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    Default Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Real World Weapon, Armour and Tactics Thread XXIV

    This thread is a resource for getting information about real life weapons, armour and tactics. The concept has always been that the information is for RPG players and DMs so they can use it to make their games better, thus it's here rather than in Friendly Banter.

    A few rules for this thread:

    • This thread is for asking questions about how weapons, armour and tactics really work. As such, it's not going to include game rule statistics. If you have such a question, especially if it stems from an answer or question in this thread, feel free to start a new thread and include a link back to here. If you do ask a rule question here, you'll be asked to move it elsewhere, and then we'll be happy to help out with it.
    • Any weapon or time period is open for questions. Medieval and ancient warfare questions seem to predominate, but since there are many games set in other periods as well, feel free to ask about any weapon. This includes futuristic ones - but be aware that these will be likely assessed according to their real life feasibility. Thus, phasers, for example, will be talked about in real-world science and physics terms rather than the Star Trek canon. If you want to discuss a fictional weapon from a particular source according to the canonical explanation, please start a new thread for it.
    • Please try to cite your claims if possible. If you know of a citation for a particular piece of information, please include it. However, everyone should be aware that sometimes even the experts don't agree, so it's quite possible to have two conflicting answers to the same question. This isn't a problem; the asker of the question can examine the information and decide which side to go with. The purpose of the thread is to provide as much information as possible. Debates are fine, but be sure to keep it a friendly debate (even if the experts can't!).
    • No modern real-world political discussion. As the great Carl von Clausevitz once said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," so politics and war are heavily intertwined. However, politics are a big hot-button issue and one banned on these boards, so avoid political analysis if at all possible (this thread is primarily about military hardware). There's more leeway on this for anything prior to about 1800, but be very careful with all of it, and anything past 1900 is surely not open for analysis (These are arbitrary dates but any dates would be, and these are felt to be reasonable).
    • No graphic descriptions. War is violent, dirty, and horrific, and anyone discussing it should be keenly aware of that. However, on this board graphic descriptions of violence (or sexuality) are not allowed, so please avoid them.


    With that done, have at and enjoy yourselves!

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    As others pointed out, armor makes little difference here. I can do about 1 - 2 minutes in gambeson at full speed duels, and 5 to 10 in a skirmish where you don't go full throttle all the time, and all chain mail does is slow me down a little if I decide to wear it. After this, I'm pretty beaten and have to both drink and have a break to cool down. Medieval battles could last from half an hour to half a day, but most of that was either marching or waiting.
    I'd say another factor is footwear. A man in armour with non-gripping shoes (during the Norman times, they had leather wraps) isn't stopping quickly on a surface like wet grass, especially if they've just been chasing someone in light or no armour.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by KarlMarx View Post
    How valuable, historically, was the heavy cavalry charge (esp. in medieval times?)

    I've heard many sources, including a professor of military history, claim that it has been overrated by various sources, and that disciplined infantry--even without spears/pikes--could easily repulse such charges if they stood their ground.

    On the other hand, what infantry forces had this discipline in the middle ages?

    Has the value of the knightly charge against non-pike/spear infantry been overestimated, or was it in fact a viable tactic?
    Not-medieval times; in antiquity it was vital. By heavy cavalry, I mean those who's primary purpose is to close and melee, rather than skirmish and stay at range. That generally meant well-armoured noble cavalry in this period, usually armed with a two-handed lance.

    From Alexander's Companions to Persian nobles to steppe nobles and cataphracts, they could turn a battle. While their main job was driving off lighter cavalry and crushing skirmishers who were caught in the open, they could also charge to the rear or flank of an engaged heavy infantry formation, and potentially rout them.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    3) Knightly cavalry in field battles

    This is the case with most variety - in general, shock cavalry in battle is something like a scalpel, or a sniper rifle. Use it properly and at the right time, and ti will win the battle seemingly on its own. Use it the wrong way, and you just invented a novel way to manufacture horse meat balls (give Ikea a call).
    I know it's highly inappropriate but the ikea bit got a real chuckle out of me.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Actually in Flanders heavy infantry that was well drilled several times beat cavalry charges by knights.

    In several cases it was the terrain that was the big determination but a few times they did succeed in defeating knights in melee without this advantage.

    It was however not considered a standard thing, it was exceptional which is why it got mentioned.

    It was the combination of pikes and then the polearms to finish the job or bring horses down.
    The goedendag was used it seems by the second ranks to support and provide a heavy impact before the development of the bigger polearms such as halberds or Lucerne hammers really became widespread to replace them (or the production becomes good enough in quality to make these weapons of a sufficient quality to reliably do what people wanted themto do).

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...f_Kortrijk.jpg

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Related to this... how long could a fighter carry on combat, and how did armor affect that? I realize this is a very open-ended question with a lot of variables, but is there a general rule of thumb? Would using a large shield and/or wearing heavier armor significantly reduce a fighter's endurance? Which would affect it more? Would a skilled, lightly-armored fighter be able to simply dodge until a more heavily armored opponent became fatigued in order to get an advantage?
    I once read an estimate from the US Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau, that an agent can usually last for about three minutes of close combat for every mile they can run inside of an hour.

    Mind you, when I related that tidbit to a karate expert friend of mine, she scoffed and suggested the ratio was probably the other way around.

    In either case, the point is that pitched fighting is pretty draining even unarmored, and that someone used to what they're wearing is probably going to tire from running out of breath well before they have a chance to tire from the weight of their armor.

    (Also, at least with respect to knife-proof vests, you get used to having the weight on you pretty quickly if you wear it for 8-16 hours a day. I would say that after about a month, people hardly even notice the thing. I even knew people who worked out in the thing, and they got used to that pretty quickly.)
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2017-08-09 at 11:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    Aren't Persian Immortal armed with giant rectangular shield that is much larger than both Scutum and Aspis?

    Sure doesn't look like something usable in a duel to me. In fact, I think the shield fits the bill of "fighting as one body" pretty nicely (i.e. forming up a shield wall).
    I have looked over my post again, and the part in which I called the immortals wicker shield "small" was likely a mistake I made while writing, because it was meant to refer to the Germanic shield (I think so at least; I don't remember exactly), which is also made of wickers. I remember looking for size, and that looks more like the size of Germanic shields than of the Persians. At least, I guess so. I distinctly remember having to look up the Germanic shield measures, because I recalled it being larger than the Roman one, which would have been enormous, especially in swampy terrain.

    However, I don't think that the Immortals exclusively used the shield you show in the picture. I have given a quick glance to the literature. The opinion I found is that the Immortals (and the Persians in general) used two kinds of shield, one much larger and rectangular (spara), the other smaller and eight- or violin-shaped (which is a shape we also find in the Greek world), this one made of reed and leather, maybe with a metal boss. The larger kind was made of wickers and was used by the front line, while the following lines used the smaller one. This, at least, seemed like a meaningful assumption, since we have depictions of those 8-shields. Another hypothesis is that they were only used when performing a guard function. I have read the same hypothesis about the spara shield, however.
    The spara shields would have also been used by normal frontline troops (both Immortals and not Immortals) to protect themselves during the clash with the enemy, and hold their ground while the archers behind them kept firing.

    Anyway, the academic literature on the subject generally seems to be in a very bad shape, since we don't have much info coming from Persia, and there also were problems understanding what descriptions referred to what unit. A rampart made of spara shields (like the one in the picture you posted) is assumed to be described by Herodotus during the battle of Plataea, and might well not refer to the Immortals, but to standard infantry. In Plataea, the soldiers hiding behind the shields are described as shieldless and unskilled, and even the 1,000 soldiers picked by Mardonius to hold on around him only have spears, and no shields.

    Illustration at Persepolis:


    Equipment of immortals as described by Herodotus:
    The dress of these troops consisted of the tiara, or soft felt cap, embroidered tunic with sleeves, a coat of mail looking like the scales of a fish, and trousers; for arms they carried light wicker shields, quivers slung below them, short spears, powerful bows with cane arrows, and short swords swinging from belts beside the right thigh.
    Description of Plataea by Herodotus:
    Now, therefore, as they were about to engage with Mardonius and the troops under him, they made ready to offer sacrifice. The victims, however, for some time were not favourable; and, during the delay, many fell on the Spartan side, and a still greater number were wounded. For the Persians had made a rampart of their wicker shields, and shot from behind them stich clouds of arrows, that the Spartans were sorely distressed. The victims continued unpropitious; till at last Pausanias raised his eyes to the Heraeum of the Plataeans, and calling the goddess to his aid, besought her not to disappoint the hopes of the Greeks.

    [9.62] As he offered his prayer, the Tegeans, advancing before the rest, rushed forward against the enemy; and the Lacedaemonians, who had obtained favourable omens the moment that Pausanias prayed, at length, after their long delay, advanced to the attack; while the Persians, on their side, left shooting, and prepared to meet them. And first the combat was at the wicker shields. Afterwards, when these were swept down, a fierce contest took Place by the side of the temple of Ceres, which lasted long, and ended in a hand-to-hand struggle. The barbarians many times seized hold of the Greek spears and brake them; for in boldness and warlike spirit the Persians were not a whit inferior to the Greeks; but they were without bucklers, untrained, and far below the enemy in respect of skill in arms. Sometimes singly, sometimes in bodies of ten, now fewer and now more in number, they dashed upon the Spartan ranks, and so perished.

    [9.63] The fight went most against the Greeks, where Mardonius, mounted upon a white horse, and surrounded by the bravest of all the Persians, the thousand picked men, fought in person. So long as Mardonius was alive, this body resisted all attacks, and, while they defended their own lives, struck down no small number of Spartans; but after Mardonius fell, and the troops with him, which were the main strength of the army, perished, the remainder yielded to the Lacedaemonians, and took to flight. Their light clothing, and want of bucklers, were of the greatest hurt to them: for they had to contend against men heavily armed, while they themselves were without any such defence.
    Going by Herodotus alone, who only mentions wicker shields in use as to build a rampart, the most obvious thing to think would be that the Immortals effectively only used spara shields, and used them to prepare the field, searching for a good defensive position, from which to shoot the enemy, and using the spear only to defend themselves if it came to melee.

    It is interesting that Herodotus doesn't say anything about shields when the Immortals fight the Spartans at the Thermpylae, where they had to attack someone else's position. However, here Herodotus is merely describing the disadvantages of the Immortals compared to the Spartans, and having a shape-of-eight shield would not have been a disadvantage, so it could have been left out.

    and when the Medes were being
    roughly handled, then these retired from the battle, and the Persians,
    those namely whom the king called "Immortals," of whom Hydarnes was
    commander, took their place and came to the attack, supposing that
    they at least would easily overcome the enemy. When however these also
    engaged in combat with the Hellenes, they gained no more success than
    the Median troops but the same as they, seeing that they were fighting
    in a place with a narrow passage, using shorter spears than the
    Hellenes, and not being able to take advantage of their superior
    numbers.
    In this same occasion, the Immortals are called unskilled, which also goes for the Persian who fought in Plataea.

    Anyway, the depictions from the time show us soldiers, assumed to be a royal guard, using shields of a different kind. It doesn't help that Herodotus is the only one to talk about the Immortals, which may have existed as a body for a very limited time, been a mistranslation, or who knows what. I also believe that, when Xerxes went back home, he did carry a royal guard with him, while the Immortal remained in Greece with Mardonius.

    The dialogue between Xerxes and Demaratus:

    When he heard this promise, Demaratus spoke as follows: "O king! Since you command me to speak the truth, I will not say what will one day prove me a liar. Difficulties have at all times been present in our land, while Courage is an ally whom we have gained through wisdom and strict laws. Her aid enables us to solve problems and escape being conquered. All Greeks are brave, but what I am about to say does not concern all, but only the Spartans."

    "First then, no matter what, the Spartans will never accept your terms. This would reduce Greece to slavery. They are sure to join battle with you even if all the rest of the Greeks surrendered to you. As for Spartan numbers, do not ask how many or few they are, hoping for them to surrender. For if a thousand of them should take the field, they will meet you in battle, and so will any other number, whether it is less than this, or more."

    When Xerxes heard this answer of Demaratus, he laughed and answered: "What wild words, Demaratus! A thousand men join battle with such an army as mine! Come then, will you -- who were once, as you say, their king -- fight alone right now against ten men? I think not. And yet, if your fellow-citizens really are as you say, then according to your laws as their king, you should be twice as tough and take on twenty all by yourself!"

    But, if you Greeks, who think so hightly of yourselves, are simply the size and kind of men as those I have seen at my court, or as yourself, Demaratus, then your bragging is weak. Use common sense: how could a thousand men, or ten thousand, or even fifty thousand -- particularly if they are all free, and not under one lord -- how could such a force stand against a united army like mine? Even if the Greeks have larger numbers than our highest estimate, we still would outnumber them 100 to 1."

    If they had a single master as our troops have, their obedience to him might make them courageous beyond their own desire, or they might be pushed onward by the whip against an enemy which far outnumbered them. But left to their own free choice, they will surely act differently. For my part, I believe that if the Greeks had to contend with the Persians only, and the numbers were equal on both sides, the Greeks would still find it hard to stand their ground. We too have men among us as tough as those you described -- not many perhaps, but enough. For instance, some of my bodyguard would willing engage singly with three Greeks. But this you did not know; and so you talked foolishly."

    Demaratus answered him- "I knew, O king, that if I told you the truth, I would displease you. But since you wanted the truth, I am telling you what the Spartans will do. I am not speaking out of any love that I have for Sparta -- you know better than anyone how I feel about those who robbed me of my rank, of my ancestral honours, and made me a homeless exile.... Look, I am no match for ten men or even two, and given the choice, I would rather not fight at all. But if necessary, I would rather go against those who boast that they are a match for any three Greeks."

    "The same goes for the Spartans. One-against-one, they are as good as anyone in the world. But when they fight in a body, they are the best of all. For though they are free men, they are not entirely free. They accept Law as their master. And they respect this master more than your subjects respect you. Whatever he commands, they do. And his command never changes: It forbids them to flee in battle, whatever the number of their foes. He requires them to stand firm -- to conquer or die. O king, if I seem to speak foolishly, I am content from this time forward to remain silent. I only spoke now because you commanded me to. I do hope that everything turns out according to your wishes."

    This was the answer of Demaratus, and Xerxes was not angry with him at all, but only laughed, and sent him away with words of kindness.
    BTW, translations don't really help. The shields used to build the rampart and the shields described in the equipment are called with the same name, but the translator felt the need to add a "light" in the equipment description. The "build a rampart" part could both mean "fence in, build a fence", "surround with a shield", or be a metaphor used for holding shields and weapons close together. I personally am more for reading it as actually creating a defensive structure, because the text says "the fighting came first to be around the wicker shields", not "around the Persians holding the shields", which seems unusual to me if it referred to the men holding them. Reason #2 is the fact that the word I am translating with "wicker shields" actually means "anything made of wicker". So those could actually be wicker walls (or mantlet-like defenses), and no shields at all. Then Herodotus says, "as those wickers fell...", not "as those shield bearers fell". Finally, Herodotus describes the Immortals wicker shields as "shields made of wickers", while these wickers are only described as "wickers".

    So I currently believe that the objects described by translators as wicker shields at Plataea weren't shields in the man-carriable sense, but defenses made of wicker, and not even spara shields.

    Also, I wrote that the 8-shield was made of reeds and leather. Right now, the truth is that each source I read has a different description of its components: leather over reeds, or over metal, or over wood, or metal over wood... It would also be nice to know when the Persians began using them.

    Is that image from the Osprey books? It reminds me of their style, for the little I have seen.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    I got the impression those big Persian shields were more like pavises than personal shields. Set up to protect the line against missile fire.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Is that image from the Osprey books? It reminds me of their style, for the little I have seen.
    Thanks for the clarification - that's some impressive wealth of knowledge.

    I just grab the picture off Google without looking at the source...but I am almost certain that it isn't from Osprey book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    I got the impression those big Persian shields were more like pavises than personal shields. Set up to protect the line against missile fire.
    I also think this to be plausible, although I have the impression that the Greeks/Macedons in general were not particularly exceptional in the missile weapon department (compared to the Persians that had lots of composite bow archer, that is).


    Another (unrelated) question:
    Is there any recorded (or modern measured) draw weight of medieval siege/rampart crossbow? The kind that's too heavy to be man-portable and has to be mounted on a rest/stand/cart.

    Range too.
    Last edited by wolflance; 2017-08-10 at 01:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    I'd say another factor is footwear. A man in armour with non-gripping shoes (during the Norman times, they had leather wraps) isn't stopping quickly on a surface like wet grass, especially if they've just been chasing someone in light or no armour.
    It would be, but everyone is wearing the same thing, more or less. It's also touch less of a problem than people usually imagine, you can get used to it and adapt how you walk and run - I did - it's just more of a hassle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl;
    I know it's highly inappropriate but the ikea bit got a real chuckle out of me.
    Then my work here is done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadmeat.GW;
    Actually in Flanders heavy infantry that was well drilled several times beat cavalry charges by knights.
    Not just Flanders, there were places that had elite heavy infantry - in Hungary, cities provided that after Belo IV. post-mongol reforms, for example - but not only was that not the norm, this heavy infantry was dismounted knights a lot of the time, most prominently in cases of England and monastic orders. You could therefore argue that heavy cavalry can be used to beat itself if it dismounts, but then we start going in circles.

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance;
    Is there any recorded (or modern measured) draw weight of medieval siege/rampart crossbow? The kind that's too heavy to be man-portable and has to be mounted on a rest/stand/cart.
    There is a fairly good replica of Orşova ballista that is just barely not man-portable that clocks in at 4700 lbs and works quite well. For the estimated ranges, portable crossbows have their top draw weight at 3000 - 6000 lbs, depending on who you ask, with 1000+ lbs crossbows being quite common during late renaissance - you obviously need a cranequin and a fair amount of time to use those.

    Spoiler: Orşova ballista replica
    Show




    For siege engines, I saw top estimate of 12 000 lbs, but beware, this will be even less useful than it is for crossbows - people tend to be obsessed with Joules and whatnot, while forgetting that these aren't uniform bullets going out of fairly uniform barrels - a lot will depend on specifics of the ballista: how quick does the string move, how much the projectile flexes, what exactly is the projectile, etc etc.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    There is a fairly good replica of Orşova ballista that is just barely not man-portable that clocks in at 4700 lbs and works quite well. For the estimated ranges, portable crossbows have their top draw weight at 3000 - 6000 lbs, depending on who you ask, with 1000+ lbs crossbows being quite common during late renaissance - you obviously need a cranequin and a fair amount of time to use those.

    Spoiler: Orşova ballista replica
    Show




    For siege engines, I saw top estimate of 12 000 lbs, but beware, this will be even less useful than it is for crossbows - people tend to be obsessed with Joules and whatnot, while forgetting that these aren't uniform bullets going out of fairly uniform barrels - a lot will depend on specifics of the ballista: how quick does the string move, how much the projectile flexes, what exactly is the projectile, etc etc.
    I am aware of the power and range of Firefly Orsova ballista, however since it is a Roman torsion-powered siege engine, I think it is quite different from flexion-powered medieval crossbow, thus not really a good example.

    But 3000, 6000 and 12000 lbs is still quite impressive, even for a siege crossbow. Are these using steel prod?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post

    Spoiler: Orşova ballista replica
    Show


    Oh look! An Ancient Roman technical! As always the Romans were among the first with the concept. If only we hadn't lost the pick-up technology in the Dark Ages.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post

    Another (unrelated) question:
    Is there any recorded (or modern measured) draw weight of medieval siege/rampart crossbow? The kind that's too heavy to be man-portable and has to be mounted on a rest/stand/cart.

    Range too.

    In this case I do not think draw-weight is actually the most accurate number to go by, Stored energy and the the actual energy is much more important.

    Even within smaler weapons like bows there is a very great difference in resulting force (which is what we are ultimately after). It is not difficult to make something have a high Draw weight, it is difficult to make that draw weight matter! There are a series of loses of power along the way: including: how much energy does death weight account for,ghow fast is the movement of the bow, how long is the draw-lenght at the measured draw-weight, how is the release mechanism designed, what is the weight of the arrow compared to the above factors etc.

    I am by no Means an Expert, but try reading these links:

    http://www.dryadbows.com/Defining%20...ce%20Dryad.pdf

    and:

    http://archeryreport.com/2009/11/arr...mentum-archer/

    The thing is with "very big bows" (or crosbows etc), is that there is a greater potential for lost "power" due to dead weight (alot of the draw-force isn't going into the projectile, but into the arms of the bow when shot). It is also harder to do optimal releases with the shots. A bow of double the draw-weight might not mean double power!

    Thus we would dieally measure speed and momentum, or impact force, rather than draw weights. Especially when dealing with "Things" that big (the difference in dead weight per lbs isn't big between a 90 Pound and a 120 Pound bow, thus draw-weight is a practical way of comparing weapons which requires lot less research than momentum of the arrow, but dealing with weapons with huge diversity such as siege weapons might not give usefull results).

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Oh look! An Ancient Roman technical! As always the Romans were among the first with the concept. If only we hadn't lost the pick-up technology in the Dark Ages.
    the correct term is carroballista
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    I know this is a very broad question, but I really just want to have some basis for analyzing and creating games and stories.

    So... How long can a reasonably fit man march, (assuming he isn't carrying anything particularly heavy nor treading on particularly difficult terrain)? And at what speed?

    How much does, say, a breast plate, helmet, sword and shield affect that (made of steel)?

    How does that figure change for large armies?

    Like I said... I know there are way too many variables here... I really only want a point of reference. There must be some study about it.
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    The first question is, just man or also woman? In my experience men walk a longer distance. Longer legs probably help.

    Reasonably fit is also a good question. The fatter you are, the more tiresome it becomes to walk. It might depend on weight you have to carry, or difficulty in dissipating heat. Lots of sweat! But, this is mostly true for people who don't walk much normally, and suddenly find themselves on the march.

    Marching is indeed the kind of thing you can train. People are meant for walking, after all. 30 km with a 12 kg weight on your back for many days in hilly terrain is very much possible, even without much conditioning. On actual mountains, however, you stop calculating the distance by km and start using hours, because of slopes and difference in altitude, as well as a great variation in quality and danger of roads and paths.

    I know that Tolkien calculated the distances covered by Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas while following the orcs with a manual concerning the various distances you could expect to be covered on foot in a day. The Three Hunters were using one of the hardest paces.

    The Romans marched in armour, and we know that they could do 30 km in 6 hours a day. They also had faster paces, if they were needed. However, they had a lot of training; marching and marching as a body at the same pace were the first things a legionnaire learnt.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
    I know this is a very broad question, but I really just want to have some basis for analyzing and creating games and stories.

    So... How long can a reasonably fit man march, (assuming he isn't carrying anything particularly heavy nor treading on particularly difficult terrain)? And at what speed?

    How much does, say, a breast plate, helmet, sword and shield affect that (made of steel)?

    How does that figure change for large armies?

    Like I said... I know there are way too many variables here... I really only want a point of reference. There must be some study about it.
    31 kg for 19 km in 3 hours is required for USAF Expert Infantryman Badge for shorter distances is a good estimate, for longer ones, French Foreign Legion has Raid March of 120 km with full combat gear and 30 kg load on top of that to be done in 3 days - this one does simulate raiding checkpoints, so it is a fair estimate for a medieval army, just replace checkpoints with food gathering. These are, of course, top speeds you can get out of your men, and not to be done for too long.

    When it comes to moving armies, your limiting factor isn't marching speed of men, but of the baggage train - one of the reasons why Romans could travel as fast as they did was reducing the size of that by carrying a lot of stuff themselves. Even then, you can expect to be held up massively at places where you can't march through in a wide column, European mountains are littered with them and they were important strategic places, Hungary referred to them as Gates to the Kingdom.

    In contrast to that quick speed, it took Suleiman 100 days to travel 525 km from Sofia to Mohacs, but the conditions were very bad - rain made all roads more mud than road and he had to transport heavy Ottoman cannons.

    The second part of the question is how armor will impact it, and the answer is not much if at all provided the weather is cold enough. Any decent medieval armor has its weight distributed much better than modern combat gear and will therefore almost not register as long as you're just walking. The potential problem here is the heat exhaustion - you have to stay hydrated and stay cool. When this does not happen, you will have horrific casualties and assassinate your combat effectiveness, for a good example look at Outremer Crusades, especially the first one.

    Battle of Hattin is infamous for this, Crusader leadership ordered their people to march and then rest without water when they really should have known better.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
    I know this is a very broad question, but I really just want to have some basis for analyzing and creating games and stories.

    So... How long can a reasonably fit man march, (assuming he isn't carrying anything particularly heavy nor treading on particularly difficult terrain)? And at what speed?

    How much does, say, a breast plate, helmet, sword and shield affect that (made of steel)?

    How does that figure change for large armies?

    Like I said... I know there are way too many variables here... I really only want a point of reference. There must be some study about it.
    The Roman Legions marching speed has been covered, but they're regarded as the apex of infantry armies and this is assuming good roads. 'Regular step' was the ~30km/6 hours mentioned by Vinyadan and this was carrying 20.5kg worth of gear. 'Faster step' was 35.5 km with the same gear in the same time.

    As mentioned by Martin Greywolf, the baggage train often dictated how fast an army travelled (Caesar often forced marched his army faster than their baggage train, with the fastest I've read is 32 miles a day for 3 days).

    8-10 miles a day for a medieval army was about typical if they were carting their own supplies. During the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionhearted kept his army supplied by sae and managed better pace (I've read between 18-20 miles a day for a typical medieval army).
    Armies had all sorts of tricks for lightening their load while march, from not wearing lower leg armour, to ECW-era pikemen dragging their weapons on the ground behind them on the march ('trailing their pikes').
    There's a number of mentions of armies leaving their armour back on their baggage train while they marched ahead, and more than a few times where they've come a cropper because of it (the Vikings at the Battle of Stamford Bridge for example).

    Modern infantry has already been mentioned, but they generally travel in smaller groups and the faster light infantry tend to have excellent training, morale and discipline (British light infantry are expected to maintain 24 miles a day while tabbing with full kit of ~50kg).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    The second part of the question is how armor will impact it, and the answer is not much if at all provided the weather is cold enough. Any decent medieval armor has its weight distributed much better than modern combat gear and will therefore almost not register as long as you're just walking. The potential problem here is the heat exhaustion - you have to stay hydrated and stay cool. When this does not happen, you will have horrific casualties and assassinate your combat effectiveness, for a good example look at Outremer Crusades, especially the first one.
    I agree with most of the post, but even well distributed wearing armour will cause you to get more tired faster, even in Scandinavian winters. You might be able to keep up a marching pace with an unarmoured person for an hour or so, but then fatigue begins to affect the matter. Especially if its leg armour, but also if its not. Weight is weight. I have seen this many times in LARPs. The armoured people needs more and longer rests - thus reducing how far they can travel. The thing is that weight is weight no matter how its distributed. So of course if the un-armoured person is carrying the same weight then it cancels out (though padding makes you hot, and leg armour is hard on the leg , backs are also not very comfortable etc). But then the armour people have to carry less "other gear". Counting the armour among the remaining encumbrance is likely enough, but that stills people in armour will generally travel shorter.

    Persistance hunting is also a good way of seeing how much the human body can do at the maximum:

    The persistence hunt is still practiced by hunter-gatherers in the central Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa, and David Attenborough's documentary The Life of Mammals (program 10, "Food For Thought") showed a bushman hunting a kudu antelope until it collapsed. It is thought that the Tarahumara natives of northwestern Mexico in the Copper Canyon area may have also practiced persistence hunting. The procedure is not to spear the antelope or kudu from a distance, but to run it down in the midday heat, for about two to five hours over 25 to 35 km (16 to 22 mi) in temperatures of about 40 to 42 C (104 to 108 F).
    From wikipedia.

    Persistence hunting has even been used against the fastest land animal, the cheetah. In November 2013, four Somali-Kenyan herdsmen from northeast Kenya successfully used persistence hunting in the heat of the day to capture cheetahs who had been killing their goats
    Also from wikipedia.

    I suposse that mainly possible without armour (though it would be a "fun" experiment to run down a deer wile wearing mail)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I suposse that mainly possible without armour (though it would be a "fun" experiment to run down a deer wile wearing mail)
    I'd like to point out that persistence hunting is only possible for humans due to our superior thermoregulation. Both examples you've quoted have been in very hot environments where we have an advantage; although slower, we keep on going while the animal eventually collapses from over heating.

    In colder climates, we don't have as much of an advantage; while running down an antelope in 42C heat is possible, running down a red deer in a 15C temperate climate is unlikely.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Note that extremely fit individuals can cover much more distance in a day than you might think, up to nearly 190 miles in 24 hours. That's on smooth, level ground without any encumbrance, of course, and long-distance runners aren't built for fighting. However, I still suspect certain individuals and perhaps elite troop historically could have marched for much farther than the standard 20-40 miles per day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incanur View Post
    Note that extremely fit individuals can cover much more distance in a day than you might think, up to nearly 190 miles in 24 hours. That's on smooth, level ground without any encumbrance, of course, and long-distance runners aren't built for fighting. However, I still suspect certain individuals and perhaps elite troop historically could have marched for much farther than the standard 20-40 miles per day.
    I don't think this has been mentioned, and I apologize if it was already brought up, but larger units move slower. I suspect this has to do, at least in part, with road congestion. If I remember correctly, one of Napoleon's innovations was to split his large armies into corps that could take different routes, and could therefore move faster (and forage more effectively). A single corps contained all branches (infantry, cavalry, artillery) so if a corps encountered an enemy army it could fight a delaying action until the rest of the corps could converge on its location.

    So when talking about marching rates, it's important to consider the size of the formation. A small group can cover a lot more distance than a larger one. The manual I have from WW1 specifies marching times and distances, assuming a regiment sized formation, and it explicitly states that larger formations move slower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    So when talking about marching rates, it's important to consider the size of the formation. A small group can cover a lot more distance than a larger one. The manual I have from WW1 specifies marching times and distances, assuming a regiment sized formation, and it explicitly states that larger formations move slower.
    While road congestion is an issue (the back of the army can't move before the front and middle is out of the way), simply getting several thousand people pointed in the right direction for that day can also be a task in itself. The route is also going to play a factor - a dirt road is going to be a churned up mud pit after a several hundred people in gear have walked down it.

    While it's been touched upon above with regard to the baggage train, logistics becomes more significant the larger the unit. For example, a group of 20 men doesn't have to worry about digging latrine pits, finding water sources and simply enough space to set up camp that a thousand men would; a quartermaster can distribute rations to 20 men in about 5 minutes; even at the same rate, a thousand men would take over an hour and half.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Thank you all for your replies. It was really enlightening. I honestly had no idea how long/far marches could go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    While road congestion is an issue (the back of the army can't move before the front and middle is out of the way), simply getting several thousand people pointed in the right direction for that day can also be a task in itself. The route is also going to play a factor - a dirt road is going to be a churned up mud pit after a several hundred people in gear have walked down it.

    While it's been touched upon above with regard to the baggage train, logistics becomes more significant the larger the unit. For example, a group of 20 men doesn't have to worry about digging latrine pits, finding water sources and simply enough space to set up camp that a thousand men would; a quartermaster can distribute rations to 20 men in about 5 minutes; even at the same rate, a thousand men would take over an hour and half.
    Those are all good points too. I know that the baggage train was mentioned, but I'm reluctant to say anything definite about how much a baggage train slows down a force. I've read accounts where exhausted soldiers rode in the supply wagons to keep up a forced march. On the other hand, I know of cases where infantry out marched their own supplies.

    I remember a specific incident during the Mexican American War -- When General Kearny was planning his campaign down the Santa Fe Trail, he had only mounted troops at his disposal. Desiring some infantry, he managed to convince two companies of Missouri Volunteers to dismount. Wanting to prove that they could keep up with the mounted forces, they marched so hard the first day they actually out marched the cavalry (something they would do repeatedly during the long march). One of the companies, however, also out marched their own supply wagons, and had to eat cold rations, and sleep without tents.

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    It is my understanding that the late Roman army replaced the old pila with lead-weighted darts. When did this occur, and why? Is this a cost-saving measure? Is this a response to legionaries of lesser discipline discarding or cutting down their pila to save weight? Is there a good tactical reason to use darts instead of spears? (I know AD&D would say rate of fire, but that's not really a good source!) Is my understanding simply incorrect, or based on misconceptions?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Those are all good points too. I know that the baggage train was mentioned, but I'm reluctant to say anything definite about how much a baggage train slows down a force. I've read accounts where exhausted soldiers rode in the supply wagons to keep up a forced march. On the other hand, I know of cases where infantry out marched their own supplies.

    I remember a specific incident during the Mexican American War -- When General Kearny was planning his campaign down the Santa Fe Trail, he had only mounted troops at his disposal. Desiring some infantry, he managed to convince two companies of Missouri Volunteers to dismount. Wanting to prove that they could keep up with the mounted forces, they marched so hard the first day they actually out marched the cavalry (something they would do repeatedly during the long march). One of the companies, however, also out marched their own supply wagons, and had to eat cold rations, and sleep without tents.
    Humans can outmarch pack animals, and survive much nastier conditions (in terms of being wet and cold, mostly) over a genuinely long timescale. Equines are surprisingly fragile and require a lot of careful husbanding to keep them alive under the rigours of campaigning. There were numerous incidents in the long retreats during the Peninsular War, for example, of pack animals being lamed trying to keep up with the men (and being shot and eaten as a result).

    A horse can beat a man over 10 miles once. But a man can beat that same animal if they're travelling 1000 miles, day after day. The only animals with long-term stamina equivalent to humans are canines (wolves more specifically).
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Few questions here. Let's say I'm working on a low-fantasy game with the tech level of the setting pegged to mid-to-late 11th century western Europe (if a specific year is needed, go with 1066 CE). It's rules-light, with a simple combat system that uses ablative armor. You can equip up to four kinds of armor at once: cloth or leather padding (a gambeson or something similar), a shield, a helmet, and mail or lamellar. When you get hit, you can sacrifice one piece of armor to protect yourself; on a good armor roll, that piece is intact but no longer useful in that battle (helmets get knocked off, straps on mail come undone, etc.), on a bad roll, it's broken and will need repair.

    I want weapon selection to matter in this system, so one way it factors in is that certain types of weapons can't be blocked by certain types of armor. My main question is, what weapons should get past what armor? The weapon list I'm imagining would include one-handed spears, two-handed longspears and glaives, one-handed axes, two-handed battleaxes, swords, maces/hammers, bows, slings, and daggers (the last two inferior to everything else in pretty much every way, but acquirable basically for free as backup weapons). There would also be a note made that crossbows exist, but are unpopular among adventurers because their long loading times leave the user vulnerable in the short-range, small-group engagements they tend to end up in. I know maces were historically used to deal crushing blows through mail, so I'd assume they'd also ignore padding; is that accurate? My research so far has turned up conflicting reports about the effectiveness of piercing weapons against mail, so how would that work? What about against padding? How about swords, would they ignore anything? Axes?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Humans can outmarch pack animals, and survive much nastier conditions (in terms of being wet and cold, mostly) over a genuinely long timescale. Equines are surprisingly fragile and require a lot of careful husbanding to keep them alive under the rigours of campaigning. There were numerous incidents in the long retreats during the Peninsular War, for example, of pack animals being lamed trying to keep up with the men (and being shot and eaten as a result).

    A horse can beat a man over 10 miles once. But a man can beat that same animal if they're travelling 1000 miles, day after day. The only animals with long-term stamina equivalent to humans are canines (wolves more specifically).
    Two species of highly social animal that engaged in cooperative endurance hunting.

    In hindsight it seems almost inevitable that humans and wolves would end up joining forces and/or with one killing the other off...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    I'd like to point out that persistence hunting is only possible for humans due to our superior thermoregulation. Both examples you've quoted have been in very hot environments where we have an advantage; although slower, we keep on going while the animal eventually collapses from over heating.

    In colder climates, we don't have as much of an advantage; while running down an antelope in 42C heat is possible, running down a red deer in a 15C temperate climate is unlikely.
    I agree (somewhat). It wasn't to discuss persistence hunting, but that it shows that humans are really good long distance-animals. Even more so if they can bring flasks of water etc.
    By the way persistence hunting can, and have been, practised in more temperate climates (I have seen persistence hunting examples for 25C, though not 15c but in relatively open land or by groups I could see it done for large game). There is also examples in arctic climates, though here we are "cheating" with cross country skies (with traditional types of skis), while the animal have to move through snow. Snow also make the animal very much easier to track (and there are generally less cover during winter).

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