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There are two teams,  green team and  tan team, who are fighting each other for some reason that's not super important. Both teams consist of human shaped plastic figures about two inches tall and colored the same as their respective team (army men). Each team has mortars, a few tanks, one or two planes, and a bunch of varied infantry (machine guns, rpgs, assault rifles). They are fighting in a house most of the time but will probably move to the outdoors later on.

Now, for the first two months of the fighting the house occupants (small dog, 2 parents, three kids ages 12, 9, and 4) were gone on summer vacation, but now they are back. Due to the new arrivals ability to freeze any of the figures they look at, strategy needs to change considerably.

Some details-

  • if a human sees them, they are frozen into a stance that they would be expected to be in (turn into regular army men)
  • when killed they turn into regular army men and are just pieces of plastic
  • they can take a few hits from humans, but if their shape is distorted they are dead (you can drop it off the balcony and they'll be fine, but shoot it with a BB gun and they're dead)
  • tanks are kinda like really slow rc cars with a bunch of armor and guns on top
  • planes are faster and can glide to a landing if they get sighted
  • they can change the battlefield if nobody is watching (drag a book off the bookshelf to make a barricade, cut a hole in the floor for a secret passageway, etc.)
  • night raids are considered immoral and both leaders have agreed to refrain from night attacks
  • leaders have agreed that medics can enter battle fields after the fighting and won't be shot
  • more available on request if needed

What strategy would these two armies use now that humans are occupying the house?

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    $\begingroup$ "Honey? Now the kitchen table blistered and burnt, with dozens of little impact craters, peppered with tiny bullet holes, and scattered with little plastic body parts. Those mice seem utterly out of control -- let's get a couple more traps...and a cat. Maybe two cats. You've always wanted a cat, right?" $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 15 '20 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ Kids would get reprimanded and put all of their toy soldiers in a box. Green and tan together. When the lid is closed, it will be brutal, but quick. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Oct 15 '20 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Well, the humans seem to really make the army men's actions difficult, so take them out with a small tactical nuke! $\endgroup$
    – Glen Yates
    Oct 16 '20 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenYates I was thinking about the movie that included that story. I loved it! $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 16 '20 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Somebody just watched Toy Story again... $\endgroup$ Oct 16 '20 at 20:19
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Everyone is out but one human, who hops into a nice relaxing bath, leaving her phone just out of sight.

Commandos sneak in and grab the phone, conveniently left unlocked and signed into Facebook, and start a live stream from the rear facing camera.

Human freezing power is transmitted over cameras obviously - the humans cant get video proof of army men being anything other than plastic. The commandos now have a directional freeze ray, everything on one side freezes.

They then sweep the entire building, which according to the video is filled with frozen plastic army men suddenly getting peppered with tiny holes from the fire team behind the camera.

Just as the human finishes her nice relaxing bath, the soldiers finish up their slaughter and return her phone to her handbag.

Poor woman logs into Facebook to discover every last corner of her house has been live streamed somehow, and everyone is laughing at something awkward that was seen.

Remaining soldiers retire, having conquered the house.

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    $\begingroup$ Way to go, you've completely ruined an entire plot line, without someone paying you royalties or at the very least, citing you... on the other hand I want to read this YA novel.... writing it yet? $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 15 '20 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Potential way around this: Anything can be faked with CGI nowadays, and a film is technically a load of photos in rapid succession anyway, so it may not count as "being seen by humans" $\endgroup$
    – Kyyshak
    Oct 15 '20 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ But what about reflective surfaces? For "no video proof" to be self-consistent, there must be a "force field" preventing the camera from being brought to a position where it captures an image of the team behind it. The defending team would try to hang out next to round shiny objects that show a clear reflection from many directions. $\endgroup$
    – nanoman
    Oct 16 '20 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ @nanoman correct strategy - not a force field though, it'd freeze the attackers. Same basic strategy as trying to reposition mirrors allowing humans to fortuitously see into the enemy camps. Human line of sight IS the WMD in this war. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 16 '20 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ "...according to the video is filled with frozen plastic army men suddenly getting peppered with tiny holes from the fire team behind the camera." -- If I extend the effects of "being frozen when a human is watching" consequentially in my mind, I come to the conclusion that the troops outside the "freeze ray" of human sight cannot even interact with anything inside that freeze ray -- they can only prepare for the freeze ray going away. Not heeding this would destroy or at least diminish the narrative of the "freeze ray" as I understand it. $\endgroup$
    – orithena
    Oct 16 '20 at 10:55
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Trench Warfare

More specifically, wall space/crawl space warfare.

The number one way to continue the war? keep it out of sight. For the slightly less moral, there is no daylight in the walls so without a scout reporting on time of day they can battle all night and no one would know. (slightly bending the rules there)

War is about reliability. Reliable intel, reliable soldiers, reliable plans and reliable gear. Fighting where you might be spotted by a human and frozen is not a reliable way to conduct war and puts your soldiers at risk. Fighting where no humans can interrupt makes your chances of superior strategy less reliant on outside forces.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your forces build gradually as the kids lose the men. I must have lost a couple of brigades as a kid, at least. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 18 '20 at 20:36
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It seems that strategy would change considerably, especially the "no fighting at night thing". Seeing as how it is too great of a risk to be frozen and then taken out by an enemy sniper, I would assume that both sides would hunker down in their respective "bases" and wait out until night when there are no pesky humans around.

Because of the above, it would make sense to void the no fighting at night truce. The rest of my answer will assume that that is impossible.

Where to strike:

Both sides would avoid open areas (e.g. hallways and open rooms). They would generally choose to fight behind couches, bookshelves, and other furniture. Optimally they would use the area in the walls to move around quickly. They would also probably avoid the bedrooms, where the humans are generally present.

When to strike:

They would avoid fighting during the morning rush, (i.e. when everyone is waking up and eating breakfast). The fighting would be rampant once the kids go to school and the parents go to work. It would die down once the kids get home, but since they usually only watch TV, it would generally be the same other than avoiding the living room. It would probably die down entirely once the parents get home.

How to strike:

Long-range weapons would take precedence in this battle (i.e. mortars) because they can attack from much farther away.

From your description of what death means, it would seem that tanks become obsolete since the plastic they are made of is no stronger than the plastic of the army men.

I cannot completely answer since I am not sure of the strength of the army men's bullets, so I would appreciate you clarifying that.

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  • $\begingroup$ it could also be that the tanks can take much deeper distortions before "dying"...I'd imagine the bullets would also be plastic, so they would be quite ineffective against relatively thicker plastic armor. $\endgroup$ Oct 16 '20 at 19:53
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Use the calendar

The human occupants will generally be out of the house at some predictable times. Warfare is reserved for those times. As you've already said, they've already agreed that some times (such as night) are not acceptable for fighting, so they should be able to stretch to this.

Note that "immoral" doesn't necessarily mean "not done". Both sides should be guarding against assassinations, bombings and special-forces actions anyway. As we know from history (Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) the winner gets to write the rules on what was a war crime.

Dog deterrent

The loss of combatants as an Act of Dog is still going to be a problem. Most similar stories tend to allow the army men to stay mobile around pets though. Dogs are pretty easily spooked, although this will depend on the dog of course. The main thing is to hit the dog before it lunges, because dogs will tend to ignore injuries whilst they're fighting. Hit it while it's still thinking about whether to chase the army men, and it'll be much more likely to back off.

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There are two ways to handle the human's return. 1) take the battle where people can't see them. Does anyone really go in their attic except once in a blue moon? There are plenty of places the army men can fight without being observed by people.

And 2).....remove all humans. They should already be freaked out by the damage caused by the army men's unmitigated warfare to their furniture, flooring, wallpaper, etc. Considering these army men have the intelligence of regular human beings, they should be able to find an ingenious way to make those gosh-darned people flee. If you though your house was haunted by evil spirits, wouldn't you leave? I'm sure with enough effort, these army men can make it happen.

Actually, there is a third option, one even more terrifying (for the army men) than the opposing side. What if the humans know? You see, you said, "if a human sees them, they are frozen into a stance that they would be expected to be in"(italic added). But what if the human is in the know and expects them not frozen in place, but actually moving? Such an individual would have godlike power over the army men, due to their sheer strength, size, and respective ability to change the environment. If the plastic army men are alive, who's to say there's not some 'mysterious force' that renders plastic figurines alive once they've entered the home? In that case, the army men could be joined by dinosaurs, dragons, and any other living thing that may be replicated in plastic form!

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer! Welcome to Worldbuilding SE! $\endgroup$
    – fartgeek
    Dec 8 '20 at 2:03
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If I was commanding one of the teams I would try to co-opt a human to fight on our side (like a proxy war) - before my opponents did the same.

This is a common strategy used in conflicts where one side (or both) are unable to prosecute the fight because of Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal or Environmental changes or pressures.

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