Corvinus

Sea travel vs. land marching and the baffling decisions of Dany's war council

17 posts in this topic

It seems to me that the show has taken a bit too keenly to the use of ships for army transports. It's probably because with sea travel it is easier to get away with not showing time passing properly. But considering what has happened in the first 2 episodes, and what is going to happen in the next one, this is bothersome.

It is not an easy feat to transport so many men across seas. And I don't think it is necessarily faster.

So in this episode the Greyjoy contingent of Dany’s naval forces is sent to escort Ellaria back to Dorne, with the plan to bring back a Dornish army, which together with whatever army Olenna can bring, will besiege King’s Landing. I have a few of problems with this:

  • Even if Yara’s fleet is 100 hundred ships, that will not allow for a particularly large army to be transported; a few thousand at best. Have the great strategists of Dany’s council even considered how many men it will take to besiege and take King’s Landing, without Unsullied and Dothraki? Why can’t this Dornish army march north from Dorne? With Highgarden on the same side, the Dornish could march north in the Reach, join up with Olenna’s army, and essentially be Renly’s army 2.0.
  • Now the fastest route for the Dornish would be through the Stormlands. In the show, we have no idea what’s going on there, those lords are effectively non-existent in the show, but just like their norther counterparts, I’m sure they can be brought in when/if the plot demands it.
  • Furthermore, at the end of season 6, in Dany’s armada you could spot a few ships with Dornish sails. Besides the fact that in the books the Dornish don’t have a fleet, surely those ships would have been enough to provide an escort for Ellaria.
  • The Greyjoy fleet should have been kept at hand, to protect Dragonstone, secure the other islands in the Blackwater Bay, and prepare to besiege KL from the sea. (because without a fleet, you can’t properly besiege KL)

Another issue is the plan to attack Casterly Rock by having the Unsullied sail there. This is confirmed by the preview for episode 3. Again, why?

  • The council is held around Aegon’s Painted Table. They can see that it would take twice as long to sail there, as it would to Dorne, right, right?
  • Then there’s the dangers of who might you run into on the way there. Like Euron, for example. You would think that if Dany gets word of what happened with the Greyjoy fleet, she might re-think this strategy. Did the two fleets leave at the same time? If so, why didn’t Euron attack both fleets? Hmm… like I said, everyone can just sail anywhere to brush off time passage, and the logistics of a march.
  • But why not on land? The Unsullied are the best conditioned troops in the world, so I would think they would eat up those miles on land. Sure, there’s the danger of who might you run into on land, as well, but there are probably a dozen possibilities where you can land the troops in secret (for example Sharp Point, and then march through the kingswood). Also, if it came to an ambush, I would be more confident if the Unsullied had to defend themselves on land, than on the sea. With House Frey gone, and presumably the Riverlands once again in chaos, and if the lords of the northern Reach stay loyal to Highgarden, then marching to Casterly Rock shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course, Casterly Rock isn’t really that necessary to take, to begin with, other than maybe to prevent Cersei to retreat there should she escape King’s Landing. I think D&D may have a small obsession with it. (Recall Robb’s plan to attack CR back in season 3)

So with the Greyjoy fleet gone south, (and now shattered) and Dany’s own fleet (presumably the Masters fleet she acquired) sailing around all of Westeros, who is protecting Dragonstone from a surprise attack? Is she relying on her dragons for that?

Edited by Corvinus

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I don't claim to know much about naval stuff, but I think maybe you're underestimating the speed of ships. They should be able to travel faster than an army marching on good roads and with less need to rest (crews can rotate, keeping the ship moving longer), less resistance, no chance of the roads not being good enough, no waiting for wagons (I mean "wayns"), etc. to keep up. According to Wikipedia, a trireme could manage 50-60 miles on a good day, and "Classical sources indicate that the trireme was capable of sustained speeds of ca. 6 knots at a relatively leisurely pace". From what I can tell, the Roman army could have managed to travel maybe half as far in a day on foot, even with draught animals (which I doubt Dany has in large numbers). They presumably need to take enough supplies for at least a few days of fighting. What about siege engines - do they have any of those to transport? I don't remember them being mentioned, but they're going to need more than spears to take Casterly Rock.

Going back to resistance, yes, there is Euron, but otherwise who might get in the way? On land, there are forces everywhere. Even if the Unsullied can cut through them all, they still have to waste time giving battle. As foot soldiers they could be harried all the way by light cavalry, with their only protection being to form up behind shields and spears. No matter how good they are, they really ought to have some horses. I don't care how much experience they have fighting Dothraki, a half-decent leader like the Blackfish would make their journey to Casterly Rock a living hell.

Presumably the ships going to Dorne aren't bringing the Dornish army back again, but I can't remember for sure if that part of the plan was mentioned.

Edited by Ser Petyr Parker

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35 minutes ago, Ser Petyr Parker said:

 "Classical sources indicate that the trireme was capable of sustained speeds of ca. 6 knots at a relatively leisurely pace".

Triremes? But the ships we have seen are heavy cogs, galleons, caravels, etc… that can be VERY slow under certain conditions.

Since the coastal wind regime of Westeros is never discussed, the idea of sailing to Casterly Rock from Dragonstone is delusional.

What if the winds are contrary (blowing from West to East) all along the south coast of Dorne? The journey could take months.

Edited by Nowy Tends
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Well, like I said, I don't know much about naval stuff! I don't know what kinds of ships they're using, but triremes seemed about right judging by the ramming, Euron's corvus, and the use of oars. Also considering that sailing doesn't seem to be that important to the Westerosi in general - they're not exploring far-off lands or building disconnected empires, so I don't think they've developed it to the galleon/caravel level yet. I thought most ships in Westeros used oars as well as sails, but I think maybe I'm going by the books more than I should there. They seem to be more "age of sail" type ships in the show.

I stand by all the other points, though. Under normal conditions (from what I can tell by Googling) the ships you mention should be able to travel faster than marching pace too, and with the added bonus of avoiding land forces, natural barriers and logistical problems.

Edited by Ser Petyr Parker

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1 hour ago, Nowy Tends said:

Triremes? But the ships we have seen are heavy cogs, galleons, caravels, etc… that can be VERY slow under certain conditions.

Since the coastal wind regime of Westeros is never discussed, the idea of sailing to Casterly Rock from Dragonstone is delusional.

What if the winds are contrary (blowing from West to East) all along the south coast of Dorne? The journey could take months.

Regardless of relative speed, which isn't that great of a difference considering the available resources and lack of horses for Unsullied, the important thing is SO much resistance and spyingeyes on land. If they get far enough away from shore it will be hard to tell where they aim to land until the day they arrive.

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Sigh - all the perils of travelling by sea are described well in the books, at different occasions (Tyrions precautions when sending Myrcella to Dorne via Braavos; Samwell's travel to Oldtown, Victarion Greyjoys travel to Mereen etc.). And Danys army is a land army (Dothraki being horseriders, probably constantly vomiting while on ship; the Unsullied are no experienced fighters on sea. Even in the Show the 100 ships Yara captured are manned with a minimum crew to navigate and handle the ships.

But the writers of the Show are going more and more down a path of illogic within GRRM's fictional world of Westeros, Next they will come up with "Please beam me on board". Well, they nearly did with Varys travelling from Mereen to Dorne and back to Mereen and then back to Kings Landing in a time span of 2 episodes, if I recall correctly.

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Landing their forces on deserted Dragonstone, having sailed clean past friendly Dornish shores in Westeros to do so hundreds of miles back only to then attack the other side of the continent first is sheer raving insanity but if you're gonna do it, going by land wouldn't be feasible either.

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Look, just accept ships have teleportation in the ASOIAF world... It will save you headaches...

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11 hours ago, Ser Petyr Parker said:

I don't claim to know much about naval stuff, but I think maybe you're underestimating the speed of ships. They should be able to travel faster than an army marching on good roads and with less need to rest (crews can rotate, keeping the ship moving longer), less resistance, no chance of the roads not being good enough, no waiting for wagons (I mean "wayns"), etc. to keep up. According to Wikipedia, a trireme could manage 50-60 miles on a good day, and "Classical sources indicate that the trireme was capable of sustained speeds of ca. 6 knots at a relatively leisurely pace". From what I can tell, the Roman army could have managed to travel maybe half as far in a day on foot, even with draught animals (which I doubt Dany has in large numbers). They presumably need to take enough supplies for at least a few days of fighting. What about siege engines - do they have any of those to transport? I don't remember them being mentioned, but they're going to need more than spears to take Casterly Rock.

Going back to resistance, yes, there is Euron, but otherwise who might get in the way? On land, there are forces everywhere. Even if the Unsullied can cut through them all, they still have to waste time giving battle. As foot soldiers they could be harried all the way by light cavalry, with their only protection being to form up behind shields and spears. No matter how good they are, they really ought to have some horses. I don't care how much experience they have fighting Dothraki, a half-decent leader like the Blackfish would make their journey to Casterly Rock a living hell.

As mentioned above, none of the ships we see are triremes, or any other kind of oared ships. All we see are sail ships, so if the wind dies, or if they are caught in a storm, which can easily happen in the narrow sea, especially as they pass the Stormlands, they can be in big trouble.

And while an army on land can certainly be harried, they can also march undetected if they find the right route. That's why I said that one strategy could have been to land in secret somewhere in the Crownlands, and if they can pass by King's Landing without being noticed, they can halfway to Casterly Rock before anyone knows what's up. Also, a land army can forage for supplies as they travel. Ships would have to stop to resupply. And I should think the Unsullied can march longer in a day than most other armies, on account of their tough conditioning.  

11 hours ago, Ser Petyr Parker said:

Presumably the ships going to Dorne aren't bringing the Dornish army back again, but I can't remember for sure if that part of the plan was mentioned.

Tyrion says that a Dornish army would be brought back by Yara's fleet. The plan was to have the Dornish and the Tyrells lay siege to KL.

But like I said, I believe that writers don't really care about this kind of stuff, and utilizing sea travel is an easier method to get away with things.

And I bow to these words:

4 hours ago, Ser Lepus said:

Look, just accept ships have teleportation in the ASOIAF world... It will save you headaches...

 

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9 hours ago, Corvinus said:

As mentioned above, none of the ships we see are triremes, or any other kind of oared ships. All we see are sail ships, so if the wind dies, or if they are caught in a storm, which can easily happen in the narrow sea, especially as they pass the Stormlands, they can be in big trouble.

And while an army on land can certainly be harried, they can also march undetected if they find the right route. That's why I said that one strategy could have been to land in secret somewhere in the Crownlands, and if they can pass by King's Landing without being noticed, they can halfway to Casterly Rock before anyone knows what's up. Also, a land army can forage for supplies as they travel. Ships would have to stop to resupply. And I should think the Unsullied can march longer in a day than most other armies, on account of their tough conditioning.

I'll take your word for it that they're not using oars. In the books almost all the ships use oars, so I was originally basing my thinking partly on that.

It sounds like it's a gamble either way. I'm sceptical about marching a few thousand people hundreds of miles through the middle of the country undetected. Keeping away from eyes also means somehow finding a route suitable for wagons and animals that somehow no one else uses.

Edited by Ser Petyr Parker

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14 hours ago, Ser Lepus said:

Look, just accept ships have teleportation in the ASOIAF world... It will save you headaches...

This, and the cornucopia. Not a single word about the supply of this huge army…

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-Using show lore each ship can transport 100 men not including the crew (conversation between Danny and small council in Mereen and between Stannis and Iron Bank (not sure for the second one)

-Sea travel is much faster than land travel. Having said that it is a logistical nightmare.

-The big disadvantage of mass transporting troops via sea is that should the enemy intercept the transporting fleet the whole army will be destroyed within hours. Lost battles have 90% survivors, lost sea battles have 90% casualties. 

-The second disadvantage is that a storm will destroy many ships and scatter the rest. Each ship going down would cost 100 men.

-The plan is idiotic. Even if they don't know Euron talks with Cercei (which they should), they must know that Euron holds the Iron Islands, and has a huge fleet lurking around Lannisport (Iron Islands are next door). Shipbreaker Bay is infamous for her storms and they must pass through it. Also during the show it is mentioned that the Royal fleet is being rebuild. Anyone would go Kamikaze and attack a bigger fleet with hulls full of soldiers. Danny's fleet could encounter an enemy fleet at any point of going around half of Westeros.

It is an incredibly risky plan when there are several safer alternatives.

The only reason to do this is if Tyrion wants to secure Custerly Rock for his seat as a Lannister - but I doubt the writters had this in mind.

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What logistics? They don't care about that stuff.

 

How many Dothraki does she have? Over 100,000? Where the hell do they all fit at Dragonstone? And the horses? What do they all eat? How is she going to transport them all to the mainland now that the (probably) entire fleet is gone?

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9 hours ago, Edward Teach said:

What logistics? They don't care about that stuff.

 

How many Dothraki does she have? Over 100,000? Where the hell do they all fit at Dragonstone? And the horses? What do they all eat? How is she going to transport them all to the mainland now that the (probably) entire fleet is gone?

Dany convinced the Dothraki to forget about the horses and become an infantry spending their leisure time with fishing (lots of fish around Dragonstone). Dothraki are known to be open to cultural changes and agree happily, they grew bored on horsemeat anyway. The horses will be used to feed the Dragons. See, everyone is well fed that way.

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I think it make sense to go by the sea in terms of logistics, stealth and speed. However, as somebody mentioned, the fact that you have the iron fleet lurking around poses too much of a risk. 

The show has demonstrated over and over again to not pay attention to what they may consider "details" 

(i.e. the use of woom woom in battle, teletransportation of varys, area surviving really bad stabs and many others...)

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These armies are basically teleporting to hammer the plot forward at light speed anyway, forget worrying about what makes sense because the writers certainly aren't. The devil is in the detail and they killed that guy a few seasons back when they actually had source material. 

I'm just watching it as fantasy action schlock  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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I believe episode 3 has rested my case on why sailing has prevailed in the show over land marching.  

Oh, and Olenna sure could have used a Dornish army marching through the Reach. Oh, well…

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