In the story I would like to write, humans temporarily fight a race of lion people.

In the story, there are two sides. Standing Alliance and the Animal Alliance (it sounds dumb, but I haven't come up with names). Standings is composed of multiple races, but the humans make up a majority of the army. Though the other races take part, there is a human only segment of the army due to the fact the other races are minorities.

The humans seem to have a bit of a disadvantage physically, so they need to have other advantages. The kind of answer I'm looking for is general strategy and tactics.

The humans have these prerequisites.

The humans make up the cavalry, infantry, and skirmishers. They man artillery such as catapults, but there are only five of them. Majority of the basic infantry wear leather, with small pieces of armor covering the chest and stomach, going around to cover the back. They also wear basic metal helmets. The cavalry is completely covered in plate armor, with leather underneath. However, there is a smaller part of that is a skirmishing cavalry. Skirmishers themselves have leather armor.

For the sake of eliminating variables, let us say they are well rounded, but not specialized in any area.

The lion people are infantry and skirmishers and sport no cavalry or artillery. They wear rough leather (I do not know if this affects the quality of protection). Males and females both fight. (Edit: removed constraint that could've inhibited an appropriate answer.)

Males are 10 to 12 feet tall, with females 7 to 8 feet tall. Males can throw a human easily, but females find this slightly difficult, not that they still can't do this. Males exhibit a helmet carved from a large nut that covers their face (so It don't splinter into their face if there is a large impact, just cushioning while breaking) and depends on their mane to protect their neck and the back of their head. Females wear a complete helmet.

The lions fight like this; males fight on the frontline while females flank. Males that fight on the frontline with attack with spears and clubs, along side with obsidian axes for the largest of them. Females fight with Macahuitl like weapons as well. Skirmishers are female and male both fire arrows with bows (albeit large), but not with fine accuracy.

The lions don't try and bite the humans because metal cutting your mouth hurts, but they'll do it with unarmored parts if the opportunity presents itself.

The setting for reference is a large field with a hill west and a hill east. Its pretty much a plain with two hills, about 300 yards apart.

EDIT: The Lion people are bipedal. To clarify, what weapons would be best suitable against the lion people.

The battle has 10,000 humans but 9,000 lion people. The humans do not have to travel very far to fight, but the lion people do. The lion people from their location had to travel for a week, walking, and have had a resting period of seven hours. This equates to them having a good rest.

The lion people are not a cohesive unit, so they use clubs, spears, and axes on the frontline and the females are a flanking unit.

  • $\begingroup$ You're basically describing giants making this (worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/51686/…) related. In order for us to be able to give you an appropriate answer, we have to consider the science behind their biology or else any answer would be fairly irrelevant. If we assume they were biologically adapted to adjust for it, the lionmen would be nigh-invincible for medieval tech as their muscles would have to start resembling metal rope in a way. It's not that humans couldn't hurt them, but it'd $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 21:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ certainly be harder. You can't use 12-feet tall people as a description if you're going to toss out the mechanics of how that would work as that plays into your requested answer. Also, are the lion people bipedal or quadrupeds? That makes even more difference too. Basically, you have many variables you need to clarify for us to give a correct answer. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 21:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can think of lots of questions. Do the lion people have tactics beyond form up and charge? Do they tire easily? How is their eyesight? Are they particularly tough against any form of attack (aside from being big and hence able to absorb more general punishment than a human)? How well do they heal from serious injury? How cohesive are their formations? How aggressive are they? How intelligent? To be specific, how would they do against a pike formation? $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your insight sora, I hope I've adjusted the question for appropriate answers. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 22:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK answering and then voting to close is considered Bad Form, since it doesn't give others the opportunity to answer and gain reputation like you did. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:51

6 Answers 6


"An army travels on it's stomach" attributed to Napoleon.

Humans are omnivorous, then you can live from the land and carry packed rice, flour and canned beans.

Also, less mass means less food intake (assuming your lion-people is also hot blooded).

Now, your food is easier to acquire. Easier to transport. Lasts more (dried meat got nuthin on non perishable foodstuff, canned beans lasts more than 10 years). And your soldiers need to eat less.

That means:

  • your theatre of operations can encompass larger areas.

  • Chain of supplies can be longer, since the food won't go bad.

  • If the food can not be moved to remote outposts, you can plant potatoes.
  • 1 cart of food lasts more for a Human squad than Lion squad, cheaper to wage war.
  • Cheaper food means more money can be divested for Gear & Weapons!!!

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics." General Barrow

  • $\begingroup$ This is interesting and true, but I don't see how it answers the question, "How would humans fare against lion people?" If you add how this would cause problems for the Lions, and restrict where they can fight, or how far from home they can fight, then it would be a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget that the lion folk as carnivores could eat the people they killed. This would be scary and demoralising to watch. It also means they don't have to worry about supply chains when in battle. There could be a rule that you can only eat someone you killed yourself and that would spur you on to engage the enemy. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ A pretty good point $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2018 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ Aye, right on both accounts. Now if you can have more soldiers (numbers), on Higher ground (terrain), Outpost on the Mountains (space), that lets you ensure a steady supply line (weapons, ammo, reinforcements) when your Lion assault team has to go UP(bad terrain), with few supplies. Also SIEGES. Food is a major issue on sieges. Maslow triangle: A society with less worries on food achieves ENERGY SURPLUS, which lets it invest on better weapons. And that is why Homo sapiens rules. $\endgroup$
    – Gustavo
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK "There could be a rule that you can only eat someone you killed yourself", which means that you must stop and eat (because honestly, how are you going to remember which humans you killed in the middle of a melee of thousands?) and that exposes you to attack by the enemy. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:47

Fighting against the enemy's strength is never a good idea, and usually a Very Bad Idea.

What are the Lion People's strengths?

  1. Size, and
  2. Power.

What are Lion People's weaknesses?

  1. Endurance. As you mentioned, lions are better at short to medium battles.
  2. Food. As @GustavoAlmeida mentioned, humans are omnivores, so we have a wide range of comestibles. OTOH, felinidae are obligate carnivores and apex predators. That means they need a lot of meat. Where do they get it?
  3. Dexterity. Paws, even paw hands, aren't as nimble as human hands, so their weapons are cruder, and their aim is poorer.

Human strengths:

  1. Dexterity,
  2. Endurance,
  3. Omnivority,
  4. horses.

Thus, make the lion people:

  1. chase you,
  2. far from home and their huge herds of cattle.

While you:

  1. taunt them into battle when the lionesses are in heat (nothing like testosterone-filled men fighting over women to destroy discipline and unit cohesion),
  2. shoot them accurately with heavy, mobile ballista which you can make but they can't, and
  3. emphasize rearguard attacks on their supply herds.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Go mongol Archer's on dem kities? ^_^ To add insult to injury, use stuff with strong smells, like drug lords placing irritants for border control dogs. Stinking horse archers! $\endgroup$
    – Gustavo
    Nov 16, 2018 at 13:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget caltrops. $\endgroup$
    – Marbrand
    Nov 17, 2018 at 5:50

The logistical answers are very good, but in terms of what actually happens on the battlefield:

Horses are faster than lion people

On a large enough plain, the existence of well-trained horse archers on one side of the battle but no horses on the other is almost enough to guarantee victory. If they can't be reached, they are free to take potshots at their enemies with relative impunity. They outrange their enemies, because you can shoot farther if you're charging at your target. If there's no easy way for the lions to entrap the horse archers, they can kite them around the battlefield until they get tired and go home. It should be noted, though, that horses will tire faster than lionfolk - bipedal movement is much more efficient.

Avoid breaking lines at all costs

The lion's ideal situation is a chaotic brawl without a clear direction of attack or defense. At that point, it's a few thousand one-on-one fights with a clear advantage on the lion's part.

Normally, the go-to would be shield walls here. But if lions can throw a man, they can also rip him out of a formation, so a traditional shield wall won't do here. Additionally, male lions can probably vault over the frontlines, which would be very bad.

Instead, go with polearms. Very long polearms that mean that by the time the lions can touch the frontline, they have to deal with minimum three layers of soldiers stabbing at them, plus whatever archers are available. The soldiers must be trained to advance forward when the guy in front of them dies, or the line will break.

Adapt equipment

Certain things which make sense when fighting humans don't make sense here. Shields are the big one - a standard shield could be grabbed by a lion, breaking your wrist or throwing you around. An alternative might be a buckler or a hefty gauntlet - a small shield that doesn't provide much surface to grab but still gives you a surface to bock an edged weapon with (block meaning redirect in this case). Alternatively, ditch the shield and use a big heavy iron fence - small humans will have an easier time making use of the gaps in the fence, and it can be made spiky so they won't have an easy time climbing or tearing it down. Or go the simple route and put spikes on the shields.

Every melee weapon used has to be big: daggers and short swords won't reach anything important.

Against the gigantic male lions, consider using a heavy weapon like a hammer to smash their feet. Broken foot bones are as good as dead - that soldier is out of the battle. Once you hit them, drop the hammer and run, or you aren't getting away.

Bear traps/caltrops: the nature of this battle means that humans will retreat and lions will advance, the humans should take advantage of that. Bear traps are free kills (or disablings - even if the trap is removed, that lion can't get to the frontline). Caltrops, nets, and obstacles slow down the lions which means that your archers can get more shots off.


Am I the only one who thinks you OBVIOUSLY gave the humans a HUGE advantage in this war?

  1. Location: Tired soldiers marching towards a rested army is suicide. Your Lion army went out of their home into the human territory for a siege

  2. Siege: There's a saying that the ones who has the biggest guns win, your humans has catapults, 5 of them.

  3. Ranged accuracy: Bowmen will drastically reduce any charging unit numbers, and your lions might even be inaccurate enough to shoot their kin in the initial charge.

  4. Armor: Steel armor are there to hopefully reduce the impact of bladed weapons, and you gave your Lion army leather...

  5. Weaponry: while Obsidian is a cool weapon on RPG computer games, in reality, its brittle, then you want to clash it with a steel sword? Better use lion claws, teeth and strength.

  6. Discipline: A well trained army always has an advantage because of a coordinated attack. A war can't be won by just one good soldier (except for Chuck Norris and John Wick) so a non cohesive army is practically target practice.

  7. Endurance: EVERY war is a battle of attrition! You can't go "hey wait up guys I'm tired of all this fighting, let me rest for a bit!". Your Lion people might be dead even before the first engagement.

  8. Numbers: You are seriously belittling this variable. Numbers win wars, an equally equipped, trained and well armed armies has numbers to consider, who has the largest army size wins. And you seriously under manpower the Lion Army by 2000. That seriously is ALOT. The humans have 2000 more bowmen, so if the humans have 4000 bowmen, fired arrows towards the 8000 charging Lions, given that there's a probability that an arrow will hit a lion 1 out of 3 times, then you might have reduced their count in the initial volley by 1000 in the initial volley alone. And your bowmen get to fire atleast 20 arrows before the initial clash.

  9. Size: does this even matter? Sure if the Lion army gets close, but that's impossible.

If I would command the Human Army I'll arm one Knight, AS MY FRONT LINE, with a horse, backed up by 9974 Bowmen, and 25 Seige workers, easy win.

If you want your story to be more... exciting, make the humans do the trip, and then make it an ambush, its the only way that the Lion army will have a chance to win.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your insight, i will adjust acordingly, so the lion people can rest for at least seven hours. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2018 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ @DaytonSaragosa, That's not the point, Resting for 7 hours just to march for a seige is still suicide. Your Lion army has to have the same capabilities as your humans, including intelligence, add the strength and agility of a real lion, then that would make your question more viable since strategy will now be a important thing to consider. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Nov 19, 2018 at 1:16

You would fight them as humans have fought lions and other large predators for millenia.

Long pit traps with spikes at the bottom.

Cover them with branches and leaves so that the cover is capable of supporting two 5-6 foot humans but not 12 foot lions.Send your lightest and fastest people across to annoy the lions and chase them back to camp.

Once the lions are in, if any are still alive, use long spears to kill them, then cover up the trap again and repeat. Dump your kitchen waste near the traps to conceal the scent of rotten meat.


Agincourt, with the lions as the French.

agincourt https://www.themaparchive.com/battle-of-agincourt-25-october-1415.html

Your setup is similar to the Battle of Agincourt. The armies are comparably sized, the field is the same size and the tech is the same. You have some siege engines which will not get much use. But this kind of battle on an open field is is going to seriously favor the lions.

The battle of Agincourt was famously won by the English against a superior French force. A few factors are credited - the muddy terrain, which slowed the charge of the French cavalry, the lethality of the English longbows and disorganization on the part of the French.

The lions will see the humans and charge across the 300 yards. The hope for the humans is to set up similarly to the English but I am not sure it will be enough. 10 foot bipedal lions are going to be a lot faster than knights in plate armor regardless of the terrain and they will close 300 yards distance in no time. Your archers can set up spears as they did at Agincourt but I think a giant lionman on foot will sweep these aside. The archers are not going to get off many shots before the lions are on top of them and it is hand to hand; then the humans are toast.

Ideas to help the humans.

1: Flame. You could use your siege engines to hurl flaming projectiles in front of the lions charge. That might slow them down a little bit and let the archers get off some more shots.

2: Narrow field. The French were hemmed in so that the ones in back could not really fight because of the ones in front. If you can pull this off that will reduce the impact of the lions charge because only the front rank does any fighting.

3: Cavalry charge. Hitting the lions head on is pointless - it will slow them down while the lions beat down the mounted knights but you can't use your archers once they meet (unless you are Ramsay Bolton and don't care). The lions are going to be able to stop the cavalry charge because they are big enough to stop a horse, so it will be one charge and done. Once the lions finish up the human cavalry at close quarters they will resume their charge into your infantry. Better is to have your cavalry wait until the lions hit your infantry and slow down then charge them from the flank. That might be incompatible with #2 because if it is tight, where will your cavalry assemble?

Bottom line - the humans are in trouble and are going to take huge losses in your open plain scenario. If I were in charge of the humans I would do whatever I could to avoid this, instead preparing some sort of defensive earthwork where the lions would have to mass up and where they could not go hand to hand with humans.

Best though is the Russian strategy vs Napoleon. Fall back, and fall back. The lions have come 10 days looking for a fight and will chase you. As you fall back make sure there is nothing left behind you for the lions to eat - poison all the animals you can catch. When the lions start to tire out individual groups will lose heart and turn around and their army will break up. Then take them on in small groups where the terrain favors you.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .