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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Total War History » Dragon Blade: The latest in a line of historical fantasy films.
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Topic Subject:Dragon Blade: The latest in a line of historical fantasy films.
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 02-13-15 03:45 PM EDT (US)         


The core idea of Dragon Blade is basically this: what would've happened if the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire had fought each other over control of the Silk Road?

The idea is far-fetched, but attractive because it's always fun to imagine how two superpowers who never had close relations with each other historically would've handled each other if circumstances had been different. Rome seems to be the aggressor in this movie, so I'm going to guess that the Han will manage to rally the other kingdoms who are being threatened by their ambitions and defeat them in the end.

What are everyone's thoughts on the subject?

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-16-15 06:13 AM EDT (US)     1 / 4       
Mine would be a question of motive?

The Silk Road, as I understood it, allowed West and East to trade.

If East and West fought over it, no merchant would travel over it and therefore fighting over a road that nobody uses is pointless.

Still, as a what-if? film, it does pique my interest. Rome did very well because it had (mostly) disciplined legions and excellent equipment while their opponents as a rule did not. I wonder how they would have fared against opponents who had just as much discipline, equipment that was in the neighborhood of being as good as theirs, but far more numbers.

It would come down to tactics, logistics, and the gladius/scutum combination against the spear/shield and the Han masses.

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DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 02-16-15 01:29 PM EDT (US)     2 / 4       
I'm thinking the main reason the Romans would be trying to take control of the Silk Road would be so they could secure all the revenue from the tolls that could be exacted from merchants wishing to use a secure and proven trade route.

Another advantage the Hans would have over the Romans would be their use of massed crossbow fire. The Han used large groups of soldiers armed with the Repeating Crossbow or Chu-ko-nu to give their armies considerable missile support and to counter the peoples of the Steppe (such as the Xiongnu) who were experts in horse archery and cavalry tactics. The repeating crossbow wasn't as powerful as traditional European crossbows, but they had an incredibly high rate of fire and their bolts were often coated in poison (and even human excrement at times) to increase their lethality. The Roman legionnaires were proven to be capable of withstanding a prolonged missile onslaught thanks to their discipline and the use of the testudo formation, but if the Han crossbowmen were supported by pack animals and wagons bearing several hundred spare cartridges of crossbow bolts similar to what Surena had with his camel train at Carrhae then I think the Romans would be in a bit of a pinch.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-20-15 03:26 AM EDT (US)     3 / 4       
The Romans at Carrhae were also surrounded in the desert and cut off from water, plus the Parthians had some heavy cavalry to break up the testudos, exposing the men inside for when the horse archers return. Rinse and repeat until done.

The Romans would have lerned from this, and in fact captured the Parthian capital several times afterwards, despite the myth. The Han, on the other hand, had never faced a testudo.

Point is, archery alone does not win battles. COmbined-Arms does. Even the Surena had cataphracts as well as lots and lots of horse archers. Archery alone may not win battles, but it can significantly help- unless the opponent can counter the archery. The Romans could.

So we are back to it being an interesting confrontation.

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ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 02-21-15 04:07 AM EDT (US)     4 / 4       
Hmm, what an utterly bizarre idea. And how the hell do you garrison a 4,000 mile long road when the land on either side of it is presumably enemy territory? I'm not familiar with the Han crossbow, but if it was in anyway comparable to the European medieval crossbow it would probably go clean through a Roman shield.
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