I just fought my first battle in the Total War game and it was more than I expected. I could feel the fear of defeat, the confusion of directing my men, and the satisfaction of winning. I am planning to include these elements in future battles in my fantasy series. I had an army of 861 strong while my opponent had me outnumbered by more than 400 men with a grand total of 1,281 strong. The battle was chaotic and it was hard to tell who was winning until it was over. Fortunately, I won the battle much to my surprise. I lost 656 of my men-at-arms while my foe lost 1,021. I had 205 men left while my adversary had 260. My total kills were 708 while my enemy had 579 kills. It was an engaging experience and was super fun for my first time. I will definitely play this more in order to get more of that thrill of battle. I will keep you updated on both my victories and my defeats.
For the next few days, I will be playing the computer game known as Total War. The reason for this is because I still have much to learn in terms of medieval battle tactics despite all the research I had done. There are some things I need to actually see in action. Hopefully, by playing this game I can get a better understanding of how medieval armies fight. If I fight any battles that are worthy of note, I might include certain details in my fantasy book. I will keep you all updated and maybe I can upload videos of my progress.
I had an interesting idea for a battle tactic in medieval warfare. Imagine sending your armies against your enemies in waves. The first few waves would consist of light infantry and cavalry, which have inferior armor and weapons than heavy infantry and cavalry. These first waves would be used to test your enemy’s defenses as well as wear them down with each wave. Meanwhile, you keep your heavy infantry and cavalry in reserve until your enemy is too weak and tired to fight back. When your light infantry and cavalry are spent and your foe’s defenses are exhausted, then you send in the rest of your forces to wipe out the survivors. I am thinking of including a tactic such as this in my new fantasy book in a number of battles.
One of the most iconic battle tactics from the Scottish War of Independence was the schiltron spear wall formation. It operated in a similar fashion to the Spartan phalanx and the viking shield wall. However, this formation only consists of spears and no shields. Each person in the schiltron wielded a twelve foot long spear and if one person falters the whole formation is compromised. Even if you parry one spear, you still have dozens of its neighbors to deal with. In the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the Scots used the schiltron to inflict massive casualties on the English. By the time the battle was over, the English lost more than half their army. The schiltron has been described as being similar to the quills on a hedgehog. I am thinking of including the schiltron in my spin-off fantasy series and it will be used to deadly effect.
One of the most unpredictable and dangerous aspects of warfare is the use of guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare is when a smaller and more mobile force can defeat a larger army through sabotage, ambushes, and hit-and-run tactics. In my medieval research, I learned that the Welsh were prolific users of guerrilla warfare and were able to keep the English at bay until they were conquered by Edward I AKA Longshanks. Then in the Welsh Revolt that lasted from 1400 to 1415, the Welsh made good usage of guerrilla warfare before engaging the English in open warfare. In my second fantasy book, I will be featuring a rather frightening form of guerrilla warfare. With all of their fighting men gone off to war, a kingdom will be invaded by an Imperial army, who will receive fierce resistance from the locals. The guerrilla forces will only consist of old people, women, and children. The elders will serve as strategists and tacticians, the women will serve as shield maidens who are just as skilled in combat as their men, and the children will serve as assassins and saboteurs who slit enemy throats in their sleep and set fires to enemy camps. The locals will even burn their own farms and villages in order to reduce the number of resources the invaders could pillage, which will starve them out. Overall, even though their fighting men are gone, these locals are NOT to be underestimated!
To most of Gradaia, the Welt people are often regarded as mindless, godless barbarians. While there is some degree of truth of them being barbarians, in reality they are highly spiritual people who rely heavily on the magic of their Druids and guidance of their gods. Part of their ideology revolves around paying their debts to people who help them, which is a policy they take VERY seriously. House Baal spread false propaganda that Welts raided and pillaged villages to get what they want, but the truth is that Welts relied on trade to get provisions they had no access to.
Still, even though the Welts are a mostly peaceful people, they can defend themselves in frightening ways. In open warfare, Welts tend to drink potions that allow them to enter a berserker rage yet have just enough self control to tell friend from foe. This allows the Welts to fight numerically superior and better equipped armies. While in their berserker rage, Welts each wield the strength and fury of ten men and are immune to physical pain. Just as the Celts terrified the Romans on the battlefield in real life, the Welts frighten the Civil Folk of Gradaia when they make enemies out of Welts.
However, the Welts’ true specialty is in guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics. While the Civil Folk rely on castles for protection, the Welts rely on their forests like Robin Hood and his Merry Men rely on Sherwood Forest. Whenever an enemy force invades their forest, the Welts attack from the branches and shadows, wipe out several foes before vanishing into the trees. They repeat this process over and over until either the enemy is wiped out or give up and flee the forest. They also wire the borders of their forest with deadly booby traps. The only way to beat the Welts in their own territory is to burn their whole forest down, which the Civil Folk won’t do without stripping the kingdom of much needed timber and game. This is similar to how the Picts were able to keep the Romans from conquering northern Britannia.
Overall, I have a very personal connection with the Welts because I based them on my Celtic and Scandinavian ancestors.
One of my all-time favorite themes of fantasy is dragon warfare! Imagine controlling the mightiest creature in the known world at your command. You would wield the power to demolish castles and annihilate entire armies. During a siege, a castle’s walls can defend you against conventional attacks such as trebuchets and siege towers. However, such defenses are useless when it comes to fending off dragons. The reason for this is because dragon fire can melt stone and even if you take shelter in the deepest and most secure section of the castle the dragon fire would super-heat the stone and you would be baked alive in your own stronghold. In addition to being ideal for sieges, dragons can also fly right over enemy territory and perform systematic strikes on enemy strongholds, which would weaken your enemy’s power base from within and make them easier to conquer. During an open battle, even if your armies are hopelessly outnumbered a dragon can give you an immense advantage in six distinct ways. First, a dragon can perform a military maneuver called strafing in which it would sweep over the enemy army over and over while blasting it with fire. Second, a dragon could dive bomb in the center of the enemy host, which would increase the damage to both the army itself as well as its morale. Third, a dragon could set fire to the surrounding landscape to not only throw the enemy army into chaos but also blind their archers. Fourth, if your army can hold the enemy in place with the vanguard then the dragon can blast the enemy from behind with impunity. Five, because dragons fly they can give their rider a scouting position by flying overhead to watch enemy movements then report them to your allies, which will give your own forces enough time to prepare. Six, a dragon can also be used for guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics by attacking and raiding enemy supply lines, which would cripple enemy armies and make them easier to crush. However, despite all their size and power, dragons are far from invincible. Even though their scales are hard enough to withstand normal steel, they can be pierced with either special or mystical weapons. For example, you could tip a spear or arrows with this special material and then use them to bring the dragon down. Also, you can counter a dragon with either another dragon or another beast that is just as powerful. Overall, I am exceedingly excited to explore all of these aspects of dragon warfare to the fullest in my second volume, which will depict an entire war from start to finish.