Fading Suns

Military Tactics

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Note: This is unformatted. If you have time, feel free to split this discussion up into its component parts (it is much too big for easy viewing anyway) - an individual article for the military of each faction - and please add links to the rest of the Wiki while you are at it.  ;-)

From: Luxifier

One Thing I am not so good in, is military tactics. I know we have a few military buffs on this forum so here's an opportunity to air out people's thoughts on the military tactics of the various Houses.

From: Danos

Shall we discuss the Decados military machine? It is unlike the others, mainly because the Decados don't really have much trust. The Mantis military uses a core of elite troops, the Kossacks, who do not have the numbers of other house's elite troops. But the Kossacks are more elite. The Kossacks don't do a lot of fighting, that isn't their job. Their job is to keep the peasant conscripts more afraid of the Kossacks than the enemy. Chain swords and sculpted faceless armor are tools of terror. The main weapon isn't the troops at all, it is the artillery.

Here's how it works. The Decados scout out a good place to land. Kossacks land first, to secure a perimeter. This will be an empty are mostly empty spot, like a large area of ranches, a desert, mountains, or wasteland. After the Kossacks are in, the waves of soldiers arrive. Conscripts with crossbows work fine, the job of these conscripts is to cry for help as they get killed.

The main strength of the Mantis military is the artillery. The Kossacks guard the artillery, and keep conscripts between the artillery and the enemy. Conscripts getting killed cry for help on their radios. The artillery brackets the area, killing all of te bad guys, and some number of expendable conscripts. Conscripts have to be constantly replaced, but veterans who survive several such engagements might get the opportunity to join a noble's guard, or even try for Kossack.

So the Decados invade Stygia. Not hard to do, it's close. They land in a desert, or an uninhabited region. They bring down Kossacks first, then conscripts, then artillery. The conscripts should be contacting the enemy about the time the artillery is set up and ready to go. Artillery can kill conscripts too, they are constantly being replaced by ships picking them up from Cadiz, Serverus, and Cadavus. The conscripts are told many lies about the glory and respect they will earn, then they are fed to the machine. When your defenders sit behind defenses, it goes even worse for them, as the artillery pounds day after day until the walls are breached, then the Kossacks herd the conscripts through the gaps.

The Hawkwoods held the Decados off with mobile war, tanks and navy. The al-Malik use their navy, and suffered badly on Criticorum until the Hawkwoods helped them. The Li-Halan method uses conscripts with no artillery, the Decados slaughtered them with artillery while the conscripts killed each other.

And that method, near enough, is the real life way the Soviet Union fought the first world war. They didn't win, but they didn't have enough artillery, which is something they remedied between 1916 and 1945. Soviet commanders marched troops into minefields to clear the way for the tanks in the march on Berlin. And the troops marched, for glory, for honor, and for fear of the Commisars.

From: newmarduk

well Luxifer, the sourcebook "Legions of the Empire" does provide some answers: Hawkwood and Hazat troops are trained like real pros, though the Hazat plan for training soldiers takes longer. Al-Malik troops are heavily equiped with high-tech, and I assume that houses prefers freemen volunteers to serf and slave conscripts. LiHalan prefer to use hordes of serfs combined with lightning-quick surprise attacks, trying to attack the enemy before he strikes first. Decados combines serfs hordes with heavy artillary and high-tech eilte commandoes. The Universal Church uses serfs hordes like LiHalan and Decados. The Merchant League guilds probably follow the high-tech example of the al-Malik, though they vary by guild.

From: Garret

Legions of the Empire was a decent book. The descriptions of each groups tactics are useful in the sense that it points out quite effectively why the Emperor Wars went on for so darn long.

The Hawkwoods are set up more along the lines of the U.S. military in world war II. The Decados as Luxifer mentioned are very much in line with WWII Soviet Union tactics. The Li Halan are a throwback to Dark Ages Europe. The Al-Malik are where the U.S. Air Force would love to see things. The Hazat well the Hazat are close to WWI Germany; great troops, great equipment, meat grinder mentality. The Church is not even worth mentioning tactically, even Brother Battle is deficient falling more in line with simply being an elite unit. The League with the Muster is the closest thing to an efficient fighting force.

Now the Imperial Legions are finally taking the steps necessary to become a worthwhile force. Standardization of equipment is a vastly important factor, along with cross training in different weapon systems. Logistics win wars. Fuel, ammo, food, medical supplies, the more people that are trained to use the equipment the better off you are in terms of combat loss replacements. The easier the accounting and directing of supplies the more efficiently they can be delivered to the frontline requiring fewer assets being tied up in the supply system.

Combined arms tactics is where the Imperial Legions are headed. Good communication, trained professional, disciplined troops, and a full range of tools. Armored Cavalry, Special Forces, Artillery, Trained and equipped infantry, artillery, airpower, and an effective space navy. It will be the first armed force to properly combine all these aspects since the fall of the 2nd Republic. The only hold up is the officer corps being primarily nobles. To become a true armed force those in command will have to be the best of the best by skill not brithright.

From: JaveHarron

I'm no military expert, but military history is a hobby of mine (more like weapons, in particular.) Something in FS to keep in mind though (and Legions of the Empire showed this), was that wars in the Known Worlds have a HUGE variety of tech levels. Different tech levels mean different tactics. (Say like Napoleonic musketeer-related tactics compared with a squad of hovertanks.) Despite this, though, there are some 'general trends,' as described below (both my own take and based on Legions of the Empire.)

From spear using conscripts with leather jerkins, to high tech League forces. (In my campaigns, the Martech subguild of Engineers and the Muster mercenaries often fight over contracts, but that's a story for another day.)

My take on tactics- The League prefers the mentality of 'quality over quanity,' since they don't really have the numbers of the Noble Houses or Church. However, because each guild tends to be very specialized, combined arms missions are not a real strength (unless it's an ultra elite group or their hands are forced).

The Church has 3 approaches. One is mobs of fanatics armed with whatever they can find to use as a weapon. (IE the good old fashioned pitchfork and torch carrying mob.) The other is Avestites. They go around cooking up 'local annoyances,' but when there's too much for them to handle, they call in Brother Battle. (Brother Battle also defends Church officials and holdings.)

With the nobles, it depends on house.

The Al-Malik by whatever toys the Guilds tend to be selling at the moment, assuming if it's more advanced, it will simply be better. (Even if the only change to something was minor, like a paint job.) Since they can't field the serf numbers of other houses, they prefer freeman volunteers. (More motivated force, compared with mainly unwilling peasant conscripts.) However, they have so many toys, they lack the administrative ability to link all the stuff together (so combined arms suffers.)

The Hazat I personally think are a cross between Spartans and WW1 Germany. They have good equipment, are more or less bred and raised for battle, and the faction is more or less an entire military in terms of deployments and organization. Battle is how they express themselves. However, they prefer reliable and time tested methods to 'new guild toys.'

The Decados I imagine work like Lux described. An example of a tactic might be clearing a minefield by marching conscripts across it, rather than wasting time diffusing mines. They love artillery shells, and build cannons like Gerald Bull did. (He was a real life Canadian scientist who scaled up conventional artillery to HUGE scales. He worked for Saddam Hussein's Iraq before Mossad allegedly 'removed' him.) For some reason, I imagine Decados have mass drivers, rail guns, and conventional guns, all having all sorts of nasty packages inside, from conventional bombs, to biochemical weapons, to perhaps even some nukes.

The Hawkwood military is a 'standard' Western one. Basically, 'traditional' structure and doctrine. However, since Alexius became emperor, a lot of their best troops and gear were shipped off to the Imperial Legions, leaving the ones back at home with stuff like longbows and spears. Perhaps this can anger some nobles against Alexius...

The Li Halan are based on Imperial China and Feudal Japan. They have a "samurai" type caste that stands in for 'elite soldiers,' and use human-wave assaults for the rest. Since their soldiers tend to be poorly equipped (at least with 'modern' weapons), they use numbers and sneak attacks to win. (Say like a Pearl Harbor-esque strike against an enemy space navy before war is officially declared.) The weapons, for the most part, are based on Imperial Chinese (and Korean and Japanese stuff, mainly medieval or renaissance.) There's things like Cho-ku-nu (repeating crossbows,) fire lances (crude bamboo rockets), fire arrows (a crude gunpowder weapon involving arrows stuffed into a metal 'funnel' with powder and a fuse, so when it ignited, the arrows would fire in a cone like area, like a shotgun shell.), hwach'a (Korean 'artillery' unit, basically a horse-drawn carriage with crude rockets mounted on it), turtle ships (early ironclad warship powered by sail and had some early guns), matchlock arquebuses (perhaps some muskets), war wagons (armored carriages with a 'turret' on top), compound bows, normal crossbows, polearms, and katanas (samurai swords). Some ninja type stuff might also be thrown in there.

From: Irbis

Sorry Danos, but you just recited few most dangerous fallacies about Soviet tactics. I could explain why they came into existence, but that'll be too offtopic for this forum, I'm afraid.

If you wish to know about real Soviet tactics and strategy, find a time to look at this:

The list is far from complete, but it at last give you some knowledge of the matter. Hope this help with describing Decados strategy and tactics.

From: Danos


From what I remember, the Tsars threw away troops in the first world war, and the Crimean. They won Crimea due to supply issues, and they lost WWI due to morale issues and the revolution. Yes, It's an oversimplification, and arguments can always be made.

The Soviets learned, though. The Soviet victories in WWII, which I think are very impressive, given that the West gave them only token supply assistance and waited to open another front in Italy until the tide was already turning in Russia, were different. Soviet doctrine, which developed in that war and remained unchanged until the disaster in Afghanistan, called for mobile war, using combined arms, especially infantry/tanks/artillery. Soviet tactics were based on movement, the greatest defense being attacking the enemy in the flank or running amok in the rear. The fight from Stalingrad back toward Germany is a good example.

All this is without looking at your links, I will do so, but this is what I remember. Thus, I say, the Soviets learned from their mistakes and acquired artillery. An oversimplification, but there you are.

For an idea of what I mean about thrwing troops away, watch Enemy at the Gates. Surprisingly accurate, if overdramatic. The Sovs really did throw conscripts into that battle with only enough rifles for half of them.

OK, Now I've read your examples. Yes, it's more complicated than I said before, as you pointed out, this isn't a military history forum. But I think all of your examples have descriptions that show how the Soviets had trouble when, as the one puts it, their grasp outdistanced their reach.

In running the Decados (sorry, had to bring it back to gaming), the GM or player running the military campaign should think about how to win with a small elite, a large body of conscripts, and some really, really good artillery. If you have tanks, then I'm sure Soviet doctrine would apply. If you have jets and hoppers, then use them and read up on Soviet tactics, the Soviets loved the combined arms infantry/tanks/helicopters/artillery/jets. Use it all in tandem.

I hate to say it, but the tactics of Iraq in the first Desert Storm also apply. Put your expendable troops out front, use your elites to keep them out front. How would desert storm have turned out if Iraq had two dreadnoughts and 3 cruisers with meson cannons? If Iraq had used orbital and ground artillery like the Decados have? Iraq certainly had the willingness to incinerate their expendable troops if they had had the artillery.

I stand by my description of Decados tactics, and we can argue Soviet doctrine by email if you like, but I think I agree with you, but am trying to reach people who have never studied military history. Besides, you need to simplify some things for game play. There will always be iconoclasts, like the Decados who trains paratroops.


I recently ran a battle between Muster and Hazat forces. I'll give my take on both groups.

The Muster are professional mercenaries, much like the modern elite troops who are now working as "contractors" in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Muster troops, think high tech communications, weapons, and solid, functional gear. The Muster will use asaault rifles and grenades because laser and plasma weapons require too much reloading and recharging of fusion cells. The Muster will have very good personal weapons and training. Mortars, artillery, surface to air shoulder launched weapons, good cross training within the unit.

Where the muster suffers is in numbers and resupply. Mercenaries carry weapons that don't match, so resupply is a pain. All that specialized gear is heavy, slowing down your troops. If you have to carry a heavy weapon, personal weapon, food, gear, shelter half; it all adds up. I see the muster doing this too. In a 10 man squad, you'll have everyone with some heavy weapon, be it rocketeer, SAM, mortar, or whatever. They might put these troops together, if they are smart they'll put the mortars together, but they might need the flexibility. These guys are weighted down and slow. They make up for it with vehicle transport and superior cummincations, but it's worth keeping in mind that they are carrying a heavy load.

For tactics, look for attacks to have mortar or artillery support. I play the Muster as preferring defense, because they can prepare positions and kill the enemy on their terms. A lot of effort will be made to harass the enemy into an attack into prepared positions, so look for a lot of patrolling actions and running battles that turn into ambushes. If they have a fortification to defend, they'll sight in artillery onto known positions, so it's easy to adjust targets. What this means when you attack Muster positions is that each time you cross a road, ditch, ridge, or other landmark, you can expect artillery to fire on you and hit. I also think that Muster will knwo that if you charge the enemy while the artillery is still falling, you'll catch them in their holes. As an outgrowth of that, expect Muster to have good battlefield medicine and medics.



I see these guys as glory hounds. They'll have disciplined, elite troops, well equipped, and not working well together. Each unit wil be distinctive, and they're bad news. Hazat will knwo the abilities of their troops. If they have archers, those will target troops with shields to burn the shields out then kill the shielded troops. If they have pikemen, look for night marches and flank attacks. If they have rifles, they'll march and fight like Stonewall Jackson. If they have assault rifles, they'll fight like U.S. Marines. If they have combined arms, they'll use them, but each of those units wants to outdo the others, so you get sustained artillery barrages that hold up attacks, fighter aircraft doing ground attacks to kill the enemy before the infantry can, infantry units competing to get to objectives first. The Hazat use tanks, and I expect that they use them well, so look for the Hazat to try for mobile warfare, using mobility and communication to keep the enemy off balance.

Where the Hazat have problems is in unit friction. Duke Six Names Rolando isn't going to want to work with Marquis Five Names Justus, so they'll pretend to work together while the prince is watching, then sabatoge each other when they can. If a rival has only archers and pikes, look for that rival to be ordered to take a position with entrenched tanks and artillery. The Hazat are glory hounds, and can be put off balance by spoiling raids, patrols, feints, counterattacks, and ambushes. The Hazat will give chase, they will be ambushed, and they will fight their way out of it.



Tanks, wet navy, air superiority. They use peasants some, but Hawkwood levies are sent to guard places so that real soldiers can go fight. House Hawkwood uses the same feudal model that the Hazat use to raise troops, so you get a patchwork of units. Hawkwood, however, likes to have dukes organize units, so all the duke's levies send hovertanks, and the duke then sends lots of hovertanks. Hawkwoods use the constant advance, the inevitable victory. Beleiving that they will win no matter what setbacks they encounter leads them to win, no matter what setbacks they encounter. If a Hawkwood is defending, the enemy will soon be hit from behind by a neighbor's troops. Inevitable victory.

For instance, look at the Hawkwood relief of Stigmata. The Hawkwoods show up, A. Hawkwood in charge. They land, driving the enemy back. They continue to advance until the enemy is reeling. Once the Hawkwoods make someone retreat, they chase, hounding the enemy, attacking flanks, pressing the rearguard, until they can break through and savage the demoralized retreating forces. They use tanks, vehicle transport, aircraft, and especially assault landers.

The Hawkwoods have a longstanding alliance with the Charioteers, and they use it. Hawkwoods use superior mobility to outmanuever the enemy.

Now look at how that plays out against the Decados, to understand both armies. The Hawkwoods come to the relief of their allies on Criticorum. Hawkwood hovertanks meet Decados levies, Decados peasants die. Decados artillery rains down on the battlefield, finishing their levies, but damaging or destroying tanks. Each time the Hawkwoods attack a flank or overrun some conscripts, they take losses from artillery fire. If the Hawkwoods break through, they face close range artillery and Kossack defenders. The Decados, for their part, are unable to catch the Hawkwoods, because levies and artillery are too slow. If the Hawkwoods can break through and destroy or capture the artillery, the battle is over. If the Decados have enough conscripts, they can trade troops and wear the Hawkwoods down, achieving victory.

As in all warfare, the ultimate question is one of logistics. Who can reinforce and resupply faster? That side will win.


> Originally posted by JaveHarron > My take on tactics- > The League prefers the mentality of 'quality over quanity,' since they don't > really have the numbers of the Noble Houses or Church. However, because each guild > tends to be very specialized, combined arms missions are not a real strength > (unless it's an ultra elite group or their hands are forced).

I agree, even the Muster are going to be smaller outfits with specialists. I can see Muster taking the role of cadres, training other peoples troops.

> The Church has 3 approaches. One is mobs of fanatics armed with whatever they can > find to use as a weapon. (IE the good old fashioned pitchfork and torch carrying > mob.) The other is Avestites. They go around cooking up 'local annoyances,' but > when there's too much for them to handle, they call in Brother Battle. (Brother > Battle also defends Church officials and holdings.)

Here, I disagree. I think the Church has a military, something like the present day swiss guard. Well trained troops, with good equipment, in bad uniforms. We know that the church has a fleet other than inquisitors. If the church didn't have a military, I think it's even odds whether the Hazat would sieze Holy Terra and reshape the church, kinda like what Spain did when they landed troops in southern Italy in the 1500's to influence the direction of the church.

I do think there is a place for the mob, I agree that Avestites can be used as shock troops in a pinch, but I doubt that all of the church are comfortable using Brothers Battle as guards. I think there is a place for professional soldiers who owe fealty to the church.

> The Li Halan are based on Imperial China and Feudal Japan. They have a "samurai" > type caste that stands in for 'elite soldiers,' and use human-wave assaults for > the rest. Since their soldiers tend to be poorly equipped (at least with 'modern' > weapons), they use numbers and sneak attacks to win. (Say like a Pearl > Harbor-esque strike against an enemy space navy before war is officially > declared.) The weapons, for the most part, are based on Imperial Chinese (and > Korean and Japanese stuff, mainly medieval or renaissance.) There's things like > Cho-ku-nu (repeating crossbows,) fire lances (crude bamboo rockets), fire arrows > (a crude gunpowder weapon involving arrows stuffed into a metal 'funnel' with > powder and a fuse, so when it ignited, the arrows would fire in a cone like area, > like a shotgun shell.), hwach'a (Korean 'artillery' unit, basically a horse-drawn > carriage with crude rockets mounted on it), turtle ships (early ironclad warship > powered by sail and had some early guns), matchlock arquebuses (perhaps some > muskets), war wagons (armored carriages with a 'turret' on top), compound bows, > normal crossbows, polearms, and katanas (samurai swords). Some ninja type stuff > might also be thrown in there.

Here I have to disagree. I can't see the Li Halan using ninjas. The hidden maryters might fill that role, but House Li Halan isn't too good with the spies and scouts thing.

I do agree that the Li Halan are more likely to use lower tech, but I think they would use it well. Arrows shot in volleys are bad news for shields. I don't think they would use bamboo rockets, but rockets are pretty low tech, and easier to reconcile than howitzers. After all, rockets are just alchemical mixtures in a metal tube with fire applied, or so goes the apology to the church.

I do think that the Li Halan will have noble units. All knight units, similar to samurai. The reason is, knights can use technology under the priveledge of martyrs. I can imagine Li Halan knights proving themselves in elite units, which coincidentally fare better than the freemen and peasants, because they are allowed to wear powered ceramsteel and carry rocketeers and such.

From: JaveHarron

Here's my take on the "barbarian and alien factions."

-Vau- Not much is known. They tend to like plasma weapons and can control energy fields very well. I base them on the Protoss from Starcraft with elements of the Covenant from Halo. A caste society with plasma weapons where each race 'knows its place.' However, the Vau here are the ultimate in benevolent despots. They prefer a 'defensive' military stance, since more conquests adds instability, and they believe social stability to be a key virtue (the opposite of ever-changing humanity.)

-Symbiots- Guerrilla warfare to an extreme. The Symbiots aren't very skilled at holding territory through 'conventional' means. So, they set up mutants in camoflagued forms and wait for enemy troops to come along. Then, they ambush and attempt to convert them, then mutate them into a 'usable' shape, hide them in other places, and repeat.

-Kurgans- Mix of Persia and Arabia. Perhaps they have huge Changed elephants instead of tanks? (Think Oliphants clad in ceramsteel.) They have a large selection of planets to call up troops from, each with its own 'regional' combat styles. However, they use diversity of tactics effectively. (Say like training a force of tank soldiers how to survive in the deep desert and also wage guerrilla warfare, so troops also tend to be less specialized.)

-Vuldrok- Vikings, of course. They appear in small, fast space ships which have more range/armor than one would think at first site. They speed into a target system, pillage/loot/rape/burn, then retreat back through the gate before the system can be reinforced. They like using 'vibro' versions of medieval melee weapons, or at least the nobles, especially axes. Perhaps they have throwing axes instead of 'normal' slug guns or blasters?

From: Ibis

> Originally posted by Danos > For an idea of what I mean about thrwing troops away, watch Enemy at the Gates. > Surprisingly accurate, if overdramatic. The Sovs really did throw conscripts into > that battle with only enough rifles for half of them.

Sorry again, Danos. I take it that you haven't read Soviet books about the battle of Stalingrad (leaving alone the memoirs of Vasily Zaitsev himself)? "Enemy at the Gates" is grossly INaccurate movie... to the point of insult, to be honest.

> I hate to say it, but the tactics of Iraq in the first Desert Storm also apply. > Put your expendable troops out front, use your elites to keep them out front. How > would desert storm have turned out if Iraq had two dreadnoughts and 3 cruisers > with meson cannons? If Iraq had used orbital and ground artillery like the Decados > have? Iraq certainly had the willingness to incinerate their expendable troops if > they had had the artillery.

To me, that's a sign of weak coordination between units/forces, caused by American air strikes on communication centers and headquarters. After all, American army in both Iraq campaings had their share of friendly fire incidents.

> I stand by my description of Decados tactics, and we can argue Soviet doctrine by > email if you like, but I think I agree with you, but am trying to reach people who > have never studied military history. Besides, you need to simplify some things for > game play. There will always be iconoclasts, like the Decados who trains > paratroops.

Well, I think I explain my point of view in more details. In my opinion, Decados wouldn't even consider the tactics you described. The reasons are manifold: 1) It is bad for morale. Sure, propaganda officers and all that, but after some time propaganda will lose the effectiveness. Not all men in the defeated legions would be killed; some of them will survive, but will be maimed and unfit for further duty. It's hard to instill a fervor in the recruit who knows that half of his native village are cripples thanks for such callous disregard for human life. (And what about the commanding officers of the decimated legions? They're nobles; they has to be with troops to provide effective control over them. What about their morale?) 2) It'll cause a logistical nightmare that'd make the quartermasters howl and throw themselves on the walls. New recruits has to be a) gathered, b) equipped, c) trained, d) shipped to the front lines, e) fed during all that. Maintaining the rear services capable of constantly perform such feats is very difficult. 3) It is way too easy to fing a strategy to counter throwing the hordes of poorly-trained conscripts in the fray. Basically, such an army relies too heavy on the arrival of the reinforcements; prevent them to arrive (through air/space superiority), and victory is yours. 4) It is, simply and plainly, wasteful. Conscripts are serfs, plowing your fields and working at your factories. As the experience of pre-First Republic Urth shows us, there are a certain limit of conscripts that can be drawn without risking too much. At TL 5 (average for Decados holdings) it is roughly 10% of population.

So, if you have 10 million standing army, and have to draw in 33% of this quantity in new recruits every year, you just couldn't win in prolonged conflict like Emperor Wars: at this rate economics of Cadiz (pop. 800 mil) will collapse in 27 years (less populous planets, like Malignatius or Cadavus, will suffer almost instantly). Social problems, caused by dwindling of quality of life, will begin much sooner; I'd estimate the time as 12-15 years.

Should Hyram Decados be so wasteful with his own subjects, he'd been overthrown by riotous mob already; a some charismatic and talented guildsman set on building of Third Republic would replace him in power -- much like it happened in Russia in beginning of XX century...


My take on Decados tactics:

There are few traits of this House that will be undoubtedly reflected in their military. First of all, Decados have arguably the best intelligence in Known World. On the level of operation and tactics it means that Decados will know everything about the enemy -- disposition, equipment, plans, personal profile of commander -- and will be capable to tailor their forces to achieve the greatest effect. Secondly, remember their motto "Everything is a resource"? Such an attitude implies: a) rational use of everything on hand (no need to send conscripts stomp on the minefield, when artillery strike on the said minefield will clear it sooner and cheaper); b) willingness and ability to deny the enemy as much resources as possible (scorched earth tactics, usage of mass destruction weapons, propaganda and so on). Thirdly, since all Decados are brough up with a sense of unity, Decados units might have better coordination than the armies of other Royal Houses. This, in turn, might lead to penchant for combined warfare and complex battle plans.

From: Danos

Um, the Decados didn't win. They ran out of people to feed to the machine.

Adressing your points, first, I don't see the Decaods caring much about morale. Yes, some troops would survive. They are easy meat for the Kossacks to kill. Put them into a field hospital, bomb it, blame it on the enemy. Anyone who complains, kill them too.

Your second point, about logistics, is well taken. The conscripts do nee to be gathered. Cadiz is horribly overcrowded, and Cadavus is so miserable they might even volunteer to leave. They do need to be equipped. Leather armor and crossbows are pretty cheap. Training would be pretty minimal, transport is an issue, and as for feeding them, well, it's an issue, yes. But you would have to feed good troops too. If you're bringing in food anyway, does it matter who you feed it to?

On your third point, I absolutely agree, it's easy to counter. The Li Halan fleet was in the Rampart system, but the Decados lost at Aylon, at Criticorum, at Gwynneth, at Manitou; you see my point. I agree, it isn't a winning strategy, it's the Decaods strategy. Why do you think they gave up and sent Salandra to seduce her way to the top? They weren't winning the war.

Fourth, yes, it is wasteful. So was what Stalin did to the Soviet Union. Stalin killed between 15 and 30 million people, we'll never know for sure. It hurt the economy, sure, but it kept people in line. Why should the Decados kill people in the Gulag when they can feed them to the war machine?

As for enemy at the gates, you're right, it's a horribly inaccurate depiction of those people's lives. It's a very acurate depiction of how Stalingrad was dismantled by warring armies, and how the Soviets fed troops to the war there in desperation.

Or maybe I'm misinformed, I have had to take oaths that I'm not a communist to hold several jobs. I'm prepared to admit that I might have been given propaganda instead of fact in some schooling, especially primary schooling. My university time was spent more on western europe and north america, with some middle east and africa. I never took advanced courses in Russian history, which is where you learn that everything they taught you in high school was wrong.

I have an addendum here, because I thought of this a few minutes ago after I had posted. I know we strive for realism, and we don't want to stretch our players disbelief too much, but this is a game, and it is science fiction. If my ideas don't work for your group, which they might not, then bend them or break them and use something else. I personally have a lot less problem with the idea of tens of thousands being sacrificed as artillery spotters than the idea of travel at 7% of the speed of light through big moon sized hoops in space, that magically transport your ship across the galaxy. Maybe it's just me.


OK, I've been thinking about Church tactics, so I'm going to give my take on them.

The biggest problem the Church has is communication. Disdain for high tech means that the think machine warriors used by the royal houses to keep every unit in constant communication aren't present. The church might use some squawkers, but they have trouble coordinating a large battle. Except the Brother Battle, I'll address them seperately. I really see the church as having two armies, the orthodox/avesti army, and the Brother Battle. I ca't see the other orders haveing troops, because mystics ad pacifists aren't know for their military ambitions.

Orthodox/Avesti troops

These will be soldiers trained in church schools. Gear will be non-high tech armor, I suggest some metal half-plate and crossbows. Artillery will be rockets or trebuchet. Church navies will be high tech of necessity, but smaller than the royal navies, butwith loads of inquisition vessels that can be recalled from roaming the worlds burning sinners.

The Church would use Avesti pilgrims as shock troops and reserves. Those flaeguns are perfect for close quarter fightng, so the Avesti would be used to assault towns and cities, and to defend breakthroughs. The primary goal of the church troops is to defend Holy Terra with defense of Pentatuech and Pyre being less serious goals. If Holy Terra falls, Artemis falls, because the Artemis peace keepers would be no match for an army.

I can also see the Church sending troops to Hira and Leminkainen, to season them against pagan threats. I imagne they quit sending troops to Stigmata long ago, because only the Avesti and Brothers realy survive there.

Church tactics will consist of holding defensive positions and charging. Some comanders may be able to make better use of their troops, but they wil be flanked, see below.

The Church troops have a serious problem with communications. Attackers will exploit the seams between units, and then turn behid the church lines to flank the other defenders. I do see the church having some high tech troops in tanks and powered armor, and these will be good troops under the comand of former nobles or penitent nobles or even penitent muster. But they still have to know where to respond to, so communications are this army's achilles heel.


Brother Battle tactics

The Brothers are some seriously elite troops. Whether in powered ceramsteel or other armor, I see Brothers having superb training, tactics, communications, and weapons. If they have any problem, it's lack of numbers.

Brother's will operate a lot like modern day special forces. These are the equivalent of the Rangers, the Seals, the Special Air Service. They function as a team, everyone is cross trained with oter weapons and duties, and they are heavy hitters. That powered armor allows troops to field heavy equipment. They will have to carry extra fusion cells and a recharger, but they can easily carry the extra weight.

When fighting the Brothers, expect precision attacks, feints, ambushes, assaults, artilelry barrages, orbital strikes, and iff you upset them and they don't care about the terrain or the owner of the land, nuclear weapons. They use nukes a lot on Stigmata, to the disgust of the troops who have been promised land there.

If there is an advantage in terrain, timing, direction of attack, or resupply, the Brothers will use it. They are horrible to defend against, and it's hard to attack them.

That said, there aren't a lot of brothers. They have auxilaries to help them beef up their numbers, and they use Muster artillery some, but you don't have to worry about the brothers takign your planet away in an assault, especially with so many on Stgimata, Daishan, Leminkainen, and Hira. And some scattered in retinues where the order can tap them for special duties. What you do have to worry about is the Brothers spearheading an assault with church troops to occupy the terrain after the Brothers take it.


From: Garret'

Personally I think it is wrong to give a specific style of warfare to each house, sect, or guild grouping. Certainly some things may be more common, but in light of the results of the Emperor Wars the operational doctrine of the different military machines would logically be under review, and possibly changing. After all there is one Emperor and he is Emperor because his doctrine was more successful. Instead of attempting to hash out how each grouping operates I will instead attempt to write up a basic primer on tactics and strategy. If I seem to bounce between things I apologize.

First of all a definition of both would be useful. Often the two are used interchangeably or confused with each other. For this purpose I will go with standard dictionary definitions. Strategy: (1) : the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war (2) : the science and art of military command exercised to meet the enemy in combat under advantageous conditions Tactic: (1) a device for accomplishing an end (2) a method of employing forces in combat Understandably the two are easy to confuse. It is both a matter of scale and duration. A squad of men taking an action against another squad of men would generally fall under a tactical operation. Its purpose is to gain a short-term objective, of immediate importance. However it may be a small part of an operation with a strategic goal in mind.

Generally strategic goals begin to develop when we talk of a theater of war or a military action, which can significantly affect the political, and economic, standing of the participants. Clear-cut strategic goals are absolutely vital for formulating a successful campaign. Military planners without clear-cut goals are hard pressed to succeed because the conditions for winning are vague. The political leader, or leadership of a faction usually dictates strategy. Questions that need to be answered are: Who is the enemy? What are my goals? How do I plan on accomplishing these goals? Where will I gain the most benefit for the least investment? What are the capabilities of my enemy? What is the disposition of his capabilities? What are his response times? What are his vitals? What are my vitals? The questions are nearly endless and should be answered before action is taken. The formulation of a winning strategy does not occur overnight. To best understand the type of questions one should ask understand the following: "Know thy enemy and thy self, find naught fear in a 100 battles. Know thy self but not thy enemy, find victory and defeat in equal measure. Know thy enemy but not thy self, find defeat in every battle." ~ Sun Tzu ~

To simplify this quote to its essence is that knowledge is power. The more information you have that can be distilled to a useful form the better your decision will be. This will greatly enhance the likelihood of success in your endeavors.

A useful tool to use in understanding combat is the OODA loop. It is an acronym for Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action. This is the process of thought, which is entailed in any form of combat from hand-to-hand to nation versus nation. (You can find a graphic representation of this at ) Simply put the force that can perform this quicker, forces their way into the opponents OODA loop. He is reacting to you, with less and less efficiency. As long as you maintain this pressure the opponent inevitably winds up doing what you want him to do. Obviously for the best results, good leadership, intelligence gathering, use of deception, communication, mobility, and logistics are vital. Any deficiencies here will result in a slowing of your OODA loop, and a possible turning of the tide.

This leads us to one of our inevitable strategic goals. The destruction or dismantling of the enemies capabilities that enhance his OODA loop. Targeting supplies, assassinating key personnel, communication facilities, counter intelligence or outright destruction of his intelligence gathering assets, and restricting his mobility. All of these inevitably tie together.

So back to strategic goals in the Fading Suns universe. In the Emperor Wars a primary goal would have been obviously to place a member of your house on the throne. This is the core of your houses goals. Everything else is secondary. How do you achieve this goal? Well by using all your political, economic, and military assets to achieve this goal. At this point it is necessary to break down your overall goal into individual subsets allowing you to obtain initially short term goals, which eventually lead to the accomplishment of your long term goals.

Political Goals – are the least costly in terms of money and manpower. Often an opponent can be defeated by diplomatic means. Of course your economy and military are tools to be used to achieve this. In other words at this point in the game you may use a position of strength to convince others that they will suffer less and benefit more by being your friend instead of your enemy. Of course in the Emperor Wars the diplomacy broke down on a large scale and years of war eventually produced the conditions necessary for diplomacy to have a real effect. In this case we will look at Alexius continued courting of the church, and guilds. Both parties were essentially neutral, though the church certainly favored the Li-Halan to a degree and the guild perhaps had leanings toward the Al-Malik, neither party was willing to fully commit and throw in on one side or another. Proper risk management would not allow them to. Of the major parties the Decados had no hope of gaining the churches support, and based on past dealings with the guild in the form of genetech did not have much hope of gaining the support of the guilds. Thusly Decados was playing a game from the beginning, where the cards were stacked against them, their only real hope was to gain allies among the houses, and this would be far more difficult to do than enticing mostly neutral parties. The Hazat on the other hand were historically deficient in diplomatic maneuvering. This essentially nullified in many ways their hopes of gaining the throne, it is also fairly obvious that they never had a real overarching organic plan for the war. This essentially on a realistic political playing field left three real contenders for the throne; House Hawkwood, Al-Malik, and Li-Halan. It is fairly obvious that from the beginning Alexius sought to gain the support of both the church and the guilds. With this accomplished it would be much easier to gain allies in amongst the houses. The Li-Halan and Al-Malik would be the target houses based on the nature of their relationships with the two neutral parties. FS History proves this was successful. Alexius did gain these allies and having secured his shorter term political goals achieved his long term goal of becoming Emperor. (I realize this is to a degree oversimplified, I am merely attempting to build a foundation for strategic thought.)

Economic Goals – can often be costly. When picking economic goals the objective is always to cripple your opponents economy while enhancing yours. In the FS universe the easiest way to do this is by the conduct of war. Being a feudal agrarian society, removing manpower to fight negatively affects the local economies. Attacking population centers is also effective at reducing the effectiveness of the enemies economy. In the Emperor Wars the houses decimated each other economically, leaving many nobles after the wars impoverished. Once again the winner was Alexius because he managed to secure a source of financing not affected by the destruction. This may have been a goal of his from the beginning it is obvious he understood that war costs. It must be funded somehow, and courting the guilds form the beginning allowed him to fulfill both his political and economic goals.

More to follow after my players suffer it is time for them to once again venture into the dark.


Military Goals – are usually the direct result of political and economic goals. They are also often the ones most often broken down further into area specific goals. Utilizing military force should always be your last option in obtaining your goals. It is beyond a doubt the most costly option both in financial resources and manpower. Picking goals for your military has to be done very carefully. It is easy to direct it into a situation it may not be able to disengage from if the political leadership is not clear as to what a particular army groups goals might be. Common mistakes in picking military goals usually involve situations where your army becomes an army of occupation engaged in policing a hostile populace. There are no definitive means for determining victory this leaves your army with no direction and opens it to being a defensive force. In war a defensive force may have the advantage in a siege, but in all other respects it losses its effectiveness. The initiative passes to the enemy he is now inside your OODA loop and you are reacting to him. This inevitably leads to that particular force being neutralized in the strategic sense.

In the Fading Suns universe picking military goals becomes exceptionally difficult. You are dealing with enhanced problems of communication when dealing with armies you have sent to another system. Logistics become a nightmare, replacement troops are difficult to deliver, intelligence suffers, and the leadership of individual unit leaders becomes critical. Naturally the further the target is from your center of power the more exaggerated these problems become. Also gaining and holding new lands is a top priority so inevitably you are pushed into making the mistake of guiding your army into the occupation category. The difficulty of developing new manufacturing facilities also adds those to the take instead of destroy list. High Tech assets are either irreplaceable or prohibitively expensive; this also limits your options. Essentially in FS you are doomed from the start of a military campaign to committing your forces to a long bloody campaign in most situations. Inevitably the military goals of a noble house are going to revolve on taking land and holding it.

From: Danos


I'm an amateur, as are most of the people here when it comes to military tactics. As are most nobles in Fading Suns. I think it is helpful to many people to have broad generalizations as to faction's tactics. You might note that I was a lot less specific about tactics for the professional warrior factions: Hazat, Muster, Brother's Battle. That's because as professionals, those groups would learn, adapt and overcome. Baronet Whoever Decados is not a professional; he has several artillery pieces that it is his duty to maintain, crew, and provide to his liege 4 months out of the year.

Your analysis above is professional, detailed and accurate. I agree that it is important to understand the difference between tactical and strategic warfare. Most role playing groups engage in frequent tactical combat; combat between two small groups with short term goals. "We have to take out these Scravers before they loot the 2nd Republic site," or "The Decados sent a team of changed assassins after me, I and my retinue must kill them or escape." Strategic thinking is something else again, as you point out.

As an amateur, I yield to a professional, but I stand by my description of 'usual' tactics. As I wrote earlier, there will always be those who do it differently. There is a place for a Decados Duke who specializes in air power, with fighters, bombers, and paratroops. There will always be a place for a Li Halan who prefers mechanized infantry and heavy self-propelled artillery. The backdrop of 'standard' usually unsuccessful, tactics, make the true military comanders stand out.

From: eglamkowski

My understanding when it comes to clearing minefields was that just rushing troops over the field yielded about the same level of casualties as expending great time and effort to remove mines. The point being that rushing troops over it gave you a great advantage in speed, thus catching the enemy by surprise and letting you get past the minefield before they could stop you. By clearing the minefield, you've telegraphed your intentions, and while you won't likely lose anybody to the mine field, you've given the enemy time to prepare for your main assault through the cleared field, thereby increasing your casualties that way.

However, regardless of the statistics of it, I still wouldn't want to be one of the ones asked to march through a known minefield... :-O

From: fenris83

The secret is not to tell the said troops that they're going to "clear up" the mine-field.

From: Danos

Re: troops and minefields.

eglamkowski, you are correct, you trade lives for speed. Unless there is no one around, which is rare. A Soviet general marched troops through minefields in the drive on Berlin to clear the way for his tanks. The story behind this, probably false but it's the story in the west, is that the 3-4 generals in that drive heard that whoever got to Berlin last was going to be killed. Stalin was the kind of leader who made those sorts of rumors credible. So one general marched his troops through minefields. When they compalined, he told them "It is not I but comrade Stalin who requires this of you."

It is a verified fact that Iran used teenagers to clear minefields in the Iran/Iraq war. The teens knew what they were doing, but went anyway, presumably to eternal paradise, or at least that's what they were told. Don't discount religious fervor as a reason for suicide.

I'm not sure that clearing a minefield telegraphs your attentions. American troops are taught to silently clear mines, and you take few casualties if you do it right. There is also the time honored tactic of driving a bulldozer with extra bottom and blade armor through the field. The mines make noise when they go, so you lose tactical surprise if there are any enemy troops nearby. Artillery was used to clear mines in several battles, and many means were used at el-Alamein, which is probably the textbook for an attack through a minefield. Both the Brits and the Germans laid lots of think minefields, and had taken to digging up the other side's mines to add to their own fields. Few if any of the fields were mapped, requiring the British to clear both their own and the other side's mines to get through. They used artillery, bulldozers, modified tanks, troops taught to clear the mines, and a few exotic things to get through. The Germans knew they were coming, but, well, you can read the histories for a few of the reasons the Brits won.

This brings up a good point for Fading Suns; the church and the Li Halan may be able to convince peasants to march into minefields to clear them. The Decados could probably do the same. The Hazat and Hawkwoods would have various means of dealing with mines, and the al-Malik would probably use high tech devices or artillery to deal with them. Of course, every house could use every method in some instances.

From: JaveHarron

Something I'd imagine might be interesting is the types of "mines" used themselves. The Al-Malik and guilds probably use 'smart mines' that can detect enemy units. (Perhaps even semi-golem ones.) Something I'd imagine the Church and Li Halan use is low tech 'mines,' say like improvised bombs made from unexploded artillery shells (a la Iraqis and Viet Cong), or even good old fashioned pit traps. Decados would probably like biochemical charges. The Hazat and Hawkwoods would probably use conventional stuff.

From: Danos

This is a good segueway into another inportant item for military tactics; gear. Having loads of high tech gear can be bad. If a soldier is watching a dozen screens, waiting to press a button to kill intruders, someone stealthy can kill that soldier with a rock to the head. It's vital to not let technology interests run the war.

Case in point; during the Vietnam war, the CIA dropped thousands of listening devices along the Ho Chi Minh trail. This was to track movements. It sometimes worked. It also resulted in B52 strikes against herds of cattle, and the very interesting sound of Viet Cong urinating on the listening devices. The VC were good at concealment, they knew what the devices were, they had complete contempt for them when they found them.

This brings up why there are no units with wireblades. The cost is not worse than tanks, but the wireblades are only good for a few minutes before they need to be recharged. Battles take days, not minutes. Wireblades are for duels and marauders, not soldiers.

Likewise, an assault rifle is more practical than a blaster. The assault rifle is more easily reloaded, any trooper can be taught to take it apart and put it back together, and it costs less to replace if a tank runs over it.

Which is not to say that low tech is better, but you have to be careful not to saddle your troops with stuff that weighs them down and doesn't help them enough to justify the cost and burden.

From: Luxifier

Yes Danos, that simply reinforces the idea that FS battles are often merely backdrops for two important nobles to have a highly dramatic duel. I imagine that in times like this you'd probably have the traditional field fighting that hails to the medieval era. There would be a skirmish, sometimes brutal and bloody, othertimes more like an overly aggressive football riot/brawl with few actual fatalities. All this for an excuse for two hot-headed nobles to have an audience while they get out their fancy weapons and energy shields and put on a show for their vassals to prove their honour. I imagine that while many veterans of the Emperor Wars would have a very good idea on how to wage efficient and brutal war, many of the younger nobles see it as a romanticised heroic battle. So they don't really know the first thing about it and think it's all fun and games and glory. The veterans are rather contemptous at this play-battling of course.

From: Danos

I agree, and those younger nobles and the ones who were not skilled enough to be selected to fight on enemy worlds will use the standard tactcs for the house, thinking that they are fighting the 'right' way.

Tales abound of these non-military nobles falling in battle during the wars. Hazat on Sutek who rode on top of their tanks and died in an arrow storm just before the anti-tank mines went off or the Kestrals arrived. Li Halan on Malignatius who didn't have a clue that the Decados would actually use heavy artillery on *gasp* noble mansions!

And the younger generation, who trained for war but had peace break out; I agree, they'll have a romantacized version. Like Europe had in 1914, when everyone assumed the war would be over in 6 weeks. A few veterans knew better, but they were stationed in India and Africa. Or fed to the machine guns over the top.

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