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The soldiers in question are, for lack of other words, magically enhanced due to a 2 yr training regime with potions such that their veins close immediately in case of injury and their immune systems can easily ward off bacterial & fungal infections.

Assuming they are used in Europe post Augustus and Pre Norman conquest became a major element of warfare, what changes will this make in strategies, combat, and fatalities?

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    $\begingroup$ I would say that bleeding out during battle or dying after from infection was a minor problem during wars. Problem was making soldiers immobilised. How good is this enchantment verus impaling and having head smashed? $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Jun 24 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ It's terribly broad at the moment as there are so many different ways of waging war. A siege isn't going to be much different for example because people still starve. Trench warfare - no trench-foot, but still shell-shock, mutilation, terror, lice. You would need to narrow it down considerably, ask a specific question about a type of warfare in a specific time period would be a good start. $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Jun 24 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ A friend in the Finnish army once pointed out a simple reality of combat: the goal isn't to kill your opponent. A dead soldier can be ignored and the battle continues. Your goal is to incapacitate your opponent. Basic morality demands the wounded, if possible, be removed from the field - tying up 1-2 other soldiers. Even in the medieval age, killing everyone wasn't the goal. As I've thought this through over the last few hours, absolutely nothing would change about basic combat tactics and weaponry at any age. It simply might take a moment longer to incapacitate an opponent. (*continued*) $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 24 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting question with far reaching overtones. As it stands, I think it's sufficiently focused on the immediate needs of battle. This line of inquiry can certainly open up further questions on the nature of society, politics, and warfare in general; but let's leave those for other questions! VTR. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jun 25 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ There's broad questions, and there's unfocused questions. This question is broad (issue can apply to a lot of areas), but not unfocused (it is one specific issue at heart). I say it should be reopened, and the answers should be equally broad. A good answer does not have to be in-depth. $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Jun 26 at 19:14
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You can basically check hollywood movies. They rarely show real life problem like dysentry, after-battle death rate or long-lasting wounds. I think your warfare will be much mobile. Less suffer from disease on marches, quicker after battle recovery. I suppose that archery will cause less damage without internal bleeding. Heavy armored soldiers will be even more durable - usually they are killed through blood loss. It depends, but do resistance to infection allows to eat raw or bad food without problems? This can add to mobility. Side effect - you will have much more invalids. They can burden you unless kingdoms issue policies about it. I do not expect much humanity at that time.

In general I will see changes toward heavy infantry/cavalry focus with a lot of maneuvering and clash&retreat tactics. Heavy weapons (smash and dismember) will dominate cut and pierce one.

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    $\begingroup$ The Help Center teaches us, "Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem ... and require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions." This is a badly asked question and it resulted in a low quality answer (sorry, brutal truth). $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 24 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I contend that is not sufficient reason to downvote an answer, as it is quite clearly phrased as a suggestion. Also, you have to remember that this was posted by a new user, who probably doesn't know about the "not all questions should be answered here" guideline - last I checked, it is better to give new users the benefit of the doubt in these cases. Relative to your accusation of this being a "low quality answer", I have to disagree. This is a perfectly good answer, and in my opinion it does a good job of answering the question. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Jun 24 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDaleks you're welcome to open a Meta question to debate my assertion, but the reality is there will always be supporting and dissenting opinions. I'm looking forward to the Meta question because I'd like to see you demonstrate how this answer is a "perfectly good answer" to a question that's so broad and so badly defined that the characteristics of a best answer can't be objectively understood. Part of training new users is pointing out their mistakes. (And you VTC'd the question. How can you justify a "perfectly good answer" to a question you VTC'd?) $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 24 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I didn't say that you shouldn't inform a new user about their mistake, merely that we should give them the benefit of the doubt in these situations. Relative to the "perfectly good answer" bit, I think that it is important to note that the "question" is "what changes will this make in strategies, combat, and fatalities?". I voted to close the question because it needs more details. I VTC'd the question because it is a bad question. In my opinion this answer makes the best of a bad situation. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Jun 24 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH As requested $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Jun 24 at 22:05
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Not much will change (probably)

1. Sieges. Battles were never a common activity in medieval warfare. They get featured in the popular imagination because they are spectacular events that can seize the imagination, whether they are being recounted by a grizzled old veteran or portrayed in a Hollywood special effects extravaganza. However, the reality is that siege warfare was the most common method of waging war. The attacking force can use a siege to avoid committing to action and a possible defeat, while the defending (outnumbered) side is forced to participate unless they are willing to surrender the castle / town / city without a fight. Sieges also allow far more opportunities for negotiated settlements and gracefully backing down from a losing position than the chaos of a battle. Given that the potion enhancements are not listed as protecting from starvation or dehydration, the presence on either side of soldiers with enhancements will have no effect on the outcome of a siege nor any influence on the choice of siege warfare as a tactic.

2. Economics. A two-year course of magic potions is likely to cost quite a lot. While the OP has not given any indication of how much it would cost, it is stated that this is a way of preparing soldiers, rather being a routine vaccination for every person in society. The problem here is that there were very few professional soldiers in this period. Levies of troops were pressed into service when required with a few days or weeks of notice (not two years!), then sent back to their farms after a conflict was over. After the Roman Empire collapsed, no European civilization was wealthy enough to support a standing army until hundreds of years after the Norman conquest. The nobility and their selected retainers were the only "regular" soldiers around, which means that they are the only ones likely to be potion-enhanced.

(Frame challenge - if you are a ruler with access to finite doses of immunity-to-bleeding-and-bacteria-and-fungi potion then the people you should give it to are not soldiers but reproductive-age women. Childbirth was a horribly risky business for women in that era, with many (most?) of the deaths of mothers resulting from bleeding or infection. Increasing the survival rate of your nation's mothers will increase your working population / economic strength and therefore army strength far more than having a few tough soldiers.)

3. Battles. So let us examine what will happen when the potion-enhanced soldiers finally engage in battle. Do they throw away their armour and charge forward with two-handed swords screaming "There can be only one!" like the immortals in Highlander, seeking to decapitate their foes as the only way to win?

No.

As forces close, arrows may start flying. For a soldier who cannot bleed out, these will probably not kill without a freakishly unlikely shot to the brain, but they can still cut muscles and tendons and (if really unlucky) pierce lungs. Grazing hits and bruises will no longer be a threat, but getting an arrow stuck into a soldier will make them combat ineffective until the arrow is removed without damaging more tissue and the cut tissue heals. (For those whose knowledge of archery is limited to Hollywood or modern target archery - a soldier who has a warbow arrow sticking out of them is not going to just snap it off with one hand and keep going. Warbow arrows were really solid chunks of wood to withstand the force of being shot from really powerful bows.) So soldiers will still want armour and shields to protect themselves while closing.

Once the troops get to melee range the same provisions that apply to arrows apply to spears, swords and other stabbing / slashing weapons - less danger of bleeding out from shallow cuts, but damage to muscles will still make a soldier combat ineffective. Bashing weapons will also have reduced effectiveness - bruising is no longer a threat (depending on how quickly the bleeding is stopped) but broken bones will disable a soldier.

In short, the same weapons will still be used in the same way with the same tactics. The big difference may be at the end of the battle rather than during it.

  • Most soldiers on both sides will still be alive and uncrippled. Crushed lower spines will account for most of the cripples, crushed skulls or upper spines will account for most of the kills. (Decapitation or chopping clean through a limb was uncommon in battle.)
  • Far more injured (enhanced) soldiers will be able to run away than would otherwise.
  • Effect on overall fatality rates depends on the cultural norms and economic realities. Captured enhanced soldiers may be: ransomed (especially if nobility); killed (if they are expensive to replace); crippled and released (if they are expensive to replace and to discourage volunteers) etc

In summary, there would probably be very little difference in the conduct of warfare if the proposed potion enhancements were available. There would be a massive population explosion if the women were enhanced instead of the men though.

If such soldiers did exist, though, the "Duel on Boston Common" scene from the aforementioned film Highlander would probably be re-enacted frequently in the camps of less-disciplined armies. It just wouldn't be as funny.

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I disagree with @KerrAvon2055 in regards to the sieges being unaffected. Disease was a big factor here, on both sides, an army too withered down by disease would have to surrender (if besieged) or retreat (if doing the besiegeing). So these improved soldiers would help extending the siege on either side. Also, while it wouldn't take the starvation problem away, these soldiers would be capable of eating rotten food without becoming ill. Some tactics would be made innefectual by this resistance, such as dropping rotten corpses in wells to poison them, the soldiers would most likely not be affected by this.

All this would probably have an effect on morale though. So there's the question as to how it would be addressed. Would there be an attemot to better season the food? would the soldiers be trained to consume it without feeling discomfort? would this mean the position as improved soldier is less sought after?

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