If two countries were fighting over a mountain (for mining rights), how would the warfare work? Would there be multiple large-scale battles or some sort of guerilla warfare? There are valleys between the mountains for open warfare, but also enough rocks and hills in surrounding areas to ambush supply routes and such. Would they take over one mine at a time like taking forts or would it all just happen at once?

The mountain in question is already owned by country 1, but it is perilously close to the border to the other country and is actually closer to the capital of country 2 than the capital of the country that owns it. It was just too tempting for country 2 not to reach out and grab it.

Both countries have lots of mines, but country 2 has entire cities underground and their people primarily live deep in the mountains, while country 1's capital city is on the beach at the edge of the mountain range. Country 2's army is far more equipped to fight in the mountainous terrain than country 1.

Neither country has magical aide of any sort, so they must rely on their medieval weaponry and semi-advanced explosives designed for mining that can still wreak some havoc on an army.

I haven't decided for sure what exactly they're mining, since that's not extremely vital to the plotline, so it could be anything from coal to napalm or precious metals or jewels. Suggestions for what they could be mining and how it would affect the war are extremely welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, EllieWilde, may I suggest doing research about conflicts over resources. It's most likely the different forces will take control of access routes to the mines and keep their opponents out. The rest will be skirmishing. For fighting in mountains see India versus Pakistan over Kashmir & India versus China. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jan 21, 2017 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome @EllieWilde! If you give us a little more detail about the countries involved that would also help. What technology level do they have? Are magic or non-human combat resources available to either side? Are the resource from the mountain directly applicable to combat (natural napalm)? $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2017 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ The two countries in question are not very advanced (middle ages, ish), but they do have very advanced explosives since they both do quite a bit of mining. Taking control of access routes makes a whole lot of sense, and I was therefore also wondering if they might use these advanced explosive weapons to do some of their fighting? For example, setting off an explosion that causes a rock slide to fall into a battalion of the enemy's forces as they go through a narrow pass, or completely shutting off access to the mines by collapsing the routes. $\endgroup$
    – EllieWilde
    Jan 21, 2017 at 6:02
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    $\begingroup$ Have you seen the Hobbit? $\endgroup$
    – Sunny
    Jan 21, 2017 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I've seen and read the Hobbit. Something like the battle of the five armies is a possible way to do it, though I think skirmishes in the mountain passes are more realistic. Also one single battle wouldn't last more than a day or two, and a drawn-out war is more taxing on my characters and is important to the story line. $\endgroup$
    – EllieWilde
    Jan 21, 2017 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


The most likely outcome is Country 2 using the mine access as chokepoints to hold on to the mines, while they dig new access shafts to attack Country 1's army in the flank or rear. Depending on their equipment and training, Country 1 would probably try either pushing through the mountains to attack Country 2's capital or set fire to the mountaintop to stop oxygen entering the shafts.

Assuming country 2 is classical dwarves with picks and axes, you'll need to decide Country 1's military and social history. Are they seafaring merchants and fishermen like the Athenians and Tyrians, raiders like the Vikings or mostly land bound like the Romans? Are they empire builders or just content to hold on to their territory? Archers, cavalry or infantry? Do they have siege weapons? Their tactics and strategies will vary, depending on their society.

  • $\begingroup$ Country 1 is mostly land bound. They have plenty of ships but they're used primarily for trade, because they really don't need or want any more land. Country 2 is the empire builder, and a hundred or so years before this they invaded Country 1 and almost successfully took over the entire country. Country 1 does not have many siege weapons built, and would they really be able to take those huge weapons all the way up through the mountains? And even if they did, those might not have much of an effect on underground cities. $\endgroup$
    – EllieWilde
    Jan 21, 2017 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ I would say that Country 1 would fight mostly with cavalry, which is what they usually do, but would horses work very well for fighting in mountainous terrain? $\endgroup$
    – EllieWilde
    Jan 21, 2017 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @EllieWilde: A fellow nicknamed Hannibal took elephants over a mountain range. As regards siege weapons, most are disassembled for transport, though II agree, they wouldn't be much use against underground cities--unless you know where the gates are ;-) $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Jan 22, 2017 at 13:54

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