear that it was a fairly straightforward victory for him.



#6 Seņor de la Tormenta

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:00 PM

There's a big difference between the Night's Watch and the army of a potential king. The wildlings can't have faced a true Westerosi army for god knows how long. Obviously we should give credit to Stannis, but I think it's clear that it was a fairly straightforward victory for him.

Why do you think Starks needed to rise big armys in the past to face wildings invasions, got thousands of casualties and even a lord of WF killed in action if beating wildings with westeros troops is such an easy task?

Edited by Seņor de la Tormenta, 08 November 2013 - 09:01 PM.


#7 HannibalStark

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:03 PM

Stannis didn't face them head on like most/many of the battles in the book....he came up all sneaky like and caught them breaking their fasts and taking their morning dumps...

 

Good for Stannis for strategy and all, but the wildings and the Mance never had any idea they would ever be fighting  a bunch of mounted Southron knights coming out of no where....

 

But if you want to compare what Stannis did...(winning a battle catching them by suprise) doesn't that mean that Jon Snow and his handful of limping gimps should be getting all kinds of kudos for fending off thousands of wildings with a handful of his black brothers- who didn't really have the same surprise on their side that Stannis did.... Jon literally held the wall from both sides with only a few men.

 

Yay for Stannis and all, but I think what Jon did was much more impressive..

 

Maybe thats why Stannis isn't getting more credit.



#8 direwienerdog

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:04 PM

It is a good victory from a strategic point of view. Stannis forces found the weak-link and Mel took out the Wildlings topeyes, the warged eagle. The Wildlings while being formidable individual fighters weren't an organized army. Their lack of discipline and the fact there was a considerable amount of non-combatants( women, children, the old sick and starving) only added to the confusion and the route. The Wildlings had been fighting for sometime as well against the NW.
It was a good victory for Stannis but not the kind the singer's would write songs about.

#9 northernmonkey

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:05 PM

Why do you think Starks needed to rise big armys in the past to face wildings invasions, got thousands of casualties and even a lord of WF killed in action if beating wildings with westeros troops is such an easy task?

 

Like I said, that all happened a long time ago.

 

Mance's army thought they were going to be facing the Night's Watch, but a proper Westerosi army turned up and destroyed them.



#10 Seņor de la Tormenta

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:09 PM

 
Like I said, that all happened a long time ago.
 
Mance's army thought they were going to be facing the Night's Watch, but a proper Westerosi army turned up and destroyed them.

I do not agree.
Willem Stark died perhaps 100 years before AGOT. In terms of ASOIF that time means nothing.
100 years ago, wildings were enough threat to make the Lord of Winterfell to call his banners and die in battle. Theres no reason to think now they arent, and that being beaten with 1k is an enormous achievment.

Edited by Seņor de la Tormenta, 08 November 2013 - 09:11 PM.


#11 northernmonkey

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:16 PM

I do not agree.
Willem Stark died perhaps 100 years before AGOT. In terms of ASOIF that time means nothing.
100 years ago, wildings were enough threat to make the Lord of Winterfell to call his banners and die in battle. Theres no reason to think now they arent, and that being beaten with 1k is an enormous achievment.

 

Fair point, but I just don't think the wildlings are as much of a threat these days. They've spent their entire lives scrapping with the Night's Watch, and it's obvious from the battle that they weren't ready to take on a proper army.



#12 jarl the climber

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:19 PM

People seem to misunderstand what Stannis did at the Wall. He did coordinate his actions with Cotter Pyke. Pykes forces attacked first with a line of scouts and when Harma counterattacked she was caught in a trap. Then Mance in turn was forced to ride out with whatever mounted force he could gather in order to releive Harma. If Mance had held back his mounted forces and formed a spear wall with Tormund in front of him the battle might have gone differently. Still Mances initial reaction to the attack is that it was a futile gesture on the part of Pyke and that the Nights Watch had no hope of any kind of reinforcement.



#13 Usrnmhsnomning

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:23 PM

I think a key reason people disregard the victory is because Jeor Mormont called out the flaws of the Wildlings to a 't' when he set up on the Fist. A much smaller force of disciplined soldiers would break the Wildlings; guess what happened when a smaller force of disciplined soldiers showed up while the Wildlings weren't looking? It's not really a fantastic victory given we already knew the Wildlings had no hope against a real force.



#14 jarl the climber

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:34 PM

 

Like I said, that all happened a long time ago.

 

Mance's army thought they were going to be facing the Night's Watch, but a proper Westerosi army turned up and destroyed them.

Mances army lost about a 1,000 killed and another 1,000 were captured out of a total group of about 30,000 or 40,000. Hardly a complete destruction. What made it sucsessful was that many of the Wildling leaders were killed or captured. Still Tormunds band which is now South of the Wall is still a potential threat to the Nights Watch even more so now. The Weeper could try the Bridge of Skulls again as well. So they are still a threat.


Edited by jarl the climber, 08 November 2013 - 11:11 PM.


#15 Winterfellian

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:07 PM

My objection the overrating of this victory is not that the wildlings were pushovers.

It's that by far and away the decisive factor was timing. Which was, unless I've missed something, completely a matter of chance. The wildlings were hit in an exposed flank when they were committed to the front.

GRRM has a lot of these, by the way. The Hammer and Anvil, ok. An unexpected flank attack saves a seemingly doomed but determined defence, arriving at just the right moment, leading to a rout.

But then at the Blackwater, a determined but apparently doomed defence is saved at the last second by...an unexpected flank attack by a third party. Completely uncoordinated with the defending army, and arriving by sheer chance at an opportune moment, leading to a rout.

Spoiler


Seeing a pattern?

Now as far as I understand it, Stannis' plan was land in the East. Head west along the Wall.

That's it, right? There was no coordination with the NW, no waiting for a day or so to pounce at the right moment. It just happens, completely by chance, at the right moment. And the wildlings try and mount a resistance but pretty quickly rout. Except for the giants.

As always, Stannis' men fight hard and fight well. Sign of a solid commander with solid subordinates. And his unit commanders show initiative in Cromwelling the giants. But nothing that Stannis does or about the attack is remarkable except the timing. It's pretty standard fare.

If you appear unexpectedly and hit an army hard enough in the flank, especially one conducting a siege, it will rout. That's pretty basic. And again, the essence of Stannis achieving that tactical surprise was, so farvascwe know, complete chance. His superior armament and training would help, but honestly I would expect a 7K army to route almost as quickly under similar circumstances.

Or did I miss something? It's pretty much exactly what Tywin/Garlan did to Stannis, except that at least required the coordination of 2 armies. This was 1, heading West.

Nothing remarkable except GRRM's go-to perfect timing by chance. Nothing Stannis has ever done as a commander has impressed me, strategically or tactically. He has very solid command and control, he seems to drill very well and his troops have excellent discipline and fight hard. All good stuff. But also pretty standard. He's no slouch, he shows no weak points as a commander, he's versatile. But nothing stands out, either. Nothing is unconventional. There's nothing he does that an ordinary solid commander wouldn't do about as well.

Hopefully Winterfell is his Austerlitz or w/e. But until that, he's down in my books as solid, dependable and tough...but beatable and conventional.

 

:agree:  100% 

 

Well said!



#16 Nyrhex

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:09 PM

So why do we, even with this clear text facts, just continue saying it was a cheap victory?
 
 

 

Favourites. The same reason one person can say that Robb Stark was the Alexander the Great of Westeros, or that Tarly is the best because of Ashford, or that Dany, or Ramsay are, because they never lost a battle. Combine that with Jon Snow's contempt for the southerners, how he knocks them down in the books with Godry and the running giant, and people look at it like a "one thousand elite knights against a rabble, no surprise". It's not elite knights, it's not a rag-tag rabble. And it's definatly not a simple example of cavalry shock charge. Still would'nt matter to people.



#17 Tetrarch42

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:18 PM

*snip*

 

 Nothing Stannis has ever done as a commander has impressed me, strategically or tactically. He has very solid command and control, he seems to drill very well and his troops have excellent discipline and fight hard. All good stuff. But also pretty standard. He's no slouch, he shows no weak points as a commander, he's versatile. But nothing stands out, either. Nothing is unconventional. There's nothing he does that an ordinary solid commander wouldn't do about as well.

Hopefully Winterfell is his Austerlitz or w/e. But until that, he's down in my books as solid, dependable and tough...but beatable and conventional.

 

I find the idea that "there's nothing he does that an ordinary solid commander wouldn't do about as well" suspect. We know, that at least from the perspective of the Westerosi, his victory over the Iron Fleet is considered legendary, and that's coming from Asha of all people.



#18 The Sullen Sellsword

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:39 PM

I think a key reason people disregard the victory is because Jeor Mormont called out the flaws of the Wildlings to a 't' when he set up on the Fist. A much smaller force of disciplined soldiers would break the Wildlings; guess what happened when a smaller force of disciplined soldiers showed up while the Wildlings weren't looking? It's not really a fantastic victory given we already knew the Wildlings had no hope against a real force.

 

Pretty much this.

 

It's a good victory, but it's by no means impressive, it's about as impressive as Tywin defeating Stannis on the Blackwater if you ask me.

 

EDIT: His victory over Victarion is a much more impressive victory, probably the high point of his military career. 


Edited by The Sullen Sellsword, 08 November 2013 - 11:40 PM.


#19 Nictarion

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:53 PM

We know, that at least from the perspective of the Westerosi, his victory over the Iron Fleet is considered legendary, and that's coming from Asha of all people.

I think his victory at Fair Island is much more impressive than the battle for the wall. Beating the IB at sea is an achievement.

#20 James Arryn

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 11:58 PM

I find the idea that "there's nothing he does that an ordinary solid commander wouldn't do about as well" suspect. We know, that at least from the perspective of the Westerosi, his victory over the Iron Fleet is considered legendary, and that's coming from Asha of all people.


The latter sounds like a really good win, but nothing about it stands out strategically or tactically that we know of. It's basically Salamis without the feint and with inverted numbers. If it was described more, it might be more impressive, but as it it sounds pretty paint by numbers. I'm not saying it's not a credit, I'm saying nothing about the thinking that we have heard of speaks to a great commander.