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Tyrion1991

Why didn’t the living use pikes?

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Just a few things to note. The Living reequipped their entire army and had months to prepare for this battle. They had time to set up in formation outside the walls on an open plain. They also knew from experience at Hardholme that the swarm could beat any medieval army up close.

This being the case, why not use pikes? If you get a few thousand 20 foot spears braced, that horde is going to impale itself against a forest of spear tips. They wouldn’t be able to close the distance and it would nullify their advantages. Didn’t Alexander the Great use phalanxes like that to hold off armies ten times their size? 

Joffrey mentions in season 1 that most soldiers have “never held pikes in their lives”. Which implies it’s a common infantry weapon. So they’re obviously aware of the technology. Plus the Unsullied are already trained to fight in a phalanx.

Even if it’s not perfect, frankly it would be better than what they did with the Unsullied being mown down without killing any Wights.

Now, the show could hand wave this. The horde shattering the pikes, pushing through them or jumping the distance. But whilst OP I don’t think they’re quite that powerful. You’d have to cross a twenty foot gap whilst avoiding being skewered by ten pikes. If they were then they wouldn’t be getting killed at all and should be dropping the main characters instantly.

I think the show didn’t do this because they wanted the horror imagery of the living getting slaughtered en masse. Honestly I don’t recall a non main character killing a Wight in close combat. So it made sense for them to do anything that would actually work, even if only for a few minutes. If you saw thousands of zombies getting skewered and crushed it wouldn’t fit the scene. However I don’t think it’s realistic that these characters wouldn’t think about how to change tactics to beat the Zombies. So it’s horror over realism.

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There were so many dumb military choices this episode, by the living and the dead. I'm not sure that the lack of pike usage was the most grievously stupid of them all.

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I'm not sure how effective pikes would be.  Probably more effective that the 6 foot (?) spears that the Unsullied did have.  But I doubt that they could have stopped the wights or won the battle.  Alexander was facing living human opponents.  The AotD is not something that can be held off.

If I recall, pikemen didn't carry shields and had to hold the pikes with both hands.  So they can't do any close-in fighting.  One of the bane of a block of pikemen were 'sword and buckler' troops (armed with swords and small shields).  These could get underneath or between the pikes and hack the pikemen.  The AotD would be equivalent to these kinds of troops, I think.  The dead don't have shields, but they can just use each other.  It wouldn't take much for them to get under (or over) the pikes and get to the pikemen, who would be defenseless.

Don't forget the giants.  The 2 or 3 that we saw all had clubs.  A couple swings of these would help clear a hole for the other wights.

 

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The Unsullied were effectively (or should have been) a phalanx in that battle. They had the shields, they have the spears, they had the numbers and massed ranks.
Pikemen would have been a nice spiky wall but with little defense for themselves; and those zombies were not going to get scared and back off just because a few of them ended up "dead". A full locked shield wall with spears or whatever poking out would have been far more effective.

They should have really been able to hold off quite a lot of zombies with a tightly held shield wall and enough men to reinforce it and make sure it wasn't flanked. 

The dead got over the fire trench easily as it was just a static ditch that only needed bridging. But had that been a living wall of shield & spear with the power of a full army behind it I'm sure they could have done much better. A true phalanx assault just ends up being a pushing match anyway and the dead were not likely to do much more than just keep pilling in, so you'd probably be best to just hold them back and hammer them with fire, artillery, dragons etc. to try and whittle down their numbers.

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13 hours ago, ummester said:

There were so many dumb military choices this episode, by the living and the dead. I'm not sure that the lack of pike usage was the most grievously stupid of them all.

IMHO the decision were made by the producers in order to achieve the best cinematic effect; books =/= TV show

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Pikes are not very flexible tactically....but as said using them would have left the infantry unable to use a shield effectively.....and as said prone to leaping wights etc.....The Unsullied, for all their training, discipline, high morale and shield wall phalanx tactics, fell victim to the ferocity and overwhelming numbers of the wights, and can be seen slowly falling back, as they are ground down.

 

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Well, there is no logic in the TV show.

They couldn't see anything, so sent the Dothraki into the darkness. The ones on the wall didn't use enough fire and obsidian arrows. They shot the catapults only once. With the dragons they could kill more wights thus save more people. Etc...

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On 5/4/2019 at 10:19 AM, Aerys Blackfyre said:

IMHO the decision were made by the producers in order to achieve the best cinematic effect; books =/= TV show

This. I’m guessing GRRM will have some smarter battle tactics in the novel, (if this scene even is from the books). I do think it would have made more sense to have smarter battle tactics (supposedly we have some great strategists in this group) and STILL be overwhelmed by the AotD - had they done everything they could possibly do correctly and were still defeated, the outcome would have been the same but show watchers wouldn’t be left smacking their foreheads a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this episode and don’t know enough about military strategy to understand everything they did incorrectly, but I’ve read enough posts/articles by people who do to think they could have written some better plans. 

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On 5/3/2019 at 11:48 PM, Tyrion1991 said:

Didn’t Alexander the Great use phalanxes like that to hold off armies ten times their size?

Twice the size, up to three times the size, but yeah.

Alexander had world's best (or second to best) cavalry force and special infantry units like Hypaspists ("shields") and Agrianes (light infantry) and world famous Cretan Archers. Just as Danny and Jon had Dothraki and knights of the Vale (cavalry) and northmnen (heavy infantry) and wildlings (light infantry) and men from Iron Islands (archers).

Unfortunately for the living Jon is not the Young Wolf.

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