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Great battle plan! Dubious tactics discussion.

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2 hours ago, ferrelhadley said:

https://slate.com/culture/2019/04/battle-winterfell-military-analysis-tactics.html?via=gdpr-consent

 

This is not too bad, it hit some of the points I have been making.

They were in deep trouble and had few options. Especially that there is no real flank to attack or any real way of finding one. 

1. Dismount. They don’t know this in US?

2. Artillery cannot or at very least should not fire through the walls.

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11 hours ago, ferrelhadley said:

The Dothraki horde was supposed to be about 30 000 strong. 

They are not getting in and out of Winterfell or between the infantry formations in anything under an hour or two. That charge was bigger than Sobieski's Poles at Vienna (1683). 

Plenty of dismounted cavalry eating tasty horses.

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13 hours ago, TwiceBorn said:

1. Dismount. They don’t know this in US?

2. Artillery cannot or at very least should not fire through the walls.

The point of trebauchet is that they have a high arc of fire, as shown, so they can fire over walls, either offensively or defensively.  Depending on the size of the counter weight, and the projectile, they could fire some 450 metres, in our universe......Yes, they may not have fitted many into Winterfell, but they would have got more than one shot off.!!!...the catapults should have been made smaller to fit in the towers, and fire, hot showers of coals from all those forges, or all the dragon glass shards and bits they would have had left over, to cover the outer defences, in front of the palisade etc. Hindsight is a wonderful thing....but Jon, made a big speech on how to kill them at Kingslanding, and then promptly underutilized the easiest method to kill the undead, or even see better!!!.....would have made a big difference probably  not.......but it would have made the battle scenes a bit more diverse.

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Trebauchet was a waste of time, far better to have used the wood and time to build cross bows for the Free Folk and others with less experience of fighting in formations. A volley of cross bows would have very likely taken out a great deal more wights and their rate of fire would have been significantly higher. There is a reason medeival battlefields were chock full of cross bows but trebauchet were only ever used against fixed fortifications. 

But they look way cooler on TV (I blame Lord of the Rings).

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8 minutes ago, ferrelhadley said:

Trebauchet was a waste of time, far better to have used the wood and time to build cross bows for the Free Folk and others with less experience of fighting in formations. A volley of cross bows would have very likely taken out a great deal more wights and their rate of fire would have been significantly higher. There is a reason medeival battlefields were chock full of cross bows but trebauchet were only ever used against fixed fortifications. 

But they look way cooler on TV (I blame Lord of the Rings).

Yep you're right, I think like a lot of other ideas it would have made the whole drama more diverse.....it seems that only Tyrion owns one.!!!....obviously, they can make trebauchet, but not crossbows up north?.....I thought Jon made a point of getting as many as possible, including the women folk,  trained up to fire bows in S7....but the was little evidence of it in ep3.?

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1 hour ago, Jora the Explorer said:

The point of trebauchet is that they have a high arc of fire, as shown, so they can fire over walls, either offensively or defensively.  Depending on the size of the counter weight, and the projectile, they could fire some 450 metres, in our universe......Yes, they may not have fitted many into Winterfell, but they would have got more than one shot off.!!!...the catapults should have been made smaller to fit in the towers, and fire, hot showers of coals from all those forges, or all the dragon glass shards and bits they would have had left over, to cover the outer defences, in front of the palisade etc. Hindsight is a wonderful thing....but Jon, made a big speech on how to kill them at Kingslanding, and then promptly underutilized the easiest method to kill the undead, or even see better!!!.....would have made a big difference probably  not.......but it would have made the battle scenes a bit more diverse.

I know but you know judging from my Angry Birds experience the big arc means that you cannot fire effectively at close range so I like this idea of mounting smaller siege engines on towers and walls and ramparts more.

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The trebuchets would usually be mounted on the battlements and towers, yes. The 19th century misunderstandings of mangonels the Unsullied drag around would likely be smaller, drawn trebuchets. You can get decent ranges with those too.

You can't just make wooden crossbow laths from any old wooden beam, though. The laths have to have a good latewood to earlywood mix (even if you use something just ok for laths like ashwood) so they can be made thick enough for the draw to work with any strength, or you just get a toy crossbow. The tillering of the lath is a lot of work as well, and all of this is fairly specialized work too (the string, stock and lock are easier if you have a decent smith and woodworker). This all can take a long time, which is why bows and crossbows typically are made before a campaign (as we see in many requisition lists and orders from when we have surviving examples) whereas many war engines can be built on campaign. Although, of course, they often premade parts of those as well. The main advantage of the crossbow is that it doesn't take years to train a crossbowman as compared to a bowman, not that the production is easier. 

If Winterfell is equipped in any way like a typical late medieval (pre-gunpowder takeover) castle, there could be some premade trebuchets, springalds and great crossbows lying in the armory, for campaign use and counterbattery fire. Of course, there would also be a bowstave and possibly crossbow raw material supply there, or even a store of finished examples. It depends on whether the Boltons resupplied the castle when they took it over and how thoroughly Theon and the ironborn looted the armory way back then.
 

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26 minutes ago, Kaptajn Congoboy said:

If Winterfell is equipped in any way like a typical late medieval (pre-gunpowder takeover) castle, there could be some premade trebuchets, springalds and great crossbows lying in the armory, for campaign use and counterbattery fire. Of course, there would also be a bowstave and possibly crossbow raw material supply there, or even a store of finished examples. It depends on whether the Boltons resupplied the castle when they took it over and how thoroughly Theon and the ironborn looted the armory way back then.

I doubt that anyone would have bothered with big unwieldy pieces, so I think it is a reasonable assumption those would have been left behind.

Also, there should have been whole stacks of polearms - those were easy to make and would come handy when defending the walls, along with piles of flammable materials to be poured or dumped on the attackers. Even stones or logs could be useful, for at least temporarily clearing some space (and a crushed zombie wouldn't be able to climb the walls, either). One would think that the guy who commanded the defence of the Wall would know about such things.

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50 minutes ago, Kaptajn Congoboy said:

You can't just make wooden crossbow laths from any old wooden beam, though. The laths have to have a good latewood to earlywood mix (even if you use something just ok for laths like ashwood) so they can be made thick enough for the draw to work with any strength, or you just get a toy crossbow. 

So you think that only weapons strong enough to penetrate armour would be useful. 

You only need a weapon with enough draw to get over the infantry. The undead are mostly unarmoured, you just need a puncture would into desiccated flesh with the dragonglass to undo the spell. 

Wasting time trying to make a cross bow to take out chain or plate mail is not needed or even useful. Its about getting as much volume of fire as possible. 

Time and time again, people fail to think their way through about who this enemy is and what the conditions are. "Flanking them" in the dark, building crossbows with 90kg draw weights. 

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Flanking them should definitely work. Flanking is not just psychological thing, it also means striking from where the weapons are not aiming (or not predominantly) so flank/rear attack on dense crowd of wights would at least result in significantly increasing the K/D ratio for the humans (and given known wighting abilities this ratio should be the main aim of the conventional part of the battle). And dark can be countered at least for example by beacons / Dothraki with torches maintaining contact and showing the extent of enemy advance. Would be risky, but less so than a blind charge in the darkness and more effective.

 

Then again that would require Dothraki to be styled after real Mongols and not badly written romantic idea of Mongols ;)

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1 minute ago, Runaway Penguin said:

Flanking them should definitely work. Flanking is not just psychological thing, it also means striking from where the weapons are not aiming 

a) How do you coordinate a "flanking manoeuvre" in the dark. 

b) How do you even see the flank.

c) Weapons? Its an undead host that is directed by telepathy from a small group. Its axis of advance can shift 90o in a second. 

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90 kg fra weigh  with from a wooden lath. You are optimistic to a fault. Even the laughably weak chu-ko-no requires å properly made lath. Or it will either not function as a missile weapon beyond 15 paces or snap. If you want a lot of volume of easily constructed weapons at low range, you make darts or javelins. Or throw rocks from the walls.

Unlike you, I seem to also have been outdoors with no artificial light source in the dark. You cannot see in pitch darkness. But this battle is not being fought in a basement. It makes large scale maneuvres difficult, but limited ones can be carried out.

The Night King has very weak control directly over his wights, as we see when they spend several minutes trying to throw themselves on a bonfire. The army og the dead is slow to react to orders (and rather easy to distract when not being directly controlled, it seems).

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1 minute ago, Kaptajn Congoboy said:

90 kg fra weigh  with from a wooden lath. You are optimistic to a fault. Even the laughably weak chu-ko-no requires å

Please read what was written and address that.

Quote

Unlike you, I seem to also have been outdoors with no artificial light source in the dark. You cannot see in pitch darkness.

I have been making the point about poor visibility. Who are you addressing here? And you can see at night, if you have been trained or did not lose the ability, its just much less distinct. 

Quote

The Night King has very weak control directly over his wights

This is a rather vague statement that does not add or take from anything anyone else has said so far as I can see. 

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1 hour ago, ferrelhadley said:

a) How do you coordinate a "flanking manoeuvre" in the dark. 

b) How do you even see the flank.

c) Weapons? Its an undead host that is directed by telepathy from a small group. Its axis of advance can shift 90o in a second. 

a) 

b) Given the state of the technology, have a set of signal beacons and Dothraki maintaining contact with the horde. This should give at least SOME idea about the direction the enemy is moving and the extent of his force. Definitely better idea than putting cavalry in front of catapults and blindly charging head on into the dark.

Besides it would seem human forces do not seem to have issues with conducting large scale coordinated maneuvers in the dark anyway (Battle of King's Landing for example). And if you start with the cavalry force already on the flank (or even, similar to Jon and Dany, detached from the line), you make at least one flanking attack much easier.

c) Yes, teeth and swords and arms are also weapons. And if they turn 90° then they are not advancing anymore. Moreover as they seem to rely heavily on direct command for any fancy moves, effort to direct them to do that could easily cause a widespread loss of coordination or the entire host turning around etc. 

I mean it took quite some time before the Telepath in Chief realized, for example, there is a fire barrier etc. - so the reactions definitely do not seem to be instant. And if he turns his force to attack and pursue the flanking cavalry, again, it buys time for the main line of resistance.

 

Then again, the idea of conducting the entire affair as a field battle was incredibly dumb in the first place.

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On 4/29/2019 at 4:22 AM, Tyrion1991 said:

Two words. Horse archers.

This. The Dothraki should have been quite useful against the undead, because the Dothraki are top-tier mounted archers. The best use for them would be to harass the zombie horde with dragonglass arrows during the daytime; they should have been sent out in advance as the undead approached to do so. It wouldn't work at night for a number of reasons (riding a horse at a gallop in darkness is a wonderful way to kill yourself and the horse even if there aren't zombies around) but then again the Dothraki are excellent archers, on or off their horses. They'd be better used on the walls and towers of the castle come nightfall.

The logistics of engaging in any sort of symmetrical warfare against the Others is such that even if your forces destroy two wights for every man of yours that dies, the enemy winds up with an even score, because any of your soldiers that dies becomes a soldier of theirs. Anything less than 2/1 is a loss for your side.

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Posted (edited)

I have a better idea. Why not just build a massive moat? The dead can’t cross water. B)

 

As an aside, is this because the Drowned God messes with their magic same as fire hurts them?

Edited by Tyrion1991

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1 hour ago, Tyrion1991 said:

I have a better idea. Why not just build a massive moat? The dead can’t cross water. B)

 

As an aside, is this because the Drowned God messes with their magic same as fire hurts them?

Based on the conditions the show gave us visually, the moat should work. But, technically it's supposed to be really cold, and a moat would freeze. At this point, Winterfell should have been so cold that water would freeze, just like that lake north of the Wall. After all, the pond that's in front of the weirwood tree is gone, ie frozen solid? But if it's that cold, people wouldn't even be able to dig a trench. :D

Book Winterfell has two walls with a moat in-between. And it sits on a geothermally heated area, so those ponds probably never freeze. But I think the moat freezes in A Dance with Dragons after the snow storm they get.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

I have a better idea. Why not just build a massive moat? The dead can’t cross water. B)

Because a siege means the living will die of starvation this is why they have to force a battle in the open. 

Edited by ferrelhadley

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1 hour ago, ferrelhadley said:

Because a siege means the living will die of starvation this is why they have to force a battle in the open. 

Then why did the NK seem so hellbent on getting inside the castle? Why bother taking the Fist or Hardhome by an attack when the dead could have had them surrounded and comfortably wait till everyone inside joined their ranks? Unlike Winterfell, these places had no huge winter storage (and quite a few horses which could be slaughtered) to last long.

BTW, starving castles was not tactics of choice but of necessity when other means failed. Most castles weren't built in the middle of a plain where walls could easily be accessed.

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It was made rather clear in the episode (with no build-up to it in earlier episodes and a rather limited explanation) that the Others want to kill Bran to the exclusion of all else. And as you write, it seems to be their modus operandi.

If one wants to discuss the larger strategic picture, there was no real reason besides that for the dead not to just bypass Winterfell and head south. They would have a living army in their rear, but that’s not a big issue since they have no supply lines. Since wights have now have hydraulic properties in field battles, overrunning an army following them would be easier than attacking Winterfell.

We will likely never know the answers to this until the final books come out, as the showrunners don’t care about it and the books don’t serve as a useable guide to how things work anymore - wights used to start rotting south of the wall, as I recall it. Which is reasonable enough given the nature of television shows. 

 

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