Rome vs. Mordor

Discussion in 'The Tavern' started by Yuli Ban, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Some of the most fascinating Reddit posts ever.

    The army of Mordor took a wrong turn and goes up against the Roman Empire at its height..

    Kronos9898
    I believe people are seriously underestimating the Roman legions. First, let us talk about the size of the Roman Army under Trajan. The largest number I can find for the orcs is 250k at Pellanor Fields. This represented the vast bulk of Sauron's strength, if memory serves. The Roman Legions under Trajan are estimated to be around 350-400k. Keep in mind that a large majority of these troops are battle-hardened career soldiers.

    While there may be initial shock value in the first engagement, the hallmarks of the Romans were adapting their tactics to suit their enemies. The Romans developed sophisticated methods to deal with war elephants, for example. It is unreasonable to assume they would not do the same for Mumakil etc. Keep in mind that Mumakil where effectively routed by a force of 6,000 Rohirrim cavalry. To say that the Romans are not capable of the same with their already established superior number is ludicrous.

    As to the orcs themselves, they are usually portrayed as generally being inferior to men in their fighting abilities. They have less morale, fighting skills, and arguably worse equipment then then the Romans. They lack the discipline, unit cohesion, and fighting experiences of the Romans. While Mordor would be able to make initial strides with what I would consider specialized shock troops, they would soon be cut off and surrounded as Mordor's basic line infantry falls to legionnaires.

    Keep in mind the martial mentality of the Romans, these are the people who lost an estimated 50-70k men at the battle of Cannae. To put that in perspective, the Romans took as many causalities in ONE DAY as the United States took in the ENTIRE VIETNAM WAR. Further consider population levels at the time: loosing 60k men when the entire population of Rome was around 400k was an enormous loss. This is also not counting the casualties they had already sustained from Trebia and Trasmine which approximates to around an additional 40k losses. Even after sustaining these horrendous loses against arguably the greatest general in history, the Romans absolutely refused to surrender. They went so far as to outlaw grieving in the city itself. After these setbacks, the Romans adapted their tactics (weird!) and continued fighting for another 10 years before finally claiming victory.

    This should give a small glimpse into the absolute single-mindedness of the Romans--they will not be intimidated, they will not back down, and they will not cut and run. You will have to kill each and every single one of them to defeat them. Ok, that last sentence was a bit of hyperbole, but you get the point.

    So before this gets any longer:

    1. Unless Mordor can effectively disorganize and completely rout the Roman army in the opening engagement of the battle, they will be outmaneuvered and defeated.

    2. Without the prospect of a decisive battle to thoroughly defeat the Romans, this is even worse for Mordor, again they are defeated.

    3. While Sauron's presence greatly enhances the capabilities of Mordor, if he does not have the ring, the Romans still win. Albeit with significantly greater casualties.
    Ninja edit: also people, think about how Mordor has to advance through the fire OF THE ENTIRE ROMAN ARTILLERY CORPS. Think of the beginning of Gladiator, now multiply that by a thousand.

    Edit: I figured I would hop back in and address some points that people brought up.

    The reason I left the Nazgul out is due to their small numbers. While yes they would undoubtedly cause hundreds if not thousands of Romans to flee, there are only 9 of them. Their numbers are far too small to affect the outcome of a battle involving perhaps 1 million plus combatants. In fact, in some regards the Witch King is wasted as a combat asset. He is of far more value actually commanding the armies of Mordor than as a combatant. As to the points of the nine attacking the Roman artillery positions, while this sounds good in theory, in application it has major issues.

    1. The numbers they are attacking. There is only 9 of them, and while they may be extremely difficult to kill, the felbeasts are not, relatively speaking. You cannot logically say that felbeasts will survive tens of thousands of archers, scorpions, and ballistas shooting at them.

    2. Assuming that they survive the fall from the felbeasts, they are now cut off and surrounded by literally the entire Roman army. They will kill dozens, hundreds, hell, maybe thousands, but eventually Pullo will throw a pilum through the back of the Witch King's hood, or he will catch a ballista bolt to the chest.

    3. Even if they couldn't be killed, do you understand how large a battlefield this is going to be? One side of the army will have no hope of even seeing the other side, let alone the middle. In the amount of time it will take them to walk around and kill everyone, the battle will be long over.
    Mumakil: these are honestly the best hope Mordor has of winning, but they still have a number of critical weaknesses that I think the Romans would be all too happy to exploit.

    1. The Romans don't need to kill the Mumakil--they just need to panic them. In fact this was one of the primary strategies the Romans employed against actual war elephants. Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but is not this essentially what the Men of the West do in the battle of the Pelanor fields?

    2. The Mumakil are extremely tough, but the riders are vulnerable to a shot from an arrow, balista, or scorpion. The Romans will no doubt seek to exploit this.

    3. An extremely good historical point was made below that the use of catapult on the battlefield was not exactly a thing until the Mongolians pioneered it. However, we must consider that the entire Roman army is here, which means all of their siege equipment. When Flavius Flave sees the giant building-size elephants bearing down on them and he has a onager that can hurl massive stones designed to crush city walls, or pots filled with combustible liquids (tell me one of those on the face of an Mumakil would not panic it), is it that hard of a logical leap to make that he might decide to use them on the Mumakil? Even then, I have a hard time imagining a ballista bolt could not pierce the hide of a Mumakil. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention.
    People seem to not know what I mean when I reference elite shock units. From the historical perspective these where units designed to cause overwhelming casualties and morale "damage" by executing devastating charges into infantry formations. Historical units that fit this classification are:

    Cataphracts: Cataphract - WikipediaScythed chariot - WikipediaWar elephant - WikipediaMolossus (dog) - WikipediaPilum - WikipediaWar pig - WikipediaAuxilia - Wikipedia

    I have been gifted internet Aurum! Thank you kind Senators!
     
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  2. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    DistaNVDT
    There is something to add to this. People often bring up that the monsters will absolutely wreck shit and scare them senseless.

    But look at it like this, there is no way in hell that, after scouting their foe, the armies would be briefed saying "So yeah we're up against these X and Y alien creatures with this size and these capabilities". Romans have a rich culture with lots of mythos, it's guaranteed that they can find similarities between every unit in Mordor's legion, and some monster from their mythology.

    Now what will be the Legion's morale you think, if the info they get fed isn't "we have to fight aliens" but rather "X evil god has sent his legions, we have to stop him." There are no Trolls or Wargs, there are Cyclopses and Cerberi (?). The legions are prepairing to fight the fight that their heroes in the legends have fought.

    They fight for X god against the armies of Y god, facing Z mythological creatures. Their heroes have vanquished creatures like these in the stories of old (so to speak). In their minds, they're not only fighting for their lives, they're fighting with the promise that victory will bring them immortality through legends written about them.

    Edit: in response to people saying about how they'd want to see that speech etc. I saw a new show on National Geographic today called Empire Wars. Seems pretty informative. It talked about the civil war post-Caesar. But the cool thing about the show, in my opinion, is that the actors portraying the historical figures speak in latin, and are subtitled in english, instead of just speaking english. It's still mediocre cgi and greenscreening, but I found it really cool how the speeches they gave to their troops in the "live sequences" were in the same language that these generals used in their time. Gives it a nice historical touch.



    Steel_Within
    Not only that but Romans have fought monsters before. You're a guy that grew up as a farmer in the hills near Cannae. You farmed, and tilled the earth, making your living off wine. You wind up though being called to fight against Carthage, being pulled together as Hastati. You're given a sword and shield, light armor to help form the main line of your legion. You fight against people, get used to chopping and slashing at the foe, fighting with your brother. But one day, you're surprised.

    You see a creature that is much larger than even a deer. Its the biggest thing you've ever seen. Its howling, bellowing out with trunk waving and throwing out. Tusks glinting in metal as it tosses its head about, throwing soldiers before rising up onto its hind legs before crushing men underneath as it falls back forward. And you're expected to fight and kill it.




    I bet most people never thought about how the Romans encountering elephants was like a real life mythological battle. No different than if American Navy units were suddenly fighting Russians riding kraken.
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Anonymusk

    Also, I had heard from my adviser that someone died excavating the siege tunnel at Dura-Europos in a secondary collapse. You can read more about the Roman/Persian Siege tunnel and battle within the tunnel which likely constituted the first known use of chemical warfare on the wiki page for the site. It's what I sometimes tell my students is "The most METAL moment in history"--Romans fighting Persians in an underground siege tunnel with burning sulfur and an eventual collapsing of the tunnel DURING the actual battle (I believe soldiers were found in the tunnel in full kit apparently in mid-battle). I was unable to find anything about the worker who died a secondary collapse of the tunnel, so perhaps my adviser was mistake (or it just didn't make big news outside the circles of Roman Arch, in the M.E.)
     
  4. Berserk

    Berserk Level 8 (Thug) Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Very interesting read. I think you could argue though that Mordor would have the equipment advantage not Rome. A lot of Orcs have a mixture of plate or chain mail as well as cloth and leather, with the more elite Uruk-Hai troops getting full plate. That would probably let them stand up pretty well against the roman first line skirmishers. Their heavy metal cleavers and axes would have no trouble penetrating roman armour, where as the Romans would have to aim their attacks which I would say makes up the difference in any combat skill there might be. Mordor trebuchets and siege artillery would outrange that of Romes.

    I don't see this being a cake walk for the Romans. Mordor would also excel in psychological warfare. A number of its assets would be quite useful in performing night raids, not to mention that Mordor has gunpowder weapons.
     
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  5. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  6. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  7. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    While true, I don't think Sauron ever had a theme song as epic as Caesar's.


    Caesar: I
    Sauron: Nil
     
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  8. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  9. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    In truth, Mordor would win because they have a fantasy race behind them. Not to mention that the Uruk-Hai would probably run the Romans through.
    So let's make it just a little bit more equal.
    The Roman Empire is now led by Julius Caesar with Alexander the Great as his best general. What's more, they have an army composed not just of Romans but also Neanderthal warriors, elephants and woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and cassowaries. What's more, let's give the Romans Chinese technology like repeating crossbows.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
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  10. Berserk

    Berserk Level 8 (Thug) Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Untitled.jpg
     
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  11. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    No discussion of the Palantiri? That sort of long-distance communication and scrying capability is a huge advantage. Even if a Roman column were to find the Mordor scout and capture a Palantir, they wouldn’t have the know-how to turn it to their own use or otherwise deal with Sauron’s mastery of the stones.

    And as for the Witch-King of Angmar, no man can slay him. I’ve never heard of a woman serving in the Roman army, though I could certainly see little Cornelia going the Mulan route in Rome’s time of great need. But the odds of the WK coming up against a woman soldier are pretty slim, and isn’t he functionally invincible until then?

    Still, I think the argument for Rome is plausible in terms of sheer numbers, morale and adaptability.
     
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  12. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    ^ I'm sure there were more than a few women trained in combat, but in "official" matters they were not counted or were written to be men.
     
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  13. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  14. Berserk

    Berserk Level 8 (Thug) Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The problem of the Witch King was addressed in one of the early posts. Even if no one can kill him we know the Fell Beast is quite easy to kill in close combat, so it would just be one invincible guy walking around a massive battlefield. He might kill whoever he comes across, but there is only so much damage he can do before he gets tired out or the battle is over.
     
  15. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    That’s actually an interesting question that has a lot of relevance to LitRPG. What can one invincible warrior do against an entire army?
     
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  16. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Hmmmm....
     
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  17. Mister Bill

    Mister Bill Level 7 (Cutpurse) Beta Reader Citizen

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    Does he get tired out?
     
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  18. Berserk

    Berserk Level 8 (Thug) Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    He's a wraith which I don't think get tired or require food / water. It's debated though whether wraiths have physical bodies that are just invisible. Personally I'm in the camp that believes they do not have physical bodies as Tolkien describes wraiths as being shapeless when they aren't wearing the special cloaks Sauron gave them.

    The main reason people think they do have invisible bodies though is because when you can see into the twilight realm, as Frodo can when wearing the ring, you can see what the wraiths looked liked before fading.
     
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