Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Angel Eyes

Northern soldiers' competence/fighting ability

Recommended Posts

Is it just me, or the competence and skill of Northern soldiers, specifically the ones directly loyal to House Stark, wildly inconsistent?

For example:

  • The men Ned Stark brought with him to King's Landing are slaughtered to a man, with only one, Jacks, surviving.
  • At the Battle of the Camps, Robb's force of 6,000 is about half of the force around Riverrun and takes insignificant casualties, while the Westermen lose 8,000.
  • The force that Rodrik Cassel bring to relieve Winterfell is about 2,000. They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

Is it just me, or the competence and skill of Northern soldiers, specifically the ones directly loyal to House Stark, wildly inconsistent?

For example:

  • The men Ned Stark brought with him to King's Landing are slaughtered to a man, with only one, Jacks, surviving.
  • At the Battle of the Camps, Robb's force of 6,000 is about half of the force around Riverrun and takes insignificant casualties, while the Westermen lose 8,000.
  • The force that Rodrik Cassel bring to relieve Winterfell is about 2,000. They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

The examples of decimation that you gave were moments of ambush, being taken by surprise. Nobody reacts well in those circumstances. And it’s the same where the opposite is true; the Lannisters weren’t expecting Robb at the Camps, not at all. Plus Tytos Blackwood’s forces inside Riverrun played a crucial role in that massacre on two fronts; they wiped out the men trying to get to Robb in boats (which was basically shooting fish in a barrel) and they left the castle to take the Lannisters in the back while they were trying to defend against Northern cavalry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

Is it just me, or the competence and skill of Northern soldiers, specifically the ones directly loyal to House Stark, wildly inconsistent?

For example:

  • The men Ned Stark brought with him to King's Landing are slaughtered to a man, with only one, Jacks, surviving.
  • At the Battle of the Camps, Robb's force of 6,000 is about half of the force around Riverrun and takes insignificant casualties, while the Westermen lose 8,000.
  • The force that Rodrik Cassel bring to relieve Winterfell is about 2,000. They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

These examples hardly prove anything. Instead I rather see northern soldiers more competent than southern ones.

Especially the ones who live next to the Gift, due to wildling raids. 

If you're trying to prove such a thing, find relevant examples.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Northmen still use mail armor when Westermen use plate armor and I assume that their horsemen are poorer=>so they should have fewer spare horses and going to battle or riding tired horse is very bad idea. So men of house Stark has some failings compared to their southern and richer colleagues in south.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

Northmen still use mail armor when Westermen use plate armor and I assume that their horsemen are poorer=>so they should have fewer spare horses and going to battle or riding tired horse is very bad idea. So men of house Stark has some failings compared to their southern and richer colleagues in south.

 

Nope it's a mix of plate and mail, the Northmen have plate as well.  Roose Boltons weirdo nipple muscle armor and the Manderly heavy Calvary?

Edited by Darksnider05

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

George isn't interest in wargaming. He wanted Winterfell to be sacked so the competence/incompetence of Stark soldiers never mattered to him.

 

Edited by saltedmalted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/24/2021 at 3:19 PM, Angel Eyes said:

Is it just me, or the competence and skill of Northern soldiers, specifically the ones directly loyal to House Stark, wildly inconsistent?

For example:

  • The men Ned Stark brought with him to King's Landing are slaughtered to a man, with only one, Jacks, surviving.
  • At the Battle of the Camps, Robb's force of 6,000 is about half of the force around Riverrun and takes insignificant casualties, while the Westermen lose 8,000.
  • The force that Rodrik Cassel bring to relieve Winterfell is about 2,000. They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

 

Drama.

If you caught the Spartans in those sort of situations they would have come out poorly. It’s not making out the Northern soldiers are poor fighters at all.

George is showing that the Starks soldiers are a hardy martial people and the only way the Southerners can beat them is with subterfuge, treachery and not a true contest of arms; where they always triumph spectacularly. This subtly implies that the Stark and Northern soldiers generally are superior to their Andal counterparts. This is also making them Martyrs by having these noble Spartans killed by treacherous little people like the Freys.

Plus, George is generally more interested in “Great Men” rather than military institutions. Basically they’re numbers and everything is being dictated by the hubris of our characters.

Basically George has told us the North is a great power and matters more than any of the other Houses so it kind of doesn’t matter how much stuff they lose or if it makes much sense. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/24/2021 at 4:19 PM, Angel Eyes said:

Is it just me, or the competence and skill of Northern soldiers, specifically the ones directly loyal to House Stark, wildly inconsistent?

For example:

  • The men Ned Stark brought with him to King's Landing are slaughtered to a man, with only one, Jacks, surviving.
  • At the Battle of the Camps, Robb's force of 6,000 is about half of the force around Riverrun and takes insignificant casualties, while the Westermen lose 8,000.
  • The force that Rodrik Cassel bring to relieve Winterfell is about 2,000. They are decimated by a force of Bolton soldiers that amounts to 600.

All of these have one in common: side being slaughtered had gotten ambushed. Even trained soldiers do not react well to ambushes, and even if they don't panic they still will not be in position to resist effectively.

2 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

If you caught the Spartans in those sort of situations they would have come out poorly. It’s not making out the Northern soldiers are poor fighters at all.

 

Off-topic, but that comparison is not exactly flattering to Westerosi soldiers. If you wanted to make a point that they are compenent, you should have compared them to Romans or later armies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Off-topic, but that comparison is not exactly flattering to Westerosi soldiers. If you wanted to make a point that they are compenent, you should have compared them to Romans or later armies.

And even the Roman got butchered in the Teuteburg Forrest (though given the circumstances, the amount of the time they resisted in a testament to just how hard a nut to crack the roman legions were)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

And even the Roman got butchered in the Teuteburg Forrest (though given the circumstances, the amount of the time they resisted in a testament to just how hard a nut to crack the roman legions were)

True. Even the best army can fail. My point however is that Spartans were far from the best... in fact, they were depressingly average. Depressingly average for hoplites, that is, and you have to remember that something like a Macedonian phalanx or Roman Legion would steamroll a hoplite phalanx.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

n fact, they were depressingly average. Depressingly average for hoplites, that is, and you have to remember that something like a Macedonian phalanx or Roman Legion would steamroll a hoplite phalanx.

I mean I think you're exaggerating. Sure they weren't the Space Marines they're often made out to be. They were vastly superior to most of their Greek counterparts, with only the Theban Sacred Band being better than them (something the Thebans used quite well). But yeah, the Macedonian phalanx just steamrolled something like that, and that's on their own, without their incredible cavalry or auxiliaries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, saltedmalted said:

The Romans' greatest strength was their ability to keep raising armies.

Individual skill matters less and less as numbers grow.

There were a few more things

- Incredibly heavy armor

- Incredible discipline

- Endurance

- They were always fighting in formation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Romans could finance, build and maintain good infrastructure and administration. For that reason they could have standing army/navy and if necessary move their legions were they they were needed ASAP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

I mean I think you're exaggerating. Sure they weren't the Space Marines they're often made out to be. They were vastly superior to most of their Greek counterparts, with only the Theban Sacred Band being better than them (something the Thebans used quite well). But yeah, the Macedonian phalanx just steamrolled something like that, and that's on their own, without their incredible cavalry or auxiliaries.

They weren't. The reason why they are seen as superior is Herodotus, and... well, as a historian, the guy is a dilettante. And yes, Spartan phalanx was somewhat tactically better than other Greek phalanxes (though that is really a competition of cripples)... namely, it was able to do such an extremely complex maneuver as wheeling a flank... but then, Athenians did something similar against Persians, and in any case Spartan sense for strategy, operations, logistics, diplomacy, and, well, anything else other than beating a guy in front of you, was pretty much nonexistent (even by ancient Greek standards, which were low indeed when compared to something like Rome), meaning that it pretty much wiped out whatever tactical advanages Spartans did posses.

3 hours ago, saltedmalted said:

The Romans' greatest strength was their ability to keep raising armies.

Individual skill matters less and less as numbers grow.

Yes and no. Romans actually weren't that bad tactically, and once they switched to professional armies they could actually do some pretty sophisticated tactocs. And let's not forget that Byzantines are technically Romans too. The main Roman strength was their diplomacy - which was the reason why they could keep raising armies in the first place, but that was hardly the only case of Roman diplomacy at work. Look at Caesar's conquest of Gaul and Roman diplomacy with crossborder barbarian tribes - Greeks had nothing like that.

But even during the Republic pre-Marian reforms, Roman armies handily outperformed something like a Greek phalanx. Still, their more limited tactical repertoire did prove a disadvantage against Hannibal, which is where the "keep raising armies" meme comes from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Spartan sense for strategy, operations, logistics, diplomacy, and, well, anything else other than beating a guy in front of you, was pretty much nonexistent (even by ancient Greek standards, which were low indeed when compared to something like Rome), meaning that it pretty much wiped out whatever tactical advanages Spartans did posses.

I think you are being a bit harsh. Yes, as you pointed out, comparing Greek army is a competition of cripples, as the Peloponnesian War showed, but still also as the Peloponnesian war showed, the Spartans were the best cripples of the lot on land, and they did posses some semblance of strategic thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Incredibly heavy armor

No heavier than the Hellenistic armies'.

6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Incredible discipline

Compared to some tribes, but not in comparison to Hannibal's mercenaries or the Hellenistic soldiers.

6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Endurance

What does this mean?

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Romans actually weren't that bad tactically, and once they switched to professional armies they could actually do some pretty sophisticated tactocs.

I didn't mean tactics. ASoIaF being a fantasy series makes a lot out of an individual's fighting capabilities but in reality a soldier's individual skill mattered little in mass combat. 

 

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Look at Caesar's conquest of Gaul and Roman diplomacy with crossborder barbarian tribes - Greeks had nothing like that.

They did, but comapring diplomacy is another case entirely.

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But even during the Republic pre-Marian reforms, Roman armies handily outperformed something like a Greek phalanx.

It is a tired old trope. 

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

which is where the "keep raising armies" meme comes from.

It is not a meme. Hannibal's overall strategy was doomed because even when he destroyed armies in Italy Carthage lost on another front in Spain.

Rome's ability to absorb losses and raise more men made that possible.

Edited by saltedmalted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, saltedmalted said:
6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Incredibly heavy armor

No heavier than the Hellenistic armies'.

6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Incredible discipline

Compared to some tribes, but not in comparison to Hannibal's mercenaries or the Hellenistic soldiers.

Alright, we're talking about different things here. I'm talking about the Roman army post Marian reforms, not before. Veeery different.

2 minutes ago, saltedmalted said:
6 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Endurance

What does this mean?

It means that the romans could march 20 miles in a day with ease or fight for 12 hours straight without tiring too much. It was done with years of training, rock solid discipline and fighting in formation at all times.

3 minutes ago, saltedmalted said:

It is not a meme. Hannibal's overall strategy was doomed because even when he destroyed armies in Italy Carthage lost on another front in Spain.

Hannibal lost because he sat with his thumb up his ass in Southern Italy after Cannae

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

I think you are being a bit harsh. Yes, as you pointed out, comparing Greek army is a competition of cripples, as the Peloponnesian War showed, but still also as the Peloponnesian war showed, the Spartans were the best cripples of the lot on land, and they did posses some semblance of strategic thought.

Pelopponesian war was less won by Sparta and more lost by Athens. Behind its tyrannical behaviour which alienated allies, sacrificing navy on unnecessary expeditions, and being a pain in the butt for Persia and thus guaranteeing latter's support for Sparta, Athens basically assured its own defeat. As for Spartan "strategy", it hardly merits the title: Athens at least had some idea of using its navy (well, sometimes - other times they threw away ships on useless expeditions - see Sicily), whereas Spartan approach to warfare amounted to bashing their head against a rock and hoping the rock will break. It took years and years for Sparta to even begin to think about attacking Athens' maritime empire and colonies, despite the fact that its own allies advised them that the basis of Athenian power is its maritime empire. And then it took Persian gold to make Spartan fleet possible.

It was Spartan allies and Persian gold which won the Peloponnesian war for Sparta. Spartans themselves - with few exceptions, who were promptly ostracized and in some cases chased out of Sparta - had no clue where their collective heads were.

4 hours ago, saltedmalted said:

I didn't mean tactics. ASoIaF being a fantasy series makes a lot out of an individual's fighting capabilities but in reality a soldier's individual skill mattered little in mass combat. 

 

I was replying to your comment that "Romans' greatest skill was to keep raising armies". Yes to an extent, but that was merely a side effect of their diplomatic and political skill.

4 hours ago, saltedmalted said:

They did, but comapring diplomacy is another case entirely.

 

See above.

4 hours ago, saltedmalted said:

It is not a meme. Hannibal's overall strategy was doomed because even when he destroyed armies in Italy Carthage lost on another front in Spain.

Rome's ability to absorb losses and raise more men made that possible.

It is a meme which happens to be true. But while it is true, it is also true that reality was lot more complex than "Rome loses an army, Rome raises another army".

Edited by Aldarion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Pelopponesian war was less won by Sparta and more lost by Athens. Behind its tyrannical behaviour which alienated allies, sacrificing navy on unnecessary expeditions, and being a pain in the butt for Persia and thus guaranteeing latter's support for Sparta, Athens basically assured its own defeat. As for Spartan "strategy", it hardly merits the title: Athens at least had some idea of using its navy (well, sometimes - other times they threw away ships on useless expeditions - see Sicily), whereas Spartan approach to warfare amounted to bashing their head against a rock and hoping the rock will break. It took years and years for Sparta to even begin to think about attacking Athens' maritime empire and colonies, despite the fact that its own allies advised them that the basis of Athenian power is its maritime empire. And then it took Persian gold to make Spartan fleet possible.

Now you do mention the Sicilian Expedition two times, and yes that particular piece of genius was less the Athenians shooting themselves in the foot and more the Athenians shooting themselves in the liver, however afterwards the Spartans did properly capitalize on it. What's more once they could contest the Athenian Navy, they did so mostly cleverly, using their advantages to slowly chip away at the Athenian Empire, eventually crushing it for good at Aegospotami. It wasn't rocket science but it was a good strategy. Before that, the Northern expedition too was a rare moment of Spartan tactical and strategical (albeit slightly unintentional) good thinking as it removed over a third of the Athenian incomes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...