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Relative size of combatants

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:24 am

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Getting back to this --

n7axw wrote:Back to the original theme of the thread, are we given any numbers for the population of Arcana?

Don


It all boils down to the fact Arcania's combat power is tightly tied to magic and Sharona's is not...and everyone in Sharona with non-magical weapons has about five times the combat power of an Arcanian military unit.

The following are from Hell's Gate --
chapter 6 Infantry Dragon Descp pg 106


Gadrial's main interest in the infantry-dragons, and the heavier field-dragons of the true artillery, was in the battle spells that powered them. She'd spoken to combat engineers and knew battle spells were complex. Building them demanded intense concentration frequently under conditions that were challenging, to say the least, and not all of them were directly related to the artillery. Infantry companies included not just the dragons and their gunners, but also an attached squad of combat spell engineers with multiple responsibilities.

Combat spell engineers were among the highest-skilled and highest-paid men in the Union of Arcana's armed forces. There were never enough of them to go around, though, and they were too valuable to put at the sharp end and get them shot at if it could be avoided, so units like Hundred Olderhan's routinely carried plenty of extra spell packs for emergency use.

Infantry platoons were built around squads, each twelve men strong. A squad was subdivided into two maneuver teams, each consisting of three arbalestiers commanded by a noncom, and supported by an infantry-dragon. It took both of a dragon gunner's assistant gunners and two of the squad's six arbalestiers to carry enough accumulator reloads to fight any sort of sustained engagement, but in the absence of someone who could recharge them, a team had only the ammunition it could carry.

Now Gadrial shivered, watching the heavy weapons deploy defensively. She was afraid a battle was exactly what was going to happen. The question was whether it would break loose here, or somewhere else.



And see also from Hell's Gate --


Chapter 11 Infantry Dragon, Cavalry Carbine, Battle Staff versus rifles pg 183


He took great care with the long, tubular weapons every man—and woman—had carried. There seemed to be several different types or varieties of them, and he rapidly discovered that they were intricate mechanical marvels, far more complex than any war staff his own people had built. Of course, war staffs—including the infantry and field-dragons which had been developed from them—were actually quite simple, mechanically speaking. They merely provided a place to store battle spells, and a sarkolis-crystal guide tube, down which the destructive spells were channeled on their way to the target.

Jasak had no idea what mysterious properties these tubular weapons operated upon. Nor could he figure out what many of the parts did, but he recognized precision engineering when he saw it.

A dragoon arbalest, like the one Otwal Threbuch favored, used a ten-round magazine and a spell-enhanced cocking lever. The augmented lever required a force of no more than twenty pounds to operate, and an arbalestier could fire all ten rounds as quickly as he could work the lever. It had almost as much punch—albeit over a shorter range—as the standard, single-shot infantry weapon, and a vastly higher rate of fire, but no man ever born was strong enough to throw the cocking lever once the enhancing spell was exhausted. Infantry weapons were much heavier, as well as bigger, and used a carefully designed mechanical advantage. They might be difficult to span without enhancement, but it could be done—which could be a decided advantage when the magic ran out—and they were considerably longer ranged.

The workmanship which went into a dragoon arbalest had always impressed Jasak, but the workmanship of whoever had built these weapons matched it, at the very least. Still, he would have liked to know what all of that craftsmanship did. Even the parts whose basic function he suspected he could guess raised far more questions than they answered.

For example, the weapon he was examining at the moment was about forty-two inches long, over all. The tube through which those small, deadly projectiles passed was shorter—only about twenty-four inches long—and it carried what he recognized as at least a distant cousin of the ring-and-post battle sights mounted on an arbalest. But the rear sight on this weapon was set in an odd metal block mounted on a sturdy, rectangular steel frame about one inch across. The sides of the rectangle were no more than a thirty-second of an inch across, as nearly as his pocket rule could measure, and its frame could either lie flat or be flipped up into a vertical position.

When it was flipped into the upright position, a second rear sight, set into the same metal block as the first, but at right angles, rotated up for the shooter's use. But the supporting steel rectangle was notched, and etched with tiny lines with some sort of symbols which (he suspected) were probably numbers, and the sight could be slid up and down the frame, locked into place at any one of those tiny, engraved lines by a spring-loaded catch that engaged in the side's notches.

Jasak had spent enough time on the arbalest range to know all about elevating his point of aim to allow for the drop in the bolt's trajectory at longer ranges. Unless he missed his guess, that was the function of this weapon's peculiar rear sight, as well. If so, it was an ingenious device, which was simultaneously simple in concept and very sophisticated in execution. But what frightened him about it was how high the rear sight could be set and the degree of elevation that would impose. Without a better idea of the projectiles' velocity and trajectory, he couldn't be certain, of course, but judging from the damage they'd inflicted, this weapon's projectiles must move at truly terrifying velocities. Which, in turn, suggested they would have a much flatter trajectory.

Which, assuming the sophisticated, intelligent people who'd designed and built it hadn't been in the habit of providing sights to shoot beyond the weapon's effective range, suggested that it must be capable of accurate shooting at ranges far in excess of any arbalest he'd ever seen.

There was a long metal oval underneath the weapon. It was obviously made to go up and down, and he suspected that it had to be something like the cocking lever on Threbuch's dragoon arbalest. In any case, he had absolutely no intention of fiddling with it until they were in more secure territory, away from potential enemy contact. And when he let the very tip of his finger touch the curved metal spur jutting down into the guarded space created by a curve in the metal oval, his fingertips jerked back of their own volition. That startled him, although only for a moment. Obviously, that curved spur was the weapon's trigger—it even looked like the trigger on one of his own men's arbalests—and his meager Gift was warning him that it was more dangerous than the cocking lever (if that is what it was).

The metal tube itself was made from high-grade steel, and when he peered—very cautiously—into it, adjusting it to get a little firelight into the hollow bore, he saw what looked like spiraling grooves cut into the metal. Interesting. The Arcanan Army understood the principle of spinning a crossbow bolt in flight to give it greater stability and accuracy. He couldn't quite imagine how it might work, but was it possible that those spiraling grooves could do the same thing to the deadly little leaden projectiles this thing threw?

He put that question aside and turned his attention to the snug wooden sleeve into which the tube had been fitted. It was held in place with three wide bands of metal that weren't steel. They looked like bronze, perhaps. The wood itself continued behind the tube to form a buttplate—again, not unlike an arbalest's—so a full third of the weapon's length was solid wood.

The long, tapering section of wood, narrowest near the tube, widest at the weapon's base, had been beautifully checkered by some intricate cutting process. It was the only decoration on the weapon, and it was obviously as much a practical design feature as pure decoration. As Jasak handled it, he realized that the checkering would serve exactly the same function as the fishscale pattern cut into the forestocks of arbalests, making them easier to grip in wet weather.


NB: A Sharonan Infantry Platoon with rifles, a pair of Falaka I machine guns, a pair of light mortars plus rifle grenades can beat a Arcanian infantry Company in a straight up fight.

This means that Arcania needs to have a significant numerical superiority at the point of contact to take any Sharonan force that has enough heavy automatic weapons to force battle dragons out of breath weapon range.

The limitations of Arcanian Magical firepower versus Sharonan industrial weapon firepower means Sharona can deploy more effective combat forces, with smaller numbers, with a higher mobilized fraction of Sharona's economy compared to Arcania.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by bkwormlisa   » Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:17 pm

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I don't quite agree with this. Yes, chan Tesh's 200+ men (which I think is much larger than a single platoon) and the equipment you describe easily beat the two-platoon Arcanan force, but they attacked through a portal where the Arcanan weapons were reduced to crossbows, at a range too long for the crossbows. They might as well have been unarmed except for the weapons they used when the cavalry came through the portal, so it's no surprise it was a one-sided massacre.

Later, mul Gurthak told Skirvon and Dastiri: “As for these weapons of theirs, I’m entirely prepared to admit that they appear to be powerful and dangerous. But the real reason Thalmayr managed to get himself captured or killed, and all of Hundred Olderhan’s company along with him, was the simple fact that unlike us, they can fire artillery through a portal. In a straight-up firefight in the open, between his infantry and field-dragons and their artillery, I strongly suspect that Thalmayr would have massacred them. What happened to him was, in the final analysis, the result of a totally unanticipated tactical advantage of the other side."

I don't know how right he is, but I certainly believe that Arcanans would do far better in a fight that wasn't through a portal. Pit heavy portable weapons vs. heavy portable weapons, and I think they'd be a lot closer to matched. We know from HHNF that Arcanan cavalry (according to Janaki) would win hands down over Sharonian cavalry. So their mobile forces (not counting dragons) could actually have nearly matched firepower, numerically speaking. And which side would be better is still debatable.

Note: this doesn't say anything about the cost and availability of the weapons. At this point, we don't know if field-dragons are more expensive or less available than machine guns and mortars. Most seem to be assuming so, and I'm one of them (certainly, infantry-dragons aren't issued to everyone, so presumably a similar weapon is also restricted), but we need to keep in mind that it is an assumption.
Mil-tech bard wrote:NB: A Sharonan Infantry Platoon with rifles, a pair of Falaka I machine guns, a pair of light mortars plus rifle grenades can beat a Arcanian infantry Company in a straight up fight.

This means that Arcania needs to have a significant numerical superiority at the point of contact to take any Sharonan force that has enough heavy automatic weapons to force battle dragons out of breath weapon range.

The limitations of Arcanian Magical firepower versus Sharonan industrial weapon firepower means Sharona can deploy more effective combat forces, with smaller numbers, with a higher mobilized fraction of Sharona's economy compared to Arcania.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by Astelon   » Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:31 am

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You also have to take into account that sharonian artillery is much longer ranged than their arcanan counterparts. If an arcanan commander tried to have a "firefight in the open" his force would have mortar and artillery shells being dropped on them from well outside their own range, a black dragon has a range of seven thousand yards? (field dragons and infantry dragons less) light field pieces likely equal that.

Sure heavy horse can advance quickly, but they die like any creature. Their advantage is that they can use cut down infantry dragons while at a full gallop. Normal cavalry is stuck with pistols and sabers (maybe rifles if you want to risk it). Better to let them charge the prepared position, while sending some artillery and rifle fire towards them.

It appears that, with the current weapons mix, Arcana will need a serious numerical or terrain advantages to hold or win against Sharona. Although careful and judicious use of dragons may alleviate that problem some.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:46 pm

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What mul Gurthak said here --

bkwormlisa wrote:
Later, mul Gurthak told Skirvon and Dastiri:

“As for these weapons of theirs, I’m entirely prepared to admit that they appear to be powerful and dangerous. But the real reason Thalmayr managed to get himself captured or killed, and all of Hundred Olderhan’s company along with him, was the simple fact that unlike us, they can fire artillery through a portal. In a straight-up firefight in the open, between his infantry and field-dragons and their artillery, I strongly suspect that Thalmayr would have massacred them. What happened to him was, in the final analysis, the result of a totally unanticipated tactical advantage of the other side."

I don't know how right he is, but I certainly believe that Arcanans would do far better in a fight that wasn't through a portal. Pit heavy portable weapons vs. heavy portable weapons, and I think they'd be a lot closer to matched.



...was very much proved wrong with the "glamor protected" Heavy Horse at Ft. Salby and more importantly with the transport dragons in front of it.

The combination of distance viewers and the indirect fire range of the Sharonan heavy weapons leaved the direct fire-only infantry and field dragons at an incredible disadvantage.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by bkwormlisa   » Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:31 am

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With one side having a dug-in protected base and the other charging it, yes. But the swamp portal fight was dug-in force vs. dug-in force (albeit with one side having only mule-portable weapons), with the portal drastically altering the force balance. And the Arcanans were using cavalry (with no field dragons or even normal infantry-dragons) to charge a Sharonian fort with heavy weapons.

How would they fare if it was Sharonian cavalry charging an Arcanan fort with the Arcanans having artillery? How would they fare if it was a battle on the field with neither being dug-in or having heavy weapons (cut-down infantry dragons kill more people per shot than a rifle, and I don't think we know their firing rate)? We don't know that yet.
Mil-tech bard wrote:What mul Gurthak said here --

bkwormlisa wrote:
Later, mul Gurthak told Skirvon and Dastiri:

“As for these weapons of theirs, I’m entirely prepared to admit that they appear to be powerful and dangerous. But the real reason Thalmayr managed to get himself captured or killed, and all of Hundred Olderhan’s company along with him, was the simple fact that unlike us, they can fire artillery through a portal. In a straight-up firefight in the open, between his infantry and field-dragons and their artillery, I strongly suspect that Thalmayr would have massacred them. What happened to him was, in the final analysis, the result of a totally unanticipated tactical advantage of the other side."

I don't know how right he is, but I certainly believe that Arcanans would do far better in a fight that wasn't through a portal. Pit heavy portable weapons vs. heavy portable weapons, and I think they'd be a lot closer to matched.



...was very much proved wrong with the "glamor protected" Heavy Horse at Ft. Salby and more importantly with the transport dragons in front of it.

The combination of distance viewers and the indirect fire range of the Sharonan heavy weapons leaved the direct fire-only infantry and field dragons at an incredible disadvantage.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:05 am

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Regards this --

bkwormlisa wrote:With one side having a dug-in protected base and the other charging it, yes. But the swamp portal fight was dug-in force vs. dug-in force (albeit with one side having only mule-portable weapons), with the portal drastically altering the force balance. And the Arcanans were using cavalry (with no field dragons or even normal infantry-dragons) to charge a Sharonian fort with heavy weapons.

How would they fare if it was Sharonian cavalry charging an Arcanan fort with the Arcanans having artillery? How would they fare if it was a battle on the field with neither being dug-in or having heavy weapons (cut-down infantry dragons kill more people per shot than a rifle, and I don't think we know their firing rate)? We don't know that yet.



The answer is that the Sharonans would do well..._IF_ supported by their 4.5 inch mortars and a skilled Distance viewer/Flicker artillery forward observer team versus the doctrinal Arcanian field fortifications (AKA no overhead cover).

These 4.5-inch mortars would be directed by distance viewer forward observers and flicker talents behind a terrain feature out of the direct fire line of sight of the Arcanian field and infantry dragons.

The rough historical parallel was the 1944 Anzio landing, where American 4.2-inch mortars in the Anzio Beachhead drove off flat trajectory German 88-mmm guns shelling the beach.

See:

http://tothosewhoserved.org/usa/ts/usat ... ter11.html

Things get even more lethal if we see forward observer directed time burst fused fragmentation from the Sharonans.


And recall as well mortars can also fire smoke shells.

Even if Arcanian magic can change local wind direction, the Sharonan distance viewer plus flicker talent forward observer team could drop mortar shells to encircle or march through an Arcanian field dragon position.

So no matter how Arcanian magics adjusted local wind, smoke would blind Arcanian direct fire Field & Infantry Dragons, after killing most of the crew manning them.

At that point, Sharonan cavalry can cross the dragons field of fire for an on top of their position for an immediate dismounted assault like the Australian Light Horse at Gaza in WW1.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by n7axw   » Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:56 pm

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Mil-tech bard wrote:Regards this --

bkwormlisa wrote:With one side having a dug-in protected base and the other charging it, yes. But the swamp portal fight was dug-in force vs. dug-in force (albeit with one side having only mule-portable weapons), with the portal drastically altering the force balance. And the Arcanans were using cavalry (with no field dragons or even normal infantry-dragons) to charge a Sharonian fort with heavy weapons.

How would they fare if it was Sharonian cavalry charging an Arcanan fort with the Arcanans having artillery? How would they fare if it was a battle on the field with neither being dug-in or having heavy weapons (cut-down infantry dragons kill more people per shot than a rifle, and I don't think we know their firing rate)? We don't know that yet.



The answer is that the Sharonans would do well..._IF_ supported by their 4.5 inch mortars and a skilled Distance viewer/Flicker artillery forward observer team versus the doctrinal Arcanian field fortifications (AKA no overhead cover).

These 4.5-inch mortars would be directed by distance viewer forward observers and flicker talents behind a terrain feature out of the direct fire line of sight of the Arcanian field and infantry dragons.

The rough historical parallel was the 1944 Anzio landing, where American 4.2-inch mortars in the Anzio Beachhead drove off flat trajectory German 88-mmm guns shelling the beach.

See:

http://tothosewhoserved.org/usa/ts/usat ... ter11.html

Things get even more lethal if we see forward observer directed time burst fused fragmentation from the Sharonans.


And recall as well mortars can also fire smoke shells.

Even if Arcanian magic can change local wind direction, the Sharonan distance viewer plus flicker talent forward observer team could drop mortar shells to encircle or march through an Arcanian field dragon position.

So no matter how Arcanian magics adjusted local wind, smoke would blind Arcanian direct fire Field & Infantry Dragons, after killing most of the crew manning them.

At that point, Sharonan cavalry can cross the dragons field of fire for an on top of their position for an immediate dismounted assault like the Australian Light Horse at Gaza in WW1.


Nice post, but just making sure I understand terminology here. Are you proposing that the Sharonans use their calvary as dragoons (mounted infantry)?

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:01 pm

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Well, as far as this --

n7axw wrote:Nice post, but just making sure I understand terminology here. Are you proposing that the Sharonans use their cavalry as dragoons (mounted infantry)?

Don


The scenario I described was Sharonan capability versus known Arcanian doctrine (AKA no overhead cover for field fortifications).

It is a trick that will work once.

Once the Arcanians figure out the amount of over head cover required to keep out most Sharonan heavy crew served mortars and medium field artillery. They are going to go for Infantry and Field Dragon bunkers with heavy over head and front cover with interlocking flanking fire, supported by infantry in communications trenches with dragoon arbalests as gate defenses.

The kind of assault I laid out simply will not work for that kind of Arcanian defense.
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by n7axw   » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:59 pm

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Mil-tech bard wrote:Well, as far as this --

n7axw wrote:Nice post, but just making sure I understand terminology here. Are you proposing that the Sharonans use their cavalry as dragoons (mounted infantry)?

Don


The scenario I described was Sharonan capability versus known Arcanian doctrine (AKA no overhead cover for field fortifications).

It is a trick that will work once.

Once the Arcanians figure out the amount of over head cover required to keep out most Sharonan heavy crew served mortars and medium field artillery. They are going to go for Infantry and Field Dragon bunkers with heavy over head and front cover with interlocking flanking fire, supported by infantry in communications trenches with dragoon arbalests as gate defenses.

The kind of assault I laid out simply will not work for that kind of Arcanian defense.


I agree with your point here.

But I will add that both sides will be adapting. Consider the difference in power and sophistication between weapons in the Franco/Prussian War in 1870 and what artillery and infantry weapons became by the end of WW1 and beyond. That is the kind of curve we will be looking at.

My bias is toward the scientific method which means I think Sharona will adapt faster. But I really don't know that the story arc will actually play out that way.

Bottom line: If it turns out that Sharona's weapons won't penetrate Arcana's overhead cover, Sharona will go to work on coming up with something that will. And to mirror image a bit, Arcana will also have to improvise to get ahead or just to stay even and not fall behind. And so the spiral will go...

Don
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Re: Relative size of combatants
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:21 am

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Don and MTB,

Your analysis of potential tactics leads back to the logistics. Arcana's reliance on transport dragons will severely limit their ability to bring the equipment necessary to dig in quickly and heavily and their standard military equipment. So they have to build behind their current line and fall back to those fortifications. They won't know to do this until they get the snott kicked out of them at Thermyn(sp?).

When they pull their heavy horse back, will the riders are their arms go with? I suspect so. The battle at Thermyn will provide a clue about the relative open field capabilities of the two sides. If they are comparable without dragon air support, then the heavy guns are the key decisive weapon. The ability of the Sharonans to deploy their heavy guns will more than offset Arcana's dragons as we have seen.

Digging in deep is the only defense. Yet doing so quickly requires equipment. The Arcanans haven't needed to dig in deep in prior conflicts because their weapons are piss poor at penetration. Deploying earth moving equipment will take time and transport resources. Resources that can't bring more combat forces to the front.

So, I can't wait to see how mortars and heavy Farika IIs do in open field engagement against infantry dragons.
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