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Strategy, Tactics & Logistics

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by KayEss, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    This article's home page is http://www.kirit.com/Strategy%2C%20Tactics%20%26%20Logistics, but discussion should happen on this forum rather than mine. The original is slightly better laid out if you wish to print it though (and includes some extra links and footnotes).

    CC by-nc-sa

    This article isn't on its own going to make you a better player, but it will allow you to talk to other players and not have them laugh at you. If you don't care about communicating then read something else.

    Strategy, Tactics & Logistics
    There is always much confusion about the terms strategy and tactics. In addition, much of what is called strategy is often really logistics, so how does it all work? What do these words mean? In exploring these terms we’ll also have to consider a new term: Grand strategy.

    In many situations there is a lot of overlap between the meanings of these four terms, but that doesn't mean that you can use them willy-nilly and not be laughed at.

    This article is going to explore these terms and dip into episodes in history that I hope help to clarify the points. Although we’ll occasionally dip into the world of Civilization the distinctions are just as applicable to any other war-game or even to real-world international politics, warmongering, troop movements or business.

    • Grand strategy is political. It sets the long term and short term goals both in and out of war. It decides who to attack when and what the goals of a war are to be.
    • Operational strategy or just strategy is the planning and the execution that leads to the fulfilment of the goals set in grand strategy. If the goal of a war is to capture an island with three cities on it then the strategy decides which order to take the cities in and what sort of force will be required.
    • Tactics is deployment of troops to execute the strategy. Tactics often includes small set pieces of troop movements and deployments that are known to be effective.
    • Logistics is all about making sure that the troops are where they’re meant to be before the fighting starts and that they have all the support (normally supplies, but can include other things) that are required.

    Grand Strategy


    In the real world the highest level of control is known as Grand strategy. Grand strategy has to do with the political motivations for a given course of action. Grand strategy these days is called politics and is carried out by national leaders. In game terms and at the highest level this is how we want to win the game, but it also goes down to directing a particular war—what are our objectives in this war?

    Grand strategy is maybe the hardest part of the game to master as there is so little help that you can get about various situations. As a consequence there is very little written about it in strategy guides for Civilization. Because every game is different, every game demands a different Grand strategy.

    We all know that sometimes it is best to attack our weakest neighbour and sometimes it is best to team up with other nations to attack the strongest. Which is best in a given situation depends on many factors: comparative technology; the locations of borders and troops; the location of potential allies and enemies; how the nations feel about us and each other; what sort of victory we are trying for and so on.

    Grand strategy involves weighing all of these factors and more to make a final decision. Do we attack the weak Romans or the strong Greeks or do we have to wait for a new technology before we can actually do either?

    Iraq


    In August 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. As in all things of a grand strategic nature there were both simple and complex reasons for his choice. What we’re going to look at here is the direct consequences on this in terms of the difference between Grand Strategy and Strategy.

    The first action was the passing of United Nations Resolution 660. This demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. The following Resolution 661 imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. During the rest of 1990 a large coalition of nations put together first of all a defence of Saudi Arabia which was also being threatened by Iraq (Operation Desert Shield) and then in January 1991 an invasion to retake Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm).

    The United Nations directed the Grand strategy in this war. In considering what courses of actions were open to it the UN Security Council had to weigh factors such as what tools it could use (sanctions, use of military force); how any actions would affect other countries (what was the position of the Arab League and Yemen in particular); what might Iraq do next (it still owed Saudi Arabia money from the Iraq-Iran war during the preceding decade); and not least important what might the post-war effects be if military action was taken.

    In looking at that list you’ll see that many of these are factors have direct game analogues and they are also the sorts of questions you should be asking yourself when planning your courses of action. Deep as these issues are when playing the computer they are even harder to weigh when humans. Humans are both more capricious and honorable than the AI.

    As Clausewitz said:

    At some point political machinations will spill over into bloodshed, but never forget that there must be a solid reason for going to war and just as importantly, know before you start when you will end.
     
  2. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Strategy


    In ancient China during the Spring and Autumn Period there was a profound change in the way that wars were fought. The destruction of the Zhou capital by barbarians in 722 BCE lead to a power vacuum that was filled by the rise of Hegemons. The period is interesting for a number of different reasons including the times when some of the most famous Chinese intellectuals like Confucius and Lao Tse (the founder of Taoism) where writing. There were also the first great thinkers of strategy who wrote books that still survive today, the most famous of which is Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

    Even more important than these military texts was the development of the professional general. At the start of this period the relatively small battles that occurred where directed by the Kings (and later the Hegemons) who also exercised political control. By the end the battlefield was controlled by professional, full-time soldiers.

    It was this development of professional military leaders that allowed the development of effective battle strategy as now the generals could spend all of their time studying and training for war without the distractions of also ruling their state.

    Sun-Tzu’s description:

    This describes a fair viewpoint of strategy. Strategy necessarily encompasses the thinking that you do before you deploy any troops.

    Bosworth Field


    In 1485 CE in Europe there was still the single leader who would be in charge politically and also lead the warriors on the battlefield. A good example of this is in the Battle of Bosworth Field between Richard III and Henry IV of England. Richard's battle strategy was very simple—he wanted to engage Henry in one-to-one mortal combat and win. If he could do that his position as King would be secure. This made Henry's strategy equally simple. All he had to do was to keep out of Richard's way.

    It isn't clear whether Richard would have beaten Henry in a fair fight as the chance never arose. Henry's troops cut Richard down whilst he was trying to get through them.

    Richard committed himself to a charge against Henry's forces probably a little too late. If he had done so whilst Henry was still trying to line his forces up it might have worked. Might have…

    Waterloo


    In 1815 the Tsar of Russia turned to the Duke of Wellington and said “It is for you to save the world again”. Napoleon Bonaparte had just escaped from Elba and was going to try to retake his position of Emperor of France.

    Both men lined their troops up on either side of a valley with Napoleon taking on his strategy of advancing at all costs. Wellington new however that the Prussians where nearby and re-grouping (after a battle a few days earlier) and he needed to keep the French locked in combat until they arrived.

    Napoleon Bonaparte was certainly a military genius. The battlefield strategies that he developed where influential into the early 20th Century (although maybe they shouldn’t have been). At this time there was a clear distinction between strategy and tactics with strategy being the plan before the battle started.

    Communications where slow and error prone with only very simple signalling available. Even worse, as the size of the battles had increased massively over the previous centuries it was now the case that many of the protagonists couldn’t even see all of their own forces let alone those of their enemy.

    By World War I battlefield mobility was in such a sorry mess and communications had improved so much that by then the Generals where nowhere near the fighting and strategy had been reduced to deciding when and where to launch an offensive. Napoleon’s strategy of offence at all costs was being followed although it should have already been obvious from the American Civil War what would happen to infantry attacking machine gun emplacements. It took the bloody trench warfare of the first years of World War I to really drive the point home.

    It wasn’t until tanks were invented that mobility was put back into war, but with the development of effective radio this also lead to a blurring of the old distinctions between strategy and tactics in World War II.

    Tactics


    Whilst bloody murder was being conducted in and between the trenches in World War I a new combat arena had been opened using the brand new technology of powered flight.

    Hauptman Oswald Boelcke wrote the most famous air combat tactics manual in 1916, the Dicta-Boelcke. This comprised a set of simple rules that an aviator should follow to maximise his chance of returning home in one piece and minimising the same for his opponent. These tactics are still taught to air combat pilots today. Examples of the tactics include “If possible, keep the sun behind you,” and “In any type of attack, it is essential to go for your opponent from behind.”

    These tactical rules distinguish themselves from strategy in that they don’t consider the why or wherefore of the battle, but try to give the best chance that every encounter should be decided in the tactic user’s favour ''without evaluating the situation''. It is this tactical element that the special training a SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team addresses (although their choice of which tactics to employ in a given situation is clearly strategic).

    Tactics that we may employ in Civilization might include front assaults, flanking or surrounding enemy units. The success of the tactic depends heavily on it being used in the right circumstance as they tend to be highly situational.

    A cavalry charge against a thin line of riflemen may well succeed, but against even a couple of machine-gunner will almost certainly be suicide. Replace the horse with a tank and the tactic becomes viable again.

    Sagas & Romans


    In ancient societies there was only grand strategy and tactics. Battle field strategy wasn’t understood at all and inter-tribe warfare consisted of melée, or pitched battle with the two groups meeting and fighting. Whoever is left standing (or hasn't run off) wins.

    The Icelandic Egils Saga by Snorri Sturluson is full of stories of this kind. Families feuding with each other and heroic battles. Other sagas describe family life and feuding and the politics of early Icelandic society. Each homestead its own political entity, but tied into larger communities of shifting alliances often through ties of blood and bloodletting.

    As battles got bigger it became increasingly important to have some sort of control over the proceedings. If there are just twenty warriors on each side then there isn't much that you can do with the fight on a strategic level (other than make sure you occupy the high ground). When battles started to be between thousands of warriors then you don't want everybody running around and doing their own thing (as many Viking precursors found to their cost when fighting Romans).

    The Romans managed to win major battles against much larger forces not only through good generals (and Julius Caesar was one of the best), but also due to their impressive discipline. The battlefield formations that they employed were clearly tactical, whilst the movement and positioning of these formations and also which formation to use in a given situation during a battle was strategic.

    It was these tactical formations that the generals could employ with an understanding of when they were effective that made them such formidable foes.
     
  3. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Logistics


    A common quote is “Amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics” and pithy as it is it will only help us if we truly understand the implications. When outlining your strategy for a great battle you will want to call upon certain resources. In Civilization these resources are generally the fighting units, but don't forget the pure logistical units of aircraft carriers and transport shipping. You will need numbers of certain types of attack unit, you may wish to support them with artillery and later you are going to need defensive units to hold your takings. Logistics is the part of your planning that informs you what order to build the units and how to move them so everybody arrives at the right place when they’re needed.

    Crucially it tells you when you can advance and when you must hold back. Tanks charging off into enemy are liable to be destroyed if they leave their reinforcements behind. Sometimes the logistics dictate when you may move.

    Operation Barbarossa


    At the start of World War II Hitler was way ahead of nearly every other military commander in his understanding of the changes in strategy afforded by tanks and air-power. His use of Blitzkrieg in his early campaigns had succeeded in delivering all the objectives he had set his armies.

    On December 18th 1940 Hitler ordered his commanders to prepare an invasion of Russia which was to be started in secret to surprise the Soviet troops. This despite having earlier signed a non-aggression pact with Stalin before the start of hostilities in Poland in 1939.

    Having learnt something from Napoleon’s failed 1812 invasion of Russia he knew that he would need to meet his objectives during the summer months. His previous successes in using Blitzkrieg against other objectives no doubt gave him the confidence that he could secure the targeted territories during the summer months of 1941.

    The plan was a highly optimistic one, but the first few weeks of the campaign seemed to bear it out in early success. When the invasion started on June 22nd, 1941 the Russian troops were under orders not to engage Axis troops and not to be provoked by them. This effectively stopped many units from engaging in time. A later order from Moscow to stand and fight further hampered Russian efforts as the Axis troops were able to encircle Russian hold-outs who were not allowed to retreat and re-organise.

    There was however a fatal flaw in the planning for the operation. Operation Barbarossa was the largest ever war theatre involving combined troops of nearly ten million men, yet despite this German factories had only been operating single shifts to manufacture equipment. The severe lack in transport meant that the invasion started with about 625,000 horses being used to move everything from field kitchens to artillery. The Axis troops were also to find that most of the Russian roads where impassable after rains and that there weren’t enough trains to transport them (which used a different gauge and so couldn’t use German rolling stock).

    Added to this the troops had only been issued with enough supplies (mostly of fuel and ammunition) for a short campaign and had not been given winter uniforms.

    Given the choice between ammunition and food for his forces Hitler of course chose the munitions. His troops were reduced to stuffing newspapers into their summer uniforms to keep warm during the bitter Russian winter and to eating their horses. The thin treads on the Panzers wasn’t suited to mud and the tanks often got stuck. A lack of greases and oils that were able to withstand -40°C temperatures meant that the grease had to be chipped off breeches in order to load shells into guns.

    It took the Russian forces until October to start to regroup effectively after their early losses and until December to win their first decisive victory in turning the troops threatening Moscow back.

    Even if the Axis troops had met no resistance it seems unlikely that they could have held supply lines open over more than 1,600 km and they just didn’t have the supplies needed. The logistics failure had started after Führer Directive 21 ordered Operation Barbarossa and continued throughout. The failure of the Axis troops in Russia marked a turning point in Germany’s fortunes and eventually led to its defeat.

    Modern armies have learnt that the logistics command must be at the same level as the strategic command. Peace time operations of supply and preparation are ultimately responsible for making sure that the equipment needed is present in sufficient quantities. If your front-line gets bogged down then sometimes you have to reconsider your objectives, and sometimes your front-line moving too fast is an equally big disaster.

    Putting it together


    When planning a war we cannot ignore any level of grand strategy, strategy, tactics or logistics. We need to know who we're going to attack and we need a good reason for it, a clear objective. We need to decide how we are going to achieve that objective, what order to take cities, which cities to leave alone. We need to understand the troops and the numbers that we are up against; what they can do and what ours can do. We also have to have a plan that gets them where they're needed in a timely manner that doesn't leave our lines weak elsewhere or our front-lines exposed.

    In short, every level needs to inform the others. We cannot simply do a top-down analysis as then we may come up with a plan we cannot execute. We shouldn't do a bottom-up battle plan because then we will find ourselves fighting the wrong enemy at the wrong time just through opportunism.

    D-Day, 1944


    Operation Overlord, the Allied landings at Normandy in World War II gives us a good platform to see how the different levels worked together.

    The Grand strategic decision was made in 1942 when Britain and United States promised the USSR that they would open a new front on continental Europe. At that time the Eastern Front was the only European battleground left and the USSR was suffering badly. It was hoped that a second front would relieve some of this pressure.

    Two strategies were proposed. Churchill wanted to use irregulars (resistance troops) throughout most of Europe with a main thrust coming from the Mediterranean through Austria and into Germany. The US on the other hand wanted to take the shortest route to Germany from the strongest Allied power-base which at the time was Britain. The Americans got their way.

    The choice of attacking Hitler to his west was therefore made for grand strategic reasons. The choice of a Channel landing was made for strategic reasons, but the choice of landing site would be mainly from tactical and logistical considerations. The main tactical reason was that the Canadians had shown in 1942 at Dieppe that taking a fortified harbour town by direct frontal assault was difficult, so a decision was made to land at suitable beaches.

    The main logistical input to the strategic considerations had to do with air support. The Allied fighter aircraft based in Britain had very limited range thus limiting the part of the continental coast that could be covered. Geography then further limited the possible sites to just two: The Pas de Calais and Normandy. Pas de Calais was closer and was the obvious choice.

    A strategic decision was made that a fake landing expedition would be mounted in Kent to threaten Pas de Calais and the real invasion would be launched in secret at Normandy. This strategy was heavily influenced by tactical concerns—the German high command knew that Pas de Calais was the best landing site and it was therefore heavily fortified.

    As any long time player of Civilization knows the most demanding logistical exercises are naval invasions. Given infinite ships that can move across the widest straits in no time it would be easy, but in the real world you never have an infinite number of ships available and they’re always slow.

    The Allies in World War II certainly had a logistical problem when they were planning the Normandy invasions: 47 divisions(about 140,000 men); 6,000 ships (including 4,000 landing craft, and 130 warships for bombardment); 12,000 aircraft and 5,000 tons of bombs. And it wasn’t just the initial invasion force.

    After the invasion the men had to eat, get new ammunition and later be relieved (after five days there were over 325,000 men in Normandy). Tanks drink a lot of fuel. Trucks are much faster for moving infantry units about than making them walk but then the trucks needed to get there and they needed fuel and spare parts too. Back in England, before any of this can happen though the munitions, trucks, tanks and parts all had to be manufactured, shipped to the coast and put on boats. All of this had to happen at the right time or the invasion would fail. This logistical exercise took a lot more manpower and time to plan and then to administer than the strategic considerations did.

    The tactics employed on the day included the bombing of the main defences, the para-trooping of special infantry units in behind enemy lines to try to take out major armaments and gliders to put men and equipment behind enemy lines.

    Conclusions


    The terms looked at here can almost be seen to be a continuum. There is often no clear line between grand strategy and strategy; between strategy and tactics; and between all of them and logistics. Some examples we can point to are clearly one or another, but many are more ambiguous. Despite that though an understanding of what the terms mean will help us in our analysis, planning and execution.

    When trying to decide what we’re going to do we have to think about all of these things together. A top down plan must also be accompanied by a bottom up analysis of your capability to execute it.
     
  4. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    If it wasnt for the Carthage and Hannibal I doubt Romans battle skills would of been good enough to invade most of Europe and other areas. Goes to show having a huge army is not always an advantage if you dont use it wisely and effectively. Have a read of the below if interested. I do miss the Carthage civ in civ4 standard game. Not patched my version yet.

    Found a good site for history of Carthage.

    http://www.barca.fsnet.co.uk/hannibal-thinkquest.htm

    Its interesting Carthage real strategy for sending their troops to Italy.

    ttfn
     
  5. Heeringas

    Heeringas Chieftain

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    Intersting stuff at the first glance, maybe I´ll have some time to read it trought...
    But to add that one BIG reason for the D-Day was that Americans(presumably British as well) Had a great fear that Germans Can´t hold the Soviet pressure that was really groving strong at that time...Americans wanted to keep Europe "western".... If they wouldn´t have attack to France Soviet might have taken over the whole Europe in some time and made it Communist!...Althought war would have taken alot longer time to end...
     
  6. Conquestador

    Conquestador Chieftain

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    KayEss your article is very very interesting. In effect i think that most of the strategy article in this forum are just article by tactics but in Civ4 you can use Grand Strategy for playng at higher levels and/or for getting Early wins or High scores.

    But, in your really interesting antology of military strategies i feel there is a lack of the definition of the political motivation that set the goals for the military or economic or diplomatic (list can go on ..) strategies of a civilization.

    For istance the political goal of Iraq War was control of strategic resources so an effective strategy would not only grant a military victory but also a better influence over these resources trough diplomatic or economic agreement.

    In Civ4 the political goals of the standard game are motivated by the victory condition and by the score system that in turn is influenced by number of turn before victory, population, land grabbed, technology and built wonders.
    So in my opinion the Grand Strategy in Civ4 must be focused on these.
    Its interesting to note that many mods change the victory condition allowing an infinite combination of strategies for different goals.
    So my wish is too see more article focused on these grand strategies and i'm sure that there are players that have developped very interesting ones.
     
  7. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Thank you Gentlemen (I presume that this is right, cough, cough).

    Heeringas, I've put a footnote about Russian containment on my version of the article.

    Gumbold, I suspect that the Romans learnt much of their battlefield tactics from the Greeks, although Hannibal must have provided more than a few adroit examples of his own. And indeed, the AI seems ready to prove that numbers on their own is not enough to carry the day (although they clearly help - I can't think any general would ever ask for less troops).
     
  8. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Conquestador you happened to post whilst I was writing my response to the previous posts.

    I would agree that there are many strategy articles that really describe tactical bit plays rather than full blown strategic overviews (which is not to criticise the content of the articles, but merely to point out that the terms used aren't always correct). I think this is partly (mostly?) because writing a good strategic article is much harder. They're also harder to read and harder to apply. There are unfortunately a lot of great tactical articles that get criticised on strategic grounds when that is completely missing the point.


    I totally agree that the strategy must be goal oriented. In real life those goals normally come from politicians (the grand strategy element), hopefully elected and backed by the people they represent. In the game of course you are on your own to manage all levels of this complex task.

    My goal was not really to try to offer any strategies, tactics or any other sort of game tip at all, but rather to offer an exposition of the terms we use to talk about them such that we can better understand the goals of an article.

    I also would like to see more focused articles, especially on grand strategy. I never really enjoyed playing Civ3 against the AI, but I'm still enjoying single player in Civ4. I think the game forcing you to think at a much more strategic level now is the reason why.

    Civ4 is still a relatively new game and I look forwards to read a wealth of new fascinating articles about it over the coming years to go with those that have already been written.
     
  9. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Actually i picked up the fact about Roman battle skills off a documentary on tv. It was certainly true that come the end of the carthage campaign the Romans had started to use Hannibals tactics against him. Must admit i have not read too much on the Greek/ Roman wars. :( Need to get my timelines sorted.

    Interesting stuff though. :)
     
  10. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Interesting indeed :)

    I suspect that the Romans learnt much of Greek tactics the same place we learn about them: in their history lessons. Alexander was already a historic figure by JC's time.

    The thing is of course that just replicating some great leader's strategy in one battle relegates it to mere tactics. The trick is to be innovative each and every time. The same trick only works the first time (unless your enemy is braindead (or an AI) in which case feel free to do the same thing all day, week and year).

    For those of us who like to play proper learning machines (humans) we need a big bag of tricks and allowing our foes in on the secret of them gives them a powerful tool against us. As Sun Tzu says:

    However, none of my foes read these forums :D (often)
     
  11. Conquestador

    Conquestador Chieftain

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    That is historically true, in effect the first military formation was the Greek Phalanx, and the Romans learn from them and invented some new formation.
    But what make the strenght of Romans army was the professional army. The soldier of Romans legions make this for living and eventually they become veterans (notice that this word come from Latin language). So in Civ4 terms they had more promotion respect of the others civ.
     
  12. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    You could argue that cause the romans tactics were so good it only took 1-2 major battles before a empire fell. Once you win a major battle it must be demoralising for a losing nation. If you dont give the empire time to retrain regroup and recover numbers they will soon fall if you continually reinforce what armies you have and battle on.

    Perhaps this is why domination works so well. Civ 4 is devoid of civil unrest and cultural backlash against you once you have invaded. I dont think all countries in the world could have 4 religions in one city and live at peace. For years a nation tells you how much it doesnt like you then once invaded it acts just like the rest of your people after 5 or so turns. Perhaps foreign worker skills and worker skills in city food/ production/ commerce should be capped to add realism? Say a 20 turn conversion till full production?

    In a way this makes strategy on civ 4 easier as you know what to expect where to look for enemy resource (under the archer or axemen on the hill if you hadnt wored that out :lol:). Sure decide you want to conquer the world. Then watch the world agree to your way of life after 5 or so turns unrest and a cultural fix.

    The world will bow to christianity cause i say so and my missionaries know whats best. I know its just a game.

    You wonder how strategies would change if the computer adapted each time you played. I suspect there would be no forest left :eek:

    Was Roman strategy only to protect its borders for peace? Carthage a threat so invade. Greeks a threat so deal with them. Germans a threat. Even Eygpts a possible threat so stop the civil war and bed cleopatra. Dont even mention the Gauls. Perhaps it was power and money driven? Perhaps most people ruled the world because they could?

    Join me next week when i will find something else to go on about for no reason. Hmm need to work on my strategy here. :lol:
     
  13. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Exactly.

    Every culture that has fought has had the notion of a 'blooded' warrior, one who had fought in his first battle and then the veterans who have seen action many times.


    Gumbolt, Machiavelli has a number of interesting analyses of how to take and hold different types of state and why some rebel and others don't. He anticipates many of the problems that the US has been seeing, especially in Iraq.
     
  14. Plato90s

    Plato90s Chieftain

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    Roman strategy and tactics were vastly different from those of the Greeks, so I don't see how they learned from Alexander at all. The Romans emphasized discipline, material warfare, and siegecraft. None of these were specialties of Alexander.
     
  15. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Alexander was a historic figure to men like JC and it seems that histroy shows Alex also greatly influenced JC. The story if JC finding a statue of Alexander in Spain is well told (and often told). We were using Alex as an example of a Greek who influenced Roman thinking, but for tactical dispositions I think we should be looking more to influence of Greek city states like the Spartans.

    However, the Greek phalanx was well known by the Romans and they certainly copied and improved on it.

    That Alexander was not a patient enough man to hold cities to siege is not I think reason to write off his influence. That the Romans found ways to improve on him is a credit to them and also a credit to Alexander.


    I think this discussion comes back to the main point I wanted to make in the article. The Romans learnt some basic battlefield tactics from the Greeks which they in turn improved upon. They studied Alexander's strategy and learnt from that too. But we should never forget that the Romans were also masters of logistics. They were able to make sure that their legions had the supplies they needed and they also got the legions to where they were needed at a speed that defied belief for their enemies.

    I think their grand strategy is, in the end, what let them down. A city state mentality with that political power over such a huge area didn't stand a chance. The money that went to pay the legions on the outskirts of the empire was always going to drain the centre and the feeling that those on the outskirts couldn't be nearly as Roman as those in Rome was going to always create a tension that would tend to want to pull the Empire apart.

    That it lasted as long as it did shows just how good the Romans were at everything else.
     
  16. Plato90s

    Plato90s Chieftain

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    You've got the historical figures reversed. If there was a Roman general who saw himself in the shoes of Alexander, it would be Pompeii. Pompeii was known for campaigning in the Greek World and using large amounts of local auxilaries. He was NOT known for the Roman tactics which Caesar used brilliantly in Gaul and Spain.

    The Greek Phalanx was not the precursor to the Roman legion, as we understand them today. The Legions which armed themselves with the pilum and the Spanish shortsword (basically Caesar's legions) didn't charge the way the Greeks did. They walked slowly. The Greek Phalanxes sought out battle on flat fields. The Legions sought fortified positions and geographic advantage wherever possible. They most definitely didn't try to run around the way the Greeks did.

    The Roman legions in the early days of the Punic wars also didn't depend on heavy infantry. The horse was a big components of Roman armies in the Republic days, and it wasn't until the late Repulbc/early Empre that the professional (ie. paid) legions focused on heavy infantry since the cavalry components were being provided by imperial possessions.

    Alexander's problem with siege wasn't his lack of patience, but rather his LACK of siege weapon technology. The Greeks simply didn't have the kind of mechanical siege technology the Romans brought to the playing field.

    Finally, the grand strategy of the Roman Empire was so much superior to Alexander or anyone else before them that it's not even comparable. The Romans held hegemony for 4 centuries. The Greeks didn't even come close to it, and arguable no modern empire has held such power for such a continuous period. The Roman strategy failed to Republic which is why men like Caesar and Pompeii ended up shattering it in order to form the Romean Empire. Leaders like Cato knew quite well what the flaws in Roman domination were, except they lacked the power to overcome wealthy war-hardened generals like Sulla, Pompeii, and Caesar.
     
  17. Conquestador

    Conquestador Chieftain

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    what you said in the article is very interesting and of course you can compare the Greek Phalanx with the Roman Legion because the Phalanx is a military formation the legion is a military unit. The early legion used military formation derived from the Greek Phalanx but much evolved. You can learn more on this wikipedia article
    In the terms of this thread the Roman legion has to do more with logistics than wiht tactics but it is something a bit difficult to implent in CIV4.
     
  18. Plato90s

    Plato90s Chieftain

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    Obviously, the legion concept can't be implemented in Civ4 on a tactical level. There are things from the Roman Empire's grand strategy which can be implemented in Civ4.

    For example, Roman strategy in the first century AD involved a delicate balance of strategic engagement with barbarian entities on its borders, (temporary) detente with other political powers, threatening independents into subservience, etc...

    Cultural influence was definitely a factor which the game designers put in. The Roman influence was felt far outside its actual borders. Romans also traded wine to barbarians in Gaul and Germany, which weakened those tribes and got them into the slavery business. This practice was extended and formalized into the Opium Wars as late of the 19th centuries. Americans used it against Indians. We have no such avenue for "harmful trade" in Civ4, and I think it can be implemented.
     
  19. Rubruk

    Rubruk Chieftain

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    Ok, everything goes together. Thats the reason why one has to think about economic consequences (courthouses!) and how to progress scientifically(libraries!), the very moment one sends the first some axeman against another civ. That makes Civ4 an interesting, fascinating game.
     
  20. KayEss

    KayEss Gone to the dogs

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    Maybe I expressed myself badly. I was not trying to say that JC was trying to copy Alex, but rather that he was inspired by him. Pompey may well have been trying to compete with him for all I know. I earlier talked about JC finding a statue of Alex whilst he was in Spain. JC weeps because at the same age JC has not achieved what Alex did. He says:

    This is clearly not the feeling of a man who didn't compare himself to Alexander. The stance that JC went north and east precisely because it is the opposite direction that Alex went is tenable.

    Your comments on the differences between the Roman battlefield tactics and the Greek phalanx are well made, but again I don't think that the fact that the Romans didn't copy it is reason to rule out that they were inspired by it and improved upon it.

    And you are right that the Roman grand strategy was a huge improvement on went before, but that isn't the same as saying that it was without flaws. And nor does it mean that we shouldn't try to identify those flaws to try to understand the reason the empire finally faded.


    When I wrote about the legions in the article I was thinking mostly of their superb battlefield tactics and wanted to juxtapose that with the Vikings who came later, focusing on the smaller Viking settlements in Iceland rather than the large expeditions into continental Europe.

    As for logistics being hard to implement, I think that's not true. The restrictions on movement over sea, the need for transports specifically, gives a brilliant introduction to logistics and the differing movement rates on different land surfaces and between units highlights another aspect of it. The one thing that they didn't bring into the game was battlefield tactics, although there is a reduced version of it. The fighting uses an algorithm that we can have no tactical input into (whether you would consider different orders of attack logistics or tactics is probably open to some debate).
     

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