Tibetan

A place to talk about MESHWESH army lists
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:01 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:Regarding cataphracts, this paper is really about the Tibetan army of the 18-20th centuries,
Interesting article, thanks.
Andreas Johansson wrote: I might also mention that Duncan Head has wondered aloud if the Tibetan army was ever quite so cataphract-heavy as conventional wargamer wisdom has it even in the grandest imperial days: apparently contemporary Tibetan art shows too many more lightly equipped horsemen to confidently dismiss them all as nomad auxiliaries.
Hm. Seems reasonable; I'll ask him about it when I write the other email. Hopefully he has the time to respond.
DK
User avatar
Andreas Johansson
Companion-at-Arms
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Tibetan

Post by Andreas Johansson » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:42 am

Pavane wrote:Thanks Andreas - excellent to read your thoughts here.
Thanks :)

Another thought about the Tibetans: The rise of the Tibetan Empire is approximately contemporary with the shift in Chinese armies from the cataphracts of the Northern Dynasties to the lighter cavalry of the Tang (Cataphracts to Elite Cavalry in Triumph! terms). This is usually explained as that the lighter types were more useful on the steppe (whereas the cataphracts had been used to smash things in the generally more cramped conditions of the Chinese interior). Why did the Tibetans, who fought primarily the Chinese and steppe types, continue to prefer super-heavies, whether as the or a cavalry type?
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:31 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote: Another thought about the Tibetans: The rise of the Tibetan Empire is approximately contemporary with the shift in Chinese armies from the cataphracts of the Northern Dynasties to the lighter cavalry of the Tang (Cataphracts to Elite Cavalry in Triumph! terms). This is usually explained as that the lighter types were more useful on the steppe (whereas the cataphracts had been used to smash things in the generally more cramped conditions of the Chinese interior). Why did the Tibetans, who fought primarily the Chinese and steppe types, continue to prefer super-heavies, whether as the or a cavalry type?
I'm not sure those two cultures (Tibet and Northern Dynasty Chinese) were as connected as all that. The warlike Eastern parts of Tibet were more southerly, nearer the Dali, and the Northern Dynasties didn't seem to have much physical contact with Tibet, being buffered by the Tuyuhun and Tangut. And the Tangut continued using heavy armor when they could all the way up through the Iron Sparrowhawks of the Xixia, which is like 12th century or even Mongol conquest.

The question of why the Tibetans and Tangut loved to heavy it up is really interesting, but I wouldn't think they'd switch in response to China switching.

Whenever this sort of question (technological change in warfare) comes up in a wargame forum my first thought is to look for non-wargamer reasons. Partly, I admit, because I'm a contrarian, but also because wargames forums are like the parable of the hammer: if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Which rephrases like this: in a wargame forum, all technological changes in history are interpreted in light of their effectiveness in even-strength battles against historical opponents.

The ultimate example of this is the shift from longbow to gunpowder. It's the posterchild for a wargamer example of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Warfare shifted from the longbow to the gun, therefore the gun should be more effective in wargames. Which is totally bulltwinkies -- in range, accuracy, or rate of fire a trained longbowman outperformed a musket user (much less matchlock, flintlock, or earlier handgonne) until the best weapons of the US Civil War. The longbow fell out of use for logistics reasons -- it took many years of continuous training to produce a single longbowman. And the 15th century rise of the wool trade in England converted fields used for yeomanry into pastures for sheep. As soon as England wasn't in a state of constant civil war, their longbow use evaporated and couldn't recover -- just like France never managed to develop any effective longbowmen in the 15th century, in spite of constant examples of the effectiveness of that tool of war. Logistics, not warfare effectiveness.

So whenever technological change happens within a culture's warfare tools, the first place I look is logistics -- cost, in one sense or another.
DK
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:48 pm

Okay, now I have to paint up my new Khurasan Tibetan army.
DK
Snowcat
Levy
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:27 am
Location: Oz

Re: Tibetan

Post by Snowcat » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:49 pm

David Kuijt wrote:Okay, now I have to paint up my new Khurasan Tibetan army.
That'd be just after the Middle Assyrians, right? ;)
User avatar
Andreas Johansson
Companion-at-Arms
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Tibetan

Post by Andreas Johansson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:51 am

David Kuijt wrote:Which rephrases like this: in a wargame forum, all technological changes in history are interpreted in light of their effectiveness in even-strength battles against historical opponents.
Not sure this would be a terribly good example - in a straight up fight, lightening armour is not an obvious improvement against a shooty enemy. The advantage, if there was one, seems more likely to have been mobility and stamina (which latter is not a factor in most wargames).

Still, if one looks for a extra-battlefield explanation, the first one that comes to mind is this - the Tang army was a bureaucratic affair that might centrally decide that bards are not cost effective, while the Tibetan army, if similar to latter practice, was "feudal", raised by nobles who might have an incentive to maximize the fighting power and survivability of the individual trooper in his contingent. This would of course imply that the Northern Dynasties' armies were more "feudal"/Tibetan in character than the Tang ones - I don't recall if this is true.

Another reason I've seen suggested, possibly not entirely seriously, is simple fashion - the Turks were the new cool kids on the mounted warfare scene, and the Tang aped them. The Tibetans, in this scenario, were simply less fashion-conscious.

Happily, the reasons why don't affect army list design. 8-)
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:24 pm

Snowcat wrote:
David Kuijt wrote:Okay, now I have to paint up my new Khurasan Tibetan army.
That'd be just after the Middle Assyrians, right? ;)
Forgot about them. D'OH! And they'd allow me to paint up some kallapani, too, for the mounted infantry battle card testing.
DK
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:25 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote: Happily, the reasons why don't affect army list design. 8-)
In one sense they don't, but they crop up in army list discussions all the time.

Ya, I like the bureaucratic reasons. Have you read Jared Diamond's book where one chapter focuses on the Ming decision to abandon their naval exploration phase and shut down their navy completely, leading to the isolation of China for the next 500 years? Really interesting take on it.
DK
User avatar
Andreas Johansson
Companion-at-Arms
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Tibetan

Post by Andreas Johansson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:59 pm

I don't recall that from Guns, Germs, and Steel, which is the only Jared Diamond book I've read. I seem to be very much in the minority in not being too thrilled by that book - I didn't think it was particularly bad, but neither did I see the brilliance.

(I don't care, however, to enter a discussion about its merits - it's something like eighteen years since I read it, and I'd have to re-read it to have an worthwhile discussion about it.)
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:53 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:I don't recall that from Guns, Germs, and Steel, which is the only Jared Diamond book I've read. I seem to be very much in the minority in not being too thrilled by that book - I didn't think it was particularly bad, but neither did I see the brilliance.

(I don't care, however, to enter a discussion about its merits - it's something like eighteen years since I read it, and I'd have to re-read it to have an worthwhile discussion about it.)
This would be the wrong thread for such a discussion anyway.

No, it wasn't Guns, Germs, and Steel, I think. I'll look around and see if I can find it.
DK
Post Reply