AoW: Lessons Learned III
The first discussion regarding the recent conflict laid the groundwork for future discussions. The topic at hand is the lessons learned in that battle, and sharing ideas / successes to be considered for conflicts going forward. The goal is to get people thinking, and used to communicating with those they may not usually encounter in their day to day lives. Come prepared to participate in the discussion; it's pretty dull for those who sit quietly.
Event is open to all AoW members and associate members (Whispers, Iron Guard, Solace, Inquisition), and those who have been invited; if you would like to come but aren't invited, one can presume OOCly an invitation was possible where reasonable. If you're not sure, please ask!
June 6, 2021, 5 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Crown - Academy of War - Headquarters
Comments and Log
Jasper, an unflappable scoundrel, 2 Redrain Guards arrive, following Deva.
It's warm enough right now that there's not actually *anyone* practicing in the courtyard; the big doors have been propped open to let a little of the breeze through, even. The mist from the fountain helps. The front doors are still manned by guards that hold them open for the minutes around arrivals, then open them (after big knocking) for those that arrive after the meeting has started. Just in case anyone is talking about things that are sensitive, see. The long table at the back of the hall has both snack food and good drink, the hard alcohol back amongst the lighter fare (and tea! so much tea). Seating has been organized into a rough circle, with a combination of chairs, couches, and chairs-with-tables. Still, it's setup to allow for ease of group conversation. Natalia is leaning against one end of a couch as people arrive, tumbler already in hand. New arrivals are greeted with a nod of her head, a smile.
Jamie has finally managed not to be late.
The big Greenmarcher gives Natalia the same polite nod and smile in return, along with a, 'I told you I wouldn't be late' look. And then he, too, is going for a tumbler and pouring something - a couple fingers, but not overmuch. "Good morning, Miss Whisper," he says in his rumbling baritone, as he does so. So polite, this one.
He finds himself a seat as others filter in, bowing and nodding to those who come in after him.
"Chairwoman, thank you for having me," Deva greets Natalia upon arrival, offering a crisp bow and a grateful smile for the Whisper hostess of the hour. "I have meant to engage you and the Academy for far, far too long." Clad in dark red leathers and armed to the teeth, she looks every inch like she's ready to disappear into the forest for gods know what. Crimson hair is tousled and loose, like she forgot to do something with it (or simply didn't care.) She circles around to a seat as well, not far from Jamie, greeting the man with a brisk nod and the most cordial of smiles.
Cassima arrived a few minutes early, she has a -thing- about punctuality. Her guards are left outside once again, though she brings her assistant along with her. The bubbly young woman is all smiles and bobbed curtsies while the Princess moves more sedately, offering a nod towards Natalia and a measured curtsy towards Jamie before securing herself a seat. Looking to Natalia once more, she murmurs, "Thank you for allowing this to be an open forum, Whisper Natalia. I truly enjoyed the last meeting, and I believed I learned much from it. I look forward to expanding my knowledge base again tonight." Deva's arrival has her rising to offer a curtsy to the Princess.
"Princess Deva," Natalia greets warmly, lifting her glass in a sort of toast. "I am glad the world finally offered you enough time to be able to join us," she says. Cassima and her assistant get a nod each, as does Jamie. "You are most welcome, Princess Cassima," she answers Cassima. "Everyone benefits, the wider perspective that we have for these. I appreciate you finding the time; it serves the Compact well." Finally, she looks to Jamie to answer, "Good morning." People are given time to settle in before she circles around, moving to claim a spot on the couch she was leaning against. As the doors close, she suggests to the group, "I thought today we could discuss what changes should be made to the troop composition of units, when taking into consideration that our opposition may have mages. Adjustments that ought to be made in training. Unless one of you has another thought to propose?"
Jamie bows politely to both Deva and Cassima, having met neither of them in the past. The big Greenmarcher seats himself after the others of higher station do, listening to Natalia. "I believe that's probably a necessary conversation," he murmurs. "Especially considering the current circumstances."
"Princess Cassima," Deva bows to the Thraxian princess, catching the name that Natalia uses to greet with as well. "I have heard tale of your brilliant skill with numbers. Are you acquainted with my cousin, Princess Gwenna? I hope I am not assuming too much when I wonder if you would get along splendidly with shared interests." With an easy smile, she sinks into her chair and takes on a posture more comfortably indolent than proper. "I am very glad the world finally did too," she cracks a smile at Natalia, nodding in brisk agreement. "That's quite an interesting topic, and one that no easy solution springs to mind for me other than exerting especially great care. With the mage possibilities so... foreign, it makes it difficult to prepare for. Almost like marching in half-blind."
"I don't know that there's an easy solution even if we had all of the information, which just means there's more to talk about," Natalia says, making herself comfortable against the arm of the chair. "What *I* am aware of that we have to take into consideration is attacks from range that explode things, and also those that can take over minds. So that's three different issues to address; two for the different sort of mages themselves, and one for dealing with our own troops that are compromised like that. Breaking it down, I think that it's not as overwhelming as it might otherwise be."
"I'm afraid I would have to meet her again to recall. I'm terrible with names, but I can remember faces!" Cassima responds to Deva with a small shrug and apologetic expression. "That said, I do enjoy a good financial or economics discussion, so I'm certain we would get along on that basis." Turning back towards Natalia, she draws in a deep breath, "This next round of battles will be more difficult for Thrax, I feel. We're still having to deal with our own issues, but as well, we are by far more of a naval fealty than having a large standing army. We will likely need to recruit more land-based agents and trainers to work with them so we can send aid as needed."
Jamie listens to the Princesses and Natalia talk, he adds, "If I could also make a suggestion, Miss Whisper. It may be that the composition of our troops is not at issue, but the problem may be a tactical one, as well. For example - massed units, the infantry square, for example, are long-held traditions that /are/ long-held because they're useful in army-sized conflicts. One... mage..." the Oathlander says the word like a curse, "...may well be able to disable or kill soldiers en mass, from a distance. Thus, there are two considerations:
How do we minimize our own casualties? The second being - how can we make it easier to find and disable, or kill, the enemy's support?" He looks from face-to-face. "Did we have engagements, for example, where skirmishers were engaged, thusly? Was it more difficult to fend them off? In the case of... exploding things. One hundred soldiers is a juicy target. Scattered groups of five - perhaps a waste of effort."
"Couldn't agree more," Deva dips her head and laces her fingers together, dropping that tangle of hands onto the table in front of her. There is a slip of a smile and a nod to Cassima, curious and unbothered. She catches the inside of her cheek between her teeth, gaze narrowed thoughtfully and distantly, as if visually lost in some memory while Jamie speaks. Yet it's clear she's listening, because a shudder jostles her shoulders. "The last thing you want is to be caught by surprise," she murmurs slowly and carefully, as if this simple phrase means something much darker and complicated to her. "Physical location is a factor as well. Is the environment one that can be twisted? And so on."
There's an easy nod of agreement for the addition of tactical discussion; Natalia certainly doesn't argue. As the group settles into conversation she falls quiet, though eventually she does note, "I was advised that in this most recent battle, one of the most successful tactics was a very swift closing of the distance. Some casting of spells is slow, so if a person can get to one of them before it finishes, that type of problem can be dealt with that way."
"That is true, but I think the other issue is that most of this last battle was sea-based. So 'closing quickly' is going to be different between two ships than between two people. The land-based forces ended up in thick jungle that was itself a bit.. unusual. So the tactics there would have been different as well. I think much of what we do is going to be dependent on the battlefield, too. Open fields demand different tactics than forests or mountains or even just hills. I would suggest skirmisher tactics in woodlands, but for fields or valleys, there's likely going to be a lot of enemy troops between us and the magic users." Cassima muses aloud as she taps her fingers lightly against a sheaf of paper. Legs crossing as she lifts a small shrug, "But I've also heard that the next 'issue' arising is going to take us into the Oathlands, possibly the Northlands, with rumblings of the Traitor building up something big."
Jamie catches Deva's reaction - he's seen it, and shared it, before. He offers the woman a wan smile, and an almost imperceptable nod. "Always true. You never want the element of surprise to be on /their/ side. /Or/ give them the benfit of terrain." He glances back to Natalia, a slightly chagrined expression crossing his face. "I know I have some bias here, because of my focus on small-units and ambush." He gives a nod to the Thraxian Princess' comment as well. "On land, at least. On sea..." The big Greenmarcher manages a smile and a spread of hands. The sea was not his realm, apparently. "I would put forward that skirmishers are least useful on the open plain, and areas like forests, mountains and jungles are where they should excel. Heavy troops and horse have difficulty moving through that terrain." He pauses for a moment. "...normal jungles, normal forests, and normal mountains." He does sit back and stop to think though, especially when Cassima makes her point about mountain valleys. An especially difficult situation.
"So in such instances, archers targeting the mages from afar could potentially interrupt the spellcasting if not wipe the mages out with firepower," Deva wonders, tapping a finger against her lips at Natalia's words. "The last known location I am aware of is Whitepeak," she murmurs with a nod toward Cassima. "I think you are right, that his path will next l ead throuhg the north and the west. I have heard no word from our scouts, so I've no firm news." She then slides a look to Jamie with a wordless question on her face, one that for now remains unvoiced. "We will have to be more adaptable than we've ever been."
"What kinds of things could be done to assist our current forces in the shift in focus? Such as Princess Cassima's sailors, when we deploy in the Oathlands. Or any of the rest of us, if the road takes us north. Is it worth starting some drilling in new environments?" Natalia's questions aren't really directed anywhere, more tossed to the center of the circle to see if they spark any thoughts.
Nodding to Deva, Cassima offers, "My reports have been of whispers coming out of the Oathlands. Whispers of his movement around that area. But given that that particular foe has already been a thorn to the Northlands, I presume that whatever he has planned will not bode well for you and yours also." She looks back to Natalia and nods, "I don't think we'll be bringing our navy along to this next one. The sheer logistics of trying to get armed ground forces from Maelstrom to Sactum is... breathtaking. Its a very, very long trip. We would be better off trying to bolster our ground forces with new recruits and have them trained properly in the correct setting, by those that know those tactics better." She motions towards Jamie, "As my lord has said, skirmishers are most effective in areas where thick foliage and undergrowth makes horses and heavy armor a drawback. So perhaps we should send troops to the more forested holds to be trained properly. Most of the Grayson vassals are from heavily forested areas. The Northlands," she nods to Deva, "are unparalleled when it comes to hilly or mountainous regions. In the Oathlands, Houses like Greenmarch and Keaton will know the best tactics for skirmishers in their forests. The Telmarch is a renowned martial House that is placed in a very, ah, strategically excellent position, with mountains west and north, forests all around, river east and south. I expect they would have much wisdom to share in such matters."
Jamie's quiet for long moments as he considers that. "I don't see how..." He stops and starts again, slowly. "I don't see how we could, at first glance. Maybe take some select soldiers - the corporals, the sergeants, and train them in the environment we expect to fight in. They return, and train the rest of the body of soldiers but..." He slowly shakes his head. "I don't know that we have that much time." When Cassima speaks, Jamie can only nod his head along with her words, her reasoning perhaps giving him an idea.
"I agree, your Highness. At least, from House Greenmarch - we could take select soldiers from /our/ army and send them to the other Houses to train them in local forests. That would cut the time down by half, at least. As far as the north - if a similar House might do the same, one that's more... specialized in its usage of terrain, like we are. Potentially we could do both at the same time."
Deva nods grimly to Cassima, the Princess' words received with a grave air. "The North would, of course, be willing to engage in such training and preparation. Without knowing where to first focus, all we can do is make as educated a guess as we can and adjust accordingly as new information comes to light. And hopefully that will emerge sooner rather than later." There is the fiddling of a ring around her thumb, twisting it with furrowed brows. "House Stahlben is as versed in mountain terrain as any I can think of. All of the north is to a degree, of course, but I imagine their proximity to the Everwinter may provide particularly enlightening views. We could certainly do both. It would not harm, at this point."
Settling back again, Natalia sips from her tumbler and listens to the conversation, nodding along with points made. She interjects nothing further for the time being, though it's clear she's making note of the points made.
"Now, obviously, I cannot speak -for- Thrax.. but I can certainly see if any of the Voices think it worthwhile to look into, so they can reach out to arrange such things with your Houses respectively. And if you want to draw in other Houses, such as Stahlben, then of course, the more training being given, the better off we will all be." Cassima nods towards both Jamie and Deva before looking back to Natalia. "I'm afraid I can offer suggestions and ideas, but I lack any authority to make things happen. That said, I will be glad to speak with those who do have that authority to see if they are open to such possibilities."
Jamie nods his head in agreement, "I also cannot speak for House Greenmarch, but I am certain my cousins would listen. We all put the Compact first. I also lack the authority to make things happen, as Princess Cassima put it. But I am more than willing to bend the ear of those who do for long after they tire of hearing from me." He smiles, wryly. "Or they agree." He does say, after a moment, "The only thing I can say is - House Greenmarch is not a large House, and our numbers are limited. It is actually easiest for us to get up through the Great Road to the north," he nods to Deva, "Or sail to the closer holds."
"I can inquire of the other Northern houses. I find that I can make these decisions for Redrain thanks to my dear brother's attempt at punishing me with responsibility," Deva admits with a cheeky grin and a roll of her eyes. Siblings. "It sounds as if we have some further discussions to take care of, then," she says while beginning to rise to her feet. There's a slide of a look toward her assistant, who hovers impatiently by the door with some notes in hand. "Please do let me know if any of you need any particulars or investigation from Redrain."
"I do not believe any of us are intent on solving these problems today," Natalia clarifies, offering a warm smile to go with the words. "These discussions are to bring up questions and take time to think about things we haven't yet -- having a direction to go in and leads to follow up on is helpful for all of us. I think everyone here has yet another bit of work to add to your plates, so you're very welcome for that. Did anyone have any final comments before we wrap up today?"
Jamie just shakes his head, though he does look to Cassima. "Perhaps you... might've noticed, your Highness. Knowledge of the sea is not something I am equipped with. Perhaps, sometime, I could ask you some questions about naval warfare?" He stands as Deva rises as well, offering a bow in her direction. "Also, your Highness, I found your opinions and experiences very insightful." Finally, to Natalia, he offers, "And as always, thank you for putting this together, Miss Whisper."
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