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Where are the Others?


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Do not forget that only a very stupid general throws all his forces into the fray at once. The climbers were reserve in case Plan A (with high chance of success - again, it failed only because of Jon) failed. If he sends the skilled fighters up (and that would be risky - climbing wall will lead to losses and fatigue and all other bad things to happen) and they fail, he has no option to try another plan. 

And feeding those 400 while they are witht he wildling horde is very easy. Feeding them when they are away is hard as heck.

And no, giants do not help much with clearing out old tunnels. Since they are iced for decades or centuries, there is good chance the ice is by now connected with the ice of the Wall. Drive large spike by large force, you may have a large mass of ice sliding on from the top. Boom, no tunnel. Yes, ice is not granite... Ice is far trickier customer. Ask any mountain climber.

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9 hours ago, NutBurz said:

No they couldn´t, dude. For one, they need to rest. Second, they need to feed. They can´t climb with packs and packs of food on their back. They can´t fight hungry, tired and burdened. Third, they need the rest of the army to move, and moving camp is much slower than marching fighting men. Mance doesn´t have the exact numbers of the Night´s Watch to be sure that 400 men will do, he doesn´t know the movement of troops south of the wall. Climbing/sailing in great numbers to attack forts from the south must have been the first idea on every single Wildling warchief´s mind ever, and it probably always failed for these very reasons (although I´m not nearly as knowledgeable of the lore as to know that for sure, someone might correct me).

He sent those when they had a clear objective - climb and attack. They wouldn´t have to wait around for days like Jon´s group, or even march a long distance.

If Mance tried to climb 400 people in secret within marching range of Castle Black, the NW would simply spot it and man the Wall over there.


No, the reason was that the Giants were not able to break through the gates. It was a risk he took, which to him was better than the risk of drawing the attention of other armies. He felt he could win even if those "30" people died, but that he couldn´t win if he´d drawn the attention of someone else.

To me it´s beyond dispute that 400 foraging Wildlings would be spotted by someone in the North.

He also didn´t expect Jon to "turn his cloak". It might be questionable why would he send Jon in such a mission anyway, but I see it as a mistake Mance made based on the fact he projected himself/a son figure on Jon.

(1)  When I said "race" down the Wall, I didn't mean to literally sprint non-stop with no rest from wherever they cliimbed to Castle Black.  I meant to go towards Castle Black atop the Wall with reasonable haste, especially as compared to what they actually did, which, as near as I could tell, was to wander almost aimlessly around The Gift for a while, do some raiding, then mosey up to Castle Black in order to "see" the fire Mance lit (which, by the way, to this day I have NO clue how they saw, since it was on the other side of the Wall, and Orell was already dead, so he couldn't have seen it through his bird's eyes)

(2)  You seem really, really concerned about the food.  I'm not.  (a)  Once you're on top of the Wall, it's EASY to pull up pretty much as many supplies as you want with a long rope or ropes.  EASY.  There was no need for them to climb carrying it all, all they had to do was bring up a rope (or maybe 7 ropes 100' each to be tied together), then lower it down, and start pulling stuff up. This would have been EASY (b)  Are you aware how long people can go without food?  My understanding: Different from person to person, I'm sure, but generally, as I undrestand it, we are talking WEEKS before most people would fully starve to death. (water, on the other hand, is FAR more important than food over the short term, so they would bring some water, no probem).  Even if they couldn't pull up supplies (for some reason I can't even imagine), it would be NO problem to climb the Wall at a distance of, say, 20 miles from Castle Black (I have NO reason to believe the NW was patrolling that far), sleep atop the Wall, next day run 10 miles towards Castle Black (NO problem, these would be the fittest, heartiest warriors Mance has), have some small rations (my goodness, you have to admit they could carry at least SOME food on them while climbing), and next day finish the trip to Castle Black, at which time over 400 fighting men would easily have overwhelmed the NW.

(3)  You mention that Mance didn't know for sure how many NW there were.  Okay.  Well, he attacked with a MUCH smaller force ANYWAY.  Why was it okay for him to attack with about 20 or 30 fighters without knowing how many NW there were, but apparently, for some reason, it would not have been reasonable for him to attack with more than 400 under the same conditions??  I dunno.  I believe you mentioned the attack force of wildlings on top of the Wall would have had to wait for the rest of the wildlings to get to Castle Black.  Why?  Even assuming the attacks had to be simultaneous (which I do not concede), Mance could have timed it so that when the attack force was atop the Wall, the rest of the wildling horde was already within a day or so of Castle Black. Indeed, consider this:  WHY did Mance send Tormund and Jon to climb the Wall so early in the first place???  So they could wander around The Gift for a while, waiting to see Mance's signal fire???  Why?  All he had to do was time it so that the attack force reached the top of the Wall when the rest of the horde was a day or two from Castle Black, then the attack force that climbed the Wall goes straight to Castle Black...

(4)  I'm not sure what you consider "marching distance" to be.  You say the NW would have simply spotted them. How? Do you have some reason to believe they were patrolling 20 miles down the Wall regularly?  I certainly do not, but even IF they had patrols going that far down the Wall, by the time that patrol got back to Castle Black to warn them and then the NW headed all the way back in force, you are talking about 40 miles on foot (round trip).  During that time, I have NO doubt, at least 400 wildings would be atop the Wall, prepared to fight, from which position they would have fared FAR better against the NW than they did trying to climb the Wall with the NW dropping all kinds of stuff on their heads and shooting them with arrows at Castle Black.  Indeed, you basically say the NW could just go down to where the wiildings climbed to defend, but would it have been so easy? I don't think so.  They would have had to transport all the stuff that they used at Castle Black down the Wall with them, OR simply abandon the various means of defending the Wall  that had ready at hand at Castle Black (basically, they would have been men on foot with melee weapons, plus bows and arrows, which is FAR less than the variety of things they used to defend the Wall at Castle Black)

And beyond all THAT, have you considered that if the NW sent any significant force of men down the Wall to where hundreds of wildlings had just climbed it, the NW would have had that many fewer men to defend Castle Black?  NOW here come the giants and mammoths and the other guys Mance used to attack Castle Black, with the NW's forces SPLIT by about 20 miles of distance.   This would have been a complete and total nightmare scenario for the NW, they would have been destroyed.

(5)  Well, we agree on your last part, that's for sure.  Mance certainly made a mistake trusting Jon, but as I've already mentioned above, if he had sent Jon with a much larger force, Jon likely would not have found it anywhere NEAR so easy to switch sides and escape.

(6)  Finally, as much fun as it is talking about the things we've been discussing above (in our last few posts), please remember we are barely scratching fhe surface of all the options Mance had available to him, quite a few of which have been discussed at great length above in this very thread.  I have mentioned ways to climb the Wall en masse, using ropes, pitons, ladders, et cetera.  I have discussed ways to clear out the ice tunnels that, as far as I know, Mance never even ATTEMPTED, and ways to go around the end of the Wall at Eastwatch.  

And where did we get the "400" number you and I have been using?  

Why, it's nearly arbitrary when it comes to possibilities.  I started using it merely b/c that's the number of guys Mance told Jon he had sent to climb the Wall the morning after Mance's failed initial assault, but it could have been 4,000 just as easily (Jon and Ygritte both climbed the Wall with NO experience, so far as I know, it's inconceivable to me that out of 100,000 wildings Mance did not have 4,000 capable of cllimbing it just as well as Jon, Ygritte, and Tormund, a big guy)  

Send 4,000 to the Wall, then send the first 400 up, then use ropes to lower their climbing gear back down, and the next 400 start climbing (and even THIS assumes they only had climbing gear for 400), while the first 400 start pulling up supplies on the ropes.  Food, weapons, and such, possibly even pulling up people on the ropes.  Pretty soon, there are thousands of wildings on top of the Wall, with all the food and supplies they could reasonably need.  

That would have been a MAJOR problem for the NW, to put it mildly, one they could not have HOPED to repel.   Then the wildlings start marchign down the Wall towards Castle Black while, behind them, more and more and MORE wildlings continue to come up the Wall (even people not so great at climbing, including children, being pulled up by the ropes), while the giants and mammoths start opening up the ice tunnels.  This would have been a total nightmare scenario for the NW, far, far worse than what Mance actually did.

I guess this is my main point:  It seems clear to me that in warfare, the thing to do is to find the enemy's vulnerability, and exploit it as much as possible.  In attacking the Wall, that means "hitting 'em where they ain't," by beginning the assault somewhere along the hundreds of miles of undefended Wall, rather than doing what Mance did, which was to go straight to one of the VERY few spots the NW was capable of defending even half decently.

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Well, last post because I´ll start to repeat myself.

I think you make several bad assumptions. You underestimate the height of the wall, the lack of resources the Wildlings have, the NW in general (their ranging capabilities [like horses] and capacity to man the Wall at different points, in particular), the effect of fog of war, and above anything Mance´s need to beat the NW without triggering anyone else. You seem to not want to understand that it´s completely different to fight in one and two fronts and that "400" wildlings would probably not even be enough if the NW was not pinned by the army on the North side of the wall. You´re even apparently telling them to use their superior numbers on top of the wall where numbers mean nothing.


I´m sorry but I failed to convince you why you´d probably lose your army if you were making these decisions on a battle simulator. ^^ We´ll have to agree to disagree.


edit-i forgot to mention you underestimate the high likelihood of a very large force of Wildlings simply saying "screw attacking the NW, we´re south of the wall, we´ll get ourselves a village" and, once again, drawing attention of Lords.

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