Author Topic: Troop Types and Weapon Mix  (Read 16659 times)

Riptokus

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Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« on: October 28, 2007, 12:46:25 PM »
I was just thinking, right now there's really no weapons determination. You want a ton of Spear-wielding natives? Tough cookies. Native is moving more and more into determining what the troops are equipped with, it shouldn't really be all that hard, just have the initial recruit branch out into the weapon type, allowing you to determine your weapon mix.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2007, 05:10:48 PM »
The Spanish are divided by troop types.  The Aztecs are not, as they were historically mixed-weapon, basically on the preference of the individual.  That was an attempt at historical realism.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2007, 11:14:21 AM »
Wow, I was really tired when I wrote that.

K, Let me elaborate what I was trying to say, and somehow didn't.

As time goes by, techniques and technologies would have been developed as a way to counter the Spanish (from the 'What if' in the contributions thread)

A big thing about that would be tactics. Right now, players aren't allowed to train troops to establish tactics. You can't get a pack of spear-wielding natives to counter a calvary charge. What I Meant to propose was a shifting time scale, where as time goes by, certain things would be added as time goes by. Technologies and other things. One of the possible "things" that get developed could be allowing troop mix. Native is doing it more and more, so it shouldn't be too far off a concept to go with. The problem becomes switching the base unit to one that allows that after a random "leap forward", which should be determined by game time, since the year is now tracked.

It isn't unreasonable to expect the Aztec to figure out spears work against calvary, and shift their people to work more like the Spanish, in having "combat roles." That could be done by allowing the player to determine troop mix of his units. I've been trying to figure out other "Leap Forward" issues that could occur, things that are fairly reasonable to expect to happen. Nothing has come to mind yet, but I'm out there thinking :P

Just another lesson to you kids, Don't not sleep and type!

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2007, 08:31:46 PM »
OK ... that's a tough call to make.  The Aztec use of shields and atlatl would already have an effect similar to the Roman formations.  Plus they already used a lot of spears and halberds.  So, while they would probably quickly learn the value of keeping formations tight when facing horses ... would they see any value in adopting uniform weapons for a group?

Would there be any real value to uniform weapons?  Or would their traditional mix of polearms, heavy cutting and hacking weapons, and atlatl darts for infantry, with archery support, actually do as good of a job as uniform armaments?  Would the terrain ever allow for large-scale uniform troop movements, or would their traditional loose continually-shifting formations work just as well?  Would there be any motivation to change?

Tough question....

Very tough question...


Just off the top of my head, I would say that until they got substantial numbers of guns, they would probably not see a reason to go to uniform armaments or well-regulated formations.  I figure the traditional mix of weapons would work just fine, and upgrading to metal weapons and armor would not change much.  When they did get their hands on a fair number of arquebus or heavy crossbows, the gunners would need to get organized (just to keep from shooting each other) ... but they would likely be replacing the archer auxiliaries more than the infantry.

The moves to uniform weapons in Europe were based around industrial reasons (weapons were not custom-made for the user) and ease of training peasant recruits.  These are needs that would not develop among North-American Natives for at least a century... where every adult male was already considered a warrior (trained from birth) who owned his own weapons.

It took the Cherokee about 100 years to convert their army from their traditional loose-formation tactics to regulated formations, and then only because they got their hands on substantial numbers of cannon.  (By then, they were using percussion-cap rifles ... although many still carried their tomahawks.)  The Sioux and Apache never did change - they added guns and horses to their classic maneuvering tactics, and kept right on going ... even as late as World War 2 they were known for being disruptive to military formations and wandering off on their own, sort of considering orders a suggestion.  (And many still carry their tomahawks or big scary knives, even today ... The U.S. Marine Corps doesn't discourage this.  Nonstandard weapons seem to follow these guys.)

So within the time frame of the game, I would say that such conversions are unlikely.  But again, that's just off the top of my head ... I can't prove that.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2007, 11:13:26 AM »
Without starting a long discussion why, I am just going to say you are both right and wrong about both the Marine Corps and the Sioux and leave it at that (I know nothing on the Apache)

As for organized formations for the Mexica, I feel it's possible they would adopt this. First of all, they were seeing it from the Spanish. The Horsemen would work as a group. The only thing missing from what I feel would be a sure adoption of this technique would be learning how effective a spear formation would be against horses. If they didn't see that, then they wouldn't adopt it. Second, they already had the needed base for it, which was crude formations. All it would take is one quick-thinking noble noticing that "Yes, that spear brought down the beast the pale people ride, perhaps if we carried more, we'd be able to handle them better" to having his men carry more spears, and spears are one of the easiest things for man to make, with only clubs being easier. We are dealing with possibilities here, not with absolutes. I feel it's entirely possible that given more time, the Mexica might have developed spear formations to counter Spanish calvary. This might have not happened, and might not have had any benefit, or it might have turned the tide of the war (July 7th, 1520, Otumba minus calvary, Mexica win.) I think it's enough of a possibility that every month there should be a small but increasing chance that the entire Mexica troop tree shifts to be able to become configured with weapon mixes.

Oh, and I don't believe that the Bronze Age Greeks had an Industrial factory to create weapons in, but I might have been wrong :)


I also believe that as time goes by, the percentage of mexica warriors with steel equivalents of the weapons they use should be increased. I don't feel steel was enough of an advantage to overtake more then 25% of any formation. Possibly with increased time, like if a game goes for 10 years, the development of a new Mexica gunpowder unit wouldn't be uncalled for either.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2007, 05:10:41 PM »
I have no idea what you mean about the Sioux, but my brother just got out of four years in the Marines a couple of years ago, and he has some stories.

The mix of weapons traditionally used in Mexico would already be pretty solid against horses.  The combination of heavy ranged (atlatl dart), spears/halberds, and relatively heavy high-damage melee stuff would already create a multi-layered resistance against horses (or anything else).  It would probably work at least as well as more regulated formations or more standardized weapons, and conversion to metal would not really affect this.

Don't think of their loose formations as a step toward more regular formations.  It's easy for people from European-influenced cultures to think that way.  Realistically, it's more of a branching effect ... some cultures favored small-group tactics, some loose formations, some tighter formations.  Most of the natives of the Americas favored loose formations.  (So did the Mongols, and the Mamluk, and before firearms the Japanese samurai.)  If you assume that tighter formations are necessarily better and that everyone is trying to develop along those lines, you will make the same mistakes that the U.S. Cav made against both the Sioux and Apache.

The bronze age Greeks did not have a huge factory.  They did have large numbers of smiths working directly for governments.  The smiths built weapons according to the government specs, so that their work would look reasonably like the work of the other smiths, and then these weapons were issued to the troops.  Therefore the economics and logistics of it worked just like if it had been from a post-industrial-revolution factory.  This is exactly the opposite of the process in, say, Japan - where individual warriors generally got their weapons custom-made from particular people.  A lot of the American Indians actually expected warriors to make their own weapons, and even those who got their weapons from others picked them out specifically to their own preferences.

And yeah, I think the plan was to slowly increase the number of steel weapons based on relations with European powers and/or development of particular infrastructure (which is dependent on not having it destroyed).  Don't think there has been any real work on an exact formula yet.

Offline guspav

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2007, 08:29:12 PM »
Maybe not a new tactics- based  unit tree, but definitely one with metal weapons, it could work like the Marius reforms the Romans had and that triggered by time or maybe by some other factor.
Formations aren't too logical because aztec warriors, though they did use tactics, were after personal glory most of the time (remember they got a higher rank depending on the number of captures they got and could even get to "knighthood", that is eagle, jaguar or cuachic).

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2007, 06:03:32 AM »
For the changeover from stone to steel, can we set up this sort of a formula?

Set a number as "tech level" of a group.  An incrementing counter based on how long they have good relations with some European power, and how much working upgraded metalworking infrastructure they have.  If a particular tribe had all of their metalworking infrastructure destroyed and no European power would trade with them, this number would actually drop slowly.  Otherwise, it would probably be increasing, likely not very fast.

Then, whenever armies, patrols, whatever are spawned, this number is used to calculate the percentage chance of troops being metal-armed.

That way, you can have three troop trees for each unit - neolithic pre-Spanish (stone and a little copper), some metal (several Spanish weapons, scraps of armor among better troops), and substantial metal (armor, guns, the works).  Which ones get rolled would just be a matter of time and statistics.  However, that would also let tactics and politics play a role, without being as arbitrary as a single event.  It would also get the mixed feeling of a few troops at a time getting their hands on metal weapons.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2007, 09:41:49 AM »
As a Marine who got out a few years ago, I can speak from direct knowledge on Marine Corps. As for Sioux, I can speak from family history. I am telling you your assumptions on the Marine Corps are both right and wrong, as are your assumptions on the Sioux.

I am not saying loose formations are Inferior, since I know from personal experience they are much more effective then large formations.
What I am saying is the Spanish Calvary needed to be countered by the Mexica. Otumba was the first time they learned that lesson, and the last chance they got to learn to do so. A Spear formation is the best counter for a Calvary charge. The Mexica WERE defeated by mounted troops at the Battle of Otumba. The Calvary breakthrough there routed the leadership, causing the entire Mexica force to retreat. That shows quite clearly that their mix wasn't enough to break a calvary charge. Thousands of warriors couldn't stop hundreds, and in fact by then they might have been less then one hundred.

Yes, Formation development would be hindered by the personal glory aspect, but again, facing total war, most combatants adopt a total war attitude themselves. That would mean a more Disciplined Mexica. A good representation for this that I can see is allowing the player to pick troop types. I don't think the Mexica would ever develop a formation similar to the European formations, but I suspect that a crude spear formation would develop, as well as dedicated archers and probably more lethal weapons in the mix, but only after time goes by. Allowing for unit mix to be determined after time to allow the development of new technology allows for a catch-all type of situation, where any number of different things could have been researched and a different weapon mix would ensure from the Mexica. If total war is adopted, what happens? Mexica take up more lethal weapons and drop the less lethal ones. If they discover better formation what happens? They start to use people by weapon type. If they refine hit and run? More archers. Each of these are well represented by changing the troop tree to allow unit mix to be added.

As for the formula, you are assuming steel is the best thing since sliced bread, and while I respect your knowledge on how you have seen what weapons can do, I think you need to get an obsidian knife and compare it to a steel knife. I think there should be three sliders instead.

Tech Level, which determines access to guns
Metalworking, which determines ability to produce steel items like guns, swords, and armor
and Spanish Influence, which determines how much of the Spanish-style stuff they have.

A High Tech level would add a gunpowder Native but would require high metalworking or high Spanish influence to access, while a high Spanish influence changes most of the native weapons to European weapons. All of this decided on the interaction of native technology and understanding (Tech Level) Metalworking Infrastructure (Metalworking) and how much they accept the Spanish culture (Spanish Influence)
This can then be tempered with relations, so if they have low metalworking but high Spanish influence, they don't get the Spanish weapons, unless they are friendly with the Spanish, in which case they get a lesser quality mix of weapons.

These stats should be vulnerable to disease, after all, if all your smiths and scientists die off, how can you refine metal or pass on knowledge of the secret of gunpowder?

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2007, 10:14:11 AM »
Let's talk practical, here:

First, obsidian weapons are not inferior to their steel counterparts in lethality, but they do suffer in the ease-of-use category.  Neolithic weapons are clumsy - they involve planting stones into clumsy-looking boards or excessively heavy handles.  (I wrote the damage stats for the current version of Mesoamerica.)  Therefore, like the tribes in the current U.S. did, I have every reason to think that the Aztec would have considered steel to be better.  Steel armor is most certainly better than the quilted cloth that they were using.  Therefore, yes, compared to neolithic weapons, I have every reason to believe that the Aztec would have considered steel to be a great improvement and a goal to which they would aspire at every opportunity.

(Realistically, would it actually help them THAT much?  The armor might, the advantage in weapons would likely be statistically pretty small.)

Second, the Mexia were wiped out by cav not because of their weapon distribution or formation, but because, one, mounted forces always have some advantage over infantry, and two, the Spanish had a huge tech advantage (armor, guns, steel, crossbows).

I mean, the Romans broke horse charges with short swords and javelins.  The Celts and Scots broke horse charges with heavy two-handed blades.  The English were known for using longbows to slow and thin mounted attackers.  Spears are not the only way to break a mounted attack.  One of the cheapest, maybe, but not the only one.

If, in that battle, the Mexia Empire had been equipped with European-type weapons (not just steel, but steel designed to deal with armored troops and horses) and metal armors, then their formations and weapon mix would have very likely worked fine.  They just couldn't hope to compete with all the disadvantages they had.

-----------------------------------

As for multiple variations on the tech tree, we do need to keep it simple enough for the M&B engine to handle it.  A hundred different troop types is not going to be good for the game, especially when we start trying to add the Maya and others, fighting limits in the game engine.  Three levels, and a simple probability calculation to see which one they field, is likely possible.  Anything more complex is going to crowd the upgradable troop limits and such.

We're not working with infinite capability here.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2007, 02:04:36 PM »
Well, Mexica swords have one strong advantage, they don't rust. Also, the horses weren't that heavily armored. The climate in the region at the time was hot and humid. If you don't think lack of rust is an advantage, I can provide you a list of activities you can do to demonstrate to yourself without a doubt that reliability and ease of maintenance is very important for weapons. When the issues are so minor, I don't think the Natives there would take the weapons. Of course, the native Auxilleries ended up using Spanish swords, so that's why the third category of Spanish influence.

And yes, sometimes troops without spears broke calvary charges, however, the advantages of charging calvary are completly eliminated with spear-wielding formations. This is why so many empires deployed spearmen, because of their effectiveness against horses.

And here is what I am proposing. Just simply adding a few more troops to the tree. One is a native Gunpowder unit, and then basically a broader mid-range tier group, ones that specialize in particular weapons. It isn't so much as the Mount and Blade engine won't handle it, even if every single group on the map was added. Most new factions will be using the same troop trees anyway, since the equipment used was mostly the same. It's only the warrior societies that become specialized and unique for each faction, so really there is only two troop trees as it is, with a few specialized units. Once unit type is created, the same ones could be used for every faction with no problems. I am not proposing a new troop type for each level of those things. I am just proposing that the probability calculation of what units are armed with changes, except native gunpowder units, which would be a separate unit.

So a Talaxian Auxillery with the Talaxians having 60 Metalworking, and 40 Spanish Influence would see a 40/2=20% chance of each warrior getting a European Weapon, with a (60-50)*2=20% chance it will be quality, or something of that nature.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2007, 07:02:00 AM »
Reliability?  That was the biggest problem with obsidian weapons. 

Steel will rust, true, but keeping it oiled is really quite easy if you know to do this (which they would have learned very quickly from the Europeans).  A little bit of lard, and you're rust-proof for days.  Armor can be treated with salts to rust-proof the major surfaces (i.e. gun blue), which it usually was.  (Most art of the period shows armors as somewhat dark in color ... the shining armors were caused by collectors over-polishing them for two centuries.)  Rust is annoying, but not that hard to control - I keep my swords from rusting.  They could too.

Obsidian is prone to chip and require stones to be replaced in the blades.  The glue and/or rope bindings (depending on the particular weapon) have to be replaced.  Wood will rot, mildew, and become water-logged.  If the wood does become wet, that previously mentioned glue will likely turn loose.  Keeping it well oiled and/or painted helps, but it's still much harder to maintain than metal - especially in damp weather.  Aztec wood and obsidian weapons would be a pain to maintain, especially in combat.

The risk of rust on steel is real, but not the end of the world.

-------------------------

Anyway, I still figure one tech number will do the calculation.  Base number modifies a percentage, so that the various tech levels will be mixed. (If tech level 15 causes 30% of them to be tech level 2, then tech level 30 will cause roughly 60% of them to be tech level 2, and so forth.  At tech level 100%, they would look pretty much like their Spanish counterparts, only slightly redecorated.)  That keeps the calculation simple, while still conveying the idea.

Then, it won't matter if they get their weapons from Europe and slightly redecorate them, or make their own, or import the steel and work their own, or more likely a combination of the three.  Also, it assumes that if they have enough chemistry and metallurgy, they can produce blades, armor, guns, ammo, whatever.  Anything lower than that, they could still build metal hatchets and such, but the more complex stuff would be rare (either gained in trade or just some smith got lucky).  It gets the idea across without having to reconfigure every troop type 900 possible ways.

This whole thing is going to be complicated enough even if we try to keep it simple.  Trying to predict every variation will just make it so complex that we can't tweak it for balance.  Don't make it harder.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2007, 10:47:00 AM »
You keep the assumption that if they hold off the Spanish then they would look like the Spanish, which is just simply not true. That is why the three fields, because adoption of the Spanish technology is dependent on a different factor then tech levels. Higher technology allow them to manufacture copies of Spanish equipment, assuming they don't come up with anything better. It's like you acknowledge that these people are decent warriors but refuse to give them the ability to think for themselves. If the Spanish don't come up with it it doesn't exist? The primary reason for the Insane atrocities of Europeans against the natives of these continents was because of Divergent Evolution, meaning these guys had their own, totally new way of doing things, and this made the Spanish unsure if these people were even human. This was defeated because the continent as a whole was defeated. They've recently hypothesized that the bundle of strings that was once believed to be used by the Incas for memory aid could have been in fact, an entire system of writing. Noone survives that could identify either way though. Don't get so tied up into what DID happen to loose what COULD have happened, which is much more important for the purposes of this mod.

Having never seen a Macuahuitl, I can't say for sure that it is less prone to decay then you say or even. I strongly suspect it was not how you think, since with ancient technology only and a few minutes of thought process, with the resources available to the Mesoamericans, I could make one that is very durable, easily repaired, and immune to "rot" to a level greater then any sword can be immune to "rust". That's lacking the THOUSANDS of years that these people had to develop good techniques to make the most of their materials. If you doubt the inventiveness and forward-thinking ability of these people, and ability to do something totally new and unique, one word. Corn.

And you REALLY need to go try something new. Go to a tropical coastal area with something that rusts. Bring plenty of lard, see how well that works for you.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2007, 04:59:50 PM »
Lived several years in humid subtropical zones of south central China.  Oiled my swords with common kitchen vegetable oil.  Never had a significant rust problem.  Did have problems with paint peeling off of wood doors because the wood draws moisture... couldn't prevent that sort of garbage even trying to dry them out with electric heaters.

I built and played with some stone weapons back as a kid ... even if well designed, they're clumsy pieces of junk.  Inconvenient to build, even more inconvenient to maintain.  The blades have to be replaced more often than the disposable razor blades in box knives.  Compared to the occasional need to oil the metal, stone weapons are a huge maintenance problem.

And I'm not saying the Aztecs wouldn't do some thinking for themselves, but I doubt they would bother to try to re-invent things that someone else had just spent the last 3000 years developing.  I mean, why would they start a process of invention to design something that they could just buy and copy?  After they got good at copying these things, they might start to get a little more creative (but that would take more time than the scope of this game, about 50 to 100 years for most groups in the Americas who were not wiped out).  That would be thinking for themselves, instead of being bound by some archaic sense of tradition and isolationism.  They had their own way of doing things, sure, but this way did not include looking a gift horse in the mouth.


Offline guspav

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2007, 05:03:40 PM »
All this technological evolution and adaptation is pretty hard to predict, it is true what you say Riptokus, that they found ways of optimizing their own tech to their environment, now the hard part would be what they would have done with the foreign tech when they adapted it to their own.
It is curious to mention that according to Bernal Diaz, Cortes himself ditched his own metal armor at some point and started wearing a cotton one because  it was lighter, easier to move in in hot weather and deflected arrows better, I am not sure  about the arrows part, but the other two seem reasonable enough, that added to the moisture resistance of the cotton armor vs the metal one.
Something that would sound reasonable to me, at least on the armor point, would be that melee infantry would prefer metal armor and ranged infantry cotton and that maybe for both the european and the native parts. About weapons I am uncertain since probably a sword is much easier to wield than a macuahuitl, still an expert macuahuitl fighter would stick with the weapon he knows, the newer and easier to use weapons would go to the rookies. About the tepoztopilli vs the pike and halberd it's even harder, while both european polearms would be much sturdier due to their metal heads, the tepoztopilli was very probably much lighter, so which one would you prefer? I am not sure myself and it is hard to decide on that, but still a lot of fun :D
« Last Edit: November 01, 2007, 05:05:21 PM by guspav »

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2007, 05:32:10 PM »
I would not think the tepoztopilli to be lighter than a good steel poleaxe, unless the poleaxe was deliberately constructed to be heavy for some reason (like ceremonial halberds).  Generally, that board that holds those stones in place is going to be large and badly balanced compared to a steel blade, and not really lighter than much of anything.  Just like the macauhuitl - a one inch by four-inch board is still heavier than a quarter-inch by 2 inch steel blade.

Also I figure it would be the expert macauhuitl fighters who would see the most advantage in the better balanced steel blades.  Rookies probably couldn't really tell the difference ... plus the Aztec rookies were given blunt weapons and held in reserve until the enemy broke, so they could pursue and take prisoners and get some combat experience without being slaughtered.  That was their version of combat training.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2007, 10:16:00 AM »
Ron, Again you use your experience fashioning crude weapons together to tell you how well a weapon works. There is a great difference between a master weapons maker and your products. I wouldn't trust any automatic machine guns you toss together any more then I believe a expert at a Macuahuitl would trust these crude wooden boards you toss together. I DO know that swinging around a 1"x4"x4' chunk of wood is easier then swinging around a 1/4" diameter x 4' piece of Rebar.

Also, sitting at your home maintaining a weapon and slogging around in the jungle and keeping it clean and ready is quite a bit different.

And yes, you are correct on balance, Aztec warriors would find quite a lot going for a balanced weapon the more experienced they are, but likewise, even though the Average Marine Infantryman dislikes his M16A2, anything other than a gradual change is severely resisted by the people best and most familiar with what they have. After the "trial by fire" groups that test out the initial weapon or equipment, it then goes into boot camp, where every new recruit is trained on it. After that, they go out into the nice pretty FMF and get the old stuff issued to them until the budget comes around to replace the old gear. EVEN THEN, the E7s and up still use the old crap until it is pried from their hands and the new junk is put into them. This isn't from "Oh, that's what you think!", this is from my personal experiences.

As for which one I'd prefer, I think I wouldn't go with the tepoztopilli, simply because Cortez himself said it piereced his METAL armor but was saved by the cloth armor underneath. I'd want it to pierce them both, so it's pike for me. I also believe a pike of equal length might be a tad lighter. I would think a Halberd would be hevier then a tepoztopilli though. Based on the picture from here, I do believe the tepoztopilli was one piece of wood though - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cf/Tepoztopilli.jpg

As for how it's fashoned, I believe the blades were attached with a simple adhesive and were manufactured to be a certain width at the base, so they fit snugly in a groove of uniform size to a point they would hold themselves in with a small amount of force without any adhesive. In no way "Crude" and in fact it is a method used in house construction today.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2007, 07:21:46 PM »
As for maintaining a weapon at home or in a jungle, the wood doors that were drawing moisture and changing shape until they wouldn't close were ALSO at home.  The problem of moisture is roughly equal for the environment - steel blades don't suddenly draw moisture while wooden ones stay dry.  Steel is easier to dry and oil, because water does not soak into it.  This is true at home or slogging through a jungle.

And if your experience of swinging a sword is based on swinging a four-foot piece of re-bar, you really should try out a sword.  Blade shape does improve balance - the blade acts as somewhat of an airfoil and makes control easier.  I wondered this myself once, and tested it... swords, iron bars and such, wood clubs, boards, and baseball bats.  Aerodynamic effect plays a much larger role than you would think.  By the time you get a board with a bunch of stones in it, it's going to feel just a little bit inconvenient to use.

I would agree that trained soldiers with issued weapons generally get used to their weapon, and somewhat resist change until someone absolutely proves the new system is better (which seldom happens) or forces them to change.  A warrior culture will change a little more smoothly, since most troops are providing their own weapons (and/or personally giving the ones they don't want to the new guys) ... they are motivated by the "Look at the cool new X I got" factor, and much less demoralized my the whole "What kind of piece of junk are they issuing now?" line of thinking.  However, that would most certainly ensure that the change would be erratic and piecemeal - individuals would change, a few at a time, until the older stuff was mostly phased out.  Even then, you might occasionally see somebody staying with the older stuff, either out of preference or economic limitation.  It wouldn't be an immediate or smooth shift, to be sure, even if they were very enthusiastic about getting their hands on the new equipment (which not nearly everybody would be).  That would match the pattern of shift to metal weapons among tribes in the current United States as well.

Also, don't confuse a real pole-axe for some ceremonial piece of decorative junk.  The real ones were not 25 times too heavy to lift.  The blades weren't much heavier than a good claw hammer.  Compared to a halberd made from a board with a bunch of stones glued into it ... I would say the tepoztopilli was probably equal or heavier.  Of course, the fact that there are no existing original pieces doesn't really help us research that sort of thing.

And Cortez was just lucky that obsidian blade didn't fully penetrate.  Cortez got lucky several times that way.

Offline hayate666

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2007, 07:20:21 AM »
Just out of curiousity, would the type of wood the weapon is made from matter? Some kinds of wood are more resistant to wear than others. Would a good finishing coat with some kind of varnish(?) matter or is it just something that's already considered in this discussion?

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2007, 07:53:14 AM »
Since there are no surviving pieces of either the macauhuitl or tepoztopilli, we can't really say for sure.  We're rather assuming some kind of hardwood, probably whatever they had at the time that seemed sturdy.  Hickory, oak, something dense and resistant to splintering.

As for finish, likely the best way to deal with that damp of a climate would be an oil-based finish.  Even if the Aztec had varnish (which I cannot either confirm or deny off the top of my head), it tends to chip and peel when abused the way a weapon is commonly treated (dragged through jungles, carried while crossing the stream, you get the idea).  Enough animal or plant-based oil will soak into the wood and greatly aid in turning water.  (I use oil finish on tool handles and such, myself.)

...and yeah, I was sort of assuming that in the conversation.  I was also assuming that they knew to wipe down their sword blades in oil as well.  If you want to figure for the ratio of stupid people, that could add another layer to the question.

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2007, 05:47:34 PM »
Ron, do you know why wood warps? It's about drawing in more moisture then it already had. When modern wood products are made, they are chopped down from trees in different parts of the country, sometimes kiln-dried, and shipped off to places where the moisture content is greatly different from where they were made. Once wood reaches ambient moisture content, it doesn't change shape very much at all, as long as the moisture of the climate doesn't shift too greatly seasonally. This discounts green wood warping as the inherent moisture seeps out, since live trees contain significantly more moisture then the ambient atmosphere would allow for.

Also, swinging a 2x4 is as different from swinging something designed for warfare as is swinging a piece of rebar. Yes, there is significant difference in how aerodynamics affect how it works, as well as center point of the mass of the object, total weight of the object, and how the object is used to get the most out of it. I very much doubt that a tool that can be used in ambush to decapitate a horse could be defined as clumsy.

As I have stated before, most weapons absorbed by the American tribes afterward fit a role that didn't exist or were perfect matches for. The Precursor to a tomahawk prior to 1492 looks very similar to a tomahawk in 1792, and is used mostly the same way. This cannot be said about a Macuahuitl. The combat role is the same, but the shape and usage is different. Artillery would definitely be adopted by the Mexica, that I am 100% sure of. It would be taken full and complete, since the Mexica had nothing of that nature. A sword to replace their swords? That's where I get unsure that the technology would be overrun. Someplace to look might be the Maya. I don't know for sure, since the information regarding it is little to none, but I am pretty sure the Maya were using traditional Mesoamerican weapons 20 years later, when it was their turn.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2007, 12:48:45 AM »
"When it was their turn" is an interesting concept.  Since the Maya had no trade or diplomatic relations with European powers before they met them in battle, they were as much caught off guard as the Mexia.  A better example is still the natives of the current United States, who did have long-standing trade relations with European powers and therefore adequate time to get their hands on steel equipment

The relatively exact match is in line with my basic assumption, and the one Guspav verified from art describing the Tlax. warriors using Spanish swords - a steel blade sword would in fact be effectively an exact match for the macauhuitl.  (Not a rapier or fencing foil, but a real saber or wide-blade sword.)  The length and weight are similar, the cutting properties close enough that one could be substituted for the other without substantial change in training or tactics, and the steel weapon would prove enough better balanced and more reliable to justify the conversion.  That was the basis of my belief that the Aztecs would have adopted European swords, while the New England tribes did not.  (New England had no equivalent of the sword - they had hatchets, bows and spears, but no swords, so they took European steel for everything they needed but never really adopted the sword as a weapon.)

The questionable conversion would be the guns ... bows could very likely prove superior in every aspect except heavy armor penetration.  Bows shoot faster, are lighter, and don't have the technical problems associated with keeping a matchlock fuse lit in the rain, or keeping your powder dry, or not blowing yourself up with the powder.  That's betting a lot of resources on the assumption that your biggest threat will come from armor.  Again, the New England tribes tended to adopt steel blades immediately, but their attraction to guns didn't really develop all that fast until after rifling - when firearms actually started giving some significant advantage in range and accuracy.  (That's WAY after the scope of this mod.)

And my problem with wood doors in Wuhan (central China) wasn't the wood warping from uneven moisture, but just drawing mildew and paint peeling because it was wet.  There are water-related problems besides warping ... there is also rot and mildew, which are somewhat harder to control.  And I'm not sure you could call those "modern" wood products ... a lot of wood in China is dried just by stacking it up and waiting.  Ironically, the Aztecs had developed the lumber kiln, although there's no way of knowing how much they were actually used.  (Somebody dug up an Aztec wood kiln years ago, can't remember where now ... but at the time, they were pretty certain that's what it was.)  Anyway, yes, I do know why wood warps ... I've done some carpentry back growing up.  That didn't fix my problem with rot, mildew and peeling paint because all the wood was perpetually water-logged.


Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2007, 03:01:18 AM »
"When it was their turn" is an interesting concept.  Since the Maya had no trade or diplomatic relations with European powers before they met them in battle, they were as much caught off guard as the Mexia.  A better example is still the natives of the current United States, who did have long-standing trade relations with European powers and therefore adequate time to get their hands on steel equipment

Actually, no, it is a bad comparison. The Natives of the United States had weapon technology significantly less then the empires further south. This would be more like comparing the engineering of the Roman Legions and the Celtic Tribes around AD 43. Sure, you can do it, but really what does it show except that relatively close areas don't always have the same technological level?

As for guns, this is an example of what I am stating. Guns weren't adopted right away because the combat role was already filled by bows, and the advantages of the early gun couldn't compete with the entrenched concept of the bow combined with the effectiveness. There's quite a bit more I can state on the subject, but I can easily concede that north American tribes didn't adopt guns right away because of lack of effectiveness. I'll bet all the tea in China and Tibet that the Cherokee adopted European cannons quicker then they adopted extensive guns though. Not knowing anything about Cherokee military history, I can't be sure. Artillery didn't exist in the Native arsenal because siege warfare was still very primitive on the continent at the time.

As for Adoption of the weapons by the Tlaxcala, the image the lienzo de tlaxcala was supposedly a picture of the Tlaxcala well after the conquest. This image was also done significantly later and with spanish supervison.

And despite what you think, there is no doubt there was significant European contact with the maya in situations where the Maya weren't caught off guard. 1527 was the first attempt at conquest by Francisco de Montejo, He was defeated but returned in 1531. In 1540 his son took over. When the Xiu Maya converted to Christianity it allowed a solid enough road by the Spanish to finish off the majority (but still not the totality until late 1600s). Just because the fall of the Maya isn't as popular doesn't mean there wasn't significant conflict there. There was probably more fighting involved there then the rest of Central America, though a lot less is known.

I can get into quite a bit more detail about the wood. Let's just leave it at your "I did some carpentry growing up" doesn't quite trump my "I do carpentry as a profession", and leave it at maybe MR. Riptokus knows what he's talking about this time at least eh?

Having maintained both a 9mm Colt, a M16A2, and a M240G in the hot, humid jungles of northern Oahu, Hawaii, I might know something about maintaining steel weapons in jungles. Granted, these were usually only for 5 or so days at a time, but these were in situations much more similar to what the spanish soldiers and what native warriors would be in then what you have probably done (not knowing for sure, I leave that open. I'm not discussing this with your brother. For all I know, he might have a different opinion on the situation)
Let me make it clear, it is a non-stop issue. You are resting for a minute? Pop out the oil and quickly apply a light coat. Check your cloth, make sure it's not contaminated with water. Forgot to do it at the last stop? Enjoy your rust spot. It will grow if you don't eliminate it, regardless of the usage of oil. Stopped for the night? Check the hard to reach spots. Sure, you've got to be more OCD with a gun about it then a sword, but still.

Bottom line? I don't see higher technology levels of the natives equaling a sure increase of European metal weapons. I can see that it IS possible, but it's not a sure thing. There is more to the question then "technology", such as contact with European culture, and whether or not those weapons are seen to be on par by the warriors who use it. I still strongly disagree with your statement that a Macuahuitl is a clumsy weapon and that iron is superior. Even you must admit that Obsidian has a better edge then steel, so as long as a Macuahuitl has balance and control equal with a steel sword, then it can be said that a Macuahuitl is on par, if not better, then Spanish Swords. That leads logically to, Steel weapons wouldn't be adopted of and by themselves. That isn't to say that outside forces couldn't change this, such as the Spanish insisting they abandon the "pagan" weapon they used to use which served such an important religious role. The more the Macuahuitl played into religion, the more likely the spanish would attack it purely for that merit. Remember, the Spanish are the ones that burned all the "works of the devil", and the lack of an intact weapon of that sort is odd, considering there is quite a bit of junk from even older then those times found in areas that the Spanish didn't "Christianize" so throughly. If that weapon itsself was seen as a symbol of the region, think of what would have happened? Also in the before mentioned lienzo de tlaxcala, there is an image of books, costumes, weapons, idols, and a bunch of other things being burned. The loss of heritage is horrific, and hinders our ability to truly learn from history. THAT is why book burnings are so wrong. You may create a moral justification for your world view for 500 years, but every civilization eventually falls, and the next one that comes is lesser then it could have been had you not destroyed a way simply because it was different then yours.

*Edit- Forgive the rather odd statements that might be in there where the correct word wasn't used quite right (like stopped for the knight. There, fixed that one. Damned if I know what I was high on, it's bedtime, goodknight! ;)*
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 03:06:04 AM by Riptokus »

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2007, 03:48:46 AM »
I don't think you said that much that was all that different than what I said ... you're just being very argumentative on a couple of very minor points.

One, you are assuming that, since obsidian sharpens to a very fine edge, that it also makes a superb weapon.  That was not the issue.  The issue with weapons based around obsidian in wood is that the stones chip, break, or fall out and the wood splinters when you hit things with them.  This can be helped by using good, heavy hardwoods and more wood in general, and by assembling them more carefully, but it's not going to be an easy process.

Test it if you don't believe me on that.  Make some flint hatchets, and get a cheap steel one for comparison.  (Use a cheap steel one, so you can't say it's comparing the best of one to the worst of the other.)  Beat on some stuff and see which one works better.  See which one is most difficult to keep on the handle, and which one is the biggest pain to keep sharp.  (One could say obsidian is not flint, but flint and chert were also used in Mexico, so the point seems thin.)  See if you can get a stone weapon head that is as light and handy as the steel one, without it breaking.  If you really want to make a test of something, try putting some stone blades into a board the way the macauhuitl was made, and try to make them stay there when you saw on something with it.

That test should convince just about anybody that, while stone weapons can be quite effective, they pretty much always prove less convenient than metal ... heavier, more oddly balanced, harder to build, harder to keep together and sharp, more likely to break when you really need them, just generally annoying. 

Trying to keep your blade oiled would be annoying, but not like having to replace a dozen stones every time you use it.  And oiling a polished steel blade is not as bad as trying to keep a complex machine working, especially one that is already prone to problems.  I mean, you had to stop and oil an automatic rifle ... you didn't have to oil your knife or your shovel ten times a day.  That's because knives and shovels are a lot easier to maintain than something with 100 moving parts in the trigger group alone.  Keep the comparison valid.

Therefore, I would say that they would be reaching for an increase in metal weapons whenever possible.  That would be seen as the function of getting better technology.

The guns would be a slightly different story, because until the flintlock, guns were extremely unreliable.  (They still had quite a few problems up until sealed cartridge ammunition and smokeless powder, but that's another story.)  (The stupid M-16 still never works, but that's yet another story.)  It would be extremely likely that the Aztec would adopt metal arrowheads, and that their woodworking industry would begin using metal saws, planes and such in the manufacture of bows and arrows.  It seems less likely that they would adopt guns in large numbers, due to a number of inherent drawbacks ... for the same basic reason that Spain was still using a large number of crossbows (i.e. guns were no better than crossbows at the time).  It's not an issue of technology if the technology in question is no better than the previous one.

And the Cherokee, Creek and Seminole adopted flintlocks pretty readily ... but that was a lot later, and a lot better guns, than what we're talking about here.  By then, firearms really were starting to be an advantage.

The Maya met Europeans several times in battle, but they never had a long-standing trade relation with them.  They didn't get any European-type metal weapons to speak of (except maybe a few they took off the field), because nobody gave them any, nor taught them how to make their own.  If you assume a longer trade-oriented contact, then the model will look more like the previously cited Cherokee and Iroquois, who had diplomatic and business relations with English, French, and Dutch settlements, and so had a chance to pick up European metalworking skills.  That's the "what-if" we need to consider here.

Offline hayate666

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2007, 04:07:46 AM »
Riptokus:
Perhaps some European history is in order :green: Comparing the technology of the Romans and Celts like that is horribly incorrect. The Romans adopted most of their weapon smithing skills from the Celts, such as the chainmail and helmets they used. Celtic weaponry was among the best available at the time and is hard to replicate even today. Celts even invented several things we still use every day such as soap, which is a better way to clean yourself than the olive oil the Romans used. As far as the Romans are concerned, a lot of what they used is stolen in one way or another from other cultures.

Roman civil engineering had one big advantage over anything else in the classical world and that was concrete. They used concrete to build practically every complex building they had and it was only possible to build things like that due to concrete. Prime examples are the Pantheon, the aquaducts and the Colosseum. Celtic engineering allowed for little of that scale, since most or perhaps all buildings were made of wood. Yet a lot of archeological finds indicate that even the Celts had extensive buildings.

The real difference between Romans and Celts was that of military doctrine. The Celts believed strongly in individual achievements, heroics and ambushing, while the Romans would use complicated battle formations in open warfare. The succes that the Roman military achieved was mostly due to their tactical ability to keep supplying fresh troops to the battle line and just mindlessly persisting until either they or their enemies were dead. The Epirote king Phyrrus eliminated several Roman legions in Italy, but the Romans weared him down due to sheer attrition. 
=====================================================================================================================================

I really can't say that much for the use of weapons, but when you look globally, no other culture that encountered steel kept using weapons made out of wood. The evolution of the main materials used is always wood/stone --> copper --> bronze --> iron --> steel. Wooden weapons must have been used all over the world. I even believe the Aztecs might have been using the "atomic bomb" of neolithic weaponry, but it still doesn't change the fact that it probably was inferior in several ways to steel weaponry.

All in all, it seems likely to me that they would have adopted steel weapons, but how long it would take to properly implement them is open for debate.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2007, 05:14:24 AM »
Heck, I looked right at that bad example on the Celts and Gauls and technology, and forgot to say anything about it.  Indeed, Roman technology wasn't much, but they covered for it with economics and sheer stubbornness.  Amazing how effective raw determination can be ... see also Russia beating both Napoleon and the NAZIs, for more recent examples. 

--------------------------------------------------

The debate is not just how long it would take to implement them, but exactly how ... which weapons and/or armor/equipment would be adopted relatively quickly, which ones would likely be largely ignored.

My operating theory is that the sword would come to replace the macauhuitl, steel axes and maces over stone ones, European halberds to replace tepoztopilli ... wood clubs for taking prisoners would be retained.  Metal arrowheads, spear and dart points to replace stone ones.  Horses would be adopted at first opportunity.  Guns would probably not be adopted immediately - too much overhead for not enough gain.   That would roughly match the pattern of the tribes that were not wiped out. 

Armor would probably be adopted more slowly than metal weapons, since it both requires more metal and adds more weight and difficulty in moving through a jungle (which, in turn, makes you easy to ambush).  Not saying they wouldn't adopt armor, but saying it would be slower and more piecemeal than the weapons.

I'm also operating on the assumption that these things would be replaced piecemeal, as particular individuals or groups got their hands on the necessary equipment.  As such, it would depend greatly on local production and trade, not specifically on a government policy.

Riptokus, as best I can understand him, seems to be arguing that the Aztecs would not convert to steel weapons, or only in relatively rare examples or if forced to do so by the Spanish, because neolithic weapons are somehow better, or due to tradition and fear of rust.  (Or possibly fear that their M-16's would jam in Hawaii.)  I can't quite follow that ... I've been trying, but I just can't quite pick up on the thread of logic that supposedly holds that together.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #26 on: November 05, 2007, 11:15:27 AM »
hayate666
I am aware of the differences between the Celts and the Romans. Engineering requires abstract math, even if it is with concrete. What was the developmental level of the Celtic mathmatical knowledge? I'm not saying in EVERYTHING were Romans superior, I am just saying as a whole, you can't really use Celtic technology to explain what would happen to Rome if China invaded them around 43 AD.

As for what happened on individual bases around the globe, no one can find an example like this because it isn't matched in history. You make the same argument Ron keeps making that I find as the fundamental flaw of your arguments, and why this still isn't settled. You assume that because it's made from wood and stone, it's neolithic in a European sense of the word. Inferior and outdated. I make no assumptions of that nature.

Ron, there is a vast difference between a hatchet and a sword, no matter what you make out of it, and there is a vast difference between a tool and a weapon of war. Tools have often been converted to weapons yes, but how often does this go back the other way? Can you, who has run so many tests with weapons and materials, honestly say that cutting a tree with a hatchet compares to cutting flesh and armor?

My theory is thus-

Some of the weapons the Mesoamerican peoples had, such as the Macuahuitl and the tepoztopilli, were of equal effectiveness and advantages that they wouldn't be adopted without an outside influence forcing it on them. Things that the spanish brought that there was nothing to compare, such as horses and cannons, would be adopted very quickly. Things that were quite unique, such as guns, would probably be adopted piecemeal and in small doses.

My thoughts on armor run exact of Ron's.

My Assumption of the Mexica forces differs from Ron. I believe that with armies numbering in tens of thousands, ensuring everyone has their own weapon becomes a responsibility of the leadership of the mobs. As a result, I firmly believe that government policy influences what the stronger side of the mix is. I do agree that the Mexica could supply their own weapons though, so agree that the odd steel equipment might pop in anyway.

The difference between me and Ron lies in our disagreement about the Spanish weapons being superior. If Ron thought about it, he could find PLENTY of examples in history where European settlers have forced their way of doing things on the natives, regardless of the effectiveness of the old ways. "Christianizing" was a fact of life when it came to interactions between Europeans and Natives, and the Spanish were notorious for burning the very culture of their conquered people to make it easier for them to absorb them.



Stating the "Neolithic weapons" are inferior based only on the fact that they are neolithic is not the way to win this argument. Your statements so far that I can find to actually measure the weapons are these-
1) Wood Rots, so the weapons with a base of wood are harder to maintain
2) The blades inside the wood would jump around on impacts, and damage the wood holding it together
3) The Stone weapons weigh more then steel weapons
4) The Stone weapons aren't as well balanced as the Steel weapons.
5) The parts that wear out on a stone weapon would wear out too fast to be worth it when compared to the speed of sharping a steel weapon(Rope, Bindings, Blades)

Each of these I diagree with. Every one of them are affected by how the weapon is manufactured, and can be said about a badly made steel weapon as well.
Are there any other things about the inferiority of the Mexica weapons you can think of? Let's get a comprehensive list.

Duuvian

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2007, 06:12:30 PM »
Which would be faster to make, given the creator has roughly equal experiance with both processes and has all the materials? Assuming better than poor quality, but not masterpiece. Also, how long does it take to become skilled enough to make decent quality macuahuatls versus swords? Also, would the Mexias (A) Have knowledge of iron deposits and (B) how to extract and refine?

Another question is, was there another European country that would have had the ability and benefitted from a trade relationship with the natives had they lasted against the Spanish?

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2007, 07:08:18 PM »
That was a pretty complete list of why stone weapons have problems ... I'll go over it again and regroup it:

1.  Wood is generally at least as hard, if not harder to maintain than steel.  It draws moisture and is harder to dry.  It rots.  It splinters when hit with other weapons.  None of these points are critical, but they certainly do not encourage the use of wood bodies on weapons.

2. Stone is inconvenient to sharpen, and breaks, chips, or dulls badly.  Stones must be replaced constantly.

3.  It is also irregularly shaped, transfers shock strangely, and is inconvenient to mount in a handle (of any design).  This usually results in the handles or wood bodies of stone weapons being heavier than should be necessary, in order to keep the blades in place.  The irregular shapes also tend to wear the handle and/or cut the bindings, unless the stone is VERY carefully shaped.  Related to this, stone blades are severely limited in size (you can only get a stone blade about six inches long, max), which creates more mounting and binding problems.

4.  It takes a lot of time and effort to get a good sharp stone weapon.  Added to #2 above, this creates a logistics issue.

Now, I have made a few of these, and a lot of other people have made a lot more, and everyone I have ever seen testing a stone weapon has come to this set of conclusions.  None of these issues are immediately fatal (i.e. a stone weapon does "work" in the most basic sense), but each is a big enough problem that most people are going to want to go to metals at first opportunity.

Riptokus, by your own statements, you have never made or tested a stone weapon or tool of any design, and you have never handled a real sword.  Test these things, and tell me if I'm wrong.  You're talking to a bunch of people who are swordsmen (myself, Guspav, half the people on this board), trying to tell them how a sword works.  Don't make a conjecture based on nothing... ("but it killed a horse", as if horses are immune to attacks by steel two-handed swords).  Come up with good test results to demonstrate your point.  Because about a hundred million historians, re-enactors, and hobby weaponsmiths disagree with you... they all seem to think people generally go to metal blades at first opportunity, and for a number of very sound reasons.  Therefore you must prove your point, as it goes against accepted logic.

----------------------------------------------

Duuvian:

Those are good questions.

Speed to make the initial weapon ... that would be hard to say.  It would depend on too many factors - where materials were mined, what kind of quality the materials were, and exactly what kind and quality of weapon he was trying to make.  Also how you measure it ... are we accounting for the time necessary to cut trees and dry wood?  How about mine coal or produce charcoal for the forge, kiln, and such?

However, the continual need to replace stones in the obsidian weapons and/or reshape them when they chip would certainly add to the total logistics time there.  So in the long run, likely the obsidian would be the more costly to field, as measured in total man-hours... assuming comparable logistics being in place for each.

Skill level is an odd issue, because in the case of producing stone blades, skill level just determines how many you break before you get a working one.  Enough people chipping stone, even with very poor skills, can eventually get a few decent blades ... just a question of man-hours.  For producing the rest of the weapon, skill level just determines how well this thing will stay together.  Likewise, a poor sword will dull often or be in danger of bending or breaking.  There is no standard for exactly how many hours of training it takes to achieve a certain degree of reliability... no objective measure there.

As for mining, building forges, that sort of thing ... that's where the whole "technology level" thing was going to come in.  It will take a certain degree of time to learn how to find iron, dig it up, and work it.  It will also take a certain degree of time to get set up to do this on a larger scale.  It's also going to take some help from someone who has done this before, and the more help, the faster it will go.  Setbacks like having somebody burn your smithy are going to slow the process.

And on trade, that was discussed earlier.  Other European powers should certainly be included in the game, eventually, even if only in the role of advisers to the enemies of Spain.

Offline hayate666

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2007, 12:54:40 AM »
I am aware of the differences between the Celts and the Romans. Engineering requires abstract math, even if it is with concrete. What was the developmental level of the Celtic mathmatical knowledge? I'm not saying in EVERYTHING were Romans superior, I am just saying as a whole, you can't really use Celtic technology to explain what would happen to Rome if China invaded them around 43 AD.
Silly me. I really saw you talking about native Americans instead of the Chinese invading Rome. ;) I have no idea how advanced Celtic mathematics were, but it's pretty reasonable to assume that they had basic understandig at the very least. There were trade relations with the Greeks, which would have made it possible to encounter more complex mathematical knowledge. Minor wooden "aquaducts" or watering canals of pre-Roman Celtic origin have been found and extensive temple complexes existed at the time. Granted, they weren't as sturdy as the stuff the Romans put down, but their engineering was no minor feat either.

In general, history shows that for the most part European cultures are closely related and the differences are rather minor, yet very distinct, and exist mainly on social habits or religion. The difference between Romans and Celts (or any "barbarian" for that matter) weren't as big as the Roman historians would have you believe.

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2007, 10:46:29 AM »
That was a pretty complete list of why stone weapons have problems ... I'll go over it again and regroup it:

1.  Wood is generally at least as hard, if not harder to maintain than steel.  It draws moisture and is harder to dry.  It rots.  It splinters when hit with other weapons.  None of these points are critical, but they certainly do not encourage the use of wood bodies on weapons.

2. Stone is inconvenient to sharpen, and breaks, chips, or dulls badly.  Stones must be replaced constantly.

3.  It is also irregularly shaped, transfers shock strangely, and is inconvenient to mount in a handle (of any design).  This usually results in the handles or wood bodies of stone weapons being heavier than should be necessary, in order to keep the blades in place.  The irregular shapes also tend to wear the handle and/or cut the bindings, unless the stone is VERY carefully shaped.  Related to this, stone blades are severely limited in size (you can only get a stone blade about six inches long, max), which creates more mounting and binding problems.

4.  It takes a lot of time and effort to get a good sharp stone weapon.  Added to #2 above, this creates a logistics issue.

Now, I have made a few of these, and a lot of other people have made a lot more, and everyone I have ever seen testing a stone weapon has come to this set of conclusions.  None of these issues are immediately fatal (i.e. a stone weapon does "work" in the most basic sense), but each is a big enough problem that most people are going to want to go to metals at first opportunity.

Riptokus, by your own statements, you have never made or tested a stone weapon or tool of any design, and you have never handled a real sword.  Test these things, and tell me if I'm wrong.  You're talking to a bunch of people who are swordsmen (myself, Guspav, half the people on this board), trying to tell them how a sword works.  Don't make a conjecture based on nothing... ("but it killed a horse", as if horses are immune to attacks by steel two-handed swords).  Come up with good test results to demonstrate your point.  Because about a hundred million historians, re-enactors, and hobby weaponsmiths disagree with you... they all seem to think people generally go to metal blades at first opportunity, and for a number of very sound reasons.  Therefore you must prove your point, as it goes against accepted logic.


I get my information from purly local sources, people who use swords locally. This is why I am trying to pin down your claims on the Macuahuitl being inferior. I am now planning to build one based on the following information, to hand to my sword-using friends. Lacking a real Macuahuitl or the real details of construction, It won't be accurate.

Materials-
Obsidian obtained from South Central Colorado
Oak 2x4 if available at the local hardware store, if not, some other hardwood if available, if not, cedar, then pine.
Some Hemp Twine.

Construction Method-
Based on the description here-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl
I will then cut a handle out of the wood equalling about 1/5th the length. This will be wrapped with the Hemp twine for grip. Knowing nothing about the properties of a good handle, I will taper it similar to a club and wrap the twine to make it comforable in my hand.
I plan to carve blade places out for the blades, relatively uniform. They will be an inverted wedge, since with my method of attachment, that will probably hold the blades in best. I am then going to get chewing gum, chew it into a set thickness, and attach 10 blades to each side using the chewing gum, filling the wedge completly. I then plan to go to several people around me who use swords and have them tell me how shittily of a job I did, since I have never made a sword in my life before and expect it to be complete crap.
With this weapon though, I expect to debunk the following thoughts

2) The blades inside the wood would jump around on impacts, and damage the wood holding it together (Stone is inconvenient to sharpen, and breaks, chips, or dulls badly is debunked by the stone used, obsidian, which last I checked, was famous for breaking sharp)
3) The Stone weapons weigh more then steel weapons (I didn't quite understand what you were saying with your addition, but I suspect that either I will debunk it or prove that with experience manufacturing this weapon I COULD debunk it.)
4) The Stone weapons aren't as well balanced as the Steel weapons. (and take alot of time to create and keep sharp)
5) The parts that wear out on a stone weapon would wear out too fast to be worth it when compared to the speed of sharping a steel weapon(Rope, Bindings, Blades)


Lacking any comparable material that the Mesoamericans had to properly treat and seal their wood, I will be unable to debunk the rot to your satisfaction. My experence with carpentry gives me hundreds of modern methods to do so, almost all of them possible by ancient people in some form, but my ability to prove that they were used is nil.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_treated_wood#History
Gives you an idea on some of the methods used today by us. I suspect the Mesoamerican method would have been a combination between the selection of wood and soaking it in a particular kind of oil prior to use. Since they were picked up and carried, I doubt it was common practice to allow them to sit idly next to a ant's nest, which would be common with houses, or use them as shelter against the elements, such as doors, therefore they would be likely to last awhile without extensive treatments, with their main requirement being they don't get destroyed if a little rain falls on them. Without you having a greater understanding of wood, the only way I can really prove point 1 is by stating that this is made of wood-
http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=173811
400 years, I don't know any warrior who would need a weapon for that long. BUT IT'S A CHAIR! How long would a Macuahuitl need to last for it to be worth it to produce them? My estimate is that if a Macuahuitl lasts 10 years with no significant degradation, it would be just fine. Swords don't have to be Heirlooms to be effective in combat. I believe that a wood Macuahuitl wouldn't be threatened by rot, if manufactured correctly, for at least a timeframe measured in the years. A little water falling on it, or not wiping off the blood, wouldn't hurt it as bad as doing that with steel would, I believe. But since I don't know the processes, I can't build an exact replica, so I can't test the ability for it to weather the weather.

I suspect that the Macuahuitl I make will be both acceptably light enough to be usable, Balanced enough to be usable, and easy to maintain. I suspect that with just a small bag, I will be able to quickly replace broken blades, if necessary. I also suspect that my attachment method will prevent the stone from jumping around and damaging the wood. I strongly suspect that even with my crude manufacture of the weapon, It will preform beyond your expectations. I also suspect that a real Mesoamercian Weaponmaker could make something on par with the stuff that came from Europe. However, not having access to a real form of this weapon, we will never know for sure. The point of this isn't to prove definitly, it is just to prove enough to pass the point of "acceptable plausibility". Enough for you to agree that yes, more factors then technology level were involved with the rejection of the Macuahuitl. For no examples to remain means there was a pretty through war declared against this piece of equipment. This is keeping with the Spanish philosophy of the time of burn the culture to the ground, so ours may take better root.


Which would be faster to make, given the creator has roughly equal experiance with both processes and has all the materials? Assuming better than poor quality, but not masterpiece. Also, how long does it take to become skilled enough to make decent quality macuahuatls versus swords? Also, would the Mexias (A) Have knowledge of iron deposits and (B) how to extract and refine?

Another question is, was there another European country that would have had the ability and benefitted from a trade relationship with the natives had they lasted against the Spanish?

Duuvian,
Later in history, there were quite a bit of examples of Europeans allying with local natives against the other powers. Trade was also something they all liked. Natives had a lot of gold, Europeans had a lot of Trinkets. Gold was more useless to natives then trinkets, and it was the opposite for Europeans, so typically they both thought they cheated the other. This makes for a great trade relationship, so no doubt there would be extensive trade. As for weapon manufacture, Mesoamerican Macuahuitls would be more prone to be able to be manufactured assembly line style. Think of a Macuahuitl like a disposable razor. You have the handle, you just have to go out and buy the blades. Since different stones have different densities, fitting the right stone in the right slot determines how effective your weapon will be, as well as balance and everything of that nature. Macuahuitls seem to me to be very customizable, but Ron's got a serious point here. Obsidian blades will wear out significantly quicker then iron swords. I suspect that Iron swords are harder to manufacture on an individual level, but just like the disposable razor, you gotta keep buying the blades!

hayate666,
I wasn't aware that the Celts were so much closer in technology levels at the start of empires on Europe then the northern tribes at the start of Empires in the Americas. The Mesoamericans had extensive things going on for them that more northern tribes hadn't even thought could exist. The results of Divergent Evolution were most pronounced in Central America. This is where corn came about, an invention that was unmatched in the rest of the world. There was more in Central America and Western South America that already worked then in the rest of the Americas, therefore if any place retained technology, these places would. Unfortunately, This part of the world was the part that met the Europeans first, and they had the misfortune of meeting the Spanish. The Spanish were fresh out of wars of extreme hatred and religious intolerance, and had developed a practice of burning the culture currently there to prevent the other side from easily taking the place back. They razed the Empires of Central America to the ground, and salted the earth of the technological marvels that came from there. The Maya developed a calendar which is much more accurate then what we have. We never adopted it, partially because of it's "pagan" roots, but mostly because we already have one. That doesn't make it primitive or junk, it is just something that would fill a role we already have filled, and the Maya culture was demonized early enough that we could go around that piece of equipment that worked better then ours.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2007, 07:18:03 PM »
That test will prove quite adequate.  I fully expect you to find the following:

1. The oak 2x4 with a bunch of stones in it will generally prove at least as heavy as a steel sword, if not more so, and most certainly more nose heavy.  Not enough to make it unusable, but enough to make a steel blade more desirable.

2. Sharpening obsidian will prove harder than you expect.  Shaping it to fit a groove in a piece of wood will not be easy.

3. Whenever you cut something, some of the stones will chip.  After a dozen or so cuts, it will become quite dull and every stone will need replacement.  (Discovery Channel did this experiment once, and found this to be true.  I tested it on flint, not obsidian, but had the same results.)  If the stones are not mounted well, some will remain in the target. 

4. If you get enough oil on the wood to prevent it from drawing moisture, your gum for sticking the stones in place will probably not hold well at all.  For the sake of fairness, I'll give you a tip there ... try a strip of leather around the base of the stone, and then force it into the grove.  It will probably hold better than gum or most glues, and certainly reduce damage to the wood caused by stones being replaced and/or moving when a target is hit.  If the leather seems to have too much flex to it, after the stones are in place, try hardening it with boiling oil or boiling water.  I don't know for certain if that will help, but many tribes of the now eastern U.S. wrapped stones in leather before mounting them into wood handles, to reduce shock against the wood, so I suspect they were on to something.  No matter how you mount them, it likely won't be easy to keep the fool things in place.

5. If crossed with another weapon blade (especially a steel one), the wood on the weapon's body will take rather substantial damage, and/or the obsidian will be prone to shatter.

Now, to really get the proper effect, you need a few more things: 
One is a machete, so you can compare the test cuts.  I say a machete, not a high-quality sword ... to avoid the question of quality of weapon design.  Comparing your weapon to a gardening tool should give the Aztec weaponsmiths the benefit of the doubt.  (We want this to be fair, after all, because I am quite interested in the results.)  Do compare similar cuts, because most people are quite prone to underestimate cut damage from long blades - and so when they test any one weapon (regardless of make or design), they get the impression that it is more effective than is realistic because they have nothing to compare to.  (This is how the myth on Japanese swords cutting anything got started ... real test cuts compared to nothing.  Fact is that good European or Chinese or Arabic blades will do the same thing.)

Two is a target for your test cuts.  If you or people you know are deer hunters, there is little use for the deer's neck (no edible meat on it) - it's a good target for test cuts, has spine bones to provide a target with substantial bulk.  If you cannot use large portions of a dead animal, you will need something else.  The cheapest targets I know are bundles of green river cane - they get similar resistance to Japan's practice of using wet bamboo wrapped in straw mats, but pretty much require zero construction time to go down to a river and collect a few hundred of them.  Wrap them in a bundle at least 12 inches across.

Of course, if you want to add armor to that test, you'll get even more interesting results.  (Stone weapons WILL go through armor, but they will chip and dull VERY badly in the process.)

Another tip - be sure to strike with a bit of a slicing motion.  If you just club something with an obsidian blade, you will just leave a row of little scratches on the target... but with just a little slice to it, the sharp edge of the obsidian should produce a pretty substantial wound.  If you have any buddies who are good with Japanese swords, they can probably explain this visually better than I can in text.  I would hate for such a well-planned test to have skewed results because you have minimal experience with long bladed weapons.

I am really interested in your results ... not just because I am pretty sure of the outcome, but because not nearly enough work has been done on this sort of thing.  Be sure to take lots of pictures and/or video, to record this.

Offline guspav

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #32 on: November 08, 2007, 11:29:35 AM »
Wow, that experiment sounds awesome, I really want to see the results :)

Riptokus

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2007, 04:32:07 PM »
The notes I have on it says pretty clear it was an adhesive and not binding, so I will either need to go with glue, or gum. I suspect gum might work because when it hardens, it can fill in gaps. If the wood is made into the shape similar to what a bell drill creates when setting up for pylons, and the base of the obsidian is thicker then the point(which is the easiest way to get it anyway), the drying gum, well packed into the grove will function by expanding to add an extra bit of holding power. Between the two, I would be quite surprised if my blades pop out. Damage to the wood is what I will be looking at, as well as ability to replace the blades.

 My original tests were pretty simple. First I was going to give it to some people who have used swords before to swing around a bit, then I was going to take it to a tree stump and hack the crap out of the stump for the purposes of destroying the blades and possibly the rest of the weapon, and then I was going to remove several of the blades and replace them, and repeat the previous test. These tests weren't to find out how much damage these weapons can inflict. We already know what they can do via Spanish records. Considering I've heard steel swords do the same thing, I suspect the weapons are comparable on effectiveness, depending on how well the material can hold up. That means what needs to be tested is balance and how well the material holds up. I wish I had more information on the materials since the very wood they used affects every bit of information. Oak reacts infinitely differently then Douglass Fir, which is different then Mahogany. There is just too many variables here, that ultimately all I can do is make one that "looks" right, and try to make conclusions off of it. I will definitely take many pictures, and perhaps some video recordings if possible.

Offline guspav

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2007, 04:50:56 PM »
hey, I just found this, it might help you :)
http://www.macuahuitl.com/
I wouldn't use the spiky design though, the prismatic blades one is probably the better since prismatic blades are supposedly very easy to get from obsidian cores (by hitting them the right way which I completely ignore).
I'll check on typical wood types from mexico's valley to see which were more likely to have been used, though more tropical varieties might have been used also.

EDIT: ok, here are some:

Salix bonplandiana (willow)

Crategus pubescens (hawthorn)

Cupressus lusitaica (cypress)



« Last Edit: November 08, 2007, 05:16:24 PM by guspav »

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Troop Types and Weapon Mix
« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2007, 05:17:16 PM »
Unless this thing is extremely heavy, a tree is going to cause the blades to shatter like glass.  Something a little softer would probably make a more reasonable test.

Also, you may get those blades in there so well that you can't replace them.  If you do get them glued into a groove like that, be careful not to cut yourself when replacing them.  And again, try lining the groove with a strip of leather to reduce damage to the wood.

As for bindings, I think it was mostly the Maya weapons that used rope bindings.  (I sent Guspav a model for one of those earlier.)  Same point, different design.