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Targaryeninkingslanding

The Unsullied: Form, Legend and Future

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Posted (edited)

The Unsullied are an interesting combination of various warrior cultures. From what I can see, the military organization draws inspiration primarily from 3-4 historic military cultures which are used to create the image of their appearance and tactics, their legend, and what might be inferred for their future.

These historic cultures are:

The Spartans (form): A primarily Phalanx type military structure derived trough shield and long spear, and in consideration of the stand at Qohor where of 3000 Unsullied, 600 remained. Inspired by the last stand of 300 Spartans.

The Swiss mercenaries that preceded the Papal Guard (legend): Since the Defense at Qohor the city exclusively keeps a garrison of unsullied. After the sack of Rome (1527) under Pope Clements VII where Swiss mercenaries preformed a hopeless last stand, the papacy had exclusively hired Swiss (mercenaries) as papal guardsmen in memory of the sacrifice.

The Mamluks (and to a similar extent the Janissaries / Future): A slave caste that went on to seize power of Egypt. Were notable for many reasons including being one of the few cultures to successfully halt the expansion of the mongol successor states.

From the following and especially in consideration of the third presented culture, I think it is likely that the Unsullied will become the leaders of Meereen and the former slave cities after Dany decided to sail for Westeros. While I am not fully prepared to explain how this will be executed, it seems to me that this is something George is teeing up.

Edited by Targaryeninkingslanding

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The Unsullied troops are the best infantry in the world.  They make up the center of Daenerys Targaryen's armies.  They will help her build an empire.  They will always make up part of her armies but some will learn to become useful in other areas.  Barristan is an example of an old soldier who is learning new tricks.  The same thing can happen to the eunuchs.  I predict that Varys and Theon will find a place among the Unsullied.  Those two are in no shape for infantry but the role of the eunuchs will branch into other areas as the empire begins to form.  I am almost sure from the talk here that Daenerys was and will be the founder of empires.  She built the great empire of the dawn during one of her past lives.  She will repeat the same feat at the end of the Long Night.  

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8 hours ago, Rondo said:

The Unsullied troops are the best infantry in the world.

I disagree.

Reason is that Unsullied do not wear any real armor and their only protection are light shields. So arrows from longbows or bolts from crossbows should kill most of them b4 they could use their main weapons (spears). Besides plate armor should make javelins impotent so old Roman tactic of using pilum/pila should be less effective than it was against enemies that did not use heavy armors. Besides some Westerosi infantrymen are using pikes that are longer that spears and so those formations of pikemen should be able to either kill Unsullied or just to keep them far enough that their archers and crossbowmen has time to wipe out those unlucky eunuchs.

So I think that Unsullied are obsolete as infantrymen and they should be almost useless against armies that use either cross or longbows and pikes and for that reason they should not have any future as a military force.

 

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1 hour ago, Loose Bolt said:

I disagree.

Reason is that Unsullied do not wear any real armor and their only protection are light shields. So arrows from longbows or bolts from crossbows should kill most of them b4 they could use their main weapons (spears). Besides plate armor should make javelins impotent so old Roman tactic of using pilum/pila should be less effective than it was against enemies that did not use heavy armors. Besides some Westerosi infantrymen are using pikes that are longer that spears and so those formations of pikemen should be able to either kill Unsullied or just to keep them far enough that their archers and crossbowmen has time to wipe out those unlucky eunuchs.

So I think that Unsullied are obsolete as infantrymen and they should be almost useless against armies that use either cross or longbows and pikes and for that reason they should not have any future as a military force.

 

I disagree with your disagreement. 

haha sorry I could help myself.

I do think you're forgetting that they are lightly armored because that's just how there sold. They can wear armor and would probably be effective in it. It's just that its up to the owners to provide it. Otherwise, they should stand up well enough to longbows I would think, though I'm not familiar enough with medieval weaponry and armor to defend that claim. the 3000 at qohor does seem to support that claim at least, when-

"Eighteen times the Dothraki charged, and broke themselves on those shields and spears like waves on a rocky shore. Thrice Temmo sent his archers wheeling past and arrows fell like rain upon the Three Thousand, but the Unsullied merely lifted their shields above their heads until the squall had passed. In the end only six hundred of them remained . . . but more than twelve thousand Dothraki lay dead upon that field, including Khal Temmo, his bloodriders, his kos, and all his sons. On the morning of the fourth day, the new khal led the survivors past the city gates in a stately procession. One by one, each man cut off his braid and threw it down before the feet of the Three Thousand."

Of course that is assuming Dothraki use composite bows similar to mongol archers which should more or less outperform longbows.

Ultimately my curiosity though is to the potential of soldiers trained in unsullied and Dothraki tactics ultimately creating a hybrid military discipline more similar to the mamluk cavalry.

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After all is said and done, the White Walkers and the Starks are defeated, the unsullied could always occupy the 5 forts or even the wall.  The training method to create an unsullied will be outlawed.  They are the last of the elite soldiers. 

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Their theme seems to be about slavery and a sort of hopelessness in having been raised the way they have been. To be simply set free isn't really enough for them, they need life education, to be taught to think and act in their own self interest, or to be cared for so that they have the time in which to figure it out themselves.

They serve Dany as if they were slaves, they'll unblinkingly die for her, so I expect it will be a test for Dany to place a value on their life and to not use them militarily in a manner that she wouldn't use regular free soldiers. That is, having set them free, to not treat them as if they are disposable, like masters do slaves.

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22 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

I disagree with your disagreement. 

haha sorry I could help myself.

I do think you're forgetting that they are lightly armored because that's just how there sold. They can wear armor and would probably be effective in it. It's just that its up to the owners to provide it. Otherwise, they should stand up well enough to longbows I would think, though I'm not familiar enough with medieval weaponry and armor to defend that claim. the 3000 at qohor does seem to support that claim at least, when-

"Eighteen times the Dothraki charged, and broke themselves on those shields and spears like waves on a rocky shore. Thrice Temmo sent his archers wheeling past and arrows fell like rain upon the Three Thousand, but the Unsullied merely lifted their shields above their heads until the squall had passed. In the end only six hundred of them remained . . . but more than twelve thousand Dothraki lay dead upon that field, including Khal Temmo, his bloodriders, his kos, and all his sons. On the morning of the fourth day, the new khal led the survivors past the city gates in a stately procession. One by one, each man cut off his braid and threw it down before the feet of the Three Thousand."

Of course that is assuming Dothraki use composite bows similar to mongol archers which should more or less outperform longbows.

Ultimately my curiosity though is to the potential of soldiers trained in unsullied and Dothraki tactics ultimately creating a hybrid military discipline more similar to the mamluk cavalry.

One reason why average male is stronger than average female is testosterone and bc eunuchs had lost their testicles they should also be weaker that males. Or eunuchs have smaller and weaker muscles than average males and even practice would not allow them to have large and powerful muscles. For that reason their armors, shields and weapons should be lighter than they would be if they still had their testicles.

So Unsullied should not be able to use heavy armors and even their shields should be smaller and weaker than any stronger warriors could use. For that reason I still think that arrows and bolts should be dangerous to any unit of Unsullied. Besides in that battle mentioned above 4 of 5 eunuchs who fight in that battle died and IMHO major reason why those 600 "heroes" survived was that Dothraki were idiots. After all light cavalry should use their bows or javelins and NOT engage in close range. In most armies that role belongs to heavy cavalry.

So very interesting question would be what would happened to those 3000 Unsullied if attackers would had 12.000 heavy cavalrymen instead of 12 k Dothraki.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

One reason why average male is stronger than average female is testosterone and bc eunuchs had lost their testicles they should also be weaker that males. Or eunuchs have smaller and weaker muscles than average males and even practice would not allow them to have large and powerful muscles. For that reason their armors, shields and weapons should be lighter than they would be if they still had their testicles.

So Unsullied should not be able to use heavy armors and even their shields should be smaller and weaker than any stronger warriors could use. For that reason I still think that arrows and bolts should be dangerous to any unit of Unsullied. Besides in that battle mentioned above 4 of 5 eunuchs who fight in that battle died and IMHO major reason why those 600 "heroes" survived was that Dothraki were idiots. After all light cavalry should use their bows or javelins and NOT engage in close range. In most armies that role belongs to heavy cavalry.

So very interesting question would be what would happened to those 3000 Unsullied if attackers would had 12.000 heavy cavalrymen instead of 12 k Dothraki.

so there is a few problems with your claims here.

Certainly Eunuchs are weaker than those who went through puberty with their genital intact but that does not mean the unsullied are weak. Any person who spends their entire life training for military service should be able to compete physically with the majority of peasants who take up arms to fill the levies for westerosi armies (the bulk so to speak). And even if they were no stronger than the average woman, they would still be capable of wearing and moving in heavy plate mail. plate armor usually weighs between 15-25 kg evenly spread out across the body, allowing the wearer to run, jump and otherwise move freely. We know women were capable of moving us such armor with famous historic examples including but not limited to, Joan of arc.

Having said that, a more reasonable objection might be to the cost of outfitting 10,000 unsullied in heavy mail. though even if it were 300 golden dragons a man, Dany is very wealthy at the moment so who knows.

Secondly, I think you have misinterpreted why I posted that quote. Dothraki bows outperform westerosi longbows in terms of power and range, yet the unsullied were not blindly crushed by them.  "Thrice Temmo sent his archers wheeling past and arrows fell like rain upon the Three Thousand, but the Unsullied merely lifted their shields above their heads until the squall had passed."  they withstood the arrows and seem to have relatively unbloodied. it took 25000 Dothraki 18 attacks to kill 2400 unsullied. they lost 12000 of there own including their khal. so clearly bows, especially westerosi longbows which are performatively worse, are not the solution you think they are. 

as for crossbows, they can punch through heavy armor and shields, but that would be true against any army.  and even then they are not infallible. they take a long time to reload and are less practical for battlefield use when compared to use in siege defenses.

Now regarding the training of the unsullied, they are made to become fearless, which is beyond useful. in any battle the side that flees first is the one that loses, and the unsullied never flee. you cannot rout them. they will fight until they are all dead or their commander surrenders, and that is terrifying. it is far more than one could expect from a westerosi man-at-arms.

Finally, regarding heavy cavalry, the answer to facing them is often heavy infantry, and as an advantage can be mitigated by terrain. just have the infantry stand atop a hill and suddenly the cavalry is not so effective as it was. I also think your underestimating the danger of mounted archers. the mongols were dangerous most of all for their mounted archers, and with it they formed the largest continuous land based empire in history, and that includes many many conflicts against European style militaries.

Edited by Targaryeninkingslanding

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10 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Certainly Eunuchs are weaker than those who went through puberty with their genital intact but that does not mean the unsullied are weak. Any person who spends their entire life training for military service should be able to compete physically with the majority of peasants who take up arms to fill the levies for westerosi armies (the bulk so to speak). And even if they were no stronger than the average woman, they would still be capable of wearing and moving in heavy plate mail. plate armor usually weighs between 15-25 kg evenly spread out across the body, allowing the wearer to run, jump and otherwise move freely. We know women were capable of moving us such armor with famous historic examples including but not limited to, Joan of arc.

 

A couple of problems:

1) Lack of testosterone is not only a problem of strength. It also means that Unsullied will be very meek, mentally retarded, and susceptible to physical injuries as well as diseases. Last problem is especially lethal: majority of casualties in any campaign were from diseases, which means that an army of Unsullied would likely not survive a siege even if the enemy never attacked.

If you want to go into details:

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/03/11/tactical-overview-the-unsullied/

2) Westerosi armies are not made up primarily of peasants. And even if they are technically peasants, these are still professional soldiers, semi-professional troops and trained militia. These would murder the crap out of the Unsullied. Again, I wrote about it in detail on my blog, so I'll just drop a link not to waste space here.

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/02/11/military-of-westeros-1-organization-and-manpower/

11 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Secondly, I think you have misinterpreted why I posted that quote. Dothraki bows outperform westerosi longbows in terms of power and range, yet the unsullied were not blindly crushed by them.  "Thrice Temmo sent his archers wheeling past and arrows fell like rain upon the Three Thousand, but the Unsullied merely lifted their shields above their heads until the squall had passed."  they withstood the arrows and seem to have relatively unbloodied. it took 25000 Dothraki 18 attacks to kill 2400 unsullied. they lost 12000 of there own including their khal. so clearly bows, especially westerosi longbows which are performatively worse, are not the solution you think they are. 

 

Bows are a solution for the Dothraki. And do you have any proof that Dothraki bows outperform Westerosi longbows? The only reference I found is Jorah Mormont, and that guy is not exactly on talking terms with reality. And seeing how Dothraki lost to the freaking Unsullied, who are inferior to Westerosi heavy infantry - pikemen especially - in literally every imaginable aspect, I do not think you can rely on Dothraki defeating even Westerosi heavy infantry that is not supported by archers. But it always is supported by archers, so that is just a useless thought exercise.

11 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

as for crossbows, they can punch through heavy armor and shields, but that would be true against any army.  and even then they are not infallible. they take a long time to reload and are less practical for battlefield use when compared to use in siege defenses.

 

Depends on the type of crossbow. And seeing how societies which encountered Mongols - Chinese, Hungarians, Poles - all adapted crossbowmen, heavy cavalry and stone castles en masse, it is obvious all three things are useful against horse nomad armies. And guess which things Westeros has in abundance?

Fact is, Westeros is literally the worst possible opponent Dothraki can face.

11 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Now regarding the training of the unsullied, they are made to become fearless, which is beyond useful. in any battle the side that flees first is the one that loses, and the unsullied never flee. you cannot rout them. they will fight until they are all dead or their commander surrenders, and that is terrifying. it is far more than one could expect from a westerosi man-at-arms.

 

Considering Unsullied should logically be dead long before seeing the first battle... also, you have rather significant number of historical examples where armies fought to the last man. Unsullied lack of fear is indeed an advantage, but it is not a guarantee of victory.

And seeing how Daenerys disregarded literally every advice she was given - gave Unsullied names back, allowed them to mingle with people, bought boys still in training, used Unsullied as watchmen and guards - assuming that her Unsullied would indeed still be fearless is a rather big stretch. Original Unsullied were fearless because they had nothing to lose. But Daenerys' Unsullied are no longer in that position, and are also losing their cohesion and discipline.

As a matter of fact, we already know what happens when a Westerosi-style army faces the Unsullied. Golden Company first established its reputation when it sacked Qohor after the city failed to honour its contract. You know, the city that is defended exclusively by the Unsullied?

11 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Finally, regarding heavy cavalry, the answer to facing them is often heavy infantry, and as an advantage can be mitigated by terrain. just have the infantry stand atop a hill and suddenly the cavalry is not so effective as it was. I also think your underestimating the danger of mounted archers. the mongols were dangerous most of all for their mounted archers, and with it they formed the largest continuous land based empire in history, and that includes many many conflicts against European style militaries.

To an extent. But the ability of heavy infantry to counter cavalry depends on them being able to outreach heavy cavalry. Pikemen can win against lancers because pikes are longer than lances - but if lances are longer than infantry weapons (e.g. hollow lance, or lancers facing spearmen), then lancers win. Unsullied are not pikemen, they are spearmen, which means that they cannot counter Westerosi knights.

Mongols were not dangerous for their mounted archers - in fact, mounted archers are easily countered by crossbowmen and foot archers. Europeans used these things for centuries against horse archers, and very successfully as well. The reason Mongols were dangerous was because they were a nomadic cavalry army (impossible to catch) with a good combination of heavy and light cavalry (adaptable) and very good engineers and allied infantry (again, adaptable) and most importantly, extremely well developed organization, tactical doctrine, signals service and military intelligence. They were a professional army the likes of which Central and Eastern Europe did not have at the time outside the Byzantine Empire. And the enemies they were facing at the time were essentially one-trick ponies: armies of both Poland and Hungary consisted mostly of light cavalry and conscript light infantry, with very few knights, and next to no stone fortifications. So it is no wonder that a professional army with numerous and well organized heavy cavalry was able to roll over them.

But after Poland and Hungary introduced professional military class (knights, mercenaries), crossbowmen, stone castles and heavy cavalry (knights), they proved not only able to easily defeat Mongols in the field, but even mount campaigns into the Mongol territory. After Mongols were defeated in Poland and Hungary, a Hungarian army under Count Andrew Lackfi invaded Mongolian territory in 1345., defeating a Golden Horde force and capturing what would become Moldavia.

Mongols actually had very few conflicts with European style militaries. And majority of those were losses. Unless you count China, but the thing with China was that it wasn't Mongols facing a Chinese army - it was Mongols leading a Chinese army against another Chinese army.

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1 hour ago, Aldarion said:

A couple of problems:

1) Lack of testosterone is not only a problem of strength. It also means that Unsullied will be very meek, mentally retarded, and susceptible to physical injuries as well as diseases. Last problem is especially lethal: majority of casualties in any campaign were from diseases, which means that an army of Unsullied would likely not survive a siege even if the enemy never attacked.

If you want to go into details:

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/03/11/tactical-overview-the-unsullied/

2) Westerosi armies are not made up primarily of peasants. And even if they are technically peasants, these are still professional soldiers, semi-professional troops and trained militia. These would murder the crap out of the Unsullied. Again, I wrote about it in detail on my blog, so I'll just drop a link not to waste space here.

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/02/11/military-of-westeros-1-organization-and-manpower/

Bows are a solution for the Dothraki. And do you have any proof that Dothraki bows outperform Westerosi longbows? The only reference I found is Jorah Mormont, and that guy is not exactly on talking terms with reality. And seeing how Dothraki lost to the freaking Unsullied, who are inferior to Westerosi heavy infantry - pikemen especially - in literally every imaginable aspect, I do not think you can rely on Dothraki defeating even Westerosi heavy infantry that is not supported by archers. But it always is supported by archers, so that is just a useless thought exercise.

Depends on the type of crossbow. And seeing how societies which encountered Mongols - Chinese, Hungarians, Poles - all adapted crossbowmen, heavy cavalry and stone castles en masse, it is obvious all three things are useful against horse nomad armies. And guess which things Westeros has in abundance?

Fact is, Westeros is literally the worst possible opponent Dothraki can face.

Considering Unsullied should logically be dead long before seeing the first battle... also, you have rather significant number of historical examples where armies fought to the last man. Unsullied lack of fear is indeed an advantage, but it is not a guarantee of victory.

And seeing how Daenerys disregarded literally every advice she was given - gave Unsullied names back, allowed them to mingle with people, bought boys still in training, used Unsullied as watchmen and guards - assuming that her Unsullied would indeed still be fearless is a rather big stretch. Original Unsullied were fearless because they had nothing to lose. But Daenerys' Unsullied are no longer in that position, and are also losing their cohesion and discipline.

As a matter of fact, we already know what happens when a Westerosi-style army faces the Unsullied. Golden Company first established its reputation when it sacked Qohor after the city failed to honour its contract. You know, the city that is defended exclusively by the Unsullied?

......

 

I think one just has to accept the Rule of Cool.  The Unsullied are very good infantry because the author says they are.

I imagine they'd form a kind of imperial guard in the future.  Their numbers would be kept up by recruitment (albeit, castration would no longer be required).  For the time being, they can be used to train up other military units, as they do with the companies of freedmen in Meereen. 

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13 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I think one just has to accept the Rule of Cool.  The Unsullied are very good infantry because the author says they are.

I imagine they'd form a kind of imperial guard in the future.  Their numbers would be kept up by recruitment (albeit, castration would no longer be required).  For the time being, they can be used to train up other military units, as they do with the companies of freedmen in Meereen. 

That is true - they definitely are much better than what they should be. However, between the above and the Draznak's Pit, I cannot help but feel that both Dothraki and the Unsullied are being set up for failure in Westeros. And there is another common thread between them, beyond the fact that both are realistically incompetent: both were praised by Jorah Mormont. And he, I suspect, will turn out to be Daenerys' poisonous friend - he did once before, in fact, but I mean that his advice will end up working against her in the end.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

That is true - they definitely are much better than what they should be. However, between the above and the Draznak's Pit, I cannot help but feel that both Dothraki and the Unsullied are being set up for failure in Westeros. And there is another common thread between them, beyond the fact that both are realistically incompetent: both were praised by Jorah Mormont. And he, I suspect, will turn out to be Daenerys' poisonous friend - he did once before, in fact, but I mean that his advice will end up working against her in the end.

I expect they'll be serving alongside a lot of different military units.  

The free companies seem pretty versatile, comprising heavy  cavalry, heavy and light infantry and archers.  Assuming the Volantenes revolt, then they'll also be serving alongside tiger soldiers.  An initial invasion force for Westeros might comprise:-

8,000 Unsullied, plus a similar number of heavy infantry from the Tiger soldiers.

6,000 Dothraki, serving as light cavalry. 

4,000 heavy cavalry, drawn from the free companies. 

4,000 archers, drawn from the free companies.

10,000 other infantry, sappers, engineers, operatives of siege engines etc.  At the logistical level, I don't see how more than 40,000 could be transported across the sea, and that would be pushing it.  That's the sort of number the Ottomans brought to the siege of Malta.

So, Dany will also need local allies.

Edited by SeanF

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The Unsullied are indeed legendary for their skills, discipline, and bravery. They are the best troops in Martinworld. Years of daily training and the brutal cullng guarantee superior soldiers. 
 

These guys are unmatched. It took many wars before the Valyrian dragonlords were finally able to defeat the same soldiers who defended Ghis. It took the might of Valyria to win against these guys. It only took three dragons to defeat the kingdoms of Westeros. Given a choice between Westerosi knights or The Unsullied, I would choose to build my army with the Unsullied.  Daenerys should keep her Unsullied troops as personal guards.

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1 hour ago, Prince Rhaego Targaryen said:

The Unsullied are indeed legendary for their skills, discipline, and bravery. They are the best troops in Martinworld. Years of daily training and the brutal cullng guarantee superior soldiers. 
 

These guys are unmatched. It took many wars before the Valyrian dragonlords were finally able to defeat the same soldiers who defended Ghis. It took the might of Valyria to win against these guys. It only took three dragons to defeat the kingdoms of Westeros. Given a choice between Westerosi knights or The Unsullied, I would choose to build my army with the Unsullied.  Daenerys should keep her Unsullied troops as personal guards.

Yeah, no. Not even close. I wrote on the Unsullied before:

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/03/11/tactical-overview-the-unsullied/

Read that.

Unsullied have absolutely nothing on the troops of Old Ghis. They fight in the manner of the Lockstep Legions, but they are not the Lockstep Legions. Ghiscari Legionaires were free men, professional soldiers who were highly trained and disciplined. Unsullied are professional, trained and disciplined, but they are not free men. And their manner of fighting is thousand years out of date.

Daily training is irrelevant if your training regimen is outdated. And the brutal culling did not help Spartans create super soldiers - contrary to the mythology, Spartans were not that much better than any other hoplite army.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

1) Lack of testosterone is not only a problem of strength. It also means that Unsullied will be very meek, mentally retarded, and susceptible to physical injuries as well as diseases. Last problem is especially lethal: majority of casualties in any campaign were from diseases, which means that an army of Unsullied would likely not survive a siege even if the enemy never attacked.

If you want to go into details:

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/03/11/tactical-overview-the-unsullied/

Don't be silly. you're making a comparison to how to unsullied may seen in real life vs the world of asoiaf. If they are meek that only means they are unlikely to question there commander. we know they are not craven and are fully capable to go to battle. any with diminished mental capacity would have been culled out during the training period, something hinted at when they discuss those who could not learn new names. regarding disease, George plainly offers up an answer. the unsullied bath daily. despite their interactions with those suffering from the pale mare they have so far shown no heightened vulnerability, so at this point, such a complaint is moot.

 

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

2) Westerosi armies are not made up primarily of peasants. And even if they are technically peasants, these are still professional soldiers, semi-professional troops and trained militia. These would murder the crap out of the Unsullied. Again, I wrote about it in detail on my blog, so I'll just drop a link not to waste space here.

https://military-fantasy.com/2020/02/11/military-of-westeros-1-organization-and-manpower/

Westerosi militaries rely heavily on man-at-arms. these are small folk who are provided armor and some training, with groups being led by knights. if they aren't "peasants" they are the next closest thing. while most castles keep a garrison, they have no need to hire thousands of soldiers at once. looking at the dunk and egg novellas, particularly the sworn sword, its clear that these small folk often are not trained until there is a conflict, most of which stay incompetent until they at blooded in battle. you could consider all of the new brothers Jon meets at the wall to be a good representational group. remember how few of them had arms training? even Jamie acknowledges steelshanks to be just a farmer when there was no war on.

 

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Bows are a solution for the Dothraki. And do you have any proof that Dothraki bows outperform Westerosi longbows? The only reference I found is Jorah Mormont, and that guy is not exactly on talking terms with reality. And seeing how Dothraki lost to the freaking Unsullied, who are inferior to Westerosi heavy infantry - pikemen especially - in literally every imaginable aspect, I do not think you can rely on Dothraki defeating even Westerosi heavy infantry that is not supported by archers. But it always is supported by archers, so that is just a useless thought exercise.

Dothraki bows, given their description as both curved bows and as able to outperform longbows by Jorah seems to me that George is making a direct reference to composite bows common in mongol and other nomadic cultures.

https://archeryhistorian.com/mongolian-bow-vs-english-longbow-advantages-and-drawbacks/

your'e also acting as if the unsullied would be incapable of using pikes if given them when in fact they would probably readily adapt to using them given the chance.

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Depends on the type of crossbow. And seeing how societies which encountered Mongols - Chinese, Hungarians, Poles - all adapted crossbowmen, heavy cavalry and stone castles en masse, it is obvious all three things are useful against horse nomad armies. And guess which things Westeros has in abundance?

Agreed, and if the westerosi are smart and properly utilize these advantages, they have far less to worry about. still crossbowmen work well in tandem to defensive positions supported by walls or infantry. castles cannot move. a wise commander would not use Dothraki for siege craft, while a foolish lordling may try to meet them in the field, or worse yet, chase them. and these are strategies built after years of conflict. westerosi won't know initially how to fight Dothraki and would probably suffer much like those who fought the early mongol empire suffered.

 

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Considering Unsullied should logically be dead long before seeing the first battle... also, you have rather significant number of historical examples where armies fought to the last man. Unsullied lack of fear is indeed an advantage, but it is not a guarantee of victory.

And seeing how Daenerys disregarded literally every advice she was given - gave Unsullied names back, allowed them to mingle with people, bought boys still in training, used Unsullied as watchmen and guards - assuming that her Unsullied would indeed still be fearless is a rather big stretch. Original Unsullied were fearless because they had nothing to lose. But Daenerys' Unsullied are no longer in that position, and are also losing their cohesion and discipline.

the first point is moot for obvious reasons. and your missing the basic point I'm trying to make there. it doesn't matter that last stands often fail, what matters is they are a pain in the ass to deal with. not only is it demoralizing to face an enemy that will not surrender, it ensures loses far greater on the enemy than of any army that breaks and runs. with unsullied, the problem does not arise. and so far it is only your assumption that these things will break unsullied resolve, as if they would not fight to the death in gratitude to the breaker of chains. all that to say you are arguing changes that have not happened yet as if they already have happened.

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

As a matter of fact, we already know what happens when a Westerosi-style army faces the Unsullied. Golden Company first established its reputation when it sacked Qohor after the city failed to honour its contract. You know, the city that is defended exclusively by the Unsullied?

this is a really good example but it fails to recognize a few uncertain factors. we don't know how many unsullied are used to defend the city. kings landing at current keeps a force of 6000 gold cloaks, for a city with a population of a million. qohor is undoubtably smaller and is unlikely to keep even half that number as guard at any given time. they may even symbolic keep only 600, in memory of the 600 survivors. but even if it was another 3000, they would be facing a highly professional army under the leadership of bittersteel. not to mention we know almost nothing about the sack besides.

 

15 hours ago, Aldarion said:

To an extent. But the ability of heavy infantry to counter cavalry depends on them being able to outreach heavy cavalry. Pikemen can win against lancers because pikes are longer than lances - but if lances are longer than infantry weapons (e.g. hollow lance, or lancers facing spearmen), then lancers win. Unsullied are not pikemen, they are spearmen, which means that they cannot counter Westerosi knights.

Mongols were not dangerous for their mounted archers - in fact, mounted archers are easily countered by crossbowmen and foot archers. Europeans used these things for centuries against horse archers, and very successfully as well. The reason Mongols were dangerous was because they were a nomadic cavalry army (impossible to catch) with a good combination of heavy and light cavalry (adaptable) and very good engineers and allied infantry (again, adaptable) and most importantly, extremely well developed organization, tactical doctrine, signals service and military intelligence. They were a professional army the likes of which Central and Eastern Europe did not have at the time outside the Byzantine Empire. And the enemies they were facing at the time were essentially one-trick ponies: armies of both Poland and Hungary consisted mostly of light cavalry and conscript light infantry, with very few knights, and next to no stone fortifications. So it is no wonder that a professional army with numerous and well organized heavy cavalry was able to roll over them.

But after Poland and Hungary introduced professional military class (knights, mercenaries), crossbowmen, stone castles and heavy cavalry (knights), they proved not only able to easily defeat Mongols in the field, but even mount campaigns into the Mongol territory. After Mongols were defeated in Poland and Hungary, a Hungarian army under Count Andrew Lackfi invaded Mongolian territory in 1345., defeating a Golden Horde force and capturing what would become Moldavia.

Mongols actually had very few conflicts with European style militaries. And majority of those were losses. Unless you count China, but the thing with China was that it wasn't Mongols facing a Chinese army - it was Mongols leading a Chinese army against another Chinese army.

so I think I've addressed the first part.

I feel we may have been taught different things about the mongols. as I was educated, the mongol horse archer was in fact one of the main reasons for their early success. while it is true temujin used Chinese infantry when initially unifying the clans, the bulk of his army was composed of atomized clansman trained as horse archers. from an early age all mongol men were taught horseback riding and bowmanship. using tactics life feigned retreats and encircling the enemy, the mongols were able to cut down enemy numbers significantly, and these tactics were highly effective.

similarly you are simplifying the advantage of nomads. more than not being able to catch the, they had to catch them if they wanted to fight because the mongols did not use supply trains. their herds went with them and grazed on grass. even the horses. and these special, localized mounts made things like winter sieges possible, because the horses from the mongol stepp were adapted to digging through snow to get to grass, so any army fighting the mongols often had to do so in the winter.

not to underplay the vital role of siegecraft- six in ten mongol soldiers were light Calvary with the remaining four in the as heavy. it was a mix, certainly, and the fact that the mongols were professional did help. I'm not contesting this, but if you think mounted archers weren't a huge component to their tactics and organization, than you don't know what you're talking about. the tactics europeans made were in fact a reaction after years of being crushed by mongols. if you assume the wesorosi will be fine from the get go, again you are hugely underestimating the Dothraki.

and Poland and hungry were not the only European kingdoms ravaged by the mongols. Austria, Croatia, and Bulgaria all went into conflict with the mongols and were met heavy loses and widespread destruction. and when hungry fought the mongols, they weren't just infantry and light cavalry. they were assisted by professional knights including the knights templar and crossbowman

while the mongols may not have had many conflicts with Western European armies, the center and the east with western support still fell.

 

Edited by Targaryeninkingslanding
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3 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Don't be silly. you're making a comparison to how to unsullied may seen in real life vs the world of asoiaf. If they are meek that only means they are unlkilky to question there commander. we know they are not craven and fully capable to go to battle. any with diminished mental capacity would have been culled out during the training period, something hinted at when they discuss those who could not learn new names. regarding disease, George plainly offers up an answer. the unsullied bath daily. despite their interactions with those suffering from the pale mare they have so far shown no heightened vulnerability, so at this point, such a complaint is moot.

 

I very much doubt that George is unaware of these facts, and that means that Unsullied will not be as formidable as the sales pitches we have heard so far say they will.

1) Yes, unlikely to question their commander. Also unlikely to take initiative - which can be very important even during the set-piece battle, let alone something else. One of characteristics of Roman legions was that even common soldiers were very prone to taking initiative and making decisions on their own - and Romans rewarded such behaviour so long as it gave results.

2) Unsullied are not craven because they have literally nothing to live for. Or had literally nothing to live for - but we see that is changing. How their humanization will affect their combat performance is yet to be seen, but it is entirely possible that they will not keep their discipline.

3) You cannot always afford a bath a day. And even well-organized armies such as Roman and Ottoman suffered from diseases during campaigns, especially sieges. So while diseases may not be a problem while garrisoning a city in a dry climate, it is entirely possible that Unsullied may get wiped out in the field in Westeros.

But most importantly, fact that the Dothraki and the Unsullied are played up so much means that it is very likely they will receive a rude awakening in Westeros. Daenerys has not faced any serious military challenge yet: she had been walking from success to success, all her failures were essentially political. Westeros is a logical place for her to face her first major military defeats, and we in fact have foreshadowing of this in Daznak's Pit (complete with the "no true Scotsman" fallacy):

After the beast fights came a mock battle, pitting six men on foot against six horsemen, the former armed with shields and longswords, the latter with Dothraki arakhs. The mock knights were clad in mail hauberks, whilst the mock Dothraki wore no armor. At first the riders seemed to have the advantage, riding down two of their foes and slashing the ear from a third, but then the surviving knights began to attack the horses, and one by one the riders were unmounted and slain, to Jhiqui’s great disgust. “That was no true khalasar,” she said.

3 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Westerosi militaries rely heavily on man-at-arms. these are small folk who provided armor and some training, with groups being led by knights. if they arn't "peasants" they are the next closest thing. while most castles keep a garrison, they have no need to hire thousands of soldiers at once. looking at the dunk and egg novellas, particularly the sworn sword, its clear that these small folk often are not trained until there is a conflict, most of which stay incompetent until they at blooded in battle. you could consider all of the brothers Jon meets at the wall to be a good representational group. remember how few of them had arms training? even Jamie acknowledges steelshanks to be just a farmer when there was no war on.

 

Soldiers can be socially peasants yet still be trained soldiers:

http://www.warfareeast.co.uk/main/Hungarian_Armies.htm#TheMilitiaPortalis

Fact that they are "peasants" as you say does not mean that they are peasants, as in civilians given weapons and armour and thrown into battle. These are still trained soldiers, if not necessarily professional soldiers - though if organization is anything like Militia Portalis, that distinction is rather blurred.

And Dunk and Egg novels are hardly a good example, seeing how what we do see are basically dregs raised by a downtrodden lord for the purpose of the local defense. That is like saying that Hungarian armies were comprised of peasants because peasants fought in the Siege of Belgrade.

When we see actual armies in the field (Battle of the Green Fork, especially), they are comprised predominantly (though not exclusively) of trained soldiers. You could theoretize that they had started forcing peasants under arms to make good losses, but to say that Westerosi armies are fundamentally peasant rabble by default is simply not true. Even if they may employ peasants on the Militia Portalis model, these peasants will still be trained, drilled and well-equipped troops - an actual militia, or something akin to the US National Guard.

Definitely not a rabble.

4 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Dothraki bows, given their description as both curved bows and as able to outperform longbows by Jorah seems to me that George is making a direct reference to campsite bows common in mongol and other nomadic cultures.

https://archeryhistorian.com/mongolian-bow-vs-english-longbow-advantages-and-drawbacks/

your'e also acting as if the unsullied would be incapable of using pikes if given them when in fact they would probably readily adapt to using them given the chance.

I think you mean composite bows. And composite bows do not actually outperform longbows, for a simple reason that they fall apart in the kind of the wet climate that Westeros has. There is a reason self bows were popular in Europe - and in Westeros. Also, fact is that foot archers - both longbowmen and crossbowmen - proved fully capable of neutralizing or at least countering the threat of horse archers - be it Arab and Seljuk horse archers in the Palestine, or Mongol horse archers in Hungary.

This is what happens when you try to defeat a force of infantry and heavy cavalry with just horse archers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arsuf

And Jorah being Jorah, I see no reason to take him seriously. He has a major case of rose-coloured glasses.

Yes, Unsullied would be incapable of using pikes. Training for a spearman and training for a pikeman is completely different.

4 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Agreed, and if the westerosi are smart and properly utilize these advantages, they have far less to worry about. still crossbowmen work well in tandem to defensive positions supported by walls or infantry. castles cannot move. a wise commander would not use Dothraki for siege craft, while a foolish lordling may try to meet them in the field, or worse yet, chase them. and these are strategies built after years of conflict. westerosi won't know initially how to fight Dothraki and would probably suffer much like those who fought the early mongol empire suffered.

 

Crossbows work well in field battles as well. And army needs to forage, which means splitting up - and this means that even a superior force can be defeated in detail so long as enemies have safe bases around. Which is the purpose of the castles.

Read this to see how any Dothraki campaign in Westeros is likely to look:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Mongol_invasion_of_Hungary

Considering how "competent" Dothraki appear to be, I would not agree that facing them in open battle is foolish. Especially since Westeros does have significant experience with open battles and siege warfare both. And considering both number and importance of castles, even if Dothraki win in a few field battles, this will not achieve much. Mongols defeated Hungarians in 1241. (the first invasion), but failed to conquer any significant fortified places, and had to retreat.

5 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Agreed, and if the westerosi are smart and properly utilize these advantages, they have far less to worry about. still crossbowmen work well in tandem to defensive positions supported by walls or infantry. castles cannot move. a wise commander would not use Dothraki for siege craft, while a foolish lordling may try to meet them in the field, or worse yet, chase them. and these are strategies built after years of conflict. westerosi won't know initially how to fight Dothraki and would probably suffer much like those who fought the early mongol empire suffered.

 

Not necessarily. Yes, a last stand can cause far greater losses... but it also means that the enemy army is destroyed, period. After Cannae, those Roman soldiers who had escaped formed the core of new Roman armies. Had they fought to the last instead, their experience will have been lost. Veterans are valuable.

And despite inflicting greater losses on the enemy, physics of the battlefield mean that an army fighting a last stand is still likely to have a negative exchange ratio. And Unsullied cannot be replaced.

5 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

this is a really good example but it fails to recognize a few uncertain factors. we don't know how many unsullied are used to defend the city. kings landing at current keeps a force of 6000 gold cloaks, for a city with a population of a million. qohor is undoubtably smaller and is unlikely to keep even half that number as guard at any given time. they may even symbolic keep only 600, in memory of the 600 survivors. but even if it was another 3000, they would be facing a highly professional army under the leadership of bittersteel. not to mention we know almost nothing about the sack besides.

 

No, we don't know. But like the example of Daznak's Pit I gave earlier in this post, it is an example of where Martin is likely to be heading with this story.

Also, King's Landing in the books is IIRC closer to half a million. So 6 000 Gold Cloaks is around 1,2% of the population, which is reasonable for a professional army in a medieval society. If Qohor is of similar size to KL, some 3 000 - 6 000 Unsullied is not an unreasonable guess. And 3 000 Unsullied would just give Golden Company a 3:1 numerical advantage (assuming it was 10 000 strong back then) that is generally taken as a minimum necessary advantage to take a fortified place.

5 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

I feel we may have been taught different things about the mongols. as I was educated, the mongol horse archer was in fact one of the main reasons for their early success. while it is true temujin used Chinese infantry when initially unifying the clans, the bulk of his army was composed of atomized clansman trained as horse archers. from an early age all mongol men were taught horseback riding and bowmanship. using tactics life feigned retreats and circling the enemy, the mongols were able to cut down enemy numbers significantly, and these tactics were highly effective.

 

Eh, no, not even close. Horse archers were an advantage, but fact is that Chinese - and just about everybody else - knew how to counter them. When Mongols conquered China, main force of conquest were not Mongol horse archers, but rather Chinese infantrymen - Western Xia was conquered by a combination of intimidation and military engineering (something which we do not see Dothraki utilize). And unlike Dothraki, Mongols were rather keen students of military science: they had professional, standardized military which utilized combined-arms tactics, had significant indigenous heavy cavalry arm, had combat engineers (capable of building not just siege weapons but also bridges and similar), and had very developed intelligence service. None of which is in evidence with the Dothraki. And all of this was in evidence even before the conquest of China - Genghis Khan utilized Chinese siege technicians and catapult units (who btw had gunpowder bombs) as early as the conquest of Khwarezmia in 1219. - 1221. - which was the first settled state Mongols conquered.

Conquest of Khwarezmia was followed by the invasion of Western Xia. This played to Mongol advantage - in addition to intimidation and the engineering I noted previously, Western Xia had huge stretches of desert which allowed the Mongols to conquer it piecemeal. Each city that fell provided the defectors, weapons and supplies to take the next one.

But Dothraki would have none of these factors, unless they were joined by the Westerosi forces. A Dothraki-only invasion force, with no pre-arranged Westerosi support, would be helpless. Dothraki have no combat engineers, which means they would not be able to even threaten fortified places. And in terms of culture and mentality, Westerosi are much more similar to Europeans than to Chinese - which means that presence of Unsullied and the Dothraki would actually be detrimental to Daenerys' campaign as it will turn away potential allies. Which includes siege experts. It was Chinese who conquered China for the Mongols, and it will have to be Westerosi who will conquer Westeros for Daenerys.

5 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

similarly you are simplifying the advantage of nomads. more than not being able to catch the, they had to catch them if they wanted to fight because the mongols did not use supply trains. their herds went with them and grazed on grass. even the horses. and these special, localized mounts made things like winter sieges possible, because the horses from the mongol stepp were adapted to digging through snow to get to grass, so any army fighting the mongols often had to do so in the winter.

 

Yes, and these herds were still vulnerable to raids (in fact, herd raiding was a staple of nomad life). Even if raids can be avoided, mere presence of castles still heavily limits the actions of an army.

5 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

not to underplay the vital role of siegecraft- six in ten mongol soldiers were light Calvary with the remaining four in the as heavy. it was a mix, certainly, and the fact that the mongols were professional did help. I'm not contesting this, but if you think mounted archers weren't a huge component to their tactics and organization, than you don't know what you're talking about. the tactics europeans made were in fact a reaction after years of being crushed by mongols. if you assume the wesorosi will be fine from the get go, again you are hugely underestimating the Dothraki.

 

And Dothraki:

  • have no heavy cavalry
  • have no combat engineers
  • are not professional soldiers
  • are not capable of combined-arms tactics

Mounted archers were important for Mongol style of warfare, yes: but they were not employed alone. An army which is half heavy cavalry and half horse archers can achieve far more than an army comprised of either heavy cavalry or horse archers alone, because it has far more tactical options. Mongol horse archers did not act alone: they were used to bait the enemy or, if the enemy stood firm, unsettle and exhaust them through constant missile bombardment and harrassment. But horse archers never delivered a decisive blow: it was the heavy cavalry who did so, but only after the enemy had been exhausted - and, hopefully, pulled out of the position - by the horse archers. Dothraki, lacking organic heavy cavalry, will not be able to pull off such complex tactics successfully.

Also, Mongol horse archers wore armour: Dothraki do not.

Europeans did not spend "years being crushed by the Mongols". Mongols fought several battles against Eastern and Central European states that had underdeveloped military organization, tactics and technology. Majority of fortifications in Hungary and Poland at the time were made of wood, and they had very limited heavy cavalry. Yet despite that, Battle of Mohi was a very close-run thing: Batu very nearly ordered a retreat at one point, and Mongol losses were significant even in victory. And note that this was before the reforms of Bela IV which were a direct response to the invasion. Said reforms introduced the crossbowmen to Hungarian army, significantly increased the proportion of heavy cavalry, introduced the very concept of feudal knight to the kingdom, and replaced wooden motte-and-bailey castles with modern stone fortifications. Sounds a lot like what Westeros already has.

I know a lot more about these things than you do, apparently, if you think that Westeros is in any way, shape or form comparable to pre-1241. Poland and Hungary. Hungary in fact had only ten stone castles in 1241. (not counting those in Croatia), and five of those ended up being in Mongol-controlled territory (remaining five were on border with Austria). Mongols failed to take a single stone castle.

6 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

and Poland and hungry were not the only European kingdoms ravaged by the mongols. Austria, Croatia, and Bulgaria all went into conflict with the mongols and were ravaged (Bulgaria debatable so). and when hungry fought the mongols, they weren't just infantry and light cavalry. they were assisted by professional knights including the knights templar and crossbowman

 

Croatia was ravaged... except the Mongol army itself was far more ravaged by simply passing through. They were unable to take any of the fortified places they passed by (Trogir, Klis, Split, Dubrovnik), unable to secure fodder for horses, and unable to achieve anything of military significance before they were forced to retreat.

Hungarians did not have either knights or crossbowmen in large numbers. In fact, political pressures (related to his treatment of Cumans) forced Bela to fight the battle before he was actually ready for it. Despite that, Mohi was a very close-run thing, and those knights and crossbowmen that were present performed outstandingly well. Fact is that Mongols very nearly lost the battle.

6 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

while the mongols may not have had many conflicts with Western European armies, the center and the east with western support still fell.

 

Neither Poland nor Hungary ever "fell" to the Mongols, despite the fact that they were defeated in the field. Mongols were forced to withdraw. As for the Western European support, that was limited to begin with: Western European rulers knew that Mongols were dangerous in the open field, and in fact Western European warfare long preferred chevauchee and sieges to pitched battles - and for a good reason. So while Poland and Hungary fought, Western Europe saw to its own defences.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Aldarion said:

I very much doubt that George is unaware of these facts, and that means that Unsullied will not be as formidable as the sales pitches we have heard so far say they will.

1) Yes, unlikely to question their commander. Also unlikely to take initiative - which can be very important even during the set-piece battle, let alone something else. One of characteristics of Roman legions was that even common soldiers were very prone to taking initiative and making decisions on their own - and Romans rewarded such behaviour so long as it gave results.

2) Unsullied are not craven because they have literally nothing to live for. Or had literally nothing to live for - but we see that is changing. How their humanization will affect their combat performance is yet to be seen, but it is entirely possible that they will not keep their discipline.

3) You cannot always afford a bath a day. And even well-organized armies such as Roman and Ottoman suffered from diseases during campaigns, especially sieges. So while diseases may not be a problem while garrisoning a city in a dry climate, it is entirely possible that Unsullied may get wiped out in the field in Westeros.

But most importantly, fact that the Dothraki and the Unsullied are played up so much means that it is very likely they will receive a rude awakening in Westeros. Daenerys has not faced any serious military challenge yet: she had been walking from success to success, all her failures were essentially political. Westeros is a logical place for her to face her first major military defeats, and we in fact have foreshadowing of this in Daznak's Pit (complete with the "no true Scotsman" fallacy):

After the beast fights came a mock battle, pitting six men on foot against six horsemen, the former armed with shields and longswords, the latter with Dothraki arakhs. The mock knights were clad in mail hauberks, whilst the mock Dothraki wore no armor. At first the riders seemed to have the advantage, riding down two of their foes and slashing the ear from a third, but then the surviving knights began to attack the horses, and one by one the riders were unmounted and slain, to Jhiqui’s great disgust. “That was no true khalasar,” she said.

Soldiers can be socially peasants yet still be trained soldiers:

http://www.warfareeast.co.uk/main/Hungarian_Armies.htm#TheMilitiaPortalis

Fact that they are "peasants" as you say does not mean that they are peasants, as in civilians given weapons and armour and thrown into battle. These are still trained soldiers, if not necessarily professional soldiers - though if organization is anything like Militia Portalis, that distinction is rather blurred.

And Dunk and Egg novels are hardly a good example, seeing how what we do see are basically dregs raised by a downtrodden lord for the purpose of the local defense. That is like saying that Hungarian armies were comprised of peasants because peasants fought in the Siege of Belgrade.

When we see actual armies in the field (Battle of the Green Fork, especially), they are comprised predominantly (though not exclusively) of trained soldiers. You could theoretize that they had started forcing peasants under arms to make good losses, but to say that Westerosi armies are fundamentally peasant rabble by default is simply not true. Even if they may employ peasants on the Militia Portalis model, these peasants will still be trained, drilled and well-equipped troops - an actual militia, or something akin to the US National Guard.

Definitely not a rabble.

I think you mean composite bows. And composite bows do not actually outperform longbows, for a simple reason that they fall apart in the kind of the wet climate that Westeros has. There is a reason self bows were popular in Europe - and in Westeros. Also, fact is that foot archers - both longbowmen and crossbowmen - proved fully capable of neutralizing or at least countering the threat of horse archers - be it Arab and Seljuk horse archers in the Palestine, or Mongol horse archers in Hungary.

This is what happens when you try to defeat a force of infantry and heavy cavalry with just horse archers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arsuf

And Jorah being Jorah, I see no reason to take him seriously. He has a major case of rose-coloured glasses.

Yes, Unsullied would be incapable of using pikes. Training for a spearman and training for a pikeman is completely different.

Crossbows work well in field battles as well. And army needs to forage, which means splitting up - and this means that even a superior force can be defeated in detail so long as enemies have safe bases around. Which is the purpose of the castles.

Read this to see how any Dothraki campaign in Westeros is likely to look:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Mongol_invasion_of_Hungary

Considering how "competent" Dothraki appear to be, I would not agree that facing them in open battle is foolish. Especially since Westeros does have significant experience with open battles and siege warfare both. And considering both number and importance of castles, even if Dothraki win in a few field battles, this will not achieve much. Mongols defeated Hungarians in 1241. (the first invasion), but failed to conquer any significant fortified places, and had to retreat.

 

Not necessarily. Yes, a last stand can cause far greater losses... but it also means that the enemy army is destroyed, period. After Cannae, those Roman soldiers who had escaped formed the core of new Roman armies. Had they fought to the last instead, their experience will have been lost. Veterans are valuable.

And despite inflicting greater losses on the enemy, physics of the battlefield mean that an army fighting a last stand is still likely to have a negative exchange ratio. And Unsullied cannot be replaced.

No, we don't know. But like the example of Daznak's Pit I gave earlier in this post, it is an example of where Martin is likely to be heading with this story.

Also, King's Landing in the books is IIRC closer to half a million. So 6 000 Gold Cloaks is around 1,2% of the population, which is reasonable for a professional army in a medieval society. If Qohor is of similar size to KL, some 3 000 - 6 000 Unsullied is not an unreasonable guess. And 3 000 Unsullied would just give Golden Company a 3:1 numerical advantage (assuming it was 10 000 strong back then) that is generally taken as a minimum necessary advantage to take a fortified place.

Eh, no, not even close. Horse archers were an advantage, but fact is that Chinese - and just about everybody else - knew how to counter them. When Mongols conquered China, main force of conquest were not Mongol horse archers, but rather Chinese infantrymen - Western Xia was conquered by a combination of intimidation and military engineering (something which we do not see Dothraki utilize). And unlike Dothraki, Mongols were rather keen students of military science: they had professional, standardized military which utilized combined-arms tactics, had significant indigenous heavy cavalry arm, had combat engineers (capable of building not just siege weapons but also bridges and similar), and had very developed intelligence service. None of which is in evidence with the Dothraki. And all of this was in evidence even before the conquest of China - Genghis Khan utilized Chinese siege technicians and catapult units (who btw had gunpowder bombs) as early as the conquest of Khwarezmia in 1219. - 1221. - which was the first settled state Mongols conquered.

Conquest of Khwarezmia was followed by the invasion of Western Xia. This played to Mongol advantage - in addition to intimidation and the engineering I noted previously, Western Xia had huge stretches of desert which allowed the Mongols to conquer it piecemeal. Each city that fell provided the defectors, weapons and supplies to take the next one.

But Dothraki would have none of these factors, unless they were joined by the Westerosi forces. A Dothraki-only invasion force, with no pre-arranged Westerosi support, would be helpless. Dothraki have no combat engineers, which means they would not be able to even threaten fortified places. And in terms of culture and mentality, Westerosi are much more similar to Europeans than to Chinese - which means that presence of Unsullied and the Dothraki would actually be detrimental to Daenerys' campaign as it will turn away potential allies. Which includes siege experts. It was Chinese who conquered China for the Mongols, and it will have to be Westerosi who will conquer Westeros for Daenerys.

Yes, and these herds were still vulnerable to raids (in fact, herd raiding was a staple of nomad life). Even if raids can be avoided, mere presence of castles still heavily limits the actions of an army.

And Dothraki:

  • have no heavy cavalry
  • have no combat engineers
  • are not professional soldiers
  • are not capable of combined-arms tactics

Mounted archers were important for Mongol style of warfare, yes: but they were not employed alone. An army which is half heavy cavalry and half horse archers can achieve far more than an army comprised of either heavy cavalry or horse archers alone, because it has far more tactical options. Mongol horse archers did not act alone: they were used to bait the enemy or, if the enemy stood firm, unsettle and exhaust them through constant missile bombardment and harrassment. But horse archers never delivered a decisive blow: it was the heavy cavalry who did so, but only after the enemy had been exhausted - and, hopefully, pulled out of the position - by the horse archers. Dothraki, lacking organic heavy cavalry, will not be able to pull off such complex tactics successfully.

Also, Mongol horse archers wore armour: Dothraki do not.

Europeans did not spend "years being crushed by the Mongols". Mongols fought several battles against Eastern and Central European states that had underdeveloped military organization, tactics and technology. Majority of fortifications in Hungary and Poland at the time were made of wood, and they had very limited heavy cavalry. Yet despite that, Battle of Mohi was a very close-run thing: Batu very nearly ordered a retreat at one point, and Mongol losses were significant even in victory. And note that this was before the reforms of Bela IV which were a direct response to the invasion. Said reforms introduced the crossbowmen to Hungarian army, significantly increased the proportion of heavy cavalry, introduced the very concept of feudal knight to the kingdom, and replaced wooden motte-and-bailey castles with modern stone fortifications. Sounds a lot like what Westeros already has.

I know a lot more about these things than you do, apparently, if you think that Westeros is in any way, shape or form comparable to pre-1241. Poland and Hungary. Hungary in fact had only ten stone castles in 1241. (not counting those in Croatia), and five of those ended up being in Mongol-controlled territory (remaining five were on border with Austria). Mongols failed to take a single stone castle.

Croatia was ravaged... except the Mongol army itself was far more ravaged by simply passing through. They were unable to take any of the fortified places they passed by (Trogir, Klis, Split, Dubrovnik), unable to secure fodder for horses, and unable to achieve anything of military significance before they were forced to retreat.

Hungarians did not have either knights or crossbowmen in large numbers. In fact, political pressures (related to his treatment of Cumans) forced Bela to fight the battle before he was actually ready for it. Despite that, Mohi was a very close-run thing, and those knights and crossbowmen that were present performed outstandingly well. Fact is that Mongols very nearly lost the battle.

Neither Poland nor Hungary ever "fell" to the Mongols, despite the fact that they were defeated in the field. Mongols were forced to withdraw. As for the Western European support, that was limited to begin with: Western European rulers knew that Mongols were dangerous in the open field, and in fact Western European warfare long preferred chevauchee and sieges to pitched battles - and for a good reason. So while Poland and Hungary fought, Western Europe saw to its own defences.

George has already compared them the mamluks, but they haven't ruled yet. I think he's more aware and interested in pursuing that then them being useless.

I think problem one and two listed actually have an interesting and inverse implication. If they are becoming more "human" so to speak than that will likely deal with the problem of seeking initiative because now they have a reason to live. similarly I think that by becoming more human they will value Dany more and be more loyal to her. they will die for her, and for other slaves, as greyworm has expressed.

As for the baths, that will certainly be more difficult, but given that winter is coming to Westeros, an abundance of water seems obtainable at the least. melting snow should be easy with a dragon about.

As too if they will be a failure... we'll have to see. on the same thread though, it is like assuming the dragons will be killed quickly. Certainly Dragons are talked up more than unsullied, but if they were to each die easily, I would be both surprised and disappointed.

That quote could be foreshadowing, but I think it's fair to be skeptical of the mock battle compared to true war. we may as well take the handmaid at her word. they were no true khalisar

Regarding the man at arms claim- they are similar to a national guard, but I think they are really more akin to a drafted army. Those who survived prior conflicts, and adult men of certain ages are called to train, but as the battle at Oxcross shows us, that is not always the case. those levies were fresh and untrained and crumbled. and still just as well, we see men of the nights watch, primarily composed of by small folk, often do not have even the slightest training beforehand.

I did mean composite bows. I actually fixed that spelling mistake before you posted your response but never mind. as to the problem with climate, yes in the river lands maybe, but you forget that winter has come. we are no longer dealing with an as humid a climate. and in essos longbows would still be at a disadvantage, where unsullied stood up to them.

You mean the battle of arsuf where a counterattack by the Christins was almost impossible due to the loss of horses to arrow fire? you make it sound like an easy devastation, but it was a close thing, and it was almost ruined by the knights Hospitaller "taking the initiative" so to speak. Certainly it worked out well for the christians, but I don't think this is quite the Ah-ha moment you think it is.

I don't think we have very dissimilar views to how a the Dothraki would behave in Westeros. Having said that, I think it could just as well more closely resemble the invasion of Kievan Rus. simply put the dorhtaki don't need to attack castles, just cities and smallfolk. well there is no way a khalisar would attack Westeros on its own anyways and I don't think I've made any claims to that fact.

Yes and when the 3000 made there last stand, instead of breaking, they won. That's the point. if they were routed they would have all died anyways. hell the mongols would have killed them all out of hand. you could even order some to stay behind and die so the rest can retreat orderly.

Yup the Dothraki have none of those things you listed. Though the mongol clans didn't have all those things either, initially. it was the rulership of Genghis khan and his implementation of meritocracy for the positions in his atomized army that changed things. right now the Dothraki more resemble the scattered clans pre unification. the stallion who mounts the world is probably the figure to change that.

I disagree with the claim that the Dothraki are not a profession army. Mongols were not at least initially trained as an army, but were taught to pick up a bow and two to ride from a very early age. 

I really doubt they keep 3000 guard but perhaps your right. With a better understanding of the numbers we'd probably have a much more clear cut answer to the question of unsullied efficacy...

You're right. the horse archers were a harassment tactic more than anything but still essential to how they fought. I do still believe their training makes the Dothraki on average more dangerous than a westerosi man at arms. And heavily cavalry can't be underestimated in countering them. 

you're correct that Westeros won't have the weakness of infrastructure or military tech. what will be problematic for them are supply trains and field battles - not for equipment - but for exposure to tactics. The first few years fighting the Dothraki would be strange and probably difficult for Westeros. more so if the Dothraki did not fight alone. I just don't think it will be an easy thing to shrug off.

years I said, not decades. But the people who fought them had to learn to fight them. The invasion of Kievan Rus shows that clearly enough. and don't pretend unfavorable terrain didn't factor in heavily into those mongol losses. and those places that were not occupied were plundered heavily. The mongols certainly won those conflicts.

Discussing this with you has probably one of the more fun conversations I've had on this forum but it is a bit exhausting...

Edited by Targaryeninkingslanding

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On 7/24/2021 at 11:03 AM, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

The Unsullied are an interesting combination of various warrior cultures. From what I can see, the military organization draws inspiration primarily from 3-4 historic military cultures which are used to create the image of their appearance and tactics, their legend, and what might be inferred for their future.

These historic cultures are:

The Spartans (form): A primarily Phalanx type military structure derived trough shield and long spear, and in consideration of the stand at Qohor where of 3000 Unsullied, 600 remained. Inspired by the last stand of 300 Spartans.

The Swiss mercenaries that preceded the Papal Guard (legend): Since the Defense at Qohor the city exclusively keeps a garrison of unsullied. After the sack of Rome (1527) under Pope Clements VII where Swiss mercenaries preformed a hopeless last stand, the papacy had exclusively hired Swiss (mercenaries) as papal guardsmen in memory of the sacrifice.

The Mamluks (and to a similar extent the Janissaries / Future): A slave caste that went on to seize power of Egypt. Were notable for many reasons including being one of the few cultures to successfully halt the expansion of the mongol successor states.

From the following and especially in consideration of the third presented culture, I think it is likely that the Unsullied will become the leaders of Meereen and the former slave cities after Dany decided to sail for Westeros. While I am not fully prepared to explain how this will be executed, it seems to me that this is something George is teeing up.

The Unsullied are the best military unit of the time.  Their training and discipline are superior to all other military.  They will always have a place in Dany's armed forces.  Many will undoubtedly perish in battle, suffer crippling injuries and what not.  The big question really is the replacement.  Even an unsullied will succumb to age. 

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On 7/28/2021 at 10:42 PM, Rondo said:

The Unsullied troops are the best infantry in the world.  They make up the center of Daenerys Targaryen's armies.  They will help her build an empire.  They will always make up part of her armies but some will learn to become useful in other areas.  Barristan is an example of an old soldier who is learning new tricks.  The same thing can happen to the eunuchs.  I predict that Varys and Theon will find a place among the Unsullied.  Those two are in no shape for infantry but the role of the eunuchs will branch into other areas as the empire begins to form.  I am almost sure from the talk here that Daenerys was and will be the founder of empires.  She built the great empire of the dawn during one of her past lives.  She will repeat the same feat at the end of the Long Night.  

There will always be a need for an elite military unit.  If there is a fighting unit that could become obsolete it is the knight class. 

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