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Thread: The Truth About Swords

  1. #1
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default The Truth About Swords

    Why are sword units less effective than spear units in the game? The answer just may be the truth.
    It seems what we know about Samurai is mostly from a later period, but in the Sengoku (15th to begining of the 17th centurys) the weapons of choice were the Yumi, then Yari, and then the Teppo. Enjoy!

    The Soul of the Samurai?
    Misconceptions of the Japanese Sword

    By A. Knowles

    The Japanese sword has acquired mystical significance in the wake of Samurai history, but to what extent is this image justified? This article will attempt to shatter a few myths surrounding both the use and omnipotence of the sword in the samurai arsenal. Tokugawa Ieyasu's famous remark that the sword was the 'soul of the samurai' should not be taken at face value. This was most likely a comment made reflecting the relatively peaceful years of Sekigahara (1600) to Osaka (1614) when battlefield weapons (i.e. firearms, spears and bows) were being pushed to the back of samurai life and the sword as the weapon of everyday life.
    Read the continuation at:

    http://www.samurai-archives.com/sts.html
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  2. #2
    Shadow Senior Member Kagemusha's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    That is absolutely true. During the Sengoku Jidai period katana was a side arm, not the main weapon of Samurai.
    Ja Mata Tosainu Sama.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Except the sword units aren't less effective than spears. :)
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    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Quote Originally Posted by AggonyDuck View Post
    Except the sword units aren't less effective than spears. :)
    Sorry, thought of this because of Kocmoc's post on the level 10 at 22k situation, where everybody is going to end up.

    https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showt...Ca-call-it-22k

    Except me, of course...
    Last edited by Tomisama; 03-26-2011 at 19:12.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    by spears Kocmoc means naginata, not yari
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    Rolluplover Member Kocmoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    lets get teh facts straigt.

    Duck probably refer to the fact, that swords beat spears. Thats correct.

    Now directly to the real problem. Armor and universal units. Swords have low armor, the katana got 5 (i hope im not wrong) and the ND just 2.
    If you look at naginata with 9 armor, its a huge difference, especially if you look at the 22k games and what will be used.

    While in 10 or 14k games mostly a few samurai units will be used, lets say 3-6, in a 22k game you hardly will see other units than samurai.
    The problem is, that almost every single samurai unit fight till death and dont rout, you really have to finish the units off.

    The signs are clear. Missles have a harder time to kill an armor-9 unit than an armor-2 or 5 unit.
    Followed by other problems such as:

    - bubblegum units, which will make your charge get stucked somewhere. If you bring a ND you want a clean charge! Thats possible in the first clash, after that you will have a hard time, while everything is mixed up like hell.
    - armor, If you didnt ripped most missles, you have a very hard time to get your ND unit in, with 2 armor missles eat this unit.

    While good player might be able to get some sword units clean in a spear, most people wont be able to do this.
    So the trend is there and clear, 22k the balance is out of hands. I dont want to take care for the cavs, especially as the charge is bugged, the outcome too random. I go full spear-melee and get me some missles who are on steroids. If swods beat spears doesnt matter a second.

    Bad player who lose the shotout, want to have a chance to win the rush after, so they go for highest armor in game!

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    Member Member KrooK's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Naginata have other advantage - anti cav bonus. Experienced player will not allow enemy on charging on his infantry.
    However less experienced player are doing it. Charging vs naginata is bad option. Charging vs sword unit - I like it.
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  8. #8
    Provost Senior Member Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Quote Originally Posted by Kocmoc View Post
    The signs are clear. Missles have a harder time to kill an armor-9 unit than an armor-2 or 5 unit.
    Too right! Even in SP I have no interest in spending all the koku needed to make nodachi that will get riddled by AI archers. I expect them to be so fragile as to need too much attention.

    Here's another fact to go with the truth about swords: a soldier's melee weapon had no relationship to the effectiveness of his armor in protecting him from missiles. An arrow had the same impact upon a man's armor regardless of the weapon in his hand. Nodachi, katana and yari samurai should have the same armor values.

    This is a prime case of where diddling with realistic unit values to get a more diverse order of battle leads to problems. Once you head down this path this is where you end up. You get results on the battlefield that don't make sense.

    SP and MP alike would be more sound if the devs would keep it real.

    History doesn't get in the way. It shows the way!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Quote Originally Posted by OUT4BLOOD View Post
    by spears Kocmoc means naginata, not yari
    Not to diminish my error of lumping naginata and yari (mentally both polearms), in looking up the actual use of naginata by Samurai, I found that warrior monks wore armor!

    In no uncertain terms in many places in Turnbullís book Samurai Warfare he mentions Sohei armor (never says anything about no armor). On horse, on foot, and in one passage he even calls out heavy-armor that made them so weary that it caused their death, this indirectly as they were shot with arrows in their fatigue. The thing about their amour is that it was always hidden under the monkís cowl, and maybe where the no amour idea comes from (or maybe it was the story about the arrows, that you would think that armor would have protected them although it didnít).

    The reason that I looked up the Samurai naginata combination, was that I was pretty sure that the naginata was a weapon favorite of earlier years, and lost favor to the yari over time. That besides being then taken up by the monks during the Sengoku, it was considered a womenís weapon in later years, and still is today. But you do see them in many pictures of Samurai from the time, so who knows?
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    Provost Senior Member Nelson's Avatar
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    Smile Re: The Truth About Swords

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomisama View Post
    Not to diminish my error of lumping naginata and yari (mentally both polearms), in looking up the actual use of naginata by Samurai, I found that warrior monks wore armor!

    In no uncertain terms in many places in Turnbullís book Samurai Warfare he mentions Sohei armor (never says anything about no armor).
    Yep. I griped about monks 10 years ago about the same thing. Since the devs made them extra strong on offense they felt they needed to be nerfed on defense. For "balance", I suppose...

    And this after CA said they used Turnbull for research.

    Not that this has prevented me from still enjoying the game a lot!
    Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.

  11. #11
    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension BasharCaptWill's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    off topic (only a short note)

    except Turnbull, there is - Karl F. Friday with two books on this matter. The first one is ''Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan'' and the second one is ''Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan''.
    there is also one short discussion regarding this matter on e-budo forums: about swordsmanship

    My opinion is that you simply have to make some sacrifices in regards to historical accuracy if you want to have enjoyable gameplay.

  12. #12
    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension BasharCaptWill's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    That besides being then taken up by the monks during the Sengoku, it was considered a women’s weapon in later years, and still is today. But you do see them in many pictures of Samurai from the time, so who knows?
    You'll find very detailed answer regarding this matter in the book 'Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan', which is already mentioned in the post above. If you are more interested in this topic, you might be interested to read book like classical bujutsu (still one of best books on this matter in english literature; more detailed are only koryu book series, and two books regarding koryu - one was written by Serge Mol, and the othr by Ellis Amdur ) by Donn F. Draeger.

    effect of the naginata swung
    Last edited by BasharCaptWill; 03-27-2011 at 22:56.

  13. #13

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    really really nice information always good to know your back ground

  14. #14

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Here is what I don't get: a well used spear should always beat sword. Why you might ask? Well because the spear is LONGER than the sword, AND it is more of a piercing type damage which means it should get better armour penetration. Now of course, that being said once the sword is inside the spears reach then you've got problems but still, don't forget that both ends of a spear are dangerous... quarterstaff anyone?

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Katana Samurai are excllent.

    But Yari Ashaguri they're like Napoleon's fusliers of line,they really are a good force.

    And the Archers are killers!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Senior Member Dionysus9's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Good points-- I think partly the answer is that (as Elmo sometimes reminds us) historical accuracy may need to take a back-seat to playability. Now, that being said, Miyamoto Musashi had this to say about swords, halberds (naginata I assume) and spears:

    "The best use of the companion sword [wakizashi] is in a confined space, or when you are engaged closely with an opponent. The long sword [katana] can be used effectively in all situations.

    The halberd [naginata] is inferior to the spear on the battlefield. With the spear you can take the initiative; the halberd is defensive. In the hands of one of two men of equal ability, the spear gives a little extra strength. Spear and halberd both have their uses, but neither is very beneficial in confined spaces. They cannot be used for taking a prisoner. They are essentially weapons for the field."

    He makes a great point that you cannot easily take prisoners with a spear, whereas it is easier with a sword (you can get behind them and hold it against their throat). He says elsewhere in the Five Rings (no time to search for the exact passage) that dual-wielding swords (katana and wakizashi) is the best and only effective way to fight multiple opponents.

    Spears are good for facing off against a single opponent in an open area. They are therefore most effective in a dense formation, like the hoplites used-- so that each spearman is responsible only for the enemy in front of him. Swords, on the other hand--especially when dual-wielding, can be used to fight multiple opponents and are good in open areas and also in confined spaces.

    Imagine you are a lone spearman fighting 3 swordsmen. Not looking so hot. Imagine now you are a lone swordsman facing three spears.

    Facing multiple opponents I'd rather be dual wielding swords than holding a single spear.

    So maybe there is something to be said for swords beating spears-- especially if the spear's formation is in disorder. But ultimately, for this game to work, there has to be a rock-paper-scissors element. Spears>Cav>Swords>Spears works pretty well.
    Hunter_Bachus

  17. #17

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus9 View Post
    Imagine you are a lone spearman fighting 3 swordsmen. Not looking so hot. Imagine now you are a lone swordsman facing three spears.

    Facing multiple opponents I'd rather be dual wielding swords than holding a single spear.
    Very good point, but I'm not sure I'd want to do either considering three weapons capable of piercing-type damage are a serious threat to you. The reach advantage over your dual-wielding swords while you're already faced with very poor defensive strength in each arm forcing you to rely entirely on being elusive and constantly moving to avoid the long spears. How would you close the distance with three spears ready to pierce you in either side of your torso at any point? It would definitely be a better choice for staying alive, though, if you were in fact faced with such a situation.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Senior Member Dionysus9's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    Heheh, no doubt! I'd rather be at the Geisha house, for sure. Here's what old Musashi had to say about it:
    "To Mingle --
    In battles, when the armies are in confrontation, attack the enemy's strong points and, when you see that they are beaten back, quickly separate and attack yet another strong point on the periphery of his force. The spirit of this is like a winding mountain path.
    This is an important fighting method for one man against many. Strike down the enemies in one quarter, or drive them back, then grasp the timing and attack further strong points to right and left, as if on a winding mountain path, weighing up the enemies' disposition. When you know the enemies' level attack strongly with no trace of retreating spirit.
    What is meant by "mingling" is the spirit of advancing and becoming engaged with the enemy, and not withdrawing even one step. You must understand this."

    I think Musashi would say you must sieze the initiative -- drive hard at the spearman on one flank, staying as close as possible to him, then relentlessly attack the next opponent the instant he is defeated.

    Since a spear is most effective when it is thrust forward (rather than swung in an arc), the sharp end of a spear is usually wielded in a predictable manner. If you get in close to the spearman you are fighting and keep moving, the other two will have a hard time hitting you without risking hitting their friend.
    Hunter_Bachus

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Truth About Swords

    While yes the spear is most effective when thrust forward it is still useful when swung side to side as a well balanced spear can do miracles in the right hands. Also, if the spearmen are intelligent esp when in the majority they should be able to back up just as fast as the swordsman advances, thereby always keeping him out of reach and surrounded.

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