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I am the new prince of a small kingdom. My clan domesticated giant but docile wolves for a long time. They are used for transport, hunting and small raids on other tribes that were wiped out by us.

We have a rival kingdom. Our power is equal and around 5000 troops each side.

But: we have our giant dogs that are slightly bigger than an african elephant. My wolves are unmatched in speed and and strength by any beast my enemies could have.

I have 1000 adult wolves. How could I use them at war in melee combat and as Cavalry?

Note: I plan to preserve the meat from corpses of battles with salt to reduce the upkeep of the wolves. The female wolves give birth after a year, usually 1 to 3 pups.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Mindwin, Azuaron, Hohmannfan, Josh King, Twelfth Mar 28 '17 at 19:48

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    $\begingroup$ Bigger than an elephant and able to breed at 1 year old? Assuming they weigh as much as the top end of african elephants (6,048 kg) and neglecting the weight they are born with, and assuming they are sexually mature at merely half their final weight, they are going to have to gain an average of 11.4 kilograms per DAY. And they will have to eat much more than that. Assuming the same feed to weight ratio as Tilapia (one of the most efficient, they'll have to eat an average of ~17 kg a day. And these are all the most optimistic estimates. Reconsider your time to sexual maturity. $\endgroup$ – Shufflepants Mar 27 '17 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ I started an answer, but it's hard to complete. this point : "Our power is equal and around 5000 troops each side." is a flat out lie, it isn't equal what so ever. Given the dimensions of your 13'000 pound, 13 foot tall dogs of war, I'd be surprised if the 5k enemy could eliminate 5 of these beasts. You may as well be saying "our power is equal but they have swords and we have 1000 suits of flying power armor". Maybe rethink the power level you've put these wolves on? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 28 '17 at 19:48
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I think you have some large problems here: A creature that is bigger than an elephant, but gives birth to pups after a year: It's not a mammal and it's not on this planet...

Let's start with Giant Wolves. The biggest mammal predators Polar Bears. Polar Bears weigh 10 times more then the largest Wolves we have now. For ease we stick with the same dimensions: It can reach a shoulder height of over 1.6 m (5.2 ft) and total length of as much as 3.1 m (10 ft). Polar Bears are aggressive, but Wolves being social creatures you might have a change domesticating them. * Note that Elephants in all their sizes are not known for their speed or manoeuvrability. They are less useful then the stories make them out to be, see Scipio

But seeing the size comparison between predators and their prey, these Giant Wolves will hunt some truly gargantuan pray. Think Elephants, Giant Sloths and Mammoths. Anything that they set their eyes on.

Now we have something the speed and size of a horse. You might be able to ride them, but I don't think you will be able to fight well from Wolfback. Raiding, maybe. Ambush, heck yes! But this is not shock cavalry.

Numbers: with a population of about 1000 adults these animals are very precious. With this low number you really need to be careful with breeding, every adult counts. And not all adults have the skill or temperament for war. (War is quite a bit harder then hunting mind you, discipline for one, control for an other, etc) You probably don't want to lose to many bitches, so that leaves you with a trained population of: 1000 / 2 (gender) / 4 (1 group to young, 1 group in training, 1 group ready, 1 group too old) = 100 Excellent War Wolves + 100 Well Trained Wolves + 150 Trained Wolves + 250 Usable Wolves. At any time except dire need, you have about 200 wolves usable for war. More at the start, but you will lose some during the conflict.

Use: Scouting and counter scouting: No enemy cavalry will stand, horses will panic! In battle: fast light infantry that unmount before battle to give the Wolves the max freedom to do their thing. Main battle lines take to much discipline for animals (horses excepted) and against massed spears / pikes they don't do well. Any prepared enemy actually. Might want to keep an eye out for missiles.

As these creatures are unknown to the enemy but by rumours and stories, I don't think a man will want to stand alone against these Wolves. So the enemy will move in big groups. All in all, these Wolves will give you the ability to decide when and where to fight. Stack that deck!

*Edit Some more ideas about Wolves of War: Wargs are more like hyaenas, but gives an idea about movement. And the bark. Here is one of a great Dane, what it doesn't capture is the loudness and the way it resonates like a base-drum in a metal concert. And creatures that big that start to howl all around your camp... (and now you have a battle cry)

*But I don't think your people will have the concept of teddy bears when you can have these.

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    $\begingroup$ Archers on "wolfback" would be pretty dangerous, too. Wolves tend to be proporionaly wider than horses and they have a way better grip while running - claws are not as energy efficient as hooves but they are way more stable. They would also get speed/break more easily, so the beasts would be awesome for hit-and-run tactics. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Mar 28 '17 at 19:31
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Well for one I wouldn't commit all Thousand, that's just poor planning. But half should both be fine and plenty. So you can use them in multiple ways. I figure it would be a combination of war dogs, camels and elephants.

Camels

Camels, camels have a distinct advantage in warfare, two actually over horses. Horses are faster and more nimble so at first seem much better. But for one die tend to survive poorly in deserts. Camels are hardy and easy to supply. But their real strength is their second advantage. Their smell scares the crap out of horses. Untrained horses just want to bolt when a group of camels charges.

I see a similar advantage for your wolves. Unless their cavalry is very familiar with your wolves as friendly, including the current horses they're riding, there's gonna be panic. Counter charge their cavalry and watch the attack crumble.

Given their size I don't think they'd make amazing raiders. Sure they're wolves but they're huge. Bigger animals tend to be overall slower.

Elephants

Elephants on the other hand we're the tanks of antiquity. They're slow, hard to maintain and their power to weight ratio isn't terribly efficient. Still they scare the crap out of infantry and can punch a hole in any battleline.

You wolves obviously would have a similar effect. You probably want multiple riders. One to steer our animal while one or two others throw javelins or shoot bows. Maybe even wield lances to stab at enemy cavalry and over shieldwalls.

I'm not sure you're have the mass and thick skin to trample as effectively as an elephant but still a charge should crumble any form of formation relying on shields to hold the enemy back.

War dogs

So their last function I see akin to war dogs like the Romans and Celts used them. It's said Romans clad their dogs in spiked armor. Given the size of your beasts that's totally an option weight wise but it's going to be expensive. Still they're much rarer then human soldiers.

When used in such a role riders would actually be a bad idea I think. You want them to give in to their instincts. You just want to let them lose upon your enemy's formations. Their sheer weight should crush men and their jaws yourl snap horses.

I also think you need like a dozen handles a wolf for this. Just two leashes with dix men each. You want these beasts aggressive but not to aggressive. Getting them up to Roman Molossus levels of aggression might be a mistake.

Problems

Now that above sounds useful there some problems with your idea. A Thousand animals is a viable but small population. Using my proposed 500 in war would be desperate. Though they breed pretty fast replacing numbers isn't the issue. Genetic diversity might be.

Still a larger issue might be the build of the animals itself. Wolves are not horses. The spine of a wolf can't support nearly as much weight. Given the upscaled size I think you'd be fine with a rider up on the shoulders. Probably another joining him and perhaps a third one at the hips. But don't put weight like a small fortification on it's back.

Lastly your salted meat idea. While wolves aren't dogs it's very bad to feed your dog salted foods. Unlike desert dwelling humans they're not evolved to handle dehydration nearly as well or are smart enough to drink accordingly. Don't salt that meat, dry it, smoke it, let them gorge when it's fresh.

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Use them like sheepdogs, if you have 1 dog per 5 combatants, you'll be fine, and can probably accomplish your goals without any real casualties on either side. It sounds like you plan for them to kill people, but that might not be necessary considering they're huge, presumably intelligent, and made of wolf... 1000 of them circling an enemy whilst your army just sits and sharpens its swords, would probably cause the most hardened soldiers to give up. You'd have to give them armour so they couldn't be shot, but that'd just make them look even more daunting to your opponents.

Really it sounds like the other kingdom would bend the knee relatively quickly, unless you weren't actively trying to annex their lands - but if you're expecting combat I assume you're going to take them out. The odds of them attacking you with your army of wolves are pretty slim, I think.

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Well, there's no way your rival kingdom is going to choose to fight you since you have such a strong weapon that they cannot rival. It's an asymmetric relationship and they will quickly be prepared to offer themselves as a client state, or come to some other basic arrangement rather than get wiped out by mega-wolves.

As mentioned above, your biology needs working out a little better. You are going to have a logistical nightmare taking them on long journeys, so if you MUST have a war, do everything you can to get the war as close to home as possible so that you don't have to turn your army into a massive meat delivery service.

Apart from the other biological issues, as weapons, they are highly intelligent hunter-seeker melee tanks rather than elephants. Their size makes them highly vulnerable to large artillery so they want to work in conditions where artillery is not so useful - fog (or smoke screens), heavy rain, forest - all give good cover. They are likewise not so good at foxholes and tunnels, so will work best on natural terrain. They move fast, with stealth, and work best in self-organised packs (if they are like terran wolves at all); they will have evolved refined hunting strategies and will be best left to their own devices on the battlefield (assuming loyalty and recognition of the enemy).

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Take it from Ramsay.

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You should use them at as great a distance as possible from your own troops or anyplace where your people live, since your humans only outnumber elephant-wolves by 5 to 1 and you feed these wolves on human flesh.

I predict the countryside being very difficult to use because of large populations of feral elephant wolves who would not come back after you turned them loose to go eat the enemy.

A safe thing would be to use them as fur coats. Or make super rich grow-to-elephant-size in 1 year wolf milk cheese to make into delicious quesadillas for your soldiers! Bitchin!

Not to poke fun. Never! A more serious use: elephant-wolf pulled dogsled war chariots. All the benefits of a war howdah, but a lot faster and snow-ready. And: you can legitimately yell MUSH! as you go into battle, with the possibility that your elephant wolves will not only pull you along, but might mush your enemies beneath your runners.

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Study up on wolf pack attacks.

Your best bet is to use them for what they are good at: hit & run, ambush, and confuse & strike.

The pack can treat the opposing formation like a large animal or a herd. Send in a few (10-100) to make a quick flanking attack and try do do some damage and then run away. Then hit them from another angle. Set up ambushes if they send anyone out to attack the small group of wolves.

They can send a group up to feint while another attacks during the distraction. Using a combination of tactics the pack can usually wear down stronger prey.

If you can't get them to completely disorganize, move off for a while and hit them again when they relax.

However, as has been mentioned, good luck keeping them fed. Also, good luck maintaining Alpha position.

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  • $\begingroup$ Don't think they'd depend on wolf pack tactics...wolf pack tactics are great for a group taking on a stronger prey. These wolves are some 50x or more larger than the humans they are taking on, making these tactics kinda unnecessary. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 28 '17 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Twelfth, given how valuable the wolves are, I wanted to use tactics that would result in the loss of the fewest wolves. I may want to use the wolves more than once every few years. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 28 '17 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to follow that line too, but they aren't...3 pups per yearly litter and fertile after a year makes em disposable shock troops $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 28 '17 at 20:40

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