High Tech vs. the Orb WAS Re: the honing of Vlad

Maximilian Wilson wilson.max at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 13:14:28 PST 2006

On 1/19/06, Ken Koester <kkoester at email.ers.usda.gov> wrote:
> Maximilian Wilson wrote:
> >Advantages that are mine:
> >1. Mass production. If I can make an effective weapon, I can put it in
> >the hands of more troops she has sorcerers. Sorcerers can do this too
> >(spell sticks), but probably not with anything fancy.

> Less than relevant.  It takes quite a while to train a mob to be an
> army, no matter what you equip them with.

There's still a quantitative difference, probably nearly a qualitative
difference. It appears to take a *long* time to train a good sorcerer,
whereas you can make a decent soldier in less than a year. More to the
point, if e.g. motion-sensor guns a la /Aliens/ were found to be
useful, I could quickly deploy them in large numbers. It most
certainly is a relevant factor.

> >2. Mobility. I'll have a much better logistic train than she will, and
> >I can move my troops from place to place more quickly. At minimum this
> >means I'll be able to achive higher force concentration when on the
> >offence.

> Uh, no you won't.  You'll have a nightmarish logistic train, with no way

I think Howard made a good point about conquering vs. invading.
Logistics are way outside my area of expertise, while you appear to
know something about the subject, so to an extent I'm willing to
defer. On the other hand, it's hard for me to see how you can possibly
argue that technology doesn't help me logistically more than sorcery
will help her; your argument implicitly centers on the difficulty of
attacking across the Eastern mountains, which, though important
strategically, has nothing to do with the relative advantages of high
tech vs. sorcery. You may be pointing out the difficulty of
subjugating the Dragaeran Empire, but we might just as well be talking
about defeating a Dragaeran army of conquest.

> >4. Lifespan. If the war is sustained enough, I have more capability to
> >absorb and replace losses. I expect this to have more effect on morale
> >than on actual operations, though. My method of waging warfare will
> >probably seem very fast and brutal from the Dragaeran
> >perspective--early on, Vlad mentions a fellow Jhereg who "works" about
> >once a decade, and yet Vlad carried out forty-something assassinations
> >in the course of 4-5 *years.*

> Oh?  How about random hit squads teleporting into your camps, offing a
> dozen or so people, then disappearing?  Don't think that's going to
> strike your army as being fast & brutal?

I restored the text you snipped, which should answer your question.

> >5. High tech. My huge technological base ought to give me *something*
> >that's usable, even against sorcery. I'd probably try out long-range
> >tank warfare, see if it worked; long-range artillery, same way;
> >high-altitude bombing. This is mostly about testing the limits of
> >Dragaeran sorcery. I'd probably also try the straightforward strategy
> >of ambushing a Dragaeran army on march with a company of soldiers
> >firing automatic rifles and launching RPGs.
> Dunno what you mean by "long-range tank warfare."  Tanks now days can
> hit out to 4000 meters or so with pretty good accuracy against inferior
> opponents (& in favorable terrain which permits said LOS); is that what
> you mean?  RPGs wouldn't be much use against foot soldiers, though, and
> certainly wouldn't be long-range.

That is precisely what I mean by "long-range tank warfare." However, I
also realized that my focus on long-range warfare is a bit gun-shy;
thus, a "straightforward" ambush is not intended to be long-range,
merely conventional. Perhaps regular grenade launchers would be better
than RPGs; I know little about military equipment except that RPGs
seem to have a reputation for being robust and simple to operate, but
perhaps RPG rounds are closer to bazooka rounds than to regular

> >Disadvantages:
> More likely, he makes it rain for days on end along your line of march.
> Cf the Wehrmacht's experiences with Ukrainian mud in '41.

> >2. Teleportation magics. Dragaerans aren't able to mass-teleport
> >armies (see /Dragon/), but I can't effectively defend my perimeter
> >from individual infiltrators. I may have to disperse my forces widely.

> Which makes you more vulnerable.

Which is why it's a disadvantage. Any constraint he can force onto me
is an advantage to him.

Max Wilson

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.