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Thread: Fun Fact: Ansalon is immune to attacks from Nomad Horsemen

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    Default Fun Fact: Ansalon is immune to attacks from Nomad Horsemen

    I've been listening to a series of lectures about great nomad empires of Eurasia, and noticed that post-Cataclysm Ansalon seems to be completely immune to that particular type of warfare.

    The largest plains are on Solamnia, but are largely controlled by the Solamnic Knights. The Horselords of Nordmaar are hemmed in by marshes and the Khalkists. Khur is hemmed in by the Khalkists and the sea. The Centaurs of the Plains of Dust have to cross the Kharolis mountains or cross the Newsea. The Plains of the Goodlund Penninsula likewise are seperated from civilized kingdoms by the fact that it is a penninsula. The Estwilde could produce all sorts of threatening barbarians and monsters, but doesn't have the plains to produce the highly mobile horse archers and lancers that central asia produced. Ansalon neither has the vast plains of Eurasia, nor places where the small plains Ansalon does have can easily enter civilized areas.

    There are lots of places for forest-dwelling or mountain-dwelling infantry barbarians like the Germanic tribes, or places vulnerable to sea attack from Norse-style barbarians, but a horde of tens of thousands of horsemen doesn't seem to be something that would be a threat for Ansalon's people.
    The official canon of Dragonlance, for a variety of reasons, is not as good as it could be. I do it better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    I've been listening to a series of lectures about great nomad empires of Eurasia, and noticed that post-Cataclysm Ansalon seems to be completely immune to that particular type of warfare.

    The largest plains are on Solamnia, but are largely controlled by the Solamnic Knights. The Horselords of Nordmaar are hemmed in by marshes and the Khalkists. Khur is hemmed in by the Khalkists and the sea. The Centaurs of the Plains of Dust have to cross the Kharolis mountains or cross the Newsea. The Plains of the Goodlund Penninsula likewise are seperated from civilized kingdoms by the fact that it is a penninsula. The Estwilde could produce all sorts of threatening barbarians and monsters, but doesn't have the plains to produce the highly mobile horse archers and lancers that central asia produced. Ansalon neither has the vast plains of Eurasia, nor places where the small plains Ansalon does have can easily enter civilized areas.

    There are lots of places for forest-dwelling or mountain-dwelling infantry barbarians like the Germanic tribes, or places vulnerable to sea attack from Norse-style barbarians, but a horde of tens of thousands of horsemen doesn't seem to be something that would be a threat for Ansalon's people.
    That is certainly true of the post-Cataslysm Ansalon. Pre-Cataslysm on the other hand had much more landmass with open plains on it. Especiallly in Central Ansalon between the Khalkist Mountain and Kharolis Mountains. Humans started as nomadic plains people (the Ogre in the Moutains and Elves in the Forest) afterall. The first Human empire of Ergoth was formed out of such a group as they unified everyone and settled down in the open areas and hills of Eastern Ansalon. But yes, after the Cataclysm mass mobile warfare is much more limited since so much open land sank into the seas. If you think on it, Naval Warfare was important before, but now its practically critical.

    Though I should add, that if you control the ultimate high ground. All those mountains, hill, rivers etc. don't matter as much. Let the sea cows keep their wooden (and flamiable) ships. If you have dragons and some flying citadels at the very start and no one else does. You dominate the situation. Just because they entered the War of the Lance too late doesn't make them useless (its like after WWII "nah those jet fights won't go anywhere.") Why Ariakan didn't correct that for his own effort later is almost a sin (no one was sure how aircraft carriers could be used in the 20's and 30's, countries still built them). Once a new powerful weapon is seen by the world, there is no getting ride of it.
    Last edited by DaemonAngel; 02-18-2017 at 04:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaemonAngel View Post
    Though I should add, that if you control the ultimate high ground. All those mountains, hill, rivers etc. don't matter as much. Let the sea cows keep their wooden (and flamiable) ships. If you have dragons and some flying citadels at the very start and no one else does. You dominate the situation. Just because they entered the War of the Lance too late doesn't make them useless (its like after WWII "nah those jet fights won't go anywhere.") Why Ariakan didn't correct that for his own effort later is almost a sin (no one was sure how aircraft carriers could be used in the 20's and 30's, countries still built them). Once a new powerful weapon is seen by the world, there is no getting ride of it.
    Are flying citadels really that useful as a weapon of war when the other side has dragons? Flying citadels don't have any intrinsic anti-dragon capability, so they are just as vulnerable to an enemy dragon attack as any land based castle unless the flying citadel is being escorted by its own dragon force. As such you pretty much have to have dragon supremacy over an area to be able to successfully use a flying citadel in battle, and if you already have dragon supremacy over an area then you don't need a flying citadel because you can just use your dragons to devastate any land targets that the citadel could have attacked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    Are flying citadels really that useful as a weapon of war when the other side has dragons? Flying citadels don't have any intrinsic anti-dragon capability, so they are just as vulnerable to an enemy dragon attack as any land based castle unless the flying citadel is being escorted by its own dragon force. As such you pretty much have to have dragon supremacy over an area to be able to successfully use a flying citadel in battle, and if you already have dragon supremacy over an area then you don't need a flying citadel because you can just use your dragons to devastate any land targets that the citadel could have attacked.
    Notice all that rock under any FC? Carve out a cave network and you have a place for your dragons to stay.

    Are Aircraft Carriers useless when the other guy has aircraft? So long as it has it's own aircraft, No. Even when the other guy has air dominance you can still strike and move out of reach before he can respond.

    The key advantage is a piece of friendly territory in the form of a mobile base you operate from. That makes an FC less vulnerable than a fixed land base (ie castle).
    Last edited by DaemonAngel; 02-19-2017 at 10:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaemonAngel View Post
    Notice all that rock under any FC? Carve out a cave network and you have a place for your dragons to stay.
    But dragons don't need a dedicated place to stay. They can operate from (and sleep on) undeveloped ground just fine.

    Are Aircraft Carriers useless when the other guy has aircraft? So long as it has it's own aircraft, No.
    Aircraft (with the exception of VTOL capable aircraft) need a lengthy airstrip to launch and land and require basing facilities for fuel and maintenance, so a mobile air base is obviously invaluable for them. But dragons don't have the same needs that aircraft have. A dragon can take off and land on pretty much any stretch of ground, and they don't require special fuel or complicated maintenance to keep them operational, so they don't require an air base to operate out of.

    Even when the other guy has air dominance you can still strike and move out of reach before he can respond.
    Except flying citadels move at a snails pace. Remember in Test of the Twins, Tanis was at the High Clerist's Tower when Kitiara's flying citadel flew by, and (flying on dragonback) he still made it to Palanthas hours ahead of the flying citadel. If the citadels are that much slower then dragons there's no way they will be able to make quick hit and run raids in areas where the opposing force has air dominance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaemonAngel View Post
    That is certainly true of the post-Cataslysm Ansalon. Pre-Cataslysm on the other hand had much more landmass with open plains on it. Especiallly in Central Ansalon between the Khalkist Mountain and Kharolis Mountains. Humans started as nomadic plains people (the Ogre in the Moutains and Elves in the Forest) afterall. The first Human empire of Ergoth was formed out of such a group as they unified everyone and settled down in the open areas and hills of Eastern Ansalon.
    Yes, that's why I specified post-Cataclysm. The Southern Plains of Kharolis was another source of horse nomads that warred with Solamnia. Istar was threatened by Desert nomads of Dravinaar (forefathers to the Khurs), and even managed to put themselves on the Throne of the Kingpriest a couple times.'

    That said, even pre-Cataclysm there is no vast plains such as we find stretching from Hungary to China on Earth. So all plains nomads on Ansalon should have institutions that lead to taxation and relations with neighbouring countries. Persians who will accept earth and water of submission rather than Seljuk Turks who will devastate Anatolia and turn it into a horse pasture for a few generations.

    But yes, after the Cataclysm mass mobile warfare is much more limited since so much open land sank into the seas. If you think on it, Naval Warfare was important before, but now its practically critical.
    Yeah, you can see how the minotaurs are flexing their power now since they have access to sea power, easily taking Silvanesti. For some reason though, their Emperor Faros wants them to be bogged down in a overland infantry war routed through geographically distant Silvanesti. What a moron. They could conquer the entire eastern penninsula through sea power without even breaking a sweat.

    The people who have no need to have the advantages of Sea Power explained to them are the Saifhumi people. They have colonies all over Ansalon's Northern Coast and even managed to install themselves as the Northern Ergothian ruling caste and military. Ergothians are described as fairly light skinned pre-cataclysm in all of the novels (Elven nations, Dwarven nations, Ergoth trilogy) and dark skinned post cataclysm. The Defenders of Magic trilogy of novels notes that there is a dark skinned ruling class over a lighter skinned peasantry.

    It is my belief therefore, that the dark skinned mariners came from an unknown northern continent following the Cataclysm, using the invention of triangular lanteen sails. They raided, traded, conquered and settled like the vikings of our earth.

    Though I should add, that if you control the ultimate high ground. All those mountains, hill, rivers etc. don't matter as much. Let the sea cows keep their wooden (and flamiable) ships. If you have dragons and some flying citadels at the very start and no one else does. You dominate the situation. Just because they entered the War of the Lance too late doesn't make them useless (its like after WWII "nah those jet fights won't go anywhere.") Why Ariakan didn't correct that for his own effort later is almost a sin (no one was sure how aircraft carriers could be used in the 20's and 30's, countries still built them). Once a new powerful weapon is seen by the world, there is no getting ride of it.

    Sure, but that requires a huge investment in magic and mages. So much so that I doubt even a powerful nation like Nereka or Solamnia will have more than one or two at a time, and most nations will have none. Like most aircraft carriers today. Plus, committing a flying citadel to direct combat is usually a bad idea, since that is how the Dragonarmies lost theirs. Flying citadels are vulnerable to magical attack (dispel magic in particular) and when lost the cost is catastrophic. The Dragonarmies lost a flying citadel when invading Palanthas because a high level kender and a gully dwarf got on board. They never recovered from that.

    Also, while dragon warfare is indeed exciting, Ansalon is short of dragons for the moment, what with the loss of a entire generation of eggs to corruption, dragon purges, fighting off chaos demons, and dying in warfare or to adventurers. Frankly, I think most are lying low in hidden lairs or in human form.
    Last edited by ferratus; 02-19-2017 at 01:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    But dragons don't need a dedicated place to stay. They can operate from (and sleep on) undeveloped ground just fine.
    I think Dragons, like humans, do better when they have access to water, shelter, and food. A flying citadel provides all of these, plus a warm place to sleep.

    Aircraft (with the exception of VTOL capable aircraft) need a lengthy airstrip to launch and land and require basing facilities for fuel and maintenance, so a mobile air base is obviously invaluable for them. But dragons don't have the same needs that aircraft have. A dragon can take off and land on pretty much any stretch of ground, and they don't require special fuel or complicated maintenance to keep them operational, so they don't require an air base to operate out of.
    That is all true, though dragons do tire overland, so having a base of operations to return to, rest and eat is ideal.

    Except flying citadels move at a snails pace. Remember in Test of the Twins, Tanis was at the High Clerist's Tower when Kitiara's flying citadel flew by, and (flying on dragonback) he still made it to Palanthas hours ahead of the flying citadel. If the citadels are that much slower then dragons there's no way they will be able to make quick hit and run raids in areas where the opposing force has air dominance.
    Yes, the flying citadel is most useful for logistics as far as I am concerned, and for encampment of military forces in enemy territory.

    But it is actually fairly vulnerable, and the magical power required to create such a thing might be better spent building a fleet of flying ships. Less eggs, more baskets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    Yeah, you can see how the minotaurs are flexing their power now since they have access to sea power, easily taking Silvanesti. For some reason though, their Emperor Faros wants them to be bogged down in a overland infantry war routed through geographically distant Silvanesti. What a moron. They could conquer the entire eastern penninsula through sea power without even breaking a sweat.
    Is there anything on the eastern peninsula really worth conquering though? Its pretty much Ansalon's backwater.

    It is my belief therefore, that the dark skinned mariners came from an unknown northern continent following the Cataclysm, using the invention of triangular lanteen sails. They raided, traded, conquered and settled like the vikings of our earth.
    Excellent theory. Very plausible and it helps connect Ansalon to the rest of Krynn.

    I think Dragons, like humans, do better when they have access to water, shelter, and food. A flying citadel provides all of these, plus a warm place to sleep.
    But if the flying citadel is operating in conjunction with land forces then you can have all the water, shelter, and food the dragon might need down on the ground with your ground forces. (And even if you want your dragons to operate independent of your ground forces, dragons are certainly capable of finding food and water on their own and don't appear to be very vulnerable to the elements either, so they don't have a great need for shelter.)

    That is all true, though dragons do tire overland, so having a base of operations to return to, rest and eat is ideal.
    Eventually they do, but from what we see of the dragons in the novels they seem to have enormous overland range. (In the story Kitiara's Son for instance, Flare flies from Storm's Keep to Solace to Solanthas to Storm's Keep again and then to the High Clerist's Tower with only brief rest stops.)

    Now what the flying citadels would be useful for would be if you were planning a trans-continental invasion and needed to get your dragons across a vast ocean. (Which is probably what Ariakas actually intended them to be used for as there is a reference in Dragons of Spring Dawning to him starting to plan for the conquest of additional continents beyond Ansalon). But since Storm's Keep is clearly within the flight range of dragons, Ariakan wouldn't have needed flying citadels for his initial invasion of Ansalon. (He probably would have started building flying citadels once Ansalon was secure and it was time to invade Taladas.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    Is there anything on the eastern peninsula really worth conquering though? Its pretty much Ansalon's backwater.
    Yes, but there are still resources to be gained from it, even after the desolation. Then there is the monasteries of Clare-Elian which would be worth looting.

    But mostly the Minotaurs should control the Penninsula so they control the Bloodsea. If they want to control ship traffic in the Bloodsea, ignoring the Goodlund penninsula and Kathay is frankly very foolish. Ships need places to dock and resupply, and colonies on the northern and southern coasts of the Goodlund penninsula would make the journey to Ambeon a lot easier. At the very least, they should seek to control the Mistlestraits passage between the Misty Isles of Clare-Elian and the Goodlund Penninsula where all of the ship traffic is going to go. You can tax every ship that will want to go through there (almost everyone) rather than on the open ocean.

    Finally, to harp on about how incompetent an emperor Faros is, he could launch countless raids against the Ogres of Kern on 3 sides with his sea power, disrupting the slave trade, looting and burning all the food production of Ogrebond and the Ogrelands, and even land a massive invasion force on a beach two days march from Garantha over largely open country. If he is worried about taking the Ogres on in direct combat (I'm not sure why, given the minotaurs would beat the Ogres in morale, equipment, discipline) he could use sea power to harass the ogres to exhaustion. while his men are fat and happy from the spoils, retreating to the sea whenever the Ogres offer resistance.

    Instead, he sends military forces from Ambeon up through barren rocky mountain passes of southern Blode, where surprise, surprise, they get ambushed and slaughtered. On more than one occasion I might add.

    But if the flying citadel is operating in conjunction with land forces then you can have all the water, shelter, and food the dragon might need down on the ground with your ground forces. (And even if you want your dragons to operate independent of your ground forces, dragons are certainly capable of finding food and water on their own and don't appear to be very vulnerable to the elements either, so they don't have a great need for shelter.)
    A baggage train is always one of the most vulnerable parts of an army's movement, so just having the ability to carry all of your supplies in a relatively secure way would be valuable. As well, it would be good to cycle troops in and out of it to rest, even if an entire overland army couldn't fit on it.

    I think for logistics, a flying citadel works fairly well. It is also good if you want to quickly establish a base in enemy territory. As a weapon of war it isn't extremely useful, but its value in logistics and occupation are obvious.


    Eventually they do, but from what we see of the dragons in the novels they seem to have enormous overland range. (In the story Kitiara's Son for instance, Flare flies from Storm's Keep to Solace to Solanthas to Storm's Keep again and then to the High Clerist's Tower with only brief rest stops.)
    Eh, MW&TH write what fits the story and don't sweat the small details. That's for us obsessive fans to do. Flare would have to fly as fast as a Cessna with less rest stops in order to pull off that journey in the time that was given. Other times, it takes dragons many days to cross a section of Ansalon, and Kitiara couldn't overtake the Percheron on Skie before it sailed into the Maelstrom. I think 40 mph rather than 200 miles an hour is more reasonable, with a rest needed every few hours to drink, feed and perhaps powernap like a migratory bird. They can perhaps reach 200 mph in short bursts when attacking, like a predatory bird, but over long distances I don't think it makes sense.

    Plus, do we really want to make Ansalon that small?

    Now what the flying citadels would be useful for would be if you were planning a trans-continental invasion and needed to get your dragons across a vast ocean. (Which is probably what Ariakas actually intended them to be used for as there is a reference in Dragons of Spring Dawning to him starting to plan for the conquest of additional continents beyond Ansalon). But since Storm's Keep is clearly within the flight range of dragons, Ariakan wouldn't have needed flying citadels for his initial invasion of Ansalon. (He probably would have started building flying citadels once Ansalon was secure and it was time to invade Taladas.)
    That sounds reasonable too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    A baggage train is always one of the most vulnerable parts of an army's movement, so just having the ability to carry all of your supplies in a relatively secure way would be valuable. As well, it would be good to cycle troops in and out of it to rest, even if an entire overland army couldn't fit on it.
    Did medieval armies even use baggage trains that often? I was under the impression that they mostly just relied on foraging (especially when they were in hostile territory.)

    I think for logistics, a flying citadel works fairly well. It is also good if you want to quickly establish a base in enemy territory. As a weapon of war it isn't extremely useful, but its value in logistics and occupation are obvious.
    The only problem I see with using flying citadels for logistical support (besides the immense cost of creating the citadel) is that it will be difficult to get supplies off the citadel down to any forces on the ground.

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