So you are rebel, your name is Norn, and you are hidden away in a lovely forest swarming with all kinds of little critters, in the middle kingdom where the king and his formidable military are hunting you and would like nothing more than to decapitate you and every one of your rebel buddies...the king is a bit of a jerk.

You are unfortunately ill prepared to face the king and his armies, they are well armed and armored while at best you and your rebel friends are wearing a bit of leather here and there and metal weapons are few and far between.

Your rebel group is brave but hasn't been terribly effective in achieving the long term goal of removing the king's butt from his cushy throne, and several generations of rebels have continued living in the forest (we are attempting to remove despot king #4 here...really slow rebels).

Word from informants in the capital has reached you and it is bad news. The King's army is marching on the forest intent on eliminating your little band of merry men (TM). The army will outnumber the rebels by about 5 to 1, it will be a mix of unarmored archers, knights on foot (as heavy as possible armor), and lightly armored infantry. The kings forces number roughly 5000, and contain 500 archers, 500 knights and the remainder are mixed light infantry.

Looking around at what resources are available to you it comes to your attention that the forest creatures are familiar and friendly with the rebels, many of whom keep them as pets and companions. Maybe, just maybe, you could utilize the creatures in battle. Certainly the pets will stay with their masters, but what of the others that may be willing to aid you?


  • There is no magic in this world, so no charming the creatures to attack or anything

  • No suicide critters, they are your friends after all, you wouldn't send your friends charging into a line of pikes I would hope (if you would you are a jerk...and possibly this king)

  • Need to be used in battle side by side with human rebels, The animals shouldn't be a sacrificial first wave.

  • Limited to what these creatures can actually be trained to do (falconry for example), though I will allow a little wiggle room here if it makes it more interesting.

You are limited to the use of the following creatures (with quantities)

  • Bear with grizzly size and weight (1)
  • Bobcats/cougars (4)
  • Wolves (2 dozen)
  • Falcons/eagles (1 dozen)
  • Owls (1 dozen)
  • Foxes (3 dozen)
  • Raccoon (4 dozen)
  • Rabbits (no limit)
  • Squirrels (no limit)
  • Hedgehogs, porcupines, ferrets, weasels, skunks etc (no limit)
  • Smaller birds: ravens, jays, robins, woodpeckers (no limit)

If there are other animals you would like considered for this effort ask in the comments

You may use as many or as few of the animals listed in your answer as you would like.

Answers should take into account the real world abilities of the various animals.

Animals may be armed/armored if they are capable of wearing/utilizing such items

How the animals can help counter the specific troop types should be included.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do the enemy troops know about your animal friends or do they just know about you? $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Sep 15, 2015 at 16:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @James Bees are more interesting. Some aggressive insects like the red fire ant or another species they can throw at them in large numbers. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Sep 15, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How about skunks? It occurs that they could be pretty effective. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Sep 15, 2015 at 17:07
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Unlimited squirrels??? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squirrel_Girl#Victories $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Sep 16, 2015 at 12:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs even without knowing about Squirrel Girl a truly unlimited number of squirrels as an attack force is an horrific notion akin to a massive zerg attack or the WH40k imperial guard advancing. The king's soldiers would literally drown under the weight of a sea of squirrels $\endgroup$
    – MD-Tech
    Sep 16, 2015 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


Guerrilla tactics are the only approach you can use or you're all going to die horribly. Attacking or defending against a 4x superior numbers is just suicide. Don't do it. You will need to attack them sideways.

How I learned to stop worrying and love psych warfare

In terms of warfare, "magic" = "psych warfare". This can be execute any number of ways. Small animals can be trained to pull off what appears to be magic such as making tools disappear or strange noises as the king's troops move through the woods. Doing what you can to give the appearance of a haunted place saps morale so even if your rebels do encounter enemy troops their resolve will be lower.

Rebel Tactics

  • Maintain a mobile camp so that the king can't ever find you. Set up false camps as bait for ambushes.

  • Long range arrow attacks from concealed positions with only a small number of your archers. These are harassment or high profile target attacks only. Remember, open confrontation isn't an option.

  • Use Vietnam era booby traps to kill/wound/injure/maim enemy troops. You don't have to kill many of them to instill a healthy sense of fear. If patrols and scouts don't come back, or are found days later in the bottom of spike pits, the morale of the king's troops will sink very quickly. It will take a lot of work for the king to get his troops to go searching for you.

  • The trade-off is that if they catch of your merry band, they will torture you horribly then kill you, maybe....but perhaps that was going to happen anyway.

  • Attack any resupply efforts.

  • Where appropriate, fire attacks to destroy the enemy camp.

  • Spread rumors of giant bears who eyes burn like coals or how the forest is haunted because of some ugly death. Tailor the rumors to the superstitions of the king and his troops.

Uses of Animal Friends

Bears - Attack the enemy horses or just make them perpetually nervous. Work in concert with foxes to avoid retaliation by any hunting dogs that the king may have brought along.

Foxes - Make sure that no one sleeps. Have them encircle the camp and just howl at random intervals through out the night.

Eagles/falcons - Scouts. Raptors won't be able to tell you how many troops there are but they should be able to indicate enemy positions.

Hedgehogs, porcupines, ferrets, weasels etc - Incredibly difficult to find if they don't want to be found. They all love to chew on things so they can be used for destruction of leather, rope, cloth or wood. If the enemy's kit is falling apart, their combat effectiveness goes way down.

Porcupines love wood. They eat it all the time. Since most of the enemy's carts will be made from wood, let the porcupines eat it. They can also just back into the enemy's horses to make them lame.

Ravens, jays, robins, woodpeckers - general harassment where possible. Many of these birds aren't aggressive so their utility will likely be limited to observational roles. Woodpeckers might help the porcupines with destroying enemy assets.

Oh Gross...

The king and his army can't attack you if they have explosive diarrhea or cholera. (Also, without proper rehydration, cholera can kill in hours.) Enlist the aide of your bacterial friends by having all the animal friends plus the entire rebel band poop in the water supply upstream from the king's camp. Mice and rats can be let loose on the enemy's food supply to contaminate it with feces or urine. (No training required, mice and rats are always hungry and don't particularly mind where they poop.)

Skunks. Oh my, skunks. Skunks are the ideal area denial weapon. There is nothing smellier in the world that skunk musk. Train them to spray enemy combatants or enemy food supplies.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Good call befriending the bacteria! Just don't get too friendly! $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 15, 2015 at 17:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon they're scary little buggers. Contaminating their pork supplies would be even scarier. Botulinum toxin and they don't even know what hit them. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Sep 15, 2015 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ The last strategy seems to be the most effective one, if you can ensure that you still have enough resources for yourself. $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Sep 16, 2015 at 3:11

Step 1: Re-center yourself.

You've been engaging in a rebel campaign to unseat the king. The king is now striking back. This is the time to re-evaluate your priorities. Even mercenaries have to re-evaluate their priorities from time to time:

Priority number one: get paid.
Priority number two: Live long enough to spend your money.
- Tagon, Schlock Mercenary

The king has now made it his focus to remove you from existence. How badly do you want to try to depose him? Time to refocus. Your goal is to survive the onslaught while retaining that essential essence that made you devoted to your rebel cause in the first place.

You will need to engage in vastly asymmetric warfare. Your opponent has overwhelming physical might. You will need to win the battle on the mental front, encouraging him to decide to spend his resources elsewhere. Once he is no longer focused on your eradication, you can resume the traditional "short live the king" mentality.

Step 2: Patience.

This is the hard part. Your opponent has overwhelming force and wants a decisive victory. You may want a decisive victory too, but you're not going to get it. That's why we invented swords and armor... to make sure the other guy doesn't get a decisive victory. This is going to be a long fight. You need to make sure that every resource you spend is spent worthwhile.

The best approach to this is to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Bomb, I mean... sorry... wrong storyline for a moment... where was I.

The best approach is to turn the fight into the kind of fight where you fight them simply by living. That way, no matter how the fight goes, you went on living a good life. This is going to involve some creativity. You are going to have to find ways to make the presence of the king's men a beneficial part of your life, despite all their pointy sharp things.

This will take time. An army is usually not structured to make the enemy's life cushy. You're going to have to calmly and patiently explore their structure. There wont be a one-size-fits-all solution for you, or the army would stop it. You have to look at how you and the enemy army will interact, and find some details about that army and about your men which let you live. It's all up to your imagination here.

Step 3a: Vanish

Don't worry, I wont leave you hanging with some whims of imagination there. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are directions worth looking in. The most important step is to live long enough to get paid... or...well... whatever you're rebeling for. Your opponent is designed to build a net to capture a band of merry men. You need to cease to fit their mental image of what a band of merry men must look like. You need to become so completely one with nature that, when they send out scouts to draw the net around your band, you can simply flow through the net like water through a sieve.

There are some tricks here. This is war after all. I would quickly train any animals like foxes, falcons, and wolves to go after the dogs the army brings along. Your human smell is your biggest weakness. Dogs can sniff it out from a mile away. However, trained dogs are not cheap. It will strain their resources if you can pick them off one by one. You may have to be creative here, like in every step. You may have to structure your own scent trail to draw dogs into kill zones. In all, you want the battle of the nose to work in your favor. Once the dogs are neutralized, you are just fighting men. Men are not as perceptive as dogs, so it will be much easier to vanish.

Step 3b: Recon.

Train your animals to give you information about where the enemies are. The birds are already trained. They're going to give you tons of information about where they are. While you're at it, return to step 3a and train yourself and the birds so that the birds don't give you away. Become one with nature.

You are fighting the mental game. You cannot fight the mental game without insight into where the enemy's physical force is. Wherever their physical force is, that's where you need to not be.

Step 3c: Supply lines

If you retreat backwards into the woods, you will force the army to develop supply lines. These are known to be a great weakness of armies. If they are sparse enough to live off of the land, they may be picked off one by one. That's not the army's style, they're more likely to draw a supply line from the kingdom to ensure they have supplies of men, food, and possibly more dogs (you'll have to keep picking them off).

Supply lines are great, because they're ripe with things you want, like swords, food, and more swords (I mean food, swords, and more food!). Best yet, they are long and remarkably hard to defend against unless you know where the enemy is (you did remember to vanish, right?). Send in the racoons to wreck havoc on their supplies. Maybe you can even teach the greedy bastards to bring back some of the food they steal!

This is where the cost mounts for the king. Supplying an army is not cheap. Doing so with losses along the supply lines is even more expensive. This is where you get to send your mental message: we are less bothersome as a band of rebel merry men than as your mortal enemy. If you stop treating us as a mortal enemy, we'll go back to just being pesky and ineffectively trying to depose you. Convince him it's too expensive to crush you, and he'll eventually have to back out. Or, if he's really a jerk, he'll raise taxes, but hey look... easy way to piss off a kingdom enough to remove his cushy butt from the throne (or was that "butt from his cushy throne?" Those adjectives are easy to misplace). Either way, the war will move in your favor.

Step 4: Bear.

Bears are scary. Bears are mean, nasty, and capable of gutting a man like a fish by accident if they hug him too hard. Did I mention they are scary?

Did I mention they are even scarier when you are an isolated army with inadequate supply lines, worn out weapons, and a really creepy spooky forest full of violent trained animals, at night?


If you do a really good job of training the bear, you can even convince it to leave a few men behind to tell stories at the tavern of just how huge the bear was with glowing red eyes and smoke coming from his mouth.

Then you can go back to rebeling to your hearts content. The king may send an army to attack a band of merry men, but a mythical demon-bear-beast worthy of a a place in Norse mythology? Fat chance.

  • $\begingroup$ Step 4: Bears are also hard to kill Their skulls deflect bullets $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    May 21, 2018 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ I learned recently that bears have a very strong and distinctive odor too. That could very easily be turned into an area denial weapon. Correlating the stink of a bear with a few grizzly attacks and all you'll need to do is spritz bear musk onto the wind to see the king's camp go nuts. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Oct 23, 2018 at 19:01

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