Author Topic: Troop Types and Weapon Mix  (Read 17242 times)

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.

Riptokus

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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. 
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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. 

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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.

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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.